words and phrases that POP

It’s not just your message that matters, but how you say it.

Words and Phrases that PopNobel Prize winning Daniel Kahneman calls it cognitive ease.

The human brain likes to believe what is familiar and easy to process.

The next time you need to get your point across, keep it simple, legible, and memorable.

In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman offers his researched-based psychology of “persuasive messaging.”

A warning: not all his advice is practical, so here’s our super-handy work-around: Words and Phrases that Pop

Our brain forms thought in two ways:

  • System 1: Fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious – how we scan email or look both ways before crossing the street
  • System 2: Slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious – such as buying a house or choosing a college

When your marketing engages System 1, the intuitive and automatic part of your readers brain, your message is more likely to be believed quickly.

Makes sense, right?

Here’s his persuasive messaging tips, with a little twist from me:

Tip No. 1: Make It Legible

Make your text legible; anything you can do to reduce cognitive strain will help your messaging. This is why white space works so well and bolding your text links works well. Kahneman tested the following statements, both incorrect, as Hitler, was born in 1889, but bold one tested more believable:

      • Adolf Hitler was born in 1887.
      • Adolf Hitler was born in 1892.

All things being equal, the more your message stands out from the background, the more believable it is.

Kahneman goes on to advise that if you use color, use bright blue or red as they are more believable than lighter shades of green, yellow and pale blue.

Tip No. 2: Use small words

Research out of Princeton revealed that using big pretentious language is taken as a sign of low intelligence and low credibility. Using small words came across as more credible.

Wait till you see the title of this research paper, though. Somebody’s got a sense of humor. They use 7 big words in the title of this paper on how using short words makes you more credible. Ha!

Tip No 3: Make it memorable

Participants in his research found text that rhymed was perceived as more insightful than non-rhyming text. He goes on to seriously advise putting your message in verse.

Yeah, right.

I would suggest work-arounds, such as illiterations, and Phrases that Pop that you can download here.

Otherwise, good luck with translating your messaging into rhymes.

Tip No 4: If you quote a source, choose one with a name that’s easy to pronounce

Participants found data quoted from a name easier to pronounce was more credible.

This has real impact when it comes to your your testimonials, social proof, and quotes. When in doubt, go with the easier name.

Your readers want to stay away from anything that reminds them of effort, including a person with a complicated name.

You don’t always have a choice, but as he points out, data or research often has more than one author, lead with the simpler name.

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming worksheets and templates that help you put this kind of persuasive message into action.

Related topic: Daniel Kahneman‘s research on loss-aversion, Positive Frame versus Negative Frame

Thank you for stopping by. I know you’re a busy person and I really value your time. YOU are my business. My business is to create tools, share insider knowledge, and give you confidence that you’re doing the right marketing at the right time to hit your revenue goals.