August 28, 2016

As good as your word

‘Applewood-smoked bacon’ just tastes better

Turns out a Southwestern Tex-Mex salad by any other name would not taste as good.

Vivid menu descriptions — “applewood-smoked bacon,” “Maytag blue cheese” and “buttery plump pasta,” for instance — can increase restaurant sales up to 27 percent, according to research by Brian Wansink.

Furthermore, diners feel more satisfied after eating a Southwestern Tex-Mex Salad than after eating the same salad with a blander name.

So why do these adjectives sell while other adjectives just get in the way?

Deliver real meaning.

Adjectives work when they deliver real meaning and not ‘the illusion of meaning without its substance.’

Roger Dooley, blogger at Neuromarketingsuggests using adjectives that are:

  • Vivid. “Freshly cracked,” “light-and-fluffy,” “handcrafted,” “triple-basted” and “slow-cooked” paint pictures in the readers’ minds. Those pictures are more compelling than, say, a plain, old omelet.
  • Sensory. I, for one, want my bacon applewood smoked. Descriptions like this engage the readers’ senses.
  • Emotional or nostalgic. “‘Aged Vermont cheddar,'” he writes, “evokes images of crusty New England dairymen rather than Kraft mega-plants.” “Boodie’s Chicken Liver Masala” and “Grandma’s zucchini cookies” also evoke emotion and nostalgia.
  • Specific. “Wild Alaskan” salmon conjures up “visions of vigorous, healthy fish swimming in pristine, unpolluted streams,” he writes.
  • Branded. I strongly prefer Maytag, Stilton and Roquefort to plain old blue cheese … even though I’m not that clear on the difference.

Bottom line: Sprinkle in a few adjectives when they’ll change the picture in the reader’s head or otherwise engage the senses. But don’t use modifiers — gorgeous, great, groundbreaking — that just take up space.

  • Cut Through the Clutter

    Is your copy easy to read? According to communication experts, that’s one of the two key questions people ask to determine whether to read a piece — or toss it.

    Fortunately, academics have tested and quantified what makes copy easy to read. Unfortunately, that research virtually never makes it out of the ivory tower and into the hands of writers who could actually apply it.

    Houston persuasive writing workshopAt Catch Your Readers — a two-day Master Class on Nov. 2-3 in Houston — you’ll learn “the numbers” you need to measurably improve your copy’s readability.

    Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

    • How long is too long: For your paragraphs? Your sentences? Your words?
    • Three ways to shorten your copy — and which is the most effective way
    • How to avoid causing your reader to skip your paragraphs
    • A tool you can use (you already have it, but you might not know it) to quantifiably improve your copy’s readability
    • A seven-step system for making your copy clearer and more concise

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for persuasive writing workshop in Houston


    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

    Would you like to hold an in-house Catch Your Readers workshop? Contact Ann directly.

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