In the 4th century BC, Aristotle’s Rhetoric theorized about three fundamental elements of persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos.
The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker (ethos), the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind (pathos), the third on the proof (or apparent proof) provided by the words of the speech itself (logos).
According to Aristotle, a speaker must have ethos, pathos, and logos to effectively persuade their audience. This can be compared with how top brands reach their customers using content at conferences and events or through their blog. Learn how you can solve complex modern marketing problems by adding more persuasion into your blog content using Aristotle’s ancient rhetoric.
Add Credibility to Your Content (Ethos)
Ethos represents credibility or an ethical appeal.
Aristotle would argue that your blog readers are more likely to be persuaded by your content if they find you credible and trustworthy. (highlight to tweet) This could mean working with respected industry influencers, copywriters, and content creators for your blog or highlighting your biggest clients on your site.
To add credibility to your blog, start by identifying influential content contributors from within your industry. Read publications, competitor blogs, social posts, and more in-depth content like ebooks and white papers to find creators that match both your brand voice and marketing needs.
Make a list of 5–10 reputable resources and reach out to each of them to determine if you can create a co-marketing opportunity or hire them directly. Be sure to ask for their full content portfolio and any references to validate their credibility.
A few other ways to add credibility to your blog content:
- Link to trusted third-party sources to validate your content.
- Use examples or quotes from respected industry influencers.
- Highlight your company history, expertise, or awards.
- Encourage and share customer testimonials and product reviews.
- Illustrate transparency, authenticity, and vulnerability in your writing and marketing efforts.
- Launch a user-generated content campaign to improve social proof.
- For entrepreneurs or small companies, share your business acumen and professional resume.
As a rule of thumb, make sure that you, and any freelancers you hire, have your readers’ or customers’ best interests in mind when creating content. Your audience is smarter than you think and can sense hidden agendas or too much self-promotion—all of which could damage your credibility.
Give Reason for Customers to Understand Value (Logos)
Logos can be defined as a statement, sentence, or argument used to convince or persuade an audience by using reason or logic.
Top brands have recently raised the bar for fellow content marketers by creating inspirational blog content, quickly responding to social inquiries, or by consistently providing exceptional customer service.
People have grown to expect this high level of value and customer service from all brands, regardless of their size or available resources. These benefits and expectations help convince customers to make a logical case for purchasing your product or service over that of a competitor.
To give your customers a reason to purchase your offerings, you will need to maintain intimate knowledge about what your competition is up to—and tactfully market your logical advantages.
Think about the key purchasing factors in your industry. Do your customers care most about price? Quality? Brand experience? Identify a list of benefits of purchasing your product over a competitor’s, and use that research to inform your blog content.
To convince or persuade your readers using logic on your blog:
- Bolster any claims or hypotheses that you make with credible statistics or data.
- Create and promote real customer case studies and illustrate what you learned.
- Highlight your competitive advantages and product differentiators with side-by-side analysis.
- Give detailed scenarios of how your product can improve their lives or solve their challenges.
For example, Chevrolet offers a side-by-side comparison with other auto manufacturers in the same price range to help their customers form a logical decision on which car to purchase.
Notice that Chevrolet makes their offering stand out against the competition. They showcase a newer model—sexy red paint compared to the more conservative grey and silver choices—and clear price advantages. These subtle tricks can help influence their customers to purchase the Chevy Malibu.
For B2B organizations, sharing free, high-quality, and valuable content like white papers, insightful case studies, or video presentations can help them provide logical reasons to retain customers—and these offerings can be promoted through blog content.
Some sites offer third-party reviews to help customers make a more logical purchasing decision.
Identify three to five industry or product review sites. It’s best to perform Google search queries such as, “your company vs competitor company” or “differences between your company and competitor company.”
Reach out to the sites that rank the best for those queries, ask for a product comparison with your brand, and provide their content teams with compelling information about your company. Finding the sites that rank well will increase your chances of influencing more people.
Additionally, consider engaging on popular blogs in the comments section, or answer industry questions on open forum sites such as Quora or Reddit.
Create Emotional Appeal with Empathy (Pathos)
Pathos is the quality of an experience in life or work that stirs up emotions.
Pathos may be the most powerful element in Aristotle’s Rhetoric—but it may also be the most difficult to execute tactfully as a content marketer. To incorporate pathos into your blog content, start by identifying what your readers are truly emotional about. Concentrate on thinking about your audience and customers as empathetically as possible.
“Empathy should be at the root of all of your content, because having a sense of the people you are writing for and a deep understanding of their problems is key to honing your skill.”
– Digital content expert Ann Handley, Everybody Writes
Ask yourself the meaning and purpose behind your brand. Who are you focused on helping? How does your product change the lives of purchasers? What pain points do your services alleviate?
For example, the Adobe Marketing Cloud offers B2B marketing solutions, where their target audience are professionals interested in improving their marketing efforts to increase sales revenue. Adobe’s team understands that up to 45% of marketing professionals struggle with their data technology. To identify with and appeal to marketer’s emotions, Adobe created the following commercial (and empathetic blog content). Adobe empathetically appeals to organizations that struggle to understand data-driven decisions in their marketing department.
To better understand your audience empathetically, research your customers, engage your followers on social media, and conduct detailed persona research. Document your findings in your content marketing strategy to inform your ongoing blog content creation efforts. Revisit annually, at a minimum.
Additionally, you should seek industry influencers and identify the highest performing content to get an idea of what content is most effective in your industry.
Consider the following strategies to find an emotional connection with your customers:
- Support an emotional cause, nonprofit, or community effort and create informational content.
- Express detailed interest in your customers by empathizing with their needs in your blog content.
- Showcase your brand story, morals, and motivators on your website. Promote often.
- Connect with your audience on a more one-to-one level.
- Openly engage with your personality, and be human, authentic, and transparent as possible.
Keep in mind that your customer’s needs are always evolving, and you should implement ongoing processes to continue learning about your customers over time. This can help you understand how to better persuade them.
As a final example of ethos, logos, and pathos working together, study this inspirational brand storytelling piece from Kleenex.
Notice that the content is not serving Kleenex branded messages, explaining the benefits of their tissues, or selling their product directly. The story is a compelling centerpiece for their “Messages of Care” campaign on the Kleenex blog. Kleenex earned 1.5 million+ shares and 61 million+ views on Facebook for “Unlikely Best Friends.”
The marketing team behind this video used Aristotle’s rhetoric to strengthen the story of Chance and subtly suggest Kleenex. The results are impressively persuasive.
How do you create persuasive blog content? Have you studied the theories behind Ethos, Logos, and Pathos? Do you have an example of exceptionally persuasive content? Share your thoughts and feedback in the discussion section below.
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