Persuade = think - feel - speak: PART 2

By Clare Bagshaw

Last blog we began dissecting Julius Marcus Cicero’s quote "If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings and speak my words".

We have examined the first two components of this: "If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts". Now we need to understand how feeling my feelings and speaking my words can mean the difference between success or failure of your marketing and communication strategy.

...feel my feelings...

Feeling your target audiences feelings is an extension of thinking their thoughts.

It is the next step, the reaction, to the thoughts that your audience will have to your persuasion (or marketing).

As with thinking your audiences’ thoughts, it is important to try to develop empathy for their feelings before you embark on your marketing and communication campaign. Extrapolate the studies you have done in thinking their thoughts to gauge an understanding of the reactions and feelings these thoughts will create and just what effect this will have on your marketing efforts.

Try to develop an understanding of your target audiences:

  • Probable responses to your persuasive element:
    You know what you want them to do, but things don't always go to plan. What sort of actions and reactions might your target audience take towards your persuasive arguments? What does that mean for your objectives?

  • Reaction to the way in which your message is presented:
    It is important to carefully consider the tone and style of your message and the ultimate ‘feel’ it will present and hence the feeling it will create with your target audience. You will need to get a real understanding of your audiences’ thoughts and feelings in order to appropriately pitch your message.

  • Feeling of satisfaction when your offering meets their need:
    If you gain an understanding of the satisfaction that your target audience will feel when their needs are met you can directly incorporate it into your marketing message. This will enable the audience to relate the solution to their particular situation.

As with thinking their thoughts, you need to get out there and live and breathe your target audience for enough time that you develop empathy for their thoughts and feelings.

Delve into their world and study them to the point of predicting their reactions and feelings to what you intend to tell them. This will allow you to develop a meaningful and ultimately successful campaign.

...speak my words.

This is where your ability to truly understand your target audience comes into play.

It is at this point that the effort you have made to "think my thoughts" and "feel my feelings" really shows. If you do not truly understand your audience, you will not understand the words they are receptive to and therefore you won't hit those buttons.

Have you ever noticed how politicians change their language and approach depending on who they're talking to? They soften their message for mothers or families and 'corporatise' their message for businesses.

This is because they understand the importance of speaking the words of the people they're endeavouring to engage with, persuade and influence.

  • If you're a scientific research organisation and you want your findings adopted by non-scientific people, there's no point talking about the scientific specifics involved. You need to discuss the:

    • practical application;
    • what it means to your audience; 
    • how they can adopt it; and
    • what the benefits will be.

  • Likewise if you're a tech company selling technical products to non-technical people, don't talk about the advanced features such as your GHz or CPU performance. Rather, talk about how much faster your product is which means your audience can get things done more quickly.

Remember, this is where your understanding of your target audience is really apparent. If you haven’t taken the time and effort to think their thoughts and feel their feelings, then you have little hope of speaking their words and hence gaining that vital connection and result.

The upshot

In marketing and communications you can't separate out any one component from Marcus Julius Cicero's quote and just focus on that one in isolation... it's a package deal:

  1. "If you wish to persuade me,
  2. you must think my thoughts, 
  3. feel my feelings, and
  4. speak my words".

Spend time on all components and you are much more likely to be successful in your marketing and communication endeavours.