Mark Twain said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is “the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Twain had an incredible knack for nicely summing it all up, didn’t he?
The value of your content and/or your offer is what ultimately matters. And yet the words you use to demonstrate that value and present that offer will determine to what degree people take action.
The goal of this post is to give you some examples of words that bring the lightning. And by lightning I mean words that invoke and engage emotion.
Of course, these words work exceptionally well in written copy, too. But with multimedia content, you’ve got a lot more electricity to draw upon.
With audio copywriting, you’ve got the enthusiasm and emphasis that comes from your voice inflection and tone. And with persuasive video, the power of relevant visuals to enhance your message should not be underestimated from a psychological standpoint.
What are trigger words?
Trigger words help you grab and keep attention because they strike a nerve with the person you want to reach with your copy.
You’ll often spot them in the best sales headlines.
They utilize empathy to transcend bland or superficial descriptions. In other words, they let your reader, listener, or viewer know that you deeply understand what they’re going through right now — which is the first step to earning their trust.
There are way more emotional words and phrases than the examples I list here. And there are many more categories of reaction words to tap into.
My hope is to simply get you thinking about word choice and descriptive language, regardless of content format.
Let’s get started.
Health and Hope
They say if you don’t have your health, you’ve got very little. And health as a metaphor also works for all sorts of other areas outside of the realm of mental and physical wellness, such as relationships and businesses.
Likewise, if you don’t have hope, life is bleak indeed. The desire to believe that things will be better in the future is a primary motivator for action.
Anger and Frustration
Let’s face it — a lot of people are pissed off about a lot of things, and empathizing with that anger while simultaneously engaging it is very powerful.
You don’t provoke anger for anger’s sake though; you do it to create an identification with your solution that ends the anger and moves people to a more positive emotional state.
Tapping into the frustration your audience feels can be incredibly actionable. After all, frustration stems from the inability to solve a problem.
If you have a real solution, identifying with the frustration first intensifies the immediate desire for that solution.
- Had enough?
- Never again …
- Temporary fix
Betrayal and Revenge
The word betrayal itself is a powerful emotional trigger word.
As a theme, it powers Shakespeare’s most powerful works, and runs repeatedly through current headlines regarding the economy, Wall Street, Big Pharma, and on and on.
Revenge is the desire that results from betrayal, and it’s so powerful because revenge connotes action.
The action you want people to take, however, is more along the lines of “living well is the best revenge,” not something ugly or destructive (unless you’re selling something ugly or destructive, but that’s your issue).
- Turn the tables
The Forbidden and the Powerless
The power of the forbidden is why banning books to prevent exposure to the ideas in them is a stupid strategy. It’s why we’re drawn to secrets and why Adam took the apple from Eve.
In a nutshell, we want what we can’t have (or what we’re told we shouldn’t have), and respond favorably to a solution or promise that we can now have it.
Powerlessness is frustration taken to the extreme, and we’ve all felt it. Beyond that which is forbidden, we feel a solution is literally unattainable.
Beyond anger, we feel intense resentment. The ability to empathize with and empower those who feel this way makes you a hero.
Passion and Urgency
When your audience is passionate about what you have to say or sell, there’s no need to convince them of need. It’s all about want.
Beyond attaining the objects of our desire, we love to experience excitement along the way. So don’t take passion for granted; enhance it with the right trigger words.
It’s not enough to make someone want to do something — you’ve often got to get them to take immediate action if they’re to take action at all.
A sense of urgency is an emotional response that can range from fear of loss to unbridled enthusiasm, and one way or another you’ve got to create it at your close.
- Before you forget …
- While it’s fresh on your mind …
Emotional trigger words for attraction
Different people will be at different stages of their buying journeys when they encounter your persuasive messages. Sometimes, your primary goal will be to attract more people.
Emotional trigger words for attraction can pique the interest of those who have recently discovered what you offer, but aren’t too familiar with it yet:
- Satisfaction guaranteed
They help you build a solid foundation for generating new fans.
Emotional trigger words for love
No matter what type of product or service you sell, you want your customers or clients to love what you do.
Once you’ve built attraction, emotional trigger words for love show prospects that you have exactly what they need.
Try these emotional trigger phrases for love in your copy when you’re looking for a next-level connection:
When used strategically, these can be paired with words that evoke trust.
Words that evoke trust
Unlike trigger words that make people angry, your specific word choices also have the power to reassure. It all comes back to empathy.
Words and phrases that evoke trust make people feel safe, which is essential if you want them to consider purchasing from you:
- Third-party tested (if that’s appropriate for your industry and true)
- Backed by science
- Evidence-based research
Consumers have a lot of choices, and it’s your job to demonstrate why the value you offer surpasses the competition.
How to use trigger words
Now it’s time to go over how to use trigger words. There are certain spots in your writing that can greatly benefit from the proper placement of the right trigger words. And if you’re interested in enhancing audio and video presentations, these elements are relevant in those forms of content as well.
Headlines are important places to use trigger words because they are the introductions to the rest of your copy. If someone isn’t intrigued by your title, they won’t stick around to hear the rest of your message.
You want your headline to offer something readers, listeners, or viewers won’t find elsewhere, so choose the trigger words that demonstrate the unique value of your content.
When you describe the benefits of your product or service, trigger words also come in handy because they help you stand out.
For example, if you can prove that your product uses 100% natural, sustainably sourced ingredients — and your competitions can’t make the same claim — the product becomes more attractive and evokes trust in those who value those qualities.
Finally, trigger words boost the power of your calls to action. When you clearly and directly state the next action you’d like someone to take, choose the language that makes them feel you truly get their wants and needs.
The power of the right words
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is determined by the level of emotional identification that word prompts.
In other words, the right emotional trigger words take the same basic message to all new heights.
Don’t settle for lightning bugs on a clear summer night when you could be shooting for the stars.