The traffic light test: how customer-focused is your copy?

Recently, I received an excellent question from one of my copywriting students.

Thanks, Mai! *waves*


It said:

“Does changing the word ‘we’ to ‘you’ in your copy really have a psychological effect on customers so that they feel we are talking to them?”

To which I answered: YES. Oh so much YES, Mai.

The simple fact is, if you want more customers, you need to start using the word 'you' more.

On your website, in your emails… in all of your marketing communications.

How? Why?

I’ll come to that in just a minute.

But first, how customer-focused is YOUR copy?

Here are some quick ‘n fun tests you can use to find out...

Let's test your website first with this online calculator:


Did you get a good score? Room for improvement, maybe?

Here’s one of mine for comparison:

customer focus.png

Next, let's test one of your emails, a brochure, or any piece of sales copy for that matter.

This one’s called the ‘Traffic Light Test’:


1) Get your copy and circle all the ‘you’ language in green. Things like ‘you’ll’ and ‘your’. This is your customer-focused language.

2) Then do the same for the ‘we’ language but in red. Stuff like ‘we’re’, ‘we’ve, ‘our’ and 'us'. This is your company-focused language.

Now, which colour do you see more of?

✔️ If you see more green… good times! You're on track.

❌ More red? Edit your copy to focus more on your reader.

So why is this such a crucial copy tactic?

Let me explain.

Think back to the time you got saddled next to THAT guy...

You know, the guy who spent the entire evening blathering on about diversifying his crypto portfolio and why algorithmic staking is the future of Bitcoin maximalism.

(Don't get me wrong, I love a good geek out). 

The problem was, he was so engrossed in himself that he didn’t ask you a single question all night.

💤 Boring, right? 💤

And how did that make you feel?

Did you wanna swap numbers and grab a beer with your new bud?


More likely, you couldn’t wait to get away.

The same thing happens when you write copy.

"We're passionate about, we're the best at, we are a trusted, leading provider, we are the number one agency, we are very proud to be an award-winning... blah blah BLAH."

When you’re focused on yourself and how great YOU are.

You leave your reader cold.

And since your goal is to warm up your relationship with them -- to earn their respect and gain their trust... 🤗

Not a good look.

So next time you sit down to write something for your business, try these tests to help you write more customer-focused copy.

You'll draw your readers closer. They'll stick around longer. They'll picture themselves with your product or service…

...And you'll start seeing better results from your copy.

Sound good?


P.S. I'm curious! How did your copy shape up in the tests? Tell me in the comments.