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KATIE BARBER

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Focus on Positivity in Your Content

By Katie Barber,posted on May 11, 2018

There’s a little trick that copywriters use.

After writing an article, the first thing I do is go back through it and edit out anything that is unnecessary, difficult to understand or long-winded. More about this here.

Then, if the copy is designed to sell something or encourages a call to action (for example on a Facebook ad). I remove any negative words like don’t, can’t or difficult.

Instead of saying: not difficult, I say easy. Instead of don’t worry, I’d say relax.

This is because even though the complete sentence may deliver a positive message:

‘Stop losing money.’

Our brains pick up on the negative words, even if the phrase is positive.

Words and visualisation.

Here’s why; the human brain thinks in pictures. Imagine you’re walking on a tightrope, from one mountain cliff side to the other. If you give yourself the affirmation ‘don’t look down, don’t fall’ – your brain is picturing looking down and falling and this is what you’re most likely to do if you’re visualising it. If you instead say ‘keep looking ahead, keep balanced’, you’ll be less likely to fall.

As my NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) instructor put it, if you tell your kid not to run into the road, then they’re picturing running away. If you tell them to walk closely next to Daddy, then that’s what they will do.

We all know the cliche ‘DON’T PRESS THAT RED BUTTON!!!’ Our favourite cartoon characters could never resist.

Words and emotion.

Copy that includes words that ignite fear and panic are popular with marketers at the moment. I come across quite a few in my inbox that cause me to panic ‘Katie… why haven’t you X???’ ‘Katie, only 5 days left! Do not miss out!!!’ These emails might get a higher click-through rate (probably because people open them to see what the hell is going on) but cause a mini sense of resentment towards the brand. If you’re using language that causes fear, panic or sadness – these emotions have been proven to reduce motivation. When you’re trying to motivate people to buy something, it’s less than ideal to trigger these emotions.

There are of course exceptions to the ‘no negative words’ rule – but ultimately it’s always best to see if your writing could be reframed so that it creates more positive visualisations and feeling. When writing, even the tiniest details like the phrasing on your 404 error page, ask yourself, what does this sentence make me visualise and what does it make me feel?

Positivity is powerful; think – ‘Yes we can!’ and even ‘Make America Great Again!’


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