Are You Like Me?

April 16th, 2007 by Bob Bly

One of the easiest — and most effective — copywriting techniques for bonding with the reader is to show that you are like him.

For instance, you can simply begin the letter: “Are you like me?” And then list the things you believe you have in common.

Another method: have the person signing the letter be in the same group as the person reading the letter, e.g., when writing to doctors, have an M.D. sign the letter.

Why does this work?

Because people like, feel comfortable with, and respond to people who are like them.

Conversely, they don’t like, and want to avoid dealing with, people they think are fundamentally different.

You know this to be true.

Convervative hate liberals … poor people hate rich people … the elderly dislike the young … and vice versa.

Proof: according to a CBS New Poll cited in The Week (4/27/07, p. 19), 43% of Americans ages 18 to 44 are rooting for Barry Bonds to break Hank Aaron’s career home run record this season.

But of adults 45 or older, only 27% want Bonds to succeed. These older fans are rooting for the older guy precisely because they too are the “older guy.”

By the way, racial prejudice, the latest example of which is the ethnic slur that got Imus fired, is just another example of this notion of preferring one’s own to others — albeit, taken to an unpleasant, even sick, extreme.

Is there any other way to see it?

Have you ever had success in marketing doing anything but empathizing with the prospect — and showing that you understand him, are on his side, and are even like him?

I’ve seen it done. But it’s pretty rare.

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8 responses about “Are You Like Me?”

  1. Erlend Førsund said:

    We had our CEO sign our latest DM letter that was mailed to CEOs in our target group together with a brochure. I guess this is a typical way of applying the above mentioned principle.

  2. Bob Bly said:

    Erlend: Yes, it is. Another example: I had a software client who sold development tools to programmers. The letter was always signed by a programmer, whose picture appeared at the top of the letter. The client insisted he had to be bearded.

  3. Michael A. Stelzner said:

    Hey Bob;

    Like you, I have found this to work.

    For example, I have a new teleclass for freelance writers and white papers this week.

    I sent out an invitation and started it with something like this:

    “Many of you may not know I am a freelance writer by trade…”

    It works!

    Mike

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