As a marketer, your job is to make a brand or product more appealing and/or more recognizable. It’s a simple job, in theory, that manifests itself in some complex ways. There are hundreds of potential channels you can use to reach your customers, and limitless creative techniques you can use to develop an image.
In the complexities of these boundless options, it’s often beneficial to take a step back and revisit the fundamentals. Marketing is all about persuasion, and your strategy should be targeting and leaning on one or more key modes of persuasion.
There are several persuasive appeals to choose from, and each has core strengths and weaknesses.
You can make a product more appealing using any or all of the following appeals:
1. An appeal to authority
Based on the rhetorical appeal of “ethos,” an appeal to authority is basically meant to persuade your audience that you’re an expert, that you’re an authority in this field, or that you’re otherwise worth trusting. It’s the type of thing you see in marketing campaigns based around a brand.
You might see an emphasis on a tagline like, “the best in the industry, 10 years running,” or an ad from a pizza shop with an explanation of how they find and use the best possible ingredients. This is, in some ways, the most powerful appeal, so long as you can back it up, since it covers your entire brand. However, it can easily be undermined by a competitor offering similar statements—and it doesn’t always move people to take action. That’s why it’s often best paired with other persuasive appeals.
2. An appeal to emotion
Based on the rhetorical appeal of “pathos,” you can also appeal to a consumer’s emotions. Because there is a full spectrum of emotions you can harness, there are a lot of diverse options to utilize here.
You can motivate a consumer to buy a product to capitalize on some happy emotion—for example, you might advertise a product that appeals to an adult’s sense of childhood nostalgia. You can also motivate an audience to purchase a product to avoid some negative feeling—for example, you might explain how their old mattress is resulting in poor-quality sleep, incentivizing them to purchase a new one.
Emotional appeals are useful because they tend to be better at motivating action. However, they can also be risky; if you’re seen as being emotionally manipulative, consumers might start to distrust you.
3. An appeal to logic
Based on the rhetorical appeal of “logos,” an appeal to logic works the way it sounds. Essentially, you’ll be convincing your audience that your product is the right choice based purely on logic. In many cases, this means comparing your product to the products of your competitors; you might explain that your choice is of similar quality, but a lower price, or that it has more of the features the consumer needs than a competing product. You can also use facts and statistics to enhance this appeal, like pointing out winter car accident statistics to sell vehicle safety devices.
4. An appeal to urgency
In many cases, you’ll also need to think about the timing of your advertisement, and how your consumer thinks about timing. Too often, modern consumers find themselves interested in a product, but they pass on buying it, thinking they can simply buy it at a later time.
This is where your persuasive appeal to urgency comes into play; here, you’re not convincing the consumer to buy your product, necessarily. Instead, you’re convincing them to buy it now, rather than later. You can do this by offering special prices for a limited time, with graphics like a ticking clock that convey a sense of urgency.
5. A social appeal
If you’ve ever felt peer pressured, you know how powerful a social persuasive appeal can be. Today’s consumers are understandably skeptical when viewing the advertising of a corporate brand—but they’re much more trusting when they’re listening to their peers. Utilizing “social proof” and other manifestations of social appeals can complement and enhance your other modes of appeal. For example, you might include the testimonials of real customers who have tried and fallen in love with your products, or you might use survey data to back up your claims.
Honing the Pillars of Your Campaign
Obviously, you can combine these persuasive appeals in inventive ways, and even if you rely on only one of them, you can interpret and present it in an infinite number of ways. Still, it pays to understand the roots of your campaign—and what you’re really trying to accomplish when you’re speaking to your customers.