The Power of 'because...'

Jul 26 09:08 2005 Robert F. Abbott Print This Article

"Do it!", "Do it now!", or "Do it because..."

Which of these commands is most likely to get the response you want?

If you picked the third,Guest Posting the one that includes 'because', you'd be right. Of course, if you're a parent, aunt, or uncle you may know that already.

The idea behind 'because...' is to provide an explanation or rationalization for the request you're making. In other words, the command or request is not just an arbitrary exercise of power on your part -- it's a reasoned request or command.

In a broader sense, 'because' provides context, which we've often discussed in this newsletter. Context provides a framework for specific communication. For example, "Please review this contract before we mail it out, because a mistake could cost us thousands of dollars."

A number of Internet entrepreneurs report they've tested the use of 'because' in their advertising copy and found it worked. I've used it myself on the home page of Abbott's Communication Letter where visitors are invited to subscribe.

I haven't tested to see whether or not it makes a difference. But I do know it helps in the copy writing process.

It helps because it pushes me to make a connection between an action and a consequence of that action. For example, "Wear a helmet when you ride your bike, because it will help you avoid head injuries if you fall." In this case, wearing a helmet is the action; avoiding a head injury is the consequence.

One more thought: the word 'because' does not always have to be explicit. It can be implicit or implied, as in "Wear a helmet when you ride your bike, so you won't injure your head if you fall."

Let's consider a few more examples, from various functional perspectives.

Suppose you're a librarian and you want to encourage patrons to expand their reading horizons. So, you post a sign in the Historical Fiction area that reads something like this: "The story here is only half the story. Visit the History shelves, too, and enrich the stories you find here."

The action: look in the History section, as well as the Historical Fiction section. The consequence: you'll learn the story behind the story, enriching your reading of the fictitious stories.

How about a sales example? If you send a sales letter, do you focus on product features and ignore the benefits your readers will reap (believe me, I see a lot of these letters)? If you use 'because' with each feature-- explicitly or implicitly -- you'll force yourself to list benefits as well as product features.

Compare these two pitches: "Now featuring keyboard water coolers with two-gallon capacity!" and "With the two-gallon keyboard water cooler, your keyboard will never overheat, no matter how fast you type."

In summary, using the word 'because' in your message will help you write more persuasive copy and help your readers understand why they should respond to you.

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Robert F. Abbott
Robert F. Abbott

Robert F. Abbott writes and publishes Abbott's Communication Letter. Learn how you can use communication to help achieve your goals, by reading articles or subscribing to this ad-supported newsletter. An excellent resource for leaders and managers, at:

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