How to use persuasive communication in advertising

Persuasive communication is a form of interpersonal communication, just like verbal communication and nonverbal communication. The aim is to persuade the interlocutor. When persuasive communication is used correctly in marketing and advertising, it can appeal to new target groups and compel customers to purchase a product or service based on their opinions, feelings, and desires.

What is the definition of persuasive communication?

Persuasive communication derives its name from the Latin word “persuadere” and uses the art of persuasion to communicatively influence a person’s thinking, behavior, or attitudes. This result should illicit a particular action or change an opinion.

Many people communicate persuasively in private conversations without realizing. Persuasive communication is consciously used as a rhetorical device in many other contexts, such as mass communication, advertising, marketing, PR, sales pitches, and political communication. Persuasive communication is beneficial when selling products online to sway visitors into buying your store’s products.


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What are examples of persuasive communication?

Persuasive communication uses a variety of rhetorical techniques. The following examples illustrate the concept of persuasion:

  • Foot-in-the-door technique: This technique gets its name from door-to-door sales. A person asks for a small favor, which the other person cannot refuse. This gets your “foot in the door” and opens the discussion for the actual, bigger favor. People will often agree to this to appear consistent.
  • Door-in-the-face technique: This technique is the reverse form of the foot-in-the-door technique. A person begins with asking for a favor that is so big and outrageous that it is sure to be refused. Then the person asks for the actual favor, which is significantly smaller. There is a good chance that the other person will agree to the smaller favor.

What are the goals of persuasive communication?

Persuasive communication primarily aims to influence the target group. The other goals of persuasive communication include:

  • Raise brand awareness: Persuasive communication can be used to raise awareness of something, such as a product, idea, or topic.
  • Change attitude or point of view: Persuasive communication can be used to change the other person’s attitude or point of view about a particular product, idea, or topic.
  • Influencing beliefs: Persuasive communication can be used to influence beliefs on a particular topic.
  • Change behavior: A customer’s behavior can also be influenced and even changed with persuasive communication.

Persuasive communication in marketing and advertising

Persuasive communication in advertising and marketing can leverage the interest of target groups or change their opinion on a product or brand, thereby positively influencing the purchase decision. Persuasive communication can be used for conversion rate optimization. The rhetorical tool can also increase existing customer’s loyalty to a brand and raise its profile. Persuasive marketing and persuasive advertising assume that people often act more emotionally than rationally. This leads customers to make their purchasing decisions based on feelings, preferences and beliefs that have been influenced by advertising and marketing messages.

Persuasive communication in marketing and advertising is not only about influencing the actions of customers, but also their attitudes. The customer should feel like they have made the purchase decision themselves. Most importantly, they should feel like that they have made the right decision with the purchase. Instead of focusing on the benefits of a product, persuasive advertising tries to evoke an emotional response in customers by using their own feelings and emotions to build a positive association with the product.

The role that emotions play in a purchase decision and how they can be influenced is explored in neuromarketing. Persuasive communication is also frequently used in conjunction with gender marketing. This involves tailoring persuasive techniques to men or women when appropriate.

Categories of persuasive communication in advertising and marketing

The persuasive strategies, ethos (credibility), logos (reason) and pathos (emotions), originate from ancient rhetoric theory. Persuasive marketing utilizes these strategies in marketing and advertising techniques:

  • Ethos: This category focuses on messages that are intended to convey credibility and trust. This is similar to the halo effect in marketing. This usually involves an expert or well-known personality endorsing the product or brand. Customers consider the person to be trustworthy and reliable due to their authority.
  • Logos: Techniques in this category use logic, reason, and rationality to persuade customers. This type of persuasive communication is based on data, facts, and statistics. The goal in this case is to appeal to the mind and convince customers that a product or service is something special.
  • Pathos: Customers are addressed on an emotional level in this category. These can be positive and negative emotions, which are intended to stimulate an action. Examples of pathos techniques include puppies, a loving mother with her child, a desperate family, or a terrible illness.

What are persuasive communication techniques in advertising?

There are several different techniques that can be used when implementing persuasive communication in marketing and advertising. These are often based on the principle of cognitive bias and aims to make customers believe the advertising message and compel them to buy a product or use a service, similar to the decoy effect and the anchor effect. The most important persuasive advertising techniques are:

Carrot and stick

The principle of the carrot and stick technique assumes that people fundamentally prefer rewards to punishments. The carrot refers to the potential gain or advantage associated with using a product, for example, the customer will have better skin after using the moisturizer.

The stick refers to a potential loss or fear associated with behaving a certain way and encourages customers to choose an alternative. For example, an advertisement might highlight the increased likelihood of a burglary if customers do not purchase a particular home alarm system. Anti-smoking campaigns are another example of the carrot and stick technique.

Principle of scarcity

The principle of scarcity assumes that people value things that are in limited supply or which not everyone can own. This instills a feeling of power and boosts self-esteem. Certain words and phrases, such as “exclusive offer” or “limited availability”, can increase the perceived scarcity and evoke a sense of urgency. This positively influences the purchase decision by increasing customer demand, similar to the loss aversion principle.

One message per display

Using a single message can immediately engage customers and convince them to read the rest of the ad. Drawing attention to the main benefit or feature of the product makes it easier for the customer base to see value in the product. In addition, the likelihood of closing a sale increases because the main message is stating that the product will improve customers’ lives.

Writing in the second person

Using “you” and “your” pronouns is another persuasive advertising technique. It connects with potential customers on a more personal level. It can be used to attract attention and help individuals envision a future where a product or service improves their lives.


The need for control is a biological and psychological necessity, i.e., people need to feel that they are in control of their own lives. When customers read or see advertisements, they should feel they have the choice between buying the advertised product or a different product. However, if they feel they are being pressured into buying a product, they are likely to react badly and reject the message.


While call-to-actions are crucial for getting potential customers to take the next step, they don’t always convince skeptical customers to act. A call-to-value can be useful in this case. This technique focuses on conveying the value or benefit of taking the next step to the user. Examples of call-to-value include “Subscribe to our newsletter and get exclusive expert tips” or “Become a member and get instant access to our high-quality content and offers”.

Bandwagon effect

The bandwagon effect is also a popular persuasive communication technique in marketing. This exploits the fact that people tend to follow the crowd rather than considering their own opinion. The bandwagon effect leads to an already popular and trendy brand becoming even more popular. This can be reinforced by word-of-mouth marketing.


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