Persuasion part 3

Nothing has any chance of working unless it also has an agenda created for it.

By agenda I don’t mean a plan, I mean a statement of intent. Like this: “what’s YOUR agenda?” instead of: “what’s THE agenda?”

(note, if you missed earlier parts of this series on persuasion, you can find part 1 here, and part 2 here – please do read them first)

In the ICA, I often talk about systems and system thinking, but you’ll need both an agenda and a system if you want to win the game.

Persuasion doesn’t work without these two components.

Get them right, that is, have a clear intent of what, how, and why you’re going to do what you’re going to do, and then rig the system so it works for you, and the world, as they say, is your oyster.

How do you rig the system? Easy. You discover all the parts and you set them in motion (each part aligned to your agenda).

Now, this may seem at first like a load of semantic garbage, but once you define your agenda and create your aligned system, you won’t ever want (or need) any other framework (we go deep into systems thinking in the ICA members area).

Buyers vs sellers

Think about this: when we sell something, it involves us, the seller, and someone else, the buyer.

The transaction cannot exist in isolation. A sale cannot occur without a seller, and, simultaneously, a buyer.

It all happens at the same time.

Yet how many businesses forget about one or the other every time they try to make a sale or create a campaign?

Here’s the answer: most of them.

Most people are either in SELL mode or BUY mode. They’re almost never in SELL BUY mode.

This is good. It gives us an edge. It’s how we become master persuaders.

It allows us to live in wonderment at the amazing things we are selling, whilst placing ourselves firmly in our buyers’ skeptical shoes.

We exist as ONE with the world.

We become the buyer because we MUST understand the buyer if we are to have any success at all.

And equally, as a buyer, we MUST understand the seller if we are to trust that seller with our money.

And so we come to a premise:

We cannot sell (with any confidence) unless we step into the buyers shoes, and we cannot buy with any confidence unless we step into the sellers shoes (so we know if we can trust them).

This is obviously metaphorical – and just in case you hadn’t realised, anything using metaphors is unambiguously rhetorical, and anything rhetorical is at the heart of persuasion, which makes rhetoric our secret weapon.

It’s the one secret few copywriters understand.

Digging deeper into metaphor

Here’s how my trusty Claude AI tool (the free AI tool recently bought by Google) describes metaphor:

  • Metaphor is a rhetorical trope – a creative, non-literal use of language. Rhetoric relies heavily on figurative language like metaphors.
  • Metaphors allow new perceptions and meanings to emerge, which is a core aim of rhetoric – to change perceptions and persuade.
  • Metaphor creates vivid imagery that can enhance rhetorical style and make arguments more compelling.
  • Metaphors serve rhetorical functions like comparison, highlighting similarities between two things.
  • extended metaphors sustain an implicit comparison across an entire text. This is common in rhetorical works.
  • Metaphors shape thought and are not just decorative in rhetoric. They form frameworks for understanding concepts.
  • Metaphor theory examines how metaphors structure knowledge and perception. This relates to rhetoric’s role in shaping thought.

In other words, metaphors matter.

Hold on to that and I’ll see you in part 4.