Brochures, corporate websites, press releases, direct mail… in fact, just about any form of marketing or sales content. What are they all too often afflicted by? 


Here’s a clue… 


“We’re proud of our long, prestigious history. Our company was founded in 1956, by owner Mr. Smith…” 

Cue: reader yawning and exiting your website/binning your direct mail. 


Navel-gazing. Introspection. Self-absorbed rhetoric. 


Call it what you want – you’ll find it polluting all forms of content. And often it’s not tucked away, but slapped in the opening sentence or paragraph.


The introspection infection


Why’s that such a big problem? Well, it’s a great way to lose your reader’s interest. There’s little (if anything) to excite a potential customer there. 

"They care about their lives. They care about their problems. They want to read about how you’re going to help them." 


They really don’t care when or where your business started. Nor do they care how many generations of Smith it has been handed down through.


They care about their lives. 

They care about their problems. 

They want to read about how you’re going to help them. 


Otherwise, they’re not going to read at all.


So, perhaps one of the easiest ways to disengage your reader is to talk in a grandiloquent tone about your organisation’s accomplishments. That’s often accompanied by a torrent of personal pronouns like “our” and “we”. 


Your reader wants to see you talk to them, and address their needs. That means an amnesty on those first-person pronouns, and generous helping of those warm and friendly second-person references like “you” and “your”.


The you-niverse


Using reader-focused pronouns like “you” helps to establish an emotional bond. Crucially, it also makes the reader feel that you are addressing them, and only them. 


Tread carefully here, though. Don’t get too familiar, and avoid generalisations. Public enemy number one is that throwaway cliché “as we all know…”. All that’ll do is project an impersonal and insincere tone. 

Above all, write as if you were speaking directly to the reader, one-to-one. This 

builds empathy with your potential customer. 

Perhaps consider augmenting that bond you’ve fostered by reiterating the challenge or issue your reader faces, too. This shows that you can identify with their situation, and therefore may just have the right solution for them.

This article appears in our free guide to copywriting. If you're interested in learning more about high-performing copywriting...

In Summary...

  1. It’s time to dig out those customer profiles again.

  2. Park your own message or objective for a moment, and put yourself in a potential customer’s shoes.

  3. What is their pain point? What problem do they have that you 
    can solve?

  4. Now tell them, as if you’re speaking directly to them, what you understand they need, and then explain how you can help them get that.

  5. Avoid leading with your product or service – instead work this into your copy as part of the solution to your reader’s problem.