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You may be surprised to hear that there is one word that can significantly increase the effectiveness of your business communications.

You can see this word in most successful ad campaigns. You’ll find it in the work of the world’s most notable copywriters, like David Olgivy.

You’ll hear it in many of the most famous and influential speeches in history.

This powerful word is “you”.


Because it shifts the spotlight from the writer to the reader.

You, you, you – it’s all about you

Your readers will respond well when you directly address them by using “you”.

They will be able to see immediately how your writing is relevant to them.  They won’t have to spend their time and energy working it out.

This is particularly true of your customers who begin reading each of your communications by subconsciously asking “what’s in this for me?”

Apple’s campaign for the iPhone 5 is a great example of how talking about the reader increases the power of the communication.  When they describe the new noise-cancelling technology which reduces background sounds, they say:

“So when you hold iPhone up to your ear in a loud room, you hear what matters most: the voice on the other end.”

 “You” makes your writing more interesting

No one wants to read something that sounds like a dry, dispassionate description from a 1950s encyclopaedia.

Your writing will naturally have a conversational tone when you use “you”.  It is much more difficult to accidentally slip into CorporateSpeak.

You will seem more present to your audience.  Your writing will be more personal and engaging, less neutral, less boring.

John F Kennedy understood this when he wanted to inspire Americans to contribute more to their communities.

Imagine if he’d said something bland like “this country will be even greater if everyone donates an hour or two of their spare time to their community” instead of:

“Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”

Writing tactic – count the “you” words and the “me” words

When you have finished your first draft, count up:

the “me” words – I, me, my, myself, we, us, our, ourselves

the “you” words – you, your, yourself.

If there are too many “me” words, consider re-drafting.  Then use more “you” words to help you write about the subject from your readers’ point of view.

What do you think?

How do you capture the attention of your clients, employees and partners when you write to them?  How do you keep them engaged?

Do you use “you” in your writing already or do you use other tactics?

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