If you want to sell more, you have to stop using words and phrases that no one REALLY understands.

If you have taken my free 5 day branding course you are familiar with tornado-friendly language  but if not, here is a little summary:


tornado-friendly: non-specific, general, confusing, boring words

It’s called tornado-friendly because it isn’t concrete. It isn’t strong and it’s easy to blow away. So when the tornado comes, poof.

Tornado-proof: specific, clear, unique-to-you

This language is memorable. It’s not easy to blow away. It’s specific and it reads like only YOU could write it.

Tornado-friendly language is a disease that plagues most entrepreneurs but it is especially prominent in the self-help community. Most people who struggle with selling have a lot of this language in the copy, in their blog posts and everywhere else.

A short list of tornado-friendly words

self-fulfillment, happy, wellness, peace, confidence, dreams, desires, joy (lord have mercy let’s ban joy please), creativity, empowerment, self-realization, values, talents, PASSION, deepest self, wellness, authenticity, manifesting, alchemist,

Oh my god, there are so many more.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t HATE these words. These are super helpful words. They just don’t say much.

It’s like the word “hook up.” I hate hate hate this word because I have no clue what people mean when they say it. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had in college that went like,

“well we hooked up”

Everyone nods and of course, being the person I am..I say… “and that means?”


That is exactly how people feel when they read copy that relies way to heavily on tornado-friendly language. Too many questions without answers. We are forced to fill the gaps with our own story.

And when it comes to hooking up, that is how rumors got started.

I am not even saying that you shouldn’t use them but know that if you rely to heavily on words that are commonly used by other people in your industry, you have a lot more competition.

An example:


I’ll help you find confidence so you can live a life you desire.


Ok, let’s talk about this sentence.

1. This sentence could be found on ANY website. So that’s no good.
2. This does not belong to any particular offering. This is really important. Each sentence should feel like it belongs to whatever you are selling. You should NOT be able to pick it up and take it to any other website without any problems.
3. Can I see it? Can I touch it? Can I feel it? Not really.
4. Confidence is a LOADED word. Desire? Even worse. The brain can’t focus. My interpretation of these words is gonna be way different than the story YOU have for it. And that is the BIGGEST problem with these words. Too much story attached.

Ok, let’s change it.


My mission is simple. I will help you ask for the raise, ask for the date and take that class you’ve been dying to take but couldn’t find the “time” to try. Let’s change your life one daring adventure at a time.


What changed:
Specificity. Instead of just saying “confidence” or alluding to “desire” we show examples of what it looks like and we call our ideal customer out. Yeah, you aren’t stepping up and living quite yet but we are gonna change that by taking one daring adventure at a time. We could even expand that to include more examples of what that looks like.


ACTION: Go back to your copy and edit, edit, edit. Show instead of tell, yo. 

If you haven’t already, sign up for my list and take the 5 Day Branding Challenge to learn more and get ready for the AWESOMENESS that is Hot Brand Action, coming OH SO soon. Sign up for the list so you’ll be first to know. 




Author: admin

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12 thoughts on “why bad copy is like "hooking up" + the words you should stop using

  1. This is a hard one….
    Sometimes its difficult to find the write words but still we need to get crystal clear on the TANGIBLE results you deliver and focus our marketing on solving the PROBLEMS our clients find most important.
    Eurpoean people find these “Tornado-friendly” words unrealistic so most of the time I try to use words that are more problem oriented and it works greats because it makes sense and it’s linked to their present situation.
    Thanks for sharing these truths about writing good copy.

    Posted on August 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm
  2. Great advice!  Nothing like really specific language to make an offering seem more real and enticing 🙂

    Posted on August 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm
  3. Love this…. evernoted it so I can refer back to it in the future.  The reminder to be specific is a BIG one!  Great post.  : )

    Posted on August 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm
  4. This is good Shenee!  I am definitely guilty of this in my “stale as 3 week old bread” website copy.  I think I’m doing pretty good on my blog posts (well some of them) but this is a very helpful reminder for my bio/offerings etc…  Thank you!  ox Cecilia

    Posted on August 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm
  5. Go Shanee! see, feel, touch…got it!~ THanks. 

    Posted on August 22, 2012 at 7:54 pm
  6. Ouch! That just hit me with some real tough love. Thanks Shenee

    Posted on August 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm
  7. Another great post. Everyone says have great copy but what does that mean? Help a girl out. Love your before and after examples. Shining clarity from you as always.

    Posted on August 22, 2012 at 10:56 pm
  8. Thank you for this! I am so glad I read this in this moment, really hit home. 

    Posted on August 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm
  9. I love your angle on this…very helpful and you’ve inspired me with some new ideas!

    Posted on August 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm
  10. Great post and I love the checklist! 
    I’m still finding it tricky to apply though for situations where each client would have a different outcome (this was the hardest part of the 5 day course!).  I suppose my fear is that by specifying what one client would want to achieve, I risk alienating another.
    This post has given me lots of food for thought though, and I have a real ‘tip of my brain’ feeling, in that I know once I get this strongly and solidly defined everything else will just click into place (at the moment my lack of specificity feels like the hoover dam holding back the swell of my brand identity 😀 ).

    Posted on August 24, 2012 at 6:12 am
  11. I loooooove this post. I must admit, I’m a recovering tornado-friendly—confidence, love desire—– “writer”.
    My industry is all over that.

    Thanks for a great check list too.

    Posted on November 29, 2012 at 11:58 am
  12. EFFING AWESOME POST! and TIMELY BEYOND BELIEF *and* GUILTY AS CHARGED! So mega THANK YOUs for the OH-SO-USEFUL (may I borrow it?) example!!!

    Adore you!!!

    Posted on February 4, 2015 at 6:16 pm