The Single Most Persuasive Word You Can Use

Jeff Berman
August 4, 2010

WordsA huge component of online marketing for law firms is understanding how to compel a visitor to take an action.  All the visitors and traffic in the world means nothing if there is no interaction or follow through.  Crafting copy that is persuasive, informative, and elegant is a tricky proposition.

Lucky for you, there is a word that can help.

The Power Of "Because"

There is a book I read called Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive.  One particularly interesting chapter discussed a study performed by behavioral scientist Ellen Langer.

In the study, Langer had a stranger approach someone waiting in line to use a photocopier.  The individual asked "Excuse me, I have five pages.  May I use the Xerox machine?"  In this scenario, 60% of the people were willing to let the stranger cut in line.

However, when the stranger made that same request with a reason such as "May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?", 94% allowed the stranger to cut in line.  This seems justifiable considering the reason given was valid.

The most interesting aspect of the study however, was when Langer tested the use of the word because but followed it up with a completely invalid reason.  This time the stranger asked, "May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?"  Despite the completely useless reason given (no kidding you have to make copies on the copy machine), 93% of the participants allowed the stranger to cut.

This study helps to demonstrate the power of providing a reason for someone to do something.

Are You Giving Your Visitors A REASON To Take An Action?

Simply telling potential clients to take an action isn't nearly as effective as giving them a reason why they should do so.  Sure you can tell them to get a free consultation, sign up for your newsletter, add your blog to their rss feed, register for email updates, etc.  However, giving them a reason WHY they should do so is critically important because it will enable you to generate more contacts and build more relationships.

Take some time to read back through the copy on your website or blog.  Keep that important word "because" in the back of your head and look for any opportunities you can to validate your request for interaction with a solid reason.  I'll bet there is a huge amount of opportunity to improve your website copy.

Photo by Feuillu

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman, is co-founder of AttorneySync. "Properly marketing a law firm online is about producing relevant content that helps a prospective client understand your expertise and how you are able to help them. Finally, it’s about getting that content found by the people you are trying to help."
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13 years ago

Jeff, great post.
You guys "get it"

13 years ago

It is always great to have studies to back up statements about human behavior. I had never thought about the power of because. Thanks for sharing your discovery.

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