Sell to the gut, not the brain

Issue #104—August 21, 2020

In this week's issue, I'm doing something a little different...but extra special. I'm letting one of my current mentees in my "Fast Track to A-List" group mentoring program take the helm today. Matt Ambrose, a top copywriter in the health space, has some great tactics to share with you on doing research. Specifically, on how to "dig out" your target customer's deepest dominant emotions. Amazingly, by doing so, you can practically let the copy write itself...and ensure it truly resonates, gets read, and most importantly, gets ACTED on. I'm going to let Matt take over from here...but if you're interested in getting on my wait list for my next group of "Fast Track to A-List" mentees, you can find out more details and get on the wait list here. (This 10-month program doesn't start till January, but I'm going to begin filling the limited number of spots starting next month, and folks on the wait list get top priority.) Okay, Matt...take it away! ***** Written by Matt Ambrose  Big ideas don’t get people to take action. Gut feelings do. This was the stunning conclusion by a team of scientists from the University of Exeter, UK. Using advanced computer modelling, they found animals survive longest when they respond to sensations in the gut. Not the brain.

But that’s not all…

The scientists also found that humans are no different. And that it’s our primal drive for survival that’s pulling the strings.

“Animals, including humans, may appear to be processing a great deal of information in the brain when in fact they are just following their gut,” noted lead researcher Dr Andrew Higginson.

So you see, there’s real science behind why we have sayings like “follow your gut” or “punch to the gut”: It’s deep rooted visceral feelings that drive our actions. Not logical thought alone.

So how can you tap into a customer’s gut feelings? Their ‘dominant emotions’? Their lizard brain stimuli?

From deep research, my friend.

Deep research that reveals the deeper meaning why people do things... what their REAL struggles are... and what will convince them their house is on fire and only you can save them.

For starters, your customer research needs to answer these five questions:

1 . What REALLY keeps your prospect awake at night?

Nobody turns to their spouse in bed and says “Honey, I wish I could lower my blood sugar” or “how the heck do I get off the hormone roller coaster?”.

You’ve got to dig deeper. You’ve got to find what these conditions really MEAN in their daily life. This will then unearth the ‘gut punch’ moments that convince readers to take action. The incidents that make them realize something has to change.

This could be the look of disappointment on their grandkids’ faces when they tell them their joints ache too much to go hiking in the woods...

Being told by a doctor they’re going to lose a foot and become a social hermit unless their blood circulation improves…

Or, worst of all, their health deteriorating means they face being locked away in a retirement home. A fate worse than death.

2. Who do they blame?

You never want readers to think it’s their fault they’ve become a prisoner in their armchair. You’ve got to find someone else to pin the blame on. Someone you can channel the reader’s anger upon and desire for vengeance.

The good news is you’ve got a packed rogue’s gallery to choose from.

You’ve got corrupt politicians turning a blind eye to disease spreading toxins in the water supply...

Big pharma fat cats burying natural cures so they can afford a bigger boat...

And dastardly food companies using ‘food scientists’ to make their disease triggering ‘frankenfoods’ more addictive.

3 . What’s their dream outcome?

Heaven always looks rosier when you’re stuck in a fiery hell.

When doing customer research, you want to find the most torturous details about the reader’s current situation. And how can you make their future life look amazing if you could wave a magic wand.

Again, this is not surface level stuff. Readers aren’t buying your product just to boost their health markers and see their doctor rip up their prescription sheet.

They’re buying products that can lead to stronger relationships… the freedom to do the things that bring them joy… and the status that comes from having a younger, stronger body and a brain firing on all cylinders.

4. What doubts will stop them from buying?

This is not your reader’s first rodeo.

They’re already tried countless products before. They wouldn’t still be reading your letter if any of them had worked.

So you’ve got to find out what they’ve tried already? What side effects are they desperate to avoid? What can you say that’s new and exciting that will convince them to risk feeling like a fool and give your product a try?

5. How do they talk?

When reading your copy, your customer needs to hear their own voice. They need to hear a reflection of what they think and feel, just like they’re talking to a mirror.

So during your customer research, you need to find the market’s common expressions and insider lingo. Language that will make your copy sound like a chat with a neighbor over the fence... rather than a pushy salesman peddling a bottle of homemade revitalizing tonic.

Now I’ve revealed five key questions to ask, here’s where to look for answers...

I. Demographics - Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook’s Audience Insights is one of the most powerful customer research tools ever invented. And it’s FREE!

Simply type a popular Page into the ‘Interests’ box and you’ll get a wealth of demographic data to harvest.

Now, this is where most people’s Facebook research stops. Here’s how to go a step further...

Visit the Page and pick a profile. Ideally, pick someone matching the demographics of your target customer. Then dig into their Likes, relationship status and other details to create a buyer persona document.

Better yet, copy and paste their photo, print it out and stick it somewhere near your screen.

Then when you’re writing, imagine you’re writing to that ONE person. Because when you write to one person, your copy naturally becomes more conversational, considerate and persuasive.

II. Gut Punch stories - Google’s Discussions tab

It’s amazing what stories people share online. Painful, humiliating tales of when they hit rock bottom. Moments they’d be too embarrassed to share with a friend, but will willingly share with millions over the interwebs.

The even better news is there’s no need to spend hours hunting through forums to find these ‘gut punch’ moments.

Google has a handy Chrome extension called ‘Discussions button for Google Search’. Plug it in, and you can find emotionally charged stories in minutes.

Use these keyword phrases will reveal the juiciest tales:

  • Humiliating [insert keyword]

  • Embarrassing  [insert keyword]

  • Frustrated  [insert keyword]

  • Pissed off [insert keyword]

Then for finding objections try:

  • I can't because [insert keyword]

  • I believe  [insert keyword]

  • Everyone knows that [insert keywords

III. Common challenges - Reddit

Reddit also provides a wealth of customer stories. Yet it’s main benefit comes from finding the common challenges most readers are dealing with. You can then use these shared experiences to write ‘creatively vague’ leads.

Sure, ‘specifics sell’. But being ‘creatively vague’, with a general description of the reader’s problem, enables you to write leads that resonate and draw in the most readers.

IV. Cut down your Amazon research to minutes with Helium 10

Amazon reviews can be another goldmine of customer info. But searching through Amazon reviews can be like panning for gold with a broken sieve.

For every revealing review there are tons of complaints about the packaging or late delivery. The good news is there’s a quick, easy way of completing Amazon research in minutes.

Using the Helium 10 Chrome extension you can download reviews in bulk. Then with handy filters, you can find keywords that reflect the common benefits and pain points most customers experience.

V. What they’ve heard already - Competitor's sales letters

Breaking down competitor's sales letters is one of the research tasks I do first. Why? Because it's like peeking into a competitor’s research folder. I can get an overview of the customer research they’ve done already, and give my own a jumpstart.

When breaking down competitor's sales letters, create lists of:

1. Common pain points and the exact language words.

2. Desired benefits

3. Objections

4. Keywords and phrases

5. Current hell and future heaven

Three ways of finding competitor sales letters:

  1. Clickbank - First search the Marketplace in the category you’re writing about. Then rank the sales letters by ‘Gravity’ score to find the most popular, and likely highest converting, sales letters among affiliates.

  2. Facebook Ads Library - Look for popular pages in your niche and the ads they’ve been running for a few weeks. Then click through to get to their sales page. Even better, screen grab the entire funnel and share it with the client as a blueprint for your own

  3. Email swipes - Create a new email address and subscribe to the email newsletters of 10 or so competitors. Allow your inbox to fill up for a few weeks. Then do keyword searches to find emails related to whatever topic you’re working on, and the sales letters being promoted by multiple competitors.

Keep digging until the reader is writing the copy for you

When do you know that you’ve done enough customer research?

When you’re able to close your eyes… hear the customer talking to you… and can write a page in their diary about their struggles and desire for change.

You’ll also know you’ve done enough research when it no longer feels like you’re just selling stuff. But instead you’re reaching out to people in trouble… showing you understand what they’re going through… and that salvation awaits if they say ’yes’ to your offer of help.

Bottom line: It’s not hype and outrageous big ideas that people respond to. It’s the gut feeling that they can trust you, and their survival is at stake; A feeling only deep customer research can reveal and create.


Thank you, Matt...those are some GREAT advice and examples. These tips and resources are sure to lead you to some valuable insights and copywriting "gold" you can use to make your next promotion exponentially more successful!

If you'd like to hear more from Matt, you can get on his list here. Matt's got a 12-point checklist for reviewing copy he'll send you once you do so, so be sure to check it out!

(And if you want me to put you in touch with Matt to discuss any possible copywriting projects, reply to this email.)

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. If you're interested in taking your copywriting skills to the next level and beyond, be sure to check out my "Fast Track to A-List" program here...and get on the wait list if you think it's a good fit for you.

Here's what Matt has to say about his time so far this year being mentored by me... (by the way, don't let Matt's British modesty make you think he's not already an "ace" copywriter...a few months ago he won the top prize in a copywriting contest Stefan Georgi put on!)

"Studying books, courses and handwriting sales letters is all well and good. But at some point, you’ve got to work with a pro if you’re serious about taking your skills to the next level. 

For years I’d been stumbling in my transition to writing emotionally charged health copy. I’d had some successes, but too many bombs. I needed help if I was going to ever iron out my mistakes and get my skills to where they needed to be.

Suffice to say, Kim has raised my copy game tremendously. This includes guiding me in creating a rock solid foundation of research before I write, how to dig deeper to find the core emotions that will motivate people to buy and how to edit my copy ruthlessly before hitting ‘Send’.

Best of all, working with Kim has shown me what it takes to perform at the highest level. And it’s led to me raising my own standards significantly, attracting higher-caliber clients and feeling tons more confident of hitting home runs in every project."

                                                                                                        --Matt Ambrose

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