Science equipment with wires and stuff confirms what good copywriters already knew

So scientists did some cool science again, where they strap scary-looking machinery to people’s heads, then say words to them see how their brains handle it.


Here’s what happened, as reported on the Neuromarketing blog, at Food, Shelter, and Big Words:



… specific brain patterns emerged for nouns related to food, shelter, and “manipulation” (things that can be grasped or used)…. Long words also caused different activation patterns than short ones. emphasis added

If you’ve been in fundraising for more than, say, 27 minutes, you’re probably saying duh about this news. Short, concrete, survival-related words get people’s attention! People process long words differently! Knock me down with a feather!


I’m being unfair. The way a lot of fundraising comes out, I’ll guess a vast cohort of fundraising professionals don’t have a clue about those things.


The (very sound) conclusion drawn at Neuromarketing is this:



Incorporating food/shelter words in one’s copy (when relevant and appropriate) may end up having a greater impact. This research doesn’t tell us that long words are less effective or harder for the brain to interpret, but I’d consider the fact that lengthy terms activate a different area of the brain to be at least a caution flag for their use in headlines or short copy.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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