March 2009 archive

Arguments as Justification

As marketers, we tend to craft our messages according to what we think will be the most effective way to convince someone of doing something that we want them to do. Logic is a classic example, although not always the most effective (people are emotional and irrational beings!)
But it’s interesting to notice that sometimes our arguments don’t need to convince people at all, only help them justify. Even if a sales pitch is rejected on a logical level, it can serve as a useful justification if the customer wants that end result to begin with. If that’s the case, the customer is likely to use the argument to justify that action to self and to others. The argument doesn’t even need to make sense – just look good enough to avoid a feeling of guilt or embarrassment.
It all brings to mind the classic marketing resource National Lampoon’s Vacation. When the car salesman tries to pitch Clark on the Family Truckster, Clark doesn’t bite, “I’m not your ordinary, every day [fool].” But he wants to go on vacation and ends up buying thing anyway. Once he gets home he uses the same lines on his wife that the salesman used on him: “If you think you hate it now, wait till you drive it!”