Replacing the word "we" with the word "you" in your marketing and sales messaging may create a double-digit improvement in key responses, according to a new simulation-based study performed by Corporate Visions, in collaboration with professor Nick Lee from the Warwick School of Business.
In prospecting emails, using the word "you" instead of "we" increased respondents feeling "personally responsible for solving the problem" by 21 percent. And, it made them feel 13 percent more strongly that they "need to take action to fix that problem."
In solution stories, such as those used on landing pages, in sales flyers or selling presentations, using the word "you" instead of "we" drove an 11 percent "more convincing business case," and a 10 percent increase in "the likelihood of making a purchase decision," according to the responses of the simulation participants.
"As you look for ways to improve your 'personalization approach' in marketing demand generation campaigns and sales tools or conversations, you will want to consider changing the pronouns you use from 'we' to 'you' based on these findings," said Tim Riesterer, chief strategy officer for Corporate Visions.
Most companies, however, use "we-phrasing" today, either to promote their own credibility, such as "we did this, and we do that." Or, they do it to promote collaboration and partnership, such as "we work with companies to do this or do that." In fact, 47 percent of marketing and salespeople in an industry survey also conducted by Corporate Visions said they deliberately take a "we-phrasing" approach compared to 40 percent who said they "you phrase."
The concept of you-phrasing as a replacement for we-phrasing, while slightly obscure, has been around for decades in the academic realms of social psychology and behavioral economics. The premise is that you-phrasing does a better job of unconsciously grabbing attention and transferring ownership to your listener. Getting your would-be buyer to personally "try on" the concepts you are sharing – both the problem and the solution.
"Given how hard it is to create pipeline and close deals, marketers and salespeople should be looking for any advantage you can give yourself. Winning is often finding a small edge or incremental advantage," Riesterer added. "Based on this research, it appears one improvement you can confidently and easily make tomorrow is to replace all of your we-phrasing with you-phrasing."