There’s a scene in the film Revolutionary Road where our hero (Kate Winslet) mentions a feeling of emptiness, and follows that up with hopelessness, at which point, John Givings (played by Michael Shannon) says something like “ah. hopelessness, now you have it.”.
Imagine your audience is in that state. It’s the point at which they’re about to give up. They’ve tried everything, and nothing works. Their emotional side is now in full flow, and nothing is going to stop it.
Most humans can only survive in that mode for a short period of time. The body can’t take it for very long. It finds a way to cope – it has to (there’s only so long that those negative chemicals can continue sending their signals).
It’s at that point that our rational side kicks in. Depending on whether we’re fundamentally optimistic or pessimistic, our rational side will come up with a solution. For the optimists, it will go something like this “maybe there is a solution somewhere, other people seem to be able to do this.”. For the pessimists, it will be “life sucks, nothing changes, that’s that.”.
Who is easier to sell to? The optimist or the pessimist? The answer determines how you write your copy.
If you know the audience you’re writing to is at the point of giving up, and they mostly consist of pessimistic people, then your copy is going to be very different to an audience, equally hopeless, but who consist mostly of optimists.
How can you tell? You can’t. Whenever you write to a group of people you know very little about, you have no idea. All you have is a choice. That’s why we split-test copy.
But split-testing isn’t just about trying a new headline, it’s about picturing who you’re writing to, and then adjusting the headline accordingly.
PS. This is a long-winded way of saying that before you do the kind of random split-testing most people do, think about who you’re doing it for (the why is always the same – get more conversions, it’s the who that changes).