Most of us spend time worrying about what others think of us. Our focus seems to be in the right place, in as much as we’re thinking about others, but the truth is we’re only really thinking about ourselves.
It makes sense then why we fail to get what we want. If I focus on me, I won’t have a clue who’s going to pay me (because I’m not attracting any attention, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be the right attention – no one wants to deal with a narcissist).
That may sound rather heavy, which is fine, because if we’re truly not narcissistic (that is, we have empathy for others at least some of the time), we know we don’t need to label ourselves as such, and we can get on with the job of adjusting our focus to a place that will get us what we want (and if we are narcissists, well that’s fine too, it’s beyond our control).
As copywriters, our focus should be squarely on our target audience. If we get it right, we’ll know what they ate last night, where they ate it, and what shoes they were wearing to get there (metaphorically speaking).
We’ll also know what else they want and when they want it. And on top of that, we’ll know we can deliver it, and we’ll know we can deliver it better than anyone else.
How? Ironically, by then focusing on ourselves but from our target audience’s point of view. What do they see? What do they think after seeing it? And does it fit in with their expectations?
When a new shop opens in town, plenty of people will visit it. They’ll get their first impressions, and it will stick. It may be good or bad, but what matters is that first impression.
If it turns out to be favourable, they will return many times. As the years pass, the shop will deteriorate. It happens from the outside in. The signage gets tired. The window display gets tired. The staff get tired.
Yet the business continues well past its sell-by date (because of first impressions and the word of mouth free marketing that follows).
Follow up impressions matter too of course, but as long as the customer gets what they want they will continue to visit and buy.
The point is, it takes time to create the right first impression to the right people, and we’ll only know we’ve achieved it if we take the time to find out what people want, then reflect on ourselves to see if we’re delivering it.
We’re all players in this game. It’s not just about us and them, it’s about us and them and the journey we choose to take them on. We must lead or we end up following. But we won’t know who to lead unless we stand in their shoes.
PS. The alternative is to go our own way in our own shoes and hope that someone likes them, and that rarely works.