Which Person Should You Write In?

A question about website copywriting was raised recently on a Facebook group that I am part of.

It was more like “I’m writing some copy for my new website, should I write it in the 1st or 3rd person?”

My answer was “neither, you should be writing it in the 2nd person.”

Let me explain.

The 2nd person builds relationships

Why do you search the Internet?

I’m guessing because you need to research something or have a problem that you’re looking for a solution to.

So, when you land on a website you’ll be looking for one that tells you the answer you’re looking for. Not one that immediately starts:

“We are a well established business based in Norfolk with 25 years experience in our field.”

So what?

That’s not what you want to know, you want to know how they’re going to help you. And that’s why it should be written in the second person.

Let’s say you’re looking for someone to build you a new website because yours just isn’t working because it’s not bringing in the traffic, you have to go through your web designer every time you want to change something and it is generally out of date.

Rather than seeing something like the ‘we-fest’ above, would you react more favourably to something along the lines of?

“Do you want more traffic?

Are you fed up because you can’t update your website whenever you want to?

We’ll help you by creating a modern, flexible website that can be updated easily and that will attract visitors. What’s more, because you’re unique your website will be designed to suit your needs; we won’t shoe horn you into any pre-existing templates

Call us today for a chat.”

 

It immediately shows you that they understand the issues you face and that they will work with you to resolve them.

The approach is conversational and as no jargon or technical terms have been used it’s easy to understand. The company comes across as being approachable so you’ll probably add them to your shortlist of companies to get quotes from.

Even your About Page should be written in this style – although it will have more information about your company, the second person will still work because you are still selling your company to the reader.

With regards to how you refer to yourself, there was quite a debate on the Facebook discussion about whether it should be “I” or “we”, especially for sole traders. My advice is simple, if you want to create the illusion of your business being larger than it is to attract larger clients, use “we” (also if you’re planning to expand your business in the future). If you work alone, especially if you’re a business consultant or something along those lines and you trade on your reputation, use “I”.

So if you want your web copy to work for you:

  • Write in the 2nd person
  • Write in a conversational style
  • Avoid jargon and technical terms

 

Sally Ormond – Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd

 

 

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2 comments ↓

#1 Filip Brůcha on 03.26.13 at 1:41 pm

“If you work alone, especially if you’re a business consultant or something along those lines and you trade on your reputation, use “I”.”

What if the company is one-man project and is asking to be mentioned as a group?

#2 admin on 03.26.13 at 1:51 pm

The use if “I” works well if you are a consultant and are known by name within your industry. But if you are a company use “we” our “our” to give the illusion of being a bigger concern than you are.

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