27 Jun Are you getting personal with me?
When faced with a lot of impersonal marketing data thrown at me like unkind confetti, I will inevitably kind of whisper, in a quiet, slightly resigned voice, but what is the visitor feeling?
Because stories are personal and humans are not just data points.
Luckily, I don’t have to whisper here because you already get it—and that makes you my kind of story person. I mean, of course, there’s a story to be gained from data, and there’s a lot we can glean from the smart analysis of impressions, clicks, snooty and happy comments, or even people screaming in abject horror at a freshly launched sales page. It happens to the best of us.
But…what drives people to, or away from your product or service? What are the internal, gut instincts that make them scroll past or stop and read?
Personal preference. That’s it. That’s the whole story.
And telling stories—micro-stories, long-form narratives, motion stories—is the surest way you will influence that personal preference.
This idea is a big topic I’ll talk more about on this blog but for today, let’s look at first-person versus third-person voice.
I’ve helped many clients with their About pages and one change I suggest the most is shifting from the impersonal third person to the more personal first-person voice. It moves the tone from some far-away company that doesn’t ask anything of the visitor to an up-close and conversational invitation that says, hey, it’s just you and me here, pull up a chair.
First-person says, I am the narrator of this story—I own it, inhabit it, care about it. Third-person is commentary. It says, I am not personally the narrator, I’m probably not going to be talking to any of the characters in this story and I’m not really in the position to help you right at this moment.
Note in the illustration above that the only ‘person’ with their hand up is the first person! This is who you want to be when writing sales copy.
Apple figured this out from the get-go. Speak directly to your customer and make it have personal meaning for ME aka your reader.
Allegedly, Ken Burns said that “the shortest distance between two people is a story.” I passionately believe this to be true, whether he said it or not. A fail-proof way to shorten the distance between your business and your customer is speaking conversationally, using first-person and of course, telling stories.
Just for kicks and to show how this sounds, imagine I’m the owner of a kayak tour company, and I’m selling an afternoon paddle with a picnic combo. Which feels more personal?
“The West Coast Sea Kayak company invites visitors to experience the wonders of the ocean and see marine life up close and personal”. Call to action: “Learn about our packages.”
“Imagine safely snuggling up to a 1000-pound Sea Lion sunbathing on one of our local rocky shores. Our guides won’t let you miss a moment of spectacular wildlife viewing during your paddle-n’-picnic experience.” Call to action: “Book your wildlife meet-up before the end of the month and save 15%.”
The first sentence feels like the is company far away; it’s kind of over there, and while it would be nice if I booked, it doesn’t seem that important. In the experience economy, this is the exact opposite of what you want in your sales copy. Stepping into your story, and putting your visitor first, is how you make it personal and, therefore, relevant.
And relevance is the warm-up coach for the main act, connection.
So when I recently clicked on a tourism ad about spring experiences in a famous wine region, I noticed that by the end of their sales page, I felt a little like they didn’t care one way or another about my experience they were so excited about over on Facebook. The copy didn’t feel relevant or urgent that I take that vacation after all. So, I didn’t book—I just floated off into the internet distracted by new wine varietals in some remote part of Spain.
I guess the moral of the blog is, if you’re writing for your business, remember we readers are kind of selfish! No, really, we are—we only care if it’s personal and it has value for me, me, me and my one-short-and-oh-so-precious life. Remember, it’s not about you, the writer, the owner. It’s about your customer. Make it personal and shorten the distance between you and them with inclusive, first-person language and stories. You’ll find you step into your own story more fully and so will your customers.