B Y T O M T O R T O R I C I
I can always tell when a company website is written by people who work at the company.
I can tell because the headlines and text are so often filled with the words ‘we’, ‘our’, and ‘us’. I guess that makes sense, from their perspective. It’s their website, with their company name at top, and it features their products and services, so … it should be all about them, right?
Experience has taught me, though, that that approach can appeal more to company insiders with something to promote, than customers with a pesky issue to solve.
Let’s try an example. Let’s say the electrical box of circuit breakers in my basement is suddenly shooting off sparks and small balls of flame. I don’t know what to do, but I know I do need help.
So I grab my phone and Google ‘Atlanta Electrician.’ I click the first search result, and land on an electrician’s web page where I read the following:
“At Atlanta Electrical Contractors, LLC, we pride ourselves on exceeding our customers’ expectations, with nine years of industry experience behind us.”
We, our, us.
Okay, I’ve learned what their employees are proud of, and how long they’ve been exuding that pride, but, uh oh, now my light bulbs are exploding and the light switches are turning into little rivers of melted plastic, running down the wall.
So I mash the Back button and click on the second search result. This one’s more helpful: “In an electrical emergency, you should immediately turn off the Main switch above your circuit breakers. Then get an electrician to your home by calling 877-777-7777”
Note the words ‘you’ and ‘your.’ Much more relevant, useful and focused than the we, our, us, approach, right? That’s my #1 copywriting tip.
Those who follow me have heard me say it before:
People may be interested in your company, but they’re interested in their own issues, circumstances and well-being a whole, whole, whole lot more.
The better you align your website copy to customer sensibilities vs. company sensibilities, the more people are likely to trust you, because your focus is on them.
Let’s try an exercise.
Try rewriting a page on your website, with prominent use of the words ‘you’ and ‘your.’ You don’t have eliminate the word ‘we’ entirely; but as a compromise, try using you twice as often as we. It’s not going to be easy, but if you plough through this challenge, you’ll notice that you’ve changed the entire orientation of your web page. And that’s a good thing.
It’s now focused on issues from the customer’s perspective, vs. from the company’s perspective. Rather than starting with the company, if you do this right, you’ve started with the customer’s problem or aspiration, then led them to your product or service as the solution. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
Now, note the following sentence: “We take care of the details for you.” Although it contains the you-word, the chief focus is still on the company. In grammatical terms, ‘we’ is the main subject of the sentence, and ‘you’ is merely the object.
Now let’s try making ‘you’ the subject: “You’ll find the repair process, simple, clean and quick.” This puts the emphasis on ‘you’ – the customer – and I know from experience that if I’m the customer and it’s my issue, I want this to be all about me. After all, what I pride myself on (keeping my family home safe, well-maintained and in one piece) is way more important than what some company out there claims they’re proud of. If you want my attention, help make me the hero of my own story.
Anyway, that’s the essential outcome of my #1 copywriting tip.
Also, please avoid the overly common terms “our customers” or “our clients” or “our patients.” Remember, they’re only really customers from the point of view of company staff. We’ll get further by adopting the buyers’ perspective rather than trying to get them to adopt ours.
The solution, again, is to just use the more natural “you” as you, would in conversation. Instead of “we offer our customers…” it’s just a succinct “you get…”.
Making that transition from ‘we’ to ‘you’ on our own websites is hard, mostly because we’re all too close to our own companies.
Without realizing it, we carry implicit biases, and insider assumptions that web visitors don’t share. When the headline at the top of your home does’t quite connect with their own personal agenda, the reader responds using the aforementioned Back Button. As it turns out, that’s something that happens fairly constantly. So companies are throwing away opportunities all the time, never realizing what the problem is.
But what if… if you’ve already hired a copywriter, and your website is still dominated by we, our and us? Then that writer has adopted the internal company mindset vs. the customer mindset. They might have penned some prettier words, but I’m not sure they added much value.
As a strategic copywriter for business websites, I consider myself kind of a translator from ‘company speak’ to customer speak.’ If you’re struggling with what to say on your site, or your analytics show that visitors are quickly bailing instead of sticking around, then think about doing something about all those missed opportunities.
It starts with a conversation. For your free 30-minute initial consult, call me, Tom Tortorici, at 770-934-7861, or just fill out this form.
About the Author: Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.
Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341