Which of these two sentences are you more excited about?

  • Marketers can win a lifetime supply of chocolate.
  • You can win a lifetime supply of chocolate. *

Unless you’re about to start Whole30, you’re probably more jazzed about the second one. Why? It speaks directly to you. It offers up a dream scenario in which you personally have access to decadent treats every day. 

The first sentence is about some random marketers you don’t know. Are you one of them? Do you care?

Only one word changed between the two statements, but the impact of that tweak is tangible. That’s the magic of writing with the right point of view (POV).

Whether you’re a content writer or do-it-all marketer, your choice of POV can significantly influence how relatable, engaging and persuasive your brand’s content feels to its target audience. POV can also affect the clarity of your message and the accuracy of your observations.

But which POV should you write from — and what happens if you switch back and forth? Let’s find out.

* Unfortunately, we haven’t yet found an industry-wide chocolate sweepstakes. But if we do, we’ll let you know — before all those other marketers, of course!

Understanding First-Person, Second-Person and Third-Person POV

In writing, point of view refers to the perspective from which you communicate your message or story. It functions as the lens through which your audience experiences the flow of ideas they’re reading.

In a marketing context, point of view plays an important role in your brand voice. It contributes to your brand’s personality and impacts how your values and messages come across to your audience. 

The two most common POV options for content writing are second-person and third-person POV. However, you may end up sprinkling in some first-person POV when referring to your organization. Here’s a breakdown of all three:

First-Person POV 

You can use first-person POV (“I,” “we”) when referring to yourself or your organization, as well as when speaking as your brand. This POV makes your organization seem more personable and approachable. It helps to humanize your company and build trust with your audience, which can be particularly effective in content related to brand storytelling and customer service. 

Example: “We’re on a mission to transform the e-commerce industry with our eco-friendly packaging solutions.”

Second-Person POV 

You can use second-person POV (“you”) as a direct and personal way to speak to your audience. This perspective makes it feel like you’re sitting across the table from your reader, chatting over coffee. Writing in this more conversational style brings personality and immediacy to your message, which is ideal if you want to teach, advise or persuade your audience. 

Example: “You’ve just found the perfect eco-friendly partner for your packaging needs.”

Third-person POV 

You can use third-person POV (“it,” “they,” “the company”) to add formality and distance between you and your audience. This approach lends your narrative an air of professionalism, objectivity and authority. It’s perfect for analytical reports, case studies and overviews of broader perspectives. It’s also useful for speaking about individuals and entities other than your readers, but you could use it to speak in a more detached way about your organization.

Example: “E-commerce businesses now have access to eco-friendly packaging solutions that meet all of their shipping requirements.”

POV Consistency Is Key

Whether you opt for a direct second-person approach with first-person flair woven in, or a more detached third-person viewpoint, the key is to maintain a uniform perspective throughout your writing. 

Within a given paragraph or section, write with a consistent POV: 

  • Anytime you speak from or about your brand, in either first- or third-person POV.
  • Anytime you speak to or about your reader, in either second- or third-person POV.

By writing with the most suitable POV for each section of copy — and being consistent about your choices throughout the whole piece — you’ll ensure clarity, readability and brand voice alignment. 

How Can You Successfully Combine POVs?

Let’s play around with perspectives to see what kind of tone and style different POV pairings result in.

Here’s an example of what a piece of promotional copy could look like using first-person POV (bolded) when referring to the brand and second-person POV (underlined) when referring to the audience:

We’re on a mission to transform the e-commerce industry with our eco-friendly packaging solutions. By reimagining the way products are wrapped and shipped, we aim to significantly reduce waste and carbon emissions, making online shopping a more sustainable choice for you and your customers. Our approach not only addresses the environmental impact of packaging but also offers a greener, cleaner way for you to connect with your customers.”

Now, here’s the same blurb, rewritten using third-person POV (bolded) when referring to the brand and third-person POV (underlined) when referring to the audience:

EcoShipCo is on a mission to transform the e-commerce industry with its eco-friendly packaging solutions. By reimagining the way products are wrapped and shipped, it aims to significantly reduce waste and carbon emissions, making online shopping a more sustainable choice for e-tailers and shoppers alike. The brand’s approach not only addresses the environmental impact of packaging but also offers a greener, cleaner way for brands to connect with their customers.”

It’s pretty easy to spot the differences:

  • The first example feels warmer and fuzzier. The copy helps establish a relationship between the brand and its audience right away, as if it’s part of an ongoing dialogue. 
  • The second example doesn’t have that same sense of connection and collaboration. Instead, it reads more news-y, as if it’s part of a report written by an impartial outsider. 
  • The former might work well for an “about us” page while the latter may be more suitable for a press release. It all depends on the copy’s context and purpose. 

When you’re crafting your own copy, it’s up to you to determine what style will be the best fit. Choosing the appropriate POV for each section of copy allows you to say exactly what you want with the most impactful and appropriate tone of voice. The decisions you make not only affect how your audience members receive your message but also how they feel and act as a result. 

What Does POV-Switching Look Like?

When you’re in the writing flow, you might accidentally switch POV part-way through a paragraph as your mind wanders in different directions. The change can be so subtle and intuitive that you may not notice the issue at first — especially if the rest of the copy reads well. 

Here’s an example that shifts from third-person (underlined) to second-person (bolded) and back again: 

“A brand color palette is a limited selection of colors that visually represent an organization. These colors appear across all of your promotional materials — from the company’s logo design, website and social grid to your product packaging and brick-and-mortar space.”

If you didn’t know there was an issue, you might breeze through that paragraph just fine. But scale this mistake up to a 1,000-word blog or 30-page report and you can start to see why it can spell trouble.

Why Is Switching POV a Problem in Content Writing?

Aimlessly toggling back and forth between points of view throughout your writing can negatively impact the quality and coherence of your copy. 

Unnecessary POV switches can:

  • Contribute to a choppy, disjointed flow, interrupting your readers’ engagement with the piece.
  • Disrupt the logical presentation of ideas, creating confusion about what or who you’re actually writing about.
  • Dilute your brand voice, weakening the impact and uniqueness of your overall message.
  • Reflect poorly on your writing skills and your brand’s level of authority. 

In the example above, the paragraph’s purpose is to define a concept. Does the reader’s own brand have a place in that sort of definition? Not necessarily.

Thankfully, it’s easy enough to correct the inconsistencies. Revising that paragraph to remove all instances of the second-person “your” results in something like this:

“A brand color palette is a limited selection of colors that visually represent an organization. These colors appear across all of a company’s promotional materials — from its logo design, website and social grid to its product packaging and brick-and-mortar space.”

The fix is pretty subtle, but it results in a clearer and more to-the-point definition. 

Knowing When to Switch POV

POV consistency helps carry the reader through your narrative, but there are moments when shifting your gaze — changing POV — will be necessary because of what you’re writing about.

For instance, you might lay out a study’s findings in third-person POV (“the respondents revealed…”) and then relate those insights directly to the reader using second-person POV (“which means you might see…”). 

This dance between perspectives can help you bridge the gap between empirical evidence and direct application. In other words, it’s a powerful way to make facts, figures and concepts more relatable and impactful for your reader.

Write More Impactful Copy With POV Consistency

Maintaining a consistent point of view in content writing isn’t just about following a set of rules; it’s about expressing your most authentic brand voice to forge a deeper connection with your audience. 

As marketers forge ahead in their content creation efforts, they can elevate their content to engage their readers and inspire action through their words.

(Aghh, see how awkward that sounds?! We won’t make that mistake again. 🙂 And now, neither will you. Happy writing!)