Words matter when it comes to marketing. Even in situations where it seems like two words mean the same thing, they can actually have very different connotations for consumers.
You have a very short amount of time, and often an even shorter number of characters, to get a message across to your customers. If, for instance, you’re putting together a Facebook ad for your company’s new offering, you have to make every single word count. So choose your words carefully.
There are several different types of powerful words you can use to really drive your brand’s message home and evoke certain emotions from consumers. Here are some examples of ways you can use word psychology to improve your brand messages.
One of the best things you can do when creating copy for your brand is to put things in terms of “you” instead of “I” or “we.” In other words, speak directly to your customers about what they can gain from doing business with you, rather than explaining what your business does.
Amazon does a great job of wording its copy with the customer in mind. If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper or Prime member, for example, you’ll find “Recommendations For You” on their home page. We all know that Amazon has many different product categories, and there are likely certain ones that their marketing or sales department would like to really push. But customers don’t care what Amazon wants. They only care about Amazon when it comes to what the company can provide for them.
So instead of saying “New in Books,” Amazon makes it all about YOU—the customer. And that’s certainly more likely of interest than an ad for whatever product Amazon would like to move on any particular day.
There are also words like “free” and “discount” that naturally resonate with customers because they automatically make a purchase look more attractive. While any words that describe some kind of promotion or discount can relay to customers that they’re getting a great deal, nothing is quite as powerful as “free.”
As an example, e-commerce companies like Wayfair often use free shipping as a way of enticing customers. The company could easily just charge slightly lower prices and make customers pay for shipping instead. But that “free” word holds power.
Some words may do a great job of conveying your message to customers, but don’t really do much to convince them to take action. That’s where phrases like “limited time” or “don’t miss out” come in. In fact, fear of missing out (colloquially known as FOMO) has become a wildly popular concept for advertisers to tap into.
For example, popular music streaming service Spotify offers weekly playlists for its active listeners based on their specific tastes and listening habits. The company could easily just create one personalized playlist and update it every so often. But instead, each playlist is only accessible for one week. Then it’s gone. Spotify is able to encourage users to access their Spotify Discover Weekly playlists based on that fear that they’ll miss out on something great if they don’t.
If you’re offering a deal specifically to your best customers or to a select number of people, you can use words like “exclusive,” “select,” and “limited” to make an opportunity seem more special. When customers feel like they are valued enough to be granted access to products and services that the average consumer doesn’t, they may be more likely to purchase. There are also businesses that create membership programs for customers as a way of playing up that feeling of exclusivity.
American Express is an example of one company that successfully uses this tactic. “Membership has its privileges” and “Are you a Card Member?” are some of its most popular taglines. This creates a sense of exclusivity and success. People hear that and want to be a part of it.
You can also carefully select words that make your brand stand out, either against the competition or to a specific type of consumer. For example, “proven” is a powerful word that can make your brand seem more reliable or trustworthy than others in your industry. Depending on the way you’d like to appeal to customers, there are several different ways you can use careful wording to position your brand.
For instance, Coca-Cola used to call itself the “Official Soft Drink of Summer.” Is there an official governing body that decides which carbonated beverage gets to represent summer? No. But by using these words, Coca-Cola paints itself as the only real choice for families who want to enjoy some fun in the sun. It positioned itself as the real summer brand, which makes its competitors seem like impostors by default. Through the years, the company has also used slogans like “America’s Real Choice” and “Coca-Cola… Real.” Each of these contribute to the same basic message—that Coca-Cola is the only real choice when you want to drink a soda.
No matter how great or powerful your message, it won’t make any difference for your business if people don’t remember who said it. For that reason, some of the most powerful and important words you can include are your own brand name and, if you have one, a tagline or slogan that people automatically associate with your brand.
An APA study cited a car commercial that features a famous model. But even though the ad gained a lot of attention, it wasn’t effective for the brand for one simple reason: Viewers didn’t remember the car. It was a commercial for a car, but people only remembered the model. So while your messages and your words are important, you also have to bring everything back to your brand in a way that people will actually remember.
While there are several words and phrases that can make a big, positive impact on your messaging, there are some that might not work quite as well. For example, you might think that using adjectives like “revolutionary” or “life-changing” can provide powerful emphasis. But consumers have grown wary of words like these, since they’re used so often by companies that have no ability to back up those claims.
Spend time watching late-night infomercials and you’ll see plenty of these claims. But there isn’t a benchmark or set of standards that make something “revolutionary” or “life-changing.” Whereas customers know exactly what “free” means, using hyperbolic descriptions in your copy won’t necessarily mean anything to your customers unless you can prove those words, in this case, are true.
So what does all of this mean for you? If you’re creating sales, advertising, or marketing copy, be deliberate with your word choices to ensure that they’ll garner the reactions you’re looking for from consumers. As you can see, there are several different tactics you can use to write powerful, convincing marketing messages. You just have to carefully consider the goals of your pitch, meeting, or campaign and then select the words that are most likely to have that kind of impact.