Refresh Your Marketing Communications With This Simple Copy Tweak
One of the most impactful discussions on marketing I’ve ever heard is the famous “Start with Why” TED Talk from influential consultant and author, Simon Sinek.
In his talk, Simon discusses the importance of how we structure a marketing message. Most brands tell you what they do first, then move on to how they do it, and last of all (sometimes) they will answer why they do it.
Simon suggests that it’s transformational for our message and how we think about a product to start with “why” instead, and then work out from there, answering “how” and “what” next.
This small difference creates a transformative effect on communication. But because Simon can explain this better than I ever could, watch the video below to hear from the man himself.
I’ve even cued up the video to play at the right time, because I like you and I value your time.
When I was re-watching Simon’s video recently, I realized that while I agree with his approach, I think that for most companies (especially those who don’t have a dedicated marketer) it’s important to take one more step back before we get to this “why-what-how” target.
Before we can answer “Why?” we have to answer “Who?”
Let me explain.
Why It’s Critical to Decide Who to Focus On In Your Marketing Communications
Most of the businesses I work with tend to want to talk about themselves, laud their accolades, and use their accomplishments to convince prospective clients that they’re the best choice for them.
Accolades are great, but focusing on them inevitably ends up causing a company to fall into the trap of talking about themselves.
As such, when they try to craft a marketing message that follows Simon’s strategy, they often still end up creating communications that points toward them, instead of toward their clients.
Identifying the “Who” in the scheme of marketing communications helps to address this critical error before any messaging is created.
A winning marketing strategy doesn’t focus on the company, it focuses on the client. Their needs, their wants, their lives, their stories become the focal point of “why” a company does what it does.
When we put the client at the center of the message, one thing becomes clear. The client is the hero of the story we want to tell. The company is simply a supporting character, a trusted guide who helps them achieve their goals.
In other words, you’re Yoda. Not Luke.
(While we’re on the topic of Star Wars, next time you see me ask why I think The Empire Strikes Back is a perfect analogy for investors, financial advisors, and their relationship with each other.)
Even once you reach this realization, however, it can still be easy to create a marketing message that points to you as the hero.
Check out the example below. It’s totally generic but it gets the point across. You may see a phrase similar to this on many website home pages:
“Our custom four-step process helps our clients identify their goals and reach them with confidence.”
It’s...fine. It tells you this person has a custom process, which is nice. They do something to help people, so they’ve got that going for them. Their clients reach their goals, with their help.
But overall, it’s very meh.
Thankfully, there’s something we can do to tweak this message so it resonates much more deeply with prospective clients.
That’s what I’ll cover next.
How to Tweak Your Copy to Connect with More People
It’s not a “super simple trick” or a “copy hack” or “one weird change you can make to wow your next hot lead.”
It’s just a simple, intuitive tweak. And here it is.
Write copy that speaks to the client and puts them at the center. How, you might ask?
Easy. Use second person pronouns.
Using second person pronouns in marketing communications is how we can mimic natural conversational flow and personalize a message to connect on a deeper level.
Trust me, I’m not pulling this out of nowhere. Here’s some research from The Journal of Interactive Marketing that backs up the idea. Long quote incoming.
“Research shows that addressing consumers directly creates a sense of personalization, which in turn has a positive impact on how consumers respond to marketing communications. One study found that adding the first name of customers to the subject line of emails used in direct-to-consumer marketing increased the probability of consumers opening the email by 20% and increased sales by 31%.”
That same study goes on to say that this works because “Online brand messages that include a second person pronoun increase consumer involvement as a result of increasing the extent that consumers engage in self-referencing.”
In really simple terms, second-person pronouns help the person reading your copy “see” themselves in the situation you’re describing much easier than if you’re using abstract third-person pronouns.
So let’s apply this theory to our earlier, very generic example sentence. If we tweak the sentence so that it becomes client-centric, it might look like this:
“(You) Work toward your goals with confidence using our unique, four-step approach to wealth management.”
There, that’s much better. Now we’re speaking to the audience and putting the client front and center in the situation, so they are the ones gaining confidence and achieving their goals.
The four-step process takes a backseat and becomes a helper instead of the driver.
What’s up with that “you” in parentheses to kick things off, though? I’m glad you ask.
Let’s get a little bit geeky and make my old linguistics professor proud.
Structuring the sentence in this way gives us a double benefit of two “you” pronouns, because the first “you” in parentheses, while not written out, is understood as the subject for the verb “Work.” So when we read the sentence, we get that it should be there, and process it as such.
Putting Second-Person Pronouns Into Practice In Your Marketing Communications
Let’s end things with an actionable takeaway. That sounds fun, right?
Take a look at your website. Start with your home page.
Count up all the times you say “you” versus the times you say “me” “my” or I.”
The “you” references should total about 80% and the inward-facing, first-person pronouns should fill out the other 20%-ish of your copy.
If you don’t come anywhere close to that 80/20 split, then it’s probably time to think about refreshing your marketing message so that it speaks more to your clients, and less about you.
Making this change will help you create a more personable feeling in your copy, and the data suggests that your efforts will also lead to more lead generation and sales as well.
Heck, maybe it will even lead to more referrals from current clients.
In the words of your new role model, Yoda, I’ll leave you with these words to inspire you.
“Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
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