Using Rhetoric: Meaning Through Words

Rhetoric – The art of effective or persuasive speaking and writing.

“Rhetoric, is ultimately the art of the right words in the right places,” begins Using Rhetoric author Jordan. “Other modes of language are possible, but none is as convenient, flexible, or reliable as words.”

Precision of language is key in order to appropriately convey the correct message to the audience. As the English language is undoubtedly one of the most confusing languages – even to native speakers – there are several words that have the same spelling but carry different meanings. The sentence structure and overall mood of the writing dictate which meaning the word will adhere to.

Here is an example of using the word “bomb” in various English sentences:

The military bombed its opponents. – As an explosive weaponexplosion-153710_1280

I bombed my test at school today. – Failed, to do poorly

You are the bomb! – A verbal proclamation of praise, liking

The car bombed down the highway. – to drive fast and/or aggressively

The quarterback bombed the ball down the field. – A long pass to a teammate

As can be seen, it is crucially important to craft language to leave no chance at wrongful audience interpretation. A persuasive message can only be successful if crafted correctly with word meaning and audience interpretation in mind.

“We need to sharpen our word sense,” explains Jordan. “One word is usually better than another.” In this case, synonym choice is important as well in various persuasive efforts.

Even though there are several ways to express the same meaning in the English language, message creators always have the option to choose a more appropriate word for their message. The main point is move past boring, overused words and select a word that can not only capture the audience’s attention, but accurately describe the message as well.

Here is an example of improved word usage:

The ice cream is good.

“Good” is an overused term that simply is not specifically descriptive at all

The ice cream is delicious.

“Wonderful” is a less used term that has descriptive feeling to it and

gives character to the sentence

With just one word, a multitude of expression is thrust into the setting. There are countless items of food that can be just “good.” Persuasion excites an audience and makes them interested in the message – a word like “wonderful” spices up the message and incites imagination into the audience.

While there may be a better word to use in a sentence, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is the correct one to use. Depending on the tone of the sentence, other descriptive words will work better than others.

As described before, word choice is an extremely powerful task at hand. Here is an example of a bad word choice, an OK word choice, and an excellent word choice:


“The pen is better than the sword.”

Doesn’t accurately describe the intended message of the phrase whatsoever.

“The pen is bigger than the sword.”

This is better, but still doesn’t quite capture the emotion in the sentence.

The pen is mightier than the sword

This sentence is the best – it incites imagination and accurately defines the tone of the message.


Tone has the ability to significantly sway the mood of the message with only one simple word. Using Rhetoric author Jordan sums this up accurately by stating, “Our culture is marked by the power of words.” This word power caters the desired message to be persuasive to the targeted audience.

-Andrew Eppen, Marketing Intern

The Science of High Growth

weights-652489_1280Understanding the Consumer’s Brain

 In concept, free weight training is a very simple practice. You lift your weights, you wait a while, and you do it again. You improve over time and eventually you are stronger and bigger than you were before. When you strip it down it’s really quite simple isn’t it? The problem is things don’t always go as smoothly as the above description would imply. You’re tired, your muscles hurt, and you want to give upAs in weight training, the field of consumer behavior has traditionally borrowed from the behavioral sciences–particularly cognitive psychology–in developing models of consumer decision processes. Consumer, users and viewers get tired, get frustrated and want to quit when the road to content gets tough. Neuromarketing is an emerging field that bridges the study of consumer behavior with neuroscience. Like the very simple practice stated above, marketing research methods have aimed to explain and predict the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.

The Science of High Growth through Transmedia Marketing

The combination of neuro and marketing implies the merging of two fields of study (neuroscience and marketing). For decades, marketing research methods have aimed to explain and predict the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. For the most part, however, conventional techniques have failed miserably. Since emotions are strong mediators of how consumers process messages, understanding and modeling cognitive responses to selling messages has always been a methodological challenge.

Recent studies into cognitive science, Neuromarketing and buyer behavior have uncovered a wealth of information that has powerful implications for social media marketing. In addition, technology now allows firms to measure and incrementally improve the effectiveness of their marketing program. MMG brings these insights and tools to you — so you can grow faster. Thought Leadership Marketing is a term that has come into its own in the past few years.

Whether you need better visibility, a more credible brand, or a media platform for your thought leadership, we’ll assist you with science and clarity. Thought leadership is the lifeblood of any sound content marketing strategy. BUT, the thoughts you’re leading with need to address actual customer cognitive behavior.

The goal of thought leadership marketing is not to create sales heavy content. The first thing you should do is identify the questions your target audience, and current customers are asking—and build your thought leadership marketing strategies around the answers to those questions and the behavior they demonstrate. Consider how people search for things online. When you have a question about something, there’s a good chance you’ll type it into Google, right?

By identifying the questions and strings of words your customers type into search engines—you can create your Transmedia content in a manner that will answer those questions. To get started, ask yourself the types of problems your products and services solve, and find the questions one would ask related to those problems. When your thought leadership transmedia marketing strategy is built on a foundation of customer questions, you must revisit these questions persistently.brain-744180

Since the goal of your thought leadership transmedia marketing strategy is to create an entry point, it is the perfect opportunity to leverage the four pillars of your brand as well. Your Brand POV (Point Of View) needs to be chunked down into parts that can, in turn, be shared, quoted and commented on in multiple types of social media editorial venues. It’s important to remember to have a behavioral content-rich message that is of tangible interest to your target audience based on their questions they are searching for, rather than always the retelling of the attributes of your brand. To support these brand answers, If you’re not a household name in your industry, video testimonials on your site as well as across multiple social media platforms about exactly how you’ve made a difference will help build your brand stature. By creating an overarching theme for a new brand POV and marketing direction you will want to research questions people will want to know about your brand, such as is your brand relevant to their needs? These video testimonials are often able to add value by presenting the counterpoint argument to what is otherwise considered uncommon knowledge and position your brand against like or similar brands: think ‘Un-COLA’, since a thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded. Much of consumer research is devoted to studying the effect of brand associations on consumer preferences and how they manifest into brand memories. Brand memories can be defined as “everything that exists in the minds of customers with respect to a brand (e.g. thoughts, feelings, experiences, images, perceptions, beliefs and attitudes)”** this is the crossroad of the neural and cognitive sciences explored as part of thought leadership. In this area, psychologists and neural scientists examine how we perceive the world, acquire new information, retrieve memories, communicate and interact with others, and effect complex cognitive abilities such as creative problem solving. For example, in the Mental Processing of Advertisements, there are various studies that have been conducted to research the question of how consumers’ process and store the information presented in advertisements. Television commercials with scene durations lasting longer than 1.5 seconds have been shown to be more memorable one week later than scenes that last less than 1.5 seconds, and scenes that produce the quickest electrical response in the left frontal hemisphere have been shown to be more memorable as well. It has been suggested that the transfer of visual advertising inputs from short term memory to long term memory may take place in the left hemisphere and highly memorable ads can be created by producing the fastest responses in the left hemisphere.***

What Can We All Learn from Neuromarketing?

If neuroscience is considered to be in its infancy, neuro-marketing is clearly at an embryonic stage. Marketers are just awakening to the possibilities offered by unveiling the brain circuits involved in seeking, choosing, and buying a product.

Today’s corporate leaders must be potent pioneers — blazing new paths few would go down and having the courage to see them all the way through to the end.

The Psychology of Passing on Material*

•People pass on stuff that they think other members of the group will value

•“The more cohesive a group is, the more valuable the social approval or activity the members exchange with one another and the greater the average frequency of interaction of the members”

•Good content and social media are a match made in heaven

Neuromarketing is here to stay. And it will evolve, like humans and even brands do. Consumers like you may never see the difference in the messages that are refined or produced as a result of gaining a better understanding of our buying decision process.

At Multimedia Marketing, we’ve built our firm around a single idea: helping businesses grow faster and overcome problems. And we’re using the power of behavior research to discover which techniques generate faster growth and higher profits through thought leadership. Here is an example of what MMG can do for you and your organization:

  • Help you define exactly how buyers (and buying) have changed in the last decade
  • The habits your buyers are waiting for you to break
  • Strategies for turning your expert reputation into new relationships – and new revenue
  • Why it’s essential that you lead the conversation in your industry with the right answers
*George Homans
Founder of behavioral sociology and the social exchange theory
© The Bloom Group.
**Keller K, Lehmann D. How do brands create value? Marketing Management
***Rossiter JR, Silberstein RB. Brain-imaging detection of visual scene encoding in long-term memory for TV commercials.



Science of Consumer Behavior: The Supermarket

supermarket-737418_1280It’s a craze that hits communities of shoppers all across the world: a new supermarket. When rumor that the latest shopping experience is hitting your area, it is within your natural human instinct to become curious. This new entity will affect the economy, the view on your drive to work and every other justification you will make for your sudden interest in the new establishment.

This curiosity is eventually followed by advertisements, coupons and offers, luring you to follow the corporation’s progress until it’s “grand opening.” Then on opening day, you gather your discounts and head for the store, only to discover the sad truth: it is the same supermarket that you have visited your entire life. Yes, there may be some minor differences such as the sheer size of the building or the color of your shopping cart, but the majority of your excitement has faded as soon as you step into the store.

Why may this be so? Why has no supermarket dared to place the tomatoes next to the cereal or the toothpaste by the hair dye? Why is your experience at every grocery store essentially the same? The answer is simple, they know more about you than you even know about yourself.

Confused? So were we.

Question: What is the first thing that you see when walking into any supermarket? Fresh Fruit? Vegetables? A bakery or Deli?

The first encounter when walking into a grocery store sets up the entire experience for the consumer. And no, you do not see the fresh baked goods, fruits and vegetables in similar layouts to ensure navigation, but it is a strategic tactic essentially used to trick your mind. This is an entire segment of the marketing world that most consumers never become aware of, simply because they are completely immersed in it.

The Psychology

Design Influences Purchase

supermarket-674474_1280As a consumer, you could head down the street to your nearest corner store to purchase your milk, eggs and other simple grocery items that you need. But what is going to influence you to make the 20 minute drive out of town to purchase these goods? The answer is sensory experience.

Sensory experience is an encounter using sensation. A sensory experience combines perceptions of sight, touch, sound and even taste to influence. This concept, often seen in early childhood education, trains the brain with every experience had. Once you bite into an apple, your brain records the crunch, juicy taste and fresh smell, and from there on out, unless it is interrupted by another experience, the same sensory experience is what is expected each and every time you bite into an apple.

This approach is similar for the supermarket experience. Marketers fully understand the minds of consumers when planning the layout of any store, especially in the case of your local supermarket.

Now, let’s break this down. Some of the first areas you observe when walking into any grocery store are crucial to your sensory experience:

  • Bakery: The wafting smell of freshly baked breads, cakes and cookies causes a psychological reaction that makes shoppers hungry, which often causes them to buy more.
  • Flowers: The floral department is nearly always located by the entryway. The bright colors and wonderful smells boosts the store’s image in the shopper’s mind.
  • Produce: The bright colors of produce excite the eye and grab the shopper’s attention. They feel the freshness, as if they grew the produce in their own backyard.

Having these essential items consistently stocked at the front of the store creates a perception that the rest of the store is stocked with equally fresh and bright items, giving the consumer thoughts of all the amazing homemade goods that they would find on their own table in their home.

Sensory Experience Influences the Consumer

By understanding simple sensory experiences, even your seemingly harmless local grocer has control over your purchasing power.

With this distinct physical and emotional experience that each grocery store brings, no matter how big or small, any change to it could be dangerous.

So you read this and think, “Well, I am just going to go the other way around next time.” Good luck, because you are stuck in this trap and when it is altered, it will affect your experience significantly. For example, visiting the store and traveling counterclockwise can cause severe cognitive dissonance for the consumer, and in result, you will spend anywhere from $2-$5 more in your shopping trip.

There are many ways to alter the experience that your brain has permanently archived, traveling counterclockwise, shopping while hungry or visiting a new market, just to name a few. These alterations set consumers up to make emotion-driven purchases. Sale? Limited-time offer? Special? Oh, I’ll take three.

Not only can a simple adjustment cause the consumer to spend more, but it can also cause for a sudden and acute emotional or even psychological breakdown. This occurrence, better known as an emotional collapse, is all too common for shoppers in new and unfamiliar stores. The shopper essentially becomes overwhelmed with labels, signs and crowds and instead of following their familiar experience, they suffer a breakdown and commonly leave the store, leaving the items they needed on the shelves.

The Solution

Rather than continue to overwhelm oneself, there are a few rules to follow before, during and after your shopping trip:


  • Create a list: The best pre-shopping planning that any consumer can do is write a detailed list. List items you need, their brands and even the stores that you need to visit.
  • Choose your shopping partner wisely: Do not shop with people that stress you out. You will either forget essential items that you need or purchase more than you anticipated.
  • Stick to the outside: Travel outside of each aisle, paying clear attention to the items that you are in search of. Only venture down the aisles that include objects from your list.
  • Follow your list: Strictly follow your list, crossing off items as you pick them off the shelves. Want that box of cookies? it on the list? No. Then No.

Understanding consumer psychology can help any consumer create a better experience when visiting the supermarket. Now it’s your turn. On your next bold adventure to the store, observe the set-up, follow our tips or even be brave and travel counterclockwise. The result? Only your mind can tell. Visit the MMG blog Wednesday for more reading about the science of consumer behavior.

-Rachel Tripp, MMG Account Management Intern