It’s All About Persuasion, Isn’t It?

Business tips for keeping persuasion the focus of your marketing and advertising efforts.

There was a big bang 13.5 billion years ago and, the theory goes, from that singularity everything was created. So, in theory, all matter (visible, dark and otherwise) shares one single origin.

Fast forward to the present and in our little corner of the world we have what seem to be very different disciplines: “traditional” branding advertising, B2B advertising, direct marketing, social marketing and dozens of other buzz words. So are these disciplines really that different? Or, on the contrary, is there a singularity that ties it all together and makes “experience” in one area or another a moot point?

There is. And that singularity is persuasion.


Plenty of Theories

When I began studying advertising at the university, we were told that advertising was all about information. So, we had to read Saussure (linguistics), Barthes (semiotics) and Umberto Eco (later famous for his novel “The Name of the Rose”). As a matter of fact, the school where I studied was named Facultad de Ciencias de la Informacion (School of Information Sciences) because of that.

The theory was that transmitting information would be enough to achieve whatever it is that you wanted to achieve.

Under that theory, saying “bricks are made out of baked clay mixed with straw” would somehow fall into the same bucket as saying “Buy the Renault 5 TS and experience frugal sportiness.” That didn’t jibe.

Then someone said, “Oh, no, it’s communication” – meaning the source (me) has a meaning in mind that the recipient (you) must understand to close the communication circle. Gets you near the ballpark, but no sale. I can still say “The Buick is surprising” and it would communicate. But it wouldn’t sell.

At some point, someone professed that information is part of communication but that there are other factors beyond pure information. Oh, I know: It’s all about creating awareness for my product. Gets you into the ballpark, but, again, no sale. I’m perfectly aware of tampons, AK-47s and plenty of other products I still don’t purchase.

Sometime we went back into the 19th century and thought “Hmm – this AIDA is attractive!” And you still hear this in some companies: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. But that theory, and the funnel it creates, has two giant flaws:

  1. People don’t think linearly, and sometimes we take an action first and develop and interest later. Think about sampling: You don’t know that artichoke dip from Adam, you try it at Costco; next thing you know, you are buying a huge container.
  2. All funnels are simultaneous: If you sell 1 billion tubes of toothpaste a year, you have 2.8 million funnels every day. No way you can tailor your messaging to hit each part of the funnel, because, of course, everyone’s funnel is in a different stage.


Marcelo Salup
Marcelo Salup
Marcelo Salup's 30+ years career in advertising covers a wide range of everything. A wide range of roles -he began his career on the creative side, won 2 Addies, changed to media, included strategic planning and consumer insight and has been an agency owner several times. A wide range of venues: Spain, Latin America, International and the U.S.  A wide range of clients that go from automotive through banking, electronics, fast food, soft drinks and much more. His professional philosophy can be summed up in four words: “Only performance is real”. Today, he runs a successful strategic planning consulting,  Website

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