Precision Persuasion

Saying you recommend rather than like something makes people 32 per cent more likely to take your suggestion. Using the word whom in online dating profiles makes men 31% more likely to get a date. Adding more prepositions to a cover letter makes you 24% more likely to get the job. And saying is not rather than isn’t when describing a product makes people pay $3 more to get it.

Those words are from Jonah Berger whose new book is a revelation that could spark a revolution. Magic Words: What to say to get your way is not about AI, or at least not just that. It’s about our reaching an inflection point in understanding the science of language. Says Berger: “Technological advances in machine learning, computational linguistics and natural language processing, combined with the digitization of everything from cover letters to conversation, have revolutionised our ability to analyze language.”

It’s clear where this is going, the same place cancer medicine already is. You and I can have exactly the same tumor, but you’ll get a different treatment than me, based on your DNA, your genes, age and gender. Today, you and I get different marketing pitches based on where we live, what we earn and where we spend. But tomorrow, marketers will know if you’re a “who” person or a “whom” person, an “isn’t” woman, or an “is not” man. Think of it as linguistic chemo, and…

Run for your lives!

Or should that be… run for your life?

Meanwhile…

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