And so they should be.

You should be writing for them. Not you. Your reader matters most.

Forget the ‘messages’ you want to include in your materials and proposals about the product, readers don’t care about messages. They only care about themselves.

They want to know how their life is going to be improved, changed or made more enjoyable if they approve, possess or participate in what you’re offering.

It comes down to WIFM: What’s in it for me?

Make it about them, not you.

Thankfully, there are ways to help you do it, every time. There’s a writing formula that helps make sure you’re always writing about your reader.

The formula is a simple ratio of reader to writer mentions, of 3:1.

It works because it makes the copy all about the reader. You need to interest the reader and explain and prove how the product or service will make their life easier or better. Make the copy about them – their problems, motivations and aspirations. Show how the product/service will take away their issues.

To explain the formula I’ll show you a well-known piece of writing that’s helped persuade millions of people worldwide to part with their cold hard cash. The example I’ve chosen is from a brand that is the master of persuasive copy – ‘enchanting’ its readers – Apple.

Two cameras. And a big hello to FaceTime for iPad.

You’ll see two cameras on iPad — one on the front and one on the back. They may be tiny, but they’re a big deal. They’re designed for FaceTime video calling, and they work together so you can talk to your favourite people and see them smile and laugh back at you.3 The front camera puts you and your friend face-to-face. Switch to the back camera during your video call to share where you are, who you’re with, or what’s going on around you. When you’re not using FaceTime, let the back camera roll if you see something movie-worthy. It’s HD, so whatever you shoot is a mini-masterpiece. And you can take wacky snapshots in Photo Booth. It’s the most fun a face can have.

Source: Apple Website>ipad

134 words

14 x you/your/you’re

4 x product name

14:4 mentions = 3.5:1 reader to writer ratio


In 134 words of copy ‘you’ or ‘your’ appears 14 times. There are only four references to the product/name. That actually comes in at 3.5 reader mentions to every one mention of the product.

The next time you write something, be it marketing copy, an advertisement, a proposal or a cover letter, write to ‘one’ single reader – that special person. Just them.

Imagine them in front of you, not a faceless audience, target or reader. See in your mind just that one person, and write to them with the hope of establishing a relationship.

Aim for 2-3 “you’s” for every “I” (or product mention).

This magic ratio ensures the words will be more about them than you.

And that’s the way it should be.


Try using this formula in your next piece of business writing. Or have you already? What were the results ?


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