Jay Abraham’s Key Secret to Copywriting Mastery

Will Newman

Hello! I’m really jazzed Katie asked me to spend this week with you, sharing some of the copywriting secrets I’ve shared with my Circle of Success Blog readers over the years. This is a great opportunity for me to get to know the wonderful AWAI community … and I welcome you!

Since this is our first day together, let’s start with the most crucial secret to freelance writing success …

“The key to writing great copy … is empathy. It’s having a heartfelt understanding, appreciation, and need to help fulfill a problem.”

– Jay Abraham

Jay Abraham is the nation’s top-paid marketing consultant. Over the past three decades, he’s helped over 10,000 different businesses, in over 400 industries, earn in excess of $6 billion in additional sales and revenues.

Developing empathy with the person you’re hoping to convince to buy, sign up, take action, or simply believe your ideas underlies all Mark Ford’s teachings.

You may have heard this idea expressed as “know your prospect” or “love your prospect.” But the word empathy states the idea perfectly.

Empathy means far more than “knowing” your prospect. It’s even more than loving (as any of us in a loving relationship can attest!).

Empathy is being able to grasp someone’s life and emotions deeply … and feel as that person feels.

In his quote, Jay breaks empathy into three heartfelt parts:

Understanding: If you want empathy with your prospect, you must understand what he thinks … feels … needs … believes … and desires.

This is what Mark Ford describes as your prospect’s core complex.

(Tomorrow, we’ll talk about specifically how to determine your prospect’s core complex.)

Appreciation: If you want to be a successful copywriter, you must travel beyond your prospect’s core complex. You have to appreciate how the core complex impacts his life on a deep, deep level.

Consider the tons of advertising being churned out … both mass media and direct marketing. When you look at it, does it feel the advertiser truly appreciates the prospect’s feelings?

The copywriter may have done all the research he needed to nail the core complex. But, do the ads show he senses the same paralyzing fear, the depth of anguish, the bleakness surrounding the prospect?

Or the joy, excitement, and satisfaction the prospect searches for? Hardly.

Developing this appreciation for your prospect’s needs will make you a more successful writer. We’ll talk about this in more depth in a couple of days.

Need to help: Many freelance writers hold onto the misconception that they want to make a sale, or get someone to sign up, or take some kind of action.

But, think about it. Once you deeply and truly understand and appreciate your prospect’s inner life, making that sale or getting her to take that action takes second place.

You are left with the need to help that very real person in some way. Your writing … whatever niche or type of freelance writing you do … becomes the means to helping.

Empathy will make you a more successful freelancer.



Need to help.

Heartfelt. At all times, heartfelt. You must strive to achieve these core qualities in your quest for empathy with your prospect.

Tomorrow, we’ll delve more deeply into the first of these qualities of empathy: How you develop a realistic understanding of your prospect’s core complex.

Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. How do you develop empathy with your prospect? What’s worked … and what hasn’t?

Let us all know in the comment section.

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Published: July 27, 2015

10 Responses to “Jay Abraham’s Key Secret to Copywriting Mastery”

  1. Empathy is a great topic!
    We sell, that's what copy does. But people are bombarded with information daily, so much so, that there has become an emotional detachment to the world around us.
    Empathy can be a powerful key to draw people back to feeling. When we can touch people in a place that matters to them we can bring back to life a quintessential part of being human.
    I am excited to hear what you have to share this week.


  2. Emphatically LOVING someone is when neither party knows who's luckier. Indeed becoming of a certainty that can't be touched by some exclusive doubt. Isn't it pathetic, for example, how in this day and age, LOVING America can somehow give carte blanche w/ regard to hating half of it? Not acceptable! For whatever "order to form a more perfect union" needs to take, inclusivity needs to be indivisibly emphatic. And NOT exclusively highbrowed as if bent on the better end of a win/lose situation.

    Guest (Chris Morris)

  3. The late Harry Browne often said that if you only listen your prospect will tell you what they really, deep down want and desire....

    Guest (Wildman)

  4. Hi,

    I love this topic Will, and look forward to moving through the week with you and your thoughts on it.

    I'm just in my early days as a copywriter, so I don't have experience with clients yet to draw from for this discussion. However...

    I am also a language teacher for adult students. Empathy plays a very significant role in my teacher-student relationships. The #1 Key for being empathetic is ACTIVE LISTENING to my students and OBSERVING non-verbal cues. By listening and observing effectively I learn about the individual eg fears, strengths, weaknesses, what makes her happy, excited, confident, etc. This allows me to tailor lessons to individual needs.

    Guest (Lee Nourse)

  5. Will,

    As I read this I was reminded of the quote that is often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. It goes "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care".

    Nora King

  6. Thank you, Will. Empathy is generally understood as "walk a mile in my moccasins". It is best to find something in our own lives that relates to that difficulty or problem in our prospect's life. Actors must do this to give deeper, more heartfelt performances where they represent someone who has a problem they have never fully experienced. We have all lost someone we love. We can relate to the losses of others. Empathy is the ability to give back a hearfelt response to the needs of others.

    Guest (Kathryn Wenzel)

  7. Writing has been a desire of mine for many years. Public speaking has worked for me in the past. This empathy idea is in words what I now want to put into effective writing. Thank you for writing it in plain english so I could understand what is needed. Mark Ford writes some great copy. I am looking forward to learning how to listen to the prospect while sitting at this keyboard. I agree that empathy is the key and I want to learn to put it in written form. Thank you Will for your time.

    The Texan

  8. Empathy begins with awareness, grows with desire and never ends with disappointment. Thanks for bringing it to the forefront again.

    Guest (Roger Groves)

  9. Hi Will...

    Terrific ideas on how to make a connection with your audience. The following is a headline to the professional accounting market that I think will meet your criteria:

    "If You Want To Attract An Endless Stream Of New, Highly Profitable Business Clients And Transform Your Practice Into An Awesome... Revenue... Income... And Cash-Flow Machine... Then Please Continue Reading."

    I would appreciate any comments on the above in conjunction with your Jay Abraham Article.

    Thank you.



  10. I have never been a Writer before, I don't even know that I have the "Skills" it takes. The things I do know about is Empathy, and the Need to Help Others in NEED of HELP. Skipping over all the "Events" which have brought me to this Place, it could and Hopefully Will be a Full Length Book someday, but for now I need work NOW! I need to know first of all How and Where do I go to get started making money? I don't want to sound Rude because I'm not, Honest. However, I won't lie, I Am DESPERATE!


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