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What a Difference a Word Makes

Whether it's on social media platforms, your website, in emails, ad campaigns, or even in person, effectively communicating who your company is and what it does is what want to convey to your audience, right? So, choosing the right words can have a big impact on your audience's reactions. Inc magazine cautions, "Emotions play a major role...Never lose sight of how potential customers want to feel: Safer, healthier, smarter, more attractive…."

In 2017, The Huffington Post did a piece about persuasive words every sales rep should know. The article sites a 2012 study by social psychologist, Ellen Langer. The idea was to see which of three differently worded scripts would get the best response. The study participants went on-site to companies and were tasked with approaching office staff in the copy room with a request.

Here are the three scripts and the results:

1. “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine?”

• 60% responded positively.

2. “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?"

• 93% positive responded positively.

3. “Excuse me, I'm in a rush. Can I please use the xerox machine?"

• 94% allowed the study participant to make copies first.

Langer said, "If a reason was presented to the subject, he or she would be more likely to comply than if no reason was presented, even if the reason conveyed no information. The single word because made all the difference."

Apparently, using the word FREE always works out better than a discounted price, according to a test done by the University of Minnesota. They used two different offers to sell hand lotion changing the wording for each to see which sold more units. Each bottle of lotion was exactly the same, ounces, scent, etc. only the wording on the package differed.

Version 1 lotion bottle: Packaging had the verbiage: Bonus! 50% more free.

Version 2 lotion bottle: Packaging said 33% discount.

Version 1 sold 73% more than Version 2. Why? Because of the use of the word free. It could also have been the perception on the part of the consumer that they were getting something for nothing that was more enticing. Maybe using the word SAVE instead of DISCOUNT would have worked better - maybe not. Crafting effective copy can be as simple as changing one word.

What words have you found to work to your business's benefit?


Salty Red Dog Marketing, LLC is a marketing agency in Westport, Connecticut, and Red Bank, New Jersey. We service businesses with marketing strategies, digital marketing, social media, and consultations.

Contact: Phone: (203) 429-9671

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