The Power of a Few Words

Every word of a tightly-written marketing strategy offers increased value and incentivizes a customer toward a sale. Optimizing the language of your various campaigns does a service to both you and your customers. They’ll appreciate how clearly you’ve laid out your offer and thank you for respecting their limited time. Your business is also likely to spend less on connecting with customers, meaning you have a better opportunity to meet your bottom line. 

The right words can define your business and win you sales. More importantly, no amount of good design or conciseness can save a poorly-worded marketing push. You should always choose what you say before you decide how, with the understanding that there might be some changes along the way. Nail your core messaging at the beginning; the rest will follow.

Words Matter to Customers

As difficult as it can be to put in-market customers in your dealership, it can be just as easy to ward them off. CDK Global performed a study of how various customers reacted to the language present on various digital assets: vehicle description pages, emails, and car and dealership reviews. Based on their findings, they grouped the worst offenders into a list of ‘Low Converting Words,” which are “ least likely to get a potential buyer off a review site and on to a dealership website”1.

Some of the Low Converting Words in question might surprise you:

  • Women disliked “Bought,” as it felt irrelevant to them. 
  • Generation X’ers weren’t captured by “Back,” as it seems to have alluded to “taking their car back,” and generated the negative emotions you’d expect from losing an important part of your life. 
  • Recent college graduates cited “Company” as their least impressive word, either because it referenced “the company car” or issues with an OEM.

The lesson to take here is: it wasn’t money or convenience that pushed these customers away. It was the emotion the various words made them feel. Appealing to someone’s sense of pragmatism — offers and services — has less power over their buying decision than the feeling of the buying experience.  

The same is true of CDK’s “High Converting Words,” which are exactly what they sound like. They connect with and convert in-market customers from prospects to completed sales. Our earlier three cohorts also had a unique set of High Converting Words:

  • “Driven” for women, used in reference to how much they might drive a vehicle or how that drive relates to other cars they’ve driven before.
  • Gen X liked “Truck” the most. The reason, CDK says? “Simple, Gen-X shoppers are highly interested in trucks.”
  • College grads were moved by “Buy,” as their next car purchase at a dealership would also be their first. 

Once again, emotion plays a large role in how the three cohorts engage with dealership marketing. And though they appear more interested in things than feelings in this case, in reality, the three words in question are defined by how each customer group interacts with those they love. The women related the word “driven” to people they know and trust, and a college grad buying their first car is undoubtedly an emotional rollercoaster. Gen X’s choice of “Truck” has emotional resonance, as well, if only because that group just likes trucks, their form factor, and their ability to pull that boat to the lakehouse for a weekend with family.

Building Your Language

What words groups of people react to are as different as the groups themselves. You know your customers best, but there’s always more you can learn from them. Consider asking them about their experience with your advertising at the point of sale. What about it brought them to your dealership? Was there a specific offer or incentive that caught their eye, or was it the way you framed your message? Be brief, but direct. You want to learn the key metrics that will help improve your marketing and still maintain respect for your customer’s time. 

Be aware that what words your customers care most about will change, sometimes faster than you can predict. Such shifts come down to a generation’s evolving values, world events, or changes in a group’s perception of the industry. Staying on top of what matters to who is a never-ending battle, but it doesn’t have to take much time to get a pulse on the situation. Focus on the power of a few words, and you’ll learn a lot.

Words Have Power

The best advertising is simple, clear, and to the point. Think of your favorite tagline, and it’s probably not more than five or six words. A customer knows instantly what the product is all about, and they associate it with its brand instantly. 

You can expand this concept to the language you use on all of your customer-facing materials. If a word, phrase, or sentence feels like it gets in the way of putting a customer on your show floor, ask yourself it’s necessary. In other words, sales language needs to sell and nothing but. It’s the tone and emotion generated by that language that offers you some wiggle room.

Consider the following two offers:

  1. We can offer you $1,000 at signing, but only for a single day.
  2. We will give you $1,000 at signing, but only for a single day.

Both of these examples say essentially the same thing: the customer will receive some value when they sign, but the offer is only good for a limited time. The difference is the aggressiveness of the language. 

The first example is softer, less “in your face.” The offer feels like a kindness given freely. 

The second example is direct and louder. The $1,000 is right here, and you will receive it as part of signing, whether you ask for it or not. 

These are more extreme cases, and which end of the spectrum you fall on depends on many factors. However, regardless of where you land, changing just a few words can completely shift both tone and immediacy. Not every customer will engage the same way with one version over the other, and it’s a precise balancing act to find the sweet spot that reaches a majority of your customer base. 

You’ll need to adapt your messaging based on what works best for you and your customers. Remember: that there are core competencies that act as a foundation for all your marketing efforts on the go forward. You want to get your point across clearly, quickly, and concisely, and you want a tone consistent with your customers’ values. The words you use to accomplish those two goals will help determine most other pieces of your advertising presence, and once nailed down, will serve you well for years to come.


reVo MG’s clients understand our commitment to precision and clarity when it comes to putting in market customers on their show floor. Contact us today to discover the reVo difference for yourself.


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