Aristotle’s Three Pillars of Persuasion

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When we market a product, what are we doing? An economist might say that we’re identifying a demand, creating a supply, and informing the market about our supply. An athlete might say we’re formulating a strategy to get a leg-up over our competition. A marketer would say sharing our product with those who need it. But what would an ancient Greek philosopher say we are doing?

Aristotle would argue that we are merely persuading consumers to buy a product. According to Aristotle, three characteristics are crucial to every compelling argument and without one of them, your audience will not give a good-gyro what you have to say (and they definitely won’t give you money).

Are you following the three pillars of persuasion in your marketing?

Ethos. When someone tells you something you find hard to believe, the first question you ask is, how do you know? Are you recognized as an authority in your industry? According to Aristotle, you’d better be. If you don’t possess credibility in the minds of the people you are attempting to influence, you’re sunk. Brands must build a reputation of reliability to gain traction with customers.

Pathos. Find out what fills your customers with joy, what scares them, and the things that make them angry. Without this knowledge, you are unable to appeal to your customers’ emotions, which is crucial according to Aristotle’s theory. Customers should associate your brand and products with a particular emotion.

Logos. There are (probably) already several products on the market that accomplish the same goal that your product attempts to achieve. Why is yours better than the lot? Show your customers how your product will solve their problems and demonstrate the value of that solution.

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