Geoff Kullman is our guest for the 268th episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. Geoff is a direct-response copywriter and brand strategist who helps online entrepreneurs and personal brands tell better stories and make more money. Geoff breaks down how he uses neuroscience and psychology to write impactful copy that converts.
Here’s all the things we talk about:
- The common denominator for copywriters and other writers.
- Geoff’s journey from devout pastor to direct-response copywriter.
- The importance of showcasing your abilities and talents within your website and business.
- How to make niching your own and work for you.
- The framework that takes people from prospect to customer.
- How to break down the 6-step framework for strong emails and sales pages.
- The difference between prompt and pitch and why it matters.
- Trauma-informed marketing and how to write from a place of empathy.
- Why the marketing world is shifting and how we can adapt to the changes.
- How to be more intentional about your client avatar.
- Finding your brand voice and helping your clients find theirs.
- Where most copywriters go wrong when creating ideal client avatars.
- What to leave out of emails to make them more compelling and connect with your audience on a deeper level.
- The impact neuroscience has on the words we write and why they convert.
- The psychology of why social proof works so well.
- What chemicals need to be released during the conversion process and in what order.
- Can you network as an introvert?
- Dealing with a scarcity mindset and making the shift to an abundant mindset.
If you want to learn more about the psychology behind copywriting, be sure to tune into this episode.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Kira’s website
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Kira: When you first started copywriting, you probably learned about creating a client avatar and all about storytelling, but what if you could take it a step further and tell stories that could make an even stronger impact? Our guest for the 268th episode of the Copywriter Club is Geoff Kullman. Geoff uses the power of neuroscience and psychology to create a deeper, more meaningful connection with people, and today I am joined by my co-host Gabby Jackson. How’s it going? Gabby?
Gabby: It’s going well. How are you?
Kira: Doing really well, Gabby. So you are on our team, we have had so many people in our audience asked to hear more about our team members, and I want to introduce you today just so everyone can get to know you a little bit better. So why don’t you just kick off with how you heard about the Copywriter Club and what you do on the team?
Gabby: So, yes, I am super excited to be here. I discovered the Copywriter Club by wanting to find out more information about copywriting in general, and I was all about podcasts, still am all about podcasts, and I just typed in copywriting. This podcast was the first one to pop up, and I started binging episode after episode, and I decided I have to be part of this community, this club, how do I get in?
Kira: No, wait, when was that, Gabby?
Gabby: That was probably last August or September, yeah, so it’s been a little over a year.
Kira: Yeah. I remember when we first met you in the underground on our first … our meet and greet call with you, and we met you, and you just had such great energy that Rob and I were texting each other, we’re like, “We have to figure out a way to get Gabby on our team so we can work with her.” We were lucky enough that you joined the team, and so what do you do today on the team?
Gabby: So, on the team I handle a lot of the social media aspects, whether that mean graphics or captions, some email writing, podcast show notes and introductions, and some Pinterest tasks as well.
Kira: Yeah, and the cool thing about today is that Gabby actually works on these. We call them interjections, this is basically our commentary that we add to every episode, and Gabby and Rosie work on these every week. So Gabby, maybe you can give us some insight into how you put these together today, and to share your process real quick.
Gabby: Yeah. I love putting these together because I feel like I get an inside scoop before everybody else. So I’ll listen through the interview, and I’m really just jotting down anything that sounds kind of intriguing to me. I feel like everybody on the team is a little bit the same in what we like to listen to, and copywriters in general so I’ll write down anything that sounds interesting. Then I’ll kind of lay it out in bullet points so that way it’s easy for everybody to read, kind of go in through different points of the podcast, and then you all make your comments, and we’ll kind of just go through and clean everything up, take out any extra language that maybe we don’t need, and then-
Kira: All the ums. All the ums.
Gabby: Yeah, exactly. I wasn’t going to say, but all the ums, and yeahs, or whatever it is, and then we’ll go from there.
Kira: All right, so today’s extra special that we have you here to talk through this interview with Geoff, since you worked on the background and put this all together. Before we jump in let’s talk about our sponsor. Shockingly, this episode is sponsored by the Copywriter Club, the Copywriter Club In Real Life. We are so excited that this year we are able to get back to an IRL event in Nashville, Tennessee. We just signed the contract with the hotel, and so we finally have the dates. We can announce Sunday, the 27th, we’ll kick off with our think tank retreat, and then we’ll kick off the official event Monday the 28th, and run the 28th, the 29th, and then we will have a VIP event on the 30th. So we’re so excited to get together in person because last year it was virtual, and this year it’s all about seeing old friends and making new friends.
Gabby, I’m just curious, because you’ve worked on the event behind the scenes, you were part of (N)IRL this past year, but just why are you excited to attend this year? What have you heard about it that makes you most excited?
Gabby: Oh, my gosh, I seriously continuously happy dance just because I’m excited to actually meet so many copywriters in person. I think that’s the great thing about in person events is you can really just focus all your attention on the speakers, and the people that are there, there’s no distractions. I think it’s just going to be such a great time to leave the house, and be able to interact with so many people who are trying to grow their businesses too.
Kira: All right, so if you are listening and you have any interest in attending this event, or just learning more about it, you can jump to our website, go to the copywriterclub.com\tccirl-2022, or just check our show notes and click on the link. We’ll have the link and the show notes of this episode so you can check out all the details about the event, and we can hopefully see you there this March. All right, now let’s get into the episode.
Geoff Kullman: You know, I always loved writing. I was one of those kids, the more I say this to other people the more I feel less alone, and there’s more of us copywriters who came up this way, who were this way as kids, but I was always the kid, the shy kid that hid behind my mom’s leg. Whenever someone would try to talk to me I’d just cower behind her, find safety behind her, and it really wasn’t … whenever someone would try to talk to me I wouldn’t have anything to say, and it wasn’t until I got into school and discover this thing called reading and writing that I began to actually find a voice. I didn’t basically … I basically didn’t speak until I was five years old, until I found that I could write what I was thinking.
Later on in life I discovered or was told this line that words make worlds, which is basically what I was able to do. I didn’t talk, but once I could write it out I would create these fantastic worlds where I was a hero, where everyone was lifting me up on their shoulders, where I’d win the game, and all that. So that love for writing started really, really, really early for me, and again, I feel like the more I talk about it, the more people say, “Yeah, me too,” that that’s something of a common denominator between us writers and copywriters. I took that love and enjoyment of writing, and basically then found a way to turn it into a career, in a roundabout way into a career.
First, I became, believe it or not, a pastor. I was a youth pastor then a regular pastor, but what I always thought as was basically this unique way to create content that I always got to write and create content throughout the week. I got to hang out with people, and help people through life, and all that, and that was all good, but really what I loved was I got to investigate, and I got to write content multiple times a week, which then when I left the church because I no longer was a fit, I lost my faith and all that, that’s a whole other story, but I found I still had this transferable skill to take me from that content creation piece that I loved. I could actually still do it outside of my old profession where I could now write for other people, tell their stories, help them get clear on that story that’s going to draw their audience in.
It seems like a weird progression, but it was a natural one to go from that church space into this copywriting space because those skills, those interests, and those things that I love were still highly transferable from one to the next.
Rob: I really like this idea, I’ve heard it before, but not in a while that you bring up the words make worlds. I’m curious as a kid, what were the worlds you were making? Tell us about one of them. How did you do that?
Geoff Kullman: The other way that I found freedom when I was a kid, and got tons of joy was through sports, so most of the worlds that I would create were sports-related. Some of them were cool adventures where I’d go off exploring in castles, and all that stuff, but most of them revolved around my BMX bike and a hockey rink where I could … I already enjoyed those things, already was decent at those things, but maybe those friends at school didn’t know that I was a great hockey player so I could write a story where everyone knew, where everyone celebrated me and my hockey skills, or where I won the BMX race and everyone celebrated. It was weird that I took those things I was already really good at. I didn’t write myself new skills, or new hobbies, or new interests, but I did make sure in those stories everyone knows I’m really good at this, in this fictitious world that I created.
Rob: How does that show up in the work that you do today?
Geoff Kullman: That is a fantastic question. A lot of the work that I do today revolves around doing very similar stuff of helping my clients, or my coaching clients as well, figure out what is that story that connects with people, that people are actually interested in. I heard someone earlier today say basically just like the Mad Men from the 50s, we don’t need to go search for an audience, we need to bring our audience to us. We need to find an audience that are drawn audience, that’s already interested in what we’re interested in and what we’re already talking about. So, with my clients it’s very similar, we go through the process of trying to figure out what their story is, but more than that, what pieces of that story actually draw people in, actually connect to the right audience, actually speak to the right avatar. So that’s some of the work that I do early on with clients.
Rob: Okay, we’re definitely going to come back to this, but let’s go back to you’re just starting out now as a copywriter using a lot of the skills that you developed as a pastor. Talk to us about how you got those first clients. What did you do to reach out and connect with them?
Geoff Kullman: One of the reasons that I kind of glazed over, when I left my church role I already had a certification in copywriting. I had a side gig that I thought I’d use it in and all that, so I was able to use my story brand certification to draw in a few early clients. Then eventually a few retainer clients early on that helped stem the tide financially for our family, from quitting one job and going freelance. But really what I was able to do and how I stood out, was people would book a discovery call, or whatever with me, and they’d basically say, “What you did on your site for yourself, the funnel that you built for your own business, that’s basically what we want you to do for us. Everyone else says that they can do it, but your site, your business is actually showing us that you do it.”
So, the earliest clients that I got were just drawn to me in the way that I’d set things up because I was already doing exactly what they wanted. They just wanted me to mimic it, clone it for them and their business. So that became a really simple and easy way to attract business to myself because there was this one skill that I had of writing, all I needed to do was pair it up with a funnel for my own site and it would draw folks in that just wanted to do the same thing.
Rob: What does your business look like today?
Geoff Kullman: Very different from what it looked like in those early days. I guess the skill that I deliver is still copywriting, still connecting people between … connecting businesses and entrepreneurs with their audiences through stories, through words, but the clients that I get to work with are vastly different now. So in those early days it was whoever I could get, whatever business they were in, my only differentiator was that I could write and write well, but now it’s much more, attracting thought leaders and authors, and experts, people in that field that I get to write for. The big difference between then and now is just I’m much more niche down, much more an expert in one particular thing on top of copywriting, copywriting for one particular audience.
Rob: Let’s be more specific, what is that? Who exactly is it you’re helping, and what are you doing for them?
Geoff Kullman: Like I said, it’s mostly thought leaders, authors, experts, people that have built an audience, generally have pretty successful businesses already, they just need help either getting the word out even more or they need some of that copywriting stuff off their plate so they can focus on their audience. But it’s mostly people who are like gurus essentially is basically who I get to write for now. People would know some names, but I don’t want a name-drop, but that’s folks that have name recognition that’s who I get to write for now.
Rob: Okay, that’s cool. You’ve got a framework I’m assuming for doing that, let’s talk a little bit about or dig into it, what is the framework that you use?
Geoff Kullman: Well, one of the frameworks that I use is called the Six P Sequence or Six P Framework, where basically it’s … there’s nothing rocket science about it. There’s nothing horribly patentable or anything about it, but it’s just walking people through, specifically in email campaigns and sales pages and direct response copy, walking the copy through, walking the customer prospect through a very specific sequence of events so that they can understand the value that they’re going to get, the problem that they’re going to solve, and see actual testimonies, proof and all that to prove that this is something that can help them. So the Six PS are pretty simple, it starts with the problem that they have, that the avatar or prospect has that they’re struggling to get through or get over. We follow up that problem piece with the promise, so that’s the solution that the client offers, that the company or business or thought leader offers to them.
After that we want to talk them through a paradigm shift. So we’ve told them about their problem, we’ve shown them the promise that we can, you know, “This is what life looks like on the other side of doing business with us,” but usually the biggest shift in results and in mindset, and in all comes with that paradigm shift of you used to thought the truth was this. You used to think life was like this, but it’s actually like that. You used to think the problem … You used to think about the problem this way, now you should actually be thinking about it that way instead. So we introduce that paradigm shift, and usually when a client can have that aha moment of this is the before and after of what our clients or prospects are going through it’s a pretty big deal for them because they can now communicate even in stuff they’re doing without me in sales calls and their coaching programs, things like that, they can understand that paradigm shift that people go through much, much clearer.
After we walk people through that paradigm shift then we introduce some proof. So that’s testimonials or case studies or Yelp reviews or whatever. We show people proof. We show the audience proof that this customer or the client that I’m writing for, that they actually know what they’re talking about. After we’ve shown proof we give them a prompt, that’s a really quick email or section of the copy that’s usually pretty binary. It forces people to make a yes or no decision, and even a no is a good thing because at least they’re responding, and they’re replying and they’re taking some form of action, but it’s in that yes or no binary decision. Then we end with the pitch where it’s just the hard pitch of, “Here’s the program, do you want in?” So problem, promise, paradigm, proof, prompt pitch, that’s the Six P’s.
Rob: I like it. I’m going to put you on the spot just a little bit, can we go a little bit deeper on the paradigm shift? Do you have a concrete example that we can talk through so we’re really clear on what that is?
Geoff Kullman: I can walk us through one real quick that I’ve used in coaching programs before, so not necessarily giving away client secrets, but talking you through how that paradigm shift works. So think about a keto diet, if you were selling a keto cookbook, that’s giving away some recipes, giving people some ingredient lists, all that stuff, so paradigm shift could be as simple as that you used to think eating healthy, eating well, eating right was difficult, but it’s not that hard. That’s a super simple example of you thought it was hard, but it’s actually easy.
The beauty of that paradigm shift, which is very simple, but the beauty of it is that it makes your product the bridge to get from hard to easy, right? Where it’s not hard, it’s easy or simple, but what you’re missing is the tools to do it, so let me show you what those tools are, and in this case, that would be this keto cookbook where you can get the recipes, you can get the ingredients, you can get everything that you’d need to get set up for success because of that product. So we introduce that paradigm shift in a way that makes the product, the bridge between X and Y, between hard and easy.
Rob: I like it. I can think of some other things that would be almost templated paradigm shifts, like expensive to inexpensive, effortful to effortless kind of stuff, hard to easy, so I like that. Then let’s also talk about prompt, because prompt and pitch feel like they could be mixed together or confused for each other, so specifically what is the difference between say prompt and pitch?
Geoff Kullman: Right. So a prompt is really meant to be … it’s very quick, it’s like if you ever heard of the nine-word email, that’s essentially what a prompt is. It’s a really quick … if it’s an email then it’s like one sentence with a yes or no question, so it’s, “Is it time to work together? Are you ready to get working together? Is this program right for you?” Really, it is just prompting the audience to get ready to make a decision. So when I say even a no is a good answer, what usually happens in an email when I send one of these out, or a client sends one of these out even a no means that they reply with not yet, and so MailChimp or ConvertKit, or whomever reads that as, “Hey, they replied, they’re interested in this content more and more.” So it ups your reputation score and all that, or your client’s reputation score.
What happens most often is that people will reply essentially with a maybe, so, “I don’t know, why don’t you tell me more,” or, “How much does that cost?” Or, “What does the program look like?” Or, “What are the dates?” Or things like that, so it elicits a response that actually gets people further down the sales conversation, even though they’re not at the pitch part yet they’re asking you for the pitch part. So prompt and pitch kind of are very similar and interchangeable in that sense that that prompt piece sets people up, not in a bad way, gets people ready for that pitch piece.
Rob: Okay, that makes sense. Then, if I were to use this framework, trying to walk through it for my own sales page or for a client or something, what are the pitfalls or the hiccups that I might experience as I go through that process?
Geoff Kullman: Generally, people get tripped up on this when they try to go out of order, which when you get comfortable with it, when you get familiar with it you can start adding in. Maybe you want a prompt piece higher up on the page, not fifth, but whatever, you can add in some proof higher up on the page, but people get tripped up, even copywriters, but especially people that I’m coaching through how to write this stuff, they get tripped up and get overconfident about it and start going out of order, and then it kills the flow.
It’s designed a specific way to engage the way that our readers are going to think, the way that those prospects are going to be processing the information that they’re reading. Also, it makes it very scannable, so if you just give people a headline or a subhead or bold some copy to grab attention through each of these six sections, it’s designed in a way that the eye actually, as they scan can read it as a story. It’s not that they need to stop and read every piece of the copy, they can just go by those headlines and they get the whole story when you walk them through these six piece. The biggest pitfall is going out of order and messing things up that way.
Rob: Yes, trust the process, stick to the formula.
Geoff Kullman: Trust the process, yeah.
Rob: Exactly. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard anybody else using this term, but I’m told you talk about this a little bit, anyway, trauma-informed marketing, tell me what that is, and what does it do for your clients?
Geoff Kullman: Yeah. I’m not sure if anyone else has used the term either, but I’m open to hearing if others have, so trauma-informed marketing is really being purposefully careful with the words that we use, and purposely careful with the strategies that we implement. The past 18 months, two years, however long, we’ve all gone through, every single person in the world has gone through trauma, lockdowns, businesses closing down, being scared of viruses, all that stuff, we’ve all gone through trauma that we didn’t expect, trauma that we didn’t necessarily know how to deal with, trauma that some people might still be going through even now. So trauma-informed marketing is basically just saying, “Pull back the scarcity when we don’t need it. Pull back the fear-mongering when we don’t need it.”
Actually, honoring and respecting our avatars, or our client’s clients, means that we don’t necessarily need to just layer on the fear all the time, layer on inducing the scarcity, and triggering fight or flight responses too much. Some of that’s built-in to marketing. Some of that’s how we get results, but we don’t need to hit it so hard if we actually honor our audience, and build a connection with our audience, we don’t need to rely so much on those fear tactics. So that’s what trauma-informed marketing is really all about.
Rob: Let’s say, okay, I’m pretty used to the PAS formula, I’m agitating pain or whatever, and I want to dial that back, do you have thoughts around the best ways to do that? Obviously, problem, agitate, solve, it works, right? There’s a reason that people do that, there’s a reason that people push that pain button, so what do we do instead to replace it?
Geoff Kullman: Yeah, there’s a reason that scarcity is used too, because it works, right? But like I said, it’s about honoring the people that we’re writing to. So if we are actually respecting the audience of our client then it’s not so much that we don’t agitate the pain point, it’s that we can couch it in a story, or couch it in a conversation that actually honors what they’re going through, which sounds wiffly-waffly, but what it really means is we’ve done the work to know who our audience or our clients’ audience is. We’ve done enough of it so that we can actually know those pain points, know what agitation points we need to get to without re-traumatizing people, without making them feel worse about themselves, without making them feel worse about their situation. We want to position the product. We want to position the program or the service, or the offer in a way that’s going to help them, but we don’t need to twist the knife as much as we think we need to.
Basically, what I tell people is, “If you need to manipulate people that much then you’re probably not writing that well, then you need to do more work. You need to go back and actually review what you’ve written, review how well you know your avatar, how well you know the offer, if people are actually going to benefit from this product at a higher level.” So if you’re relying on traumatizing your audience or re-traumatizing them then you’re probably just not a good enough writer yet, you need to go back to some basics and learn more how to write effectively.
Rob: It seems like we can definitely agree, manipulation is not great. We definitely don’t want to traumatize our audience. It sounds like you’re kind of talking about empathy, coming at what we’re doing from a place of empathy, is that an accurate read on that?
Geoff Kullman: Absolutely, yeah. When I say honoring our audience, respecting our audience or our client’s audience that’s really what it boils down to, is can we write from a place of empathy? Can we, not just understand, but put ourselves in their shoes, right? Can we tell them … I write for personal brands so this is really easy for me to talk about because I can just write into the copy. I know what that feels like because the author or expert, a thought leader that I’m writing for, they can use a personal voice like that, so perhaps I have an advantage there where I can just say, “Hey, I know what this struggle is like. I know what the past year and a half, or two years have been like. I’ve struggled with this, this, and this in the past. I’ve struggled with that.” So we can build in some empathy and understanding right there, and identify with that, or make our clients identifiable as characters, and then it layers on that empathy, like I said, without just relying on fear tactics and scarcity, and re-traumatizing our audience.
Rob: Okay, it makes sense. So while we’re talking about this you mentioned the avatar. Tell me how you use avatars in your business.
Geoff Kullman: So, I used to use avatars as a tool to try to impress people, try to impress clients of, “Oh, yeah, we’ll build an avatar.” I was mostly asking demographic or very basic psychographic type of information, so their age range, their salary, their job title and all that, but now it’s much more based on what are their goals, what are their values, what are their motivations, those psychographic type details of not just do they have 2.2 kids, but what are their hopes and dreams for their kids? Again, I’m writing for personal brands so it is very easy for that, pardon me, for that connection to be made in the avatar of the product that they’re looking to buy, or the guru that they’re looking to connect with who’s going to help them improve their lives, or improve their parenting, or improve life in one way or another.
It really does boil down to knowing the audience on that deeper level of what are your, like I said, what are the hopes, dreams, aspirations that you have not just for you, but for your kids. What are … When people show up to your funeral, what do you hope that they say about you? Much more deeper questions than just where do you live and what job title do you have.
Rob: Do you have a process for digging that out? It’s really easy to make up an avatar, right? Say, “Oh yeah, my typical client is going to be somebody who needs coaching, and write this stuff down,” but how do you make sure that you’re actually getting the right information in your avatar?
Geoff Kullman: Where it usually starts for me is I call them nested or they’re called nested identities. So we basically walk through, and they’re kind of like Russian nesting dolls, that’s where the name kind of comes from, but what are your goals, as the avatar, what are their goals, and then it gets down to what are their beliefs, what are their motives, and then finally, what are their values. So we spend some time in each of those four areas, but they fit together one inside the other so their goals are related to their beliefs, which are related to their … which cause their motivations, which find their home in their values. We just walk through that process, and it’s usually a … there’s some stock questions perhaps, but it’s usually really just a longer in-depth conversation of asking good questions and listening for good answers, and basing the next question off of what answer did the client just give me, and how can we drill down deeper into that.
Kira: Let’s jump in here and talk about a few things, Gabby. So what stood out to you so far in this part of the conversation?
Gabby: Oh, my goodness. There is quite a few things that stood out, one of them being that I just think it’s pretty interesting how so many copywriters find copywriting through very unexpected events. Maybe it’s like a pivotal moment in their lives, or maybe it’s their careers that ends up bringing them back to a passion they had when they were younger, or maybe a passion that they’ve had all their lives, and now they’re realizing that it can actually be profitable.
Kira: Yeah, now that’s a good point. I never thought that the writing path was even possible as a kid, and I loved writing stories, but that was not a path. It wasn’t even … I was down the creative path, I was all about becoming an artist, and that’s how I … I viewed myself as an artist, and I continued on that path, but it’s so funny that even though I was open to that, and more of the visual arts, I never thought that writing could actually pay the bills until much later. But yeah, you’re right, it does seem to … we do some to come full circle. Is that how it started for you, Gabby, as a kid? How did you view writing?
Gabby: Oh, yes, definitely. I used to write so many short stories and poems, and I used to think, “Oh, my gosh, these are best-sellers, and these need to be out everywhere,” but then I realized looking back now, it was really a way to just ease my mind, kind of just express myself creatively, and lay everything down on paper. Now I’m able to do that in such a different way for other people, and it’s just … it really has all come full circle.
Kira: Yeah. I wonder how many other copywriters feel like it is the best way to express themselves, like Geoff shared with us that he was a shy kid, a really shy kid, and this allowed him to express who he is or who he was at a young age. I, also was a painfully shy kid, and I remember that, it was pretty rough as a kid being shy because you feel like everyone else is different. So I don’t know, even just hearing Geoff talk about that, and kind of just owning that part of his childhood made me feel a stronger connection to him because I can relate. I do think that it’s so important to find the best way to express yourself, and even today I’m not a shy kid, but I do feel like the best way for me to express who I am is through what I write. I feel like even the people who know me best, if they want to know who I really am, read what I write.
Kira: It’s just so good to hear Geoff is the same way, and that we’re all kind of that way. How does that work for you, Gabby? Do you feel like you are truly seen when you write or do you express it in a different way?
Gabby: Oh, 100%, my friends and family know that if I want to convey some sort of anything I need to write it down, because that’s when I really can think about it thoroughly. When I’m writing, even if it’s like a birthday card or expressing my, just feelings towards my family or something, it needs to be written because it’s just easier for me to think about and lay it down on paper than it is to … I don’t think I’ve ever been a very great public speaker, and that’s never something … Growing up as an only child there wasn’t many people that I was talking to, so growing up as a sheep kid, a shy kid in general, and an only child, it was always paper that helps me actually convey what I was feeling on the inside to the outside world.
Kira: Yeah. So what else, Gabby, stood out to you in this part of the podcast?
Gabby: I think another thing that really stood out was his ability, Geoff’s ability to niche in a different way rather than what he writes, but niching down to who he writes for. I think that’s kind of interesting because I think it’s a great reminder for people who are maybe years into their business, or just starting out, if you want to write different types of copy, that’s okay, but you can niche who you write that copy for. If it’s connecting to a specific person rather than just anybody in general, but you like writing emails and websites, and you like writing so many different types of copy assets, but maybe it’s a specific person, like in Geoff’s case it’s a thought leader or an expert, I think it’s just a great reminder for other copywriters, and especially for me in my own business.
Kira: Yeah, and there’s so many different ways of niching down that we dig deep into in the accelerator program, and we talk about on this podcast frequently, but niching down by your ideal client is a great way to go. You could also niche down based off an industry. You can niche down based off the deliverable that you want to write. It’s like, “I just write sales pages, but I will write them for anyone,” or you can niche down by the style, your writing style and your approach, whether you write humorous copy, or maybe it’s more personality-driven, and there’s a certain personality, or there’s a certain style that you bring where people are like, your clients are like, “I want to sound more like that, more like you, can you bring that out of me in the copy?” Or you can niche down based off the problem you’re helping your clients solve.
Then the cool thing about niching, and there’s so many other ways you can niche down, but the cool thing about niching is then that you can get really interesting and start to layer different niches on top of each other. So then it can become I niche down based off my ideal client, like Geoff, and then I all so niche down based on my unique writing style and the deliverables I work on, and the problem I’m solving. You can add as many layers as you want, you can get as … and go as deep as you want, or you don’t have to go as deep, and so that’s why I think we do geek out about niching so much because there’s no right or wrong way to do it, it’s just figuring out what works best for you.
Gabby: It’s so endless.
Kira: Yes, that’s why we will continue, we will continue to talk about niching because it’s fun. Something else that Geoff talked about I wanted to hear him talk more about, so I might just have to … we might have to just bring him back, or find this information elsewhere on his podcast, but I was just curious to hear about how … I guess the why behind him leaving his life as a pastor and losing faith. I was just curious. I feel like he opened that loop, and I need to hear that story, but that’s probably for his next visit on the podcast we can talk about that piece of it.
Gabby: Yes, I bet it’s an incredible story, and I thought the same thing, I was like, “No, we need more information.”
Kira: Yeah, right, “Tell us more.” Then Geoff also mentioned that his clients hire him because of how he presents himself online, and that’s, I believe what he said how he got his first few clients to, they found his website or his online presence, and they said, “I want you to do that for me.” That just reminded me that our website and our own marketing, that is our portfolio, and yes, we can also have a portfolio on our website, or we can have a portfolio we send to our potential client, that is valuable and that works. But, oftentimes it is okay to start out, and to attract great clients through your own website, and the way that you show up and you write your own website copy, even if you’re not a website copywriter it’s still showing your skillset.
Even showing just how you approach your website, what are you focused on, how do you package your own offers, how do you present your own brand, what type of message, and then you can attract ideal clients based off how you’re showing up in your own marketing too, and that can work, that can work really well. It clearly worked for Geoff. I’m just curious to hear what you think, Gabby, about that approach.
Gabby: Oh, I 100% agree, and it became so prominent when I decided that I was going to go very dorky with my own website and-
Kira: I love your website.
Gabby: Thank you. You know, when I decided, “You know what, I love Star Wars, and this is going to be a huge part of my website,” and I started attracting Star Wars lovers to write for, they were like, “Oh, my goodness, I love your website. Can you please write for me? I love Star Wars too.” I was like, “Wow, these are my people,” and these are the people I want to write for where we can geek out, and nerd out over similar things as simple as something like Star Wars.
Kira: Gabby, when did you realize that you love Star Wars? Was there a moment? Was there a particular moment in one of the movies where you’re like, “This is it for me.” I
Gabby: I think it was that when I was younger my dad was like, “We’re sitting down, you’re watching Star Wars, this is part of your life now,” and it did. It became part of my life forever, and now anybody who hasn’t seen Star Wars I’m like, “Look, sit down on the couch, Star Wars is your life now.”
Kira: All right, I love that. So Geoff also talked about trauma-informed marketing, and I know he kind of dug into that with Rob, was there anything about that part of the discussion that stood out to you?
Gabby: Yes, it was really the part about writing from place of empathy. I think that when people can really feel that you’re not just trying to sell to them, and pressure them into something that they might not be ready for, or they might not even need, I think that attracts them even further, you’re like, “Well, I want to get to know this.” You’re not digging at every single pain point that have ever come through in my entire life. You’re here to make my life better in ABC way, and I think that is something just so important that many of us need to understand, especially in this time of the world that we’re not picking at all of those … using fear tactics rather than … really coming from a place of empathy rather than those fear tactics.
Kira: Yeah, I really liked the way that Geoff talked about it, and especially the part where he talked about just … he simplified the whole thing and just said, “It’s about honoring and respecting the people in your audience, the people in your community, the people you’re selling to,” and I think that’s what I take away from it, just, “Am I honoring and respecting the people I’m writing to?” Or asking that same question if you’re writing copy for your clients, are you helping them do that within their community? It sounds easy, but I definitely know, I’ve written copy in the past where I get very sassy, and like, it just brings out a different side of my personality, and it’s not always respectful and honoring that reader. Because sometimes you forget that there’s a reader at the other side of the copy reading it, sometimes it becomes all about you, and by you I mean me. The copy sometimes-
Gabby: That’s where the passion really comes.
Kira: Right. It’s like you write it, and you pour your heart out, and it’s all about me, but then is it really honoring and respecting the reader? So I think for me, it’s just I like having that in the back of my mind to check that box, and just ask myself that question when I’m writing, and when I’m using different tactics, which I can still use because they work, but just asking that question as I’m going through that process.
Gabby: Right, exactly, and I think too, a lot of copywriters write for people who are similar to them, so we can easily write in a place of my thoughts and my opinion, and really coming back to you, “Well, let me check myself really quick,” that way I’m really is sticking with the reader in mind.
Kira: Right, yes. Let’s jump back into our episode and listen to how Geoff builds his client avatar.
Rob: It feels to me like what we’ve been talking about, with the Six Ps, and sort of this empathy/ trauma-informed marketing, your avatars, it all kind of builds towards what you do with brand voice. Can you walk us through the exercise that you do with clients to help them discover their brand voice?
Geoff Kullman: Yeah, so especially with clients of mine that are authors, that have lots of content out there already, this is really easy to do. It’s not necessarily easy to do if it’s a new client or a client that hasn’t put out a whole lot of content before, you’re going to have to just do a bit more work. It’s very doable, but it’s a bit more work. I basically want to find out, the very first step is I want to find out what’s that voice, what are those four characteristics, or three to five characteristics that would define them as a brand, as a personal brand, or as a company, what would those personality traits be, and then how would we define those personality traits.
So, if we say that they are a rebel as a brand, then what does that look like? What words do they use? What words do they not use? How do we present them? How do we not present them if they’re a rebel? If they’re a rebel, we don’t want to use fluffy, flowery language perhaps, or if they’re a rebel we want to make sure that we position them as a maverick. That they have lots of hot takes, that they’re very opinionated, that they’re very strong in what they believe, and so we write that way. We don’t write fluffy. We don’t write flowery. We don’t write in a passive voice. We make sure that it’s very strong and opinionated in how we write things. So the first step is figure out those three to five characteristics that we’d give to the brand. Second step is what does that mean, what do they say. Next step is what do they not say, and then I generally give it a description as well of what does this mean for them to be a rebel. That’s the simplest way to go about getting a brand voice.
With most clients I go deeper than that if they have books, if they have lots of blogs, then as I read through those I can learn and write down what are their word patterns or their word preferences, their grammar preferences, things like that, that I geek out on, but they probably never noticed about themselves. They use ellipses a lot, or they never use a comma, or they really like the word, I don’t know, they really … or they write with British use so color has a U at the end, and all that stuff, writing down how they write, and the grammar that they use, and the words that they refer, the phrases that they like, the jargon that they use, all those types of things. So it starts with getting the characteristics, then I geek out on what does that actually look like in terms of how they write and how I write for them.
Rob: You mentioned the example of the rebel, are you working from the standard archetypes to start off with, or do you just find something that works for each brand that you’re starting to write for?
Geoff Kullman: Yes and no, so not necessarily, but if the client would find it more understandable to walk through those archetypes, then yes, and that’s really reading the client and knowing if they would use that language, and all that stuff. I might have it in the back of my mind as I’m writing those out, but not necessarily, it’s really on a client by client type basis.
Rob: Okay, that definitely makes sense. Then once you have that in place, once you’ve got this avatar defined is it just you’re using that as background material or does it inform your writing in other ways?
Geoff Kullman: Yeah, both. So first of all, it’s just something that I’ve marinated on for a while, if I’m reading multiple books to get the voice of the client then I’m pretty well immersed in how they write, or at least how they present themselves, or how the editors finished it up as the way that they write. So part of it is just that I’ve marinated in it long enough, now I understand and know what that voice is, and what it sounds like. But I’ve also made sure that I write down, like I said, what are those words that they like, what are those phrases that they use quite often, I’ve written down. Maybe if they refer back to a quote a few different times I’ll write down, “Oh, they like this quote, they like this author.”
So, it’s something that I’ve marinated in so I’m aware of it, but I don’t necessarily rely on it too much. It’s more of a document for me to build my understanding of that client, and how to write for that client. I refer back to it every once in a while, especially if I’m stuck on a piece of copy, then I know I’ve probably written down in one of those personality characteristic words. I’ve probably written down a phrase or two that could help me get unstuck in my piece of copy or even understand them better in a way that helps me get unstuck. I refer back to it when I need to, but it’s more about marinating in who they are and how to write for them.
Rob: I’m not sure how to phrase this next question, but it feels to me that a lot of brands may have more than one avatar that they serve maybe knowingly, maybe unknowingly, but I’m curious if you have a way of telling when you’ve missed the avatar, you haven’t gotten it right. Is there some kind of a check you can run after you’ve written out the avatar that’s like, “Oh, actually we missed on this thing,” or is it a matter of trial and error?
Geoff Kullman: A bit of trial and error, but it’s usually getting a call, a follow-up call with the client. Again, I’m mostly working with personal brand so I can just connect one on one with them, I don’t need to write for a board or a marketing department or anything like that. I connect with my client and say, “This is how I understand you. These are three, four, five words I give you as a brand, as the personality that you are bringing forward. Does that sound accurate? Would you change it up? Would you use different words? Have I described those words how you would describe them?” So there is that first check that we go through before I go and spend however much time, however many hours writing your content, “Does this sound like you? Is this who you want to present to the world? Is this accurate?” Then there’s always parts where they want to adjust it or correct it.
Then the second test is really, “Okay, now I’m going to go and write your next piece. I’m going to write your home page. I’m going to write your sales page, or the first chunk of a sales page, and then we’re going to connect again and see is this connecting with how you want to present to the world.” Again, they might provide feedback on that of commenting, “No, I wouldn’t use this phrase or I wouldn’t use it here, or I’d say it in a different way.” So a few checks, checkpoints before we really get into, or dive into the deep stuff of a whole sales page or a whole funnel that we’re creating or anything like that.
Rob: Where do most copywriters go wrong when creating avatars?
Geoff Kullman: I think most copywriters go too shallow in their avatars. They don’t ask good enough questions. They don’t ask deep enough questions, and part of that … I mean, I totally understand it because it’s just simply easier to not dive deep. It’s easier to not ask really great questions. One of the other areas though, where I think we fail as copywriters, is that we … If we’re writing for a client we have to rely on the client’s understanding of their avatar of their audience. We can certainly help in that process, in that journey of helping the customer or helping our client understand their avatar better, but it might just be that we need to help our clients drill down better into their understanding of who their audience is.
One of the biggest mistakes is not just defining a loose avatar, or not a deep enough avatar, but actually holding our clients with kid gloves, and not drilling down on them to understand their audience better. I think that’s a way that we can, as copywriters, offer a deeper, better, more valuable service to our clients as well. It’s not just, “I’m going to write this for you,” but, “I’m going to help you understand your audience that much better as well.”
Rob: Then once you have the avatar, do you use that to determine the stories that you’re going to tell in the copy? I mean, I can imagine there’s lots of different ways to use it, connecting to specific features and benefits that might appeal more to one avatar than another, but how does that work?
Geoff Kullman: Yeah, so I’ll use that. I’ll go back to that rebel example because it was kind of loosely based on a client, but they were strongly opinionated. They were very firm in their beliefs, so we used a story for that client of one of his … how he defended one of his grandkids from the medical establishment or whatever. How he advocated for one of his grandkids to not let them just go undiagnosed or untreated or whatever, but to actually go and fire one of their doctors, and get reassessed and reevaluated, and all that.
The story that we picked, and that was just one story, but the story that we picked was based on that exact characteristic of the brand voice, and understanding that that’s exactly what the avatar the audience was looking for as well, is this maverick, this rebel who stood up to the medical establishment or whatever. I make him sound like a coop, that wasn’t it at all, but he was saying, “Hey, medical science is good, we need this part too.” He wouldn’t back down, his opinions were strong so we knew that his audience was drawn to him because of that so we told a story, specifically a true story about, “Hey, I don’t just tell you to do this, I do it myself for my own family as well.”
Rob: Okay, let’s talk more about stories. What’s your approach to telling really compelling stories?
Geoff Kullman: Well, it all really does go back to what we just talked about in the avatar, knowing who your avatar is, knowing who you’re speaking to should determine the stories that you tell, but more than that it should determine the details that you include, and the details that you leave out of that story, not that you tell a half story or half-truth. But if I’m putting my kids to bed at night I know which parts of the story that I make up to include because I know my kids, I know that these parts of the story are going to interest them, I know that they’re … I have four boys, they’re not interested in princess stories to go highly generic and stereotypical, and all that, but I know those details would be uninteresting to my four boys, and I know the parts of the story that will actually interest them, and get them involved in the story.
So, we do the same thing in the stories we tell for our clients, and to our avatars as we know you’re disinterested in this, but you’re very interested in that. So as we tell the stories there’s a lot more details to the story of that one client and his grandkid, but I include the pieces that I know will connect with their audience. I exclude, I leave out the details that will be uninteresting, that aren’t necessary for that avatar, for that prospect. The first part to a good story is knowing what parts to leave in, knowing parts to leave out.
Rob: Yeah, and then I think …Do you have a formula for knowing which parts that are the most powerful?
Geoff Kullman: Not necessarily, what I tend to tell people is that for any story the best way to get an audience interested, and excited and involved in the story is to start with an explosion event, to start with a climax event. So in an email or on a sales page just one line of text just to get people to lean in, to draw, get drawn in, and brain science-wise that’s just going to release a little bit of cortisol into their brain. We don’t want to go overboard, we don’t want to release too much cortisol, but we want to let them know, “Hey, hey, look over here.” We want to get their attention to tell a good story that there’s something exciting on the way, that we have something exciting and important to tell them, so we start with that explosion event, that almost climax type event.
It’s like a James Bond movie that starts with everyone running and jumping around on cranes, in high rises and all that. We get attention, and we get emotion going, we get cortisol released, and once we do that, we do that first, then we can build a connection, pardon me, we can build a connection after that. So we start with getting attention, and then we move on to building the connection through the story, which generally, again, for my clients means we’re telling a relatable story. We’re telling a way that makes the brand identifiable, and that they understand who they’re talking to. So we start with the tension, then we can build that connection, that’s generally where I start with the story.
Rob: I like it. I like it. Okay, so let’s change the conversation just a little bit. You started a podcast last year, all about psychology, tell us a little bit about why you did that, and some of the stuff that you’d like to talk about on your podcast.
Geoff Kullman: Well, I’ll start with the second piece. The stuff that we like to talk about on the podcast is really geeking out on the psychology of copywriting, the brain science behind why what we do as copywriters, why it works so well. So that even goes back to talking about releasing that little bit of cortisol so that we can build the oxytocin or so we can, after that release of oxytocin and build connection, then we want to go into a dopamine hit and all that. So we geek out on my podcast on that type of stuff, the psychology, the neuroscience behind why we need to write the way that we need to write, and why it works so well.
The idea, honestly, behind starting such a unique podcast, because every episode we dig into an academic article, and then unpack it for copywriters, but the idea behind it all was really to level up my own game, to not just coast as a copywriter, to not treat myself like an amateur, but to treat myself like, “I’m a professional copywriter, this is what I do. This is what people pay me, and pay me well to do so I better know what I’m doing and know why I’m doing it.” More than that I better begin to understand what other approaches I can start to use, and start to explore to see if they work really well, based on the brain science and the psychology that I’m reading about and learning about, and telling people about on the podcast.
So, I started it really to up my own game, but to help other copywriters as well to up their games by not just treating copy like an amateur, but actually treating our job as copywriters like a professional like, “I need to up my skills, I need to up my game so that I can attract higher paying and better clients.”
Rob: As you’ve gone through so many of these different psychological techniques, tactics, whatever we want to call them, do you have like, I don’t know, three or four favorites or must-use, must-dos that you would recommend all copywriters need to know more about?
Geoff Kullman: One of the ones that I most recently discovered, and I’m really excited to explore this one further, but it was research done by Robert Cialdini so you know it’s good, you know it’s trustworthy. But research about scarcity and research about social proof, and why they work so well, or why they … when they can backfire as well. So if we think of social proof as always a good thing that’s not necessarily the case, the psychological research suggested or showed, and that was really fascinating to me, that if you are wanting social proof to be more effective you actually couch it in … they used fear as the example, a story that invokes some fear. I’d rather say we couch it in a story that tells a pain point, so we couch it in a story that addresses the pain point or the problem our avatar is having. What that does, why fear and pain points can make scarcity even more powerful is because what do we do when we’re scared? What do we do when we’re fearful? We gather together like a herd of elephants, right?
We gather together, and so social proof is more powerful because we want to herd together, and so seeing that all these other people bought that thing, or here’s what those other customers have to say about it, it proves that this thing will keep us safe and secure when we couch it in that story of pain or fear, or worry, without traumatizing people of course. Also, scarcity works really well according to the research that Cialdini did. Scarcity works really well when we’re looking more for intimacy, when we’re looking more for romantic stories, when we’re looking more for love stories because when our brains are engaged in something like a love story, which should be hard to work into a product launch perhaps, but when our brains are engaged in a love story or whatever then we want more alone time, we want to be more distinct, more unique. So from an evolutionary standpoint, that’s why scarcity works so well, and it can be more powerful when we couple it with love stories or romantic inclinations, or whatever.
However, we want to inspire that within marketing copy, but that’s been one of the most recent and most fascinating discoveries that I’ve had on the podcast in reading all this research and all that. Other ones are really stuff that I’ve already talked about, like that we need to release … make sure that we release cortisol first before we start building a connection, we have to get attention before we can start … before we can really build any connection. So it has to be cortisol first, oxytocin second, dopamine third. I generally don’t just come up with this stuff. It’s from geeking out on really long academic articles. So a lot of the stuff that I’ve learned we’ve already touched on, we’ve already talked about today.
Rob: As you have produced the podcast, what kind of an effect has that had on your work as a copywriter, your career?
Geoff Kullman: I would say a year ago I had, before the podcast, I had name recognition by association. So the people that I had written for, whether they were copywriters who brought me in on a project, or big name clients, I had name recognition and authority from those names by association. I think now I’ve built more of my own audience, copywriters, or people interested in copywriting who like geeking out on this stuff, who want to get better and get deeper, and write stronger copy.
So, for me, the biggest difference has been I built more of my own authority, and my own expertise, and my own audience now because of the podcast. There’s no better … That’s why even I took this different direction with the podcast, it’s not just a copywriting podcast, it’s the psychology. It’s the geeking out on copywriting podcast basically, because it has built that tiny little, but powerful niche for me, and getting name recognition of, “Oh, he is the guy that geeks out on this stuff. He’s the guy that we would go to for the psychological impact of copy.” So it’s built my own expertise, but also helped me to build an audience around that expertise.
Rob: So aside from your podcast, what sorts of things have you done in your business that have helped you level up the most?
Geoff Kullman: I say this as a strong, strong, strong introvert, but networking has been probably the biggest, the next biggest thing in my business in general. That doesn’t necessarily mean going to networking events, it doesn’t necessarily mean going to conferences or workshops, but getting into masterminds, building my network of friends and colleagues and relationships with other online entrepreneurs, people who do, maybe not necessarily what I do, but in a related field. Building that network has been huge for me, but again, I say that as a strong introvert, so to any other introverts it’s possible. It can be done. I might need to recover and take a nap after a mastermind call, but it’s very valuable, very much effective, and has helped me build a business that actually works for myself and our family.
Rob: Yeah. I feel that very deeply, and I agree 100%. So what have you struggled with as you’ve built your business? What are the things that have come really, really hard?
Geoff Kullman: I think the biggest struggle for me, especially from early on has generally been mindset in general, a scarcity mindset in general, thinking that I was always worried where is that next client coming from, where is that next payday coming from. For a good chunk of my copywriting career my wife was on maternity leave and so I was … I said we have four kids, so she spent a lot of time on maternity leave, so I was the breadwinner, and that’s how we were able to feed our family. There was a lot of, from my perspective there was a lot of extra pressure, perhaps I put it on myself.
We never starved or anything, but a lot of that scarcity mindset was the biggest struggle that I had, and it didn’t really stop until … it kept gnawing away at me until I started building my own reputation, building my own client base, which again was based on the networking that I was able to do. So I built my skills, I built my expertise, building my network, all three of those combined helped me to overcome that biggest obstacle, that biggest negative thing in my business, which was my scarcity mindset.
Rob: Geoff, if you could go back and talk to just starting out copywriter Geoff, give him some advice, what would you say?
Geoff Kullman: Go get a real job. No, I would say you can do-
Rob: That’s not bad advice, not bad advice at all.
Geoff Kullman: Not bad advice no. I would say you can do this. You’re going to do really well. You are going to make this pivot from a full-time pastor career to copywriting freelancing success. I just give myself a vote of confidence, is what I’d really do because when I started out my whole world had fallen apart. I prepped myself through college, through internships, through past work experience and all that. I prepped myself for like a decade of my job, my role in this world is to be a pastor, and then when my faith fell apart, when that whole story crumbled everything crumbled along with it, and so there was no confidence. So telling myself, “You can do this, you will do this, and you’ll do great,” would have been so helpful. If I had owned a time machine to take myself back and tell myself that, that would have been huge.
Rob: Yeah, that’s good advice. So what’s next for you? Where do you go from here?
Geoff Kullman: So, two things, I’m still working with my clients, love working with my clients, but also, I’m starting to build out this more of a community where I want to give people some templates, some training, and build a tribe, build a community around other copywriters who love geeking out on this stuff, other freelancers, other folks like us who want geek out on this stuff. I started up a community called Copywriting Made Simple, and not quite ready to launch yet, but it’s getting there. I still have to do my client work, and then treat this other stuff on the side, but that’s what’s next, is less service-based work, less freelance work, and more building community and helping other writers to become better and better writers as well.
Rob: If somebody wants to connect with you or follow you, where should they go?
Geoff Kullman: Two places that I send people, you can always check out the podcast, Psychology of Copywriting Podcast, or send me a DM on Instagram, I’m @geoffkullman, that’s the best way to connect with me. You can check out my website and all that, but Instagram is where we’ll actually get a conversation going, and checking out the podcast.
Rob: Awesome. Thanks, Geoff. We appreciate you coming on and sharing details about your business and processes, this is fantastic.
Kira: That’s the end of our interview with Geoff, but before we wrap let’s talk about a few more takeaways and points. Gabby, why don’t you kick it off?
Gabby: Well, I just have to say I’m so happy that Geoff brought up just creating the client avatar. I know it’s something many of us learn at the beginning of … when we’re just diving into this online world of copywriting and marketing, is creating your client avatar, but so much of it is very surface level, but it’s, I think very important to get deeper than what’s their favorite color, what street do they live on, what do they like to do on a daily basis, but getting to know more deeper beliefs, their motivations and goals so that we can craft better stories that then connect with their audience on a deeper level.
Kira: Yes, I love how Geoff is going deeper with his avatar and his process in creating that. When I work on the avatar too with my clients, I love lots of collaboration because I think this could be the part of the project where you are getting feedback. Oftentimes it depends on the clients you work with, so this is different depending on the space you’re in, but the clients I work with, which are similar to the ones that Geoff works with, they oftentimes want to collaborate. They want to be involved in the creative process. They know their audience better than anyone. The cool part about building the brand avatar, whether you’re adding that to a brand strategy guide, or wherever you’re adding that into the process, is this gives you a chance to really work with your client, and involve them in the process before you go to your copy cave.
Because we all love to go to our copy cave, and just peace out and tell the client, “I’ll talk to you in a month,” but before you do that you can kick off the project with this really positive creative collaboration where they feel understood, they feel like you get it. They feel heard because you can bring them into this part of the project. The most important part beyond making the client happy and getting their intel, because again, they have so much to share about their audience, is that you can have a check-in with them so that they sign off on the avatar before you move forward with the project. That’s what it sounds like Geoff does, he makes sure that they are onboard, and involved with this part of the project before he jumps into the next stage of actually writing the copy, and starting to build out the launch funnel.
I’m just adding that, this to me is the fun part, and it can go a long way if you involve your clients, and that doesn’t mean you get to let them run this part of the project. You still can have structure. You can still be very clear with your clients as far as like, “This is the type of feedback I want. This is the type of feedback I do not want. Here is when I need it. Here is the deadline, and here is the next step, and once we at this milestone we move forward. We’re working from this document. We’re not revisiting this document in two days. We’re moving forward with this agreement that these are the brand avatars.” So I guess all that to say, this is a critical part, and it’s a great way to start a project off with your client with a lot of success so that the rest of the project is actually easy, especially with new clients, they feel confident in what you’re doing, and they’re like, “Yes, I know you get this, go do your thing. Go to your copy cave and do your thing.”
Gabby: Yes, and, “I’ll talk to you in a few weeks.” Exactly.
Kira: Yes. You can also pull in real people too, and pull in, if you’re doing customer interviews you can start to pull in those customer interviews into the avatars and bucket them. So oftentimes I want to have real names of real people within each avatar we’re creating for a brand so that it’s like here’s … I know Geoff talked about the rebel avatar, well, the rebel avatar actually includes these three people that we interviewed. So that is another step that can make it feel real because it is real, and so that’s helped me work through it too.
Gabby: Definitely, and when they’re based off of real people it’s so validating, and when you’re writing the copy you just can write with complete certainty that you’re writing to those people’s unique perspectives, desires, and problems too.
Kira: Yeah, and you can even go back to them if you want them to get involved in the process, and even bring your messages to those avatars to say, “Hey, does this resonate? Does this turn you off? Does this get you excited? Where does this confuse you?” Go back to those people who are part of those avatars.
Gabby: Yeah, and I think that that kind of leads me into the next thing that really stood out in the interview, which was the podcast that Geoff has about psychology and copywriting, and just the neuroscience behind why we write what we write, and how it all works, that was some things that was so fascinating. I couldn’t run faster to the podcast because I just kind of geek out over the things that are neuroscience, how our brain works when it comes to the messaging that we use, and why we use it.
Kira: There any particular tactic that he mentioned that you’re like, “Okay, that’s something I want to test next.”
Gabby: Well, it was definitely when he mentioned how to release different chemicals in our brains, going from cortisol to oxytocin, to dopamine. I thought that was super interesting because I think that when we can dive into those topics, and we know why we’re writing for what purpose, then we can even further write from a place of empathy and compassion because we know how to use those tactics and those tools.
Kira: Yeah, and he grabbed, Geoff grabbed my attention when he was talking about how the power of pulling in a love story, and romance into our copy, and I … Geoff, I just want to hear more about that. Please tell us more about that. Maybe there is an episode on your podcast we can link to where we dig into that, because that sounded really interesting to me. I had not heard anyone talk about copy in that way. Anyway, I just want to hear more about that. Tell me more.
Gabby: Yes, it’s such a good … it’s a really great podcast. I’ve already listened to a few episodes.
Kira: All right, so we also talked a lot about storytelling, was there anything that grabbed your attention, Gabby, that you want to apply in your copy from storytelling in that part of the conversation?
Gabby: Yeah. It was really interesting how he was talking about how we could tell more compelling stories, and what details that maybe we could leave in or we could leave out, and that all really goes back to the avatar, what is it that our avatar really wants to hear, and what are some things that maybe we could kind of just leave out. I think when it comes to writing copy for my clients, or just myself in general, is really going through and doing another sweep of asking the questions like, “Is this necessary? Or can we take this out? Can we pull out anything from this section of the copy more than this section?” I think that’s just really important when it comes to telling compelling stories.
Kira: That was my favorite part of this episode, I think … yeah, it was, that part about storytelling is all about figuring out what part to leave in and what part to pull out, like you said. It just registered for me in a way, even though it’s something that we all do as copywriters. We naturally do it, but I hadn’t really thought about it in that way, even though it’s who we are and how we talk to each other, and part of our natural conversation.
But it’s so true because if you think about … Okay, if I think about for me when I was, let’s say like 22 … 23, living in New York City, and maybe telling, after a weekend, a fun weekend, maybe telling my mom about the weekend, probably what I highlighted in that story was very different than what I would highlight to my best friend about that weekend. Probably when I’m talking to my mom about the weekend I was probably talking about my volunteer work at the zoo, and probably when I was talking to a friend on that Monday, I was probably talking about like late night, 2:00 AM on that Friday night, and what we were doing, and all the fun details. So it’s just so true, and so it’s just such a good point to highlight, and just to think about as we’re writing copy and working on our own messages that we share with the world.
Gabby: Oh, gosh, I agree. I think there were so many points in this podcast that really stood out, and another one that stood out was networking as an introvert. This had me laughing because he mentioned taking a nap after networking events, and I could not relate more. I feel like, and this is something that people are typically surprised by because I come off as conversating and talking a lot, but then afterwards it’s really about what I have to do when I get home, is just sit down, breathe and just decompress, and that’s where the introvert really kicks in because it can be very exhausting to network and socialize, even with friends or family.
Kira: Yes, and it’s so funny too because, Gabby, I actually didn’t know you were an introvert. I kind of assumed maybe you’re in the middle, and more of an extrovert. I guess we never talked about it before.
Gabby: I’ll definitely be napping after this call. No, I’m just kidding.
Kira: No, I’m serious, I will take a nap after recording. Anytime I have to record anything, podcast interview, these interjections, the commentary that we create, after it I just need to take a nap, and that’s not even in person, it’s like, “What’s wrong with me?”
Gabby: Right, exactly. It’s just exerting any kind of energy in conversations.
Kira: So yes, it’s nice that we can all relate, and for the extroverts who don’t need to take naps after networking, we love you too, we thrive on your energy, you give us energy, so keep doing your thing.
Kira: Keep doing your thing. We love you, but yeah, I introvert hard, and definitely post-pandemic, even worse, I’m an even bigger introvert. I don’t know how to change this in my life, but that’s a different conversation. Anything else before we wrap?
Gabby: I think I just had one more thing that I wanted to point out, was when Geoff was talking about his struggles in business, and scarcity mindset when it comes to where the next clients will come from, and I think this is so common amongst any freelancer or business owner who has to gain their own leads, is telling yourself, yes, there are so many people who might need your services, and there’s a never ending sea of clients, but telling yourself that one time will only last so long. I think I compare this to working out. You can work out once, and it’s not going to make a difference until you actually make it a routine in your daily life, and then you’ll start to really believe in the power of what you’re doing, and I think it’s the same with our mindset. It’s a daily routine that we have to create over time and tell ourselves those positive reminders, and it won’t just change with that one positive quote you read, it’s really a daily habit we need to create.
Kira: So, you’re telling me I can’t work out one time, and that will not change anything, that will not change my body?
Gabby: I think we all look in the mirror-
Kira: We do not like this.
Gabby: After one workout, and we’re like, “Oh, my goodness, did anything change?”
Kira: Please tell me something changed. I’m glad you mentioned the mindset, because I did want to mention that, and I forgot, but yeah, I think it’s cool that Geoff mentioned having a scarcity mindset because I know many of us do. I definitely can fall into that camp here and there often, sometimes, and then I’ll come and do some work and then I’ll get better. I do tend to lean towards having an abundant mindset, although maybe people who know me could disagree, but I think it’s something worth paying attention to because even though I feel like I show up with an abundant mindset of just like, “There’s enough for anybody,” there are definitely some cons to that. Even if you have an abundant mindset sometimes that is not actually good in every situation, because if you’re like, “This is great, there’s infinite potential, there’s infinite growth,” it’s also hard to focus and reign it in at times.
So, I think there are pros and cons to both, and also, we can all fluctuate, and you’re not one or the other, and you don’t have one or the other most times, and you may lean in one direction or the other. So I just … I kind of have to keep an eye on it for myself, and if I feel like I’m leaning towards a scarcity mindset, and it’s showing up in different ways, I just have to keep check, and figure out like where that’s coming from, and try to work through it. Then if I lean too hard into an abundant mindset of like, “There’s money falling from the sky,” that’s not great either so-
Gabby: Happy medium.
Kira: Right, that would be great, yes. What do you naturally fall into, Gabby?
Gabby: I think I lean maybe a little more on the scarcity side, maybe more negative, but I don’t think that I’m 100% negative. I’d have to just kind of pull myself into the … I think I’m just kind of a realist a lot of ways, and so I think that sometimes can get in the way, that constant reminder of … I do need those sticky notes around my … on my mirror telling me, “Yes, you got this. It’s great. Everything’s awesome.”
Kira: Do you really have the sticky notes?
Gabby: Yes, of course.
Kira: I love that.
Gabby: I need those constant reminders, and I think that just helps keep us going. I think we all have our thing that we do daily to help us out.
Kira: I think sticky notes are great, and I want to do that, Gabby. I’m going to copy you and add some sticky notes, but mine are going to say something like, “Everything is not possible, Kira. Stop. Just stop.”
Gabby: That’s hilarious. You can never have too many.
Kira: But it’s sticky notes. Yeah, right.
Gabby: That’s the end of this episode of the Copywriter Club Podcast, the intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Muntner. Your feedback and support is so appreciated, and if you like what you’ve heard leave a review on Apple podcast.
Kira: If you want to listen to a few more episodes with a similar theme, check out episode 89 with Mel Abraham about building frameworks, and episode 232 with Marcus McNeill about creating multiple client avatars. Those are both excellent, excellent episodes worth checking out, and if you’re thinking about joining us at TCC IRL in Nashville, Tennessee this March, well, link to all the information you need in the show notes.
Gabby, thank you so much for all that you do for TCC every day, and for co-hosting this episode with me. Can you just share with anyone listening if they want to get in touch with you, or just kind of find out more about you and your copywriting business, where could they go?
Gabby: Yeah. This has been so fun. If you want to chat about all things Star Wars, you can find me on Instagram at @itsgabbyjackson, and my website of the same name, it’s gabbyjackson.com.
Kira: Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.