The other evening my husband and I were having a conversation about persuasion. He happens to be a lawyer, and I, a marketer, and therefore, the art of persuasion is something we consider to be of primary importance.
A lawyer who wishes to win a case, must be able to persuade the Judge or the jury, of the rightfulness of his client’s cause. In a strikingly similar parallel, a marketer’s job lies in convincing a prospective customer to believe in her client’s brand and the value of her client’s product, enough to make that purchase.
So what does it take for effective, result-oriented communication – whether it is by a brand to get a customer or by a lawyer to get a favourable judgement?
Broadly speaking, there are 4 facets to consider for effective communication.
1. Know Thy Brand
Every case has its facts and there are many sides to every argument. The prowess of a lawyer lies in picking those facts and arguments that provide strength and support his case and presenting them with absolute conviction and sincerity before his audience, the judge.
"As a marketer or a brand owner, one needs to understand her brand – its beliefs, values and proposition."
Every brand has a fundamental core brand message which basically communicates why the brand matters and why its target audience should sit up and care about the brand. A skilled marketer will skilfully build a messaging construct that communicates this core message using the right tone, words and images, through the right medium and at the right time to evoke a positive response from the target audience.
2. Leverage Your Stature
‘Who is saying it’ matters.
An established lawyer with experience and track record brings a certain ‘weight’ to his arguments. He is a person of some gravitas, who evokes respect and trust in the judge and the opposite side. The same arguments made by a newly enrolled lawyer might be perceived very differently.
"In marketer’s lingo, it is the power of a brand – the brand equity."
The gravitas of the brand determines how its communication is perceived and trusted by the target audience.
Building the brand equity is a continuous process that every brand must invest in. This brand equity does not come overnight; it is built thru consistent communication, good customer experience and delivery on the brand promise, again and again – all the time, every time.
3. Outshine The Competition
As much as a lawyer picks the right arguments for his side of the case, he needs to have his counters in place for the arguments that the opposite side would have carefully framed, so that he remains more convincing to the judge.
"A brand’s biggest threat is the enemy of choice."
The shrinking world and growing markets have created a multitude of legitimate alternatives for almost every category of service or product. Brands need to understand the competition, their strengths and weaknesses, differentiate from them and ensure that they remain the brand of choice for their target market.
4. Connect With Your Audience
"People are persuaded not by what brands say but by what they understand."
In that sense, every single person is a judge - a judge who uses a combination of facts, experiences and biases to pass their judgement – whether on a case or on a brand.
As a skilled marketer (or a lawyer!), one needs to understand the decision-making behaviour of their audience and communicate the right content to them in the right way, at the right time. The objective of communication varies based on which stage of the decision-making continuum the target audience is in – it could be to build awareness, create perceptions, steer away from biases, outshine the competition, persuade about choice or incentivise purchase.
Persuasive and hence effective communication is less about what you say, and more about what the person you are communicating with has understood. Understanding is a function of several variables, not all within the control of the marketer or the brand. But what is in control is the ability to understand these variables – the brand, the equity, the perceptions, the competition, the biases – and frame the marketing communication to get you the judgement you want!
Inception Business Services (www.inception.net.in) works with several B2B and B2C brands to formulate their marketing strategy and communication. Aarthi is a Partner with Inception.
Director at Inception Business Services