Effective communications start with a comprehensive Marketing Communications Strategy. At Sixe, you’ll get access to one of the most experienced marketing teams in Australia to lay the foundations for a successful strategy.
In this article, we look the type of in-depth approach we adopt with C-level strategic thinking to develop well-thought-out and compelling messaging - as opposed to just supplying general marketing services and hoping that media placement will do all the ‘heavy lifting’.
Creating successful marketing is essentially persuasion. It is the mounting of a convincing argument with a (usually) unseen listener. You need to convince the audience that your product or service is the one they should choose because it is – not the best – but more subtly, it is the best for them.
But your argument needs to work on many levels because every person will react differently to information as it is presented to them. Some prefer an emotional engagement, others a more rational approach while a third group might look to the credibility of the message-giver to inform them.
This idea of having a strategy to make a successful case dates back to the ancient Greeks and Aristotle’s ‘Rhetorical Triangle’ which uses the concepts of ‘pathos, logos and ethos’ – sometimes adding ‘kairos’ as the pillars of mounting a successful argument. Each of these concepts deals with a different way to appeal to the listener and these ideas can be used to attract customers and persuade them to buy your product or service.
Before going into more detail about what these 4 concepts mean, it is worth adding a fifth concept to their numbers.
In Ancient Greece, the art of public speaking – or practicing ‘rhetoric’ - was first and foremost a means to persuade. On the floor of the Senate or just to a gathered crowd, oratory was widely practiced. But as we are now living in the modern world and our communication is not one-on-one but via the media, we must also add a fifth concept ‘topos’ - which is how you frame or deliver your message.
These concepts of pathos, logos, ethos, kairos and topos can be best expressed as tactics or strategies towards an ultimate goal. But how these play out and how they are used - and in what combinations - is dependent on each product or service. Below are some examples of how these can be applied in ‘real life’ marketing situations.
Comes from the Greek words for ‘suffering’ or ‘experience’ and means presenting an argument with passion and emotion.
Pathos focuses attention on the values and beliefs of the intended audience, often through the use of storytelling. When you use pathos to persuade somebody, you want to make them feel an emotion that sparks them into action. So firstly, you need to think about how you want people to feel - and how you want them to act. Do you want them to be excited, or passionate, or fearful or re-assured? Then try using words, music, imagery, bright or subdued colours - all these things can affect the viewer in different ways. Regardless of the method, pathos-based arguments can be very effective.
Comes from the Greek for ‘word’ and means the use of logic and facts and pointing out an argument with clarity and reasoning.
Sometimes, we are persuaded just by being presented with the facts, a credible statistic or
a simple demonstration of the truth. Logical reasoning can be built into an argument through storytelling, citing an example or case study or by listing a number of features which build to tell the whole story. When using logos to persuade, use facts and information that matters to your audience and present it in a way that makes sense. For example, don’t say Brand X tyre will last ‘20,000 kilometres’ when you could say ‘with Brand X you could drive across Australia five times” - as this is easier to comprehend and gives the fact some perspective.
Comes from the Greek for ‘character’ and means using ethics and credibility to present your case and focuses attention on the trustworthiness or a reputation for honesty.
People won’t be persuaded by you unless they trust you. This trust can be built in a number of ways - tone of voice, confidence, the clarity of the message – and these all help to improve your ethos. To add weight to your argument, you could cite credible sources, quote a scientist or an expert on the subject as the more your audience trusts your sources the more they will trust you. Ethos can be a difficult thing to acquire - sometimes it may take years to build a strong, credible reputation.
Comes from the Greek for ‘right time’ or ‘season’ and means the timeliness and opportunity of an argument.
People will be more easily persuaded at different times - and this is about finding the best moment to deliver your message when the audience is most receptive to your story.
For example, people are often more likely to give to a charity if they have seen the effects firsthand or had a disaster of their own. It is also about finding the opportune time to persuade your audience. For example, if you are inviting someone to a party, you don’t invite them three months in advance, as they may forget. Or if you leave it until the day before, they may have other plans - so timing is everything.
Comes from the Greek for ‘place’ and in this case we are taking this to mean communication and media.
Refers to framing your communication within a situation so it is more clearly understood because of how it is positioned. It is all about presenting your argument within a situation that meets expectations or is more clearly understood because of where it sits. In media terms, you wouldn’t advertise specialist medical products in a general newspaper because the message would be lost on the general population. Equally, if you are advertising products for targeted at men you would do so at a time when you think men will be watching TV, like in sports or renovation programs.

While most strategies will just utilise pathos, logos and ethos equally, in advertising – and depending on the product or service of course – sometimes just one or two of these concepts can be used. At Sixe, we find that all these elements are in constant interaction with kairos (the right time) sitting at the centre of all communication.
Ultimately, it is not the amount each tactic is utilised, it is the ability to use each of them effectively that counts. And then, once the right argument is formulated, and the right time established, the right media must be used to deliver this message at the opportune time.