Live From ACCM: Choose Your Words Carefully

New Orleans – Word choice is more crucial than it has been over the past half-century, according to Herschell Gordon Lewis, president of Lewis Enterprises and author of 31 books.

In his segment during Monday’s intensive session, “Project Runway: Creating a Red Carpet Catalog,” Lewis noted that word choice, “can hold or lose a catalog recipient.” For example, when should you use “perhaps” and when should you use “maybe”? The answer? Think. Don’t guess. The Clarity Commandment, as Lewis related, reads: “When you choose words and phrases for force-communication, clarity is paramount. Don’t let any other component of the communications mix interfere with it.”

Lewis centered on several rules that can help catalogers:

  • The double-edge word-sword rule: Don’t use words with possible negative implications as intended positives. For example, “old” or “serviceable.”
  • The Negative suggestion as positive rule: Use words with possible negative implications as intended positives. For example, “not for” and “don’t.”
  • The benefit outpulls product rule: A headline emphasizing benefit will attract more positive attention than an announcement of what it is.
  • The exclusive isn’t enough rule: Exclusivity without recognizable benefit is a boiler-plate pitch.
  • The what’s new rule: “New” in a starburst isn’t competitive with “new” explained in terms of benefits.
  • The improvement over replacement rule: Suggesting an item as an improvement may be less likely to cause confusion or rejection than suggesting a new concept.
  • The reason to buy rule: Copy should include a reason to buy, the reason being non-exclusive for this catalog’s customer.
  • The only here rule: Claiming primal or sole source positions both the catalog and the item.
  • The passive/passive rule: Passive voice is less dynamic and less proprietary.
  • The explain the difference rule: When offering multiple items with similar features, give each one a clearly understood reason to buy.
  • The rhetorical uniqueness rule: Uniqueness stems easily from avoidance of generic verbs and adjectives. For example, “made” is generic; “hand-crafted” = uniqueness.
  • Lewis also noted that the Web not only is price-driven, but has more than significantly shrunk attention spans. “Grab and shake wins the race,” in e-mail marketing Lewis said.
  • Another trend for the 21st Century is I, Lewis said. “We write the way people talk.”

Partner Content

The Gift of Wow: Preparing your store for the holiday season - Netsuite
Being prepared for the holiday rush used to mean stocking shelves and making sure your associates were ready for the long hours. But the digital revolution has changed everything, most importantly, customer expectations. Retailers with a physical store presence should be asking themselves—what am I doing to wow the customer?
3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.