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When to Write Business Copy in Second-Person Point of View

Do you want to write business copy in second-person point of view?

Maybe. Then again, maybe you don’t.

Here’s how to think of it…

Creative writing pieces are almost never told in the second-person point of view, as it’s a little weird to be talking directly to readers in a completely made-up and drawn-out scenario. Consider the following:

You move down the hallway, your hands shaking in dread. What will you find behind door number five? You have no idea and, truly, you’d much prefer to keep yourself clueless on the subject.

But the jinn had made such a strong case to do as he said. “Go up the steps, down the hallway and to the last door on your left,” he'd commanded with his long, sharp fingernails against your throat.

At the time, it had seemed like a no-brainer.

Now, you’re not so sure.

Can you imagine reading a whole novel like that? Even a short story could get pretty tedious in second-person point of view.

But a blog post or advertisement copy? Well, that’s a whole different story altogether.

Consider Step 5 from Entrepreneur’s online article “10 Steps to Effective Copywriting”:

5. Focus on "you," not "we." It is essential that you are aware of how you're addressing your customers in your copy… It's essential that you write copy that speaks to your target audience and not at them – and not about you. Therefore, the majority of your copy in any ad or marketing piece should be written in the second person. For example, do you prefer copy that says, “Through our first-rate sales department, we can deliver cars within 24 hours" or "You can drive your new car tomorrow"? While the first copy example focuses on the business, the second example focuses on customers and speaks directly to them. It's more personal, and thus, more effective.

Remember, writing in the second person helps your audience quickly connect the points in your copy to their own lives and allows them to personalize the advertisement or marketing piece. This is how the ad is connected to an individual customer's own life. By writing your copy so it focuses on the customer rather than yourself, the customer can personalize the ad and product you're selling and act accordingly.

That seems to sum it up quite nicely on the advertisement-writing side of the equation. And the blog-writing side reads about the same.

When you write in second person, you’re making it a conversation between you and your readers. You’re saying that they matter.

What kind of reader doesn’t want to feel like he or she matters?

Now, of course, there are plenty of other ways to accomplish that exact same goal. But using second-person point of view is quite possibly the easiest.

Just one word of caution when you go that route… Make every effort not to sound condescending.

Second-person point of view can sometimes come across as talking down to readers when it is so personal. The people in your target audience, unless they’re completely starved for affection, are going to understand on some level that you do not know them.

So try working with generics that most everyone in your core reader base can relate to.

If you’ve got a cooking blog, for example, you might want to say something like, “So you’ve got your new parents-in-law coming over for Thanksgiving dinner? Okay. The first thing you’ll want to do is breathe.”

Or come right out and admit that you don’t know their specific situation. You’re just guessing.

If you’ve got a woodworking blog, that could come out something like one of these:

  • “If you’re looking to build a shelf from scratch…”

  • “Maybe you’re an expert woodworker. Maybe you’re just starting out.”

  • “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working with a buzz saw. Never take your eyes off that blade.”

That way, you’re employing second-person point of view to its absolute best capacity for the absolute best results. No insults included.


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