“If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative”
— David Ogilvy

I couldn’t agree more.  So many advertising agencies forget that the purpose of advertising is to sell products or services, not to win awards.  To sell is to be creative.  To present an idea, product or service in such a way as to gain acceptance and convince the prospective buyer to want ownership of the idea, product or service is the goal of selling.  The most powerful tool that the “salesman” has is his/her words.  The careful selection of the right words and their proper syntax will enhance any presentation. Knowing your audience is imperative for a “wordsmith” or salesperson.  By knowing your audience, one can select certain words or phrases that can deliver predictable results. 

In the last two decades, much research and study has been conducted in the areas of “psychological” influence.  Social scientists and psychologists like Robert Cialdini, have determined that there are predictable “buying decision triggers” that can influence a person’s perception of a product or service and their desire to take action (to buy).  Studies have been conducted that clearly demonstrate that the order (syntax) in which you present benefits or facts can dramatically increase or decrease the results of a sales presentation.  Dozens of books have also been written on “words that sell”.  These authors purport that certain words automatically create a conscious or subconscious impact on the potential buyer, an impact that influences the prospect’s desire for the product.


John Caples, author of Tested Advertising Methods and How To Make Your Advertising Make Money, reviewed thousands of case histories of successful direct response advertisements and discovered the following list:

Top ten and most commonly used words in a direct marketing campaign:
            •           You     •           Money
            •           Your    •           Now
            •           How    •           People
            •           New    •           Want
            •           Who    •           Why

David Ogilvy, in his book, Confessions of an Advertising Man listed what he considered the most persuasive words in advertising as follows:

            •           Suddenly         •           Now
            •           Announcing     •           Introducing
            •           Improvement  •           Amazing
            •           Sensational      •           Remarkable
            •           Revolutionary •           Startling, miracle
            •           Magic              •           Offer
            •           Quick              •           Easy
            •           Wanted            •           Challenge
            •           Compare         •           Bargain and Hurry

As I write this, I realized that in the latest two-minute commercial I just completed, it contained 11 of the 20 words listed.  Using the above words as a checklist, may improve the selling power of your message.

Other powerful, results-oriented words that I’ve found to be effective are: 

            •           Free                 •           Save
            •           Discover          •           Imagine
            •           Feel                 •           Guaranteed
            •           Money-Back   •           Today
            •           Profit               •           Powerful
            •           Recommended •          Secrets 

Authors like Tom Hopkins, How To Master The Art Of Selling Anything and Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s Cash Copy are books I recommend on the subject of developing a convincing and persuasive presentation. 


Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP) as developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler, and brought into prominence by Anthony Robbins (Unlimited Power), is a relatively new scientific technology used for “influencing oneself and others” or for “getting results”.  From a selling point of view, NLP has been an invaluable tool in providing the right presentation. 

According to NLP, people perceive and experience the world in the form of three basic modalities:  Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic.  The basic idea of NLP is that you can influence your beliefs and feelings about anything (therefore creating your desired outcome) by the way in which you communicate your thoughts and feelings (linguistics) to yourself.  NLP proposes that through a scientific technology based on “modeling” and other “strategies” you can program your brain (neural) to accept any new idea, belief or feeling.  Once the brain has this new communication and accepts it as true, the person acts as though it is true.  This corroborates what psychologists have known for years.  That is, the brain (therefore, the body) cannot distinguish between a highly charged imagined belief and a “real” one.  At some level, we create our own lives out of our beliefs.  Napoleon Hill said it best, “We become what we think about most.”  NLP offers a technology for altering our limiting beliefs to “re-present” to our brain what it is we want.  “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”.

The fundamental key in utilizing the powerful NLP technology in a sales presentation is to first understand what type of individual you are “speaking” to:  Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic.  Each category will respond differently to the same words, phrases, pictures or sounds.  When presenting a “sales pitch” to individuals who represent all three categories, the results might look like this:

A visual person will respond most effectively to words, phrases or sights that relate to vision.  They will respond to words like visualize, see, imagine, watch, look, view, picture, etc. 

An auditory person is a person who will most likely respond more to words and phrases that relate to sound and music like:  hear, listen, etc.

The kinesthetic person is a feeling person that responds primarily to feeling words or phrases.  Naturally words like feel, feelings, touch, and sense, are triggers for the kinesthetic person.  Music moves both the kinesthetic and the auditory persons.

Whenever possible, a good copywriter who knows and understands the power of NLP or Hypnotic Selling will include imbedded commands, statements, suggestions (future pacing) in the copy points. In our direct response commercials and Infomercials, we actively use “words and phrases that sell,” as well as NLP, and Hypnotic Selling Messages (suggestive copy and future pacing).  For example, in our half-hour Infomercial for a pain relieving device entitled, “Freedom From Pain”, the voiceover introduction to the program, as well as the opening line for each commercial, stated the following:  “Imagine what it would feel like to have your pain disappear!” We also added copy like, “Hear what the experts say.”  It should be obvious that we used words that would trigger a response from each of the three categories:  Visual (Imagine, disappear), Auditory (Hear, say), and Kinesthetic (Feel).


I also highly recommend that the selling words and phrases be superimposed or presented in a visual context on the screen (character generator or Paintbox graphics).  Using the example above, you could include the same words on the screen: “Imagine what it would feel like to have your pain disappear!”   It helps to reinforce your most important selling messages in your visual graphics.  In fact, some people are more apt to respond to the message when it is read than when it is spoken.  


Compelling copy is Selling Copy.  Develop yours with professionals that have had direct experience in generating results.  Read and study the masters of this medium like John Caples and other pioneers in the field of Direct Marketing.  Review the commercial copy of successful campaigns, especially those that have a similar product or service.   Develop your own case histories from competing clients.  Then write, write and write until you have something you can feel good about.  Then, edit, write and write again.  Writing is rewriting.  Test it with friends and colleagues.  Ask for constructive criticism.  Many times a good advertisement may go through dozens of drafts before it’s ready to present to the client.  Once you have completed the task, compare and analyze your copy with tested, proven scripts that have been profitable.  When you think you are finished, you can begin Testing, Measuring and Adjusting your copy.  You will soon learn, once your DRTV begins airing, just how effective your copy is by the results it does or does not generate.

By Robert Cialdini

“Human beings are motivated to fulfill needs and wants.
Human needs are common to all people.  Wants are unique to each individual.”
                                                —Dr. Robert E. Wubbolding

Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the insightful book on “influence,” salesmanship and customer compliance, “Six Principles of Instant Influence”, offers the following six Trigger Buying Decision Principles.

1. RECIPROCATION - You, then Me, then You, then Me...
Be the first to give:
•           Service
•           Information
•           Concessions
2. SCARCITY - The Rule of the Rare
•           Genuine scarcity
•           Unique features
•           Exclusive information
3. AUTHORITY - Showing Knowing
Establish position through:
•           Professionalism
•           Industry knowledge
•           Your credentials
•           Admitting weaknesses first
4. COMMITMENTS - Starting Points
•           Small and build
•           With existing commitments
•           From public positions
•           From voluntary commitments
5. LIKING - Making Friends to Influence People
•           Similarities
•           Areas for genuine compliments
•           Opportunities for cooperation

6. CONSENSUS - People Proof, People Power
Unleash people power by showing:
•           Mass movements by others
•           Other’s past success
•           Testimonials of similar others

“Call Now 1-800 -  How to Profit from Direct Response Television Advertising”  Copyright 2006  Rodney H. Buchser

Copyright   FMS Direct All Rights Reserved