The Art of Copywriting: Be Positive

Writing effective copy can get you far in the marketing world. The art of copywriting is something that can be taught, though some people are born with a natural ability to use the written word. If you’re not one of those people, do not despair. That is why I am writing this series of posts.

Two weeks ago I wrote about ad copy readability, noting that the key to writing good copy is to write to know who’ll be reading it.

The second thing to think about, and the topic of this follow up post, is the language that you use. This will apply to copy everywhere (your website, ads, landing pages, promotional materials, and even in language your customer service or sales staff uses in emails and on the phone).

Marketing communications is all about the message you are sending through every channel of communication between the business and consumers. And in order to ensure a consistent, and effective message, its best to keep it positive.

The copy in your ads and on your website is meant to do one thing, sell your product or service. In some cases, you can use emotion to sell something. In others, you can use strong and detailed facts. It depends on the nature of your product and the customer’s mind set at the time they’re ready to buy. And even though there are companies that tend to use negative language to scare people into purchasing their services, it’s a risky practice.

Some examples of negative selling are when a company takes something negative about one of their competitors, and uses it as a way to market themselves. Political marketing is more and more negative with each passing day.

Positive language, which highlights the good in a product and builds on positive emotions to create demand is much more effective in a consumer market. It has a greater ability to leave people satisfied with their purchasing decision, and is more likely to be shared with friends and family members of those that see it.

The following is taken from the Wikipedia entry for “Broaden-and-build”:

The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions suggests that positive emotions (viz. enjoyment/happiness/joy, and perhaps interest/anticipation) broaden one's awareness and encourage novel, varied, and exploratory thoughts and actions. Over time, this broadened behavioral repertoire builds skills and resources. For example, curiosity about a landscape becomes valuable navigational knowledge; pleasant interactions with a stranger become a supportive friendship; aimless physical play becomes exercise and physical excellence. This is in contrast to negative emotions, which prompt narrow, immediate survival-oriented behaviors

It’s a good idea to re-read something you have just written and ask yourself periodically, “What emotion does this line or this paragraph induce?”

Here are some examples of using positive language:

  • Use words with a positive connotation, such as “success”, “freedom”, “helpful”, “safe”, and “easy”
  • Be personal and informal
  • Tell people how much better their life will be after they purchase from you
  • Use numbers and facts that support your messaging and give it more credibility
  • Use testimonials from happy customers
  • Make yourself available – convey that you’re there to help and easy to get a hold of