It’s arguably the most important word in the copywriter’s arsenal. It ranks right at the top with words like “free,” “new” and “savings.”
I’m talking about “you.”
“You” is the word that gets 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 the “We” in the “We/You” relationship is important, it’s better implied than communicated with someone, literally. If your goal is to put prospects first, then it’s best to have the “you’s” far exceed the “we’s.”
It’s the “you’s” that matter to prospects. They’re your workhorse for communicating your message and include all derivatives such as “your,” “yours,” “yourself,” “you’re,” and “you’ll.”
What makes “you” so powerful? For one thing, it addresses your readers directly. In effect, it says “Hey you,” which is much harder to ignore than “Hey somebody.”
Say “Hey you” in a crowded room and a lot of heads will turn. Say “Hey somebody” and a few heads might turn.
While your copy won’t actually say “Hey you,” it can clearly identify to whom you’re talking. Once you have 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 conversation every day. What do you think? How was your weekend? You’ll be glad to know!
When people say these things to you, they’re bound to get your attention and involvement. After all, they’re interested in your opinion. They’re interested in the things you do. They have something to tell you that will make you happy.
That’s the goal of you-oriented copy. Address your audience directly, personally, and in terms of their interests. Be conversational and “you” will pop up in the copy naturally.
It was mentioned earlier that “you” is a workhorse. A classic example is contained in “The Do-It-Yourself Direct Mail Handbook” by Murray Raphel and Ken Erdman. They highlight a “Newsweek” magazine subscription letter used for nearly two decades.
The subscription letter was written by direct mail expert Ed McLean, who used “you” nearly 30 times on the first page alone. More than 100 million copies of the letter were mailed, a testament to its effectiveness.
Try counting the “you’s” (and “you” derivatives) in your copy. Compare them with the number of “we’s” and first-person derivatives. If the “you’s” don’t outnumber the “we’s,” consider reworking your copy.
Is it possible to overdo “you”? Yes.
If you load your copy with “you’s” but forget the benefits, your message will have a phony ring.
“You” can’t save yourself if there’s nothing meaningful to offer your audience. Likewise, it will most likely let you put yourself a priority over anything else in the world. Same goes to your prospects as it goes well for yourself as well.
Disclaimer: The contents of this site, such as text, graphics, images, and other materials contained on the page are for general information purposes only. This article is not a substitute for professional advice on the topics mentioned. This article does not create any form of offers to any legal or professional service. The site assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents. In no event shall the site be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action to follow the content, negligence or other tort, arising out of the use of the contents of the article. The blog reserves the right to make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents at any time without prior notice. The site does not warrant that the site is free of viruses or other harmful components. It may contain views and opinions which are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other author, agency, organization, employer or company, including the site itself. It also does not provide professional advice, diagnosis, treatment or any legal service. The site does not endorse official procedures, legal actions or qualified services and the use of its contents are solely at your own risk.