When you’re talking to a loved-one, you don’t bellow at them through a megaphone; you whisper softly in their ear and make them feel they’re the most important person in your world at that moment. But how many of us think of that when we write a website or a brochure to promote our business, or that of our franchises?
So many websites come across as impersonal and are all about the company, not the person it wants to like it, to buy its products, or even to invest in its franchises. And while it isn’t unreasonable for a company’s website to be about itself, the reader wants to think that you have her or him in mind, too. So inject personality into your web or brochure content.
Don’t write about your company in the third person – “Company X is the best thing since sliced bread” – but personalise it by saying “Our company is”, or even “We are”. Even more importantly, think of who you’re aiming the site or brochure at. You may want your communication to be read by millions, and maybe it will, but your reader doesn’t want to feel she or he is just a tiny, insignificant part of the multitude you’re targeting.
I believe it was Terry Wogan who explained it, years ago, by saying that although he knew that many millions of people were listening to everything he broadcast, his listeners didn’t want to know that. They wanted to feel they were having an intimate, one-to-one conversation with Terry himself, so he didn’t say “Hello, all you people out there” but addressed them almost conspiratorially, and far more engagingly, as “you”. They loved that – and so will the people you’d like to read your website or collateral. It’s not always possible to do that. Sometimes you have to write factually or in certain styles to put your point across, but as soon as you can do, subtly begin referring to your reader as “you”.
That personalisation makes the reader feel relevant, wanted, and cared-about, and massively increases the chances that she or he will engage with the content and listen to what you have to say. Psychologists discovered this years ago: show two almost-identical photographs of the same person to a test-panel, and the panelists will show a strong preference for one set over the other.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the set of pictures in which the pupils of the eyes are dilated. Those in which the pupils are pin-point small will seem less attractive, simply because the person looking into the camera doesn’t seem interested, whereas the dilated-pupil people look friendly and approachable.
That’s the difference between a website that’s addressing you as “you” and one that ignores you and carries on burbling about itself. Sometimes a site will refer to “us” or “we” when it’s trying to convey that the company’s people and you have a shared experience or attitude in common – and that’s fine too, because it’s talking of the company in terms of its people rather than as a faceless legal entity, and shows it understands you.
We understand this at Chantry (see, we wrote “we” rather than “Chantry understands this”) and we use the approach to make all the web copy and brochure content we write for our clients talk to their target audience directly (or, in this case, to you).
There’s a lot more to copywriting than that, of course, but following this tip will elevate your own writing above the commonplace and increase engagement. If you’d like to know what else we can do for you, contact us for a good old-fashioned chat!