How the Right Words Help You Sell Better

Lightening

The difference between the almost right word & the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

~ Mark Twain

Are you bringing the lightning with your copy? Or are your words more like a lightning bug, seemingly cool but without the true power of its namesake?

The English language is so rich with vocabulary that you’d be hard-pressed NOT to find the right word for any situation. But there’s a difference between choosing the perfect word and choosing an agonizingly long word just for the sake of sounding important.

Using flashy words like “amazing” and “mind-blowing” in your copy might seem like a great idea on the surface. After all, you want your reader to walk away with those same feelings that you have about your product or service.

But instead of telling them how great it is, your words alone can make them tell you! Here’s how:

Paint the Right Picture in Their Mind

Carefully consider the words you’re using. What kind of impression do you get when you read them? How do they make you feel? Remember, you want your sales letter to appeal to your readers’ emotions and push their persuasive hot buttons. Injecting your copy with “feeling” words like “cozy” instead of small or “colossal” instead of large can instantly produce a vivid picture in your reader’s imagination.

Play on Curiosity to Hold the Reader’s Interest

Does your product have a real-life story or a unique human-interest angle? Are there important facts or trivia tidbits you could include that would make your reader exclaim “Wow, I didn’t know that! I wonder what else I’ll find out…” You might think small pieces like this interjected throughout your copy would be a waste of time – but you’d be surprised to see just how many people appreciate learning about the “human” side of your product or service!

Give Sharp, Concrete Examples

If you find it difficult to play to your readers’ imaginations, you can guide them along by giving them specific examples. Descriptions like these are also perfect for comparing your product to something else. A “cool, rich summertime treat” sounds good, but a “silky, decadent banana cream pie” makes your mouth water. Think about unusual but purposeful things that you could compare your product to and don’t be afraid to plant an image in your reader’s mind!

Make Your Message Easy to Read

One of the most common problems about choosing the right word for your copy is choosing a word or phrase that’s a good match, but incomprehensible –excuse me– impossible to understand. Don’t forget the product or service that’s at the core of your writing and resist the urge to get carried away with creative words and phrases just for the sake of being poetic.

In the end, choosing the right word or phrase for your copy shouldn’t overshadow the very thing you’re trying to promote. Keep the tone easy-to-read, but also feel free to bring the reader along on a journey to help get your point across. You never know where it might take you!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob is a web designer, copywriter, and author of Get Niche Quick. Don’t forget to follow Sherice on Twitter.

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Reader Comments (46)

  1. says

    “The English language is so rich with vocabulary that you’d be hard-pressed NOT to find the right word for any situation. But there’s a difference between choosing the perfect word and choosing an agonizingly long word just for the sake of sounding important.”

    I love this! It’s so true. How often do you read copy and you can practically picture the author sitting there with their thesaurus? All words have powers of varying degree, but deciding on the right incantation to cast your spell can make all the difference in your sorcery.

  2. says

    I’ve never heard that Mark Twain quote before. That’s excellent. :)

    Also, I’m currently pondering whether “lightening” vs. “lightning” in the first paragraph is tongue in cheek or not, hehe.

  3. says

    I am fond of saying this during the lightning lecture in the wilderness medicine classes I teach. “There is no ‘e’ in lightning, but it is electric.”

    Great post.

  4. says

    I believe he also said “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work.” Good to remember.

  5. says

    ObviousInvestor – You caught that! Good for you :) I was afraid it would go right over without getting noticed. I should know better than to second-guess Copyblogger readers though – we’re too smart for that 😀

  6. says

    Great post! I am good at choosing the right words when I’m writing copy, but I do a lot of fiction writing, and this is something I often have a lot of trouble with. I tend to write things that are pretty vague, such as “I was so happy.” I mean, ok, yes, you can understand what “happy” means, but at the same time, it’s not very descriptive. It doesn’t pull the reader in and make them feel what my character is feeling.

    Are there any books, Web sites, etc. you’d recommend for someone looking to increase their vocabulary?

  7. says

    Jennifer,

    Even something as simple as Thesaurus.com can help. I believe they have a “word of the day” that they send by email. Every little bit helps! Also, get a copy of the book “Words that Sell” – it’s a great little storehouse of copy “tidbits” for when you can’t think of the right word.

  8. says

    I am somewhat blessed in this sense, because I am gifted with Autism, meaning that when I hear or think of a word, I see it in my mind as an image. And reading lengths of texts is almost like a movie to me. I do try and reverse this and put it into my writing. Not sure if it actually comes across!

  9. says

    Nice one, Sherice. I’m forever telling my clients to SHOW rather than TELL. Don’t say ‘I’m a great racing driver’, show photos of yourself taking chequered flags! P. :)

  10. says

    Words, glorious words. How wonderful is it to write in English, with all this richness?

    The quote reminds me of a saying in our house, Papa is the thunder but Mama is the lightning.

  11. says

    Great post and so true. I’ve been reading quite a few blogs lately. The ones where I spend more time and find myself immersed in the information, are the ones where great metaphors, compelling stories and emotive copy are used.

  12. says

    Here’s a good example for the ideas in this article:

    Recently, some channel launched the promotions of “India’s Got Talent”. Of course this is a rip off on the popular Britain’s Got Talent. But whereas the name of the show works well in UK I have very serious concerns that it will work well in Indian context, mainly because of the words they have chosen.

    You see, the average Indian knowledge of English grammar is, well, average. Many people have asked me what exactly did the show title meant.

    Of course, these poeple did not have the knowledge of the UK show so their confusions just increased. But they are the potential audience for the show and the producers have put many of their target audience in confusions.

    According to me “India Has Talent” would have worked better in an Indian context that “India’s Got Talent”

  13. says

    I think this article gives a synopsis of what is writing about though it is not eloborative enough to reach the abyss or recess of the mind :)

  14. Lexi Rodrigo says

    I love the quote – thanks for sharing !

    A great strategy I’ve discovered is researching the insider language of my client’s target market or niche before I write one word of copy. I visit online forums, eavesdrop on Twitter (the search function on Tweetdeck is perfect for this), subscribe to newsletters they read, etc.

    Using the reader’s jargon makes the copy lively and relevant.

  15. says

    Hi Sherice. Oh, the power of words. When sales copy uses too many flashy words, I click away. It feels like they are trying too hard to sell their product or service. Weeding this out is one of the reasons I enjoy editing… and life coaching, for that matter. Choosing the “right” questions and the right words makes all the difference.

  16. says

    Good post! On the internet you cannot assume anything, therefore you need to give sharp examples.However, it is much easier for those who have English as their mother tongue to write in a way that paints a picture in the readers mind.For those who are speaking another language need to translate and this often leads to mistakes and typos (… and less sales)

  17. says

    Thanks for the great article…again. It is always better in my opinion to keep things simple and write two articles than try to write one article that is very long or complex.

  18. says

    Ha, this is great, I used to love this quote but I completely forgot how it went–thus didn’t know what to search–but you’ve solved a great mystery for me! PS: Fantastic job on doing an article about word choice. I struggle/emphasize about this on a daily basis.

  19. says

    I think this is a really innovative post . I agree that ‘Using flashy words like “amazing” and “mind-blowing” ‘ is not a great idea. People aren’t drawn into marketing like that anymore. Many people have the theory that if it sounds too good to be true then it usually is. They want facts and figures, not description.
    I think I will be relating to this post in much more of my writing from now on, excellent.

  20. says

    Hi Sherice. Oh, the power of words. When sales copy uses too many flashy words, I click away. It feels like they are trying too hard to sell their product or service. Weeding this out is one of the reasons I enjoy editing… and life coaching, for that matter. Choosing the “right” questions and the right words makes all the difference.

  21. says

    This is a great reminder Sherice. Its amazing how quickly people forget how to relate once they start writing. It’s almost like they lose all common sense.

  22. says

    Twain, like Hemingway, was a master of words, but more importantly these authors have the ability to use very simple terminology (lightning bug vs lightning) to give those of us who have a visual bias, a clear picture of the message.

    But what about those who have a kinaesthetic or auditory bias? The perfect word(s) for them would be quite different.

    Sherice, how much do you consider your audience when crafting a post or story?

  23. says

    Hi Curtis,

    I understand that you can’t please all the people all the time. That’s why it pays to study great writers as well as great copywriters — if you can see the image in your “mind’s eye” and it moves you somehow – it has pulled its weight and done its job.


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