Pronouns. Little words that you learned about in school but barely think about anymore. However, those little pronouns matter in copywriting. In fact, they matter a lot!
The reason is simple. Your copy should speak more about your customers and less about you. Why? Because no one cares about you. They care about how you, your brand, your company, your product, and/or your service is going to help them or make their lives better or easier. When they look at an ad and listen to or read the copy, all they care about is, “What’s in it for me?” The acronym WIIFM should guide all of your copywriting.
Pronouns are little words but they have a big impact on how consumers respond to your marketing messages. Think back to your school days. Remember your English teacher explaining first person, second person, and third person?
As a refresher, first person (I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours) is the person speaking and second person (you, your, yours) is the person to whom one is speaking. It’s essential that you write copy that speaks to your target audience and not at them. And it should not be only about you either.
Therefore, the majority of the copy in any ad or marketing piece should be written in the second person. For example, do you prefer copy that says, “Through our first-rate sales department, we can deliver cars within 24-hours,” or “You can drive your new car tomorrow”? While the first copy example (which includes more than one copywriting error, but I digress) focuses on the business, the second example focuses on customers and speaks directly to them. It’s more personal, and thus, more effective.
Remember, writing in the second person helps your audience quickly connect the points in your copy to their own lives and allows them to personalize the advertisement or marketing piece. This is how the ad is connected to an individual customer’s own life. By writing your copy so it focuses on the customer rather than yourself, the customer can personalize the ad and product you’re selling and act accordingly.
Apply the 80-20 Rule to You Not We Copywriting
Want to make sure you have an acceptable balance of you vs. we messaging in your copy? Use the 80-20 rule. Here’s how you can do it.
When you’ve completed writing the copy for your ad or marketing piece, take the time to read it and count how many times you use “you” (or another second person pronoun) vs. “we” (or another first person pronoun). As a rule of thumb, make sure you use second person pronouns in at least 80% of your copy and first person pronouns in no more than 20% of your copy. This will give you a good balance and ensure that your ad speaks directly to your customers.
Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
How do you feel when you’re talking to someone and they conversation is dominated by the other person speaking only about himself or herself? After a short amount of time, you probably don’t pay much attention to what the other person is saying. However, if the conversation is more balanced or more about you, you probably pay a lot more attention and are actively involved in the discussion.
The same concept holds true in copywriting. If an ad or marketing piece speaks only about the business in the first person, it’s not as compelling to customers as an ad that speaks about and to those customers in the second person.
Adapted from Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps