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Using the “So What?” Test to Transform Your Copy

Take a look at various products and services around the web, and you’ll find one common theme.

They all talk about themselves and what their product does. Few of them talk about what they can do for you. This is a devastating mistake that marketers and copywriters make.

To write effectively, you can apply a simple test to all your copy.

The “So What?” Test

You want customers, right?

Then start telling them what your product does for them!

Stop simply reciting what your product does. For every line of copy you write, ask yourself “So what? What does this do for them?” Let’s use Dropbox as an example:

Dropbox stores your files in the cloud.

So what?

It means you can use Dropbox and retrieve your files from any device. The files don’t have to be stored on the device.

Now put that in a short sentence.

Dropbox keeps your files safe, synced, and easy to share.

Okay, great. Now I understand what it does for me.

What Does Your Product Do for People?

Customers don’t care about your product itself or how hard you work on it. They care about what it does for them.

So what does your product do for customers? What are the benefits, and how do those benefits solve problems?

Let’s take a look at a couple of products.

Salesforce

Check out this copy for Salesforce:

salesforce copy

It’s a simple, benefits-focused opening sentence. They don’t write about the product. They write about what it does for people: it helps them sell smarter and faster with the biggest CRM in the world.

They could write this:

Salesforce puts all your leads and sales into one database.

So what?

What does that do for me? I can just use a spreadsheet for that.

Let’s move further on down the page, and you’ll see that it’s all about the prospective customer and what Sales Cloud can do for them:

salesforce copy page

Sales Cloud handles a lot, so you can take on even more.

The [what the product does], so you can [how this helps you] is a good template for copy. Explain what your product does, and then explain how it helps the customer.

As you can see above, throughout the rest of the page, all the copy is benefits-driven. Even the video isn’t about the product. It supports the top line copy (sell smarter and faster) with a testimonial from a customer.

Let’s take a look at another product, this one in the B2C space.

Sonicare Toothbrush

Toothbrushes are a big market. The majority of people on Earth need one, and they will need to keep repurchasing them until they die. There are a lot of toothbrushes out there from many different companies.

So if you’re responsible for marketing a toothbrush, how do you make yours stand out? Philips Sonicare has done a good job of this. Let’s examine the copy:

sonicare toothbrush copy

People don’t care about a toothbrush. They care about what it can do for them, the effect it can have on not just their teeth, but their overall health and appearance.

In the above three sections of copy, we get concrete numbers on why the Sonicare toothbrush is better than the traditional manual toothbrush. It removes 7x more plaque, improves gum health in 2 weeks, and whitens teeth 2x better than a manual. This is what people care about – healthy, shining teeth. They don’t care about how many bristles are in each brush or how the toothbrush works. They care about what it can do for them.

The remainder of the page discusses some extra features of the toothbrush:

sonicare copy part 2

Do you think Philips hired a copywriter to write this? Probably not. There are no clever headlines or fancy writing here. It was likely written by someone on the product marketing team. Does it matter? No.

You don’t need to hire a copywriter in order to put together an effective landing page. Just speak directly and tell the reader what your product can do for them. You’ll be putting yourself in a good position to boost conversions and bring high quality leads to your sales team.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is a Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

  1. Super good article! Very helpful!

  2. Aoife O'Carroll Jun 26, 2015 at 3:53 am

    Hi Zach,

    Why aren’t there more articles like this? Simple concept, clearly illustrated, and well-written; so good, so rare.

    Thank you!
    Aoife

    • Thanks for your kind comment, Aoife! I try to make sure everything makes sense and people can take action off it, so I appreciate the fact that people enjoy it.

  3. Zach,

    I hope you are having a great day.

    Let me start off by saying that you nailed it, i truly believe that your customers must hear what you can do for them, and not all about yourself.

    If you pitch your business all the time, then it makes you, and your business sound self center.i wrote a blog post about the subject. How people don’t care how many degrees that you have, or how much money that you make. Customers only care about what you can do for them, and thats how it should be.

    Thanks for the great read

    —–Jason

    • Spot on Jason – people only care about what your product or service can do for them. Even for things like dentists, you need to tell customers and prospects what your business does for them – they don’t care about your experience, how nice your office is, how fancy your tools are, etc. The only thing that matters is what you can do for them.

      So, if we apply the “So What? What does this do for the customer?” test to all our copy, we’ll be able to keep the copy benefits driven and we’ll stay away from talking about ourselves.

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