As every professional politician and public relations man knows words have the power to entice, persuade and motivate people into a specific course of action.
There are certain words that I refer to as "Power Words" that I learned, back in the dawn of time, when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth.
For example, if I say to my daughter "clean up your room please" I get a totally different reaction than when I say "clean up your room NOW", even if both phrases are spoken in the same tone. When I use the word now, I know that she will clean up the mess, and that I have at least a 50-50 chance that she will do an adequate job.
My first exposure to this "Power" was at the hands of one of my mentors, now long-since dead, sad to say, who told me a story.
It seems that a trucker pulled into a roadside cafe in Amarillo, Texas and said to the waitress " There must be a million rabbits out there. I swear I've just squashed a dozen."
Compare the reaction when the story goes: It seems a trucker pulled into a roadside cafe in Amarillo, Texas and said to the waitress " I've just run over a bunny"
In both cases a small change in wording provokes a different reaction.
That's the "Power"of words !!
When used in your advertising material, such words can be almost irresistible. Here are 9 "Power Words" for you to try out.
1...Secret (or little-known) used either alone or together (little-known secrets) are both "Power Words" that appeal to the curiosity of the reader. "What does he know that I don't" Few people blame their lack of success on their own efforts (or lack of effort), so they are comforted by the thought that they are failing because they have been denied vital information.
2...System appeals to the desire for simplicity and lack of real effort required. If someone already has a system in place, "all I have to do is put my name on it and plug it in !!"
3...New (or Improved) appeals to the sense of urgency. If something is NEW then you have to get it fast before everyone else does to maintain your competitive edge. Strangely a laundry product has advertised for many years that it was "New and Improved". It's difficult to see how it could be both, at the same time, but it shows the power that both these words have that the advertiser decided to use them together, as re-inforcement for each other.
4...Power is itself a "Power Word" suggesting that if only the reader had the knowledge that you have, he/she would be able to accomplish anything.
5...Magic is almost interchangeable with power, but it also suggests that an objective can be reached without effort. This appeals to both the lazy (like me) and the impetuous who want to attain their goal immediately.There is a natural tendency to assume that any one who makes his living in Advertising and Promotion must know something that is hidden from the rest of the world. Some arcane formula like "ABRACA- DABRA" or "Open Sesame" that magically transforms them into "gurus" or "prophets", that we must slavishly follow.
6...Immediate, of course suggests that something can be done instantly. This again appeals to the sense of urgency, and has a magic-like ring to it. Why wait - have it NOW !!
7...Insider suggests that the writer has information that cannot be known to the world at large, therefore if you will only pay for this you can attain an edge on the rest of the competition.
8...FREE (note: this often appears as FR~E in ads because of the ISP filters that seem to abound today)this word included in any headline will increase acceptance of your message - but make sure that when you say FR~E that you mean FR~E. If you attempt to charge for something that you have advertised as FR~E, you will lose all credibility.
9...YOU The reader is only interested in the potential benefit that he/she will receive from your product. The old advertising maxim is still valid "Sell the sizzle not the steak". Look carefully at your product and think of all the reasons that I, or anyone else would benefit by owning it.
For example, if you were selling big, gas-guzzling cars, you would stress the comfort, luxury interiors, prestige, reliability and smooth riding capacity of the car.
If you were selling those cars that are so small the driver has to sit with his/her knees against their chin you would stress the fuel economy, zippy sporty ride, cornering and road handling ability of the car, affordable price and ease of parking.
At the end of each sales page, or large ad you should also stress your "guarantee"(oops - another "Power Word - I should have titled this piece 10 Power Words. - Ah well !). You will be accepting payment for your product exclusively through credit cards, and the vendors will reverse any credit to your account, if the customer complains.
It is far better to make a positive "Money Back ( Another Power Word - that makes 11. So sue me, I can't count !!)Guarantee" than to have a negative " I'll give you your money back if you holler loud enough ". If you're going to have to do it anyway get some extra (that makes 12) mileage out of the situation.
I'm sorry that this article ran a little long, but you can consider the last 3 "Power Words" as a bonus (Oh no !! That's 13), make it an added (we can't end on 13 - that's unlucky - make it 14) bonus.
In closing, read as many of the ads that you see on-line as you can. You'll see how experienced marketers use these powerful words to motivate their readers, and perhaps pick up some ideas, that I didn't include.
All the best in your marketing efforts
Martin Cargill gives a FREE mini-course on
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After over 40 years in Direct Marketing, I am trying to come to terms with that "new-fangled" internet. It's a steep learning curve, but I'm getting there. I can offer you the chance to learn from my experience (and mistakes), and the best of the web guest articles and web resources.