Words Create Meaning, Tell a Story and Influence Action
Have you ever stopped to think about what lead you to click on a link?
It may have seemed like the most natural thing in the world. And yet something captured your attention and drew you in. There is a very good chance that you were influenced by the complex array of symbols contained on the previous page. I use the word symbols instead of words because it is important to understand that not all the languages we use and interact with are linguistic or word based languages. Many potent symbols are based on concepts such as numbers, colors or symmetry, the way shapes and graphics are aligned together. All of these together form the landing page that you just happened on and decided to click. For the purposes of this article, I am going to skip past the symbolic language of numbers, colors and symmetry, though it is important to remember that when it comes to designing effectively influential content, considering these elements can be just as important as finding the right words to embed in your copy.
Pain or Gain?
In many cases, if we analyze the words and linguistic patterns of the most effective written sales or marketing focused copy, we will see that great efforts have been taken to appeal to human interest. First and foremost, we are influenced by the things that are important to us. Now depending on the situation, specific individuals, based on their unique psychological makeup and history are more likely to be influenced by the language of “pain” or “gain”. Another way to look at this is some people are more attuned to copy which motivates them to attain goals and others are more geared towards copy that motivates them to be able to solve problems. The absolute best sales dialogues and written copy will harness both of these ideals and will present the ideas contained within them as “goals and benefits” and/or “problems in need of solutions”.
Similarly, understanding different personality styles can help you to decide whether you support your ideas with clearly verifiable evidence, supportive and relatable testimonials, or gentle but firm peer pressure. For some people, making a choice and being influenced is guided more by logic. These people are really motivated first and foremost by the presence of clearly verifiable evidence. If you can present to them either “‘goals and benefits” or “problems in need of solution” supported by factual documentation which builds the logical basis for your ideas, they will be guided to act. Others, being more influenced by the connections between ideas will more readily gravitate towards either supportive testimonials or divisive peer pressure. Both the testimonials and peer pressure appeal to the emotions. They are influential for different reasons and will work best with different people depending, again, on their specific psychology.
Success in marketing comes from designing appeals which are able to touch on all of these areas at once. That means recognizing that your customers are complex and nuanced. They may fit into clear demographic groups and fit into certain generalizable patterns of interest and behavior but at the same time, each and every one of them is a unique constellation of their own experience and bias. Just as there are people who will be more influenced by hard facts, numeric charts and ironclad logic, there are others who will gravitate towards relatable and personal reflections, color choices and the use of dramatic and emotional language. When you speak to both of these people with the same piece of content, you convert at a much higher rate than if you simply focus on only one type of language or the one that you personally gravitate towards naturally.
Invigorate, Motivate, Instigate
This brings up an unrelated though really important point when it comes to designing marketing copy. Advertisers have long known that testing their ideas on various audiences is key to discovering the best formulas for success. Sometimes you can’t simply go with the language that comes most naturally to you or even your team. It is very easy to get focused on the idea that you or your group are doing everything right. You might be but then again, you might not be. Having a diverse group of people from various backgrounds in regards to academic areas of study and socioeconomics can be hugely helpful with coming up with truly influential and innovative ideas. Nonetheless, don’t disregard the potential for the members of your team to fall into “groupthink”.
Groupthink is a psychological concept which describes the way people in groups or teams sometimes narrow their focus over time so as to consistently reaffirm the group’s values. It is a real danger within any group that frequently interacts together and has established various norms and guidelines for its behavior and output together. In essence groupthink leads to everyone thinking the same and worse, being afraid to express anything which goes against the prevailing views of the group.Thinking about this concept can be useful when you consider processing feedback around marketing copy.
Are you choosing the best language or are you choosing the safest language?
Are you designing marketing copy which appeals to multiple personality types or just the way you think?
Are you willing to take chances and test your results rigorously?
Learning how to harness the magical power of words is a true, lifelong endeavor. Like any art, refinement comes only through practice and repetition. The first step towards true mastery comes from taking a personal inventory and being open to discover the language patterns you use on a daily basis. The more you know about your own personality and the way words influence you, the more you can use your talents to design sales language which influences behavior and generates the outcomes you want. Never discount an opportunity to learn about what motivates your customers. Always consider designing language and content which appeals to the multiplicity of personality.