Exerting Influence

At the core of marketing or good communication, is influence. We think about what we can say or do to interest someone in our product or service. How can we influence?

I recently attended the AgChat Cultivate and Connect conference and keynote speaker Christopher Penn examined influence using the teachings of Aristotle. He said to have influence, we need Ethos, Pathos and Logos. Well, the logos part has lasted through the years. We still have those.



Ethos means authority. When you decide you’re going to trust someone to change your opinion, it’s necessary that you trust that they know whatthey’re talking about.

Pathos is about emotional appeal. Penn told us without pathos, we are unable to make a decision. I’m going to be in the market for a car soon. I’ll pay attention to my pathos in that process.

Logos is actually logic. That piece seems to be missing sometimes in the world of social media, but it’s still a component of influence.

Since the conference was focused on social media, this discussion of Penn’s was about choosing and connecting with influencers who can help you move your case forward. In the business of agriculture – in this whole agvocacy arena – we find ourselves trying to help consumers understand our practices. Different groups have sought to influence millennials, moms, dieticians, maybe teachers. They’re the people who others may turn to if they have ethos, pathos or logos. They can influence changes in our food system. We’ve seen much of this already.

From the perspective of production agriculture, I couldn’t help but realize how the work we do at Beck Ag is about influence. If you’ve ever been involved in a Beck Ag event (I tuned in to one just this morning) you’ll typically hear from the Ethos. One of the speakers this morning had Dr. in front of his name. He offered opinions on the best ways to get the highest soybean yields based on his research. The Dr. in front of his name indicates that he’s paid some dues in the educational process.

Pathos was involved as well. There was a farmer on the panel who talked about a production change that he made after trying it in a test plot. That change brought WAY more yield than he would have ever anticipated. You could hear the excitement in his voice. He was going to be using that product again. The Pathos for many of us on the line was about seeing a potential solution to help produce revenue in a tight year. In addition to Pathos, that farmer could be in the category of Ethos, because farmers trust other farmers.

The element of field trials and testing the new product or technology brings the Logos, or logic.

Penn mentioned at the beginning of his talk how we’re in content shock. Essentially there are limits on our human ability to consume content. My inbox and I can identify with that. That makes it important for us, as marketers, to be able to do what stands out from the crowd, even if it means following the philosophy of an old Greek guy.

What are you doing to influence?

Kim Lang consults on agricultural marketing, communications and social media, and partners with Beck Ag. 

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