Most Persuasive Words in the English Language…Maybe


12 Powerful Words

Yesterday we posted about the Yale study that wasn’t. See my post on that issue here.  The fact that the fictitious study is repeatedly quoted is proof that information that goes viral gets more traction every day.

Even though the study is bogus, the words that are cited are, admittedly, powerful. Here’s the list of the 12 most persuasive words in the English Language:

You: My English professors told me that the most popular word in the English language was, “I.” Judging from the many academic papers written by stuffy, old researchers I had to read during my degree program, I’d have to agree. For signage, however, you’re addressing your customer. It’s all about them.

Money: It’s not just all about them… it’s all about the money, too. They want to save it, you want them to spend it. Focus on the former to get them to do the latter. Which brings us to number three…

Save: There you go. Some people will believe that they’re saving money just because you tell them so. A recent controversy at a very large, nationwide department store had customers screaming foul after the store raised prices the day before discounting them. The “Sale” signs made customers think that they were saving money. The store insists that raising the prices on clothing is standard practice. But the “Sale” signs continue to work.

New: Everyone wants the latest, greatest thing. Apple makes a fortune by introducing a slightly improved product every so often (yes, I really, really want an iPad2!)

Results: You can’t sell a diet pill without touting results. Also, interestingly enough, marketing agencies (who really created this list) can’t sell marketing services without results. Everyone wants results. As long as they’re positive.

Health: This one just keeps getting more persuasive, as Americans keep getting fatter and more unhealthy.

Easy: Well, it shouldn’t be hard to shop at a store, should it? The easier you make it for your customer to buy, the more they’ll buy. It’s not rocket science.

Safety: If there are babies, small children or cute grandmas involved, safety is a great word. Not such a good marketing word if you’re selling Porsches.

Love: Some sources say that this is the number one most persuasive word. Ask any child who’s ever wanted an expensive toy and she’ll tell you that batting her eyelashes and saying, “I love you, Daddy” works wonders.

Discovery: Don’t you want to be the first to discover the latest, greatest thing? So does everyone else. Convince them that they can “discover” it, and they’ll buy it. And so will everyone else.

Proven: Well… this one is a little sketchy. Make sure you have the data to back you up. This list of words, for instance, was not “proven” by Yale. Someone just made that up.

Guarantee: There’s no guarantee that using these words on your signage will increase sales. But it certainly won’t hurt. And that, I guarantee.

Nelson James

Nelson James is the chief operating officer of and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. Prior to joining the team, Nelson was the president and co-founder of For over 6 years he helped to grow the company from 2 to over 85 employees. Nelson managed many large accounts during his tenure at, including In early 2011, Nelson was recruited to Lendio Inc., where he was VP of marketing and was responsible for the creation and management of a marketing team as well as the strategy, tactics and programs to create interest and demand for Lendio’s products and services. Prior to his work experience, Nelson graduated Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in marketing and advertising from the communications department. Nelson lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife and three children. He currently holds leadership positions in scouting and volunteers in his church and community.