When you’re doing your best work with your clients, it can be magical, sacred. There’s almost something holy about what you do, like you aren’t there at all.
And that’s what your clients love most too — those moments of transcendence in the work and the relationship.
The best businesses always originate from an attitude of service, and Copyblogger has talked many times about putting your customer’s needs before your own.
But if you try to talk about this sacredness in your copywriting, it doesn’t make an impact.
It gets swallowed up in the marketplace, like an insignificant cotton ball swept away in a hurricane.
At the same time, it seems like there’s a stampede of customers running towards the latest exaggeration and hype … pitches for effortless success and instant health.
What gives? Doesn’t anyone care about what’s really important?
Can you increase your business without sacrificing your ethics on the altar of sleazy hype and inflated promises?
You can … but you need to see inside the fight going on inside your customer’s hearts (and your own).
The fight of the millennium: the ego versus the heart
Everyone’s heart craves love and connection. Our hearts are made to love and be loved. Our souls ache for connection and depth.
Unfortunately, that’s not often who’s in the driver’s seat. The one who’s got his or her grubby little fingers on the wheel is the ego.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Mr. or Ms. Ego in particular. It’s just that the poor dear can’t really take in a grander perspective.
The ego is all about needing safety and security. The ego is always focused on problems and what’s in the way of safety and security. Worrisome thoughts, judgment, and blame are the ego’s best friends.
When the ego has its eye on some big prize, or feels like a fire is burning on his or her rear, then the accelerator gets jammed to the floor. The heart may say, “Uh, excuse me, I’d really like to stop and check out a little bit of that love over there.”
But the ego says, “Huh? Whatever …” And turns up the rock n’ roll even louder, eating ice cream, smoking cigarettes, and driving even faster.
You know it’s true.
How many times have you told yourself, “Well, I bet I’d feel really good if I only (went bicycling, ate a green salad, took a nap)?” But there you are 30 minutes later, sprawled on the couch with an empty pint of mint chocolate chip, and cookie crumbs everywhere.
Your customers are driven by ego just like you are. And they don’t always respond to that heart-centered message.
What does it take to control the ego?
Buddhists, Sufis, Christian mystics, Jewish Kabbalists, Hindus, and Zoroastrians will all tell you that it takes a great deal of discipline and spiritual development to get the ego to give up the wheel, and allow the heart and the Divine to drive the person.
In other words, it takes someone who is pretty darned enlightened.
So, unless you’re marketing only to spiritually enlightened masters, I’d choose another way.
Soothe the ego before you try to talk to the heart
This is why all those crazy hype-masters make so much money — because they know how to get the ego’s attention.
As long as you run an ethical business in an ethical way, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with talking to a prospect’s ego. Now if you get the ego’s attention and then give it junk food and rusty knives … well, not so ethical.
But you don’t have to market only to the enlightened. And you don’t have to abandon the sacredness of what you want to say.
You just need to spend some time soothing the ego first, then you can show the heart. Your business can grow, and you’ll get to do more of what you love.
The ego needs three things to soothe it. So what are those three things? And when do you start talking to the heart?
3 keys to ego-marketing the sacred
#1 — The first thing the ego wants is empathy.
The ego wants to know if you really know the pain it feels. Because pain is uncomfortable, many of us tend to minimize others’ pain. For instance, someone may tell you, “I’m super pissed off and enraged about such and so.” And someone attempting empathy answers, “Oh, I hear you’re upset about such and so.”
“Upset” does not equal “super pissed-off and enraged.” Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the emotions you know your customers are feeling in your copy. You don’t need to go over the top, “Sounds like you’re ready to burn that place to the ground.” But, don’t be afraid to say, “You’re so mad, you could chew through steel.”
You can read further on this in one of my favorite empathy resources, Nonviolent Communication, a book by Marshall Rosenberg.
#2 — The second thing the ego wants is identity.
If your clients are pregnant women, then they’ll want to know that you know something very personal about being pregnant. If your clients struggle with getting their corporate teams to function, they want to know that you really get the corporate political landscape.
And, if your clients hold strong values around something, they want to know that you cherish the same values, that you won’t run roughshod over them.
For instance, there are lots of people who teach copywriting to business folks. But for me, I waited a long time before studying with someone, because I was concerned that:
- They didn’t know anything about the kind of people I talk to
- They would try to turn me into a hype-master. That might be what works for a lot of markets, but it’s not for me
#3 — The third thing the ego wants is hope.
The problems the ego faces are real and legitimate.
Your clients do want to be healthy. They do want to be effective. They do want to succeed. And the ego needs to know it can get there.
It wants to know that you aren’t just going to talk about bringing love, peace, and harmony into teamwork — but that by doing that, the team will be able to hit their fourth quarter goals.
Now, start talking to the heart
With the three goals of empathy, identity, and hope showing up first in your copywriting and marketing, you can then bring up the sacred, almost as if it’s a side benefit.
But don’t worry, your heart and your client’s heart know what’s really going on.
Dealing with ego can feel like selling out, or compromising your values, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By paying attention to what the ego wants (what real people really want), you can finally connect with many more people on a heart level, so they can get the profound effects from working with you.
And, what shows up in your bank account will support you to have fun, be generous and keep doing it, too. (There, there, ego, this will help your money problems …)