You need an effective and interactive website to support your business. But you slap together copy for the site – based on an old brochure, perhaps – and check it off your bulging to-do list. Or you keep putting it off, because you realize, correctly, that website copywriting is not as easy to do as you initially thought. Sound familiar?
Metaphors matter. In a study of women who were about to give birth, the mothers-to-be were told to expect a local anesthesia before receiving an epidural. Nurses told one group they were going to get “a local anesthetic that will numb the area so you will be comfortable during the procedure.” Another group was told, “You are going to feel a big bee sting; this is the worst part of the procedure.” Not surprisingly, the group that heard the “bee sting” comment perceived significantly greater pain.
With social and traditional media burning up with all kinds of questionable information and messages, it’s a good time to make sure you’re targeting your communications to the people you want to reach. Can you visualize that person, understand his or her needs and frustrations, and address them? If so, you’ll have a much better chance to connect and they’ll be willing to listen.
But in today’s hyped-up media world, you also have to address and overcome the fine art of baloney detection, a term coined by the late, great public scientist Carl Sagan, who shared his thoughts about upholding reason in the face of shameless untruths and propaganda.
The British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, liked to play cards. But he also enjoyed eating a snack at the same time, and that tied up his hands and involved utensils. So, in 1748, he came up with a solution: he put beef between slices of toast, so he could eat with one hand and still play the game.
Did you ever notice that the most famous quotations use only small words?
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
“A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Confusion abounds from the candidates themselves, giving new meaning to the term “Etch-a-Sketch,” a colorful description of the erasing-and-ever-shifting positions of a particular presidential candidate, who shall remain nameless.