Words That Sell, Guaranteed.
You’ve been invited to receive the exclusive inside scoop on Caroline Hampstead’s best-selling insights on words that sell—for free. See what I did there? Words like “you”, “exclusive”, “best-selling”, and “free” are all psychologically proven to drive customers to action. Other good ones include “new”, “limited edition”, and “going fast.” We copywriters want to believe we can write copy that’s beautiful enough to work without, well, selling out and throwing in a call to action. But advertising is part art, part science. The science part is rooted in the psychology of human behavior, which proves time and time again that, whether we want to or not, we fall for these traps. Put simply, adding that call to action might be the thing that makes the product actually sell.
We must be careful not to overuse these selling words. Like most things in life, it’s all about balance—everything in moderation. We should use our creativity to grab people’s attention, then mix in a bit of psychology in order to persuade them to act. It’s a one-two punch. We must use left-brain thinking and right-brain thinking.
Just as there are tactics proven to work, there are plenty of things to avoid or at least be careful with, namely using exclamation points!!! Which makes me a little sad. But I get it. And the other watchout might seem obvious: be careful when using negatives. I’ve heard this before, but Caroline went on to explain an interesting bit of psychology behind this. Let’s use the example of self-talk. If we tell ourselves, “I must not eat sweets” or “I must stop choosing bad fonts for my reflection slides,” our brain actually fixates on the action and skips the negative modifier. So you’ll remember “eat sweets” and “choose bad fonts”—the opposite of what you’re trying to tell yourself. Turns out, there’s actually science backing the whole positive affirmation thing—try telling yourself, “I will eat healthy” or “I will make Ian proud with my font choice,” and watch the magic of manifestation happen.
While some of these selling words might feel icky to use, they’re unlikely to ruin your work. And remember, we’re in the business of selling. Customers want to feel like you are solving their problems, or adding to their pleasure. Like you are giving them something specifically for their needs. That’s why “you” has long been heralded as the #1 word that sells. I find using “you” really helps make sure your copy tells a story, to make sure it’s human. Because when we write to “you”, we’re speaking to someone vs. “the customer.”
In college, I studied cognitive science. I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior and why we do the things we do. If you’re curious at all about psychology, advertising might be the right fit for you. We’re here to sell things, sure, but to do that we need to know what people want, what will drive them to take action. Doing that well comes from having an understanding of human behavior. I also happen to find it endlessly interesting, so I think I’m going to like this gig.