How to ‘Mind Meld’ with Your Customers for Persuasive Emails

Subscriber Carl is a copywriter in the make money online and alternative health niches.

He asks:

Q: What methods do you use to really fine tune in and connect with your subscribers needs – drill right down to the core emotion – and how do you then use this information to communicate with them in:

1) A content email

2) A promo or affiliate offer email

3) To nurture your own future content (email and products)?

The second part of that question is easy—so let me get that out of the way first.

I don't make a big distinction between “content” and “pitch” emails.

Both are about persuasion. The main difference is where I point that link: It a piece of free content or a paid product?

The fundamentals are all the same.

As for the “how” part—how do you connect with your subscribers' needs, I don't have an easy-peasy, 1-2-3 answer.

Getting to know someone is an ongoing process that takes time and effort.

Here's how I approach it:

When I'm jumping into a new market, the first thing I'll do is scout out some places where my market is congregating so I can “eavesdrop” on their conversations.

Forum sites, discussion boards, blog comments, Facebook groups… Solid gold all.

Dig for the long threads where people are venting their frustrations and empathizing with each other. You might be shocked what people are willing to share publicly.

As you read these conversations, don't just look at the problems and frustrations—read between the lines for clues about what this person's daily life might be like.

I'll compile a document full of fragments and comments, then I print it out and spend some time studying it with a pen and a highlighter.

These bits and pieces start to come together into a picture—a fuzzy picture of what your customers are thinking and feeling and wanting.

So far, so good.

The next step for me is to take everything I've uncovered and pull out the most important pieces by creating an “avatar”—a 1-page story about a composite person who represents my ideal customer.

To make this avatar easier to create (and more realistic), I'll often base it on an actual person, either someone I know well or someone I research online.

Profile articles and interviews are great for this. So is LinkedIn. (You can learn a lot about your customer's life story from what they put in their LinkedIn profile.)

The truth is, the avatar you write is less important than the process of creating it, which forces you to engage your imagination and look at the world through your customer's eyes.

It's kind of like “method acting.” I try to become the person I'm writing to.

I'll even go so far as to close my own eyes while I do this. I'll review what I know about the person, and create a mental movie of what it might be like to deal with the problem they're struggling with.

What am I seeing?

What am I thinking?

What am I feeling?

The goal of all of this is to develop genuine empathy for your customer.

You know you're on the right track when you start to *feel*—little stabs and twinges of emotion that aren't yours but still seem real to you.

When you do this legwork to “mind meld” with your customer, it's not a question of how to connect with them.

You won't be able to help it.

The empathetic connection will seep into your writing naturally—and your customers will sense it and respond.