Chapter 5.1: Where do we start: Let’s just start with basic marketing

by James Young

You’re likely familiar with the phrase “low-hanging fruit” and how it applies to your business. To extend the metaphor a little, let’s say your business is an orchard. You’re standing in the middle of it, looking at the sagging branches all around you. Where to begin picking?We don’t recommend gathering every worker on your orchard and polling them about which tree to pick first. Just choose one and get to work. Back in the office, this translates to skipping the step of calling a meeting; doing so will only lead to indecision and (ugh) more meetings.

Over the next four chapters, we’ll discuss ways your team can make decisions and get started quickly.

Start with the basics of persuasion

At Tangible, we’re inspired by the three means of rhetoric, or persuasion: logos, ethos, and pathos. (If you’re saying, “that’s Greek to me,” well, you’re right: these terms were coined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle.) Let’s look at each of them in turn, and discuss when and where it’s best to apply them.


Logos: Stick to the facts

Logos speaks to the rational. These are your logical reasons to buy: the facts about your product or service makes it so good. It’s the rational appeal of how many features it has, or how much money or time it can save you.

Using Logos is the go-to tactic for many of the marketing groups I work with. I’ve seen teams start to move away from this rational approach, but I believe it’s still highly effective when you can craft factual messages in engaging ways. There’s plenty of upside if you’re willing to put in the work.

Ethos: Demonstrate your credibility

Ethos refers to social proof and character. This is what others say about you, and how credible you are, through your ratings, reviews, testimonials, and more.

There’s a study that says adding reviews will in itself increase conversion, no matter what the content. Having negative reviews can be just as important in selling your product, as they add authenticity and credibility to your message.

Don’t forget to add visuals of awards badges, and use pull quotes to draw attention to the most important parts of positive reviews … anything that shows your offering has some “buzz” around it!

Pathos: Tell your story

Pathos consists of emotional appeal, imagination, and narrative. A writer that I work with often calls this “the things your customers dream about after they have visited your site or product.” It’s the story of your product/service and its appeal to your customers’ aspirations.

Pathos is, I believe, the richest of the three means of persuasion to mine for testing ideas. Using a narrative appeal to a customer’s imagination can be quite powerful. We’ve seen revenue increases in the tens of millions of dollars, and conversion metrics over 200% (that’s a 100% increase in conversion over the baseline recipe). This discovery made me wish I’d delved into the pathos form of persuasion sooner.

Dream a little dream

So how do we get a potential customer to “dream” about the way the product or service could change their lives? First, you need to capture their imagination. It’s less difficult than you may think: we’ve been able to get accountants (yes, accountants) to dream of becoming the CPA equivalent of a rock star.

Start by asking your team questions about the product that you’re marketing:

  • How has customer service/support made a difference in the experience the product provides?

  • How has the product changed the way people do business?

  • How good has the product made people look? and how much has it boosted their confidence?


The answers to these questions will come in the form of stories to tell your customers, which will inspire them to picture themselves in your narrative.modesofrhetoric

Which is best? To find out, test!

I once had a client that asked me, “Which one of these three modes of rhetoric will work best for our offering?” I was taken aback by this question at first, and stammered a bit, but my ultimate answer was: “I don’t know … yet. But I DO know how to find out: test, test, test!”

To take a big swing at those low-hanging fruit, start by brainstorming on each individual mode. Ask yourself, are we being clear enough about the logical reasons to buy our product (logos)? What can be done with social proof (ethos)? Or, how can we tell a great story and get our customers dreaming about our products (pathos)? Maybe your test has uses all three modes (Aristotle would be so proud of you!) and you play up one more than the others. Whatever you decide, get started, and let me know what you learn. I’m always curious!

Ideas by James Young. Structure by Chuck Vadun.

See also:

Chapter 1: Infusing the culture of A/B testing

Chapter 2.1: What exactly is A/B testing, anyway?

Chapter 2.2: What exactly is A/B testing, anyway? Part 2: Multivariate testing

Chapter 2.3: What exactly is A/B testing, anyway? Part 3: Lean Testing

Chapter 3: What to Test For

Chapter 4: What is a hypothesis, and why is it important?

Chapter 5.2: Where do we start: Look to Your Research