It’s not (about) you, it’s me - Copy-Fast

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Okay, maybe it is about you.

Remember the last time you were at a party?

Not one of those swinging from the chandelier type parties, but one of those mingling and chatting parties.

You do? 

Great.

Now image yourself there and a suave guy (or gal if you prefer) saunters over and starts talking to you . . .

. . . about themselves.

All. Night.

They talk about what business they’re in. How long they’ve been at it. How their great-grandfather started it in 1872. All the "prestigious” customers they’ve got. And how they got their golf handicap down to singe figures.

Are you still awake?

Are you even still there?

If you’re like most (rational) people you’d be looking for an escape route soon after their entrance.

So, what was the problem here?

The conversation was all about “them”, “them” and more “them”.

And never about you.

Is this how your customers and prospects feel when they’re reading your emails, your sales letters or your landing pages?

The sweetest sound in any language

Dale Carnegie once claimed that “names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.

From a young age we’re conditioned to recognise and respond when people use our name.

So when you’re writing one-on-one communications, like emails, try to use your reader's first name whenever you can, especially in the opening.

“Hey Marcus” comes across as far more friendly and accessible than “Hey Subscriber” or just “Hi”.

Some marketers will also sprinkle their readers’ names through the body of the email.

This can make your emails seems more personalised, but don’t overdo it.

If you’ve ever felt your skin crawl from a salesperson using your name in every sentence (trying desperately to build rapport) you’ll know you can have too much of a good thing.

So, keep it casual using their name, just like you would if you were having a chat over coffee. 

A Rose by Any Other Name

But there’s times you can’t use your readers’ names.

Maybe it’s not on your mailing list or perhaps you’re writing a sales letter or landing page.

In these cases, you can’t use your readers’ name directly, but you want to ensure they still feel like you’re talking to them.

One way you can tell is by looking at the You-Me ratio of your writing.

What’s the You-Me Ratio?

The You-Me Ratio is a writing metric.

It compares how many times you talk about yourself compared to how many times you talk about your reader.

Words that refer to you include “me”, “my”, “our” and “we”. You want to avoid or at least reduce these as much as possible.

Words that refer to your reader include “you”, “your” and “yours”. You want to use these more.

A lot more.

This is how you can determine the You-Me Ratio of your email, sales letter or landing page:

First, count-up all the words which mention yourself. Let’s call these the ‘Me’ words.

These include:

  • me
  • my
  • mine
  • our
  • we
  • us

Then count-up all the words which mention your reader. Let’s call these the ‘You’ words.

This includes words like these:

  • you
  • yours
  • your
  • you're
  • yourself
  • you'll

Count them all up, divide one by the other and you have the You-Me ratio.

You-Me Ratio Calculation

So, what’s a good You-Me ratio?

So far in this post I've used 60 'you' words and 18 'me' words.

Altogether that’s 78 you-me type words (60 'you' words plus 18 'me' words).

Of those 78 words, a full 60 were all about you. So, I've talked about you 77% of the time.

Here's another way to look at it.

60 ‘you' words divided by 18 ‘me' is about 3.3.

You-Me Ratio Example

That is, for every 1 time I mentioned me, I mentioned you 3.3 times.

One rule of thumb is to talk about your reader at least twice as much as you talk about yourself.

For every “me” you mention, you should mention “you” two times (or more!).

 That’d give a you-me ratio of 2.0. So 3.3 is pretty good 🙂

How do I work this out?

Does that mean you have to manually count all the first and second personal pronouns and whip out your calculator every time you write an email, blog post or sales letter?

Not anymore 🙂

Copy-Fast now figures out the You-Me ratio for you every time you check the readability of your writing.

You’ll discover how personal your writing is every time you discover how easy it is to read with a simple metric.

Here’s the you-me ratio and readability scores for this post up to “What’s a good You-Me ratio” heading above:

You-Me Ratio Score

And to calculate all you had to do was press a button.

No math. Yee-hah!

Get closer to your audience and start checking the You-Me ratio of your writing today.

Marcus

After 20 years developing Microsoft Office based productivity tools for some of the world's largest companies, Marcus now produces surprisingly simple yet ridiculously effective writing productivity tools for solopreneurs. When he's not tinkering with the innards of Word, Excel or PowerPoint he's relaxing at home in The Cotswolds with his patient wife, rambunctious sons and faithful (but dopey) Cavachon.

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