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Bright & Early Podcast

Using Punchier Copywriting to Increase Conversion Rates with Lianna Patch




Episode Transcript

The following transcript has not yet been edited. I am slowly editing them, identifying speakers, and cleaning up issues; but I haven't gotten to this one yet. For now, it's helpful for some Ctrl+F action to find a pull quote.

Brian: Hey everyone and welcome to bright and early the podcast for people building early-stage startups.

I'm your host Brian Rhea.

I talk to entrepreneurs, product people, designers, and marketing pros to learn what works, what doesn't, and why; giving you at least one thing to apply to your business first thing tomorrow.

my guest today is Leanna patch Leanna helps SAS businesses write funny personality filled copy at punchline copy calm and snap copy Co she's written for fresh books manly bands ghost bed and the contract shop among others and she's here to share her approach with us today Liana welcome to the show thanks so much for having me happy to be here yeah completely my pleasure and looking forward to getting to know you a little bit better and here and everything that you've got to share and so so for folks who who might not know you just give us a real quick like here's what I've been up to the past few years tell us a little bit about Leanna sure so I'm a conversion copy writer which basically just means instead of pulling magical words out of my butt I do some qualitative research to get to know the audience and the customers and then my specific focus within conversion copy is humor copy so how can we use humor to improve relationships and decrease anxiety and just like make your people really really excited to be connected with you yeah that makes that makes sense intuitively that humorous business copy or the humor in business it is a good idea but it it's there's there all these obstacles or objections I'm sure that you hear on a pretty regular basis when someone says hey we need a need a copy a conversion copywriter and then you say yeah I can help you with that also we should include a lot of jokes in their house I usually go for you well luckily the people who are coming to you know they're coming to me so they're like okay I've already decided that I want to start trying to incorporate humor but the biggest I think reluctance comes from not wanting to make your audience feel like you don't take them or their time seriously which is there's a super valid concern you know you don't want to ever make anybody feel like you're wasting their time you're just joking around and that you're not actually here to provide value so the goal is to figure out what the balance is between straightforward very goal focused copy and that relationship building anxiety alleviating sort of filigree you know how can we decorate the edges yeah which was your background how did you get into writing yeah the humor focused copywriting I had been writing for I think six or seven years I'm just sort of like not sure what I'm doing I was editing a bunch of publications and I wrote about an Improv Theater and I was invited to go take a class and I had actually tried a couple stand-up open mics before that so I was interested in comedy yeah how does that reaction to stand-up they say oh I could never do it and I'm like no you totally can't you say oh I would crush that that suck oh that's hilarious you know if you have reluctance you're probably gonna be funny on stage okay so it's through so it's through your writing Mountain improv and yeah so I tried stand-up mostly because I went to an open mic and I was like wow I could do better than that which is a very competitive and na way to think about life and then I wrote about the Improv Theater and I started doing those classes and just fell in love with that and I had it all came together when I had a great mentor and I was like man I I love comedy and I wish there was just some way that I could be funny or write funny copy and she was just like well why can't you and I was like oh a head explode you know and so I rebranded about four months later maybe five months later and like this is what I do now hopefully people like it nice so did you how did you start getting the word the word out was it mostly through your network in word-of-mouth or how did you start getting your first clients I think it was referrals were definitely helpful and then I I was already doing a little bit of speaking but once I figured out that I wanted to investigate humor from like a psychological standpoint I put together what I guess I would call like my flagship talk and it's you know basically how why and where to use humor in their marketing copy so that was pretty popular and I've given that talk a bunch of times and that's turned out to be a really nice way to sort of evangelize my own work while educating people and like giving them something they can go home in use yeah is that available anywhere online or do we have to find you in person to talk I think it is I want to say there's a recording from microcon that was the first time I gave that talk I think it's microcon growth 2018 okay and I know they just released all those recordings from past years so it made me there yeah okay cool I'm gonna find that and I'll be sure to it in the show notes people it was a good time yeah yeah cool did you still do any like improv comedy or stand-up in your in your free time these two do yeah it's I do I try to make time for it obviously it's hard if you're letting your schedule go past evening work like yes alright okay I'm doing yeah but I try to go to open mikes to you know take to say yes when I'm asked to be on a show so that I am actually practicing what I preach and yeah I find that I'll have little insights here and there like how I she tell this to my people or I should email this to my list yeah I do I want to be a person that practices instead of just like doing a thing once and then talking about it for 20 years that's really fascinating I mean so do you find that doing is it improper stand-up or both that you do you learn did you gain and learn things from that experience that helped that that inform the way you run your business yeah I think they both support each other I think the biggest shift when I started you know writing humor copy it was like a burden was lifted from my shoulders in terms of interacting with prospects and clients because I just got to be myself and I had this reason now to be authentic and that's such a buzzword you know but to crack a joke here and there or just to be straightforward versus writing in this quote-unquote businessí way because that wasn't who I was anymore and being that person on stage just kind of reinforces you know being that person on calls or in the inbox and I find that I get so much more of a genuine reaction out of out of people the people who really connect with me like if I hop on is in call with a prospect and we just banter back and forth about you know I don't know the weather well we're getting to know each other they always tend to be my best clients because they want to work with somebody fun or someone who can pretend to be fun most of the time well so that's that's what was it is kind of interesting to me as as I was you know researching doing some research for this interview and looking at your work that I I mean I I gotta say I had this feeling about myself yeah because that's much more how I am in real life like I'm not trying to you know say that I could I'm definitely not somebody who's gonna say I could get up on on stage and crush it um but like in a group of friends hanging out like it's pretty common that like I'm either the funny one or one of the funny ones like that's how my friends would describe me yeah like you know land landing pretty good jokes except as soon as I like get into my you know consulting and business side of things um I just completely business up and so how do you how do you help your clients get over that or what sort of advice do you give to people who say ah man yeah I do want to be my more authentic self in my I'm in my marketing copy business copy it cetera yeah why I point to the actual well-researched benefits of judicious use of humor so it's not just like throwing in a joke because I feel like it or throwing in a joke that's totally irrelevant to the audience it's okay if we you know a pun in the subject line it's probably going to get more opens for this email and if we make a joke here about like an objection they might have that humor should release some of the tension and the anxiety they feel about that objection and help them know hey we understand you so it's it's going through you know any copy that I might write for them and saying here's why we're using humor at this point especially for clients for a little more nervous some clients are just like make it crazy don't explain it just write something wack and I'm like crazy I love you have a good time but you know I think any copywriters should be able to point to their their strategic decision-making behind every choice they make and so being able to backup jokes and asides and gifs and emojis with you know actual concrete well research reasons is really helpful for talking people down so and I'm sure I'm sure there's like a spectrum of alright I'm assuming anyway from business to casual joking to like full-on stand-up comic and so you know and yeah got to think of brands that span that spectrum so what advice do you give to people who are trying to find their voice or their products voice yeah learning where they land on that spectrum um I so because I have this you know research approach I say let's research your sense of humor and your audience's sense of humor and find out what things appeal to both of y'all to see where the overlap is so it can be as simple saying you know who's your go-to Santa comic like if there's a new special coming out on Netflix who do you listen to or who do you watch right away and what comic strips did you grow up with what kinds of things do you just find funny like what's your favorite comedy movie or series and then what is your audience have to say to those same questions and where's the overlap because that's gonna be the area that feels most natural to you and has the biggest effect on them because they're they're discovering this like shared taste with you and that you know gives you a pool of references to draw from and maybe some like gifs and you know that you like the office and they like the office slow use an office trip like instant win it's kind of a risk reducer so how in it so how do you do that that work of finding what is my audience's sense of humor how do you go about actually pulling that out with some clients I actually put together like a little survey or quiz for them because most of my clients tend to be like okay we're coming at it from the brand boys side we don't really care what you know the audience we just want it to feel authentic to us and we think it will gel with him I have a humor quiz that I ask clients to take and that's it's pretty fun you know it's like which means is your favorite who's your favorite stand-up or like pick your favorite joke one of the jokes on this and I just have to tell you this cuz it's my favorite it's it's it's sort of dark and absurd right so there's different styles of humor that's a wholesome and uplifting and very witty and highbrow and there's dark and Morga and it's just a one-liner and ever notice the glass tastes like blood I can't remember came up with that so I just let you have them take that and I see what the results are and I know where they fall in like the spectrum of just like goofy and uplifting to like really weird and dark okay so it will and okay so that's that's kind of helping to get to know the this the sense of humor of the of the writer right am i am i hearing that right Arjun the brand's yeah okay okay so what would what would I do if I've got you know suite of clients or a batch of customers I'm thinking if so if we were going to experiment with or do some research on building out a new feature of a product then we would get you know a batch of five to eight of our best customers and we would ask them about their workflow etc etc etc yeah so but but here if I'm if I'm saying okay we're going to we're gonna start being more are are are are our authentic selves and but we want we got to make sure that like you know our people are serious they're doing serious business we can't just go like robbing f-bombs and batman and gifs all of a sudden yeah but maybe maybe we can roll something in there what sort of what sort of customer research what sort of outreach can we do prior to testing the audience themselves so that's that's a really good point that the kind of general research that you're doing with your audience can also be can also inspire humor and let you know what to joke about so if you're asking hey what's your biggest frustration with your current you know sass that you use to solve this problem we're like what problem are you trying to solve with this ass but I tend to focus on strong emotions right so like what makes you happiest about your current solution or what would make you really happy if if you started using our app or what what's the biggest problem that you have and then you can use those as jumping off points for jokes so if they're frustrated with their current calendar boring solution what does that frustration look like and how could you sort of heighten that to a comedic extreme so you know your current calendar software is so unintuitive that you might as well be creating your own paper from leaves and sticks outside and then you know writing in blood and sending it by messenger kitchen to your imagine that I said a funny thing there and that's what are there are there are times where you recommend to your clients like hey flag this part of the customer journey or flag this email as like do not joke about this kiss topic yes yes so anywhere that people are gonna be really upset and just looking for an answer I have seen you know customer support autoresponder emails kind of the ones that are like hey we got your message we'll get back to you soon that are funny but it's a really tough line to walk right because that's all well well good if someone has an on-time sense the issue and you're like hey like we're just off eating bagels together like we'll be back soon but if they're really upset anyone they are not receptive to use oak and so one of the things that I tried to to figure out at various stages of the quote unquote funnel is what state of mind people are in and there's this theory of humor that they're that we're constantly switching between two states of mind atelic mode and the pericolic mode so telic is very goal focused you just want to get stuff done and you're not really receptive to humor and pair italic is where you're much more open to levity and jokes and like having a good time so if somebody is in that goal focus state you're not going to get the best reception for your joke and you actually might make them angry but if you know you're just building a relationship and at that stage of the funnel then that's probably a good time to work in some humor yeah if that as you're talking here reminds me I have a good friend who is like serious Disney fan like runs marathons there all the time like I mean even at this point you know has a youtube channel that's about you know Disney travel and like hardcore Disney person and anybody who knows Disney like they are super emergently like their customers are immersed yes the entire thing and just the whole that just the whole vibe and so she like ultimate fan was having an issue with her credit card I think on our like timeshare thing or something and is you know on hold with the customer support representative who is making these like oh it looks like you know give me one second looks like Mickey may have misplaced that you know the credit card reference here so yeah it's like yo this is this is my credit card yeah yeah we're not gonna play tend to hear that that Mickey has run in her house shuffling things so can you so tell ik and paratah like that's what you called okay so so how can it is are there any specific guidelines on hey this is for sure a goal-oriented mindset this is like like relationship building or is that is that is that a feel thing that you have to work out as a team it's it's something that becomes easier the more that you are mapping out the various journeys pause before saying like journeys and funnels because everyone has different ones I hate you know as you're going through if for example you're wrapping out your email strategy you know that the goal of the welcome email is to get them back into that app right so one goal per email you might make a little joke around it but you don't want to distract them from clicking that link of that button right or whatever you the goal if your welcome email is probably to get them back in there become and then you might have an email after that that's just like hey get to know us get to know what we can do like reinforce the great decision you've made starting your free trial and then email number three might be go do your first thing go activate yourself inside the app so you might have more humor in email to because you have more room for it but because you're asking them to focus on a goal an email three get out of your runway you know so making sense yeah yeah I know that that makes sense I'm just sorry and I'm also again like I mentioned towards the top at the interview I feel like this is completely where I'm at right now in trying to think through yeah how to pull this into a little bit more of my my day to day but so but so for people who are who are listening right now and they've maybe they've even got their products landing page up right now are there some are there some things that they should scan through to see like either either something that they're they're doing wrong that you see on such a super regular basis like very tactical hey don't don't do this I see this all the time it's been or areas that they can look through that flow to say oh hey this is is a common type of pitch and here's where punching it up with a little bit of humor statistically is going to make it land a little bit better yeah so actually I just like this is partner at stuff and I just recorded this video about like five things to look at and your landing page copy without even really writing anything okay and the first like the first quickest win thing is to just step away from your screen look at your page and see if you have any walls of text going on so I think a lot of us are still trained in this like you know college paper style of writing where we have the opening sentence and the three body sentences and they're like conclusion but it's actually easier for the human eye to process shorter paragraphs and spinner column widths you know so if you're writing these massive screens and they go all the way from one side of the screen to the other then it's gonna be harder for your person to just visually parse that so formatting is the first thing like make sure if you step away you can still read and you can like read paragraphs the body copy font isn't too small make sure you're you've got sub headlines or section headers down the page and that if you weren't gonna read any of the body copy you still know what the page is trying to tell you or inform you on five didn't by the time you got the bottom I tell story down the page with the cross heads or sub heads what else don't use stock images they will really kill trust people can tell even if you have like a really good stock photo we can through you tell um if if it's supposed to be like a place where hey here's our team and it's you know this bond NSE so yeah if you can replace with genuine images I like to say also use image captions because if you have a caption on an image people almost always read it so that's my favorite place to put in a joke um so if it's like a photo of the team and you have a caption on the image it could be like here's the team on our retreat in Barcelona parenthesis you know we lost Julian that day now alright pay or something like that I don't know and then if my favorite thing to do on a landing page because presumably you know a little bit more about the traffic on that page if it's a if it's a targeted landing page with a single call to action you're sending traffic there you know a little bit more about that traffic than just like random cold strangers who land on your home page so you should know a little bit more about what humor is gonna resonate with them so if they're reading through the body copy and you know about their like potential frustrations go ahead and add a joke about those frustrations in the body copy to reward them for reading closely so they should be able to get the point at the page by just scanning but to reward people who are not scanners you know add a joke here and there like congratulate them for continuing to read that's super helpful is there is that online somewhere boy is it good question I'll look and listeners if it is it'll be in the show notes I think it is and I will look to because that's probably something I should know I want I'm like I'm one to one to dig in on that yeah hey friends this is a great time to pause and let you know that bright and early is brought to you by transistor not FM transistor offers you professional podcast hosting and analytics they host this very podcast that you're listening to right now and my friends I got to tell you it could not be easier I can tell you from personal experience as you also probably know podcasting is becoming one of the best ways to develop a closer relationship with your audience and so if you're thinking about starting a podcast trust me look no further just visit transistor dot FM and if you decide to sign up let him know that Brian sent you okay so if I had we've talked about this a bit but it's super specific and tactical so if I had zero budget to invest in copywriting in the early stages then how would you recommend I'd be spending my time to punch up my copywriting man or punch it up or just like start doing it fair enough yeah talking to people which I know is not the answer that a lot of introverted software founders want to hear and like I feel you on that cuz I get drained by how people present company excepted of course Brian this is just selling mic so you know see if you can get on a call with people ask for 20 minute conversations and and ask those emotionally based open-ended questions that will give you a sense of what people know about their own problems and where they are in the stage of trying to solve it what they would really want from your product hopefully they won't alert you to any competitors that are already just doing what you're trying to do because that's happen sometimes where they're like oh you're doing this so it's exactly the selfie thing you're like oh you know so some of that like more product market research yeah helpful but those those calls will be really helpful because if you do enough of them I would say like around five to ten you should start to hear the same kinds of messages being repeated and you'll you'll begin to understand like oh if I have a landing page asking for a free trial I need to start by addressing the problem and maybe even explaining the problem because if people don't know they have it or you might find out people already know they have this problem it's very well-established we don't need to waste too much time on that we should just get right to how we can solve it so then if I had from a little bit more established I've got between like ten and twenty K to invest in improving the copywriting on my site by working with somebody like you how would we get started well I would invoice you for 20 K and then I would move move out of the state yeah smart I you know I would ask a bunch of questions first obviously about what kind of baseline conversions you have and what you've been tracking we talked about where it makes the most sense to focus so for me I like to be I like to work around the revenue and retention sides of things there's people who specialize in acquisition if we're talking about a pirate metrics right there yeah I'm at the tail end of the sequence because I really like to be involved in sales and bringing people back for more sales or more value so I tend to focus there and I work with e-commerce along with SAS so you know converting free trial to paid I love writing those kinds of things getting people back into the app with you know windaq sequences if they've laxed and they've stopped using it writing transactional emails and Dunning emails that are different from what you'd expect and kind of joyful type form does this really well if your credit card I think if it's if it's a credit card has a problem or the credit card is about to expire type form doesn't just say hey your credit cards gonna expire go here and update it so we can continue to charge you 35 bucks a month for you know who knows what yes how I feel when I get that in place they say houston we have a problem that's the subject line and the body copy is like we you know like sipping a margarita and lying on the beach but we noticed that your card expiration is coming up so something that's not offensive and not distracting from the point of the email but light-hearted right because it can feel like a lot of pressure hey update your card information we want your money and people are like oh no but it's like hey you know you're still getting value from us like we're all people here go ahead and give us your credit cards we can keep rolling yeah there may not be an answer here but something you said just made me think because you so you tend to focus more on the trial - paid side side of the side of things is that is that because that's a strictly that that's your personal preference and you just really enjoy that or is there any indication that you know using humor and personality at trial to paid side of the funnel as opposed to like you know random visitor to trial is is it more effective at that point or nah it's I think it's just my personal problem it's easily it's more measurable right you know you yeah if people are just starting out they're probably not tracking every single metric but you don't only tracking for all the pain yeah yeah for sure closer to the money last thought and thanks again so much for your time today Liana but working for yourself working on a business can be super stressful are there any practices to manage your own stress that you found haha that you want to share oh that I found helpful that I consistently do my therapist could have something to say exactly she was like I saw her this week it's just like it sounds like you know what to do to make things easier for yourself and you deliberately don't do them and I was like oh let's dig into that yeah I like having my own schedule I like to time block projects that's helpful for me to know what's coming up and like make sure I've given myself enough time to work on a thing um I you know I struggle with anxiety and depression like every single person who does comedy right so there's a lot of needing to give myself a break and maybe be creative about like if I'm just not gonna make progress on a given task today I need to find another task from tomorrow or the day after that I do feel like I can do so I think flexibility and practicing self kindness are kind of integral to being able to do my best work thanks thanks for sharing that thanks for being open about that so we're can listeners find and follow you online and is there a helpful kit around anything that we've spoken about today that you'd love to share anything that you've got to offer oh.why in fact there is a helpful kit around what a prescient question so I am obnoxiously on Twitter I may not be for everyone but that's my name platform of choice alright at punchline copy I very rarely email my list that you can sign up for that a punch line copy comm and it's usually kind of fun we do email sometimes it's nap copy code and we just put together this voice of customer research and messaging chit that is free at snap copy so basically if you have no budget but you want to get to know your people and get to know the messages and even for Batum swipe copy that you should use you know here are some interview questions you can use here are some survey questions you can send we've even got like emails to send the survey to your people and then there's a framework with detailed instructions on how to pull meaning from that raw data you collect yeah I'll put a link to that in the show notes so me you know thanks so much yeah thank you so much for having me yeah my guest today has been Liana bache Liana thanks again for your time yeah thank you [Music] all right settled in with another glass of tasty kombucha this week and just want to say if you're listening to this while you are at the gym or on a jog good for you and you can do it quick note lianna mentioned that her 2018 she missed her 2018 microcon talk it is actually not available for free just yet they have not released those videos but you can purchase the 2018 bundle for $49 if you want I think it's like 15 hours or so worth of pretty high quality conference talks from people you will definitely recognize so I'll put a link to that if you are interested primary takeaway for me from this entire interview is just the importance of authenticity and and being true to your self and to your own voice and so definitely you know Leanna has great recommendations for why why humor in the appropriate time and place is is you know scientifically more effective to to be memorable and to be persuasive in in times I think I think what's important to keep in mind if if you are personally feeling feeling like it doesn't entirely fit with your actor with your personality the the overarching takeaway that we can all get from this is the importance of authenticity and and and being memorable whether in your invoice or in design or in your point of view just the importance of being memorable because bland bland copy on a bland landing page or a typical landing page that looks like 80% of you know everything else that launched on product hunt yesterday that isn't memorable anymore and it was it's good it was good to talk to lianna and here you know her her passion for humorous copy and for you know just adding adding delight just sprinkling delight all over the place all over the business in transactional emails on your landing page and you know and win back campaigns just sprinkling some fun like having fun throughout it you know that's what her that is her whole entire point of view that is her position and for the right company with the right customer in appropriate context for sure that that is the way to go was also true is that really no matter the company the customer or the context or the point of view the important thing is being memorable and so that's I think that that is like the primary like it just in trying to think through it and trying to find a lesson for anyone who is listening to this regardless of your stage of business or rather your your your customer your your business type what is the per what can the takeaway be for all of us for all of you that's that's what I was thinking through for me personally it really is you heard me say this in the interview I like my first of all I just really hate my website right now as it is just like a cobbler's cobblers kids shoes situation for sure aside aside from like that part of it like it just doesn't sound and feel like me this is something that I have gosh I've just struggled with it for so long and I don't remember which episode it was that I mentioned you know trying to try to be better about thinking about you know having one customer like one person one friend that I'm riding to and I mentioned like that that fantasy baseball league that I was that I that I was that I am in that you know writing the weekly updates but that that's just so easy and it's super entertaining you know trying to be objective like that's the feedback that I get from the other people in the league and like oh man like to be able to bring that to every aspect of your business that should feel like play and it should be fun why is that sometimes that that it we make it more difficult maybe then it has to be or why is it just more difficult than it has to be maybe a bit of that is like mirroring like other people's expectations or other things that you see out there I just think it's a really I just think it's a very fascinating observation on you know business speak and talk in general that we're all just people out here doing the thing you know and a lot of times the way people talk to us or the way that we find ourselves you know slipping into some role and speaking to other people it's not you know it's not even what we're actually thinking and it's not how we talk when we're sitting around a campfire with with our with our friends and so I feel like that's the that's that's a big big take away I was also I like the section of the conversation we were kind of talking about like hey where are some where are some areas in the in the customer you know journey or like what types of emails should we not try it just don't even don't don't mess around this email actually should be kind of bland and businessí and to the point I think that's I think that's important and I was trying to find y'all there I I swear I thought it was MailChimp but for all of my googling skills I was not able to find it that there was a if one of you find this and tweet it to me I will be so grateful but MailChimp has a really great voice and tone guide where they just kind of talk through like here's how we think about like our you know tone of voice and this type of email or in this type of page or whatever it's it's a great resource if you geek out on on right that's great but that's not the one I was looking for there there is one and I I just I really thought that it was MailChimp I was so convinced that actually went into the wayback machine on their voice and tone gags I was like ah it didn't used to look like this and it has looked the way that it does today since like 2005 or something so I was wrong on that but the like the navigation menu on the left it was like a you know a gradient spectrum from green to yellow to red where it was basically like each of those areas was saying here here is the mood of the customer right now and so your tone of voice you you want needs to sound like you know this and it was kind of basically talking through that like when the customer is feeling this way when they are in this cot in this you know these are the emotions that they're expressing this is how you want to reply and I can't find it it would be it would be the perfect show note for this particular interview and I'm gonna keep I'm gonna keep looking for it just another it's just kind of good advice that in general like you you match the energy level of your customer and where they're at and if they're you know if they're it's kind of loose and and playful and they're just kind of browsing it's completely cool to be casual if there's an issue with their credit card then match match that level of seriousness and so just that's the those are some good good thoughts that that I've walked away from from this interview with I would love to hear what what you all think you can please reach out to me and introduce yourself on twitter i'm b ray that's BR h EA b as in ball arse in rock HSN Hedberg is an elliot and a our net if you've got a quick minute just to scroll on down and leave a 5-star rating or review for this podcast that would sure mean a lot to me you can go to bright and early podcast.com sign up for my newsletter you'll get an email once a week or so ish with thoughts similar to this one and would love to hear from you and till next time i'm brian ray


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