“If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words. -Cicero
Spoken nearly 2000 years ago, this statement still rings true today. Philosophizing rhetoric and the art of persuasion, Cicero understood the importance of connecting with an audience at the mental and emotional level.
The above quote points out three of his main claims. To persuade an audience one must “think their thoughts”. People are more likely to be persuaded when the rhetorician communicates in a way that embraces the individual’s own point of view. Focusing solely on changing point of view results in discomfort and suspicion. Rhetoricians must also “feel their feelings”. To do so, one must ask themselves what the deep-seated feelings are that drive the listeners. Asking this question and reflecting on the answers is an essential part in the pathway to connecting. Finally, according to Cicero, to persuade an audience, one must “speak their words”. People need to understand what you have to say in order to care about it. If they don’t care, they won’t do the ultimate goal – act.
In the age of advertising, these classical concepts are still prevalent as we transcend into the postmodern era. In postmodernity the “self” becomes the ultimate selling point. Marketers strive to persuade their audience that their product does more than whatever its mechanical purpose – the pitching point becomes that their product is an extension of oneself. As a result, individualization and customization are reigning themes. Furthermore, because individuals are immersing themselves as an object, consumers become an actual participant in customization. Products are increasingly less of a finished object, allowing consumers to provide direct input – ultimately and simultaneously becoming a producer as well.
Therefore, it is no coincidence products today are increasingly individualized. An example of this is the new Motorola Moto X phone. Check out it’s commercial, Customize below.
After watching this how do you feel? This is a pretty cool phone, right? You can make it however you want! Notice how this commercial mentions nothing about tech specs, mobile web speed, or how the phone will be used in your every day life. Its persuasion strategy focuses on “you” – “your ride”, “your pet”, “your body” and now “your phone” – the idea that you can be in charge of customizing your phone, just as you do everything else, as an expression of your self. You are the producer. No longer are the only options either black and white. Your options are whatever you think brands yourself best.
This commercial is the essence of Cicero’s idea of persuasion combined with post-modernism ideals. By knowing what its postmodern consumers think and feel about individualization, Motorola has created a product that speaks to every thing you as a consumer expects and wants – customization. Not only do you become a buyer of the Moto X, but a producer of it. Their persuasion hook is that you can directly produce their product as a means of your own expression.
Has this commercial persuaded you? What other brands and products use customization and self-expression as a persuasion tool?
Pretty clever commercial!
Cicero’s quote is very relative to the new wave of customization. People seek individuality and ironically usually take the same route. Now there are more options, lessening the odds of repetition and people are drawn to it. Having things the way we want is part of the American way; we see unnecessary options are offered for almost everything. You can design your perfect, one-of-a-kind, brand-new car on any given automobile brand’s website. It is much more expensive than buying a used car that functions just as well, but people see the opportunity to live lavishly and will pay any price.
Exactly Maggie! Customization plays into our commodity culture extremely well, especially with our generation and technology. Its what we want and businesses will give it to us.
Working in a coffee shop has taught me that even if two people have the same drink, writing the name on the cup is how we customize the product for them. It is no longer a latte with soy milk, it’s now Robert’s latte with soy milk. Granted, that is a small part of someone’s day, but it builds on the idea that each product a person buys adds to their identity they have created for themselves, and promotes this identity to the general public. No matter how expensive something may be, if it is beneficial to their identity, they will buy it. I buy Star Wars products all the time and will even pay what seems a ridiculous price to outsiders, but for me it may be completely worth it to add to my personal identity as a Star Wars fan. Customization of products takes this a step further by saying to the consumer, “You made this, this is a product of your personal taste to showcase who you are or want to be.”
Great additional examples Rita! It is amazing how even a small thing, such as name on a coffee, can be a customized product. It goes to show that expression of self is a very important factor in the buying decision process. Thank you for your comment!