Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash


Marketing is all about being persuasive. Persuasion is presenting your case in a way that sways the opinion of others, and influences their decisions.

Obvious examples of those who use persuasion are politicians and sales people. The important factor they use is the lack of time.

They are typically on a short time schedule (they need it NOW), so they use strong elements of persuasion to elicit a decision.

Votes are needed by a date — Early voting drives

Dollar amount needed by a date — “Make your $50 donation before….and receive this….”

Sales goals to be reached — 50% off all merchandise today only!!

Influence takes a longer view and involves a longer time frame. Using influence, a marketer will sow seeds over time that will hopefully germinate at a later date and produce a sale.

Some examples would be articles and promotional material extolling the virtues of a certain practice or type of product, without expressly naming it or pushing for an immediate decision.

Low emissions

Reliability / Warranty

5-Star Crash Rating

Exceptional gas mileage

Noise-free interior design

It has to be a new car, right? But you don’t know what model or manufacturer. I’m simply extolling these virtues over time so as to sell you on their benefits,

Somewhere down the road, when your interest peaks, I will reveal that, incidentally, I just happen to sell precisely this type of car.

By the time I reveal an offer, you’re already sold on the benefits of what I’m offering and are ready to make a purchase.

It’s All About Psychology

Marketing specialist Robert Rosenthal writes, “The vast majority of marketers aren’t psychologists. But many successful marketers regularly employ psychology in appealing to consumers. Smart, skillful, honest marketers use psychology legally, ethically, and respectfully to attract and engage consumers, and compel them to buy.”

We’re not talking about psycho mumbo-jumbo here; it’s more about how to get inside a consumer’s brain and figure out what will motivate them to make a purchase.

Research by the University of California-Davis suggests that when our curiosity is aroused, it results in changes within our brain that help us learn not only about the subject at hand, but also about incidental information.

Increasing curiosity for your product within a target audience doesn’t happen from pure luck or random chance. You must employ emotional triggers to evoke curiosity, such as trust, delight, surprise, fun, satisfaction, even worry and fear.

The Basic Structure of Persuasive Marketing

The basics of persuasive marketing fall into three distinct steps:

Identify a Problem

Identify your audience’s dominant pain. When you fully understand the problems your target audience, then you’re fully equipped to provide just the right solutions.

I like to say, find a way to discern where your audience has an itch and then scratch it with an offer they cannot refuse.

Agitate the Problem

After you identify a dominant problem in your target audience, arouse interest or make them anxious about the problem. It must become urgent, unbearable, and all-consuming.

Highlight the symptoms of their problem and their lasting effects. Emphasize that this situation simply cannot be allowed to continue.

Offer a Solution

Now, an offer that solves the problem of your target audience. Scratch where they have an itch.

It’s not enough to identify and agitate the problem — you have to make a solution available to them.

Explode Your Sales with These 6 Marketing Methodologies

Here are some common and time-tested persuasive marketing methodologies you can adopt and use in your own marketing messages, regardless of the venue (email, ads, social media, video, web pages, etc.). These methods help you agitate the problem you have identified in your target audience, and offer a solution that is difficult to turn down.


Every good public speaker knows that telling stories is the way to gain and keep an audience’s attention. Using analogies and personal anecdotes to teach and share information leads your audience to think, “I can see myself in that story!”

When they can identify with the story you are telling, they are more likely to follow the story to its end, where your product or service solves the problem presented in the story.

A classic example of this is when Lego launched its “Let’s Build” storytelling ad featuring a father and son playing with Lego building blocks.

The young boy narrates a wonderful father-son relationship while the two of them build a huge creation. You are almost convinced that building a great father-son relationship depends on Lego building blocks.

Appeal to Emotions

Research proves that emotional appeals breed a stronger attraction with consumers than boring descriptions of features and functions. In advertising copy, benefits–which often have a psychological component–generally outsell features.

For example, at the beginning of the U.S. involvement in World War II, Lucky Strike cigarettes drastically modified the color scheme on their packaging by going from green to white, with a simple red circle logo.

The change was introduced with the message, “Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War.” The green color removal brought to mind all the soldiers being ordered overseas.

Almost overnight, it became your patriotic duty to smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes and support the war effort.

Allow Transparency

Consumers automatically doubt most marketing claims; everything always seems too good to be true. So, allow a little transparency. Show some flaws. Highlight a small mistake and leverage that to show your company’s human side.

A pivotal ad for Volkswagen began with the word “Lemon.” Below a photo of a popular VW brand car were the words:

“This Volkswagen missed the boat. The chrome strip on the glove compartment is blemished and must be replaced. Chances are you wouldn’t have noticed it; Inspector Kurt Kroner did.”

The ad focused on being obsessed with details and how the VW plant had made a mistake, yet corrected it.

Change Places

Place your brand into the prominent slot in the eyes of your target audience. When possible, use comparison and contrast to elevate your brand while displacing others.

When Jif launched the “Choosy mothers choose Jif” campaign, competitors found themselves producing products for mothers who didn’t care about the food their kids ate.

Promote Exclusivity

Boost consumers’ self-esteem. Everyone likes to feel important, to be part of an exclusive group where not just anyone is allowed. Make an appeal to ego.

A popular example of promoting exclusivity is the American Express tagline: “Membership has its privileges.”

The United States Marines also capitalized on this technique with, “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”

Introduce FUD

No, not cartoon great, Elmer Fudd. FUD is fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Sow these seeds to make consumers stop, think, and change their behavior.

The course of action they had previously thought was right is now fraught with danger and uncertainty. Then, promote your product or service as the only sane choice.

President Lyndon Johnson is often maligned over Vietnam, and therefore many forget he was the consummate political strategist who regularly employed psychology to persuade the American people.

Running against Barry Goldwater in 1964, he used a simple ad with a powerful message to stoke public fear that Goldwater would raise the risk of nuclear war.

The “Daisy” ad, which ran only once, promoted fear of nuclear war and fear over Goldwater’s lack of qualifications. Johnson carried 44 states, and took 61% of the vote in a landslide win.


Use these persuasive tactics in your own marketing messages, regardless of the venue (email, ads, social media, video, web pages, etc.) to elicit more positive reactions from your audience.