Power of the Right Words at the Right Time

Back when I was a preteen, comedian Steve Martin released a re-make of a classic love story, Cyrano de Bergerec.

In case you don’t know the story (don’t bother watching the movie, trust me, it’s not worth it), Martin plays a character with a very large, embarrassingly so, nose. But he’s in love with a girl.

But he has a weapon…words. He can write love messages that make the woman he desires weak in the knees. Eventually, he wins the girl, and she doesn’t care about his long nose.

Such is the power of words.

Words matter in business too, not just in love.

As legend goes, Tim Ferriss considered naming his first book, “Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit.” No doubt that would not have gone over as well as “The Four Hour Work Week.”

Legend also has it that simply changing one word in famous headlines, or even adding a letter to a word (i.e. turning Say to Says) has boosted response dramatically for many a copywriter.

Such is the power of words.

Let’s take a look at some examples in my business.

Recently I ran an email giving away a “how to” guide on getting warrior fit. At first, I was going to use “EXACT how-to guide) in the subject, but at the last minute realized there was a much more powerful word. Compare the two below.

Full disclosure: I did not split test the subject lines, but I think you’ll agree that the “FREE how-to guide” looks much more appealing. That’s what I went with. Changing that one word surely bumped response. If you can make out the numbers below, you’ll see that this email had a 14% open rate…and is higher than emails sent to comparable lists.


You’ll also see another great subject line: “How to do more push-ups and pull-ups”. That one always works really, really well for my list because it is exercise based. That’s what my readers want. That’s the power of matching the message to the market.

Such is the power of words.

Here in the VM we’ve recently helped a few members improve their offers. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Question: Thanks Craig and Dennis for taking the time out to comment…you’re really making me think…which is a good thing. Now I know why it’s often suggested you write down 50 headlines before coming up with a good one! Ok…after some thought I have two…

3 Ingredients You Need To Avoid Before, During and After Your Shave to Achieve The Perfect Shave Everytime

3 Ingredients You Need To Avoid Before, During and After Your Shave for a Comfortable, Pain Free Shave Everyday

(Leaning towards the second one)

Thanks a million again.

Answer from Craig Ballantyne:

Thanks, that’s a good start. Here are some more tips.

Using the number “One” is always better than three. People want the ultimate in simplicity. They want ONE secret.

Plus, that gives you two more chances to write great content in the future with other tips.

Negatives work better than positives. So my suggestion is:

The ONE Ingredient You Must NEVER Use If You Want a Fast, Smooth, Safe Shave

Next example…

Question: For an article about moving abroad with children, the premise is that to avoid problems with the kids, parents need to express absolute confidence that it’s the right decision. First headline was:

“Never let them see the fear in your eyes”

Changed to…

“If you want your kids to be stoked about moving abroad, here’s one thing you MUST do”

I thought the first headline was actually good, but it didn’t give the reader any indication of what was to follow.

Answer From Craig Ballantyne:

The words should be reversed.

The ONE Thing You MUST Do to Turn Your Kids Into Raving Fans of Moving Abroad

Frankly, headlines work even better if it is negative….So the best option would be:

The ONE Thing You Must NEVER Do If You Want Your Kids to be Excited about Moving

Final notes:

I’ve said it before many times, make sure you are on the email lists of Ryan Deiss (www.DrivingTraffic.com) and Joel Marion (www.biotrust.com). Ryan and Joel put out some of the best headlines in the email marketing industry.

Also, watch the headlines that MSN.com uses, as well as the headlines on www.realclearworld.com. News site content aggregators often show the best “click bait” headlines.

Use your words properly for maximum results,

Craig Ballantyne

Learn to love the challenges you have been given in life. Make it your goal to make progress in overcoming them each day. The reward will be in the journey.