This may be the most important article you’ll ever read
Marketing professionals understand all too well that the power of carefully chosen words in your headlines and copy cannot be underestimated. Finding the right words to get your brand across can be challenging, where words have to be extremely precise and impactful. But selecting your words carefully can be the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a failed one.
Thankfully, I was a writer long before I became an agency owner or creative director, so I have made it my mission to nurture a passion for carefully chosen words amongst all the members of my team and would like to get you thinking about how to harness the power of language for your next marketing campaign.
1. Avoid over-used words and clichés
Searching for just the right word can be not only rewarding for the wordsmith, but also be rewarded with more powerful marketing collateral that move just the right audience with just the right message. In an article on BusinessWeek.com they pointed out some overused words,
Quality – Way overused and what exactly does it mean? It’s subjective to the situation
Value – This is an overused word, and value is subjective to the purchaser
Service – Let’s face it, no company’s going to claim lousy service
Caring – Caring is obvious – otherwise the company wouldn’t be in business
Integrity – Most people already give the company the benefit of the doubt that they have integrity.
In addition, clichés and idiomatic phrases can be used as long as you put a fresh spin on them. For example, the cliché “old bag” is wonderfully revitalised in this headline for a new range of utility satchels, “Do something with your old bag.”
2. Don’t allow your campaign to get lost in translation
Communication in South African English is not always easy. Our language is a mixture of many other languages, and often people we are communicating with have diverse backgrounds and therefore different understandings of our intended meanings. If you are planning to market your products in another country or language, make sure you understand the cultural system and the language. And better yet, seek the help of a local writer.
3. Use proven, powerful words
To ensure that your marketing copy has not lost its punch, ensure the language you use motivates response and produces results. Try these tips (suggested by Hershell Gordon Lewis one of the world's best-known copywriters) for fine-tuning your marketing copy,
· Use conversational language that builds a rapport for example, thanks instead of thank you.
· Use contractions such as “you’ll love” instead of “you will love” unless you want to add impact and emphasis–“This is not sold in stores” is more impactful than “This isn’t sold in stores”.
· Open with a question. Questions immediately involve the reader. Use a question that requires an affirmative answer. Would you like to save 30%?
· Emphasize the "what."
· Be careful how you use numbers. Using numbers makes an amount seem larger or smaller, or a time longer or shorter.
· Avoid passive, patronizing words. Use active, direct language that doesn’t condescend. Replace endeavour with try, utilize with use. Consider how much weaker “We'll refund the cost of shipping” is compared to “We'll even refund the cost of shipping."
· Be asterisk-free. Avoid making an already sceptical reader more sceptical. If there’s nothing to hide, Lewis suggests putting it in parentheses right in the copy.
Every marketer has their idea of what words are more impactful. The following words seem to have received general agreement of their power,
1. Thanks – Words that convey sincere and honest appreciation do well
2. Free – Use it carefully though, so you don’t sound like a scam
3. Immediate – Consumers want it and they want it now
4. Bonus – Everyone loves one
5. New – Be sure it really is new before using
6. Money – How to get it or save it always appeals
7. Results – I want something that provides results, especially if it’s new
8. Trust – Consumers want to trust your brand
9. Help – Consumers can always use some help
10. Know – When the reader feels like they're learning something not everybody knows, you have impact.
15 Years ago most people had literally stopped reading – let alone writing. The Internet and email communication has changed all that as people have been forced to read and write again. This has resulted in a massive improvement in writing skills with increased practice and access to writing tools – such as dictionary.com – at the click of a button. Marketing professionals, remember to carefully plan your word strategies and make your marketing more impactful than ever before.