Inspire Change Through Words

33 Copywriting & Messaging Principles For The Rising Personal Development Star


Personal Development Copywriting & Messaging Principle #8: Define Relief Through Vision

Defining relief from pain requires a realistic understanding of how we interpret desire.

You’ve probably heard the old Freudian ideal that we’re more motivated as humans to run from pain than seek pleasure. 

While every personal development copywriter should make use of this fact, what’s more important to understand is this: 

It’s difficult to make someone feel something they’ve never felt before, and many of the outcomes in personal development are ambiguous in nature. 

The Broken Chiropractor

I was once coaching a very successful healer, who had all the right pieces in place to scale several offers through a very specific launch formula. 

His funnels were almost perfect. Until I double-checked the spreadsheet he had full of benefits. 

“This isn’t going to work,” I told him. He was irked, I could tell. He’d followed the proven launch formula down to every last word he could, and demanded to know why I claimed it wouldn’t work. “Because,” I continued, “the outcomes you’re selling are based on what people who’ve already been healed said—you want to talk about the desired outcomes of those who are still in pain. They’re very different.”

There was a lot of back and forth until I got him to see what the problem was. Certain sections of the templates he was following called for descriptions of what life could be like for the people in his market who hadn’t taken action to heal yet.

But he was filling in those sections with verbatim quotes from people who’d already been healed.

“I thought the best copy came straight from the prospect’s own mouth?” he said. And he was right. But he was defaulting to a personal development copywriting technique he didn’t understand very well. 

So I explained in very simple terms:

  • The people who’ve been helped already are saying things like: “Such a relief,” which is obvious, or, “I feel so light, like I could float away,” or, “I feel alive again.”
  • The people who are still in pain may want relief, but they definitely don’t want to float away, or understand what feeling alive again even means.
  • They want to be able to get out of bed without feeling like their spine is going to implode, or to be able to play with their grandchildren for hours on end, without the creaking of their bones leading to a horrendous migraine that forces them onto the couch for the rest of the day.

Make sense? He was attempting to define relief in a way that his market couldn’t understand, because they hadn’t yet felt it. 

An Unknown Reality

Your market has an idea in their mind of what relief will look and feel like based on their current reality, which may not reflect a reality you know to be true. 

Many in the relationship niche understand this well. People who long for a lover who left them believe they’ll have found relief once they get them back, while the experts know all too well that relief comes from accepting that they’re gone. The coach’s job then becomes to guide them slowly through that realization, and once they’re ready, help them find a new partner.

In many leadership development circles you’ll hear similar stories. Highly driven individuals, who’ve accomplished more than the average person feel unfulfilled, doubting their ability to be effective leaders. 

“So in other words, they feel like frauds,” I said to the CEO of a large multimillion-dollar leadership company, whose past members included executives from the likes of Microsoft.  We discussed defining this hidden pain, then turned our attention to relief.

Problem: the people seeking relief always believed their solution was external, like more training, certifications, or skills they didn’t have yet. And while these would certainly play a role in them achieving new goals, what the CEO of this company knew was that much of the work was internal. They had to look within themselves and reconnect to a purpose and passion they might have lost.

“But don’t make that the headline on the sales page,” I told him. He was adamant it was the defining benefit. “Because we’re going to scare them away, or they’re not going to identify with that vision of relief, and they’ll become uninterested. Then we’re actively playing a role in their not having a transformation.”

The other marketing lesson within this scenario is that this company would have been much better served by helping people who’ve already done deep, inner transformative work, and can understand the benefits. 

They were attempting to expand their reach to people who weren’t as familiar with transformation. Convincing some of the most efficient, logic-driven problem solvers in the world that what they really needed was to spend the weekend in the forest meditating and taking ice baths with others is not an easy task.

Those that haven’t experienced that kind of relief must go through an educational process to open their minds just enough to try certain practices that can at times be very uncomfortable.

“If you want to speak to those people,” I said, “there has to be a leadership ‘skills’ component. You have to sell them what they want, then give them what they need.”

Uncover your market’s vision of relief, and frame yourself as the keeper of that vision. When they’re ready, they’ll follow you, cash in hand, into the fire of transformation.

Example #: 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

This book is largely about prioritization and optimization. How can you reprioritize your time to optimize for productivity effectiveness? It takes work up front. 

That’s not the promise on the cover of the book. 

It’s not titled 7 Ways To Reprioritize How You Do Things

Who wants that? 

We want to know the habits of the highly effective people in the world, because surely they know something we don’t, right?

Example #: 7 Principles For Making A Marriage Work

Just like the last example, this book exemplifies how skewed our view of relief can be. 

Do you believe that making a marriage work is as simple as adopting seven simple principles? 


It’s likely that someone in the throes of emotional wreckage just wants the silver bullet: the seven steps she has to take to just “make our marriage work.” 

Of course, it’s much clearer on the other side of the equation that marriages, especially those damaged enough to seek help to mend, take lots of hard work, with persistent effort given to strengthening communication and recalibrating old behaviors. 

No one wants to read that book, though. Give us the seven steps, please.



Copywriting & Messaging Principle #9: Speak With Ego Suspended

A hungry personal development star on the rise can make ruin a career by beating their market over the head with the sound of their own voice. Stop this. You're only as brilliant as people perceive you to be.

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