A Fill-in-the-Blank Strategy and Copy Framework

How do you begin when crafting a marketing strategy or writing copy?

For me, it’s become easy. I use a framework that I’ve refined in the past year that follows how people naturally think. Call it neuroscience if you want, but I think of it as merely aligning strategy and messaging with how the mind is naturally wired.

It’s a seven-step framework that follows how people naturally process information, think, and lead themselves to a place where they give themselves permission to inquire, buy or donate. It’s detailed in my new book, Crack the Customer Mind Code

I used this framework every time an organization calls me in to discuss an underperforming direct mail and/or online marketing program. I walk through the framework, and we can quickly identify if there is a disconnect between the approach they are using, and what they should communicate instead. Usually, in an hour, a succinct “road map” process is created. It becomes apparent why certain marketing campaigns aren’t working, and in another we’re able to talk through implementation of a new strategy and next steps.

I use this framework when writing a letter, video script, and content—virtually any copy that requires getting my point across with story. With client input, we discuss and fill-in-the-blanks of the matrix. The result is a framework that enables faster copywriting and testing. 

Here’s how it works: I create a matrix (you can access this one at Target Marketing Magazine). I ask questions, and fill in the answers. Here it is for you:

1. Persona

The “who” of the prospective customer. Some demographics may apply, but more important is what the individual emotionally feels.
2. Stimulate Emotion

What is the prospective customer’s FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt)? What is so emotionally powerful that your prospect stops thinking about everything except your message. Another powerful tool to stimulate emotion: FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out.
3. Calm the Mind

With the mind having stopped thinking from stimulating their emotion, what is the message of reassurance you can quickly convey so the prospect will pay attention and feel relief.
4. Position or Reposition

What is the unique selling proposition of your product or service? How are you different? At this juncture, you begin to differentiate yourself from competitors and create a new memory.
5. Storytelling    

You capture attention more powerfully with a story or metaphor. Think about it: how many times have you sat in a boring presentation, only to have your ears perk up with the speaker starts to tell a story? Stories engage, and stories deepen new memory.
6. Interpret

Ultimately you have to get into price, offer, guarantee and other nitty gritty details. This is when you take the prospect to the metaphorical left brain of logic. Weave in a golden thread that returns your prospective customer through the prior pathways. 
7. Permission to Act

Close the sale by bringing your prospective customer back to emotion, or the metaphorical creative right brain. You can’t force a sale. But you can persuade. And you must lead your prospect to a place where they say to themselves, “this is good, this is smart, I give myself permission to buy.” 
Follow this framework and your strategy will reveal itself. 


Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.