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Marketing Techniques From Propaganda--And Why They Work

When we think of the most powerful marketing campaigns, we often think of memorable advertising efforts by popular brands and companies. When it comes to sheer effectiveness and audience appeal, however, there are few techniques more powerful than those used by propagandists.

While propaganda in general has quite the negative reputation, not all propaganda should be dismissed as vile or evil. For example, the patriotic posters of the World War Two era, including the iconic "Rosie the Riveter", would technically be considered propaganda even though they’re remembered today as effective marketing campaigns. If marketers and PR specialists truly want to make an impression and compel their customers, they would be wise to take a cue from propaganda. The following are some of the common techniques used in propaganda and why they work.

Appeal To Emotions, Both Good and Bad

Propaganda succeeds because it appeals to its audience’s emotions. Oftentimes, propaganda will prey on fear, though the most effective propaganda will also appeal to positive emotions, like a sense of community and optimism. Marketers should strive to appeal to the emotions of their customers. An example of this is Budweiser, who created tear-jerking ads which were aired during the past two Superbowls.

While the ads don't show the product in question, they prompt a powerful emotional response from their audience. Marketing is the bridge between your organization and your potential customers—promoting a positive, relatable image which appeals to emotion can create an excellent first impression with your audience.

Create Urgency

Propaganda creates a sense of urgency. A military historian who earned their Military History degree online says government-sponsored propaganda campaigns often frame their message in a "do or die" context. While you wouldn't necessarily want to suggest dire consequences should your customers not buy your product or service, it is a good idea to subtly suggest that the ramifications of not heeding your message would be negative. A sense of urgency prompts the audience to make decisions quickly, while reassuring them that they can make that decision with confidence.

Don't Be Ignored

A striking trait of most propaganda is that it commands the audience’s attention. Even if the viewer doesn't agree with the message, he or she will have a hard time turning away or ignoring the message. A marketing attempt that exemplifies this would be recent anti-smoking public service announcements. Due to their shocking portrayal of smoking-related illnesses, it's difficult to turn away or speak while they are airing. You don't want to shock or repulse your customers, but you should always strive to create marketing media that proves difficult to turn away from.

Propaganda is often associated with unethical marketing and questionable motives. However, there's a reason that it sticks with us and that its message is heard so clearly. Propaganda appeals to our emotions and forces us to confront the message at hand—a quality which may improve your marketing efforts.

 

Image Source: BotMultichillT / Wikimedia

Emma Sturgis

About Emma Sturgis

Emma is a freelance writing currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on business and technology. When not writing, she enjoys watching old movies and rock climbing

Emma Sturgis

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