The Power of Words: Tactics Advertisers Use To Convince You To Spend (Logic)

A couple of posts back I looked at the emotion-based methods and tactics advertisers use to convince you to buy a product. Until you start looking at the core of the arguments some products and services make, it’s easy to fall into that trap. Emotional blackmail is not the only way advertisers manipulate us; they also appeal to our sense of logic and reason – even when the arguments they use are illogical and unreasonable. Here are some of the most common tactics.

By © Bill Bertram (Pixel8) 2009 - Pixel8, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5750189
By © Bill Bertram (Pixel8) 2009 – Pixel8, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5750189

Appeal to Logic in Advertising

Appealing to Convenience: Who doesn’t want an easy life, right? Who doesn’t want 24/7 convenience? Used from anything and everything – but particularly relating to the daily grind, advertisers use this tactic to convince you to throw away your old, tired systems and methods and invest in a much easier lifestyle by changing your product. Who wants to take 4 hours cleaning an oven when this new super-duper fantastic formula will do it in ten minutes? Why are you keeping your five year old phone when these new ones have more functions and isn’t all that expensive? Why stick with your old provider who haven’t moved with the times when you can switch your business to the new kid on the block? Used in B2B and B2C, it’s a very powerful message.

Appealing to Quality: Similar to above, this is especially used in selling more expensive products such as technology and cars. In a way, this method works in conjunction with emotional forms of advertising. Appealing to quality often comes with an underlying message that “you deserve it” and sometimes “attractiveness”. That’s why when we see commercials for luxury cars, it will nearly always be driven by an attractive older man in a good quality suit. Equally, he will nearly always have a young, sexy woman swooning over him. You’re a wo/man of quality and you deserve quality in everything.

Appealing to Science: How many times have you heard “scientifically proven”? Do you trust the science or just go along with it because they mention the “s” word? I’m incredibly cynical about such claims because there is a strong chance that their “lab conditions” and “scientific methods” are not those that people doing science will recognise. Tests will have been done in their own labs, under their own conditions favourable to the answers that they require. If they have tested their products at all (unlikely) they are going to cherry-pick their data to tell you what they want you to know. Appealing to science can also be insisting on the neutrality of the user. A cat cannot lie like advertisers will, so the advertiser will say “our surveys showed 9 out of 10 cats preferred our formula to the leading brand”. You can’t really argue with that, even when you recognise that an endorsement from a cat (even if genuine) isn’t really worth that much.

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Buzzword Obfuscation: Typically used in the sale of electronic goods and vehicles, they sell you a snazzy new feature that they claim will be and improvement over what you use at the moment, believing you are one step closer on that road to utopia. Let’s be honest for a moment, though. How often do you really sit and work through all the features of the technology? Does your phone have BlueTooth? Do you look for it as a feature when you buy a new phone but never actually use it? Me too, and we’re not alone. In December, I bought a Galaxy Note 4 and I still haven’t fully explored all the features that I know are useful to me, let alone looking at those that have cool names but I still don’t know what they are. Designers come up with cool and trendy technology sounding names with which to impress people and we buy into it. We look for all the bonus features on Blu Rays and DVDs but watch them far less than the actual film.

Benefit Selling: Certainly one of the better methods of selling, and one that appeals to most of us, is one that puts us – the consumer – at the centre of the sales pitch. Rather than claiming something is scientifically proven and making up interesting sounding names, the core rational sales method is to explain to you precisely what the product or service can do for you. It’s not always that easy, however. How would you choose between multiple products or services all promising to do the same thing? Do you let yourself be swayed purely by the features or do other things come into play? It’s never that clear cut and sometimes we are not always as rational as we believe ourselves to be.

Finally, please watch this video and see how many advertising tropes you recognise (though the voice over does explain each in turn).

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