If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.
– Roman Statesman Cicero
More than simply speaking to our audience, we need to connect with them. Roman orator and attorney Cicero knew that connecting at both a mental and emotional level with an audience, using their own language and lingo, was imperative.
His use of the word must in the quote above is telling—when it comes to persuasion, it doesn’t cut it to “try” or “attempt” to connect. You either do or you don’t.
Think Their Thoughts
Are you capable of seeing the world from the perspective of the prospect, rather than as a vendor? This may well be the number one determining factor when it comes to persuasion. Communicating with your readers in a way that embraces their own point of view is the key to winning their hearts and minds, while hoping to change their point of view can result in dismal failure.
Feel Their Feelings
What are the internal motivations that drive your ideal reader and customer? Are they more motivated by the fear of loss or the hope for gain? Are they concerned with themselves or a desire to protect their loved ones? Are they motivated to play it safe, or with leading the pack? Knowing these answers will be key to true reader connection.
Speak Their Words
This is the crux of the matter from a copywriting standpoint. Are you talking down to the audience, or speaking over their heads? Are you communicating with clarity regardless of skill level, or are you gumming up your copy with jargon in a misguided attempt to appear sophisticated? Above anything else, your readers must understand what you have to say in order to care about doing business with you.
Do You Really Want to?
The point here is not to belabor the obvious. You know you’ve got to make a connection with people for relationship marketing via blogging to work.
The real question is, do you really want to connect with these people? Week after week, month after month, will you maintain the desire to genuinely serve and speak to the audience you’ve identified?
If the answer is no, move on. As important as the reader is, you can’t fake the desire to be of service, and even if you can, you’ll be unhappy. Amongst all the focus on serving the reader, don’t forget that you’re not doing this solely out of the goodness of your heart.
Both business and blogging should be fun. Really. 🙂
Reader Comments (27)
Ryan Holiday says
Should it be so fun that we allow smileys? 🙂
It’s nice to see classical history applied to blogs/new media. There’s a lot to be learned from there, and we’re just scratching the surface. Solid as usual man.
Claire Carroll says
A fantastic article. Well written and incisive. I love the reference.
Lots of happy smileys x
Tony D. Clark says
It’s funny how often this gets missed.
I actually used another, similar Cicero quote in a presentation I produced for a client:
“No one can speak well, unless he thoroughly understands his subject.”
In order to connect with someone, you have to really understand them. The point I was making in the presentation was the “subject” to understand was the client, not the technology.
Knowing the product is great – but knowing your client is more valuable. The guidelines you list here, are a great way to do that.
Mark McGuinness says
Really like the balance between you and the customer.
So much writing on marketing just bangs on about meeting the customer’s needs – which is all well and good, but you’ve got to really love what you’re doing for them, otherwise you just burnout.
Mark Goodyear says
“Amongst all the focus on serving the reader, don’t forget that you’re not doing this out of the goodness of your heart.”
It’s a hard truth that we should expect payment for service. But I don’t think that means we aren’t working out of a sense of goodness.
Good business always comes out of the goodness of our hearts–but it is also fair and just to expect payment for a job well done.
Mark, I should have said “solely out of the goodness of your heart.” Clearly some goodness needs to be involved. 😉
Dawud Miracle says
Think their thoughts. This simple paragraph should be a must read for every small business owner who has a website.
Mark Goodyear says
Yeah, I figure you’re a pretty good guy, Brian. The way you give yourself away at CopyBlogger has certainly become a model for other bloggers. Including me.
I have my moments. 🙂
Fixed the post, btw, to add in the word “solely”.
nettie hartsock says
Great post. Loved “the point here is not to belabor the obvious.”
Cicero, eh ? That’s a great post starter, albeit one I hope to top withing a couple of days.
Thanks for a great post and for raisin’ the bar a bit.
Brett Borders says
Copyblogger does it again… another dead-on, crystal clear post!
brad shorr says
Business and blogging are fun only when you make money out of it 😛
Ashish Mohta says
To get into others shoes is the key.Thats what makes the business success and yeah you need to know whats on their mind to get u some money
Philip Liu says
Love your blog and a regular. I read your Cicero post and it was an influence on my posting on the “Visitor Grid”.
I was wondering if you would care to leave a comment about my post and the system I propose. I look forward to your thoughts.
Thanks for your time.
I agree blogging should be mainly out of passion or for fun, ever since I’ve put the goal of going problogging I’ve noticed my attitude has changed and I’ve switched my passion with various goals. I’m working getting it back now 🙂
Great post… but I’m waiting for Copyblogger the book! Seriously.
Just found your blog. Its a motherlode of great information. I’m gonna be learning tonnes from here on how to write my posts. Thanks so much for the clarity of thought and depth of information shown on your blog!
Brett Borders says
I gave you a bit of flack for something a while back, Brian, but it’s only because I have such a high regard for the credibility and quality of this blog. I hope the reputation you have established here rewards you in a very big way.
Just revisited my older links to sort them into relevant categories and since the one before this one was about not using jargon it got me thinking. How do you talk to a broader audience or indeed an audience you don’t yet know? Can you communicate effectively and broadly at the same time? I would imagine that it would be more effective to target everyone as specifically as possible, but if you do too good a job you might end up with a very small audience…
Thanks for the salient advice. Whenever I feel like I am “trying” or “attempting” to connect while writing, it never feels like A+ work. C+ at best.
When I do resonate with a project or task, all of the Cicerian ideals really shine.
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