How tasty is your copywriting? This is the topic I wrote about for Target Marketing Magazine.
Taste-related words and figurative language can be more deliciously persuasive and sumptuously effective than literal words with the same meaning. Words that stimulate taste-activated areas in the brain are known to be associated with emotional processing. Language that frequently uses physical sensations or objects that refer to abstract domains, such as time, understanding or emotion, actually requires more brainpower, resulting in more engagement and comprehension.
To illustrate the point, the sentence, “She looked at him sweetly,” sparks more brain activity in emotion-based regions, like the amygdala, than, “She looked at him kindly.” Why? Because “sweet” amplifies a more physical experience, according to new research from Princeton University and the Free University of Berlin.
Figurative language can be more persuasive and effective in copywriting because your message is more imaginable in the reader’s mind.
For direct response copy, when practical (and without going overboard), a few tasty, figurative language uses can create more emotional reaction from your prospective customers. Figurative language works because the copy goes beyond the actual meanings of words. This way, the reader gains new insights into the objects or subjects in the work. Here are seven types of figurative language to consider using in copy and messaging:
1. Simile. A simile compares two things using the words “like” and “as.” Examples include:
• Clean as a whistle
• Brave as a lion
• Stand out like a sore thumb
2. Metaphor. When you use a metaphor, you make a statement that doesn’t make literal sense, like “time is a thief.” It only makes sense when the similarities between the two things become apparent or someone understands the connection. Examples include:
• Time is money
• He has a heart of stone
• America is a melting pot
3. Personification. Personification gives human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, or ideas. This can affect the way your customer imagines things. Examples include:
• Opportunity knocked on the door
• The sun can greet you tomorrow morning
• The sky was full of dancing stars
4. Hyperbole. Hyperbole is an outrageous exaggeration that emphasizes a point, and can be ridiculous or funny. Hyperboles are useful in fiction to add color, but should be used sparingly and with caution in marketing copy. Examples are:
• You snore louder than a freight train.
• It's a slow burg. I spent a couple of weeks there one day.
• You could have knocked me over with a feather.
5. Symbolism. Symbolism occurs when a word which has meaning in itself but it’s used to represent something entirely different. In this case, work with your graphics team as images can express symbolism powerfully. Examples are:
• Using an image of a flag to represent patriotism and a love for one’s country.
• Using an apple pie to represent an American lifestyle.
• Using an apple to represent education.
6. Alliteration. Alliteration is a repetition of the first consonant sounds in several words. An example:
• Wide-eyed and wondering while we wait for the other ones to waken
7. Onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is the use of words that sound like their meaning, or mimic sounds. They add a level of fun and reality to writing. Here are some examples:
• The burning wood hissed and crackled
• The words: beep, boom, bong, click, clang, click, crunch, gobble, hum, meow, munch, oink, pow, quack, smash, swish, tweet, wham, whoosh, zap, and zing.
Regardless of the type of words used, figurative language can help people visualize your product or service more instinctively. With tasty copy, you heighten senses that immerse prospects and customers to more powerfully see themselves possessing what you have to offer.