If you are reading this, chances are ...

24 replies
Don't you just hate this phrase ...

"If you are reading this, chances are ..."

... or is it just me?

It strikes me as complete nonsense. Of course I am reading the text! Perhaps people who use this phrase should include some words for those who are not reading their prose. Perhaps ...

If you are not reading this, chances are you haven't started reading yet. So go up to the top and find the drop cap. You know the big letter 'I' and start reading that first sentence. The one that starts, "If you are reading this".

Does text this irritate anyone else?

And, while we are on the subject, what other sentences are there in web copy that you dislike?

</rant off>

Cheers,

Will
#chances #reading
  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

    Don't you just hate this phrase ...

    "If you are reading this, chances are ..."
    Well, I never gave it a thought, but ...
    I hate it now.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mohammad Afaq
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      Well, I never gave it a thought, but ...
      I hate it now.
      Same here, now I'm hating most of the emails in my inbox
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        It still doesn't bother me all by itself. It's just a setup phrase to connect with the audience.

        The only time phrases like this bother me is when they're used clumsily. Woven into a tight story and used properly, I likely wouldn't even notice it.

        If some tries to manipulate me with something this obvious...

        "Chances are, if you are reading this you desperately need to buy my stuff now!!!!"

        It just tells me that someone managed to skim an article on NLP and remember a bullet point.

        The bottom line is, tell a good story and I'll overlook a lot of things. Insult my intelligence, and you're toast.
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  • Profile picture of the author BlazingSwitch
    Nah. I can't say that phrase does.

    You may wanna switch to decaf.
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  • Profile picture of the author theemperor
    I like it - its quite engaging.

    It makes you want to find out what he has to say about you, given he knows you are reading "this"
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    • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
      Originally Posted by theemperor View Post

      I like it - its quite engaging.

      It makes you want to find out what he has to say about you, given he knows you are reading "this"
      But it's complete garbage!

      How could I be not reading it and extracting its meaning?

      Anyway, perhaps I do need that decaf after all.

      Will
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeAmbrosio
        Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

        But it's complete garbage!

        How could I be not reading it and extracting its meaning?

        Anyway, perhaps I do need that decaf after all.

        Will
        One person's garbage....

        It's kinda like that phrase before a sit-com: "Filmed LIVE before a studio audience!"

        Of COURSE the studio audience is live! Why would you shoot in front of a DEAD one!

        (sorry - couldn't resist)
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        • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
          Originally Posted by MikeAmbrosio View Post

          One person's garbage....

          It's kinda like that phrase before a sit-com: "Filmed LIVE before a studio audience!"

          Of COURSE the studio audience is live! Why would you shoot in front of a DEAD one!

          (sorry - couldn't resist)
          Doesn't matter if the audience is live or dead - they filmed the show before they filmed the audience...
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      • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
        Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

        But it's complete garbage!

        How could I be not reading it and extracting its meaning?

        Anyway, perhaps I do need that decaf after all.

        Will
        I still use it from time to time when I write articles. My thinking is that there may be other reasons for somebody reading an article, apart from the obvious topic.

        For example...

        "If you are reading this then chances are you need to train your dog."

        Most people reading it (hence the use of "chances are") probably have a dog that needs training. But, maybe it's not their dog. Or maybe they are thinking of going into the dog training business but have well-behaved dogs. OR...maybe they are reading it to get ideas for their own articles on dog training.

        That being said, I'm not a huge fan of that particular phrase, but after writing 50, 100, 200 articles on the same subject, you have to pepper in a few phrases like that to maintain your sanity.

        All the best,
        Michael

        p.s. I have also used "Since you are reading this, I will assume..."
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        • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
          I wanted to add - I like to be more certain, especially if it's an email. It's not a chance - I KNOW why you're reading, because you got on my list. I appreciate the technique in use, but think if you were more specific and powerful in your approach, you'll connect even better. "Chances are if..." is just very passive.

          Try "You know it I know it. We're here to XYZ." or "You've probably read hundreds of emails like this one - searching, seeking, and FAILING to find what you've been looking for. This ends today."

          If you're trying to call them out and tell them they're in the right place, be firm about it. Because the same people who are NOT interested will still leave. But the ones who ARE interested aren't passive about it. You've grabbed them by the ears and they KNOW what they're reading is for them.
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  • Profile picture of the author ElMundodelExito
    I think it must be from stress, you just have to not be around the people or thing that make you mad and counting to 20 or screaming in your pillow might work . You should try but best thing I can say is stay away from sentences that irritate you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Victoralexon
    If you're reading this, chances are you aren't taking enough action.
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  • Profile picture of the author CurtisN
    Will,

    The statement in question ("if you are reading this") is targeted to you, the reader. That means that if you are reading it, you are most likely their target audience, which means that chances are _____.

    It's not that you aren't reading the text even if you evidently are. Since you evidently are reading it, the conclusion, that you are most likely __________, is probably true, provided you're part of the target audience.

    Curtis
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Theriot
      Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

      But it's complete garbage!

      How could I be not reading it and extracting its meaning?

      Anyway, perhaps I do need that decaf after all.

      Will
      One of the most powerful things you can do as a marketer is call out your audience SPECIFICALLY and diagnose their deepest problems, SPECIFICALLY.

      When you describe the reader, it draws them in and makes them feel the author really KNOWS them. When you follow that up with an accurate diagnosis of a problem that causes them trouble, they will AUTOMATICALLY assume that you know the solution.

      The phrase you're talking about is the laziest, simplest way to do the first half of that equation. If you can't call out your target audience member specifically, the least you can do is get them to say, at least internally, "YES we're talking about ME."

      I don't hate the phrase, but as a writer, I try not to use cliches. As a marketer, I try to be able to more specifically ID my audience.
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      • Profile picture of the author Gail_Curran
        You're missing the point of the phrase. The key element is "this," not "If."
        If you are reading this (as opposed to some other piece of writing), you probably want to know more about [the topic of the article].

        You could substitute "Since" or "Because" for "If." These choices hit a slightly more presumptive tone, but the meaning is similar enough that many people won't notice (or care). "If" is a nice, unassuming word.
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  • Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

    "If you are reading this, chances are ..."
    It's an old copy-writing Jedi mind trick. It seeks to create a link or a bond with the reader, or to stir some emotions within the reader to keep him reading along. Like I say, just a cheap psychological trigger (copy writers are very fond of them).
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Bard
    Reminds me of a time when I was heading into an auto parts store and read the sign outside "Everything and More!".

    I went up to the counter and when I was asked what I wanted I said "I want more".

    "More of what"? the kid behind the counter said while eying me up and down to see if I was holding something that I might want more of.

    "I want to see what is more than everything".

    "It must be pretty big".
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  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    The fact is there are many email subject lines that may personally dirve me nuts but one thing I've learned to do in marketing is to trust the results...

    So, I would not dismiss using any email subject line unless a) It were obviously offensive or would hurt someone or b) Test results showed it was abismal in its response.

    There are two aspects to email marketing that are important...

    1. Getting people to open the email

    2. Getting people to read and take action on your post


    It may be that the subject line you mention will do neither OR it could be that it accomplishes both, do we really know?

    If not, then I would be willing to test it with some solid content relevant to the post.

    Look - if you have a list of 5000 people and what you are writing about is highly relevant to those people, AND the subject line "If you are reading this, chances are... gets them to open and read your email at a rate 1.5 times higher than other subject lines, would you still think it is stupid?

    Jeff
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  • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
    Hey guys - respect to all you copywriters who know your stuff, but come-on, this phrase is just ludicrous.

    Why don't we use, 'If you are not reading this, then it's about time you started'?

    It's about as meaningful imho

    EDIT: Actually, I think the above phrase is even more meaningful. You can at least justify using it as a device for attempting to address the skimmers.

    Will
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  • Profile picture of the author Nick Brighton
    Will, I think the meaning translates to:

    "Due to the fact that you're reading this, I can tell that you are..."

    But it doesn't quite have the punch of...

    "If you're reading this, then I know you want..." etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      "If you are reading this, chances are ..."
      can work well on a site or in an article.

      On a forum it's usually followed by "allow me to draw another inane generalization...."
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  • Profile picture of the author Shannon Herod
    It is called pacing. It is one part of an NLP technique.

    Shannon
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    • Profile picture of the author Ofthemix
      It was compelling enough to make me click on this thread to see what it was about. Even if what's inside isn't interesting, the curiosity factor can usually get someone to click.
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  • Profile picture of the author thewealthywiseman
    "If you are sick and tired of reading this it's time to unsubscribe."
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