- Marcus Tullius Cicero
(c. 106-43 B.C.)
If you do any SEO copywriting, you need to listen to Cicero’s words.
This is arguably one of the most concise and insightful comments ever written applicable to the task of persuasive copywriting. Whether you are writing for a medium in traditional advertising, writing for web sites, article marketing, or optimized copy for SEO, there is plenty to learn from Cicero’s advice.
There are 3 main styles of communication:
- Messenger focused
- Message focused
- Audience focused
The 3rd style, audience focused, is what makes for the best copy when you need the kind of quality content the search engines want or the kind of compelling and effective marketing copy on which marketers depend. It is this style that Cicero is urging us to use. There is no way you can heed his words, however, unless you understand your audience sufficiently.
Target Audience Research
What does it mean to think another’s thoughts, feel another’s feelings, and speak another’s words?
To think another’s thoughts, you must know enough about their perspective or world view and enough about how they reason. You need to know what types of arguments appeal to them and what biases they may have with respect to the subject matter that is the focus of your copy. The more you know about the background of your audience, the better you’ll be able to understand their thought process. Sometimes, good demographics data can be very helpful. Two resources you should consider using are:
To feel another’s feelings, you must relate to the hopes, dreams, fears and pain of your audience related to the focus of your copy. You need to identify the pain points of your target market and speak to those points in your writing . Think in terms of the following categories and how they may relate to motivations behind a customer wanting or needing your product or service like the following:
- time pressure
- family pressure
- social pressure
- work pressure
- financial pressure
You can also consider positive motivations behind a customer’s desire for your product or service like the following:
- gaining a competitive advantage (goal oriented)
- earning the respect or approval of others (status)
- self enjoyment
- meeting a need
To speak another’s words, you must use terminology familiar to them. Avoid jargon that may confuse them or that they may find off-putting. You should learn how to use the following tools for this purpose:
- Google AdWords Keyword Tool
- Google Insights
- Google Trends
- Google Related Searches
- Keyword Discovery
The tools above will reveal to you what words and phrases your prospective customer and reader uses when thinking about your product. Rather than guessing, you can know precisely how they talk about the subject matter of your copy. Use these words, their words, as much as possible as you develop your content.
Using these tools and principles will help you write much more compelling copy, engage your audience and persuade them.