Aristotle’s tips for advertising

Aristotle is the father of western philosophy born in 384 BCE. He knew a lot about persuading people and I still think about him every time I write an advert.

He believed that there were three fundamental appeals that can be used for persuasion. Of course, he was generally trying to persuade an audience of a particular philosophical point rather than trying to sell stuff online but the theory is exactly the same.

The first appeal is ethos. This is about who is making the appeal and why they are credible. Classic ethos appeals would be to talk about awards won, testimonials, the large number of customers the company has and anything else that makes your business sound credible and trustworthy.

Aristotle’s second appeal is logos which is an appeal to logic. This is the factual part of the advert which covers features, benefits and price is of course a very important part of the logos appeal. A logos appeal is to the left brain, rational side of the customer.

Finally, we have the pathos which is the right brain, emotional appeal to the customer. This should trigger an emotion appropriate to the product being advertised.

The exact mix of the appeals depends a bit on the product being advertised but a good advert should have all three appeals present. It’s also worth remembering that people are very different too: research has shown that some customers making buying decision based more on emotion while others are much more data driven.

People haven’t changed much in the 2,300 years since Aristotle died so I think his ideas are just as relevant today as they were in ancient Greece.

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