The Art of Convincing

You could say that that is our overall goal in advertising; to convince them to shop, to buy, to switch, to consider, to embrace, to support, etc.
We do this by empowering people to make a choice, while offering our brand as the best choice, or by engaging them with our brand, or offering a unique solution, by motivating them to do something that we want them to do…but in the end we are trying to convince them to do something, to think something or to feel something that we are behind of.
When you look at major acts that have marked world history as mass-movers, or in other words, as those that convinced to an ultimate level, we find three outstanding examples:

  • Religion
  • Government
  • Entertainment

We have done an in-depth study of each of these convincing-machines and have found some interesting, and perhaps applicable information.

Let’s start with religion. Religion moves masses, it moves them to think alike, to unite, to follow a protocol, to follow a dictated lifestyle, to fight, to kill and to die. The tools used to achieve this end include projecting an ultimate truth, fear and salvation; all very reptilian acts, primarily based on affecting one of human beings’ strongest motivators – fear. But to use fear as a motivator you don’t have to scare people; you can present the outcome of “no need to fear” with my solution; which for religion is salvation.

In looking at government and the convincing of people, we mainly need to look at authoritarian figures. Figures that took over and became bigger than life, like in Germany or Japan during WWII. We may think that the convinced (or followers) did so without believing (out of fear?), but looking at history, they did believe and made these beliefs part of their persona. These figures moved masses to think one way, to give their lives in completely to them and to support a cause. These were charismatic figures that promised superiority to its masses. Another reptilian feeling tied to self-esteem, a feeling of acceptance, of belonging and of survival. There was also an aspect of relief; someone is guiding us, I don’t have to worry about it. Putting your life in someone else’s hands because they convinced you they know how to get us all there…to salvation or to greatness.

Entertainment also moves the masses – music and movie/TV artists. We call the moved ones fans or fanatics; here the act that creates these followings is primarily based on belonging. You are moved, or convinced, by the artist, but to a stronger degree by the ones already following him or her. So here the convincing is less reptilian and more superficially emotional. Also, the degree of sacrifice (for the most part) seems to be lesser and shorter in time (versus a lifelong commitment for the other two examples).

So we end up with three aspects of human beings that lead to great acts of convincement: Fear (or salvation), superiority and belonging.

A philosopher once described three critical steps towards persuasion: curiosity, vanity and remorse. I can see how these steps match the three aspects described above:

Vanity equals Superiority.

Curiosity and Remorse can relate to the Fear/Salvation feeling.

Now look around at some advertising.

Look at it as an everyday consumer, in a simplistic manner (not in a marketing, over-analyzed manner), and you will see how those stories or ads that work best – the ones that do convince, inspire and motivate – they all carry an aspect of superiority, belonging or fear/salvation in them.

It’s Marketing following History.