People underestimate the power of words. How we frame a message or label a term influences thought. Most frames are unconscious and develop into the public’s mind through common use (Lakoff). Through conditioning, we associate words with stories; hence, words prime our minds. This article shares words used by experts to motivate actions and sales.
“Claim your dose today” vs. “Get your dose today”
“You’re eligible for the service” vs. “You earned the service”
Writing “claim” over “get” in text reminders increases vaccination appointments. Similarly, using “earn” over “eligible increases participation. Including ownership interventions that indicate the vaccine or service has “been made available for you” leverages the endowment effect to motivate action (Dai et al., 2021; Shankar, 2021).
“Stay Home” vs. “Lockdown”
“Protocol” vs. “Mandate”
Stop telling people what to do, it will not work. Instead, use innocuous words like “Stay Home” and “Protocol”. These words prevent citizens from spreading COVID-19 (Luntz, 2021)
“A 90% chance of surviving surgery” vs. “a 10% chance of dying from surgery”
When Amos Tverskey and his colleagues shared the positive frame to patients – the 90 percent chance of surviving surgery – 82 percent opted for surgery. But when they narrated the negative frame – the 10 percent chance of dying from surgery — only 54 percent chose the surgery. Both messages explain the same probabilities; however, people facing the life-and-death decision responded not to the odds but to the way the odds were described to them (Lewis, 2016).
“Cast Members” / “Crewmembers” / “Googler” / “Mavens” / “Magicians” / “Warriors”
Successful companies like JetBlue, Disney, and Google label their employees for a reason. Labels reflect characteristics in one word. Why call your workers a generic term with no meaning like “employees,” when you can call them “Cast Members” like Disney or “Crew Members” like JetBlue (Fridman, 2016). If I were a CEO, I’d call my employees “Mavens” or “Warriors.” These words already come with motivaing traits
“Essentials” / “Professional” / “Enterprise” / “VIP”/ “Unlimited”
*See prime examples the prestigious companies below
Product labeling is an opportunity to excite buyers while also illustrating product attributes. With labeling, companies provide value with one word. These labels come from Salesforce and Wix, two successful public technology companies.
- Dai, H., Saccardo, S., Han, M. A., Roh, L., Raja, N., Vangala, S., Modi, H., et al. (2021). Behavioral Nudges Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations. Nature.
- Lakoff, G. (2006). Simple framing. Rockridge Institute, 14.
- Luntz, F. (2021). Changing Minds (with Maya Shankar and Frank Luntz). In Fact with Chelsea Clinton Podcast.
- Lewis, M. (2016). The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed the World. Penguin Books.
- Don’t Call Us Employees! – How Corporate Culture Impacts Your Internal Team and the Retaining of Employees | Inc.com. (n.d.). . Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://www.inc.com/adam-fridman/dont-call-us-employees–how-corporate-culture-impacts-your-internal-team-and-t.html
- Sales Cloud Pricing and Editions – Salesforce.com. (n.d.). . Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://www.salesforce.com/editions-pricing/sales-cloud/
- The Power of Nudges: Maya Shankar on Changing People’s Minds – Knowledge@Wharton. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/power-nudges-maya-shankar-changing-peoples-minds/
- Wix Pricing Information | Upgrade to a Premium Plan | Wix.com. (n.d.). . Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://www.wix.com/upgrade/website
Nick specializes in applying behavioral science to business communication. Since earning his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Music from the University of Pennsylvania, Nick has sold products for several companies across many industries: music, advertising, SaaS technology, and information technology. He is earning his masters degree in behavioral economics at IDC Herzliya in Israel and curates the popular Spotify podcast playlist “Behavioral Economics.”