|Powerful Words Everywhere You Look In This Magazine Cover|
They often say, it's always the ones you least suspect, but in the case of the most powerful words, that certainly isn't true. These words appear everywhere in graphic design, marketing, branding and promotional material, with magazine covers particularly guilty. Throughout this article, magazine covers are used to show the most powerful words in action. In each example the powerful word under discussion is circled, although you will notice numerous powerful words in some covers. The example above has 7 of them in the one cover! At any time click on an image to view it full size. And now to the most powerful words...
You'YOU' is the most powerful word in advertising for a reason - it's personal. "Let's talk about you", let's be honest, when it comes to you, you're all ears. If I make a promise to make people rich, you may be interested. If I promise to make 'YOU' rich, it becomes a different story. You is a word that must be used when talking to your customers, because that's who you're addressing. And when you do that, you're talking about a person's favourite subject. It's so powerful, many writers (especially in direct response) will not use a headline unless it has you in the title. Personally, I wouldn't go that far, but you is definitely something that 'YOU' should always consider. See examples below where the key word is circled.
DiscoverThis one is a prompt that advertisers use to say, "You're going to get something out of this, it's worth your time to keep reading." Or when it comes to product packaging, it indicates the product is worth checking out. Discover is a promise of something more to come. Like unwrapping a gift on your birthday, discoveries always bring a sense of excitement and adventure. And any time you evoke those fond childhood feelings, you're on to a winner. Personally I am nuts about adventure, excitement, new things. If the reader is too, the word Discover may work wonders. See examples below where the key word is circled.
ResultsAnother word used in the headline of this piece, results is a word that also means success. And this word is powerful because it's a promise that helps you rationalise the purchase. "Oh, well if this gets results, it must be worth it." If you "guarantee results" you've just upped the ante. We all want results, whether it's from a household cleaner, our bank manager or the President of the USA. If they deliver, you feel satisfied. If they don't, well, don't expect re-election. I suppose this is powerful because everyone wants results. Perhaps this is better in a back-to-back context? See examples below where the key word is circled.
'Save' or 'Saving' is an all time classic. And I think this one will work years after I have gone to my maker. Hands up if you don't want to save time or money... Exactly. Saving money is something that 99% of us want to do. Even the richest of the rich want deals, they just get them on more expensive purchases. If you can genuinely promise to save someone some money, you'd be foolish not to point this out. Of course, HOW you talk about it is just as important as what you're talking about. Do it wrong, and you will come across as either a pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap merchant, or untrustworthy. And as for saving time, well, time is money, which brings us right back to something we all want to save. See examples below where the key word is circled.
HealthEspecially powerful when it applies to a product. This is used a lot these days, and not just when talking about physical health. Perhaps the most commonly-used variation is "improve your financial health", and it works because we all know what good health is. If you can make a promise of good health, be it in a food, service or something else, you are doing well. But again, don't abuse the word. It is said to be especially powerful when it applies to a product or solution. Health is mostly effective against certain target markets. See examples below where the key word is circled.
NewIf I haven't heard about it before, never seen before, it's exciting! We all want new, even if it's not really all that new in reality. We want the next new phone model (which is why lines for the latest iPhone (see Trends in Mobile) span the block, despite having very few upgrades). We want new cars, new clothes, new shoes, new tastes, new smells, and we're willing to pay for it. Personally, I think NEW should be higher up on the list. It's a very powerful word that you will see in advertisements and promotions on a daily, if not hourly, basis from recipes to technology. See examples below where the key word is circled.
ProvenWhen selling anything, the word proven is a powerful one. It gives reassurance, nobody wants to be the guinea pig. Using the word proven in your marketing copy is proven to be effective! When you have a brand new product, not a new version of an existing product, there's a bump that you need to get over. It's basically "buyer beware," because the customer is dealing with an unknown. They can wait to see what the reviews on the product or service are, or they can ask friends and relatives. But one way to get over this bump is to provide the proof yourself. For instance, a famous cat food brand often used "8 out of 10 cat owners who expressed a preference said their cats preferred it". Wow, 8 out of 10. Must be good, it's proven. I'll try it. As Seen On TV products also do this well, with product demonstrations that prove a point. So, don't just say it. Prove it. See examples below where the key word is circled.
EasyLet's make this experience easy... Easy is better than hard. Who would choose a difficult option when an easier one is available? as long as the price/quality is just as good then easy is always better.
Love/SexThis one has multiple meanings, you can be "in love" with something or you can "love" how well something works or performs. Either way, love is a strong word. But, be careful in its use. It's one thing to say "you're going to love the way it smells" when talking about a perfume. It's quite another to say "you will instantly fall in love with our toilet cleaner". Really? No one falls in love with a toilet cleaner. Remember, love may work well, but don't lay it on too thick. It can scare people away.
There is another word starting with an S, three letters long, that I think is pretty powerful. Sex. But Sex can be come across as being a bit crude, however sexy is more acceptable and just as effective? Everyone wants to feel or be perceived as sexy. Play into that weakness and make it about them. See examples below where the key word is circled.