If gender stereotypes make you uncomfortable, there’s a good chance you’re going to hate this post.
Because this post is overflowing with gender stereotypes. It’s all about identifying, valuing, and celebrating the feminine.
Today I’m going to talk about the use of words that are traditionally considered “feminine” to spice up your copy. Why would you want to do that?
Well for one thing, whether you know it or not, you’re probably writing for a female audience.
The economic power of women
Women’s buying power has increased tremendously in recent years. Mothers alone account for $1.3 trillion of sales per year. Women either make or influence buying decisions for all sorts of things, from cars to home furniture, from clothing (for the entire family, not just the gals) to electronics.
Even if you’re marketing to what you think of as a “male” market, it can still pay to have a feminine appeal. That dude reading your copy is very likely to have a girlfriend, wife, or mother who’s going to sign off on making that purchase. If he thinks buying your product will make him look dumb in her eyes, he’s a lot less likely to hand over his credit card.
So listen up. Slaying dragons and pumping the testosterone aren’t the only ways to put feeling and excitement into your copy.
The enduring popularity of romance
Where can you find feminine words? Nothing is as feminine as romance fiction, and numbers show women are continuing to lap it up.
As the economic recession raged, do you think women ditched their romance reading habits? Hardly. Romance fiction made $1.37 billion in sales in 2008 and, in fact, had the largest share of the book market (13.5 percent).
To find feminine words that have been proven to sell to women, I mined the titles of the late Barbara Cartland, whom Vogue magazine called “the Queen of Romance.” And for good reason. Cartland sold more than a billion copies of her books. She certainly knew a thing or two about writing purchase-inducing titles.
10 romantic words that sell
Here are 10 unabashedly feminine words that have also been proven to sell.
As John Lennon sang. “All we need is love,” and this word doesn’t only dominate the titles of romance fiction. It’s commonly used in songs as well. Maybe it’s because love is what we’re all longing for. Yes, guys too. Even if you don’t always admit it.
Now becoming synonymous to “love” (e.g., “I heart Copyblogger”), this word is increasingly used to soften traditionally tough topics: “business with a heart,” “writing for the heart,” “selling from the heart.”
As the stereotype would have it, women love to keep, tell and discover secrets. Actually, so does everybody else. This word appears in all the headline swipe files of those (male) copywriting masters.
King, Queen, Princess, Prince (or some other honorable title)
Women are fascinated with royalty. Blame it on fairy tales. But it’s not just women who respond to a market position as the “King,” “Queen,” or “Duke” of your niche.
Temptation and Forbidden
That darned Eve started it all, giving into temptation and making Adam bite the forbidden apple. These are still two irresistible words to make your copy more compelling.
Cloud, Moon, Stars (and other celestial bodies)
These words evoke freedom, creativity, and unlimited possibilities. No wonder women love them.
We use these words to describe ultimate pleasure, goodness and perfection. “How was the spa?” “It was heaven!”
Sweet, mysterious and seductive, a kiss is the ultimate romantic word.
Here’s one word that’s sure to make your heart race — whether you’re male or female. And of course, Richard Branson, a masculine guy if ever there was one, built an entire mega-brand around it.
Magic, Enchanted, Bewitched (and other references to the supernatural)
Our fascination with these words is another result of childhoods molded by fairy tales. The idea of having a fairy godmother to make all our dreams come true and get rid of our evil stepmother is simply irresistible.
Take your magic wand and transform your copy
Here’s the real test. How do romantic words hold up in real-world copy? To find out, I decided to give a romantic makeover to the same copy Ali Hale put a heroic twist to.
Here’s what I came up with:
Plain: “Solve Email Problems”
Heroic: “Battle Your Email Overload”
Romantic: “Love Your Email Inbox Again”
Plain: “Stop Procrastinating”
Heroic: “Defeat Procrastination”
Romantic: “Kiss Procrastination Goodbye”
Plain: “Advice to Help You Do Better”
Heroic: “Advice to Help You Win”
Romantic: “Advice to Make You a Star”
Plain: “Ditch Your Bad Habits”
Heroic: “Conquer Your Bad Habits”
Romantic: “Make Your Bad Habits Disappear Like Magic”
Women’s pockets are growing bigger and deeper. Isn’t it time our copywriting and marketing language caught up?
If your writing is bland, sprinkle a little romance into it. You don’t always have to resort to pumped up, violent imagery to put more zing in your copy. A little romance may be just the flavor your readers are craving.