The Power Of Language
By Jackie Barrie, Copywriter, Trainer & Author At Comms Plus
People queued up to use a photocopier. The experimenters would ask to queue jump. When they asked: 'May I use the copy machine?’ 60% of people let them go first.
When they asked: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the copy machine because I’m in a rush?’ This request coupled with a reason had a 94% success rate.
Surprisingly, when they asked: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the copy machine because I have to make some copies?’ resulted in 93% success.
Just using the word ‘because’ triggered...
...most people into thinking there was a good reason, even when there wasn’t.
Source: Ellen Langer, Harvard social psychologist
So how can this lesson be applied to marketing copy?
Well, you have to give people a reason to take action. If you want them to buy your product or service, you have to give them a reason to want it. If you want them to visit your website, pick up the phone or send you an email, you have to give them a reason to do that.
It’s said that the brain doesn’t process negative words such as ‘not’. What happens when you tell a teenager: “Don’t slam the door!” They slam it, of course. What would happen if you said: “Please close the door quietly”?
Similarly, what happens if you tell a child: “Don’t touch that, it’s hot!” They touch it, and learn by their own mistakes. What would happen if you said: “Leave that alone, it’s hot”?
Positive language is more powerful.
I once received a letter from my doctor that started: ‘Don’t worry, you have not got cancer.’ What??? I hadn’t even known that they were testing me for cancer!!!
So what did I do? Of course, I immediately started worrying.... continued on page two >