Here are some techniques that can put you face-to-face, sipping coffee over a cozy table with your reader, instead of you being high up in a cold corporate tower looking down at your nameless subjects.
Start by reviewing your marketing materials, form letters and other communications (both internal and external) to see if you refer to your company in the third person. For example, “XYZ Company thanks you for your business.” “XYZ Company is pleased to introduce a new product…”
Check also to see if you use third person ― like, “customers,” “clients,” or “employees” ― to refer to your reader. Using third person removes the warmth and comfort level from any conversation. Here’s how you can fix these problems in your communications:
Use “we,” “us,” and “our” instead
First person pronouns like “we,” “us,” and “our” help the reader visualize people instead of a corporate institution. It’s warmer and more comfortable.
Trust your readers’ intelligence. Your company logo announces who you are to the reader. So, when they see your company logo, they’ll know exactly what “we” means.
Take it a step further with “I,” “me,” and “my”
See if a real person (supervisor, manager, or owner) can represent the company. When the reader sees “I,” he can connect it with a name at the bottom of a letter to feel as though he’s having a personal conversation with the company’s representative. It gives him hope that someone is listening to his problem and giving him personal attention.
If anyone at the company had worked on, or will work on a problem for a customer, then that same person should sign the letter, saying “Call me with questions,” or “I will do this,” to follow up on the situation. Even sales letters should refer to “I” the sale rep or owner.
Say “you” when referring to your reader
Second person pronouns help you speak TO your reader, instead of ABOUT him. Say “you” and “your” instead of “member” or “customer.” Not only are you humanizing your company, it shows you see your reader as an individual as well.
Make sure “you” outweighs “we”
Count the number of times you say “you/your” and the number of times you say “we/us/our/I.” If your quantity of references to “we” is greater, then turn those sentences around to make it about “you” the reader. For example, instead of saying, “We give you,” change it to, “You get.” Try, especially, to include “you” references in the beginning of the document and in your headlines.
First and second person pronouns can add warmth and personality to any communication. Check your brochures, letters, emails and more to see how you can improve them. Need help? Give us a call!
Jeanette Juryea is President of QubComm, your Corporate Communications department in the virtual Qubicle next door. Send an email to Jeanette@qubcomm.com for professional writing, editing and design services from award-winning writers. You can also ask about writer training, brand/style guide development, existing communications analysis and more.