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Copywriting lessons from Aristotle

By JACKIE BARRIE Published 25th Feb 2015
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Born nearly 2,400 years ago, the Greek philosopher recommended three principles of persuasion that still apply today:

  1. Logos: Logic and reason
  2. Pathos: Emotional appeal
  3. Ethos: Character and credibility

Every bit of marketing you create should follow these tried-and-tested rules.

  1. State the facts

    People buy rationally.

    If you claim to be the biggest and best at what you do, prove it. People are cynical of marketing puff, so share the figures. How many widgets do you sell in a year? (Hopefully, lots.) How many complaints do you receive? (Hopefully, few.)

    Apply commonsense in all your communications. (Sadly uncommon.)
  2. Tug the heartstrings

    People buy on emotion.

    Choose which feelings you want your brand to trigger. For example, confidence, trust, reassurance, peace of mind, joy…

    Write using words that appeal to all the senses.

    Show empathy with your audience. Make it clear you understand where they are coming from and how you solve their problems or help them achieve their goals.

  3. Share personality

    People buy from people.

    Just as every individual is unique, every business has its own ‘personality’. Don’t be shy about displaying your authenticity online and offline. Don’t be too modest about putting your true face out there. This approach makes you stand out from the competition and filters out anyone not on your wavelength.

    Demonstrate your experience by showing trade or professional logos of associations you belong to. Share your qualifications and experience. Include case studies, reviews, testimonials and recommendations, because third party endorsements are more powerful than anything you say yourself.

    Be open and transparent in all your dealings with customers. So don’t try to appear corporate if you’re not. Equally, don’t undersell yourself if you’re worth more.

photo credit: Aristotle (384-322 BC) via photopin (license)

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