Good Advice – For (M)ad Men & Lawyers

Persuasive writing. It’s what we do. Whether selling a product or service or an argument to the court or opposing counsel, writers need to choose their words carefully. To make a proper pitch, writers must address the rational and emotional needs of their intended audience.

Laura Connell over at Bad Language has published some words to use and words to avoid in this regard, identified by veteran ad-man David Ogilvy. According to Oglivy, the twenty most persuasive words that you can use in your writing are:

  1. suddenly
  2. now
  3. announcing
  4. introducing
  5. improvement
  6. amazing
  7. sensational
  8. remarkable
  9. revolutionary
  10. startling
  11. miracle
  12. magic
  13. offer
  14. quick
  15. easy
  16. wanted
  17. challenge
  18. compare
  19. bargain
  20. hurry

Ogilvy also identifies a few (13) “powerless” words that fail to convey the proper persuasive sentiment, and recommends that they be avoided:

  1. But
  2. Try
  3. Don’t
  4. Should
  5. Need to
  6. Have to
  7. Could
  8. Maybe
  9. Perhaps
  10. Might
  11. Possibly
  12. Potentially
  13. Think

While working “revolutionary,” “miracle,” and “magic” into your next brief might be a bit of a stretch, consider the tone embodied in these lists – people respond more positively to a positive sentiment, and less positively to an ambivalent or negative sentiment. Rather than cut down the opposite viewpoint, consider emphasizing the positive, and you too might be able to sell like Don Draper.


One comment on “Good Advice – For (M)ad Men & Lawyers

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