The Life-Changing Magic Of Words: 5 Reasons You Need To Think Like A Copywriter
Tamsin Henderson is the creator of the #1 best-selling copy writing course on Udemy, the world’s largest online learning platform.
She has taught over 30,000 students in 171 countries; and is the founder of Copy Kooks, where she helps entrepreneurial word nerds give their ideas the best possible chance of success.
Through her digital programs, Tamsin’s simple, down-to-earth approach proves that anyone can overcome their fear of writing, and see results from their copy—no matter what their mother tongue, formal education or level of experience. When not evangelizing about the life-changing magic of words, she can be found cozying up with her daughter and mini schnauzer, at home in Cambridge, England.
I had the opportunity to speak with Tamsin recently. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
Jill Griffin: A lot of business owners are transitioning to online right now, what role does copy play?
Tamsin Henderson: Copy is fundamental to the success of a business. Every word you write is marketing. Your website. Your emails. Your Instagram captions. Your LinkedIn posts, landing pages and product descriptions. Even the buttons on your newsletter opt-in forms.
I see so many people getting lost in tactics and strategies, but it’s words that move people to action. Especially online, when you can’t meet people face-to-face, and all you’ve got is pixels on a screen. Really, every word is a powerful opportunity to win the hearts and minds of your customers.
Jill Griffin: Why write your own copy, as opposed to hiring a copywriter?
Henderson: When you’re starting out—at least for the first few years—writing your own copy changes your approach to marketing. It flips your perspective and places you firmly in your customers’ shoes. That’s what makes copywriters such brilliant marketers. They understand people’s problems better than anyone. And they know how to frame a product or service in a way that perfectly addresses those problems. They also understand how to grab attention and communicate in the most compelling way. Also, if you want to stay agile and not have to hire a copywriter every time you need a new Facebook ad or web page, learning the basics will serve you well as you inevitably pivot your way through entrepreneurship.
Jill Griffin: What are the reasons business owners need to think more like copywriters?
Henderson: When you understand how to arrange words to persuade, you have a distinct advantage over those who don’t. You become a stronger marketer and a more capable business owner. The way we were taught to write at school is the polar opposite of the kind of writing that draws customers closer. So if you’re doing it yourself without applying time-tested techniques you’re likely negatively impacting your sales.
Jill Griffin: What are your tips to help folks build that mindset?
Henderson: 1. Tip one: Know your customers inside out, but speak their language too If you’ve done your due diligence, you’ll know your customers’ inside out. Their smoldering fears and lofty dreams. But are you speaking their language? The way you talk about your offerings and what they do may not be how your customers talk about them. Good copywriters avoid insider language and instead, reflect back the actual words people use in everyday life. Scour testimonials, reviews and online forums for what your target audience is saying. Type #Rant into Facebook groups and see what pops up. Keep a spreadsheet of your findings. Then weave those specifics into your marketing to make your customers feel seen, heard and understood.
2. Tip two: Get so clear it hurts So often, business owners struggle to crystallize their messages and offerings into a few pithy words. Blame the curse of knowledge! But cramming in too much leads to confusion. And when people are confused, they don’t buy. Getting clear can be painful because it involves pruning things right back. And that can feel like removing a body part when your business is your baby. Grab a pen and paper and as succinctly as you can, summarize: What exactly do I offer? What does it do? For who? And why do they need it? Do the same for everything you sell. Digital products, packages, courses, memberships, e-books, coaching calls, whatever. Your goal is to zoom so far out that anyone could grasp what you do in a single, swift glance.
3. Tip three: Master the art of attention-grabbing A copywriter’s job is multi-faceted. It’s not just about pretty words that stoke people to action. You’ve got to master the art of stealing distracted people away from the 10,000 brand messages bombarding them every day. That means crafting scroll-stopping headlines and email subject lines. Learn to build your own attention-grabbing muscle, by keeping a swipe file of sticky phrases, irresistible headlines and unusual word choices that had you clicking. Then use them to inform your own blog posts, social media captions and emails.
4. Tip four: Know what makes people tick When you think like a copywriter, you understand the sales psychology you need to grow a thriving business. I recommend inhaling anything you can get your hands on by Robert Cialdini — books, podcasts, videos. He is the undisputed master of all things persuasion. Give yourself an afternoon’s education in his seven principles of influence and I guarantee you’ll be a better, more prosperous business owner because of it.
5. Tip five: Start from a position of service A lot of people feel really uncomfortable selling. Like it’s somehow sleazy or wrong. Especially solopreneurs and small businesses. But when you know how to highlight your products and services in a way that solves people’s challenges… or helps them achieve their dreams—it no longer feels icky. Adopting this mindset helps you sell from a position of service first. You start to build systems that magnetize customers to you because they see you as the solution. It’s a small tweak in logic, but a powerful one. Imagine if you had the ability to increase your sales, just by restructuring your words… switching a few words out here, splicing a few sentences there. It would feel like a superpower, right? I’m simplifying of course, but ultimately that’s what copy writing does. Which is why getting into that head space can be transformational for your life and your business. And that’s pretty magical if you ask me.