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"You" messagingImagine if a simple change to the way you write or communicate could cause a dramatic shift in how your marketing or sales efforts perform? You’d be able to grab attention easier, hold that attention longer, and convince your buyers that your message is worth their time. Well, it all comes down to you – well, “you” messaging, that is. By changing the focus of your statements from “I,” “me,” “we,” “us,” etc. to fit into true “you” messaging, you can ensure that your marketing or sales interactions are effectively buyer-centric and on point. This is more than switching from a first or third person narrative to a second person narrative, however, so here’s what you need to know…

What is NOT True “You” Messaging:

It’s important to note that both grammatically and thematically, “you” messaging has rules. Basically, “you” has to be the subject and focus of a sentence or an idea. It’s not just throwing “you” into a sentence. “I’m only asking you for 90 seconds of your time…” for example, isn’t “you” messaging because “I” is the subject of the sentence and “you” is its direct object. “We have an amazing offer for you…” is an even worse example as “we” is still the subject, “offer” is the direct object, and “you” is relegated all the way down to being the object of the preposition “for.” You could completely cut “for you” out of the sentence, and it’d still be a complete thought.

Other examples of what’s not “you” messaging include:

  • “Just thought you’d…” The “I” is missing, but it’s implied. You’re saying, “I (me, the important one) just thought of something that might apply to you (the not-as-important-as-me one).”
  • “You won’t believe what we have to offer…” “You” may come at the beginning of the sentence, but it’s a rhetorical clause. You’re saying, “What we have to offer (the thing that matters most) is something you (a person deprived of such glorious knowledge) won’t believe.”
  • “If you’re not the right person to talk to, can you please…” The focus is really on “the right person.” You’re saying “I (me, again, the important one) want to talk to the right person, and if that’s not you (the person who doesn’t matter enough for me to know if he or she is the right person or not) could you please do something for me (because I matter more than you).”

The point: Your buyer doesn’t want to feel like he or she is replaceable, unimportant, or second fiddle to what your organization has to say or sell. “You” messaging is about communicating on your buyer’s terms. If you can cut your buyer out of the message, it’s not “you” messaging.

Training the Customer-facing Voice in Your Head:

Of course, it actually takes an incredibly selfless (or potentially self-conscious) person to fully think in “you” messaging terms. For the most part, we all think in “I / me” terms: “What’s in it for me?” “What do I want?” “I want to…” So even when we’re well aware of buyer-centric and customer-centric advantages like higher cross-sell / upsell revenue from measuring customer insights, our own thought patterns can still throw us off in communicating on our buyers’ terms. By practicing “you” messaging, however, we can all train ourselves to break our typical thought patterns when necessary. You may be pressured to push a new value proposition to your market, for example, and your first thought might be, “I need everyone to know about message X.” To adhere to true “you” messaging though, you’d have to stop yourself, and plot out what message X actually means to your buyers. Through “you” messaging, however, you can ensure that message X will land in a way that’s most relevant to your target audience. The best part, though, may be that the more you practice “you” messaging, the easier it is to think from your buyer’s point of view.

Elevating the Importance of the Buyer:

“You” messaging also isn’t just a hack to the English language. It’s an intentional decision to put your buyer at the center of your story. In “you” messaging, the form perfectly fits the function of making the buyer or reader the subject and the focus of what you’re trying to communicate. Even if you’re at an organization that’s struggling to switch from being overly brand-centric to buyer / customer-centric, “you” messaging can be a small yet impactful place to start. From your peers hearing the corporate mission in terms of how it applies to your buyers, to seeing content crafted in “you” messaging driving results in the wild, the more people experience “you” messaging, the more accustomed they become to viewing their world through your buyer’s eyes.

What do you think about “you” messaging? Does it really matter, or is it just a trend? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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