They Don’t Care About You; Here’s How You Can Show That You Care About Your Customers

Want a quick tip to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your advertising copy? It’s simple. Just take a look and see how many times you use words like “we” or “our.” What’s wrong with those words? They’re you-focused, vs. they-focused—they being the target prospects you’re hoping to influence in some way.  Instead of words like “we” and “our,” your copy should include

words like “you” and “your.” Your copy should speak directly to the target audience that you’re hoping to influence and should appeal to their needs, concerns, and desires.

One of my favorite books on writing copy is Robert Bly’s The Copywriter’s HandbookI highly recommend it.

Where’s Your Focus?

Whenever I’m called upon to offer a critique on or advice about a company or consultant’s copy—whether it’s on a web site, in a brochure, an ad, a blog, or whatever—the first thing I do is read through the copy to see whether the focus is on “we/our” or “you/your.” Most of the copy I look at is the former. A quick, easy and relatively painless way to improve it is to make it focus on the latter—”you/your.”

There is some good, audience-focused copy out there. There is also some not-so-good, we/our focused copy out there. Usually (but not always) the we/our copy is written by “insiders,”  people within the organization. They often simply have a tough time focusing not on what they have to offer and what makes their product/service so great (after all, they are understandably proud of their product or service!), but on what the audience might be interested in.

What’s In It For Them?

In copywriting there’s an old acronym—WIIFM – that stands for “What’s in it for me?” That’s the question, from the prospect or reader’s point of view, that copywriters are taught to focus on when writing copy for any audience.

Most copywriters grow to do this instinctively, but they are sometimes challenged by clients, bosses and internal customers, who don’t have that same perspective and share all of their key copy points from the internal point of view. This can be particularly prevalent when writing for technically-oriented products/services.

Do I really care what exactly is inside my computer or do I care how what’s inside will give me the functionality I need—ability to store lots of stuff, open programs quickly, etc. ? Now, of course, how much detail I require will be driven by my demo/psychographics. But the point is that to create compelling copy you have to know your audience and you have to write to their needs/interests. They don’t really care about you—just what you can do for them!

The ability to translate internally-focused product or service-related features into externally-focused benefits is critical in terms of convincing prospects that you have something they may need—or better yet, something they can’t live without.

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