Actually, quite a bit. This neat, short piece by Travis Heerman for Market It Write sums up what the Greeks, the fathers of philosophy, knew about the scientific concepts of persuasion – something that sits snugly at the core of marketing.
And standing tall among them is Aristotle. This is a man who taught kings and went down in history as one of the world’s greatest minds, and he had many things to say that, just as Heerman puts it, are curiously relevant to modern marketers.
Naturally, history being what it is, we’ll never know if these came out of his mouth for sure. But we don’t deny the truth of them:
1. Well begun is half done.
We know many marketers who would cheerfully disagree with the literal meaning of this one, but that’s neither here nor there…
The point is, get off to a good start, and your job becomes a lot easier and more effective. Especially if you’re running campaigns, where any number of things can go wrong. And a good start requires planning well.
What’s that about the more we sweat in peace? No matter how complex, how hefty, or how pressing the project, time spent identifying the right things to do is never time wasted. And once that’s nailed down, it becomes a matter of doing things right, which brings us to ground level – the content and the pitch, and how the audience receives those.
2. All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.
Okay, so you can’t really account for chance. But the rest? The rest is simply about knowing your audience. People open your emails, respond to your ads, and consume your content because of these other six.
- They need what you’re offering, because it’s relevant, because of what they are – nature.
- They find something in the premise or header attractive – compulsion.
- They’re accustomed to checking out offers to catch good deals – habit.
- They analyze it and conclude that it’s good – reason.
- They have their buttons pushed by the way you pitched it – passion.
- They want what you’re offering (not necessarily from you, but they want it) – desire.
These are considerations more than rules, but mix and match these and optimizing your messaging becomes a matter of busting out the right approach at the right time.
Like how angling your offer at what they’re likely to go for is seldom enough. But when you make it also relevant to their requirements, sweeten the pot, and then present it with original, eye-grabbing designs – the addition of nature, reason, and compulsion holds their attention with a solid offer that they both want and need.
And there’s something else that shouldn’t be neglected in the message.
3. The soul never thinks without a picture.
You knew this was coming. Saying it with visuals hits home in a way words can’t, so use them. Better yet, use the infographic.
When do these really come into play? When the information you need to put across threatens to bore people. When the jargon and concepts are much more palatably phrased in a form that they can just glance from top to bottom and, well, get the big picture.
However, an infographic is not simply a picture gallery. Put on your storyteller’s hat and give it a beginning and an end, and flow in between. Tying points together and leading the reader makes for a more cohesive read.
But even good content that’s pitched well is not necessarily enough – the great teacher has something to say on what goes on behind that as well.
4. Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.
Not ‘almost’. We believe in content marketing, and that’s about educating the prospects. Like any education, a balanced diet is preferable. The modern customer is hard-wired to take self-promotion with a (un)healthy dose of salt, so you have to build credibility by being impartial.
Don’t believe in a fair fight? That’s not how this works. The focus is always on the buyer. If there’s a competing offer with features worth mentioning, mention it. Compare honestly. They’re going to do it anyway – no reason not to show integrity and confidence by doing it for them.
Likewise, if what you have might not be entirely right for them, it may be worth saying so. Misdirection defeats the purpose of content marketing – it never works out well in the long run.
The point being: put the cards on the table. It may seem counter to good sense sometimes, but the trust and goodwill you stand to gain is potentially worth more than any short-term profit.
These may seem trite, but ultimately, it’s always worth reminding ourselves of the things that help us market efficiently and effectively. After all, Aristotle did say one more thing: excellence is not an act but a habit.
Do you have any maxims you swear by in marketing? Share them with us!