Sales guru Zig Ziglar was a master in persuasion (courtesy of Attitudes 4 Innovation)
Persuasion is a huge part of our every day lives. It is a major aspect of human-to-human interactions at work, play or school.
Without it, we are unable to get what we want in our interactions with people. And that certainly sucks.
According to About.com, persuasion can be defined as…
“a symbolic process in which communicators try to convince other people to change their attitudes or behaviors regarding an issue through the transmission of a message in an atmosphere of free choice.”
Breaking this down further, we can see that the art and science of persuasion can be broken down into the following components:
As you’d imagine, persuasion is a huge part of our work in the communications triumvirate of sales, advertising and Public Relations (PR).
The best sales persons are often the most persuasive ones. They know when to push the right buttons to convince their prospects to become customers.
A good example is seen in Derek Halpern’s recent experience in skiing. The author of Social Triggers revealed how the operator of a ski equipment outfit used various techniques to convince him to upgrade his purchases. These were broken down into key lessons as follows:
In short, as Derek eloquently shared…
“Its never about you, but about your customers. Add bonuses into the mix that people would want. If your customer says “no”, there is a reason for it. You should try to find that reason at all costs. Uncover the real reason and don’t take everything they say at face value.”
Unlike sales, advertising is often conducted through a medium like a newspaper, television, radio, website or outdoor space. As such, it lacks that human-to-human interaction of direct sales.
By now, we ought to know that emotions are powerful triggers for purchase. To persuade potential customers, an advertisement would use pathos to evoke an emotional response. The gamut of emotions triggered range from happiness to anger to sadness to fear.
Examples of advertisements which uses pathos include those which show people enjoying themselves while drinking a Coke, an elderly couple assured that their future is taken care of by Great Eastern (an insurance company), or an angst-ridden teenager needing a quick fix for her acne problem (Clearasil).
Appealing to the “thinking consumer”, an advertisement using logos presents the facts and figures you need to make an informed decision.
Here, infomercials that highlight the superiority of product features like kitchen gadgets or exercise equipment rule. Other good examples include makers of health supplements which quote leading research, and of course toothbrush makers like Oral B.
In a slight variation from logos, the third factor ethos involves convincing the customer that the company is more reliable, honest and credible than its competitors. Here, trust becomes an important facet of persuasion.
Examples of ethos includes using statistics from third party sources (eg “More dentists brush their teeth with Oral B toothbrush”), or using celebrity and expert endorsements. Just ask any entrepreneur whose product or service was featured on the Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres’ shows!
Finally, we come to the last but certainly not least function in the communications triumvirate – Public Relations (PR). While sales and advertising works on persuading a potential customer, the key person PR practitioners need to convince are the kingpins of public opinion. Namely, the media.
There are tonnes of tips on generating publicity. From the point of persuasion, however, I found this article by Bull Dog Media pretty useful when dealing with a journalist or a blogger. Here are the steps involved:
The key thing here is what we consider the Golden Rule of PR – i.e. what would work for both the journalist and your client when developing the story. I think Stephen Covey’s habit of “seek ye first to understand, and then to be understood” works extremely well here. After all, our role as publicists is to bridge the gap between what the media (and its readers, viewers and listeners) want and what our clients or colleagues desire.
Are there other tips on persuasion in sales, advertising and PR? Share them in the box below!
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