I am sure you already know that words have power.
And that the language we use can ‘literally’ change our world.
Here’s a ‘slick’ example.
What do you think of when you hear the term ‘fossil fuel’?
My train of thought goes to dinosaurs, ancient life, caves, Jurassic Park even…
But do oil and gas come from fossilised dinosaurs?
No – they do not.
So why call them fossil fuels?
According to Wikipedia, the term ‘fossil fuel’ was first coined by German chemist Caspar Neumann in 1759. It was later ushered into common parlance in the early 1900s to give people the impression that gas, oil and petroleum (i.e. hydrocarbon deposits) come from extinct creatures that once roamed the earth.
Other ‘impressions’ that fuelled oil prices included artificial scarcity as per the ‘Peak Oil’ theory that predicted all the planet’s oil supply would peak around 2005 and run out by 2020.
But that’s another story.
So what’s this got to do with copywriting?
It’s important because your marketing messaging can make people intentionally or unintentionally assume things, feel a certain way, or simply associate you or your brand with other good (or bad) outcomes.
Sometimes, the words and their meanings slip into the reader’s unconscious mind and can even trigger a bias.
Well, actually, some people have a deep reservoir of knowledge regarding the power of language. And they know exactly how it can easily be piped into the unconscious mind unawares.
That’s why it’s good to know how persuasive wordplay devices such as metaphors, homophones, and word association work.
Take a moment to go over your marketing copy and check the following:
Are you making good use of metaphors?
What about sensory metaphors? e.g. words that connect to the senses such as ‘it was like music to my ears‘, ‘She had a silky smooth voice‘ and ‘He was green with envy‘.
And just as importantly, are the metaphors relevant to your audience?
Are there any words that sound like others?
Can anything be misconstrued or further refined? (i.e. suite/sweet, mine/mine, break/brake.)
Are there any words that could be negatively associated with your brand?
These are usually crude or slang terms such as badass or shit hot, or can simply be words that make some people feel uncomfortable ‘slash prices‘ or ‘killer copy’.
Slang words can fall out of favour over time and can also spill into the unconscious mind.
Words and how we use them are immensely powerful – and once we drill down and understand the secret language of metaphors, we can use them in a positive, persuasive way.
You don’t have to burn the midnight oil. But it’s worth digging into.
By the way, did you catch all the energy and extraction references?
Let me know in the comments!
I am sure you did well.