Right now I’m smack dab in the middle of a high-stakes writing project.
About 2 years ago my business partner John launched his flagship product, a video course that helps software developers to become respected authorities in a specific niche—opening up career opportunities most programmers never even dream about.
The course sells for $299, and since launching it he’s sold hundreds of copies and made a ton of money, but…
Just about the only time he makes any sales is when he offers a big discount with a time limit.
My mission: Rewrite the sales page so that we make sales on autopiliot.
The biggest challenge so far in this project has been deciding what facets of John’s story to include—and what to leave out.
I spent more than 4 hours interviewing him and pulled out gems like:
- His disastrous interview at Microsoft when he forgot to pack his pants
- The time he got trapped in the worst job he ever had, after they literally hired him to be the “fall guy” on an impossible project
- How he spent months sending out resumes while he and his wife lived on the pullout couch in his parents’ living room
I have a hundred pages of stories like this—and that’s before I’d go back to him to get all the details I need to really make the stories come alive.
How do you know where to start?
The first step is to get crystal clear on who exactly you’re writing to.
I’ve identified at least a half dozen “customer avatars” in the Simple Programmer audience.
For example, a large slice of our readers are recent college grads looking to land their first job.
There’s also a subset of the audience who are successful developers who want to start their own business.
This course has different benefits for each of these avatars.
But I’m focusing on just one potential customer—the group that has a specific and painful problem that this course solves.
I’m calling this avatar the “frustrated career developer.”
He’s 31 years old and trapped in a job he hates because his family is depending on him to provide for them.
This guy lives and breathes “Office Space” every day, and it’s killing him slowly.
Once I knew exactly who I was writing to, I could immediately see what aspects of John’s story were relevant.
The amazing Microsoft interview flameout doesn’t belong in the sales page—although I’ll definitely use it in an email sequence.
And it was obvious that the best place to pick up the story is when John is living my avatar’s story—the time he spent 11 months trapped in a hellacious job after they hired him to be a scapegoat.
This is why it’s so critical to know exactly who you’re talking to in your copy.
When you know that, your all-important starting point is clear—and you’ll also see the exact steps you need to walk your customer through to close the sale.