- “Our cars have a market share of 32.3% worldwide. We receive 89.5% of times a very positive feedback, 5.2% of times a positive feed-back and only 5.3% a feed-back which is either neutral or negative. Our clients return to us and buy a second car from us 54% of the time.” versus
- “We have the best cars in the world. Everybody talks nice about us. Our clients are so happy!”
Which is better?
In the words of any consultant, “it depends”. The answer is, itself, divided in two. A versus:
- If you write something scientific, if you have a report which should cover all the angles, if you write for people interested in having the whole picture, write with the first version. Provide facts, give more power to your words. Create the whole picture. Focus on delivering “everything”. Lose the subjectivity of emotions and the possible opinions of “you are wrong”, which are inherent when you compress a big image in a small sentence (“best cars in the world” can refer to lots of things). versus
- If you want to move people, if you want to give more powers to your words, if you are writing for people who prefer to have vivid emotions, if you talk to busy people, not willing to spend the the time for an accurate image, if you write for the common (non-scientist) man, give a chance to the second option. It’s counter-intuitive, rules in marketing and persuasion techniques advise you to use statistics, and (at times) pick only the most interesting data of a given sample (so, instead of focusing on NCAP tests, on which you may not be the best, say that people feel safest in your cars, out of 20 brands tested, even if this statistic is not as accurate as the first one).
As a conclusion, using facts and data and numbers is all great for the right audience, and using adjectives, and metaphors, and things which are subjective may be well suited for other types of people.
You should take this into account when writing. There are two opposite types of writing – either data or emotions. The results differ.
One more thing to think about – each affirmation moves people in some way or another. You should rather focus on the change if you write an editorial (“I want, by writing this, to shift perceptions”), but not so much if you write a piece of scientific paper (“I want things to be 100% accurate”).
Compare the two titles below:
- “The gift of life” says nothing on the article itself. Using “gift” to describe life, and starting with this as an assumption (“life must be a gift”) can be perceived as false.
- The second title has almost no emotions in it. “X says so, and Y doubts this.” A very good title for a particular audience.
Note: Also see the Yahoo! Group on which I present similar issues:IMRo. To join, email firstname.lastname@example.org and reply to the confirmation email.