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Is your negative copy sending people away?

Negative Copy

How can you tell if your negative copy is sending visitors away?

When people come to me for advice regarding their website’s negative copy, their concerns are usually with how the search engines interpret what their text says in order to ensure proper ranking. If you think about it, Google’s AI is built to emulate humanity as closely as possible. So how can you use that same power of speech to ensure a positive outcome in business? There’s no denying that speech has a power that most of us have felt sometime in our lives. If you’ve ever read a story that moved you emotionally, or if you’ve sung along to a song with lyrics that evoked heartfelt memories, you know what I mean. Of course, the power of speech isn’t limited to fiction novels or top ten hits… it’s also an integral part of doing business both on and offline. Sounds like something straight from the mouth of Captain Obvious, but the implications aren’t just regarding the use of persuasion in advertising.

In the ongoing pursuit of the perfect way to properly describe product or service benefits, many advertisers like to employ an additional sense of “urgency”.

Urgency is often born from negativity which statistically, does garner more immediate attention and consideration when used for the tone of a headline (like the one on this post for example), however, copy that is written for more wide-spread and general use should convey a POSITIVE attitude.

In today’s hustle-bustle world, people are continually bombarded with bad news from the television, social media channels, and even their cell phone notifications. Time is money which adds even more stress to the situation causing a downward spiral that begs to be altered. The good news is, it’s easy for anyone to change things around! You don’t have to be a psychiatrist or a cheerleader and selling your building in trade for a cotton candy factory is not required. Just small tweaks to your normal correspondences and the copy that you use for your business will add a lot of shine to your approach.

In a nutshell, instead of identifying and pointing out the problem, concentrate on what can be done to solve it. Here’s an example:

A.) “Filing taxes can be a huge burden of confusion and anxiety with problems you may not anticipate. Call us for help.”


B.) “We’ll take care of all the details and quickly get you the tax return you deserve. Call now!”

Which of the above is more appealing? Which organization or professional would you rather contact? Although there may be instances when a negative situation has to be addressed, choosing positive language will always be the most effective way to ensure the best engagement. Discuss not only your positive outlook on solutions but also how your solutions have improved things for others in the past. Talk more about your reader and less about your self.

Happy WorkersA great way to check out new copy can be to measure the ratio of negative terms that are included in your articles. Words like never, cannot, won’t, are the kind that should be kept to a minimum. Negative phrasing can carry a tone of blame or stress negative consequences. More positive phrasing will talk about what can be done and will offer alternatives. It’s more encouraging than bureaucratic and makes a better impression on others. There are many alternatives to negative words and phrases and rewriting copy to use them is always the best way to start. Try to focus on what’s possible to keep your reader from feeling a negative connotation. Even a neutral tone can be interpreted as negative by the reader because it can come across as too cold.

It’s good to remember that our tone of voice cannot be conveyed in print and instead, we set the tone with our choice of phrasing and verbiage.

Try your best to avoid words like – delay, difficult, doubt, error, or fail.

Choose words like – benefit, bonus, bright, easy, or effective.

Positive copy creates a positive environment that works to foster positive results!

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Eliyahna is a full-time web developer and designer and the CEO of Eliyahna Creative, LLC.