Ray Braun Design
Graphic Design for Business and Non-Profits

Copywriting: “All About You”

It’s the most important word in the copywriter’s arsenal. It’s more powerful than “free,” “new” and “savings” combined. In fact, it propelled you into this article.

I’m talking about “you.”


“You” is the word that gets your audience’s attention and keeps them involved. As Herschell Gordon Lewis says in The Art of Writing Copy, “Unless the reader regards himself as the target of your message, benefit can’t exist. Benefit demands a ‘We/You’ relationship.”

While the “We” in the “We/You” relationship is important, it’s better implied than communicated literally. If your goal is to put readers first, then it’s best to have the “you’s” far exceed the “we’s.”

It’s the “you’s” that matter to readers. They’re your workhorse for communicating your message and include “your,” “yours,” “yourself” and contractions such as “you’re” and “you’ll.”

Powerful ‘You’

What makes “you” so powerful? For one thing, it addresses your readers directly. In effect, it says “Hey you,” which is much harder to ignore than “Hey somebody.”

Say “Hey you” in a crowded room and a lot of heads will turn. Say “Hey somebody” and a few heads will turn — maybe.

While your copy won’t actually say “Hey you,” it can clearly identify to whom you’re talking. Once you have your audience’s attention, use “you” to help keep it.

Personal ‘You’

Why does “you” get and hold attention? For one thing, it’s personal. It’s used in personal conversations every day. What do you think about the reorganization? How was your weekend? You’ll be glad to know…

When people say these things to you, they’re bound to get your attention and involvement. After all, they’re interested in your opinion. They’re interested in the things you do. They have something to tell you that will make you happy.

That’s the goal of you-oriented copy. Address your audience directly, personally and in terms of their interests. Be conversational and “you” will pop up in the copy naturally.

Excessive ‘You’

Can you overdo “you?” Yes. If you load down your copy with “you’s” but forget the benefits, your message will have a phony ring.

“You” can’t save you if there’s nothing meaningful to offer your audience. Likewise, it can help put you over the top if there is.

Neil Sagebiel is a freelance copywriter who has written promotional copy for dozens of national clients. Neil's specialty is B2B, including print and online advertising, marketing collateral, Web, email marketing, direct mail and PR materials. He can be contacted at 540-745-5472 or www.neilsagebiel.com.