One of the most timeless lessons in the art of persuasive communication is about 2350 years old and written by Aristotle. Rhetoric, and particularly the second book of Rhetoric contains fundamentals which every life science marketer with a role in marketing communications should understand and adhere to. In this book, Aristotle discusses what he believes to be the three essential elements of persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos.
Aristotle takes ethos to comprise wisdom, virtue, and good will, however these can more generally be summed up as credibility. The speaker needs to establish credibility before he can successfully be persuasive. Aristotle’s composition of ethos actually breaks down how marketers can do this quite nicely: we can show our wisdom and have the audience therefore trust in our expertise, and we can show virtue and good will and thereby have the audience believe that we genuinely want to help them and put their best interests first. Life science marketers should aim to do both, although the former is generally an easier sell.
Logos is logic, plain and simple. (Etymologically it’s not so simple – its usage by Aristotle means something more akin to “reasoned discourse” – but that’s not really relevant to this conversation). In order for you to be persuasive, reasons Aristotle, you must think logically and effectively communicate your logic to the audience. Logos is probably the easiest and most direct element for science marketers, however understanding what you need to explain and effectively explaining it are two different beasts. Many still fail at the latter.
Pathos is an appeal to emotion. Aristotle claimed that emotions have specific causes and effects and therefore one can understand how to invoke emotion in the audience and utilize that one can effect how they render their judgments. To be optimally effective, you cannot simply reason with your audience, but you must create an emotional connection that will help drive your desired action. This is often the least straightforward element of persuasion as it pertains to marketing. Many marketers do not even attempt to leverage emotion in their communications, but the most powerful messages almost always inspire emotion.
To create more effective marketing communications, utilize Aristotle’s three elements of persuasion: demonstrate credibility, clearly explain the logic behind your perspective, and appeal to the audience’s emotion. By incorporating all three elements you’ll more effectively persuade your audience to adopt your viewpoint.