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EPISODE 65: 3 Elements Persuasive Copy Needs

by Dec 21, 2021Brand Your Voice, Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • What is persuasive copy?
  • The 3 elements of persuasive copy 
  • How to create effective persuasive copy using the 3 elements

When North Star started, we initially resisted requests to create persuasive copy for our clients, because we didn’t know how to write it without feeling a bit…skeezy

Persuasive copy is typically known as sales copy and conversion copy. It’s intended to help sell a program, service, or offer—it’s basically any content written with the goal of producing dollar signs.

Part of the reason we felt hesitant was because we were faced with a blank page. We didn’t have a structure, and we certainly didn’t want to sound like used car salespeople. And then {by divine intervention?} Marie watched over her ex’s shoulder as he took a marketing course for programmers by Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman called 30×500. Amy presented a formula called PDF: Pain Dream Fix.

We started applying those three components to our own persuasive copy in a way that resonated with our own values and the values of our clients, and that’s when we started to see results. 

Over time, we realized persuasive copy isn’t scary…it can actually be a lot of fun!

 

Here’s a brief overview of the three elements of persuasive copy:

    • Frustration (At North Star, we call these Empathy Points) *Check out Episode 64 for a deep dive on Empathy Points
      • Develop a deep understanding of your audience’s struggles and aspirations.
      • Identify the source of their desires and frustrations.
      • Validate their experience. 
      • Be specific, honest, and tactful.
  • Future
      • Describe the audience’s “success story”—what does it look, feel, and sound like? 
      • What will their experience be when the frustration is removed or the aspiration reached? 
      • What will be possible? Be realistic, clear, and specific about exactly how each empathy point will be resolved. Match them up!
  • Fix
    • How does the audience get from Frustration to Future? 
    • What are the steps along the path, and how can your product/service bridge the gap? 
    • Be specific about the benefits and the features of the Fix. 
    • Make sure your product, service, or offer actually addresses each of the Frustration and Future points.

When you implement each of these elements in a way that meets you and your clients values and goals, you can create truly compelling persuasive copy.

The 3F formula works on content of any size, from giant sales pages to short social media posts. Just be sure to keep the elements in the order we outlined, so they follow a logical emotional sequence for the audience.

 

Homework:

  • Integrate the 3F formula into the next piece of content you write. We’ll be sharing examples in the Polaris Writer Lounge if you’d like to join us. 

 

Services/Products/Offers/Freebies Referenced (for affiliate links or list growth):

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we’re digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I’m Jessi…

Marie:
…and I’m Marie. We’re the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.

Jessi:
Welcome. Welcome to another episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Today, we're going to be talking about persuasive copy and three things that we feel in our experience as writers, all pieces of persuasive copy needs. I kinda wanna start too by kind of stepping back and talking about what we mean by persuasive copy, because most copy is persuasive in some way or another. But we're specifically talking about sales copy and conversion copy. So the copy that you are putting out there specifically to sell a program, sell an offer, you're writing this for someone who wants to see that content turn into dollar signs. So we're gonna dive into exactly what elements that persuasive copy needs in order to improve the conversion rates.

Marie:
Yeah, and some people love writing conversion copy and awesome. Some people, don't love it because it feels manipulative or salesy, right. Which is, I mean, what it is doing is it's selling. And so this, hopefully this episode, will you feel like you have a bit more structure around it and reasoning behind it. I suppose in a way all writing is manipulation. Like your favorite novel you've ever read, basically forced you to go on like a hallucinated journey, seeing people who aren't real going to places that aren't real or if they are, they didn't exist, you know, in that exact moment, in that exact way. Writing is a way of communicating thoughts from one person to another person and sales copy is just a way of communicating at its heart, you know, a concept. It's really what you do with it. Writing is not good or evil in and of itself, just like anything, it's a tool. So it's how you use it. So I think if you go into it believing and having a value of not being manipulative jerk, then you won't be a manipulative jerk.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. I remember back when we first started our business and were first shifting away from what we really started with, which was writing resumes into actual copywriting and early on, we leaned into website copy hard. That was where we really felt comfortable. And we sort of resisted the urge to write conversion copy and persuasive copy for that reason. We didn't really feel like we had a good sense of how to do it in a way that didn't feel kinda skeezy and we didn't want to participate in creating something that didn't feel authentic. So over time we realized that part of the reason we felt that way was because we didn't have the experience or the structure we were faced with a blank page when someone asked us to create something. And for things we were familiar with like website copy, we already had sort of a mental structure in our head of how an about page would be written or how a home page would be written or how a services page would be written, which is actually very similar to conversion copy follows very similar structure, but we had mentally separated it in our mind.
Once we finally decided no we're gonna actually put in the time and the effort to learn this, to write it and to do it well. And in a way that feels authentic and doesn't turn us into bro marketers who were just, you know, sounding like a used car salesman or salesperson. We realized that there were structures around that as well. And we also realized that there was a lot more opportunity when we weren't restricting ourselves to one type of content, just because it was where we were comfortable. There's nothing wrong with nicheing down to, I only write conversion copy, or I only write website copy, or I only write email sequences, but we were doing it for the right reasons we were doing it because we were scared. And what we realized is persuasive copy actually isn't that scary and it can be a lot of fun.

Marie:
Yeah, I think it's really fun. So the first exposure I had to one of these structures that helped me sort of feel a little bit more comfortable in persuasive copy was the course 30x500. This is a marketing course for programmers created by Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman. And I remember during that Amy presented a formula that she called PDF: pain dream fix. And we started using that, always crediting Amy, of course. And, it's just so catchy, right? We started applying to that, to our copy and all of a sudden, A, you know, we had a formula to follow and B the copy started to get traction in results.
I remember there was one client that we wrote for launched copy for this was kind of early on. It was a warm list, but it, that page had an 80% conversion rate. Do you remember that?

Jessi:
I do. I do. That was incredible.

Marie:
So, you know, of course still we put this clause in all our contracts, no results guaranteed. Cuz there's a bajillion things that lead to whatever the results of a launch or any sales process are. And we've also refined the process to our own needs and our own clients and our own discoveries over time. But just having these three persuasive elements that we're gonna dig into here, which, I think the early inspiration for this was what Amy Hoy taught, it helps it works. It's supportive for a writer to have this.

Jessi:
Yeah, it really does. So let's dive into those three pieces and you may have noticed, especially if you listened to our previous episode, the one we just did before this about empathy points in Amy Hoy's formula, the first part of PDF is P for pain. While we talked about during the last episode, how we don't really subscribe to pain points as a concept, we like to call them empathy points instead. And so the first component of sales copy and of conversion copy that we make sure to include is that acknowledge of empathy, that acknowledgement of their frustration and their struggle or their aspiration, because it's not always a pain, it might be they're fine, but they want something else. You, this shows up a lot in, for example, luxury travel and things like that, where it's more of an aspiration and less of a quote-unquote pain, regardless you wanna empathize in this first section. And I do wanna add as we're going through these sections, the order is important. It goes in this order because it's following the way the human mind thinks about and processes things. So starting with, Hey, I see that you're struggling with something or I see that you want something I'm calling you to sit down at the table and talk about that. I'm validating that and I'm it.

Marie:
Mm-hmm. So then the next part of this is looking to the future saying, okay, now that we're sitting down here and we've talked about, what's frustrating, you, let's talk together about what is realistically possible if you were to take that path. I remember when we were, Adrienne Dorison was our business mentoring coach back in 2017. And I remember her asking that question of like, what's the worst that can happen. What's the best that can happen. Right? She has like whole podcast episodes on this. You can probably find her online, talking about it. That's helpful for decision making. Right? But like, if you say yes to this thing, what is the best that could happen? Let's like, just talk about that and envision it. What does success look like in this case? What does it feel like? What does it sound like? What does it look like? What will your experience day to day? Just, you know, minute by minute, maybe be like when that frustration is removed or they've reached that aspiration, what's gonna be possible for them.
So, you know, in luxury travel, that's gonna look like one thing, right? You can be sipping your martini while looking out over whatever skyline, in something where it's like, again, they're okay. Maybe they they've got a full-time job somewhere, but they really would like to start a jewelry making business. And so there's, you know, maybe a course that helps them do that. What does it look like? Are they going to trade shows? Are they, you know, are they gonna create a storefront? Are they going to approach other gift shops and get their creations within that? Like what, what does it look like? Does it look like having more time with their kids? Does it look like being able to pay for the whatever? I mean, you know, you can, you can dream with your client basically.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. So we have the frustration in the future and then the last one is fix it is how you get from the frustration to that future, that you've sat down and envisioned with them. What is needed in order to create that future? What are the different steps? What are the different resources as what is, how is your offer going to facilitate that? And it's not just, Hey, here's my offer. And it's going to solve all the problems that we just talked about. It's more of, Hey, here are the, the actual things that need to happen in order to get to that future. And here's how my product or service can help get you there. So it's not necessarily just like throwing that banner up, slapping it down and saying, Hey, I'm the solution to all your problems. You need more context for that. Your reader wants more context for that. They don't just wanna know, this course is going to help me teach jewelry. They're going to, how to make a jewelry business rather, they wanna know exactly how that course is going to help them, not just create a jewelry making business, but get to that future that has been envisioned because there's a lot of steps to creating that fully fledged business and getting to that future. So making sure that they align with each other is really important.

Marie:
Right. So to recap those it's frustration future fix, when you have these three elements within a copy, that's how you can start to persuade someone while being very honest and, you know, respectful of them. You're not like trying to lie to them. You're not trying to fool them. You're just being honest. Like here's the best that could happen or one of the best things that could happen. And here's a legitimately possible way for you to get there. Yeah. So how do you do it for each a piece of persuasive copy that you're creating map out the three Fs, and make sure you really, really understand them and how kind of sunk your fingers into them because the more descriptive you can be, the real are gonna be able to paint that picture again. Think about your favorite novel. If you really feel immersed in the world, it's probably cuz there was some good, tactile description. You can hear the sounds of the birds. You can feel the feeling of the, you know, whatever, you know, like all of it is real in that moment. So you can do the same thing. You can talk about what it tastes like, what it smells like, what it feels like.

Jessi:
Yeah. I think that's something that'll that comes up a lot when writing any content. But persuasive content, I think deserves a special mention as far as engaging the senses because there's so much persuasive copy out there. There's so much that recycles the same words and phrases using the senses and diving into super, super specifics will help to create content that stands out. So instead of saying, for example, let's say that there is a business, that is, let's say it's a business that helps you organize and become a more organized, you know, person in your physical space. So, you know, closet organization, planner organization, all of that sort of stuff. The frustration that they may talk about is that you're disorganized, right? It's the opposite. You feel like you is very disorganized, but just saying you feel really disorganized. Doesn't actually paint a clear picture. It's just sort of a statement of like, okay, yeah. That might be a feeling that the reader is feeling.

Marie:
It's like a surface level thing.

Jessi:
Yeah, totally. But if you dig a little deeper, what does that disorganization look like? Feel like. So like could be, you know, your closet is overflowing and all of your latest clothing purchases are stacked on the chair behind you and you can't find your keys for the 8000000th time because it's buried beneath all the mail that's been piled on the kitchen table. You know, those descriptors that are very familiar to people who are in that state of disorganization where they can look at it and be like, oh yeah, that is me. That is my day to day. I do walk into my office and immediately feel overwhelmed. Cause there's clutter everywhere. That's where we're talking about finding those details, right.

Marie:
Yeah. You've got a craving for almonds, you know, they're in your pantry. You can just imagine that crisp nut taste on your tongue and you open the pantry, the door sticks because you know, the three year old has slap some marmalade on there. And the, it's buried it in the back somewhere it's crushed under these crinkling pitiful used to be tortilla chips, right? Like, don't go wild. But like at least when you're starting your draft, like you can lean into that stuff.
And then from there cut down, right? Like we do wanna make sure that like the sentences are clear, everything is concise, but it doesn't mean you can't be creative and it doesn't mean you can't make someone be like, oh, I'm mourning for those tortilla chips now, you know.

Jessi:
I feel like this example comes from your personal experience a little bit.

Marie:
True story. I just ate a handful of cashews before this call. So lean into do remember we are not all about like putting in the knife and twisting it. That's a pain point, schoolyard bully type of approach. It is about empathy. It's about like saying like I have been there or like I hear you. That is valid. And you know, like, so sometimes this happens and I'm here to, I'm here to hang out with you because you know, we can, we can hang out here in this moment and just limit those tortilla chips. Right? Like you can be tactful and respectful and kind in the process. So that's some tips for frustration.

Jessi:
So for future, then you wanna flip all those frustrations on their head. Right? You wanna take those empathy points and tease them out into, okay, well what would happen if this empathy point went away? So there's two things that are really important for the future section. In addition to continuing to remain really specific, that's going to be important throughout. But with the future, one, be careful about not being, don't be too over dramatic. You know, I think a lot of times it's easy to fall into sensationalist copy because we see it all the time. We absorb it all the time. But you know, promising in the future section that know if you make this one closet more organized through your patented system.

Marie:
Oh yeah. You're gonna be a bazillionaire.

Jessi:
Yeah. You're gonna be a millionaire and you're gonna have all of your energy back forever. And you know, it, it comes off as fake when, what you're, when you're promising the moon. And it also makes it hard to scale. Those promises up with subsequent offers that may, you know, a low priced offer is going to have a different sort of future than maybe a more high touch, higher price offer. And so you wanna make sure that the future that you're creating for them, that you're painting is realistic and is clear. And that each element of that future, that you're creating ties specifically to one of the empathy points that you've called out earlier. Because if you have an empathy point and you don't address it in the future section, it makes it seem like it's not being resolved.

Marie:
Mm-hmm exactly. So, yeah, you can make it like a game matching them up. Right. You can even work backwards if that's easier for you to envision the future first and then backwards from there, then you can create the frustration portion. So then the last section is fix. So again, make sure that the service offer product, whatever it is actually does address each of the frustration and future points. If it doesn't, your messaging is off and someone's gonna be like this, isn't what I was expecting. How did I get from A, to like L over here? So the other thing to remember is to be specific about the fix. So yes. Saying like, and this course will help you learn how to create a great jewelry making course, the end. Like, okay, you're gonna have to gimme a little bit more than that. You're gonna have to convince me remember it was this persuasion. So do talk about the benefits, do talk about the features. In fact, I would blend to those features, you know, saying like you're gonna get six modules. Period is like, okay, cool. Six hours of like boring YouTube classes, no, six modules so you can look, learn exactly how to blah, blah, blah, and create a sustainable business. Right. Like mix them.
And don't stop at fix. Like we have to also dive into social proof too. Right. And don't forget the CTA. I know that's obvious, but when you're building up to all this, sometimes you can forget the most important thing on the page, which is that call to action, whatever that looks like. Or it may not be a page. This may be a Instagram post. It could be anything, but you can even in very tiny, tiny copy, like a social media post follow this frustration, future fix CTA formula.

Jessi:
Yeah. Absolutely. I think the scalability of this is actually one of the most fun parts of it. You know, if you're talking about like a small social media post, you might have, have two sentences for each of these sections. If it's a sales page, you might have paragraphs for each section and you can kind of scale things up and down as needed. But like Marie, it doesn't end with the three Fs with the, frustration, future and fix that's your starting off point. That's the way where way for you to warm them up, get them familiar with the problem that you're solving, how you're helping them and what the solution is. And what's going to be creative from that solution. But beyond that, there are other things you can do as far as social proof. As far as the CTA.
What this three F formula does is it gives you a good place to start your content. And it gives you a good place to ease into the sale so that you are actually having a conversation with the reader and not just being like buy the thing, buy the thing, buy the thing without actually telling them why they should care about buying the thing. You want them to feel good about the purchase. You want them to feel like the offer has been made in integrity. And you want the client, the person who you're writing for the actual owner of the product or service to be able to sell their product and service and feel like they're doing so in integrity. So we don't wanna avoid the sale. That's another thing that tends to happen with writers who are a little nervous about persuasive copy is they won't forget the CTA, but they'll bury it so far down, that is hard to find.
So typically when we're writing persuasive copy, you will see a frustration section followed by a future section, followed by a fixed section, followed by a CTA and then additional sections with additional CTAs embedded in throughout. If we're talking about like a traditional sales page format. And that works really well because the first CTA is after you've done this initial sort of easing them in and painting the picture and there's additional CTAs throughout so that they have more opportunities to make that decision.

Marie:
Yeah. And honestly, you can even play around with this within your header, right? Like you can say something like, okay, I'm gonna use my very favorite example company to lean on KULA cloth. If you've not heard me talk about KULA cloth, this is a piece of camping gear, designed to as a pee cloth so that you may urinate in the woods. This is a problem for some people with their anatomy, it's not easy. Right. And so you can say something at the, at the top of your sales page, that's like, you know, no more, what I'm trying to say, you could say something like, say goodbye to TP, litter in the woods, right? That's a frustration. The future, you know, could just be basically implied. And then the fix is like, you know, camping gear pee cloth, reusable, pee cloth right? Antimicrobial pee cloth. Like whatever you want it to be, you can kind of lean into it, even in the header section before you dive in and put the CTA there too.
So, and the other thing that's kind of fun is like you could have a social post that's just focused on the health aspects, right? The antimicrobial part sanitation, you could have one that's focused on reducing litter and waste in the outdoors. That's the frustration future fixed path. You could have another one, the that's focused on just the hassle, reducing the hassle, right. Creating a piece of equipment that is meant to make a normal biological process easier because you're already roughing it, right? Like, so you can, you can yank these out. You don't have to talk about all of them with like a nice bulleted list. You can like pull them out them and still have the same product or offer at the end of it. But just find that reason that somebody might want it. And from there, you can even do some testing and see which one does the best.

Jessi:
Mm-hmm. Yeah. That isolation also works really well for emails or social posts or the copy is shorter and you don't wanna throw eight empathy points, set them all at once in one Instagram post. Do you, do you wanna hone in on one and talk about that one empathy point its future and its fix, and the fix will be more or less the same throughout in Marie's example, it's by KULA cloth, go get your pee cloth. That's gonna be the same across the board, but each in the individual Instagram post or each individual email will focus on a different frustration in a different future so that you can test it with different audiences. You can talk about different things at different times. That just make more sense based on the greater context.

Marie:
But even when you get into the fix, your benefit statement might be tailored or two those frustration and future points. So even then within the fix, you're still gonna be like on that message.
So, homework for you. My homework Jessi may have some different homework. My homework would be what of this are you not using right now? As you write content and start to integrate next piece of content you do, or if you aren't working on any conversion copy right now. See what pops up into your inbox. See what shows up in your feed, see what shows up in magazine or like magazine ads, like wherever. I mean, we're surrounded by conversion copy. You could even listen to a commercial on YouTube or something and just see, is there a way for you to rewrite it or reimagine it using this formula and what happens in the process?

Jessi:
Absolutely. And if you feel like this is a lot to keep in your head all at once, use templates, template it out, write it out. We already have created a number of content templates that follow this formula. We have launch copy templates specifically that lean into this and help you to create everything from sales pages to email sequences. I mentioned earlier that some website copy falls into this formula as well. For example, services pages, they're basically short sales pages where we have website copy templates specifically for writers that have also integrated this formula. So you-

Marie:
Nurture content too, right? Like opt-ins.

Jessi:
Yep, absolutely. Yeah. So you can feel free to create your own templates, or if you want a little bit of a head start, you can grab some of our templates as while we'll link to them in the show notes so that you can get started on the homework and start integrating the three F formula into any of the persuasive content that you are creating.

Marie:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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