Where to find customer language without actually talking to anyone

Writing copy can be hard. You know what else is hard? Writing copy that speaks to your clients when you haven’t worked with any clients yet. Yeah, that situation sucks. But good news! The internet is a wacky, wonderful place and you can easily find the kind of language your ideal customer is using by looking in the places I share with you in this week’s post on Okay, Okapi.

When I first started my health coaching business, I quickly understood the challenge of writing copy that resonates with your clients.

Why?

Because I had no clients so how the hell did I know what they were saying? How did I know what words they were using? How did I know if a particular phrase spoke to them?

I remember trying to write my “what I do” statement. I totally thought I nailed it.

Turns out? Pretty much every single word I used in those two sentences weren’t words my target clients would use.

Bummer, right?

What I wish I would have known is that I didn’t NEED clients to get my hands on some customer language. 

You heard me. 

So, today, we’re gonna learn where to find customer language without actually talking to anyone. And, we’ll use the idea of a health coach who wants to help her clients with meal planning so you can see how this might work.

Got it? Good.

Let’s dive in!

Facebook groups

A lot of people have resistance to Facebook and Facebook groups.

I know. I’m one them.

But even if you’re not using Facebook as one of the metaphorical tools in your direct marketing tool belt, you can totally still use it indirectly.

Here’s how: Stalk people in Facebook groups.

It’s as simple as that.

Spend some time searching through Facebook groups where you think your ideal clients are hanging out. Look for posts where they’re asking questions, asking for helping, venting about a problem they have, looking for suggestions, looking for feedback, talking about the one thing they really wish they had RIGHT this very moment…

And take notes. Lots of notes.

These are your client’s pain points. What they’re struggling with. What their lives look like now. What they need some outside perspective on. 

And these are the things they want. How they want to feel. How they wish things were going. How they’re describing the perfect solution.

Not only are you getting some pretty freakin’ fantastic and absolutely invaluable market research, you’re getting ideas for blog posts, for programs, for freebies, for allllll the things your client is looking for. 

So, here I go, I’m a health coach heading into a group, and I’m searching for posts with the term “meal” in them. Yeah, kinda broad, but the group isn’t focused on meal planning so I wanna keep my options open.

And, lo and behold! I come across this gem:

Did my week meal plan... we shall see how this goes! Never know who will be home or where we will be, so dinner is always a big if! Breakfast and lunch are easy to control luckily, and that's 2/3 of the day.

And this one: 

I'm looking for your easiest healthy dinner/meal ideas and gentlest yoga poses. I'm 29 weeks pregnant and having regular Braxton Hicks that get stronger when I'm on my feet. My midwife wants me to take it easy, but I don't want take out for every meal. My husband doesn't get home from work until after 7 and I'll be cashing in most of my favors with friends/family for help watching my two-year-old so I can rest and do homework.

Okay, one more:

NYR: How do you plan your (healthy/protein packed) meals for the coming week? Do you prep? Which day do you prep? Any good protein packed recipes? Any tips/recipes for a quick but healthy breakfast?

All that from a quick search!

And before you whine that Facebook just doesn’t work for you…ask yourself if you’re in the right groups. 

Unless you’re a health coach who’s hoping to coach other health coaches, you probably don’t want to spend a ton of time in groups full of other health coaches running marketing strategies by each other.

You need to be where your clients are. Yes, it can take some time to find those places. But once you do? SO WORTH IT.

Instagram

Billions of people use Instagram every single day. Billions.

They’re posting pictures and videos. They’re hashtagging. They’re interacting. They’re getting real.

And you can totally be reaping all the benefits, my friend.

All you’ve gotta do is sift through the hashtags your ideal client is using and spend some time reading their posts.

Another way to use Instagram as a client stalking strategy? Check out your competitor’s feeds. (Not recommended if you’re the type to go down a comparison rabbit hole, though.) See what people are posting in the comments. 

What do they agree with? What do they take issue with? What words are they using?

Here are three comments I quickly found when searching #mealprep:

  • How many macros distribution per serving? (This one is asking for more information and wants more details.)

  • Omg do you have any other homemade dressings you like?? (This one is asking for specific recipe recommendations.)

  • stop saying this is clean eating, for 1 olive oil is not for cooking, cornstarch is bad eggs cause mucus flour well we all know thats bad for you, chicken has arsenic, rice isn’t rice its plastic, ketchup can clean faucets. I could go on, but you get my point. Change your title to how to poison ppl. (This one has horrible grammar and punctuation, but clearly disagrees with the person’s advice.)

And here’s a couple of posts from users who tagged their post with the hashtag…

  • Meal planning for the week is really challenging. #someoneneedsattentionnow #mealplanning #adulting #funcheeporfree #girlgetyourshittogether #knowwhereyourmoneyisgoing

  • In today’s episode of “what’s in her lunch,” our heroine had lots of fun playing over the weekend and neglected to plan out weekly meals. At the crack of dawn (6:30am in her book) our heroine was forced to forage through the freezer for fabulous food finds coming up with blueberry muffins (2sp) for breakfast at whipping up a quick @traderjoes cauliflower stir fry with added scrambled eggs (2sp) for lunch. The pantry provided a Chomps turkey stick (1sp), an apple (0sp) and an RX bar (4sp by my count) for snacks should our dining damsel find herself famished between meals. Join us tomorrow for the continuing saga as our heroine heads back out on the road for a work trip in SF! Exciting extravaganzas await! 

I’m pretty partial to that second one there…

iTunes podcast reviews

You’re probably thinking podcast reviews are a waste of time. 

There’s a lot of ratings that don’t give any explanation. And there’s lots of fake reviews. (Fake maybe isn’t the right word, but lots of people ask their followers for positive reviews in exchange for something so take that for what it’s worth…)

But there’s also real, live people there talking about which episodes they loved. And why.

They’re raving about how a particular show helped them figure out an issue they couldn’t fix on their own before.

And they’re explaining why they always listen to this show above all others. 

Like this super fan of a cooking podcast:

I’m no cook. I can basically make one thing, and overall the kitchen doesn’t seem like a place I’d like to hang out in. After listening to some of these podcasts, though, I just might be convinced to give cooking a real try. [His] gentle encouragement and clear instructions make the kitchen a less-scary place, and he’s a great ambassador for the creative fulfillment cooking can provide. Even if you didn’t think you ever wanted to cook anything, give [this show] a listen. I dare you not to be inspired.

Like whoa. You’ve got a clear picture of someone who wants to cook but is intimidated by the kitchen, right?

This can easily be translated to a client who wants to meal plan but is intimidated by it. These are the words your client is using to describe their experience – and these words can be applied to more than one experience!

App reviews

Scoping out app reviews is very similar to podcast reviews. 

Simply pop in a search term (I went with “meal plan” to stick with our theme) and boom. A meal planning app comes up, and the first fews comments are literal gifts.

Just some of the language in the first three comments alone:

  • I became so overwhelmed trying to meal plan that I thought we’d just eat the same thing every night because I couldn’t possibly come up with enough lunches and dinners for everyone.

  • I realized I really needed to try to understand meal planning, hopefully before I went and would be too caught in a frenzy to be organized.

  • I have a super long commute and an insane work schedule, which used to make me dread coming home and either eating the same meal I’d eaten the entire week or ordering take out. With this app, I have an awesome variety of recipes at my finger tips that are nutritious, quick, and uncomplicated.

Pretty easy, right?

Blog post comments

This is another strategy I recommend but not for everyone (looking at you, sensitive little flower, you). Don’t start frequenting your competitors’ websites and reading through blog posts and comments if you’re still building your confidence.

Now that I’ve appropriately cautioned you…

Visiting your competitors’ blogs and seeing what people are talking about in the comments is a good way to understand what questions they have, what they don’t understand, what could have been clearer, why the topic resonates with them, all the things we’ve been finding in our research so far.

One of the differences here is that the comments can be meatier. Most people aren’t leaving long and detailed comments on social media. They’re not spending 15 minutes typing and retyping comments on their phones and fixing autocorrect when they just wanna leave a quick thumbs up for an app or a podcast.

Buuut…blog posts? People are more likely to be reading on a tablet or their computer so it’s a bit easier than tapping out hundreds of words with your thumbs. And a lot less annoying.

To illustrate my point, I found a 127-word comment (yeah, I did word count on it, so what?) on the first blog post about meal planning I clicked on. 

Some of the highlights of just that one comment:

  • Planning out the menu takes me a long time.

  • I have three kids and stay at home with them, so making sure we save as much as possible is key.

  • I find that getting everything at once helps save money because I am not constantly going back for one thing and coming home with 5.

So here you find out some of the struggles your client might be having: spending too much time and money when it comes to meal planning. You can use some of these exact words and these struggles to write parts of your copy – all from poking around in some blog comments.

Q&A sites

There’s quite a few question and answer sites out there, and they all operate pretty much the same way so I’mma go ahead and lump three of the big ones together here, mmkay?

Quora, Reddit, and Yahoo Answers are platforms where people come to ask questions and other people come to, well, answer questions.

Finding some client language here is as simple as running a few searches.

Let’s head back to our meal planning example, shall we?

On Reddit, I just searched for meal planning, and a whole subreddit called Meal Prep came up. People are sharing what they’re prepping for the week, and they’re asking questions about HOW to plan their meals and what they’re looking for in a meal plan.

Like:

  • Does anyone in a similar situation have a go-to blog, cookbook or meal plan that uses similar ingredients throughout the week for meal planning? Ideally simple, healthy ingredients.

  • Is there any meal plans that I can do that don't take over 10 ingredients and use basic produce like veg, chicken, and rice? And how do I portion it in order to only have to have a breakfast and main meal a day? I want to leave no reason or room for snacking as that tends to spiral fairly fast.

  • Looking for the laziest, easiest, simplest, I-don't-care-what-I-eat meal plan. So, I'm going to start lifting and I'm looking for an easy muscle-building meal plan. And when I say easy, I mean it. If there was some human chow that was the consistency of soggy croutons but was the healthiest thing I could eat and that's all I had to ever eat I could do it no problem. I'm the opposite of a food snob if that's possible. I don't use condiments at all, never eat desert. I just like plain, simple stuff. Most of all though I'm lazy so ultimately easy preparation beats anything else.

I’m particularly fond of the third one, but you can see the kind of words these people are using. Words like “simple,” “healthy,” “basic,” “spiral,” “lazy,” “cheap,” “easy…”

I suspect you’d find similar stuff over at Quora and Yahoo Answers, whaddya think?

Amazon book reviews

I love Amazon book reviews. It’s one of my favorite methods of doing market research. For reals.

Also, there are some seriously hilarious people posting stuff on Amazon. It’s ridiculously entertaining. Like, have you read the reviews for this banana slicer???

Anyway…to find customer language on Amazon, you need to understand your ideal client a little bit. You need to know what topics they’re interested in and what books they’re reading about those topics.

Let’s say, oh, I don’t know, your client is trying to wrap their head around meal planning. (Shocking, I know.) So they bought a few books from Amazon. Maybe some were helpful. Maybe some were a waste of money. Maybe some they felt compelled to leave a review about, and that’s where we step in.

Here’s the kind of comments people are leaving in their meal planning book reviews:

  • I’ve always wanted to start meal prepping but it seems overwhelming.

  • My husband and I try to plan meals, but we are never really satisfied.

  • I wanted to start meal planning, but I didn’t know where to start and I felt overwhelmed when I thought about meal planning.

And, friend, this is just a quick search!

Fair warning: It can be easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole here (just like when you go to Amazon to buy toilet paper and end up with $150 worth of stuff in your cart) so try to set a time limit or just pick a few books to start.

You can always come back because people ALWAYS want to tell you what they think if you’re looking in the right place. (That goes for all these methods actually.)

Until you have a roster of clients who are telling you these exact things, finding client language on the internet is surprisingly easy.

And people are surprisingly open. Probably because they’re hiding behind a computer and can remain kinda anonymous. Anonymity lends itself well to being real and honest.

So here’s your task: Pick one of these stalking methods and spend 15 minutes poking around to see what kind of language you can dig up. Then, come on over to the Okay, Okapi Facebook group to share your findings and ask any questions. See you on the inside!