Persuade vs Convince
Terry Fallis, he of ThornleyFallis & a podcaster and author of some repute, has a regular segment on the InsidePR podcast called Inside Proper English. There’s substance beyond the clever title as Terry takes a weekly look at words & phrases that are commonly misused with the goal of making us better communicators.
Insider Proper English from this week looks at the difference between convince & persuade. Terry points out that, contrary to common belief & use, there is a subtle and important distinction between the two.
We are convinced by evidence or arguments made to the intellect (to make somebody sure or certain of something or to persuade somebody to believe or do something.)
We are persuaded by appeals made to the will, moral sense or emotions. (to succeed in convincing somebody to do something, especially by reasoning, pleading, or coaxing. To make somebody believe something, especially by giving good reasons for doing so.)
I’d also add a further subtle distinction that we are convinced to think something; persuaded to think & do something.
The implication of this for marketing is significant. I couldn’t care less if you were convinced that my widget is better than my competitors widgets if I haven’t also persuaded you to do something about it – buy it, support it, donate to it, tell your friends about it.
So this is like preaching or teaching the Word of God. I try to convince you to believe but unless you are persuaded you will not believe, and even then unless the Holy Spirit works in you you are not likely to obey.