Marketing Therapy Cartoon by Lisa Rothstein

How to Go Into Therapy to Create Better Copy by @davincidiva

Marketing Therapy Cartoon by Lisa Rothstein

Lisa Rothstein | Featured Contributor

When I was a copywriter and creative director on Madison Avenue, working on everything from software (IBM) to underwear (Hanes) it was hard sometimes to be creative and eloquent on deadline.

But creating compelling copy for your own business, especially when the product is YOU or your services, can be even harder.

But there’s a simple solution.

Take the focus off yourself, and place it where it belongs…on your customer.

Now I know this may not seem new. After all, all the copy gurus tell you to write about “what keeps your customer up at night”.

But I find this old stock advice often elicits stock answers like, “They’re worried they’re not making enough money” or “they wonder if they’ll ever find love”  or “They want to lose weight” and that’s pretty much it. This leads to copy that’s unoriginal, inauthentic, and — the cardinal sin — BORING.

The problem is, you’re still looking at your customer.

Instead, I suggest that you BECOME her.

How to conduct a “copy therapy session”

Try this simple and fun exercise. It helps if you like acting, or if you have ever been in therapy (which if you ever have been an actor, kind of goes without saying).

This works best if you do it with a friend. (You can reciprocate if your friend is also a business owner who wants to craft more authentic, compelling marketing messages.) This can be done over the phone or in person but you do really want to record the conversation(so Starbucks is probably not the best place for this, especially since you might cry).

  1. Close your eyes and pretend you are your customer, and you’ve come to see your therapist or counselor with a problem that’s really been bugging you.
  2.  It helps if you can really feel upset. TIP: If you can’t put yourself in your client’s shoes emotionally, try this Method Acting trick. Remember something from your own life experience that made you feel unhappy, angry, scared, depressed or whatever you think your client is feeling. Your own experience does NOT need to be the same as your client’s — we’re going for the feeling. So if remembering when your dog died when you were 7 makes you feel like crying, and your client is experiencing another kind of loss that makes her equally sad, that works!)
  3. Start recording. Have your friend ask, “So, what seems to be the problem?”
  4. Now, talk to your “therapist” and just vent. Don’t try to “write” or find the perfect words. Don’t listen to yourself or even think about what you’re saying. Just complain, as if you were really your customer pouring her heart out to her most trusted confidante.
  5. From time to time your “therapist” should ask,”And why is that a problem?” or “What bothers you so much about that?” “How does that make you feel?” “How does this affect other areas of your life or business?” and keep asking, so you can drill deeper and deeper into the ripple effect and exponential chain reactions being caused by the problem, and get some true emotions to the surface. (You will be amazed what comes out!)

I do this with my marketing clients all the time. One of them worked with parents of preschoolers with ADHD. Her clients’ kids were having behavior problems at school. I got her to pretend to be her client, and just worry out loud about her situation.

We discovered that the real problem was not only that little Johnny was kicking his classmates…but that she felt ashamed and like a bad mother because nothing she was trying was working, and she worried constantly that the other moms were talking about her behind her back…that Johnny was not getting asked to play dates anymore, and that he’d become even more lonely and isolated…and he’d have no social skills and get involved in drugs or other bad behavior… never get into college, which would mean he’d be held back his whole life. Not only that, her own life and marriage were falling apart because of all the time and energy she was expending on trying to “fix” Johnny, and her stress level was through the roof so her health was suffering….and of course she couldn’t possibly concentrate at work and kept having to take time off suddenly because she got called to the school again…so she was not being considered for a promotion she had been working so hard for …

I could go on, but you get the idea! That’s what REALLY keeps her up at night.

Now of course you wouldn’t necessarily use all of this. But you can see how knowing this would help you (or any writer you might hire) to create more compelling copy than “How to manage the behavior of your ADHD child”.

Whenever you find yourself forgetting why your product or service is valuable, listen back to your own recording of you “channeling” your customer. You’ll likely find marketing gold in it!

For another creative way to produce  marketing messages that really connect with your clients’ emotions, grab my fun audio and illustrated ebook, “How to Use the 7 Deadly Sins in your Copy & Enter Marketing Heaven”.  (It’s free! Click here to get it. )

What would YOUR client vent to her therapist about her problems? Will you try this approach? Please comment below!


Lisa Rothstein, Cutting-edge creative strategistAfter starting an entrepreneurial career as a street performer in New York City, Lisa Rothstein traded her street corner for a corner office as an award-winning Madison Avenue ad agency copywriter and creative director at top agencies like Y&R and Ogilvy in New York and in Paris. Lisa’s clients have included IBM, Colgate and Hanes…and she is best-known for having created the famous “Wait’ll We Get Our Hanes on You” campaign that “changed America’s underwear” and transformed it into must-have fashion.

Lisa is now a cutting-edge marketing strategist  to creative entrepreneurs and businesses worldwide. She loves firing them up about their unique value, getting inside the heads of their ideal clients and showing them how to use the latest tech tools to turn their creativity, content and copy into cash.

An author and speaker on marketing, messaging and the entrepreneurial journey, Lisa is featured in the Amazon Bestsellers Ready Aim Captivate with Deepak Chopra and Success in High Heels, as well as Happiness Awaits You with Dr. Susan Jeffers and Contagious Optimism. An avid cartoonist, musician and inventor, Lisa co-authors the blog and upcoming book, The DaVinci Dilemma – How to Manage Your Multiple Talents to Create A Life You Love. She is a graduate of Brown University and lives in San Diego with her husband Jim, a television historian and radio talk show host who thinks she’s gorgeous and brilliant – in other words, he’s perfect. Follow Lisa on Twitter at @davincidiva and download something awesome for your business here.

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4 Replies to “How to Go Into Therapy to Create Better Copy by @davincidiva”

  1. Krista

    Wow, fantastic post, Lisa. I am so glad I found your blog through the LPI FB group. I’ve been struggling to get really clear about who my ideal client really is and who it is I’m speaking to. On the surface I have an idea but this is a great way to delve deep. Thanks so much, I am looking forward to trying this exercise with a couple of my coach friends. x

  2. Elizabeth Vassolo

    Sooooo true! Rule number one in marketing- nobody cares about your business.

    You need to make them care. And the only way to do that is to always answer the question, “What’s in it for them.”

    Otherwise you are talking to yourself.

  3. Lisa Rothstein[ Post Author ]

    Wow, Judy! Thank you 🙂
    Another thing I LOVE to do with client when we are working one on one in a VIP day or a Google hangout is to draw a big cartoon of her ideal client based on what comes out of this exercise. We put what the “client” is saying and thinking in voice balloons, and put in elements like husbands, children, hobbies etc. so we have a visual of a “real” person, even though it’s “just” a drawing. My clients get a real boost out of it.

  4. Judy Yaron PhD

    LOVED your article, Lisa, for two reasons:
    1) Your tip is SUPER. Always on the lookout for ways to get into my ideal customer’s head.
    2) Your presentation is SUPERB! You not only tell us WHAT to do, but drill down point by point HOW exactly to go about it with relevant examples. This is something you don’t always see.
    Delightful and beyond. Big THANKS and Big HUGS <3

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