While reading and watching the SBI Action Guide, I was completely convinced of my ability to build a profitable website. - Svetlana Rubejov, SBI! member since 2012

Increase Engagement: Speak TO Not AT

Written By: Cath Andrews in Strategies for Business Growth | October 13, 2017

Increase Engagement: Speak TO Not AT

Struggling to engage your visitors? Could be that you don’t make them feel special enough.

You're FabOne way to fix that is to write in the second person. First person focuses on the wrong person — you — not your customer…

We provide a 30-day guarantee, giving you complete peace of mind. And for this month only, we’re offering a double refund if we don’t delight you!

That’s “we-focused” — and that ain’t good! It’s “broadcast mode,” and your readers feel it without even knowing why.  Remember that old joke to remember what NOT to do…

OK, enough about me.  Let’s talk about me now.”  

Think of first person as “I/we”, second person as “you” and third person “he/she/they/it”.

Second person puts visitors where they belong — right at the the start of the sentence…

You can enjoy complete peace of mind with our 30-day guarantee. And for this month only, you’ll receive a double refund if you’re less than delighted!

NOTE: Better still is the “imperative” form:

Enjoy complete peace of mind…

In second person, readers are the subject of your story, the person it’s all “about.” That  engages them and makes them feel special. Now you’re speaking TO them, not AT them.

IMPORTANT: Think “singular” when using “you.” Make the reader feel like you are talking only to her. The plural “you” results in “broadcast mode.”

It’s “personal one-to-one mode” and, again, your customers feel that, without even knowing why! So…

Review your site now and find places to make the “first person/second person” flip.

Still Unclear?

Here are some more “first-to-second flip” examples…

  • Our new online course will teach you how to quit smoking without the cravings.
  • Want to quit smoking without the cravings? Try our new online course.

NOTE: You don’t have to actually use “you” to be in the second person. Note how it’s understood in “Want to…” and in the imperative (“Try our…”)?  Speaking TO, not AT.

  • We won’t be beaten on price.
  • If you find a better price, we’ll refund the difference.

SEE how this changes from “braggy us” to “it’s all about you?”

  • I publish a new post on pampering your pooch every Friday.
  • Read a new “Pamper Your Pooch” post every Friday.

Stop, Read This , Carry OnMuch more engaging!  

Imperative is shorter, sharper, more engaging. You haven’t changed the meaning – the “you” is understood, but the sentence is tighter, the tone more active. Still “you-focused,” but it’s more compelling.

Bottom Line Takeaway?

Using “I” or “we” focuses on you. Use “you” (its “implicit” use is often stronger) instead to focus on the person who counts (especially in HER mind!) — your customer. Write more engagingly by using the second person. And then…

Ditch the “you” to take it to the next level.

Try it out on your site now.

Yes, that’s an imperative!

Still working out your unique writing voice? Read “How To Develop Your Writing Voice And Turn Readers Into Fans.”

Cath Andrews

Cath Andrews

Cath is Head of SiteSell's Content Team, where she writes on a wide variety of topics for new and experienced Solopreneurs. She lives between her homes in Italy and Scotland, and in her spare time writes prolifically for her two SBI! websites.
Cath Andrews

Latest posts by Cath Andrews (see all)

  • Patricia Hope

    When giving advice, what do you think about using the terms: ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’.
    As in “When we hear criticisms of ourselves for years it’s not surprising we continue to criticise ourselves when we’ve grown.”
    I would be interested in your thoughts regarding this way of writing and how this could be improved upon.

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