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How the psychology of goal setting can help you write better copy

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Changing our behavior can be so hard.

Yet, as marketers, founders or copywriters, we think that, with a couple of words, we can steer strangers away from what they’re doing and move them to what we want them to do.

Easier said (or written) than done.

That’s why I’m so fascinated with the psychology behind behavior change.

I use myself as the guinea pig.

From learning new habits to continuously testing and experimenting with new routines, until I find what truly works.

Typically that feels like a big change from which is hard to go back from.

That’s what I’d like for all the prospects reading my copy to feel like.

They should get so immersed in those words and stories, that they struggle to imagine a world where they don’t take action on them.

In particular there’s one psychological strategy that could come in handy when you write your copy.

Implementation intentions: they’re a self-regulatory strategy in the form of an “if-then plan” that can lead to better goal attainment.

Implementation intentions require you to not only specify what you want to do, but also when and where you will do it.

Setting. the scenario is powerful because it makes it easier to create a habit.

For example, if your goal is to exercise more, your implementation intention could be: “If it is Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, then I will hit the gym after work.”

You’ve set clear, actionable triggers for when and where you will take the actions necessary to achieve them.

How can you use it in your copy?

  • It can be an incredibly powerful framework to come up with counters for objections and perceived obstacles.
  • Working through implementation intentions for your prospects can help you paint a more vivid picture, making that future outcome feel tangible and desirable.
  • They can help you identify clear and specific actions they should take to overcome the obstacles in their minds. This is how you come up with good CTAs.
  • They can help you create a realistic sense of urgency because when you think of and plan for any type of scenario or objection, you enter their world. And you know what urgency looks like for them.

By guiding your prospects through this process, you can help them transition from merely dreaming about their goals to taking concrete steps towards achieving them.

Apart from that, studying the way you make decisions and form new habits, is always very helpful.

No matter how much you think you’re unique, we all share the same major psychological traits.

Use this!

And if you want to let me do the tough work of finding out what your prospects want and fill in their implementation intentions, get in touch.

Quote and reflection of the day:

“…there are only two types of decisions: decisions made out of fear and decisions made out of growth… A growth-based decision becomes the story of your life later. A fear-based decision turns into regret.”

– James Altucher, Reinvent Yourself

What might feel like a safe, comfortable move in the moment may turn into stagnation down the line. Never shy away from short term discomfort just because you don’t see how it will all pan out yet. Use it as a trigger, see it as a sign that there’s simply something unexplored there.

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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.

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