The Mike Ross school of marketing

Have you ever seen the TV program, Suits?

In the episode I watched this morning, Mike and Robert Zane tried to persuade a lady called Emma to join a lawsuit. The case was against a company responsible for her husband’s death… but… she was resistant.

You see, the last time Mike and Robert visited Emma, they told her to sit tight. That was a week ago. Emma felt like she’d been left hanging… and therefore… was worried they would cut and run when things got tough.

To show Emma he knew how she felt, Mike described his experience of losing his parents…

“First year, you think about it every day. You relive it. It doesn’t matter what you do, you can’t get it out of your head. People tell you it’s part of God’s plan. Maybe they’re right, but it doesn’t stop you from wanting to punch them in the face every time they say it… “

After that, Emma joined the lawsuit.


Because she made an emotional connection with Mike. She began to trust he would fight for her.

And it’s the same in advertising: people only respond and take action when you first make an emotional connection. When you show them you understand their pains, fears, hopes and dreams.

Actually, it’s much harder to make an emotional connection in print. You can’t make eye contact… and… the other person can’t hear the tone of your voice.

Plus, unlike this example, you may not have shared experiences with the person you are talking to. You may not have suffered the pain of arthritis or the fear of your heart exploding at any moment.

Which makes it that much harder to make an emotional connection in your copy… and… that much more important to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective customer.

How do you do that?


Read what they read. Watch the same TV programs. Live their life until you can feel and explain what it’s like to deal with the problems your product solves.

And here’s the most important step that most marketers miss:

Speak one-on-one with real people in your market, ask questions, and listen.

If you do this properly when it’s time to write, you’ll understand your market so well it will be much easier to sit down and make an emotional connection with the reader.

To help you get started, here are a few of the questions I answer every I start a project:

  • What are they already buying?
  • What keeps them awake at night?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What causes them pain?
  • What humiliates them?
  • What makes them angry?
  • Who are they furious with?
  • What do they worry about most?
  • What are their values like?
  • What’s their most urgent, “hot button” crisis right now?

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