The crucial trait that makes your copy better

Jun 26, 2023

Here’s one of my past issues that can help you write more engaging, higher-converting copy… simply by focusing on developing ONE specific trait or skill: empathy.

I was reminded of it–and this past issue I wrote more than 4 years ago–when I took my elderly mom to see a doctor this morning.

My mother was a bit grouchy and confused, interrupting me repeatedly when I was giving the doctor the background info on the problem she was seeing him for.

Dressed crisply in a tailored suit under his white jacket, with distinguished hints of grey on his sideburns, he appeared cool and composed.

But after watching my interaction with my mother, where I paused and patiently explained to her what I was doing and why I was explaining things to the doctor, the doctor surprised me when he made a sudden admission.

He spoke quietly, and said, “I wasn’t always as patient with my own mother as I should have been… and I regret it to this day. In fact, if I talk much more about it, I’m going to cry. This is why I always take the time to listen to my patients now.”

And listen, he did. He treated my mom with great kindness and dignity.

It’s not always easy to be patient… or empathetic.

But doing so not only makes you a better copywriter, it makes you a better human.

I hope you get some great takeaways from reading this past issue.

And if you need a good laugh, like I did this afternoon, check out that “Angry Uncle” chat bot link that’s near the end of this issue.

I checked it and it’s still working. And if you’re feeling ornery like I was, pick all the answers you KNOW are “wrong” while you’re doing it. (-;

But seriously, see if you can pick the “right” answers that help you practice greater empathy!


By Kim Krause Schwalm                          

Issue #45—November 21, 2018                                                

There’s a certain trait–call it a skill even–that all great copywriters possess.

It’s not something you can gain from poring through copywriting books or slaving away at hand copying promotions.

It’s something you’re either born with–or you work to develop on your own.

What is this crucial copywriter trait?


How can you possibly write copy that RESONATES with a prospect without deeply understanding his or her deepest fears, desires, hopes, and frustrations?

And how can you make that copy sound as if you really REALLY know them and what they’re going through (without sounding like a phony or charlatan?)

You have to FEEL what they’re going through, and be able to empathize…

Last week in one of my favorite Facebook groups to hang out in–The Copywriter Club–a female copywriter vented about being hit on by 2 different clients within 2 days.

She was clearly distressed and frustrated with the feeling that she wasn’t being treated and respected as a professional. It’s something all-too-common many of us women have been through (including yours truly).

It’s likely only gotten worse with social media. Clients actually know what you look like (and sadly, some of the creepiest ones confuse LinkedIn with Tinder).

One thing that became apparent in the comments thread (which eventually had to be shut down) is how many so-called copywriters seemed completely unable to empathize with what this woman was going through.

Sure, especially if you’re a guy (although guys can get harassed, too), you may not be able to instantly put yourself in this woman’s shoes…and maybe it’s your first instinct to defend the guy who’s being villainized.

But here’s the thing: the more you do try putting yourself in other people’s shoes, the better it makes you at developing EMPATHY.

Even when those shoes seem WAY too big or small, or not something you’d ever see yourself wearing at all.

Go outside your comfort zone and try to FEEL what it’s like to be someone who’s in your market.

Especially if you write to consumers who aren’t like you. For example, if you write for the health or financial markets, generally you’re writing to people in their 60s, 70s and even older.

Get into their shoes. Feel what THEY feel.

Back in my 20s when working with designers for promos going to the “senior” market, we used to joke about putting Vaseline on our glasses and then reading the promos so we could see them through our target market’s eyes (we never actually did that but we did keep in mind their vision challenges, as should you.)

Look, some of us are born “empaths”. We feel ALL the feelz, sometimes to our own detriment when taken to extremes.

Others of us have to make a bit more of an effort to get outside of ourselves and see things from another’s perspective. But just like any skill, practicing it can make it come more second-nature to you.

As you make it part of your “muscle memory”, it’ll help you better attune your copywriting to resonate better with your prospect. And that will help you write bigger winners more often!

This Thanksgiving holiday, try practicing empathy with the ones you love. Yes, even that uncle you always argue politics with! (Make sure you check out this “Angry Uncle” chat bot for some tips for greater “peace, love, and understanding”.)

And here’s to more empathy in your copy–and the world!

Yours for smarter marketing,