Online Marketing & Digital Marketing

How to create Persuasive Content: Aristotle’s 3 lessons

By Laia Cardona, on 25 April 2016

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.


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.


Laia Cardona


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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.