The art of philosophy dates back countless millennia, pondering the great mysteries of the universe. Today’s philosophers have more practical applications of their practice, and that includes business and marketing.
Turns out, the ideas of ancient philosophers in Greece and China on happiness, productivity, and good conversation mesh well with the digital space of content marketing.
These ideas might seem outdated at first (literally, since many of the come before 0 BC,) but applying these philosophies to your marketing efforts can transform the conversation between you and your audience.
One of the most well-known philosophies of this Greek philosopher (born in 384 BC) is his idea of persuasion, otherwise known as rhetoric.
He breaks down persuasion into the three categories: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.
These three concepts can be valuable for B2B content writers. After all, isn’t persuasion one of the most important parts in marketing?
After all, you need to convince someone to trust your tweet to click the link to your content; then use your content to persuade them that your solution is the one that they have been searching for.
Logos might be the most important area for those working in B2B. It is the application of logic in efforts to persuade. Since in B2B there is often more than just one stakeholder, logic is the best choice for convincing a group of people to buy your offering.
Pathos plays to your emotions. It makes you feel something. This is what marketers are talking about when they are talking about the concept of storytelling. Using anecdotes and stories, marketers can connect with their audience, adding a human element to content.
Ethos is the concept of ethics. It works off the idea that it is impossible to persuade anyone of anything if you’re not credible. You must establish your credibility and reputation as a writer. This is done through personal branding and your ability to build a following. Ideally this would result in everyone relevant in your industry knowing who you are.
Combine these three concepts and your persuasive ability should know no bounds.
This Chinese philosopher born in 551 BC had some words about honesty and transparency that are critical for marketers.
“Be sincere and true to your word, serious and careful in your actions; and you will get along even among barbarians, but if you are not sincere and untrustworthy in your speech, frivolous and careless in your actions, how will you get along even among your own neighbors? When stand, see these principles in front of you; in your carriage see them on the yoke. Then you may be sure to get along.”
Marketers should be transparent and honest. Talk about your offering and your company openly, share your best practices, show off your office space, etc. This will make your business more credible.
Behind the content, make sure that your company lives up the reputation it is setting. Talk about the practices and philosophies that make your company great, not what you want to be great about it.
Diogenes was one of the principle founders of cynic philosophy, born in 412 BC. So, what can marketers learn from the world’s earliest cynic?
To not be too rigid. Diogenes once couldn’t find a place to live, so he decided to live in a tub in the Metroön(a Greek temple dedicated to the mother goddess.) He “discovered” that he didn’t have a need for conventional shelter.
I’m not telling you to go live in a bathtub, but rather that it’s easy to get stuck in routines and traditions. Content programs that are not open to change are the ones that eventually fall out of date because they aren’t adopting new forms of content and are getting left in the dust by their competitors.
This Greek philosopher born in 341 BC believed that the key to a happiness is a self-sufficient life with the company and conversation of good friends. He even had a garden where his fellow philosophers would come to converse.
Most of us would agree being able to hold a conversation is important to successful content marketing. Make partnerships with relevant businesses and write guest posts for each other. Be active on social media, interacting with those in your space, and inviting customers and competitors to have an open dialog. It is equivalent to creating a digital garden for marketers to converse with you or your peers.
Everyone who has passed a middle school science class learns about the Socratic Method developed by this Greek philosopher born around 470 BC. This method is famous for asking questions and posing theories to investigate to stimulate the foundation of new ideas.
This applies to content writers in many ways.
The first is using questions in your content. You can often use questions to pull a reader through your content. Pose a question at the end of a section or paragraph that leads them to the next. This will make them want to know the answer, so they start reading the next paragraph.
The Socratic Method also applies to the interactive aspect of marketing. Get your readers involved by asking them questions or looking for their ideas on certain issues and engage them with interactive content. Making it so that your audience can try your offering in a demo, come up with a blog topic from a randomly generated title, or get an estimate for a service.
So, invite your audience to take a stroll along the paths of your garden for a lively debate. Take care to be honest and truthful even amongst Barbarians. Ask questions to learn more about your audience and your industry. Finally, remember that friendships and networking are not just the key to a happy life, they are also the key to good marketing.
Let us know what you think:
Do you think of philosophy when you do your marketing?
Did we miss any philosophers who have ideas related to marketing?
Should marketers read ancient philosophy to create better content?
Acadia Otlowski is the editor and copywriter at HiP. She handles writing subject lines and email copy as well as contributing weekly to the blog. Acadia is a journalism major turned marketing enthusiast with a heavy background in research and writing. Outside of work, she is an avid reader and storyteller, as well as a fire performer.