The Art of Persuasion: How to Make Effective Creative

Modern Marketing


Here’s the truth: All marketers think their creative is “good” until it is tested. Ultimately, consumers will tell you how effective your creative is, and that realization can be harsh. Some marketers might lean on a flashy web page to reel in consumers’ interest. However, standing out only scratches the surface—what you do next with that attention can make or break your campaign.

According to CBS News, consumers in the U.S. witness roughly 5,000 messages per day, which means colorful links and snappy taglines don’t stand a chance against the barrage of other media in the cultural zeitgeist. As a result, creative should focus on content that’s relevant to your audience, not just pretty words and attractive graphics. A sure way of turning potential consumers into active customers is strategically utilizing the art of persuasion.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

Experimenting with different creative strategies is essential. An Ipsos study revealed that 75% of a strategy’s influence stems from creative quality. Consequently, ambitious brands understand the significance of creative testing, a trial-and-error approach.

But regardless of the product, industry, or creative process, every brand needs passion behind its tactics. This passion can fuel the fire behind your power of persuasion. Think about it this way: If you don’t care about your product, why should anyone else? And proving that you care requires much more than a colorful, intrusive banner.

Too many marketing executives forget the importance of relaying their passion to their specific consumer base. From Ford’s inability to carve out a niche for its “Edsel” line to Coors’ flop in capitalizing on the bottled water craze, even household names tend to forget what their audience wants in the first place.

The Edsel model didn’t fit into a defined demographic, and few people were willing to spend money on bottled water that could easily be confused as alcohol. These failures all originated from misguided strategy, poor creative, and underwhelming persuasion. By learning from them, brands can avoid tripping up on similar creative mistakes.

6 Ways to Master Persuasion in Your Creative

The art of persuasion is over 2,000 years old, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. In 55 B.C., Cicero described a six-part process for developing a successful argument, and these steps can still be utilized today when building effective creative:

1. Introduce Yourself

No matter the size of your business, assuming everyone knows who you are is a recipe for failure. The importance of your “About Us” page cannot be overstated. It’s not only your chance to establish credibility, but it also highlights what you stand for. Nike, for instance, quotes a key message in the company’s formation at the bottom of its page: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

Everyone’s heard of Nike, but many might write it off as a basic sporting goods brand. However, after reading the “About Us” page, consumers will better understand that the company aims to support people similar to them who are at different stages of their fitness journey.

2. Outline Your Message

Achieving an emotional impact with your message starts with an outline. Rather than jot down a series of vivid campaign slogans, consider how your corporate culture can connect with your base. Think about your consumers’ deep emotional needs—not just the surface ones your competitors can service. Finding the emotional “hooks” in your message is what differentiates your product from the masses.

3. Explain Your Product’s Benefits

While an emotional impact is essential, you’ll have to balance it with facts. You can’t sell something on pathos alone, and a generic “ours is better than theirs” statement isn’t fooling anyone. Finding statistics and testimonials that prove your product’s superiority is the secret ingredient in a well-developed strategy.

4. Prove It

Combining an emotional thread with logical reasoning is a solid first step to good creative, but until you keep those promises, it’s all empty rhetoric. Once you decide what qualities will create a long-term connection with consumers, enlist the help of your entire organization to bring those ambitions into reality. Otherwise, your customers might think they’re being scammed.

5. Refute Your Competitors’ Messages

Of course, you can’t claim to be better than your competitors if you don’t mention their names. The trick, though, is to do it without sounding boastful and tasteless. One way to stay humble is to showcase your weaknesses in a positive way.

In 1962, Avis came in second when compared to Hertz, and it eventually developed the tagline “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.” Thus, according to Slate, the “We Try Harder” campaign was instrumental in helping Avis earn $1.2 million the following year. With this simple tagline, Avis proved that marketing leaders don’t need to brag to attract customers—they just need to be smart about how they reveal their strengths.

6. Conclude With a Call to Action

Perhaps the most straightforward and challenging part of making your customers active is through the call to action. It has to be concise enough to keep everyone’s attention but specific enough to guide customers in the right direction.

For the best success, pretend your customers have no idea what they’re doing, making it imperative for you to explain their next steps as clearly as possible. This way, when you only use action words such as “buy,” “download,” or “submit” in your CTA, you’re not limiting your base to those who already understand how your business works.

Throwing together an aggressively complex web page will generate some hits, but the ultimate goal of effective creative is to have a lasting impact on consumers that urges them to take action. Follow the above steps and polish your persuasive marketing approach to establish stronger connections so your creative can go from mediocre to compelling.