As humans we are constantly being persuaded throughout the day. According to Aristotle there are three categories, which combine together to create persuasion: ethos, pathos and logos.
- Ethos refers to the person actually trying to persuade you. Is there creditability being built between the speaker and listener and ultimately will an impression be made.
- Pathos is simple and refers to emotion. By telling stories, creating metaphors and using analogies an emotional connection can be formed. For example Google has a commercial called, “Dear Sophie”. Every time I watch this simple 30-second commercial, featuring a father who creates an email account where he emails his daughter since the day she was born, I am left speechless and teary eyed. It was a simple commercial for Google Chrome showcasing the power of their product but they effectively emotionally connect with viewers. We all started our lives as babies, we all have a father and who wouldn’t want to log into an email account, which has kept an electronic copy of our childhood from our father’s point of view. When I was little, not too long ago, parents left messages on their camcorders for their children to view in later years, which is now quickly becoming obsolete. Talk about technological advancement!
- Logos refers to logic or the argument the communicator is trying to present. Is it logical? Is it valid? Do you feel confident with the idea being presented?
Based on the understanding of persuasion, marketers and communicators are able to apply a particular technique to the message they wish to communicate to the pubic. For example, in corporate communications you might use a bandwagon approach to persuade people to do something or buy something just because everyone else is. You might use repetition, to create brand awareness by increasing the frequency of your commercial. For example, ICBC a Crown corporation for insurance in British Columbia, not only buys commercials on the radio but they also sponsor weather segments to create a high saturation during peak listening times to advertise their brand.
Politics uses different persuasion techniques as well. We all know when election time hits, the signs go up everywhere and we are constantly persuaded to vote for a particular party. Politics uses a variety of approaches including: emotional wording, testimonials, repetition, common sense, reasoning, innuendos, plain folk and in extreme cases: card stacking and name-calling. The type of technique used sets a tone between the political party and the various publics, so caution does need to be used. Joe the Plumber was an employee of a plumbing company who quickly became a metaphor for the middle class Americans during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. This type of persuasion, plain folk, was extremely successful. Joe was not only relate-able to middle class America, but he created emotion between votes based on his common sense argument around the small business tax policy. I think politics is the most interesting realm of persuasion to watch. How far can a party go?
I can honestly say I am a rational and conservative person; emotionally geared persuasion techniques are the best way to persuade my wallet. Most of the time when I think I need something or have been persuaded, I stop and ask myself do I really need that? Will I actually use it? Do I already have something similar? Would my money be better in the bank collecting interest instead? Sounds like a simple solution, and it is! If I slow down and ask myself these questions, I am more likely to be aware that I am being persuaded and make a better decision.
If all else fails and I fall into my emotions, there is always a return policy…. Right?