The power of “You”: the 2nd person singular in B2B copywriting

An avatar of the author

Doug Kessler

04. 04. 2008 | 2 min read

The power of “You”: the 2nd person singular in B2B copywriting

2 mins left

Get the newsletter

Raw, unfiltered, too-hot-for-Wordpress B2B marketing insights, straight to your inbox, every month.

Most B2B technology copywriting is so boring because its so neutral. The best copywriting looks the prospect squarely in the eye and says, “I’m going to sell to you and you’re going to enjoy it.”

Boring copy is all the same:

It uses the passive voice
“The interaction is further enabled by automated screen-scrape optimization technology…”

It’s jargon-soaked
“…utilizing a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) that combines traditional Business Process Management (BPM) with Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) into a seamless, scalable Blah-De-Blah (BDB).

It’s abstract instead of concrete
“…enabling better processes through systematic automation of yadda-yadda-yadda.”

It’s all in the 3rd person
“The software helps financial services companies better manage their customer-facing…”

This last point is rarely talked about but is especially crippling. Pick up your last data sheet. Now go through it and change the third person phrasing into second person singular: the subject is “You” (the reader).

You’ll have to rewrite the copy to make it sound right. And once you do, you will have made it better. More engaging. More down to earth. More personal.

I’m not suggesting you only use the 2nd person. That would be weird. But try using it and see if it doesn’t help you focus on a specific reader or listener — and help them focus on your message.

Case in point: you’ve probably noticed that the first half of this post is written in the third person. The second half is written in the second person singular. And it’s just that extra notch more engaging. Don’t you think?

Published in:

  • b2b

  • b2b-marketing

  • communication

  • copywriting

  • marketing

  • persuasion

Enjoyed this article?
Take part in the discussion

Opt into our crap

We will send the latest stuff written just for B2B content marketers exactly like you. Sound good?

illustration of a an envolope

Related blog/content

How to break free from the benchmark trap

If you’re turning to industry benchmarks to set your performance goals – make sure you’re asking these two questions.

Agustin Rejon | 06. 09. 2023


Leave a comment/reply

Hey look: a teeny-tiny cookie request. Would you mind? It’d help us out. Click here to read our privacy policy to see why. Or hit “customize” if you’re fancy like that.