Putting the Focus on the Customer
It is arguably the most important word in the copywriter’s arsenal. Ranking right at the top with words like “new,” “free,” and “savings.”
“You” is the word that grabs your prospect’s attention and keeps them involved. As Herschell Gordon Lewis says in The Art of Writing Copy, “Unless the reader regards himself as the target of your message, benefit can’t exist. Benefit demands a We/You relationship.”
While it is true that the “We” in the “We/You” relationship is essential, it is better implied than communicated outright. If you aim to put prospects first, then it is best for you to have the “you’s” far exceed the “we’s.”
It’s the “you’s” that matter to prospects. They are your workhorse for communicating your message and include all derivatives such as “your,” “yourself,” “yours,” “you’ll,” and “you’re.”
What is it that makes “you” so powerful? For one, it addresses your readers directly. It essentially says “Hey you,” which is more difficult to ignore than “Hey somebody.”
Many heads will turn if you say “Hey you” in a crowded room. Say “Hey somebody,” and a few heads may turn.
While your copy will not actually say “Hey you,” it can identify to whom you are talking. Once you gain your audience’s attention, use “you” to help keep it.
Why does “you” get and hold attention? For one thing, it’s personal. It’s used in personal conversations every day. How was your weekend? What do you think? You’ll be glad to know.
When people say these phrases to you, they are bound to get your involvement and attention. After all, they are interested in your opinion. They are interested in the things you do. They have something to tell you that’ll make you happy.
That’s the goal of a you-oriented copy. Address your audience personally, directly, and in terms of their interests. Be conversational, and “you” will naturally pop up in the copy.
It was said earlier that “you” is a workhorse. A classic example is in “The Do-It-Yourself Direct Mail Handbook” by Ken Erdman and Murray Raphel. They highlight a “Newsweek” magazine subscription letter used for almost two decades.
The subscription letter was written by Ed McLean, a direct mail expert, who used “you” almost 30 times on the first page alone. 100+ million copies of this letter were mailed out, a testament to its effectiveness.
Try numbering the amount of “you’s” (and “you” derivatives) in your copy. If you compare them with the number of “we’s” and first-person derivatives, and the “you’s” do not outnumber the “we’s,” consider reworking your copy.
Is it possible to overdo “you”? Yes, it is.
If you fill your copy with “you’s” but forget the benefits, your message will sound hollow.
“You” cannot save you if you do not offer anything meaningful to your audience. Similarly, it will help put you over the top if there is.