Advertising is defined as salesmanship in the media, and salesmanship, of course, is persuasion. Everything a company makes, distributes, prices and promotes is intended to satisfy people's needs and wants. The promoting part is the persuasion.
Actually, all of us are walking around talking, Facebooking, and Twittering each other with persuasive conversations. When we ask in a commonplace way, rather than with sincerity, "How are you?", we communicate our interest in people so they will like us. That's persuasion. If a woman dresses with a touch of masculinity, to show she is authoritative and strong, that is persuasion. When we recommend a movie or a restaurant, that's implicit persuasion, too, and quite powerful.
In the midst of everyone persuading everyone else, there's advertising and marketing. So you begin to see the problem. Competition for your persuasive messages. The American Association of Advertising Agencies says we're each confronted with over 3,000 commercial messages every day.
Fortunately, only about 16 sink into our psyches or we'd probably go crazy. As humans, our brains have a lot of protection against persuasion.
One is our social relationship system. We each have our own groups to use as a reference for what fits in and what's out. Our culture dictates to us, too. What college students should be like, what accountants should dress like, and so on.
Our emotional experiences also help regulate the revolving door of persuasion, keeping out some messages even from ourselves.
That's why marketers have to work very hard to understand their target markets. What we need even more than facts and information is insight. For example, what's the secret of selling disposable diapers? Is it comfort for the infant or convenience for the mom? Are you sure which is the most persuasive?
And if you want to sell fashions to females 35 to 59, how do you do this? Are they buying clothes for the same reasons, with the same hopes and dreams as a 23 year old?
You can't be persuasive until you have the insights, and even then it's not easy. We have to understand the customers' decision-making systems. Then we have to find the thread that leads them to our products.
That's what marketing and advertising people do for a living.