Chapter Twenty Four

Brand Persuasion


One of the goals for brand identity is to persuade or actively change people's beliefs and attitudes. This video is a great place to start to understand Persuasion. Understanding the nature of persuasive communication, and how it works, is essential knowledge. Whenever we want to influence others through messages (speaking, writing, or using pictures and symbols), we need to understand persuasion to increase the likelihood that our message(s) will be successful. It is also important to understand that persuasion is also aimed at us to influence our behavior.
Most people don’t shop in isolation. They are inspired, informed and assured by others throughout the path to purchase. A slew of marketing approaches has developed to identify, activate or enable critical individuals who can sway the brand preferences, buying decisions and loyalty of others. Together, they make up the influencer marketing ecosystem. Read more here: eMarketer
Marketers use persuasion to garner favorable reaction toward their brands and products. This task can be tricky because people expose themselves, pay attention to and interpret data consistent with what they already believe. Because they're not scientific about it, people expose themselves to all sorts of different things and pay attention to what both supports and refutes their prior belief. Generally biased in the manner they take in stimuli, it can be challenging to persuade them to think differently. “Biases are non–conscious drivers — cognitive quirks — that influence how people see the world. They appear to be universal in most of humanity, perhaps hardwired into the brain as part of our genetic or cultural heritage, and they exert their influence outside conscious awareness. You cannot go shopping, enter a conversation, or make a decision without your biases kicking in.” reference - Beyond Bias Not impossible to do, but it can be arduous. The Elaboration Likelihood Model is believed to be the best way to persuade consumers.

The model aims to explain different ways of processing stimuli, why they are used, and their outcomes on attitude change. The ELM proposes two major routes to persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route.

“The Elaboration Likelihood Model attempts to explain how attitudes are shaped, formed, and reinforced by persuasive arguments. The basic idea is that when someone is presented with information, some level of elaboration occurs. Elaboration, in this context, means the effort someone makes to evaluate, remember, and accept (or reject) a message. The model suggests that people express either high or low elaboration (that is, their level of effort) when they encounter a persuasive message. The level of elaboration then determines which processing route the message takes: central or peripheral.” Victor Yocco –
When discussing the Elaboration Likelihood Model, we use the term 'elaborate' to mean 'to think in a detailed and carefully arranged manner about something.' The central route to persuasion is when people elaborate on a persuasive argument, listening carefully and thinking about the logic behind the message. There are times when people are motivated to pay attention to the facts during a speech or other persuasive communication and during those times are persuaded the most by a strong logical argument. If a person believes the persuasion to be reliable, convincing and well-constructed, he or she will typically be receptive to a change in attitude that is long-lasting.

The Elaboration Likelihood Model

the Elaboration Likelihood Model
This model suggests that there's two different ways, or two different routes, to persuasion. There's the systematic, or central, route and there's the superficial, or peripheral processing route. The central route postulates that if people are motivated and highly involved, and they have the opportunity and the ability to process marketing messages, then the way to persuade them is through cognitive cues, things that people have to think about. When making a strong argument people have to pay attention, they have to be motivated, and they have to have the ability to process the information. Many times with marketing decisions, people are just not motivated to think that much. Perhaps they just don't want to think that much, or they just don't have the ability, or they're just too tired. In that case, central processing or central route to persuasion will not work.
In that case, you then have to use peripheral cues. When the opportunity, motivation and ability to elaborate, to cognitively process is low, then the way to persuade those people is through peripheral cues. Peripheral cues are automatic reactions. People make decisions based on these cues, not because they thought it out carefully. When exposing the consumer to marketing cues, ask yourself, is the consumer motivated to elaborate? Are they going to pay attention and think about the message?
If the answer is no they will not pay attention, then that's low involvement. As a result, peripheral cues would work better than messages. On the other hand, if there's high involvement, and they are motivated to elaborate and comprehend the message, then the central route is the best course of action. If the answer is no, the peripheral route is the better option to employ. The systematic argument of the central route stipulates that people have to be motivated and have the ability. If one of the two factors is lacking, using peripheral cues is the better choice.

Peripheral Cues

Just what are peripheral cues? Peripheral cues are cues that people use in a heuristic manner or abbreviated manner. Here, their reasoning implies if this is true then that must be true. Further, classical conditioning suggests that people can be persuaded by the process of association or by putting things together. The famous example is Pavlov's dog as he was conditioned to salivate whenever he heard a bell ring. They conducted this research by ringing a bell just before they gave him dog food. As a result of classical conditioning, just ringing the bell would cause the dog to salivate. To illustrate further, people generally enjoy Coke with hamburgers or Coke with McDonald's. After a while, it is natural to hear them say, “I'm having a Big Mac, let me have a Coke.” One type of classical conditioning includes a process that is not well thought out. For instance, I'm persuaded to have a Coke because I always have had one.
Reciprocity says that you gave me something, I owe you, the response occurs because of feeling obligated. Reciprocation is the basis of cashing in points, calling in a favor, owe other people one, etc. Many times direct marketers will do things like, put a little gift in a charity appeal. Marketers may give you stamps, or sometimes they give you a dollar, the idea is, I gave you something, now give it back to me. This is not a cognitive argument, it's a peripheral cue.
Consistency is another peripheral cue. Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Why do people like a specific toothpaste? For many, it is merely because that's the one that has always been used maybe even the one used by their mother. A systematic product comparison was not the method used to determine the favorite toothpaste. That particular toothpaste was chosen because it has always been the one preferred. Consistency is the peripheral cue.
Line at Garret Popcorn shop
Social proof suggests, “I like this because everybody else likes it.” An example might include The New York Times section for the most emailed articles. What draws you to those articles? Does your answer include “Well, everybody emailed them, so they must be good enough to spend time to read.” Another illustration might be choosing restaurants by the one that has the largest crowd because if everybody is willing to wait in line for this restaurant, it must be good. Here the peripheral cue is social proof.
Liking maintains that if you like me, then you like my ideas. This is important, as we will later see for celebrity spokespeople, that if you like the celebrity spokesperson, chances are you are going to like what they like. This is not necessarily a rational process but for many it does makes sense. One way to get people to like you is to establish quick rapport. This is the basis for Tupperware parties. Who can say no to a good friend?
Authority as a peripheral cue says you should do it just because I say so. This relates to our tendency to be persuaded by authority figures, that is people who demonstrate knowledge, confidence, and credibility on the topic. Something as simple as informing your audience of your credentials before you speak, for example, increases the odds you will persuade the audience.
Scarce Airbnb Traverse City
Scarcity is the last peripheral cue we will discuss. The idea is that because there aren't very many of the product left on the shelf, they must be valuable. Marketers use this idea of scarcity to create an impression of product desirability. Lululemon is a modern example of a company that employs scarcity. They intentionally do not keep stock on hand, their stock-outs are very common. Consumers are informed that if they do not act quickly, their product supply may run out. Customers infer if it is of high value, it must be a high-quality product. Peripheral cues that employ scarcity are not well thought out central processing arguments but are cues that people use to persuade themselves of one thing or another.
Let's consider celebrity endorsements in two different roles of persuasion. In one role, a celebrity can be used in a central processing manner as the celebrity serves as the expert. The expert celebrity provides information in the endorsement that will influence the consumers purchasing behavior. Because the celebrity is attractive or the consumer will want to be more like the celebrity, the celebrity as a peripheral cue will attract more customers. Celebrities can be used in either a central, or a peripheral way. When considering celebrities to help endorse products, there are a few important ideas to keep in mind. First of all, who is the target segment, and does that target segment like that celebrity? Next what is the brand message, and does the message of the brand, the brand mantra, fit the brand message of the celebrity? Also, the attractiveness of the celebrity, is this a popular, positive celebrity?
A celebrity that is not well liked should not be considered. Another consideration to take into account is cost. Celebrity endorsements can be very expensive. Weigh the pros and cons of the celebrity investment. Social networks play a huge role as some celebrities considered for endorsement have a robust social network. The clout scores indicate the social connectedness of these different celebrities.
Another method in which to rate celebrities is called the Q-rating, a measurement of the familiarity and appeal of a brand, celebrity, company, or entertainment product (e.g., television show) used in the United States. The higher the Q Score, the more highly regarded the item or person is among the group familiar with them. The Q-rating reflects how appealing the celebrity is among those who do not know him. It's the ratio of popularity and familiarity, and it's conducted by a particular company called Marketing Evaluations.
Q-ratings are a definite asset as they provide the necessary information to determine the effectiveness of a celebrity it provides a comprehensive analysis of celebrities and this sometimes serves as the deciding factor of whether or not to hire a certain celebrity. Celebrities known to have very charged, powerful meanings are those that are in demand as they are selected to best represent the appropriate symbolic properties of the product. Because of the powerfulness of the celebrity, the intent is to transfer the meaning of that celebrity to the product.
There have been functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), studies that indicate when people see an image of just a normal person, certain areas of the brain light up. Different regions of the brain light up when celebrity images are viewed. This is so because there is an automatic or visceral reaction to celebrities. Celebrities attract attention, and they can be very effective at creating a brand image and at differentiating a brand. When a celebrity is associated with primarily one brand, it will serve as a very effective differentiation.
The elaboration likelihood model maintains that a credible source is a celebrity who is depicted in a central processing way. In this instance, the celebrity is an effective spokesperson because of their expertise and their trustworthiness. One of the most effective spokespeople Nike ever employed was Tiger Woods. As the first spokesperson for Nike Golf, Tiger Woods worked in two ways. A central processing use of Tiger Woods was selected because he was such a successful golfer and was very credible as an endorser for golf products. Tiger Woods was considered a credible source as a result of his expertise regarding his golfing ability and his knowledge of the product. This led to source credibility, as he was clearly a credible source. Secondly, as an attractive source, they were very familiar with him and anything he did was embraced.
Woods was used by Nike in two ways, his expertise regarding golf and his attractiveness for other products which were not necessarily based on his knowledge. When he was involved in a personal scandal, his attractiveness was not as strong, and some of those endorsements were dropped because he was no longer an attractive source. The endorsements that remained did so as a result of his credibility. It is understandable why some companies might have wanted to keep him while others would not.
Celebrities in these endorsements have their message conveyed in a variety of ways. The explicit mode is where they say; I endorse this product, I believe in this product. I use this product is part of the implicit mode. There is the imperative mode that says, you should use this product because the celebrities are around this product. Another form of endorsement is displayed by the stars who agree to wear the clothing given to them by the various fashion companies. Professional tennis players wear supplied shoes. Rafael Nadal made huge headlines in 2010 when he was seen professionally playing tennis while wearing a watch. Not just any watch, but the ultra-high-tech Richard Mille watch with a retail price of over $500,000. Richard Mille is utterly thrilled at the new partnership. The press they are getting is enormous, and they hope to sell a few of these watches.
One reason celebrities are effective is that people think of them as friends. “Most of us, at some stage of our lives, have bought a car from a friend or neighbor. This is ridiculous if we are trying to buy the perfect car for our money - but it is very sensible if we are keen to avoid buying a clunker: no one with a bad car to sell is going to sell it to anyone they know. What we are doing when we buy a car from a friend is replacing a complex problem ('How good is this car?') with a simpler proxy question ('Do I trust the person who is selling it?'). Since the person selling the car knows more about it than we do, this is not an irrational solution to the problem - it is a clever one.” reference Wired

General Rules for Persuasion

  • Reciprocity Compels – When I do something for you, you feel compelled to do something for me. It is part of our evolutionary DNA to help each other out to survive as a species. More importantly, you can leverage reciprocity disproportionately in your favor. By providing small gestures of consideration to others, you can ask for more back in return which others will happily provide. (tip: read Influence by Robert Cialdini)
  • Persistence Pays - The person who is willing to keep asking for what they want, and keeps demonstrating value, is ultimately the most persuasive. The way that so many historical figures have ultimately persuaded masses of people is by staying persistent in their endeavors and message. Consider Abraham Lincoln, who lost his mother, three sons, a sister, his girlfriend, failed in business and lost eight separate elections before he was elected president of the United States.
  • Compliment Sincerely - We are all so positively affected by compliments, and we’re more apt to trust people for whom we have good feelings. Try complimenting people sincerely and often for things they aren’t typically applauded for; it’s the easiest thing you can do to persuade others that doesn’t cost anything but a moment of thought.
  • Set Expectations - Much persuasion is managing other’s expectations to trust in your judgment. The CEO who promises a 20% increase in sales and delivers a 30% increase is rewarded, while the same CEO who promises a 40% increase and delivers 35% is punished. Persuasion is simply about understanding and over-delivering on other’s expectations.
  • Don’t Assume - Don’t ever assume what someone needs, always offer your value. In sales, we’ll often hold back from offering our products/services because we assume others don’t have the money or interest. Don’t assume what others might want or not want, suggest what you can provide and leave the choice to them.
  • Create Scarcity – Besides the necessities to survive, almost everything has value on a relative scale. We want things because other people want these things. If you want somebody to want what you have, you have to make that object scarce, even if that object is yourself.
  • Create Urgency – You have to be able to instill a sense of urgency in people to want to act right away. If we’re not motivated enough to want something right now, it’s unlikely we’ll find that motivation in the future. We have to persuade people in the present, and urgency is our most valuable card to play.
Coffee for Valentine's day
  • Images Matter – What we see is more potent than what we hear. It may be why pharmaceutical companies are now so forthcoming with the potentially horrible side effects of their drugs when set against a background of folks enjoying a sunset in Hawaii. Perfect your first impressions. And master the ability to paint an image for others, in their mind's eye, of a future experience you can provide for them.
  • Truth-Tell – Sometimes the most effective way to persuade somebody, is by telling them the things about themselves that nobody else is willing to say. Facing hard truths are the most piercing, meaningful events that happen in our lives. Truth-tell without judgment or agenda, and you’ll often find others’ responses quite surprising.
  • Build Rapport - We like people who we are like. This extends beyond our conscious decisions to our unconscious behaviors. By Mirroring and Matching others habitual behaviors (body language, cadence, language patterns, etc.), you can build a sense of rapport where people feel more comfortable with you and become more open to your suggestions.
‘The General Rules for Persuasion’ retrieved from Jason Nazar writing for Forbes.
In the 1960s' Pepsi hired Alan Pottasch to address their poor performance in winning customers from Coke. His approach was to promote the type of user that purchased a product as opposed to promoting the product itself. Beyond that, Pepsi promoted the idea of an entirely new generation, one free from the manipulative, consumerist messages being perpetuated by the mass media. The new generation was named 'The Pepsi generation.' The Pepsi Generation was revolutionary because it was the first time a brand convinced people to purchase their product by focusing on the type of person that doing so made them. Learn more of this technique built around the thought that People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Better Versions of Themselves.
For additional exciting thoughts read – The Psychology of Persuasion - How con artists con, salespeople sell, and politicians pull the wool over your eyes.