This might be the most important word in the copywriter’s arsenal, ranking higher than even “free,” “new” and “savings.”
Do you have any guesses as to what this word might be?
We’re talking about the word “you.”
Using the word “you” gets your prospect’s attention and keeps them reading. It’s vital that your reader regards herself as the target of your message, and there is perhaps no better way to begin that process than to use the word “you.”
Your goal is to build a relationship with your prospect, as in, “We.” But paradoxically, the best way to build the relationship is to talk about “You” a whole lot more than you refer to “we.”
Think of a conversation with someone new. If you allow them to do the talking while you listen attentively, they’re going to think you’re the greatest conversationalist in the world.
But if you talk about yourself, they’re not going to think nearly as well of you.
And this goes for anyone. Imagine meeting a world leader you respect, and they show interest in YOU. How great would that be?
But if they ramble on about themselves (as you would expect they might) you’ll be happy to have met them because it makes for a great story, but you won’t be walking away with the warm fuzzies. And that’s somebody well known and regarded.
When we come to our prospects, they often don’t know us from Adam, or they only know us from some emails and blogposts. Certainly, we’ve never sat down over a cup of tea and gotten to know each other.
That’s why, if your goal is to put prospects first, 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.”
I wonder if I can use all 6 of these in a sentence or two…
“You will love seeing how happy your family is when you get this product for yourself. You’re simply going to overjoyed at knowing from now on, the world is yours and you’ll be able to do anything you want.”
Okay, maybe it is possible to overdo the “you’s” and all the derivatives, but not by much. When you’ve written your copy, go back and see how many you’s there are.
Then add some more, changing “we” and “I” to “you” whenever possible.
Then read the copy out loud, and unless the amount of “you’s” seems crazy, you’ve probably got it about right.
People care more about themselves than anything. This isn’t to put people down – not at all. It’s simply the way we’re wired for survival, and you can use that knowledge to get your prospect to pay attention to your message.
What else 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.
Think about conversations you’ve had. When you say the word, “you,” doesn’t the other person pay closer attention? “What do YOU think?” “Are YOU going to that event?” “I hope you’ll enjoy this restaurant – what do you think of the decor?”
When people say these things to you, they 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.
Newsweek used the exact same subscription solicitation letter for nearly two decades. This is the letter they sent out to cold prospects, asking them to subscribe.
If they used the same letter for nearly 20 years, then clearly it was effective – so effective that no control could beat it. Why did it work so well? Perhaps it’s because the word “you” was used nearly 30 times on the first page alone.
More than 100 million copies of the letter were mailed, a testament to its effectiveness.
When you write your sales copy, don’t forget things like benefits and having a great offer. All the “you’s” in the world won’t overcome a lack of a great offer and awesome benefits.
But if you have something to offer your reader that is truly beneficial, focusing your message on your prospect and using the word “you” can mean the difference between mediocre sales and a control sales letter that continues to make sales for a very long time to come.