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The #1 Most Important Copywriting Tip Ever

I write a lot about copywriting. Why? Because content is the most important thing, and words are the most important content.

Get the copywriting right, and your marketing is likely to work as well as it can (assuming you know your audience and have identified their pain and motivation!)

The first rule in copywriting has to be…

*** They don’t care about you ***

If you had to tattoo one phrase on the inside of your eyelids, this would be a good choice!

It’s easy to think that human beings are terribly sophisticated, but we aren’t.

The Biological Imperative

People are animals. We are most motivated by our most primitive lizard brains, which are only concerned with the biological imperatives of:

  1. Stay alive, so that you can
  2. Pass on your genes

That’s it. In marketing, it really boils down to what we call “the four Fs”…

  • Is it Food?
  • Do I need to Fight it?
  • Do I need to Flee from it?
  • Can I – uh – Mate with it?
We're really just cavemen

We’re really just cavemen

We are biologically programmed to do what it takes to stay alive (which means food and security), to protect our family and loved ones, and to have sex.

Security and sex… They’re what really motivates people.

Anything we find that seems like it can make us more secure or more successful at finding a mate gets our attention. We don’t even think about it consciously. Thinking is done by our more evolved ape brain, but the much simpler and more ancient lizard brain is responsible for the 4 Fs and reacts immediately to those signals.

That’s why the following markets are perennial money-makers:

  1. Dating (sex)
  2. Porn (sex)
  3. Beauty (sex)
  4. Weight loss (sex)
  5. Get rich quick (security)
  6. Loans (security)

These days, most of us have a roof over our head and more food than we need, but that little lizardy brain still needs to make us anxious about security, so we’ve translated our security need into the need for money.

Now for the important question…

Where do you and your products and services come into all this?

Well, you don’t, not directly.

What People Really Care About

You see, we all really just care about ourselves, first and foremost, and then our immediate family. (Sure, we’re all more evolved than that, we’re all conscious and globally-aware 21st-Century enlightened beings, but underneath all that we’re still running lizard OS!)

So, consider the real benefits that motivate people.

Is this going to make me more secure, or is this going to make me more attractive?

How can what you sell make someone more secure or more attractive? That’s the question you need to be asking.

Do they really care about what your product does (its features)? Not usually, no.

They care about what it does FOR THEM – its BENEFITS!

Particularly, how buying your thing can make them richer, save them money, or help them to feel more attractive.

That’s why the phrase “No One Ever Got Fired for Buying IBM” was so successful in the 1980s! Because it skipped over the same old features and benefits, and went straight for what the buying manager really cared about… his security!

Let that sink in.

Don’t Talk About You!

One of the most common mistakes in copywriting is talking about yourself too much.

Why is it a mistake? THEY DON’T CARE!!!

Your customers don’t REALLY care who you are, what you’ve done before, why you do what you do, or any of that stuff…

What they REALLY care about is, “What’s in it for me?”

Now, your story may be helpful in showing why you’re reliable or trustworthy or an expert.

But here’s the rub… ONLY in the context of what’s in it for them!

They don’t actually care about you or your business, for your sake… If they care at all, it’s for THEIR sake.

Because, deep-down, we’re motivated by the selfish gene. Stay alive, reproduce. There’s no avoiding it.

This even applies when you’re building a tribe. People follow celebrities, or want to be part of something, not for the thing’s sake, but for THEIR sake. Because it feels good to be part of something special. Because it makes them feel more interesting. Because whatever…

Check Your Copy

So take a look at your website’s copy.

How much you talk about yourself? How much do you talk about your visitor?

Which language do you use most:

  • “me” and “us” and “my” and “our”?
  • or “you” and “your” and “yours”?

Tip: Talk about them. Put your message in the context of THEM, and you’ll get better results.

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben is the creator of Web Design From Scratch. He started writing articles about web design to kill time on a long train commute, and is now one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written three books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally.

Charity - 9 months ago

Great info and all so true. Ugh! Me hungry and my mate look good.
Keep up the informative content.
Thank you.

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