Aristotle’s Persuasions and the Neuroscience of Purchase Decisions

What can a philosopher born some 2,400 years ago teach us about modern marketing and selling? More than you might imagine.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle is well known for creating a guide to crafting winning arguments – highlighting three essential elements you needed in any conversation to be more provocative and persuasive

Amazingly, these three same essential elements map directly to our modern understanding of buying triggers via neuroscience, and are key to creating effective messaging to fuel modern provocative / insight-based sales and marketing methodologies.

It Takes Three: Pathos, Logos and Ethos

The three elements Aristotle’s defined so very many years ago are still incredibly effective today, and serve as the guide for more persuasive value messaging and conversation: Pathos, Logos, and Ethos:

Pathos – appeal to the emotions. To make a more emotionally charged impression, communicate your value in a story, and utilize visuals to make the story more memorable. Show contrast, painting a picture between business-as-usual and proposed improvements.

Logos – appeal to logic and reason. Quantify the pains and risks of the status quo, such as the “cost of doing nothing”. Address the strategic and financial benefits that can be gained, including the ROI, key performance metrics and quantified improvements within reach. Provide financial justification and make it personal, relevant and specific.

Ethos – appeal to credibility. Provide evidence to prove that the benefits are tangible and achievable. Include 3rd party validation via success stories including video testimonials and case studies. Document the tangible financial benefits, professional and personal success achieved by others just like the prospect to demonstrate low risk and provide examples of substantial rewards.

The Neuroscience of Decisions and Aristotle's Persuasions

Although Aristotle had no inkling of modern neuroscience, his mapping of these three essential persuasive elements startlingly maps to our current understanding of the brain and how it takes three parts of the brain to influence the buyer from “Do Nothing” to “Yes”.

We can map the three major buying centers of the brain to each of aristotles three essential elements of persuasion:
Logos and the New Brain  - The neo-cortex is often referred to as the New Brain, as in evolutionary
terms, it is the latest to advance. This part of the brain is responsible for thinking and processing rational information such as financial justification / ROI.
Ethos and the Middle Brain - The middle part of the brain is where “gut” feelings are most often attributed (think “gut decision”).  Providing proof points / success evidence is essential to give this part of the brain a fuzzy / warm feeling that the decision is a sound one.

Pathos and the Reptilian Brain – The most ancient part of the brain in evolutionary terms, the Reptilian brain is responsible for survival. It responds to visual stimulation / storytelling and contrast, and stimulates whether you pay attention / remember

The Bottom Line

Was Aristotle the first Provocative Seller? Amazingly, there are still times we can look to the past to create the most effective routes to sales and marketing success in the future.

Persuasive sales and marketing embodied in Insight / Provocative methods rely on convincing buyers to abandon business-as-usual, bust the status quo and take action on your proposal. In order to do the convincing, you should follow the pursuasive path outlined by Aristotle and reinforced some 2,400 years later by neuroscience – delivering  persuasive messaging and conversation of Emotion, Logic, and Credibility – Pathos, Logos and Ethos is the guide.

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