Online Marketing & Digital Marketing

How to create Persuasive Content: Aristotle’s 3 lessons

By Laia Cardona, on 27 December 2017

Leads, quality levels, CTR, conversions… Day after day, us digital marketers work with a never-ending amount of metrics and KPIs. But if you stop to think what marketing’s true final objective really is, the answer is extremely simple: to convince the potential audience to buy your company’s products and services.

Nevertheless, an entire art form lies behind this false front of simplicity: rhetoric, or the ability to convince others. Being persuasive is not at all easy, but knowing the rules of rhetoric can make it a lot easier. Which is why today, I would like to tell you about 3 lessons about how to create persuasive content from the very inventor of the art of persuasion himself: Aristotle.

Persuasive content

Aristotle’s 3 lessons for content creation

Lesson 1: there is no marketing without ethics

The first principle of rhetoric, according to Aristotle, is ethos, or morality. Ethics are what make your potential audience feel they can trust you. So the first step to convincing is to show your credibility.

Long gone are the times when a company could say pretty much anything they wanted in their advertising and rest peacefully knowing there was no way of disproving it. Thanks to the Internet, users no longer trust us just by our word: 81% of consumers investigate before they purchase. So this best is to have a spotless track record.

Want to strengthen the credibility of your content? Here are some ideas that might come in handy:

  • Quote your Its not enough to be “the best brand of Rum”, be “the favorite Rum according to The World Rum Association”.
  • Rely on Influencers’ opinions count for a lot, so do whatever you can to get ahold of them.
  • Show (real) testimonies from your clients. Your website’s visitors can identify themselves with them and thereby understand how your brand can benefit them.
  • Share success stories. Accomplishments and facts are worth a lot more than vague promises. By giving concrete examples, potential clients can really see what you can do for them.
  • Avoid exaggerated language and promises you can’t keep. Clickbait has long gone out of fashion: there is no point in attracting thousands of users with a blazing headline if they will then leave your website disappointed.

More importantly, ethics is a long-term value. We may sometimes be tempted to sacrifice it in order to see results and achieve goals more immediately, but it is never worth it. Keep your promises, treat your clients well, be honest and your efforts will pay off.


Lesson 2: create content that creates emotion

Aristotle’s second tool of persuasion was pathos, the use of emotion. Some psychologists believe that the whole process of human reasoning is simply an attempt to justify our emotional decisions. Whether this is right or not, the fact that emotions have the power to convince and trigger action is undeniable: although most consumers do their homework, it is calculated that 50% of purchasing decisions are made based on emotions. In fact, the mere concept of branding is based on brands’ ability to cause emotional reactions.

Without pathos, marketing would just be a list of facts… and no one likes to be bored. On the other hand, an emotion overload without a basis on reality and facts can make the user feel unfairly manipulated. So proceed with caution, but proceed. How?

  • One of the easiest ways to get your target to support your brand is to create a sense of community. Remind them of the things that make them unique, and how they can help each other to outdo themselves. This technique is particularly useful if your brand is related to sports.
  • Charitable causes always encourage us to make a difference, so if your work for a non-profit organization don’t hesitate in using the power of emotion to get your message across. It can also be useful for brand related to health and in general those who have charitable foundations, but careful! Don’t forget that anything you say should always be based on provable facts.
  • The sense of urgency is another powerful emotional tool, and a great way to encourage conversions in the short term, so don’t hesitate to use it, if it makes any sense for your brand.
  • And remember, in case of doubt, cute animals are always a sure thing.


Lesson 3: use the power of logic

Aristotle’s third rule of rhetoric is none other than logos, or reason. According to this philosopher, the logic of an argument involves syllogism, in other words, two premises that combine to reach a conclusion. For example, “I want my family to be safe. Cars from brand X are the safest cares on the market. So, I need a car from brand X”.

To use logic in your marketing strategies, the first thing you need to make sure of is that your audience agrees with both of your premises: if not, it will be impossible for them to reach the conclusion you are aiming for. You should also remember that its about empathizing with your users and convincing them, but you should never insult their intelligence. Lastly, you should not only present a convincing syllogism, but also be prepared to answer any counterarguments: marketing’s classic “objections”.


How to put Aristotle’s lessons into action in the digital world

Aristotle’s three lessons are based on universal principles, fundamental truths about how human beings are. Whether giving a speech in the Agora of Athens or creating a landing page, ethos, pathos and logos have had the ability to convince throughout the centuries.

In the words of Aristotle himself, the art of persuasion lies in knowing how to combine these three principles in just the right amounts, and choosing the rights mediums in each occasion. Luckily, nowadays, you have an entire arsenal of digital tools to take your persuasive content so much further than the Ancient Greeks could have ever even dreamed.


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4 motivational speeches in the Growth Summit: Persuasion, Weather, Canvas and Reading

On Friday June 12 together we attended the motivational talks of 4 speakers: Steve Martin, Ari Meisel, Alexander Osterwalder and Verne Harnish. It was during the European Growth Summit 2015 held in Barcelona, at IESE Business School. Cyberclick, along with Gauss & Neumann and Telemedicin Clinic, were sponsors of the event, because we truly believe that what the speakers convey is what will change the world and motivate entrepreneurs.


Steve Martin told us about the science of persuasion and how to encourage people to act according to the objective that we have set. Of course, with the right techniques and the right decisions. Making small changes can make big hits, such as if we order a menu or menu price adequately perceived by users to a product will be positive and hence decide to consume (or not, because everything can happen otherwise). "Give people something significant, unexpected and customized and used the time to interact with them."

Ari Meisel @Arimeisel, on the other hand, we are encouraged to learn to manage our time and know optimize successfully. Since this is a very important to know to enjoy life to the fullest factor. The work we must report emotion and we have to like it, but if we do it on a reduced time to finish our work commitments we enjoy our family, friends and personal hobbies. "What would you do if you could work one hour a day?".

According to him, these are a number of guidelines for less, get more:

  • Optimization.
  • Automation.
  • Externalization: We can create an External Brain to organize ourselves better. A very useful tool is Evernote: with it we can take notes and always return to memories and ideas of the past. This external brain is a wizard that helps us to delegate.
  • Choose your own hours of work per week.
  • Organization.
  • Check your progress routinely.
  • Healthy Living: Without it we can not make our daily lives. And Ari Meisel says since he had to overcome a disease that doctors today consider chronic, incurable, Crohn Syndrome.

Perhaps the best-known speaker was Alex Osterwalder @AlexOsterwalder, because it is the creator of the famous Business Model Canvas. He explained to the audience how the model was developed, so that any business is consistent, viable and has profitable work. Large companies already use this, such as Coca Cola and MasterCard. To liven up the explanation and pass a theoretical idea to a practical idea, every person in the audience was given two large cardboards and a packet of post its to do different exercises of the Strategy of a Startup with the Method Canvas.

Osterwalder said that a business plan is a document to be executed, not just a compendium of innovative ideas. Therefore, if you do not want startups to fail from the outset you should produce something the public wants and needs. "Do not build anything unless we have evidence that it works."


And finally to end the event, Verne Harnish @Thegrowthguy, the promoter of the European Growth Summit 2015 and a recognized world guru on corporate growth. Almost all the speakers gave talks for about an hour and a half, but he cut his speech in half and for 45 minutes he motivated us through his readings. Because "readers are not necessarily leaders, but many great leaders are great readers of books."

Motivation didn’t lack at any time and the truth is that we all left wanting to repeat this activity next year. Learning is one of our great passions!


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Laia Cardona

Periodista, creadora de contenidos y community manager. Estudié Periodismo y Realización Audiovisual. Las palabras y la comunicación son mi pasión.