The world’s most powerful selling word isn’t in the dictionary!

In Ted Grigg’s excellent direct marketing blog, he lists 13 powerful words in direct response advertising. This includes many of the words you would expect, such as “you,” “easy,” “free,” “guarantee,” and so on.

These are all hardworking words, to be sure. And on more than one occasion, I’ve said that “free” is nearly as powerful as words get in the selling business, eclipsed only by “you.”

But there’s one word that is conspicuously absent on the list. Can you guess what it is? It’s the word that will always get your attention. It’s the sweetest word in the language, the one that you love to hear and has an almost magical effect on you every time you see it or hear it. But it’s not in the dictionary.

Any idea?

If you guessed “your name,” kudos to you. For me, it’s “Dean.” For you it may be “Bob” or “Mary” or whatever. Dale Carnegie had this figured out back in 1936 when he wrote How to Win Friends & Influence People. He wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

In direct response advertising, this translates to the tactic of personalization. I use this in direct mail wheever possible because I’ve seen how it can boost response rates. The difference between a headline that reads “Here’s how to make money from home sitting at your computer” and one that reads “Dean, here’s now to make money from home sitting at your computer” is vast. The first is about an idea but the second is about ME. And nothing is more interesting to me than me.

I might dust off my copy of How to Win Friends & Influence People for future posts. There’s a lot you can learn from that book that is directly applicable to selling and to direct mail and other forms of direct response advertising. We’re in the people business, after all.

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5 Responses to “The world’s most powerful selling word isn’t in the dictionary!”

  1. Shama Hyder on November 20th, 2007 12:51 am

    The only thing stronger than using a person’s name is touch, and technology hasn’t come that far yet. Great post!

  2. Dean Rieck on November 20th, 2007 10:37 am

    No matter how great your offer is … touching people could get you arrested. :)

  3. Michael A. Stelzner on November 21st, 2007 1:29 am

    I was guessing you were going to say “Thanks!”

  4. Dean Rieck on November 21st, 2007 2:10 am

    No, but that’s good. Thanks!

  5. Hamilton Ontario Real Estate on December 4th, 2007 4:48 pm


    This is my first time visiting your blog. Came over here from a link at Copyblogger from your “58 Killer Offers” series, which is phenomenal.

    This is another great post. I haven’t used the ‘name’ as much as I should in my Real Estate marketing efforts, and it’s brilliant for you to bring it up. Haven’t read the book you made reference to, but I might just hunt down a copy! :)

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