That’s not a typo in this entry’s title. It must be negative week as I came across two compelling entries on using negativity in writing.
I took an superb online writing class from Jeff Sexton, the author of the Accentuate the Negative post. He gave great examples of how showing the downside of a product or service could gain more credibility than one that has nothing but raves.
Remember Avis? “We’re number two, we try harder.”
I’ve been fortunate to work with clients who use my services again. However, I had a client that didn’t work out. When I stopped working for the client, I asked for a testimonial and said that I didn’t expect a positive one. The client chose not to do it.
But it’s understandable as few want to go on public record making a negative statement about someone’s work. I don’t think I could do it as I prescribe with Lyndon B. Johnson’s approach — criticize people in private. I read a story about the former U.S. president who asked a staff member who did something embarrassing aside where he lectured him. I couldn’t find the story — if anyone knows the story, please let me know.
Using Negativity to Create More Clicks
The second entry comes from David Meerman Scott. In Do Not Read This Post (yeah, I read it and stole his headline — actually, doesn’t putting “” around it indicate I’m quoting him?), he discusses the use of “not” and the importance of delivering on the headline. Take care and “Don’t let people think that you really are being negative or exclusionary.”
Exclusivity also increases want. Example: Google’s Gmail. To get an account required receiving an invitation. Somehow Google pulled it off without coming across as “exclusionary.” Though plenty of blogs had comments from those who had not received an invitation feeling left out or not “in the in crowd,” the whole campaign didn’t emit a negative tone.
Like Scott says, have fun with using the negative approach.