Rhetoric, or the art and study of persuasive language, was divided into three major categories by Aristotle: ethos, pathos and logos. In marketing, we use these same three approaches to convince customers to purchase, 2300 + years later! Talk about lasting power- Thanks Aristotle!
While we all use one or more of these approaches, many marketers and business owners do so unconsciously. Which approach(es) do you use?
- Ethos (Character persuasion)– Need a certain bootylicious pop star to sell your cosmetics? Maybe you’re relying on a trusted expert to endorse your product. Another example of this would be leveraging word-of-mouth campaigns. Whenever you are leveraging trust and reputation, you are relying on ethos.
- Pathos (Emotional persuasion)– Have you seen those heartbreaking Feed the Children commercials? How about batty political ads that tell you that if you do not vote for such-and-such you will become poor and criminals will take over your neighborhood? Another example would be the religious organizations that run ads showing people sharing, caring and being kind to neighbors. These advertisements purposely aim to elicit an emotional response from the audience.
- Logos (Intellectual persuasion)– Dyson commercials are an excellent example of this type of persuasion. When we utilize logos in marketing, we are appealing to the intellect of our audience.
So, why should you care about this? Good question! You may be using the wrong approach for your target market. Additionally, you may need to switch up your approach, from time to time, or combine them. If are selling $500 jeans to 16 year olds, logos will not get you far. Similarly, if your audience is primarily techies, ethos is likely not the way to go- they just want to know if and how your software works!