How To Become A Copywriter (Part 3 – Shoewalking)

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase about “walking a mile in another person’s shoes”. What that means is to step into somebody else’s shoes as it were, and experience their journey… to imagine what they’re thinking, to feel what they’re feeling, and to really understand where they’re coming from.

In the real world, we call that empathy. I call it Shoewalking, because as a copywriter, I like to rename things and give them my own spin, to hook you in and have you wondering to yourself, “What’s a Shoewalker?” Besides, being a “Shoewalker” is much more memorable than being “someone with empathy”, don’t you think?

Empathy is not quite the same as sympathy. If they’re sad, sympathy is about feeling sorry FOR them. Empathy is about feeling sorry WITH them.

Neither is empathy about making glib statements like, “I understand” or “I feel your pain”. It’s about actually sharing their pain, their sorrow, their joy… or whatever other emotion they’re feeling. It’s about truly understanding them, and demonstrating that you understand them.

Now, why is empathy important for a copywriter? It’s because, as human beings, we tend to buy from people we like and trust, who seem to really “get” us, and who seem to be similar to us. Empathy also leads to RAPPORT, and when we have rapport with someone, we are much more likely to follow their lead or do something they ask us to do.

So as a copywriter, it’s important for you, at the very least, to convey empathy to your readers. Your readers need to feel like you really do know them and understand where they’re coming from. If you’re solving a problem, or relieving their pain, you need to really feel their pain and truly know what it’s like to have it.

How do you do that? It’s easier than you might think. Put yourself in their shoes, imagine being them for a while, and imagine what it would be like having their problem, feeling what they’re feeling, and experiencing what they’re experiencing. If you can’t do that, read accounts of people with that problem, and visualize yourself in place of that person, feeling their feelings and experiencing what they experience. In other words, be a Shoewalker.

As well as being a handy skill to have in everyday life, demonstrating empathy is a vital copywriting skill. It enables you to CONNECT with your readers on a deeper level. You’ve demonstrated your authority in their world, and you’ve gained rapport with them.

And here’s the thing about rapport. Once you have it with someone, that person is much more likely to follow your lead, or suggestions. When you’ve demonstrated your authority in their world, they are much more likely to trust the solutions you offer.

So as a copywriter, you need to demonstrate empathy. You need to be a Shoewalker. Only when you truly understand the journey they’ve already been on, can you lead and direct them to the end of the journey, which is the product you’re selling.

In Part 4 of this series, we’re going to examine the Researcher, and Information Gatherer “hats” that a good copywriter needs to wear, and the subtle difference between the two. (If you missed the previous parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2.)

Twitter users, please click here to tweet about this blog post to your followers. That way, you’ll be demonstrating empathy with them! You can get more copywriting tips by following @copysnips


  1. An excellent post, if I may say so, sir! And as Harper Lee’s Atticus said,’ You never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’

    In the hardened world of sales, it’s reassuring to know that human qualities are still important. People need to connect to others and need to trust in something or someone before they invest time/money. Many marketers forget they are selling to people with problems and needs, and focus on ‘what’ they are selling instead of ‘who’ they are selling too.

    I look forward to the rest of your snippets with interest – and a large mug of coffee!

    Thanks again for your insightful post…

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