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Using “magnet words” to make your copy work harder

One  way to make a message scannable is through the careful placement of “magnet words”. These are words so laden with implied interest and benefit that they draw the reader’s eye. Here are some examples:

  • You. (Or, better yet, the reader’s name used sparingly)
  • New
  • Free
  • Save
  • Guarantee/guaranteed
  • Easy/simple/foolproof
  • Proven
  • Safe (especially for health/personal care products)
  • Best/better
  • Solution (this one is overused in b2b selling so I’m not including it in my numbering)

A few years ago “announcing” and “introducing” would have made the list, but today they seem a bit hucksterish.  Same with “improved” which in our litigious times, invites a lawsuit from the disgruntled owners of the previous non-improved version.

That’s a starter list; every copywriter has their own and probably calls them “magic words”. (Do a web search and see what you find.) Because you are a persuasive communicator you are using many of these words already. My point is that through the placement of these words you can add attention to surrounding copy that might not be interesting on its own.

Which is more likely to catch the reader’s eye: “Acme Instruments makes measurement devices for cell network technicians” or “Acme Instruments offers a proven solution for cell network technicians”? Of course it’s a solution because otherwise nobody would want it; and it better be proven or it’s worthless. But the magnet words make the copy more appealing. Add on the fact that it’s “guaranteed” and offer a “free” info kit and you’re in business.

The corollary lesson is that sometimes you DON’T want the reader to read your copy and in this case you should scrupulously avoid magnet words. A utility company served up a great example in a privacy notice about sharing their mailing list: “If this policy is acceptable, no action needs to be taken.” That’s a bit convoluted; would have been much clearer to say “If you agree with this policy, you do not need to take any action.” But wow, two magnet words are going to make sure the sentence is read and that’s exactly what this writer did not want to happen.

Excerpted from my new book, Copywriting that Gets RESULTS! Get your copy here.

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