Lessons in making your copy feel personal

Make every word count. Lose the adverbs. Avoid jargon. Show, don’t tell. Put the reader first. 

These, plus a few others, are widely accepted truths for writing objectively “good” copy. The kind that’s likely to grab attention, establish trust and, ultimately, make you money. The Golden Rules. The Copywriting Commandments.

But what if someone disagrees? More specifically, a client?

Recently, one of my clients was uncomfortable with the idea their copy should address readers as “you”. They preferred “our customers”.

Big yikes 😱

You and I both know that putting the reader first is the simplest and quickest way to improve any piece of persuasive writing. But how do you explain why?

I tried the “personal and specific” route, to no avail. Stuck for ideas, I turned to the wonderful copywriters of Twitter for backup. Generously, they rode to my rescue with a goldmine of help and advice.

For future reference (and to save scrolling back through Twitter) here's the wisdom they shared, grouped by theme.

Imagine a real conversation

Cultivate a little FOMO

Find examples in the wild

Reframe the argument

Show them the data

Try shock tactics 😉

Were they convinced?

In the end, yes. The tactic that swung the deal was finding examples of competitors addressing readers as "you" to show them it was okay.

It all came down to reassurance. As scientists, marketing was a very alien discipline so they needed to see it wasn't some madcap, new-fangled approach. Rather, a tried and tested copywriting convention.

Getting to the heart of their objection helped me see the most persuasive line of attack—a lesson for good client management and good copywriting rolled into one.

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