The most powerful blogs are written directly to the audience; the “you” of the title. Blogs and other marketing materials are most often written in second person so they can speak directly to the prospective customer. It builds the basis of a relationship between me (the business), and you (the prospect) who I hope will buy my product or service. It makes the post more action oriented and interesting to read because it’s all about “you.”
Second Person POV
If you write a blog or have one as part of your marketing strategy, determining the point of view, or person, is an essential decision that you will make as part of your guidelines for future posts. As a form of social media using a second person point of view personalizes the content and coaxes readers to imagine themselves as part of the action.
The difference between second person in content marketing and an essay or novel is that you are not pushing the audience around as a character. You are conversing with each individual, having a casual conversation about a problem the reader has. You are answering questions, illustrating problems and solutions, and offering your expertise to someone who is looking for the answer to a problem.
Who Is “You”?
Content marketing is all about segmenting and targeting specific types of customers. What you write must appeal as specifically as possible to a particular person in order for your content to be found. If you have done your research you likely know one or more types who would benefit from your product. Segment these and develop each one into a person as fully as possible; this is what is known as developing a buyer persona.
A buyer persona gives the writer someone to write to. It gives the writer, you or someone you hire, an idea of the type of language this target audience uses, the problems they face, who influences their decisions, and projects more reality onto your customers. Beginning with basic demographics, you create a buyer persona by learning who your ideal buyer is, what his or her position is in the company, who else in the company needs to be convinced, and what part this ideal buyer has in the purchasing process.
What About “I”?
The problem with first person is that it guarantees you will talk about yourself and your products without ever listening to the audience. If you are illustrating a problem you, yourself, had and solved, you might be able to get away with it occasionally but in the main, you want to stick to second person. Writing about “I” or “we” can seem friendly and conversational but the audience knows this is really a way of shifting focus back to your product and away from their problem. Once that happens, you have lost the them.
Nobody wants to talk to you about yourself. They want to talk about themselves. So let them; give them a platform to air their problems and then speak directly to those problems as though you were speaking to your friend or neighbor about how to fix the oil leak in the family car.
What About Him or Her?
Third person is great for case studies. You are telling a story about someone else who had a problem similar to your target’s and how it was resolved. With today’s marketing that third person can still become second when, in the final paragraphs, you make the comparison of your target to the person involved in the case study.
Highly technical writing will also tend toward third person. If you remember your grade school assignments, nearly everything you wrote was third person because you were reporting on a specific case. Bringing “you” into it is jarring and an ineffective way to tell this type of story.
“You” and WIIFM
Writing in second person perspective also makes it very easy to answer that perennial customer question, “What’s in it for me?” “Well, let me tell ya what’s in it for you.” You will tell your audience exactly how your solution relates to their problem, bringing them ever closer to purchasing as you carefully build the case that your solution is the best one for them.
It turned out to be a challenge to write about second person in second person. If you are confused, please leave a comment and “I” will do my best to straighten it out. And that is the WIIFM for reading this blog. The better you understand the writing process, the more effective your blogging will be.