Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Ancient wisdom

An interesting post by Amy Harrison of Copyblogger about Aristotle and the Ancient Greek philosophers and their relevance to us today. Extract below.
To see the full post go to:
I think it offers helpful guidelines for both writing and promoting our written work.

Rhetoric is the art of using language for persuasive ends. Not unlike copywriting.
Aristotle was ... well-versed in rhetoric and persuasion ... and came up with his own rules of persuasion.
And despite these rules being more than 2300 years old, when you apply them to your copywriting, you’ve got something that persuades as well as being authentic and having integrity.

Ethos (show off those lovely morals of yours)

Aristotle pretty much said that having good morals and an above-board character wasn’t enough; you had to establish this to your audience. In other words, it doesn’t matter how wonderful and ethical a person you are if you don’t communicate that.
This is not about putting on a front, but revealing your character in ways such as:
  • Sharing personal experience, (prove you know what your audience is going through)
  • Avoiding inaccessible language (no jargon, or fancy speak, just plain talk please)
  • Showing you have a genuine desire to help (such as a generous money-back guarantee if you can’t)
  • Showing you have the expertise and knowledge for what you say you can do (give testimonials, and list any credentials you may have)
  • Showing that you are personally experienced in what you say you can do. (been where your readers are now and found the success they want? Let them know your story)
Ethos is a powerful persuasive force — don’t ignore it.

Logos (give them proof, not piffle!)

Aristotle was pretty hot on the use of Logos. (Not the brightly-colored corporate image kind, but the Greek word for “word” or “reason,” and connected to our own word logic.)
To put it simply, logos means if you want to make a point, you’d better back it up with proof. You can’t just go out there making pie-in-the sky promises.
It was what really set him apart from the Sophists, and it can set your copywriting apart if you:
  • Avoid ambiguity (trade in your “things” and “stuff” for specific language, and swap out superlatives for rock-solid benefits and results)
  • Don’t use hyperbole (don’t tell them their life will be awesome after reading your eBook, inform them what they will actually learn from it, and what they will be able to do with the knowledge)
  • Follow every point you’re making with proof (watch out for phrases like “we all know that…” or “ it’s important to…” research it, prove it and win them over)

Pathos (get them feeling something)

To trigger those emotional points in your persuasive and authentic copy, you’ll want to:
  • Use stories to enhance visualization (be descriptive about your readers’ pain or problem and use vivid examples of what their life could be like)
  • Ask questions to engage (particularly when a response proves your argument or gets them to articulate their problem)
  • Make your writing flow naturally (write in your own voice, build suspense, and pull your reader’s attention along)
  • Save the end of your argument for a big push of pathos — of emotional drive — that moves your audience (to take action!)
So if you fancy following in Aristotle’s footsteps (beard and tunic optional) double-check your copy to make sure it displays your robust character, is backed up with plenty of proof, and stirs your audience’s emotions enough to take action.”
Thank you Amy for a thought-provoking post. 

Relaxing into Meditation by Ngakma Nor'dzin
Aro Books worldwide  ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8

Available from,,, and other bookshops worldwide. 

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