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The Art of Trade Show Persuasion: Ethos, Pathos, Logos

persuasion tradeshows“It’s much easier to persuade someone if they’re already convinced, if they already know the facts.  But it’s impossible to change someone’s mind merely by convincing them of your point.”  Seth Godin

This marketing doctrine is based on the perennial philosophy “At the end of reasons comes persuasion.”  The Art of Persuasion is an age old idea that has been vigorously scrutinized since the days of Aristotle.  The road to persuasion as traveled by Aristotle is constructed of 3 elements: Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Ethos (Greek for ‘character’) refers to the credibility of the writer or speaker or in our case the exhibit marketer.  Ethos is affected by the person’s reputation as it exists independently from the message – his or her expertise in the field, his or her previous record or integrity, and so forth. The impact of ethos is often called the argument’s ‘ethical appeal’ or the ‘appeal from credibility.’  Hint: As an individual marketer, start creating a buzz about your individual credibility using social media channels.

Pathos (Greek for ‘experience’) is often connected to emotional appeal. Paint a visual picture to ‘appeal to the audience’s imagination.’  A plea to pathos causes your audience not just to respond emotionally to your trade show booth but to identify with your point of view–to feel what you feel. The power of Pathos moves your audience to action.  Hint: Don’t just claim the features of your products.  Use vivid emotional language to paint the features that will benefit your audience coupled with sensory details of your trade show exhibit design.  “Remember facts and figures do not make an emotional impact but stories and vivid language do.”

Logos (Greek for ‘word’) refers to the clarity of the claim, the logic behind the reason, and compelling clause of its supporting evidence.  The impact of logos on an audience is sometimes called the argument’s logical appeal. Hint: This is where perennial marketing comes into play.  Keep the pipe of education flowing.  Keep your target audience informed with technical details such as e-books and white papers.  Use facts and figures to support your argument.

(Source: Ramage, John D. and John C. Bean. Writing Arguments.)

The landscape of digital communication has given us marvelous opportunities to harness our concepts of ethos and logos.  However, pathos scores high in the events that involve face-to-face-marketing such as trade shows.  Trade shows are ideal venues where you get to test the different flavors of persuasion.  You get to test the levels of persistence, logic and exuberance that is needed to drive an idea to a close.  Professor Jay A. Conger, author of Winning ‘Em Over states that, “Persuasion is a process of give-and-take.”  To persuade effectively, we must not only listen to others but also incorporate their perspectives into our own.  Above all, persuasion involves testing a position, developing a new position that reflects input from your target audience, more testing, incorporating compromises, and then trying again.

Persuasion can be a force for gigantic good and trade shows are fertile grounds to foster it.  Persuasion pulls people together, drives new ideas, stimulates change and hammers out constructive solutions.  “To do all that people must understand persuasion for what it is–not convincing and selling but learning and negotiating.”

What's Working In ExhibitingPut the power of persuasion to work for you by incorporating ideas from the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper in your trade show marketing.  Click here to receive your free copy of the 36-page book filled with tips for successful exhibiting. 

About the Author

Sarmistha Tarafder is the Creative Director and Choice Architect for Skyline Northern California trade show exhibits. She is the co-creator of brands in 3D spaces.

2 responses to “The Art of Trade Show Persuasion: Ethos, Pathos, Logos

  1. This totally reminds me of the saying. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

    As a trade show infotainer my job is to disarm prospects and put them at ease so that they are relaxed and more open to the solutions that I present.

    I enjoyed this article because it makes a lot of great points. The “Ethos” and having credibility is so important. I always wear a suit when I work. This positions me as an authoritative figure and I often am mistaken for the “boss” or the highest ranking company rep at the booth.

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