Words have power, especially those that persuade and provoke. A single word can cause so much happiness or sadness. It can even start wars, or in the positive side – reconciliation. The world of marketing though is where these words are often discovered, used to their fullest, and even stretched to their breaking points. These words are used to sell, to attract an audience, and many more. Yet, a lot of times these so-called powerful words fail to deliver. Is the fault on the words itself, or is it the usage? But most importantly, which words?
Marketers had been stringing words to persuade customers to buy their wares since time immemorial. And even in everyday life, there are words that can give you the upper hand in just any situation.
Free evokes many emotions but when used in a marketing campaign, interest or even excitement comes in the fore. Everyone loves freebies after all. The use of this power word becomes more effective when there’s no “but” that comes after. Even if there’s no obvious catch, some people are very good in perceiving hints of deception like hidden charges or phishing acts.
The word “new” creates a sense of anticipation for acquisition. “I want something new,” may be a familiar thought for women browsing on catalogues. And in the age of fast paced information transfer, the acquisition of new knowledge before others creates a sense of pride. That “something new” should be good enough for someone to want it, though. The concept of buying and receiving something new entails that the new item should be better or bigger than the last or its magic would be lost.
We give reasons all the time: reasons why we were late, absent, or not paying attention. “Because” may sound like not powerful enough to persuade people. This is especially true if you grew up instinctively saying the word the moment there’s a need to reason out or defend yourself. It’s actually the reasons that go after “because” that boosts its persuasion power. “Because it’s cool.” Okay, this something is cool. So what? “Because you need it – badly.” That statement made you rethink your choices didn’t you? The right reasoning can persuade the right person especially if shows definitive cause and effect.
This word evokes abstract thinking. Its power relies on the effectiveness of the visual scene that you want the reader to visualize. “Imagine being excited for your trip only to be caught in traffic.” Well, no stretch of the imagination is needed since this could be anyone’s reality right now. Plus, the negative imagery may overshadow the message you are trying to convey. Asking someone to imagine something calls for another state of thinking governed mostly by subconscious preferences. “Imagine the rush of the wind on your face as you go to the trip you planned.” Positive imagery causes people to imagine more positive things, something like looking pretty while the wind rushes in their faces while negative imagery only transports them into a negative place.
A person giving out instructions should possess a certain amount of credibility in order for someone to follow. “This is how you should do it,” evokes a sense of complexity and you can just imagine that there’s some diagram (or maze) making involved. “This is how to do it.” The subtle difference somehow paints a different picture on how the instruction is given out. “How to” removes any vagueness; you are not given any conceptual frameworks, rather you are given a demonstration on how it’s done right then and there. You are persuaded to do something.
Instant gratification – we love that. It evokes the same thoughts and emotions as the word “now” especially if it refers to acquiring or experiencing something. “Instant results, no signup required.” It’s a done deal then. Who wants to wait? The offer of something instant also increases someone’s perceived efficiency and credibility. If a company can offer an instant solution to something that other companies spend a considerable time solving, you can’t help but think that the other companies could be doing something wrong in the process. It’s a matter of perception.
“Yes, you – I want you!” The feeling of being singled out in public may not be all positive (especially with the pointing). But addressing someone while trying to persuade them of something gives off a feeling of personalization. It’s like you are sitting them down and personally explaining things to them. Persuasion can be subtle but still direct.
Before you use these words on an ad copy, article or any other persuasion campaign, there are a few things you need to remember:
- Proper placement plays a big role in the effectiveness of these powerful words. Words like “Free”, “New”, “How to”, and “Instant” are most effective when used in headings, subheadings, and CTA buttons. Other power words can be used within paragraphs.
- Context is important. Power words can’t just be placed on a title to add impact.
- Do not over-use powerful words. Aside from looking spammy, power words can actually give the opposite effect once overused or misused.
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