Basic Copywriting Rule:
How to Make the “You Rule” Work for You
There's a basic copywriting rule that can change your content almost instantly. It all goes back to your freshman English teacher, who familiarized you with the
concept of “point of view” (POV) in fiction.
She explained that a story is told from the perspective of one of the characters.
In the first person POV, a character explains his thoughts and actions in his own voice (“My hands were shaking as I reached for the phone.”)
A second person POV addresses the reader directly (“You could see my hands shaking as I put the receiver to my ear.”) The third person POV, however, allows an outsider to tell the story by looking in (“She felt her hands shaking when the phone rang.”)
The fundamental copywriting rule is directly related to point of view. Like POV, it lets you experience what the characters go through right along with them.
Good Copywriting is Vicarious, Too
You can use point of view to help your reader experience
your product or service through words.
Copywriters call this the copyrighting rule the “You Rule.”
That’s because a large percentage of promotional material are written in
second person, speaking to the reader straightforwardly by using “you.”
For example, “By addressing you directly I’m able to let you
picture yourself writing powerful
copy that grabs the reader and hold his attention.”
Talking one-on-one with your reader creates a feeling of
intimacy. Your copy becomes a
conversation, giving the reader a feeling of back-and-forth. In other words, this copywriting rule is really just a fancy way of saying, "Write like you talk."
But the “You Rule” is not a guarantee that your copy will be
Some writers use it as a
crutch, rather than a tool, because they’re unaware of a few important
Writing Tips For This Copywriting Rule
- Use both you and I.
First and second POV together create conversation. Copy is personal when it’s directed to the
reader in second person (you). And the conversational exchange is complete
when you write from first person (I).
- Use more you than I.
The reader wants to know that you’re dialoging with him. But his main concern is himself. Effective copy keeps the audience front and
center. Be careful that as you share news and information about your product or
organization, your copy keeps returning to how those facts affect the reader. Remember, this copywriting rule focuses on the audience - the "you." (Check out this helpful "You Test" as a self-check in your content.)
- Use variations of you
yours, me, my, mine contribute to
the dialogue effect and make your copy interesting.
- Use he, she, it
Yes, copy in third person works! Tell a story
or sketch an illustration about another individual and then return to your
chatty, second-person banter. For
instance, “Martha couldn’t believe the difference in her appetite. In two weeks, she lost eleven pounds. The
same can happen to you.”
- Use “you” to distinguish your product’s benefits.
Writing in second person - while only mentioning
your product’s features and never talking about its advantages – is a pitfall
that’s easy to fall into. For example, “Bring your 4-7 year old to our up-to-date facilities at Little Tykes
Tennis Academy, where you’ll find
award-winning instructors for your child,”
addresses the reader in second person, but only provides facts about your
Avoid this trap by making sure you address benefits along
with your “you rule” writing, like this: “Help your 4-7 year old learn tennis basics and a love for the game at
Little Tykes Tennis Academy, where one-on-one and team coaching in our
brand-new facility means your child
will have fun, improve his skills and be safe.”
Use the “You Rule” the right way, and your reader will feel
like he knows you, understands your cause or service, and realizes what he
stands to gain by connecting with your organization.
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