How to Stress-Test Your Copy

I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs who saw copywriting as an afterthought. (And I’ve also been the entrepreneur who saw it that way. Tsk, tsk. I know.)

Then when I launched my next big thing, despite having a decently-sized list, and things don’t go well, I would sit and pout while wondering what went wrong. 

9 times out of 10 (real statistic), it’s because I didn’t put enough thought, effort, or energy into my copy.

I failed to convey why this offer mattered to this person’s life. Oftentimes, I made the big mistake of listing just what the offer included (8 live group coaching sessions, one 30-minute 1-1 call, etc.) instead of how this person’s life was going to be different as a result of having spent time in my world. I neglected the way this person wanted to feel and think about themselves.

I know though that you’re a smart, hardworking business owner. You want to improve your copywriting skills and you’re constantly looking for ways to improve it to get higher conversions.

If that’s you, I have a neat, little trick for you called a stress-test. 

This is a way for you to put your copy through a series of tests to see how it would hold up when a potential client or customer arrives on your sales page. 

Four Steps to Stress-Testing Your Copy

Step 1) Be honest, how persuasive is your headline? 

Would you want to keep reading if you were in your potential client’s position? The other day I was writing this sales page for a new offering on The Iceberg Project, and I used a line from the swipe copy I keep from reader emails about being bored with current resources. Even after a few run throughs, I thought it might perform well, but when I stopped and asked myself the above question, I knew it wouldn’t perform nearly as well as I was hoping. So I changed it, and of course, I kept the option of A/B testing open because we can never be sure. 

Step 2) Where’s the pain? 

You don’t have to go on for nine paragraphs about how sucky life is without your offering, but acknowledgment of where the reader is right now is absolutely critical. 

Step 3) What does your offering add to their identity? 

We all want to see ourselves a certain way and we all hope for change in different aspects of our lives. We buy based on emotion and we hope that we can purchase our way to a new & improved version of ourselves -- the me that works out seven days a week definitely buys the gym membership and the cute yoga pants. In order to communicate why your offer matters to your target market, you gotta’ figure out how they want to see themselves and what identity they want to assume. 

People who smoke cigarettes don’t say that they smoke cigarettes; they say that they’re smokers. Move from action to identity to engage your reader. 

Step 4) Why might nobody at all care about this sales page?

I love this question because it takes me out of my overly-positive, “no one can ignore this content just because I’ve spent time on it” mentality. It challenges me to think about why what I’ve written might not be persuasive or interesting or relevant. From asking this one question, I’ve recognized new objections that a reader may be thinking or I’ve seen where I’ve skipped over acknowledging an objection I know they will have. It slows you down and makes you take a good, hard look at what will be representing an offering you’ve spent lots of life minutes creating.

Now, there are a hundred and four other ways that you can stress-test your copy. In fact, here are two tools I use when I write any piece of content:

  1. Alexandra Franzen’s formula of FEEL, KNOW, DO
  2. Copyblogger checklist 

Happy copywriting! 

Hi, I’m Cher!

I write about the place where business + social responsibility meet. When I'm not researching whatever my latest obsession is, you can find me re-watching Remember the Titans, posting on Insta @___whatthehale, or hiking somewhere in the PNW. If you're interested in working with me on a marketing or PR campaign, I do that, too.

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