The Reality Check You Must Go Through Before Writing Copy

In writing good copy, you may need a reality check.

This means you have no idea how your marketplace talks… or what. So I suggest a simple experiment.

Get in your car or bus and go to the nearest shopping mall. Then find a seat and listen to what people speak. Don’t do it as a stalker or as the American psycho but in a discrete, “I’m playing on my phone” type of way.

You’ll learn something important and that most people are not the way you think they are. They don’t talk about their goals or anything important.

Sometimes they’re vulgar and most of the time they make little sense. This is because when people are not under the spotlight, they act naturally. And if you want to write good copy, you must talk to them as when they act relaxed.

You know, if we go to a restaurant now, you’ll meet a different me. I’ll wear a blazer and shoes and cologne and I’ll sit properly at the table. I’ll eat slowly, I’ll not talk with my mouth full and I’ll nod my head and say “hmm, yes” a lot to appear smart.

But that’s not me.

Me is the one at 23:00, eating fries while playing on his iPad. I have a fry in one hand and I’m with my hand on my iPad and the screen is full of oil and I drink Coca Cola and I eat too fast or too slow. 

Or meet me in the morning. I sit in bed, in my underwear, I bring the fan close and I watch gaming reviews on YouTube because there’s this guy that swears a lot and he’s hilarious. I don’t move even to take a shower.

This is the uncensored “me” or you or whoever.

It’s the person who acts naturally when nobody is watching. Contrary to popular belief, most of my conversations with people don’t start with philosophical insights and some are generic – like what movie have you’ve seen last night. 

But if you’d try to sell you’d try to sell to the person I appear in front of you, even if I try to be authentic. The neat, organized, got his shit together person when sometimes, I’m not like that. Sometimes I get lost and I lose my shit and I take it on the person next to me and I act like a 16-year-old girl having a nervous breakdown but guess what? So do other people when you’re not looking at them.

So this is why it’s important to get to know people as they really are. This means meeting them in their natural habitat, surrounded by friends they trust and in which they need not put a show of being better than they are.

It’s like in relationships when in the dating phase, she always wears make-up and such while later, she simply acts natural and doesn’t try to appear perfect every time.

And if you notice people in this environment, something magical happens.

You learn how to sell to them.

You hear the exact words they’re using on a day-to-day basis. You hear their frustrations. You hear their pain. You hear the dialogue they’re having with themselves based on what they talk with others. It’s the shower talk that really makes sales, not the talk in the fancy five-star restaurant.

But most copywriters and marketers don’t want to get down and dirty like this. They prefer to sit in their air-conditioned offices and assume how people talk, based on how they wish they’d talk, which is wrong. Pretty girls swear, big tough guys can act like a bitch, most people talk about generic things all the time and the main topic of conversation is what others have done, gossip is more important than self improvement and so on.

True, non-regulated behavior is far different from what we think about others. It’s like when someone is alone at home and will fart, that’s what he wants to do. He’ll never do this surrounded by guests, but at home, screw it, why not?

Let me give you an example.

A long time ago, I met a guy. This guy was my aunt’s boyfriend. It was a sad event in my family, my grandma died. In Romania, there’s this tradition to go find kids to walk in front of the funeral march because it brings good luck or whatever.

So I went with him and since it was a long road, I chatted with him. The first topic – what we all guys bond over are women. I told him “well, it’s hard to trust a girl nowadays”. He told me “I know, you need to install cameras everywhere to see what she’s doing”.

At first, I laughed as this shit was so funny, dark sense of humor, I love this in people. But I’ve realized that he wasn’t laughing. He was the paranoid type and the following months proved this. He would blame and accuse my aunt for things she hadn’t done, he would try to spy on her and many other things. You know, crazy, “I know they’re out to get me” type of shit.

I think I was the only person who knew from day one because he told me that. In front of everyone else he was normal… or almost normal. But believing I’ll share his beliefs, he told me what he really thinks.

And that’s the real world. In front of others we are in a certain way but with our friends or our loved ones, we are very different. And that is the authentic self you must evoke and use to make the sale. That’s where you find your nightmare story. That’s where you find your irrational fantasy. That’s how you build your magnetic message. You use what’s real, not what you wish it was real or what people project.

Good copy enters a conversation that’s already happening. I underline “what’s already happening” and not what should happen or hope to happen. It’s the real, true, vulnerable, authentic self that’s freaky and fucked up and almost nobody knows about. And the closer you get to that in your copy – when you use your qualifying questions or your conversion story or anything else, the better he’ll relate to everything you’re saying and the better your conversion will be.

Bad copywriters write for how they imagine human nature to be as they have almost zero experience in dealing with people.

Average copywriters write for how people act, what they project. They pay attention but they’re appealing to the persona, the construct, the “polite society” self.

Great copywriters appeal to the rough and dirty and otherwise obscene selves. They talk to the person who sits in his bed, too lazy to take a shower, thinking all these things that make no sense and that he’d be ashamed others to find out of, that he drops food on the floor and picks it up and eats it and that he doesn’t wash his hands after going to the toilet.

For them, good copy is like a psychic reflection of what the prospect is thinking and doing and not what could be / ought to be / should be and other bullshit variations like this.

So go in a shopping mall or somewhere and listen. Or get close to your prospect. People are very different from they appear to be. The difference can be huge.

Without proper research and detective work, your prospect looks like a young lady dressed amazingly well, smelling nice, a big smile, great hair, acting like a true young lady.

With proper detective work, you’re talking to the same lady, but now she’s in front of the TV, her legs opened wide and her underwear showing, with a box of ice-cream in front of her, her hair messy, saying “fuck, I have no more cigarettes”. 

When your copy mimics the language and the emotions of the second one, the one that acts like this because there is no one to judge her otherwise, then it sells.

Do you have a sales letter that is not converting or are you starting a new project? Send me a PM and I’ll give you a free copy critique. In this critique I’ll give you at least six practical strategies for you to sell more


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