Amadeus Musumali is a Marketing Strategist and Copywriter and today we’re talking about written communication with clients. Connect with Amadeus via his LinkedIn profile.
Anya: Well welcome everyone. Thank you very much for being here today. I’m very excited to introduce Amadeus Musumali. Amadeus is a freelance marketing strategist and a copywriter. Welcome to the show, Amadeus.
Amadeus: Hi Anya, how are you?
Anya: Good, how are you?
Amadeus: I’m good, thank you.
Anya: Thanks so much for joining me today. I really, really appreciate your being here. Can you tell us a little bit about how you find yourself in a position of a copywriter, what’s your journey been like through time and how did you end up where you are today?
Amadeus: I never thought I would end up being a copywriter. It wasn’t really something I had planned. I was always interested in marketing. I studied marketing in university and I ended up in finance after graduation. I wasn’t really happy there, and an opportunity opened itself up for me to get into sales. And, you know, at first I wasn’t really convinced, but I really, really wanted to get out to finance, so I took the job. And to my surprise, I liked it.
Amadeus: I kind of fell in love with the whole idea of selling as persuasion. And, through my sales jobs I worked in B to C, B to B, enterprise level sales kind of positions with big companies across different sectors. At the end I felt something was missing. I kept hitting a wall. It didn’t matter how good I was as a salesperson. The whole process of selling person to person seemed kind of inefficient because, it didn’t matter how well I scheduled my sales calls, how long my work day was, how early I got up. At the end of the day I could only reach so many people in a given day. Because, I’m just one person, I can just be in one place at a given time.
Amadeus: So, that really bothered me, and I started asking myself a lot of questions. I went online and randomly, just by accident, I ended up running across this thing called copywriting. I think it was in a book, I read this kind of pop business kind of book, it was “The Education of Millionaires.” There was a chapter dedicated to copywriting, and learning the art of response marketing. And, you know, it just kind of blew me away. I thought this was the answer to what had been bothering me. And, you know, I dug deeper into that and then kind of, at one point, decided to make this my career.
Anya: So, you just decided to take a leap. Going from working for somebody else to working for yourself. How was that transition for you? That’s gutsy.
Amadeus: Well, you know I’d love to say it was that clear cut. It really wasn’t. There was a lot of pain and a lot of sweat and a lot of tears involved in the process. I was still learning about copy, I was writing a little bit, I was building my skill, and I thought, “Hey, why not try this?” I’m back home, I don’t really want to continue in the industry I’m in, I know that with my background and skillset I can get a job in this industry in the next couple of weeks, so why not try this other thing and see how it works. If it fails, I might have to go back to my original career path.
Anya: Gotcha, gotcha. So let’s jump right in and talk a little bit about copywriting. Obviously copywriting is something that we do every single day as salespeople, but I think most of us are struggling with finding the right words to write copy. So, anything from emails to fliers to ads. So, why don’t we start with emails, because a lot of the time we are communicating with our clients via email. And, what are some of the tips you have for us in order to get people to open your email? So, subject lines. It’s kind of like the sales pitch of your email, right? So, people open it or might not open it based on that subject line. What are your tips and tricks for writing compelling subject lines?
Amadeus: Well, Anya, that’s tricky. Okay, I’m going to tell you what I think – what my opinion is about this subject. This is something that has been debated by copywriters, everybody has their own take on it, and you know, for the last 120 years that there’s been this profession of copywriting, people have debated what makes the perfect headline and how to do it. Are there formulas for doing it? Everybody has their own take. But, what I can give you are some of the things that I think are pretty much every copywriter can agree on and what I have seen work for me and my clients.
Amadeus: So, in terms of email subject lines, you want to be really as short and brief as you can. This isn’t the place to write the great American novel. It has to be short, clear and to the point. Make it as personal as you can, because email is a very intimate communication media. People are very, very protective of their mailbox. So, what I find myself when I’m looking at my inbox, if I see that I am getting emails from people or organizations I don’t know and the subject line is somewhat unclear or sounds a little shady, I don’t even open the email. You know? So, it’s definitely be short, be clear, be personal.
Anya: When you say, “be personal” is that a good idea to use first name in the subject line? What’s your take on that?
Amadeus: It depends. My instinct is to say, “yes” but there’s some caveats and there’s a little bit of caution you have to use when you do that. Everybody likes- we all love our own name. You can never use a person’s name too much in my opinion. The thing is that it’s a sensitive thing. It definitely gets the attention, which is great. If I don’t know you, or if you don’t know me, if this is an unsolicited email and we’ve never met, it can come off as slightly presumptuous.
Anya: So, if you have had personal interaction with a prospect, say they came into your model, you met with them in person and now you’re writing the follow-up email, you have established some kind of rapport with this person. In your opinion, it is okay to use their first name in a subject line to catch their attention?
Amadeus: Most definitely. If they are cool with that, if they came in to your business and said, “Hi, my name is John.” By all means, use their first name. If they are very proper, very old-school, conservative or they come from a culture where respect is very, very important, it might be safer to refer to them by their surname.
Anya: Gotcha. Okay, and what are some of the don’t of a subject line? I know like, capitalization or certain words like ‘free’. I know that a lot of email providers will block these types of emails from even being delivered. So, do you have any advice for us as to which specific words or what we should stay away from when we are writing those subjects?
Amadeus: Well, that’s a great question, thank you very much for asking it. Yes, definitely, stay away spammy words. Basically anything – don’t use any words that would make you think an email isn’t legitimate, or shady or inappropriate. I think, kind of, sticking with the biblical maxim of “do unto others as you would have done unto you” really, really helps in this case. I’d say that you definitely want to step- keep away from over capitalization. It’s true that a lot of spam filters react badly to that.
Amadeus: You also don’t want to be too cute with your email subject headings. I think when it comes to writing headlines, just like writing the actual content of the email, write like you speak. When I say, “write like you speak,” of course write as you would speak in your business. So, if it’s a very direct, personal business you’re in, write the way you speak. Address people the way you would address them in your business. It doesn’t mean you have to be super formal and say “Dear Mister, Doctor So-and-So” but don’t try- write as if you are communicating to a human being. Because you are communicating to a human being.
Amadeus: I think especially as marketers and copywriters, sometimes we get a little too smart for our own good and we try to be witty, we try to throw in puns or we try to throw in key words and I don’t know, that might work with computers but it doesn’t really work with people.
Anya: Yeah, you bring up a great point. So, conversational writing, so you’re almost talking with them instead of talking at them. I think a lot of companies with their emails are trying to emulate almost like a bigger corporation in their communication style, but it’s really creating a disconnect between you and the consumer because you’re trying to establish that personal relationship, so why would you talk so impersonal to your clients? It doesn’t make any sense, right?
Amadeus: No, totally. I’m totally against this whole Acme Corp government kind of communication style. I get why some businesses do it, people thinks it makes them look professional, or this is what their clients are expecting. But if you are a small business, or a medium-sized business, the personal touch is your advantage. Why would you give that up? You know, people are so sick and tired of these impersonal, insincere, big-business type of communications that don’t really mean anything, don’t really say anything. So, why would you give up that advantage? And, you know, people are pretty smart. They pick up on these inconsistencies and they read that as a lack of confidence, maybe as desperation and that’s not really what you want to give off to your customers. That’s not really the impression you want them to take away from your copies.
Anya: So, you’re saying when you’re talking impersonal- you’re talking to everyone but you’re really not reaching anyone, right? Because you’re so broad with your message, you’re so impersonal with your wording? So, would you recommend that we use the words that our customers use? What are some of the tips that you’d recommend when we’re speaking to the customer? It all comes down to really knowing your ideal customer. If you know your ideal customer then you can emulate their language and not use a lot of industry-heavy jargon.
Amadeus: Totally, totally. You might understand the jargon and the technical terms of your industry, it’s most likely that your customers don’t. The more to the point you can be, the better. If you can make complex things easy to understand, that’s a communications advantage. You are the contractor, the supplier that makes these very obtuse and, maybe to your clients, boring concepts and terms simple.
Amadeus: And at the end of the day, it goes back to something that we generally struggle with in writing, and that is speak to my needs. Or, what’s in it for me? Everybody is tuned to this one radio station called, “What’s in it for me?” So, I don’t care about the concepts, I don’t care about the technology necessarily. I care about the outcomes. I care about the results. I care about the benefits of what you are offering me.
Amadeus: So, there is always this kind of old, overused adage, but I’ll use it: “Your customers don’t care, your customers don’t buy nails. They buy a hole in the wall, or they buy a place to hang up their pictures or mirrors.” So, it doesn’t matter that you have the best nail, it doesn’t matter that your nail is made from high tech, space-aged materials and has nano particle whatevers. They care about what it does for them. So if you communicate that way, in their language, you make it as simple and clear to them as possible, that’s to your advantage. Definitely. Anything that makes communication clearer and easier for your audience to understand is a good thing.
Anya: So, if you’re writing about, say, energy efficiency of the home, you don’t necessarily want to say, “Oh, it’s got the greatest insulation” or “the two by six construction”. You really want to make it relatable to how does it actually affect you. So instead of saying “it’s the two by six construction”, you may say: “It’ll keep you warm in the winter time”, so make it very relatable.
Anya: It’s like translating feelings instead of just describing these words that may not necessarily mean anything to our customers.
Amadeus: I picked up on something super important there, Anya, and that’s the fact that all thing being equal-people buy based on emotion, on feeling, and then justify the purchase later with logic. It’s always a backwards rationalization process. So it’s important that you have the logical facts. You have your facts there, your features are energy efficient insulation, it’s X, Y, Z. It’s environmentally friendly, or it’s made of very low carbon impact or footprint. At the end of the day, what matters to me as a homeowner might be that yes, I care about the environment, and I like the fact that this isn’t toxic. It won’t harm the environment, it won’t harm my family. What I do care about is that my family is warm in winter, or that I’m going to spend less money on heating. So again, like you said, it comes to- with your understanding, your type of audience.
Amadeus: You really have to see which particular benefit points pull with that particular audience. You really have to be clear about your unique value propositions or unique selling proposition, and yes, communicate that.
Anya: Sometimes I think we can be so close to our own audience, we can be almost too close to it, it would help to step outside and get somebody else’s perspective on it. Almost like interviewing your own customers to get their perspective on what’s bothering them, what’s the problem that we’re trying to solve, and then trying to emulate that language.
Amadeus: 100 percent. Sometimes you get too comfortable, or should I say you know too much about your own product, you’re very comfortable with the market, and some things-you just don’t pick up on certain shifts and certain changes, and a lot of times what I’ve found with clients and businesses I’ve worked with, they really understand their market. But we misunderstand why our customers buy from us, so people might be buying from us, and we might think there’s a particular need we’re fulfilling just to find that in actuality, the customer perceives the need slightly different.
Amadeus: And the difference might not be huge. It’s not a huge gap, but it really makes a difference when you’re communicating, when you’re trying to reach people. So there’s definitely a huge advantage to taking a step back, or getting a second pair of eyes to have a look at what you’re doing to see if you’re missing anything.
Amadeus: Also, I really like the idea of going to your market and asking your customers: “What are your pain points? So, what the issues you’re currently struggling with? How do our products help you solve those issues? What sort of issues do you have that we are not helping you with? Or that you’re not 100 percent satisfied with?”
Amadeus: I think you need to ask those questions often because, like I said, things change. People’s needs are not always as the appear to us. And there’s a lot of cognitive bias going on. Human beings are really, really complex, mentally complex creature. And a lot of times we fool ourselves into thinking we know more about reality of a situation than we might actually.
Anya: That’s a good point, and I think especially for new construction home sales reps, as we go from one community to the next, and we may be selling a different type of product. Say, we’re going from selling town homes where we’re dealing primarily with first-time buyers to selling bigger singles where it’s a down-sizer. There are very distinct types of consumers and their needs and wants are going to be completely different, so you can’t go from one to the other using the same email follow-up, using the same language, without changing that because now you’re talking to a completely different audience even though you’re still dealing with home sale. So it is a completely different consumer, and you should approach them with completely different words. That’s very important. And can you talk a little bit about call to action? So every single email is a sales call in essence, right?
Anya: So I think as sales people, we sometimes forget that when we write an email, it’s almost like, “Well, they’re not responding to my phone calls. Let me just send them an email, see if they respond.” Every single email should have that call to action. Is there any kind of recommendation? Where do I put it? Is it in the beginning of the email? At the end? How do I incorporate it without sounding so sales-y. What are your best tips and tricks when it comes to making it actionable?
Amadeus: Okay, definitely. That is so important. I see so many businesses lose very valuable opportunities because they don’t give their customers or their prospects a next clear action step. They don’t tell their clients or prospects what to do next. I think that’s super important.
Amadeus: As for positioning it, it should always-I mean, if you are communicating with me, you have something to say. So, in my personal opinion, and I know some people do this a little bit differently, the call to action, or the next clear step that you want me to take should be at the end of what you’re trying to communicate. The assumption being that you are communicating something of value, that is of interest to me. If you’ve hooked me, if you’ve captured my awareness, my interest, and stimulated my desire to take things further, then by all means, you need to have a very strong and clear call to action.
Amadeus: I think call to actions need to be clear, simple, and I’ve abused this word, but I’ll say it again: actionable. So you have to clearly tell me what it is you would recommend I do now. Right now. It has to be simple enough for me to do without going out of my way or having to do a lot of work, or incurring a huge cost because those are barriers to acting, and it has to be actionable.
Amadeus: It has to be something I have to be able to do right now, where I am. You know, if I’m reading your email on my computer, or on my phone, or on my tablet, it’s something I have to be in a position to do within- okay, this is just my personal bias, but within the next two minutes without too much of a hassle. So this could be the cure to book an appointment, to book a viewing, call this number, now to get free information.
Amadeus: But it has to be clear, simple, and actionable. Everything else- so, the way I see it, the call to action is the primary reason for an email communication. Everything else in the email should be Aladdin, on flight, leading down to the call to action.
Amadeus: What I personally do when I draft email communication, sales emails, landing pages on the web. Often I start with the call to action. I say, okay, what should the call to action be? And then I build everything up around the call to action. So it’s a funnel where people stop at the top, and slowly but surely, they are gently led to the call to the action at the bottom.
Anya: So good. It kind of like keeping your eye on a prize when we’re interacting with the prospect in real life. I mean, the ultimate goal is to have your prospect buy a home from you. So, how you’re leading them through that journey to get the agreements along the way, kind of saying ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes’ so that they say yes to the big item at the end of the day and buy home from you. So we have to have that same call to action, then, in our emails because every single email is just a continuation of that relationship. And I love how you said that it has to be something of value.
Anya: I think a lot of people don’t take that into account, and they just write an email like, “Hey, just following up, seeing if you’re still in the market for a new home. Hey, just checking in.”
Anya: So it should never be just checking in. You should have a very, very clear idea as to why you’re contacting them, and what is the value that you’re providing to your prospect at that moment. So whether it’s continuing to educate your prospect about, say, financing options, breaking it down in a plain language so they can understand how easy it is to really own a home. Whether it’s talking about benefits of buying a new construction versus buying a used home. And again, breaking it down to what’s in it for your client. It’s so important that these emails do bring value to your client, that they are getting something out of it, and it’s not just spammy or: “Hey, I’m just checking in,” because it’s really not doing yourself any favor when you’re sending something saying, “Oh, I’m just checking in.”
Amadeus: Amen. All that is so true. It’s not about you, it’s about them. It’s a little brutal. I work with a few startups, at times, just as an advisor on a voluntary basis. What I always tell them is: always be escalating. So every communication, frivolous communication: “Hey, I’m just checking in, I wanted to find out how you are.” That’s all well and good, but that’s your personal stuff. That’s communication for your friends and family. When it comes to the business side, don’t waste people’s time. Always be escalating. Whenever you communicate with a client, with a prospect, there has to be a purpose, and that purpose, in my opinion, to move them further along the sales funnel.
Amadeus: So there should always be a clear next step. If the next step is not taken, and that to me means that particular prospect or lead is disqualifying themselves, and might be taken out of the sales funnel. Either way, every communication either advances the sales conversation, or unqualifies a prospect or lead, and takes them out of the funnel so you can now focus your attention on other prospects or leads.
Anya: I think a lot of the times we’re afraid to hear the word “no” or “no, I’m not interested”, but at the end of the day, you’re saving yourself time if that’s not your buyer. And we know statistically, out of every 10 people you’ll meet, maybe one person is going to be your buyer. So the faster you get through those nine people, and get to the “no”, you know who to concentrate on next.
Amadeus: Awesome. 100 percent.
Anya: So it’s a very valid point there.
Amadeus: 100 percent, and that’s my mindset as well. Every “no” gets you closer to a potential “yes”. The way I look at it, I look at it like a staircase. I know that to get one “yes”, I need to get nine “no’s”. So I know that the quicker, and the more consistently I get “no’s”, the quicker I reach the “yes”. And you know, I also just becoming comfortable. Nobody likes to be rejected, but it’s something very human. It’s hard coded into us. We hate being rejected, and there’s a really good historical reasons for that, but the fact of the matter is, in these modern times in business, it’s not the end of the world if a prospect says “no”. And you know what I’ve found, especially in smaller industries, in very tightly knit markets, is that a lot of times when people say “no” to you, they’re just saying “no” right now, “no” to your current offer, or maybe they’re just saying “no, I don’t have the means”. And that’s fine.
Amadeus: I think you just really need to have the mindset shift, and it’s not personal. It stings. Nobody gets 100 percent used to being rejected, unless you’re some sort of unfeeling sociopath, but it’s something we just have to get used to. Every “no” brings you closer to a “yes”, so you should celebrate that.
Anya: I love that. Thank you so much for reminding us. Sales people get so hung up on that on prospect and it can be soul-crushing, you know, when they say “no” to you, but yeah, you have to keep in mind: “Hey, moving on to the next person.” At the end of the day, it is numbers game. Your goal is to make it as personable as possible to your prospect so they feel like they do have a personal connection to you because at the end of the day, people do buy from people they like.
Anya: Personal relationship definitely matters, but it’s about taking them through the process and eliminating non-buyers along the way.
Anya: Amadeaus, thank you so much for your time today. It’s been great. I really appreciate your insight. I think all of us can learn so much. Again, thank you so much for being here today. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.
Amadeus: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure and best of luck to the listeners out there. Don’t give up, it’s a process. It’s a learning process. The rule of large number work for you, just keep up the good fight and you will hit on a system and method that work for you and will make you successful.
Anya: Amen to that. Thank you. Have a great day.
Amadeus: Thank you, you too. Buh bye.
You can listen to the full interview with Amadeus here.
In the next episode of the New Construction Marketing Podcast I chat with CEO of www.newhomessolutions.com Kimberly Mackey about how positive mentality influences sales outcomes. You can listen to the interview with Kimberly here.