I Don’t Care About You

ambivalent

Hello… I’m your reader.

Thanks for the free content, but I just don’t care.

Your free content is worthless, because content about you is worthless to me.

Hello… is this thing on?

Egotistical Marketing

We’re an egotistical bunch, aren’t we?

We love to talk about ourselves. We want to tell people how wonderful we are and blather on about how much they need us.

We ramble uselessly about our innovative products and excellent services. We’re all about us.

Want a tip? They don’t care about us.

They care about themselves.

Let’s Talk About You

For content to be effective, it has to be about “you” (as in them), not “we” (as in your company). Most businesses get this wrong, and every sentence (or almost) begins with “we.”

“We do this. We offer that. We, we, we…” all the way home.

Touting your own qualities and greatness has its place, but it can also be a huge mistake.

Want to avoid it?

Flip that attitude 180 degrees. Direct all your attention at the prospect.

What’s the number one rule of engaging people in conversation?

Don’t talk at them; talk about them. People love to discuss themselves. They love hearing about themselves even more. They want to feel as if someone cares… someone who’s listening to and acknowledging them.

People want to hear you hearing them.

You and Me = “We”

A good trick is to write your content as if you’re addressing readers directly, while focusing on their desires and needs. Don’t flatter your own ego by penning boastful descriptions of you and your business. Show people you’re listening instead.

Write for the person on the other side of the monitor.

You understand. You feel the pain. You know the suffering…and now you can offer the solution.

That’s where “we” comes in. Once you’ve established “you,” it’s easier to engage the reader and move into “we.”

Together, you and the reader become a team. Together, you’re resolving the problem.

We’re going to change your life (together). You’re going to achieve your goals (with our help).

OK, now I’m listening. :-)

About the Author: James Chartrand cares about you… he really does. Visit his blog, Men with Pens, or grab the Men with Pens RSS feed here.

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Comments

  1. nice post, its true and we need always to remember that, so we have a real understanding of our audience. We must see our custommers as a person not as a bunch of some sort of “customer cloud”. Just talk to them as if you were in front of them and that would help too

  2. Well put, James. It’s like Toby Keith said: “You know talkin’ about you makes me smile, but every once in a while I wanna talk about me.”

  3. Ok, explain how Dooce gets all those comments when it’s all about her and her family? Sometimes the “it’s all about me” is the entertainment.

  4. I write as if every reader is right next to me, or like I’m rapping out with my wife. It makes the words flow easily.

  5. What about Dooce?

    Dooce *is* entertainment (not marketing), and she’s filling an audience need, so in reality, it *is* about them. But Dooce isn’t selling anything other than pageviews, either. :-)

  6. i dont know dooce but i think its authority like jonathan stated on this blog post:

    http://www.copyblogger.com/are-you-a-wannabe/

  7. It can be difficult to remember when you’re writing that you need to write to them and not just about yourself. I have made myself a checklist when creating a blog post where one of the points I need to check off before hitting “post” is that I’m talking to and about the reader. It IS possible to do in every post (to some extend at least).

  8. This is a good exersize to step into the shoes of your ideal client and let them know you understand them. Then they will be open to reading about your solution and trusting in the social proof and testimonials from others about your solution.

  9. So, you’re saying I should move the narcissistic mirror collection away from the computer?

  10. Gotta be careful not to make (mistaken) assumptions about what the reader cares about, but yes, ‘you’ and ‘we’ are great words.

  11. Very good post. It is every webmaster and bloggers responsibility to find out what your readers want and deliver just that. So many webmasters, bloggers, site owners, etc. get so wrapped up in themselves they loose sight of the true picture………..the reader!

  12. @ Wedge – It’s not really an assumption. Basic psychology here. Each emotion we feel has to do with us. It *is* all about us, no matter which way you look at it.

    Take the most selfless act you can think of – now think of what that gives back to you. I doubt that it’s absolutely nothing.

  13. Have you been entertaining the kids, James? I pictured piggies, markets and roast beef after reading that. Haha.

  14. @ David – Quebec construction holidays. The daycare has been closed for three weeks straight. I did manage to keep Dora the Explorah out of my posts, thank god.

  15. Wonderful post James, and extremely hard to remember at times. It’s very tempting to want to shout from the rooftops about all the great things you/your firm have done and how smart you are (I know I’ve done it). Thanks for keeping us grounded and focused on the customer.

  16. In general this is true. If anyone has spend any time studying marketing and advertising a question that should always be asked — “why should I care?”
    Usually the answer to that is it pertains to the most interesting subject …themselves.
    How will your product or service take away my headache, make me better looking, save or make me money, save or create extra time. This post talks mostly about copy one someone’s website. It’s even more important in ads and sales letters.

  17. James has hit the nail right on the head. In fact, I’ve proposed putting an “About You” page on websites that puts the focus squarely on your prospects. Here’s a link to the post where I lay out the concept:

    http://tinyurl.com/5ctmxm

  18. Love it! “It’s not about you.” Just that can get a lot of us about 80% of the way there. Also “so what?” which gets to the same point.

    “We’re the largest provider of widget insurance in the tri-county area.” So what? “We’re the market leader with 61% of all sales made.” So what? “We own $1billion in assets.” So what?

    This is sometimes a way for a small company or solo entrepreneur to beat out a big company, because chest-beating and we’re-so-greatism is superhumanly hard for big companies to give up. It opens up a great space for a little guy to say, “They’re all about themselves. I’m all about you.”

    3 weeks without daycare and you haven’t commited any significant violent crimes? You are a hero.

    Dooce is reality TV. Different product, different dynamic.

  19. I Absolutely agree, it’s time to stop talking about “me”.

    Let’s talk about you – “what do YOU think of ME?”

  20. @ Adam – Oh, that’s a brilliant idea. I’m impressed!

  21. I always get a response from my audience with a post or Internet radio show when I’ve conveyed the message “I feel YOUR pain, I understand YOUR need”.

    It’s true…as a reader of blogs I am much more likely to buy whenever a marketer takes an interest in me some how. Sometimes just a few seconds of personal attention makes me pay more attention to what they have. Then, if it meets MY need, I’m more likely to make a purchase. I never really thought about it until you mentioned…but, yep, I think you’re right.

  22. @Adam, what a cool idea!

  23. Hmm…just a thought, what if blogs had a built-in wiki where readers could input their interests. Sure would help us write for them!

    I think once people become part of your community they are a little more inclined to listen to stuff about you . . . just – don’t forget about me and the newcomers.

  24. Yes, James is right. It IS all about YOU. All about YOU coming over to my site, so YOU can enjoy YOURSELF.

    Forget about me!

  25. This kind of reminds me of the presidential election. The reason I say that is that people are more prone to like a candidate if he is talking about everyone else and not himself. This is the same as someone who blogs. You don’t want to blog about yourself but about others. tell them how they can be helped from your information.

  26. Great post! how very true…

  27. I agree completely with the post, and just yesterday I found myself taking the “I” out of a headline so it read: Five environmental answers you’ve been waiting for.

    But this brings up the question of polls. If people want to focus on themselves, how do you get a poll going? I theorized that people would jump, but I fear that a pathetically small poll (which it ended up being) would be more of a detriment than a benefit (something that problogger.com confirmed).

    James, thanks for the post. I follow you at Men with Pens as well. :)

  28. I couldn’t agree with you more, ‘Egotistical Marketing’ is so spot on. Buyers don’t give a monkeys about us, they’re only interested in what we can do for THEM! and that’s the way it should be shouldn’t it? Buyers want to know what’s in it for Me,Me,Me. I’ve seen so many sites that just don’t get this, even big companies, they’re so full of themselves and arrogant, everything is about them and how fantastic they are (snooze!, snooze!).

  29. “Hello… is this thing on?”

    Sometimes just one line can really strike you, create a vivid picture, and crystallize an idea. This line did it for me. It’s not only about talking about them, it’s about listening to them too. Thanks for the article.

  30. Very well put! I liked this article a lot and am going off to reform some of my verbage on my design site.
    redtiedesigns.com

    Cheers,
    Ben

  31. Just keep in mind that not every engagement with your readers needs to be complex. Sometimes, they just nod and move on and that’s just fine. It’s not about getting them to comment, or listening to them, it’s about them and what they choose to do. By giving them a role to play, you’re still not just plain listening, you’re planning for them.

  32. Great article, and I couldn’t agree more. With the outrageous competition for so many blogs, I only have time for those that focus on the important stuff.

    Like me. ;-)

  33. Thanks, James!
    Thanks, Sonia!

    I’m glad you like the idea. Hopefully it catches on and becomes as common as the “About Us” page. It should make business websites much more user-friendly and useful.

  34. That’s just a fantastic post! One of the biggest things a small business can do is make it personal.

    I’m going to start putting the “we” in my blogs soon as possible.

    Great info!

  35. Good thing the sales copy I just sent you only uses “I” three times (to establish credibility) – I’m assuming that this is a good use of “I”, no?

    In my blog with its “Someday Lessons” I always say “you” or “we”, more often than not “we” so that I’m included in the lesson and readers don’t feel like I’m preaching to them.

  36. We, we, we…” all the way home – Classic James C.

    You kept Dora out of the post but you did manage to type “we we,” which made me chuckle.

    Adam – nice.

  37. I’m working on this focus on the user (instead of the writer) to design a new online community for people who use and visit our website, but it’s so difficult. How can I help the directors who are signing off on my online community development stop focusing on what he thinks should happen and realize the value of the user experience?

  38. Good one bro!

  39. This reminds me of a story one of my poetry professors told. After getting her MFA, she went to work for a New York City ad agency. She hated the job and spent most of her time reading and writing poetry. She thought the whole concept of ad copy was completely ridiculous.

    Her greatest accomplishment there was a slogan for a radio station that took her all of five minutes to write. I forget the call letters (call it XYZ).

    “WXYZ … because you know what you like”

    She thought it was nonsense but the ad guys fell all over themselves when they saw it.

    She meant the story to be disparaging of ad copy but it’s one of the few lessons I still remember from her course: You can’t go wrong with “you.”

  40. Speaking to prospects and customers about their experiences and their pain points is the most important lesson a fresh copywriter can learn…

    Nobody wants to hear what a great writer…they want to hear about 1) your impressions of them; 2) praise for their hard work; 3) what you can do to make their life easier.

  41. The do TOO care about me! I get your point though. Value is king.

  42. This is great stuff… so very true – everyone is so egotistical these days. If you can feed their egos, you’re on the right track.

  43. Great post. It’s good to see the fundamentals being reinforced.

    Buy any DM copy writing book and you will hear all about “you.” Million Dollar Mailings by Denny Hatch for example. This approach has been proven over and over again by direct marketers. It applies on the internet as well. Every time, in every situation.

    The first sentence of a good DM letter has ‘you’ in it at least once. Regardless of your platform, blog, web site, facebook, if you want to engage readers write with their perspective in mind. If it’s about them they will engage / respond.

  44. That is music to my ears. Great strokes for an addict. Thank you.

  45. Can I get an “Amen!”? Yeah, baby!

    When I first started blogging — blogs were personal and hadn’t made the transition to business. I struggled with writing about myself. I just couldn’t see why people would care about my life. It’s not as if I led a unique life… daredevil — nope. Entertainer — nope. Outdoor queen — nope.

    Just a mom of two kids (at the time) with a corporate job and beginning a little freelance business on the side. Can you say, “Zzzzz”?

    I write every post with the reader in mind. What can I give readers today? The “I” that enters the story simply uses my life as an example to show them.

    Many of us have written a post about how to better manage emails. Well, we can make it stand out by sharing an experience or a lesson learned. While writing, I “hear” a conversation in my head — like I’m talking and listening to readers.

  46. I wake up on a Saturday morning, pour myself a nice cup of tea, click on C.B.

    Alas, no new post.

    Work harder.

  47. That’s because we felt everyone needed to think on this one a little more. ;)

  48. One of the first things I do when reviewing web copy is circle every instance of the words “I” and “we.” Clients are always amazed at how often they made it about them rather than their audience.

  49. Great post.

    It’s advertising 101 but seems most people still forget to do it, so it’ s good to remind people about it.

  50. Nicely said. I’ve always told my clients to focus on their customers and not themselves but people are really egoistic! Awesome post!

  51. In my ebook writing workshops and courses I always warn my students to read their content back out loud and if they are hearing a lot more “I”‘s than “You”s to
    rewrite it! So I couldn’t agree more!

  52. You have said something most of us have heard / thought of before, but you write it in an original and interesting way.

    With blogging / social networking, and so on, brands now, really can have conversations with their audiences. Copywriting does, obviously, influence audiences in the short-term (and / or with to persuade audience to action) but, also, in helping to create / support, overall, a brand that engages its audience.

    Great post!

  53. that was an eye opening post

    the approach as i understand it is not to focus on ourselves because that is boring to the reader.. but focus on stimulating thought in the readers head… i have been enriched by this article!

  54. We are all about WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)! Sales people have to realize that it is about the BUYERS not about themselves.

  55. Exactly, your readers would not care about how great you are, rather, they would like to know straight away what you are offering to them.

    And your content should reflect these things to increase the readership.

  56. Very, very, very good, thx!

  57. This doesn’t make sense to me.
    I think writing about me is ok- people like personal perspective…

    I think …

  58. wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!! very creative and that smiley face is so adorable!!!!

  59. Okay…I understand the point. But you guys have taken this to the extremes. I mean…

    WHAT THE HELL???

    OK, it’s great to focus on the prospect…most of the times. But here I read the comments we should do that ALL THE TIME.

    First, for example, if I’m learning German, I’d LOVE to hear about a man who went through the way of learning the language and learned some lessons that shares through his journey. Yeah, I know, at the end it’s about me…but he’s talking about himself and I love to hear him talking about himself as long as he’s not boasting or something. Anyone heard of empathy = reading a story about someone and thinking like: Wow, this is great stuff. I wanna read more stories about this man.

    Also, I’d LOVE to hear about a company CREDIBILITY…many people above mentioned that isn’t matter.

    Sonia Simone said:
    ““We’re the largest provider of widget insurance in the tri-county area.” So what? “We’re the market leader with 61% of all sales made.” So what? “We own $1billion in assets.” So what?”

    I strongly disagree.

    We’re the large provider of widget insurance in the tri-country area>>>really? Hm, that means you’re a business worth dealing with. But again, they’re telling this for ME to realize they’re worth dealing with. Most companies use the usual page: Why choose us? – when writing this kind of stuff.

    So, conclusion:
    People care about you as long as you care about them (have anyone read Caldini lately?) Reciprocity = care about me and I’ll care about you.

    I’ll freaking care if Video CoPilot goes down because they rock at producing After Effects tutorial. I’ll freaking care for the company awards because that helps me choose if I should treat them as more credible.

    So, I believe even you care what the company is talking about them as long as that helps YOU choose them. 90-95% talking about you, 5-10% talking about you…as long as the stuff you’re talking about you is useful to them in making a choice or getting value.

    I hope I got my point across.

  60. Well put, James. It’s like Toby Keith said: “You know talkin’ about you makes me smile, but every once in a while I wanna talk about me.”

  61. Wow! Really, that reminds me to go and check on my drafts again. I am writing for my readers… they care about themselves, not me.
    The very fact that I am reading ‘copyblogger’ and commenting here is coz I care about myself. Not what you think (mean! lol)