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Get Negative: Using Advertising Power Words To Your Advantage

Find out how power words can give your advertising the winning advantage!

Have you ever created a Facebook ad which you thought was brilliant, but sadly it failed to gain much traction? If your ads aren’t getting the attention they deserve, think about changing your focus from positive to negative. It’s not the usual scenario, but in the world of advertising, customers actually respond better to words that convey an approaching threat or impending disaster.  

Don’t believe me? According to a 2013 Outbrain study, negative headlines perform 30% better than positive ones, and receive a 69% higher Click-Through-Rate! They believe this may be a result of positive headlines containing overused, cliched words (always, best)—whereas negative superlatives (worst, never) ‘provide the reader with something more unexpected and intriguing that could be perceived as impartial and authentic.’

Source: Outbrain

There’s also the fact that as humans, we tend to be drawn toward ‘shock’ angles, as well as wanting to know how to avoid bad things happening (as opposed to being told the ‘best’ way to do something).

Examples of brilliant headlines (according to copypress) include:

  • 10 Signs That You Will NOT Make It As A Successful Photographer (confrontational words)
  • A Little Mistake That Cost a Farmer $3,000 a Year (scare tactics)
  • How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life (pervasive fear combined with newsworthiness)

So how can you apply negative superlatives to your Facebook ads?

As a business-related example, instead of telling customers how to save time or money, consider using words that convey what could go wrong if they don’t take a certain action. In general, most businesses are worried about losing money or conversions—play on that.

When it comes to which power word to use, try to go for something that grabs attention without being unnecessarily overdramatic: pitfall, nightmare, mistake, fail, agony, danger and disastrous are all good options for negative power words.

Tip: For more examples of power words that can be used in your ads, check out this list of 317 Power Words from Jon Morrow.



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