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Does truth matter?

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I’m a sucker for fantasy movies and books.

It might be all the stories of power, seduction, persuasion, strategy…

Anyway, the other day I was watching Game of Thrones’ spinoff series, House of the dragon, and one of the characters had a line that that stuck with me:

“The truth does not matter, Rhaenyra, only perception.”

I think it’s true. And you better keep it in mind if you want to convince someone else of your value.

Merely pointing out your truth will have zero impact. Nill.

It’s like force-feeding someone.

What matters most is how the other person interprets your truth from their own, unique perspective and world view.

Which can and likely is completely different from your own.

The fact that we don’t rely on what’s true to make decisions, but only on what we believe to be true, is the reason why we often can’t understand why another person acted the way they did.

They have an entirely different belief system!

So what can we as copywriters or business owners do?

Rather than asking ourselves what we could say to persuade, we should ask what mental models our people are coming from.

And then map our value on top of those.

A couple of rough, unedited examples:

1. Example: Tech Startup Selling Data Security Software

Mental model: Business owners are worried about data breaches and their consequences. They understand that cyber threats are real, evolving, and can have a disastrous impact on their businesses.

Copy: “Protect what matters most. Our AI-powered data security software is designed to stay ahead of the cyber threats, giving you the peace of mind to focus on growing your business.”

2. Example: Online Health and Wellness Platform

Mental model: People understand that health is wealth. They’re aware of the importance of good nutrition and exercise, but they struggle to consistently implement healthy habits in their lives.

Copy: “A healthier, happier you is just a click away. With personalized meal plans, interactive workouts, and supportive community, we’ll guide you every step on your journey to wellness.”

3. Example: High-End Organic Cosmetics Brand

Mental model: Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact of their purchases on the environment. They want to buy products that are sustainable and ethically made but don’t compromise on quality.

Copy: “Luxury beauty that cares for you and the planet. Our organic cosmetics are sustainably sourced and cruelty-free, giving you guilt-free indulgence for your skin.”

And so on…

Remember, what matters is not your truth. Look at what’s bubbling in the minds of your audience. What they perceive and what fits their world view is far more important.

Sometimes you can connect the dots, other times like in fantasy stories, you might have to fabricate the (hopefully well intentioned) “illusion” of it.


Got a ton of reader feedback lately… Here’s a couple:

  • “So far, the daily emails have been an almost constant stream of value. And I’m really not hyping them up, I’ve found genuine value in them. There are few email lists that I actively look forward to receiving, Chris’s daily email is one of them. To be honest I have most of them saved separately and marked up to refer to later. Today’s email for example, was not only a timely reminder that we are copywriters not AI prompt engineers, but also sparked about 10 ideas for my own and my clients’ emails. On a personal note, it’s great to see a thought leader in this space from the U.K. too.” – Gary W.
  • Aimee, just tried the ChatGPT prompt I shared yesterday and got good results for her business:

Quote and reflection of the day:

“Storms are bound to come; problems are bound to arise. Trying to escape from them is futile and self-defeating. Instead, the proper course is to use whatever training one has to ride out the storm.”

  • William Hart, The art of living

Discomfort and agitation are part of the journey. And your mental preparation dictates how you will respond when they hit you. Savor the lessons.

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brain dump?

Every week I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

Let’s nerd about decision making, persuasion, habits, and conversion optimization.