Did you see that word in the headline above?
The word “your” made the headline directly relevant to, well… you. It has been said that the most important word in copywriting is “you”-and that is certainly true. When potential customers arrive at your website or look over your marketing materials, they immediately want to know what’s in it for them. If that’s not obvious, chances are they will move on quickly. By using the word “you,” you begin to establish a connection with readers because you address their needs. And rather than objectifying your message-placing it on a pedestal, as an object of study-you personalize it.
Instead of creating an abstraction, you start to build a relationship. To personalize is also to humanize. It’s a recognition that there’s another human being who’s important-and the real focal point of your entire enterprise. In fact’s the emphasis on writing from the reader’s perspective that makes copywriting different from any other kind of writing.
The Opposite of “You” Is “We”
In effective copywriting, the opposite of “you” is “we.” But that’s what you find when you land at a corporate website. Often the message seems to be “this website all about us and how great we are and, by the way, here’s what we do.” Whatever happened to putting customers, and their real needs, first? Marketing is about building relationships and keeping the promises you make. Don’t get me wrong. There are times when “we” copy is clearly called for. And there are other situations where writing about “you” is not appropriate.
But keeping the reader in mind at all times and structuring your message from the reader’s perspective as much as possible (including graphic design) will help build a relationship and make your marketing more effective.
Another Important Shift
The other important shift is to focus not so much on “what we do” but on the real benefits that your customers receive. According to a study I conducted of marketing materials, more than 90% of US businesses do not have a solidly communicated core message. They describe what they do but don’t focus on the real value they provide to their customers.
Conduct an Audit: How Customer-centric Is Your Marcom Approach?
First, take a careful look at your website and other marketing materials. Then count how many times the words “you” and “we” both appear. Does the use of “we” greatly outnumber “you”? Is it all about “us”? Are there headlines that speak directly to your customers and their needs? To what extent does your material really speak to your prospects as though they are human beings? Even in B2B marketing, it’s human beings who are the buyers. And you might as well start speaking to them from the very beginning rather than just giving them information and hoping to build a relationship later.
Second, take a look at the actual content and value propositions. To what extent is the focus on “this is what we do,” and how much emphasis is placed on “these are the real benefits you will receive”? Then, tally the results. If there is insufficient emphasis on your readers and the actual benefits they receive, consider a shift in your approach. Sometimes, making a small shift in perspective can result in huge changes.
By placing your customers first, building relationships, and emphasizing the real value you provide, you’ll create the very best marketing-and boost your company’s bottom line.
Shared with permission from Antoine Dupont: