What if I told you that by changing the way you talk to your customers, you could drive more results and get more people to buy?
That sounds like a lofty claim, but hear me out.
Language is the most powerful tool in the human arsenal. Not only does it communicate, but it can actually make you feel, think, and act.
Think about that last great billboard or tv ad you saw. Did it move you? Did it make you laugh? Did it remind you of a loved one? Did it make you curious? Did you absolutely hate it? Think about the messaging, and reflect on the language that was used and the impact it had on you.
If marketing is all about promoting our brand, products, and services, then messaging and language is the vehicle that we use to do so.
Knowing the impact that language can have, we can actually use our words more strategically to persuade our customers to purchase our product or service.
With language, we can pinpoint their problems, bring them on a journey, and call them to action.
What I’m going to talk to you about today is something called Rhetoric. Rhetoric is the study of arguments and persuasion.
This is actually what I got my degree in. Rhetoric is a branch of English studies and literally guides you through how to formulate the best argument so that your when you talk to your audience, you make them feel, think, and act.
So, when we apply rhetoric to marketing, we are able to craft the perfect marketing message that persuades our customers to buy.
Are you ready to learn the secret about persuasive copywriting? Are you ready to drive more leads just by changing your language?
Let’s get to it.
What is Rhetoric?
So, like I mentioned, rhetoric is the study of arguments and persuasion. Rhetoric largely comes from the Greek philosophers Aristotle and is used today in everything from politics to advertising.
When I get through, I bet you use rhetoric in your everyday lives and conversations as well and didn’t even know it.
Three Core Principles of Rhetoric
There are three core principles of rhetoric and persuasion:
Pathos is the appeal to emotions. This is what makes us feel.
Whenever I explain pathos, I always think of that awful commercial where they have a celebrity telling you to donate to an animal shelter, and they have all these sad dogs playing on the screen with heartbreaking music. At the end, they ask you to donate to save a dog’s life. You are left feeling depressed, heartbroken, and maybe a bit guilty. This is a direct appeal to your emotions. Probably too strong of an appeal to your emotions, to be honest.
You can persuade people emotionally by telling a story, taking them on a journey, and using vivid and descriptive imagery.
In fact, the word “Imagine” is one of the most powerful persuasive words because it calls the audience to put themselves into a situation and feel it.
Logos appeals to someone’s sense of logic. This might be a statistic, going over objections, FAQs, data, case studies, etc. This is all of the cold hard evidence that someone needs to feel good about a purchasing decision.
Ethos appeals to their sense of credibility. This is your chance to explain why you are an authority on the subject.
How to Use Rhetoric in Marketing
A great marketing message will combine all of these. Here’s an example that uses all three:
Imagine living a life free of back pain. x% of people suffer from long-term back discomfort. As a licensed chiropractor, I’m here to help alleviate the pain you are feeling now and prevent that same pain from interrupting your life in the future.
The “imagine” was our emotional appeal, the percentage was our logic, and our licensure was our authority.
Here’s another example for a wedding planning company:
Your wedding day should be stress-free so that you can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime moment with the people who matter most. At company name, we are an award-winning event planning company, and we’ve helped execute over 500 weddings worry-free.
Describing how a wedding should be was our pathos. Our ethos is in our awards, and our logos is the number of weddings showcasing our experience.
The Most Important Aspect of Rhetoric and Marketing: Audience
So, now that we have the basics down of the three appeals that you can use in any marketing message to persuade, we have to talk about the most important principle of rhetoric: audience.
You HAVE to understand your customer and what THEY care about, and what will appeal to them.
Think about this example:
Say you have exciting news to share. You are going to tell your spouse in a different way than you tell your mom. How would you speak to a stranger at a cafe versus your best friend?
We all adapt how we speak depending on our audience and how they will receive and respond to the message.
The same needs to be done with your audience.
What will appeal to your audience MORE? Emotions? Logic? Authority?
As I mentioned, a combination of the three is your best bet when casting a large net, but you can put a harder emphasis on the appeal that will most likely persuade your target customer to make the decision you want.
For example, think about a veterinarian. As a vet, you are working with customers who deeply care for and love their pets. An emotional appeal or emphasis would work really well across your marketing messages. Things like “We care about your pet as deeply as you do” or “Get compassionate pet care from every person at every visit.”
This sensitive, emotion-filled message may perform better than “x dogs get rabies because of a lack of vaccinations. Get yours today!”
However, if we are talking about a personal law attorney, logos and ethos (logic and authority), might perform better.
Another Consideration for Your Rhetorical Marketing Approach: Brand
Another caveat–my favorite thing to add to these episodes–is that your persuasive marketing message also depends on your brand.
If you are a veterinarian who invests in every medical certification there is and is highly attuned to medical and science-based care, then incorporating your authority and logic would serve you well and attract a different kind of audience than a vet who goes the emotional route.
Likewise, if you are a personal injury attorney who has a deep, caring heart for the elderly, for example, then going the emotional route will be more on-brand for you.
Rhetoric in Marketing: A Powerful Tool to Persuade Your Audience
So let’s recap:
First, the three main appeals to persuade any person are:
- Pathos – appeal to emotion
- Logos – appeal to logic
- Ethos – appeal to authority
The best marketing message will be a combination of the three.
However, there are two things to consider and adapt your messaging to:
- Your audience and what THEY care about
- Your brand
So, test this out on your next social media post or your next website copy re-vamp. Try it in your ad headlines or your email subject lines. Try it in your next elevator pitch at a networking event.
Knowing how to communicate your product or service and appeal directly to your customer is the most POWERFUL marketing tool that you can have as a small business owner.
Until next time, keep succeeding small.