Be positive in all your marketing materials – avoid negative words

There’s a theory that says if you project negativity, you will get negativity in return. So if you fill your marketing materials with rules and regulations about what students must not do and what the program will not provide, chances are you will not attract very many students.

Review your marketing materials looking for negative words – “no”, “not”, “never”, “can’t”, “won’t”, “shouldn’t”, “don’t”, etc. Then, change the sentences to give them a positive spin. For example, “Classes are no larger than 15 students” can be changed to, “Your class will have a maximum of 15 students.”

Another classic example: “Don’t hesitate to contact us” can be changed to a positive statement, starting with a strong action verb: “Contact us today to reserve your place in our course!”

Precisely because our schools often have strict policies and procedures, we find ourselves mentioning what can’t be done and what is not allowed. We need to remember that marketing materials are not the same as application and registration forms, policies, procedures or waivers. It’s important that every document serve its purpose. Marketing materials are meant to generate interest and make students want to take part in your courses. Tell your students what you will provide, what they will experience and what they can expect. Focus on a having a positive, simple, upbeat tone, filled with action verbs.

Fill your marketing material with positive, energetic words and you are likely to generate positive feelings in your prospects. That could lead to an energetic, “Yes, sign me up!”


This post is adapted from “Idea # 12: Be positive in all your marketing materials – avoid negative words” in 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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