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The Power of New in Persuasive Writing

It's Not a Gimmick. It's Science.

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Updated 3.8.24

The "power of new" is not just a gimmick to use in persuasive writing.

Sure, new things make you (and your reader) feel good – a new gadget, a new outfit, or a new job.  New ideas stimulate her and give hope. There are solutions and answers to problems!

But going a bit further, there’s a scientific reason why using the word ‘new’ is a powerful copywriting technique.

The Power of New in persuasive writing with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Novelty Activates Your Brain

Putting aside the idea that ‘new’ means a fresh start or marks the cutting edge of a trend, there is evidence that novelty activates your brain. When you sense something new, your brain releases dopamine. It’s the “reward chemical” in your brain. Dopamine helps you see potential rewards and motivates you to get them. ‘New’ makes you want to explore more because you anticipate a reward. 

This chemical reaction motivates you to get off your fanny and take action. The power of new is a drive so strong that you’re willing to plunk down good money for the up-to-the-minute cell phone or the latest movie ticket release or the newest fast-food sandwich.

You can see why the concept of ‘new’ can be a effective in persuasive writing and why it’s such a powerful word. If you can motivate a reader to explore more, you can get him to take another step.

But People Don't Like Change ...

So why do they like something new?  

There is an explanation for this seeming contradiction.

On the resistance to change end, neuroimaging research shows that people respond favorably to familiarity. A household brand or a recognizable approach breeds trust. When your reader knows what you stand for and knows she can trust you to stick to your core values, she feels comfortable trusting you to try something new that you offer. You’ve earned her confidence. 

But if within the safety of that trust you develop different products, events, ideas, approaches, and features – well, that excites her. She trusts you AND she anticipates a possible reward if she tries something new that you offer!

She doesn’t see ‘new’ so much as improved, exciting, upgraded, better quality, enriched, or value-added.

The classic example are regular upgrades to Apple’s iPhone with its “new technology” and “exciting innovation.” Customers wait in lines that snake around city blocks when the new phones are released. They trust the Apple brand.  The idea that they can experience Apple’s new product, within the safety of that trust, is powerful.

The Power of New

But if your reader doesn’t trust you, she will likely pause at the word ‘new.’ In the back of her mind she may think gimmick, stunt, or even undependable or deceitful.

That’s why the power of new doesn’t stand on its own, but on the shoulders of trust.

When you’ve built trust with your readers, you’ll have earned the right to be heard. Your reader will listen and be eager to respond when you use the word ‘new.’

It’s no gimmick. It’s science and it’s truth.

And it’s persuasive.

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