John D. Schulte
Direct Mail Marketing Consultant and Mail Order Expert
International in Scope | Over 30 years experience
 
Certified by a United States Federal Court as a Direct Marketing and Catalog Expert
 
Read John's Business Start-up Book!

Powerful Headlines...Powerful Copy...Powerful Sales

What words you use in your advertising and how you put them together can mean the success or failure of an advertisement. That's why copywriters are called "wordsmiths" and the good ones get paid very well.

I have assembled this collection for you to have by your side when writing copy…so when you need an idea as you work you can refer to it as needed. Copywriting takes practice, to get good takes time. If you can't afford to practice while you are selling, hire a pro. In the long run it will be better for you. Onward.

This is not a large-scale study, but the chief findings are significant; namely, the words you, new and how are out-standing.  Every copywriter should remember the value of hammering away at you, you, you, both in headlines and in copy.  Regarding new, David Ogilvy said: If you try hard enough, you can almost always use new in your copy.  Then there is the word how, which is in third place on the list. People want to know how to solve problems, how to get ahead, how to be attractive, how to win friends and how to end money worries.  So, the next time you write an ad or a direct-mail letter or a TV commercial, try to give your copy the benefit of these three important words: you . . . new . . . how.

WHAT ARE THE MOST PERSUASIVE WORDS IN ADVERTISING?

suddenly
miracle
now 
magic
announcing 
offer
introducing
quick
improvement 
easy
amazing 
wanted
sensational 
challenge
remarkable 
compare
revolutionary 
bargain
startling 
hurry

Ogilvy also said: Don't turn up your nose at these cliché's. They may be shopworn, but they work. That is why you see them turn up so often in the headlines of mail-order advertisers and others who can measure the results of their advertisements."  Max Sackheim seconded this advice by reprinting Ogilvy's list of words in his book My First Sixty Years in Advertising.

AN ENLARGED LIST

I would like to enlarge on Ogilvy's list and give the aspiring copywriter an even greater range of words to choose from. In order to do this, I turned to the following:

- Successful direct marketing ads
- Successful direct-mail letters
- Mail order catalogs
- Textbooks on advertising 
- Direct response classified advertising 

I reviewed these and other sources, and tabulated the persuasive words that occurred most often. Listed below are the results of this analysis. For easy reference, the words are grouped under ten headings.

1. Words That Denote News
If you have news to tell, here are a number of ways to present it:

announcing 
novel
introducing
modern
presenting
recent
today
latest
new 
suddenly
now 
revolutionary

2. Approval
People are more apt to buy if you can furnish evidence of the value of your product or service.

recognized 
sanctioned 
authorized
approved 
commended
proven
recommended
accepted
honored
guaranteed
acclaimed
endorsed 
complimented
certified 
popular
tested
lauded
praised 
admired

3. Large Size
Here are words you can use if large size is a feature of your product:

big 
tremendous
large 
massive
sizable
gigantic
huge
voluminous
vast
mammoth
enormous
great
spacious
colossal

4. Surprising
The element of surprise or unusualness is an attractive feature in some cases.

Amazing
fantastic
astonishing 
extraordinary
astounding 
exceptional
startling 
notable
surprising
noteworthy
singular 
striking
sensational 
strange
uncommon
stunning
unusual 
magic
remarkable
miracle

5. Quality
Every reader or listener is concerned with the quality of your product.

good 
first-rate
better 
choice
fine 
unparalleled
valuable
unsurpassed
remarkable
unique
exclusive 
terrific
imported 
selected
rugged
special
durable 
personalized
improved
limited
excellent
rare
top 
genuine
superior 
authentic
greatest
outstanding
famous
wonderful
noted
surpassing

6. Interest
The following words denote interest and apply mostly to books, booklets, pamphlets, etc.:

absorbing 
stirring
instructive 
entertaining
informative 
enlightening
interesting 
fascinating
revealing 
exciting
secrets 
profusely illustrated

7. Appearance
Sometimes the appearance of a product is its most important feature.

beautiful 
classic
elegant 
distinctive
attractive 
fashionable
flattering 
appealing
handsome 
fascinating
glamorous
exquisite
dramatic
scenic
captivating 
colorful
charming lavish
spectacular
magnificent

SUMMING UP

In writing your copy, do not neglect the tested words and phrases that are used in direct marketing advertising. Keep the lists in this chapter handy. Look them over before you write. Refer to them often. Put some you, new and how to into your ad, letter or commercial. And before you write your Act now paragraph, review the action phrases that experienced ad writers have found helpful in promoting the thing that every advertiser wants . action.


8. Utility
There are times when the utility of a product is the important consideration.

handy
reversible
helpful 
serviceable
useful 
workable
usable 
versatile
practical 
powerful
washable 
reliable

9. Money
Making money and saving money are topics of universal concern.

wealth
liberal
fortune
reduced (price)
profitable 
lowest (price)
bargain 
discount (price)

10. Miscellaneous
Here are useful words that apply in a variety of categories:

quick 
successful
quickly
gift
easy
complete
easily
lifetime
immediately 
absolutely
hurry 
only (price)

The next time you write an ad, you may find it helpful to review these word lists. For example, if you have news to tell, take a look at the list of words that denote news. Do the same with the other lists.  Your copy will be improved if you include some of the persuasive words that have sold millions of dollars' worth of goods and services.

WHAT ARE THE MOST PERSUASIVE PHRASES IN ADVERTISING?
What are the persuasive phrases that are used again and again by direct marketing advertisers? Here are examples:

1. Free Offers
A review of direct marketing ads, letters, catalogs, etc., reveals that the most frequently used phrases are free offers.

Yours free
Free gift
Booklet free
Ask for free folder
Free guide book
Literature free
Moneymaking facts free
Free trial lesson
Free to new members
Free examination
Free demonstration
Free cost estimate
Free consultation
Try it ten days free
Thirty-two-page catalog free
Free plans for_________________
Free sample
Yours for the asking
Test lesson free
Free gift if you act at once

2. Charge Offers
Some advertisers charge a fee or require a postage stamp.

Moneymaking facts free 
Free lesson, $.50
$.25 brings details
Stamp brings details 
$1.00 brings complete______________
Free gift if you act at once 
Stamped envelope brings_______________
Send $.25 to help cover postage and handling

3. News

If you have news to tell, it should be given prominence. It
will increase response.

Just arrived
New here
It's here
New discovery
New, improved
New invention
Important development
The world's first ___________
Just off the press
Hot off the press
Just published
Just out
Beginning (date)
At last
New method of ________
New modernized__________
Latest findings

4. How-To
People want to know how to do things-how to get ahead-how to solve problems-how to make money-how to enjoy life. In each of the following how phrases, you can complete the phrase with your own solution to the prospect's problem.

How to ________
How to get __________
How to have _________
How to keep _________
How to start ____________
How to begin ___________
How to become __________
How to improve your _________
How to develop __________
How to get the most out of ________ 
How to avoid ________ 
How to end ________ 
How to get rid of ________ 
How to conquer How I ______ 
How I improved my ___________
How to enjoy How you can ________

5. Information
People buy magazines and newspapers and listen to broadcasts to get information. You can successfully compete for attention by telling your prospects the things they want to know.

Seven ways to _________ 
The truth about _________
The one sensible way to _________ 
Plain talks with _________
Profitable tips for _________ 
Confidential chats with ________
Twenty tips for _________ 
The common sense of ________
Your one sure way to ________
Guide to ________
Helpful hints on ________ 
Practical hints on __________
Advice to _________
What you should know about _________
Facts you should know
Mistakes you can avoid

6. Confidence Building
No matter how attractive your offer is, you must build believability into your ad. Here are phrases that will help.

Award winning Seal of approval
Founded (year)
Established ________ years
You risk nothing
Make this test 
Over _________ thousands sold
What others say (include testimonials)
See before you buy 
Money back if not delighted
Proved in laboratory tests 
If not delighted, just write Cancel on the bill.

7. Price
People are always looking for bargains. Here are some phrases that deal with price:

Sale priced
Only ten percent above wholesale/dealers cost
Save up to $ ____________
Less than half price
Fantastic saving
Price going up
Price goes up (date)
Order before the price goes up
Never again at this price

8. Miscellaneous Phrases 
Here are frequently used phrases that can work in a number of situations:

Send no money
No obligation
No salesperson will call
Special offer
The key to ________
Only $.25 a day
Now you can ___________
You don't have to be rich to _____________
Money-saving offer
The secret of __________
Yours if you can qualify
Do you have these symptoms of ________?
Who else wants _________?
From manufacturer to you
Buy direct and save
For quick information, call _________
Orders shipped within 24 hours
Easy payment plan

9. Immediate Action
Most folks tend to delay action. Urge them to act quickly. Or better still, give them a valid reason for quick action.

Act now
Don't delay
Order now
Order today
Order now, pay later
Delay may be serious
Don't put it off
Send today
Send post card today
Get started today
Investigate today
Act fast
Be the first
Rush name for details
For a short time only
While the supply lasts
Price going up
Supply limited
Last chance

John Schulte is a Small Business Consultant and Direct Marketing Strategist. He is a 30-year veteran of advertising, marketing, publicity, promotions and sales. He is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of mail order, direct mail, cataloging and overall direct marketing. He is one of the few people in the United States that has been certified by a United States Federal Court as a Direct Marketing and Catalog expert, able to act as an expert witness in federally related corporate disputes. John is also president of the National Mail Order Association and author of Direct Marketing Toolkit for Small and Home based Business. This article is an excerpt from this book.

 
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Email John D. Schulte at schulte@nmoa.org

 
National Mail Order Association