Over 2,400 years ago, Aristotle established the framework for marketing communications strategy that would continue to be relevant throughout history. While his modes of persuasion were probably meant to be implemented in the areas of politics and literature, a good marketer knows a great idea when they see it (after all, marketing is based on the persuasion of a purchase decision). The model is still applicable today, especially in a digital world where content can be generated and disseminated to an audience faster than ever before.

Before we look at a hypothetical example, let’s take a moment to understand the three basic tenants of Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals.

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Ethos (Credibility)

Does the content deliver a sense of credibility? Are the persuasive points to be made presented with expertise and authority, or recognized by other authorities in your field?

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Pathos (Emotion)

Does the content deliver a message that rings to the emotional nature of humans? Does it create joy, sympathy, or empathy with the viewer? Can they visualize the content being applied to their own lives?

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Logos (Logic)

What are the facts that can support your persuasive argument to lend itself to the logical side of your reader? Aristotle describes this as argument based in reason that exhibits “the difference between what is advantageous and what is harmful.”

  ETHOS (CREDIBILITY)

Before an interested prospective franchisee would give the company the time of day, the franchise concept would need to exhibit that they have credibility in their industry. Fortunately, the franchising game has plenty of publications and organizations that recognize greatness in the field. This company could create a landing page on the website featuring accolades from these news outlets, with supporting press releases every time they receive more recognition. The franchising director could step in front of a camera and speak with authority about the company growth and marketing support. And most good franchising concepts offer frequent webinars, where prospects can meet the team and experience their expertise firsthand, creating trust that is required to take a leap of faith starting a new business.

  PATHOS (EMOTION)

Taking the step into business ownership can be one of the most emotional moments imaginable. There are fear and anxiety to be sure, but also hopefulness, excitement, and a sense of freedom that one is now in charge of their own destiny. In this case, the franchise concept would want to inspire joy and empathy (the ability to share feelings with another.) Showcasing existing franchise operators via video testimonials would be valuable – tell the user how you as a company created positive change in the lives of others. Showcase the job creation that has been a result of locations opening in other communities. Pathos-style content can even be used to mitigate emotions of uncertainty – for instance, a series of whitepapers about the marketing, purchasing and training support could diminish feelings of anxiety.

  LOGOS (LOGIC)

Making a persuasive case rooted in logic tends to be entrenched in factual evidence, or as Aristotle would put it, identifying what is advantageous. A well-maintained FAQ list is vital in presenting the details and quick answers that an interested party might seek, such as franchise fees or initial investment cost. An attractive infographic could be assembled to highlight both company growth and industry growth data, to showcase the potential of entering the market at this time. And a series of blogs that explain things like the product margins, employee retention, and profitability metrics in depth, as compared to other franchise concepts, could exhibit to the user that they would be making a logical, sound decision to pursue more information about business ownership.

Across the three main modes of persuasion for our hypothetical company, things like video production, blogging, landing page optimization, live webinars, and infographics/whitepapers into a strategy that appeals to the primary functions of human decision making are critical. And while these tactics and tools can be interchangeable between the modes, the one thing that is and always will be a constant is understanding your audience to the deepest level you can. Only then can you identify what rings true to a prospect’s own standards of credibility, emotion, and logic.

Contributed by Ryan Winfield, Digital Strategy Manager

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