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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Master plan destroyed...Choosing the right words...

Well, I had this great idea to write an ebook targeted at corporate CEO's. The planned title was "Revolutionary New Ways to Play to Win."

Then, this morning, I found this advertisement for "Words that Sell." It's a book designed to help copywriters choose their words for optimal effectiveness based upon target demographics. Lo and behold, the advertisement said:

"Copywriting is risky because words that you personally find appealing can have the exact opposite effect on your prospects. For example, you should never ever use the following words when copywriting to typical CEOs:

  • Revolutionary
  • New
  • Play to win"
YIKES! There goes Plan A. Fortunately, I still have that other project targeted at entrepreneurs. I just finished the sales page that has a headline about how my product is a "sophisticated means of creating growth and profitability." That'll get 'em!

Not according to "Words that Sell." Check it out:

"And, you'll definitely lose sales if you use these words in your copywriting to typical entrepreneurial leaders:
  • Growth
  • Profitability
  • Sophisticated"
Plan B is officially off the table, huh?

Okay, enough kidding around. Both Plan A and Plan B are fictional creations designed to illustrate the same point the folks who are offering "Words that Sell" are making. Our word choices trigger different reactions within different target audiences. Selling to streetwise hipsters is going to require different approaches than will peddling to the bald guys at the Board of Directors conference table.

I believe that attentiveness, experience, and research can usually help guide a freelance content writer toward the right word choices. A professional can find the right "voice" and isolate the beneficial triggers. I don't personally own a copy of "Words that Sell," but it's the kind of reading I do regularly and I may just have to order a copy.

I bring this all up because I think the importance of word choice extends past the realm of traditional copywriting and into "straight content" work, too. Every content job is designed to assist a client in reaching specific goals. As such, it's important for the writer to develop an understanding of the buyer's expectations and markets so that the right tone and voice can jump right out of the text. (see: Answering reservations about outsourcing content...lifelessness and Content writing as soft copywriting...Staying on the client's side)

So, if you are looking for content, spend a few moments advising your freelance writer re: your stylistic preferences. If you are a writer, take the initiative to crawl inside the heads of potential readers so that you can better connect with them.

Otherwise, you might as well just go back to Plan A. Or Plan B.