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

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?


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