So what does ‘we-we’ have to do with making a good impression?

(And US readers please note, for a UK audience that headline has a more than a touch of ambiguity…)

Here’s a little exercise for you.

  • Take ten commercial websites, at random.
  • Count up the number of times the word ‘I’ (or more likely ‘we’) appears on their home page.
  • If it appears once or twice, give them a score of zero.
  • If it appears three to five times, give them a score of 10
  • If it appears more than five times, give them a score of 100

And here’s a clue – high scores are really, really bad

So how did they do? And, more importantly, what’s the point of the exercise?

Remember what I said in an earlier post about putting yourself in the reader’s shoes? Trying to think the same way they will think?

Picture yourself at a party, talking with a man who’s created a good first impression.

Trouble is, he only has one topic of conversation – himself.

The word ‘I’ is cropping up with monotonous regularity, in everything he says.

So how long before you make a polite excuse – and leave?

A website is really no different.

Of course the people who visit it want to know what you do. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there in the first place.

But there’s a difference between telling them what you do, and explaining what you can do for them!

What do I mean?

Well, here are two examples to compare and contrast:

At Universal Widgets we take pride in manufacturing the highest quality widgets available in the world today. Our cutting-edge digital technology ensures that every component is machined to precision tolerances, and our track record for swift, efficient delivery will bring your widget to your door within 24 hours of ordering…

Which is all very good, no doubt, but doesn’t actually tell the reader why they’d want the widget in the first place…

Is your driving position comfortable? Do you find it difficult or awkward to reach the pedals? Don’t despair – there is a solution that can be accurately adjusted to your personal needs – however individual they may be.

‘The Universal Widget is perfect – for the first time in my life, I can enjoy driving!’  Ms S A, Birmingham

Notice that in the second piece, the only time the product name appears is in the testimonial – which can often be your ‘get out of jail free’ card (see Credibility is everything below). Instead, the copy focuses on the problem the reader may have, and how the widget can solve it. It’s good to know that it’s precision built, and that delivery is quick, but those points belong way down the page.

Good copywriting, in other words, is all about getting into the mind of your audience. Of which more next time…

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