Getting Personal with Your Writing

The word 'YOU' in neon lights

It’s easy to get cynical. We all write for process. And, the world is littered with agencies who perform this function for clients to the very best of their process capabilities.

Even with the best of intentions, it happens…

Work volumes, aspirations blunted, bottom line and time can – and do – squeeze the life out of copy and content. If you’re not careful it’s process that becomes the defining quality, slowly creeping up on you before dominating the agenda – just like Christmas.

The real colour of Mulberry is always there  

If you haven’t been here in a while you will have noticed the new branding. Like everyone else it’s good to change the décor once in a while, however, Mulberry’s commitment to – Making B2B Personal – is no fresh lick of paint.

It’s simply a reflection of our history, our innate way of doing business – just made more explicit; even perhaps to those clients who have been on the receiving end over the years but couldn’t put their finger on why they stayed. There is a school of thought that says when an approach is undetectable the sense of success is greater. But, as ever, things are not this simple.

An agency that adopts a ‘this year’s model’ approach is not always the best choice to explain complexity, to establish continuity, or for creativity – which finds itself shoehorned into a box which might not be appropriate in delivering the best results.

Matthew Howells, our International Client Director, explains: “When you are closely partnering with multi-national companies who are launching new brand innovations into key global territories using a number of diverse channels – or in profiling multi-dimensional personalities for thought leadership purposes – our personal approach provides the requisite flexibility and insight. It is distinctive, discerning and goes deep to creatively convey what is unique about our clients.”

While many other agencies relentlessly change their ‘miracle ingredient’ every year in the hope of attracting new clients, Mulberry is building strategically on its position of strength: on what has been, what still exists and what will inform the future – when too often strategic is simply applied to fuel the convenience of process.

Have I ever told you?

Writing is always about getting personal. Writing for people never goes out of date.

Claiming to have discovered a unique new approach, such as the relentless piggybacking on telling stories, is disingenuous. If your writing doesn’t connect on a human level you are locking yourself into an ever-decreasing circle where process ultimately triumphs.

Writing should always be like approaching a date. Not clumsy and nervous like a first date, but respectful, attentive, retaining the excitement of that phase when you find out all the important details of that significant other – while committing yourself to maintaining the relationship at these heights.

It’s all about – You

The most explicit way to get personal is to use the second person pronoun.

Second person puts the customer first.

When writing for a potential customer the approach is – Let’s talk about you and your problems; you’re the special one in this relationship.

However, be careful not to overdo this. Arbitrary overuse can become accusatory rather than inclusive. Arbitrary is part of the process family and never gripped or engaged anyone. Too many second person pronouns and recipients are less likely to be onside; and you risk the reaction – How would you know what I want!?

We feel your pain

Second person pronouns are not an excuse for the over-familiar either. Use too many to what is often a name on a marketing list and you risk being viewed as needy, creepy or obsessional.

A balance is required. This comes from how you initially define the specific style and tone. It comes from experience – being able to judge whether the words are in the right place. It’s also about feel.

You will find solutions online that suggest ratios/percentages and define formulas, and more processes; or explicit numbers for pronoun use that echo SEO, but ultimately it’s about what you feel comfortable with using. Technology plays its part. The immediacy and seeming instant access of technology can promote a tendency for too much, too soon that needs resisting.

Worst of all you succumb to the compromise that speaks neither to process or people.

Using the second person pronoun is not a universal salve. It’s a writing hack that adds some personal drama and recognition to what is fundamentally an explanation of features, risks and benefits.

If what you have written comes across as instruction or command you are not going in the right direction.

Up close and personal

You get up close by knowing/going deep into what makes your clients tick – and personal when applying it to the pain points of their potential customers.

So don’t overburden your copy, and to avoid crossing the line, always – READ IT.

If you’re happy then your client is more likely to say – You’re my reason to carry on.

But if you overdo it, you are more likely to be told – We don’t talk anymore…

Nothing personal, you do understand?