Are you we-weeing all over your readers?

we,wee,you,writing,what's in it for them,blogging,marketing,Suzan St Maur

No matter how you dress it up, you won’t
get far if you we-wee on your customers, prospects and other readers

It’s perhaps an unfortunate, but highly relevant coincidence that the word “we” in business writing is a homophone for wee, as in urine.

Why? Because upfront and excessive use of the W word usually means that the text it appears in is all about what WE do and not about what we can do for you and why that will help you.

Now before some of you jump down my throat and say, “you’re not STILL banging on about the W word?” … get this.

Just a few days ago I was reminded about the we-wee effect by my good friend Mark Garner, an Australian colleague, who wrote a very hard-hitting and absolutely wonderful article about just this issue. Please read it: it’s brilliant.

So what else is new, already?

Exactly. Despite vast numbers of us business writers / bloggers pouring scorn on the awful, defunct, should-have-been-thrown-out-in-the-garbage-years-ago “corporate we,” it STILL hangs around.

I would love to quote some real examples here but despite removing names and places I might still get sued. So here are some made up examples. These show how to make them more YOU orientated which could help those of you (shame on you if you’re still doing it!) grab more interest and business from your readers.

That works by showing them, upfront, what’s in it for them. And what’s in it for them, dear readers, is – understandably I have to say – all that matters in a business context.

OK … how about these?

We offer a wide range of services based on our consultants’ extensive experience in our field

You’ll gain right away from our consultants’ extensive experience in what you need for your business, across a wide range of services

We are acknowledged as the leaders in our industry within our area

Many clients like you have voted us as leaders in our industry, so you know you’re using the best in our area

We have been established since 1995 and have in-depth experience of trading in our town

Whether you’re new to our town or not, you’ll benefit from our in-depth experience of the business scene here to help you grow yours

We are proud to announce the arrival of a new consultant here at (NAME) – she brings a vast range of (TYPE) skills to our business and will add substantial value to our team

Please help us welcome (NAME) to our team: her skills make a hugely valuable addition to the team, and to the range of help you get from us

We have been established as a reliable firm of (WHATEVER) in this area since 1980

You’ll be pleased to know our firm has been around since 1980, so our experience handed down over time gives you the confidence that we know what we’re doing

We welcome your comments as these help us improve our services and develop our business

Please add your comments here as this helps us offer even better services to match your needs

Rocket science? No, the YOU angle

Just think, as I was taught many years ago by a copywriting boss, about the YOU angle … always remember that no matter how formal or “corporate” you think your web text or blog posts or other business communications should seem … if you don’t get YOU in there upfront you’ll lose your readers’ interest.

And whatever you write for business, remember this … in fact print it out and stick it up on your office wall, so it inspires everything you write for business and marketing purposes:

WHAT’S  IN  IT  FOR  THEM?

What do you think? How can we make our bizcomms more effective by using the YOU angle?

photo credit: Corey Ann via photopin cc

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Thoughts

  1. I remember using the “we-we” test on a website years ago but haven\’t really thought about it of late – something \”we\” need a reminder of regularly, methinks, Suze – thank you

  2. I don’t like the emphasis on “you”. It seems to place more responsibility on me than on them for getting the work done . I want to know what they do so I can decide if their services fit my needs. Turning the pitch around by talking about “me” sounds aggressive and hypocritical. I would lose interest very quickly in anyone talking to me like that.

    • Hi Margaret – I see you’re a fiction editor from Ottawa … I have several cousins who live there as well as up in Wakefield, and Ottawa is one of my favorite places to visit when I’m home.

      Anyway, I think we’re talking at cross purposes here.

      With marketing/business writing people reading your text don’t really want to know what you have done for other people, although the backup helps as testimonial support. What they really want to know, however, is what you can do for them, hence talking less about what “we” do and more about what “we can do that will benefit you.”

      If you have a knowledge of sales and marketing, you’ll know about the old “features and benefits” story – and as I have said in several of my marketing/copywriting books to date, “benefits sell – features smell.”

      I hope that clears up what I imagine was a misunderstanding! Hope you’re not in deep snow yet but I gather there’s plenty about already in Ottawa.

  3. LOL! I suffer from terrible “typewriting dyslexia…” I often find I have typed all the correct letters of a word, but in the wrong order. My spellchecker is ashamed of me… 😉

Trackbacks

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