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Clever copywriters accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…

As far as copywriting that drives conversions is concerned, the old song is true. Clever copywriters accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives. And they litter copy with positive words to sell that product or service.

Why do clever copywriters believe positive words work so well?

Clever copywriters know that most readers scan copy before they decide to read it through. And if readers pick up on negative words such as ‘no’, ‘nothing’, ‘can’t’ or ‘won’t’ they’ll decide to give it a miss. Even if those words are contained within such phrases as ‘no finer product’, ‘you can’t lose’ or ‘you’ve nothing to lose’. Clever copywriters also know that positive words make the copy seem friendlier and more pleasurable to read. That’s because each word you choose has a subconscious effect on your readers. Negative words can eat into the effect of your copy like little drops of acid eating into a polished surface. Don’t believe me? Well did that analogy feel good to you when you read it? Surprisingly, positive words also make copy easier to understand.

Clever copywriters tell the target market what they can have, not what they’ll avoid

While US politicians can make dissing the competition work for them, it doesn’t work for copy that has to sell. So clever copywriters tell people what the product is, rather than what it isn’t. This has the added bonus of getting them to focus on words that describe benefits more succinctly and accurately. So instead of ‘stop losing staff’, they might say ‘retain your best staff’.

Clever copywriters know that negatives sneak in where you least expect them

A vigilant copywriter knows that negative words can sneak in to your brochures and websites in other ways too. How about instructions on forms etc? Are yours couched in the positive? e.g. ‘register now to comment on this article’, rather than ‘you cannot comment without registering first’ or even worse ‘you cannot comment because you haven’t registered’. A good copywriter will search out positive words to describe things e.g. ‘simple to install’, rather than ‘not difficult to install’.

A clever copywriter’s list of negative words that appear neutral

There are some words that appear innocent enough, but which your target audience will tend to perceive as negatives, and which will put them off. They are:

  • sell – people don’t like to be sold to
  • cost – reminds them they’ll be paying out for this item
  • pay – too blunt! ‘Available for’ or ‘invest’ is better
  • problem – a negative which you don’t want the customer to dwell on.
  • cheaper – has connotations of ‘cheap and nasty’. ‘More economical’ works better.
  • monthly fee – feels like a monthly imposition. Far better to say £ per month.
  • buy – again reminds customers that they’ll be paying. ‘Own’ or ‘reserve’ can work better.
  • learn – very patronising. ‘Discover’ is much more exciting and implies the power lies with the reader.
  • deal – again very salesy. ‘Opportunity’ can work here.

There are some instances in which you have to use them, but keep these to a minimum.

 

If you’d like help creating positive copy for your marketing collateral give Oxygen a call on 0845 2606 255. We’ll be happy to help.

 

 

Steve Lodge: Steve trained as a NCTJ journalist and is an experienced copywriter. He has over 15 years in agency, and started Oxygen in 2002.