Customers Don’t Make Rational Choices


All sorts of smart looking people come out of the woodwork when you’re marrying a doctor.

WAIT. I’m not getting married, and I’m not the doctor, so save your relief /joy over my marital status for a later episode.

I was THERE, that’s my point here. One of the women asks around the table and says: Would you rather hear the ugly truth about what’s going wrong in your relationship, or would you rather be lied to?

And everyone, men and women both, UNANIMOUSLY say they want to hear the truth. That sure, other people prefer comforting lies in their love life, but they’re made of sterner stuff. They can handle pain, rejection, arguments, as long as it’s The Truth.


The room comes to me and I say: “Well, I like to think I’d like to hear the truth, because that fits my self-image. But I’m very selective about what I choose to believe in.”

And then I just kind of tilt my head, like it’s the punchline to a Norm MacDonald joke. Everyone sort’ve… looks at each other. Maybe I was in a unique gathering, a convention of the world’s most level headed and reasonable people.

But it’s more likely that every single person in that room was lying to themselves.

Look, nobody wants to be lied to. But very few people are willing to believe things that cut against our identity.

Everything is nasty, brutish, and emotional.

Anyone who considers themselves an exception, a “rational person” in an age where there are reams and reams of information out there is probably a liar. Most of your “rational ideas” about culture and how the world works is a reaction to what you hear, where you’re from and what your circumstances are.

You can make “rational decisions” based on reading Pepe LeCentipede’s Alt-Right Blogstravaganza and have shockingly different opinions than someone who reads Mother Jones even if you’ve got the same thought process.

People who are DEAD SET against government spending and pitch a fit against disaster relief are suddenly all for it when a hurricane knocks over the house next door to them. People who want to build a giant wall and deport all the gay people suddenly change their tune when their son is a gay Mexican vegetable farmer. Politicians that filibuster Supreme Court nominees get elected President and are shocked and dismayed when the same thing happens to them. Whoops.

Personal politics is a reflection of how we feel about the world. It has to be, because no matter what happens to technology, nobody really experiencing every facet of the country. You might read some never ending patronizing blogpiece on how things are going in East Kentucky, but odds are good you don’t have anything in common with that experience.

Our purchasing choices are just as emotional. What we buy reflects how we feel about ourselves. We can think up the rational reasons to justify it later, but the emotion is always at the ROOT of it.

That’s why when we sell something, we need to be simple, memorable, and emotional.

Start Writing Before You Make The Product


Often, we do things in the opposite order the customer is going to experience it.

We do research the customer will NEVER see, we create a product the customer won’t see until they buy in, and then we write the sales letters, the emails, all this stuff that seems like “supporting material” but is where the money actually meets the road.

When we write the sales material first, we keep our priorities where they need to be: on making the strongest product possible. When you’re actually experiencing the sales process and writing it, you’ll be thinking of ways to make things easier, faster, and less expensive. And you’ll make changes to your product based on that!

Seriously, why do we always do things backwards?

We do all this research that the customer will never even know about, create a product that they won't see until they hand over their money, and THEN we write the sales letters and emails – aka the stuff that actually matters.

It's like we're intentionally making things harder for ourselves. Let's try to do things in the order that makes sense for the customer, shall we? It might just make the whole process a little less confusing and a lot more profitable.

Okay, here's a little bonus for you.

By writing the sales material first, you can test the conversion for your product before you even start selling it. Your loyal customers can read your sales letter, get excited, and click that buy button before you've even lifted a finger.

Of course, once they hit that big red button, you better have something to show for it. Add them to a waiting list or throw them a bone with a deep discount or even a free copy.

And hey, it's also a good way to test your traffic sources. If your test is a total flop, at least you saved yourself a ton of money and a headache.

Write Headlines That Work

Listen, we all have different methods for writing headlines. Personally, I leave it until the end. I mean, when you're writing something long-form, you've got a lot to say.

As you're brainstorming all the benefits, you might just stumble upon a clever turn of phrase that works as a headline. Or, you know, it could at least be a contender for a headline. Either way, it's always good to have options.

Listen up, people. Here's the difference between mediocre copy and seriously good copy (or mediocre anything and seriously good anything else): the willingness to trash your first idea.

When you're willing to put in the work and come up with twenty different headlines before finding the best one, your copy becomes electric.

Or hey, test out three or four super headlines against each other.

Just remember, don't be afraid to get rid of that first idea. It's usually not the best one anyway.

Listen, if you want anyone to stick around, you better make sure your headline is top-notch. Seriously, it should take up at least half of your energy, even if you're writing the next great American novel.

After all, if they lose interest in the headline, they're not going anywhere else with you. So don't skimp on the headline, even if you're writing a fucking masterpiece.

It's worth the effort.

Okay, here's what you need to do. Think about all the benefits your product offers and jot them down. Bullet points are your friend here. Make them suspenseful, bold, and sales-oriented. Once you've got all your benefits and proof elements written down, rank them.

Your top 2 or 3 concepts should go into the headline – spend a few hours working on them and comparing your best options. Trust me, it'll be worth it in the end.

Introduce Yourself Powerfully

How long should your copy be? Well…

Size doesn’t matter. Cover the main objections, state the case your your product, and don’t ever, ever be boring.

Every single paragraph in your copy is an opportunity for your potential customer to say “to hell with this” and go back to reading Facebook.

In fact, I like to imagine that at every paragraph, my prospect stops scanning the page and asks themselves “why am I still reading this?”

And your work has got to have an answer.

Whether that’s a suspenseful story…

An amazing benefit…

Explaining the pain, risk, and humiliation they’re going to face if they tune you out…

Or explaining the potential rewards if they stay, read, and buy.

Every paragraph needs to be exciting and entertaining. If you can look at one paragraph and say that it’s “boring”, you need to rewrite it until it shines.

There’s no room to dawdle if you approach your copy this way. You’re going to keep people focused and keep them reading…

You Do That By Keeping It Simple

This isn’t a place for you to show off your intellect. I bet you’ve NEVER bought anything thinking “wow, you know, I was on the fence, but that salesman was so SMART. I mean, I think he was smart… he used big words, and he talked for SUCH A LONG TIME.”

Keep your paragraphs short. We’re talking three or four lines a pop. And keep it readable, too. If you read it out loud and there are words that are making your stumble, don’t publish it. When you’re rewriting, lower your word count.

Remove redundancies and exaggerations.

Long copy isn’t impressive – it’s just LONG.

Think Emotionally About Evidence

We take in evidence emotionally, and we do it for emotional reasons.

People online nowadays shop for truth like they shop for toys on Amazon. There are so many different things happening in the world that you choose what you want to believe and have plenty of evidence that points towards it being real. Or real enough.

The issue isn’t the VERITY of the evidence, it’s the COMPLETENESS of the evidence.

And who has the time to have a complete understanding of more than a couple of subjects? Even the President doesn’t have that – he’s got a small army of advisers who give him the broad strokes so he can make a decision.

So what about your proof elements? Are you just showing people a name and a picture? Or does your testimonial have a real story involved that speaks to people’s needs, questions, objections? Do they know who this person is? Are they a respected expert in the field and are they talking about something that’s actually relevant to your product?

I could go on forever. But this applies to everything – your design, your graphics, your followup sequences. Do they make people want to believe in you? The more you know about your customer, the easier that will get.

About the author 


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Subscribe to get the latest updates