You know how you can add spirulina to supercharge your berry smoothie?
Well, I’ve got a way for you to do the same thing with your words.
Part of my job as a creative copywriter and pro word nerd, is to help my clients make their message more powerful.
What does that mean? Do I send their messages to the gym? Make ‘em do squats and get all muscly and powerful?
But essentially, it’s all about helping my clients use their words to wiggle their way into their audience’s hearts. ‘Cos words have a wily way of doing just that.
So … how do I do it?
One simple, easy, do-it-yourself-and-watch-the-magic-happen way of making your message more powerful is to frame it.
“Huh? You want me to what with my who now, Cass?”
What is message framing?
Put down the ruler and forget about which wood veneer to frame your message in … that’s not what I mean.
In a nutshell, framing is basically positioning your message a certain way through logic, reasoning and even emotion.
For example, if I were to say:
“I wrote a book.”
That’s just a plain ol’ message.
But if I were to say, “Want to learn how to write your own web copy in a weekend? Buy my book, friend!”
That’s framing my message.
Framing your message means subtly guiding your audience in the direction you want to take them.
But the real secret to making your message more powerful? You gotta frame it positively.
Negative vs positive framing
Okay, so, you can have two types of frames:
Negative or positive.
A negative frame typically describes what you don’t want to happen.
For example, “Don’t miss out!” and “Almost sold out!”
While a positive frame tells your audience what you do want them to do.
For example, “Be the first to get xyz in your home” and “Scoop up the last xyz”
Some other examples are:
Negative: Don’t put the cat in the sink!
Positive: Please put the cat down.
Negative: Don’t fart under the bed covers.
Positive: Please leave the bedroom if you need to fart.
(I hope my husband reads this blog at some stage.)
So why are positive frames more persuasive?
Easy: Positive frames are simpler to understand and action.
While negative frames are harder to understand and less powerful than positively framed messages. (Jacoby, Nelson, & Hoyer, 1982).
When your friend tells you to call her at 8pm, you know what to do. It doesn’t require excessive problem-solving to figure out when your friend wants.
But if she said, “Don’t leave me hanging!”
Your brain gets a little tempted to save brainpower and ignore her request.
This is because our brains are busy, yo. And since they’re busy doing important stuff like, you know, keeping us alive, they hate wasting energy figuring stuff out.
Does that mean you should only ever use positive frames for your messages?
Nope, not necessarily.
You can still use a mix of positive and negative frames in your copy.
But, if you want to be super persuasive, use positive frames for messages you NEED to be powerful.
For example, if you’ve got a call-to-action on your website that you need people to pay attention to, frame it positively.
And if you really want to save brainpower (and stress wrinkles), hire a creative copywriter to do it for you.
See what I did there? Positively framing my call-to-action? Wink wink.
Seriously though: If you’re here reading this blog, it means you’re a clever creative and I’m plum chuffed to have you eyeballing my words.
So if you’re ready to fist-bump with a creative copywriter that gets you, meander on over here.
Official creator and word nerd at Wild Spirit Co. I’m a former journalist and communications manager turned word-wrangler for hire. These days, I fist bump with clever entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses searching for words that woo and copy that converts. I have nine years of experience tucked into the waistband of my yoga tights (which I do everything but yoga in) and am the go-to girl for personality-packed communications that blend strategy with storytelling.