In life and marketing, the delivery is just as important as the message. Whether you realize it or not, you probably frame your messaging every day. Though some may interpret that thought as permission to tell half-truths, that’s expressly not the point. Instead, it is meant to teach a valuable copywriting lesson – the way you say something matters.
There are two main strategies when framing your message: positive or negative. If I’m a plumber, I might frame a new ad for pipe replacement as:
Negative: Your pipes may be ready to burst.
Positive: Strengthen your pipes for years to come.
As you can see, the negative take may seem direr, but it’s also a downer that could turn consumers off from your services. That’s not to say that going negative is always the wrong choice. Anti-smoking campaigns, for instance, often focus on the negative effects of tobacco to emotionally resonate with their audiences. At its worst, this “loss framing,” as it’s called, can come off as unnecessarily alarmist.
The power of positive framing is perfectly illustrated in the famous framing experiment conducted by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1981. The experiment presented a hypothetical question about a risky treatment for 600 people afflicted with a deadly disease. Participants were presented with one version of the following treatment.
Negative: The treatment has a 33% chance of saving all 600 people and a 66% possibility of saving no one.
Positive: The treatment has a 33% chance that no people will die and a 66% probability that all 600 will die.
The result? 72% of participants presented with the positive framing said the procedure was worth the risk. Only 22% presented with the negative framing followed suit. Similar results came from other negatively and positively positioned scenarios.
There are plenty of ways to choose positivity over negativity in your copywriting, and doing so can attract new clients and keep the ones you already have. For example:
Negative: You could be overspending
Positive: You could save money
Negative: Don’t use unsafe equipment
Positive: Use safer equipment
Negative: Stop being unhealthy
Positive: Be healthier
Negative: Stop being a bad writer
Positive: Improve your writing
When promoting your business, you should understand that your clients have a problem that your product or service can solve. Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on your product or service as the solution. That not only makes your content less of a downer but also inspires your audience to see your company in a positive light.