Psychology of Action Words


Psychology of Action Words


We have talked before about writing effective copy (link) for your business signage to get the most out of your marketing budget.


An important thing to remember when choosing words for your business signage is that words have the power to make people feel a certain way. If you choose the right word for your signage, you can make customers form a positive emotional connection to your sign, and therefore your company.


So what feeling do you want your customers to have when they look at your sign? You want them to feel empowered, and able to take action. This is why it is so important to use action words in your signage to bring in customers.


You can think of action words as “motivating” words. They motivate your customers to take action, by identifying with the action word, and in turn, taking action themselves.


The first step in effectively using action words is to make the customer identify with the copy. A great way to do this is to use the word “you.” Immediately, any potential customer who sees your sign will feel that you are reaching out to them, and engaging them in conversation, rather than just talking at them about your product or service.


Now that they are identifying with your copy, and are drawn in, use some action words. Think about it this way. When you put up a sign, what you are trying to do is get potential customers to act in a certain way. These desired actions can range from visiting your store, to buying a certain product that you sell.


With the use of action words in your signage copy, you can in effect demonstrate to the customer the exact action that you want them to take. Customers are much more likely to act in a certain way if they are given clear direction, rather than a vague suggestion. We have so many decisions to make on a daily basis – especially decisions about what to buy and from who. If you give your customers clear direction, you take away the stress of making that one extra decision.


For example, if your retail signage just said “we have new fall sweater colours available,” you are not actually telling your customers what you want to do about your new sweater stock. Given them direction with the word “you,” followed by action words to direct their consumer behavior. Instead, make your sign say “You will look fabulous in our new fall sweaters – come try one on today!” The copy is much more effective because you engage your customers with ‘you,’ then give them a direct action to follow through on: ‘come try one on today.’


Another important thing to note about the above example is the word ‘try.’ Some customers feel that the word ‘buy’ is too aggressive, and will not follow through on the direction as a result. ‘Try’ is a much gentler way to say essentially the same thing. We are not demanding that the customer come in and buy a sweater, we are merely giving them clear, but gentle direction to come and try one on – there is no absolutely commitment or aggression, but a friendly, directed suggestion that will get customers into your store.


To sum up, the goal when using action words in your signage is to engage the customer by drawing them into the message, and give them a clear direction. While it is important to give potential customers a clear sense of the action you want them to follow through on, avoid being overly aggressive, so that your message remains friendly. After all – who are you more likely to buy something from? An aggressive, pushy sales person, or one who treats you nicely and makes suggestions in a respectful manner?


Keep these tools in mind, and you will find that proper use of action words will make the most of your business signage.



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