Persuasion Copy Gold

Daniel Levis in today’s Makepeace Total Package newsletter lays down some of the best copywriting credo I’ve read in one post anywhere in a long time. So much so that I feel it’s my DUTY to share. His post rivals some of the lengthy gobbledygook I’ve read in whole writing books

Here’s the article reprinted. I’ve given full attribution at the bottom. Relish…

The Neutron Bomb Of Persuasion!

And how the simplest words can come together to

release a mind-blowing flood of motive energy …

In this article:

  • The true nature of words …
  • Your six-point word choice checklist …
  • Two words to never put on your order buttons that everyone does …
  • How a trial lawyer twists words to win judges and influence juries!
  • And much more!

Dear Web Business-Builder,

You can have the best sales message in the world, but your prospects will always understand it through the prism of their own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and pre-existing beliefs – not yours.

For that reason, your choice of words can have a remarkable impact on how your message is understood. Choosing the right words rides on your taking an imaginative leap into your prospect’s shoes to know how they’re thinking and feeling.

But what are they anyway – words?

They’re symbols aren’t they? Every one of them a marvelous mental nucleus of thought, imagery, and feeling … that when combined with other nuclei form a kind of cerebral nuclear fusion that has the power to arouse desire … explode inertia … and move your prospect to action.

Symbolism is the neutron bomb of persuasion!

When you compose a thought, you have at your disposal, choices. Word symbols that each turn a different mental lock, regardless of the similarity in meaning. The right choice is the one that cracks the code for the specific audience you’re writing to.

Some word symbols are packed with raw honesty and visceral power, while others are stuffed with pomp and pretence.

Shall we play with some?

I love the word “ultimate.” It’s a wonderfully versatile superlative, don’t you think?

Can you image the below headline reading “The Worst Betrayal!” or the “The Most Terrible Betrayal,” or “The Evilest Betrayal!” It just wouldn’t work.

Overwhelming Evidence!

Washington parasites are quietly

conspiring to rob you of your life savings in

The Ultimate Betrayal!

Or can you imagine if the below bullet read … The Revolting Economic Obfuscation Federal Government Spokespeople Hope You Never Learn About

The Shocking Economic Cover-Up Washington Spin Doctors Hope You Never Discover …

Or if the below sub-head were written … Your store of economic value will soon be jeopardized!

Your wealth is in imminent danger!

What makes a good word choice anyway?

Here’s my 6-point word choice checklist.

1. Is there a shorter word that can express the same meaning?

Short words are easier to read, and more likely to be understood (Fewer than 27% of American adults over the age of 25 are college educated). And short words often pack more emotional punch than longer words with similar meanings.

Plain talk sounds like the truth. Lengthy, highfalutin sounding words woven into flowery rhetoric give the impression you’ve got something to hide.

All things being equal, the short word is the best choice. And the more short words you use, the more impact a few less common longer ones will have by contrast.

2. Is there a word that does the same job, but with more emotional impact?

Emotion is what stirs people to action, and so it follows that emotion-evoking words are a positive force in your copy. People will forget what you say, but they always remember how you made them feel.

But don’t go overboard. There is a point when your copy becomes overwritten, and obviously manipulative. You DO want to tell people how to feel. You DON’T want to get caught doing it.

3. Is there a single word or pithy expression that can replace multiple words?

The fewer words you use to convey a thought, the better. Compare the visceral impact of the following two headlines. The meaning is the same, but the one with half the words has easily twice the attention getting power.

A Decline in Real Estate Values
Could Come At Any Moment!



Dead Ahead!

This ability to compress and compact meaning into few words is, in many ways, the essence of power copywriting.

4. Is the word, or expression, metaphorically appropriate?

Metaphors often allow you to compress meaning, and have the added benefit of turning up the emotional heat and intensity of your copy. Here’s the deck that appeared under the above headline, with the metaphors highlighted.

  • 5 reasons why Wall Street is DEAD WRONG about a soft landing in housing, and how a dramatic historically unprecedented free fall in Real Estate values is now virtually locked in …
  • What you must do IMMEDIATELY to insulate your net worth from a collapse in housing prices that could mushroom into the most painful economic crash in American history …
  • How to pile up potential profits of 131% … 138% … up to 177%, with little known “insider” strategies that can quickly multiply your wealth in a falling market!

10 Stocks in the Path of the HurricaneDUMP THESE DOGS NOW, before they flatten your portfolio!

For a word or phrase to be metaphorically appropriate, it must be familiar to the target market, and consistent with other metaphorical language used in the copy. You don’t want to create a mixed metaphor soup that distracts from the message.

5. Is there a word that just sounds better, and still conveys the right meaning?

A string of words that begin with the same first letter, the same sound, or that create a pleasing rhythm or rhyme is more captivating than a random collection of sounds.

I’m not talking about going overboard into the land of slogans and jingles, but there is music and rhythm to language. And it should be part of your word choices.

Note the rhythmic quality of the repeated words, and the multiple F sounds in this sub-head. Catchy isn’t it?


and more LIES!

Grow up to 20 Times RICHER with each

Phony Fact & Funny Figure …

6. Is there a word or phrase that communicates a more desirable mental visual?

The mind thinks in pictures. You are the painter and words are your palette.

Nouns are the building blocks of your painting. Adjectives bring them into focus. Verbs add action.

The pictures you paint color your prospect’s emotions and thinking. Consider these two phrases.

– Drilling for Oil
– Energy Exploration

If you’re an oil company coming under increasing pressure from environmental groups to clean up your act, which one of the two phrases should you use in your corporate communications?

“Drilling for Oil” conjures up all kinds of negative images that fuel environmentalist ire. “Energy Exploration” is emotionally neutral.

Here are a couple of common examples of words that are used frequently in advertising that create undesirable images in the minds of your prospects, and some suggested alternatives.

Very often a Web page will exhort you to “Buy Now!” Does this pass the Claude Hopkins acid test?

“There is one simple way to answer many advertising questions. Would it help a salesman sell the goods? Would it help me if I met a buyer in person?”

Claude C. Hopkins

“So Mr. Prospect, now that you’ve seen everything the Whosit widget can do for you, would you like to buy now?”

I can assure you the answer will be “No”. To “Buy” conjures up all kinds of scary images. It’s sure to set the “better think it over” alarm bells ringing deafeningly in their heads.

Nearly everyone balks at making a decision that’s going to cost money, yet online marketers far and wide continue to use this sales killing “Buy Now” phrase. Instead, they should be humoring their prospects, and telling them frankly: Don’t decide now. Try it, and then decide!”

If you offer a guarantee – and you should – you’re completely within your bounds to replace the word “buy” with “try.” How much easier is that?

Some other proven replacements for the verb “Buy” are “Reserve,” “Claim,” “Send for,” or one of my favorites “Click here for Instant Download.” I just love that one.

Sometimes you’ll need to refer to the cost or price of your product. Investment has a far more positive connotation in most people’s minds.

Learn is another very common word in selling. Consider replacing it with the word discover. Most people associate learning with the tedium of the classroom, and discovery with what happened in the back seat of Dad’s Chevy.

What we’re talking about here is reframing: the transmutation of the undesirable to the desirable. Nothing is objective. Everything is subjective. It’s not what you say. It’s what people think and feel when they hear it.

Let me leave you with a fascinating story that demonstrates the incredible power of this concept:

When Marlon Brando’s son Christian was charged with murder in 1990, legendary spin technician Robert Shapiro (famous for getting O.J. off) was brought in.

Christian had admitted to shooting his sister’s fiancé at point blank range. He faced the possibility of being convicted for first-degree murder – and the death penalty.

Shapiro on examining the case determined there was a legal angle that would allow his client to plead guilty to manslaughter. The problem was that it would be very difficult to explain this complicated theory. Shapiro knew he needed to communicate his defense in terms that people could understand.

The defense was twofold:

“First, that there was no intent by Brando to commit a crime, so therefore it was accidental.

“And second, that the intent required is not a specific intent but rather a general intent, and so that would fall under the guise of involuntary manslaughter.”

Shapiro coined the phrase “accidental manslaughter” and repeated it hundreds of times throughout the proceedings. The phrase does not appear anywhere in any law book.

Yet to this day, when people talk about the case they say that Christian Brando pleaded guilty to “accidental manslaughter” – A charge that does not exist.

Until next time, Good Selling!
Daniel Levis Signature
Daniel Levis
Editor, The Web Marketing Advisor

This article was first published in The Total Package. To sign-up to receive your own FREE subscription to The Total Package and claim four FREE money making e-books go to

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  1. On Fire…fox 3.6.2 | State of Mind Coaching & Training - 7 April, 2010

    […] Versus “you decide.” 5. Latest and greatest is a rhyme.  Since the beginning of time, rhyme has been there to aid us and persuade us. Catchy, […]

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