It's good to be nice – how being liked can grow your business
26 JUL 20170
When we talk about growth strategies and marketing plans, the conversation typically drifts into the technical, the quantifiable, the solid concrete factors at play. Practical policy sure, but that kind of conversation tends to glaze over one essential element every business needs to grow.
People have to like you.
When people talk about consumer behaviour, there is a tendency to treat them a little like robots. Automatons that suck in input and spit back output. "If price B< price A: Then: purchase decision=B” But, that's not how humans work. For as rational as we can be, we are still emotional creatures underneath, and more often that most would like to admit, it's that emotional core that guides our thought process – even our purchasing decisions.
Being liked isn't just a "nice thing” or an added bonus of being a good business. It's a growth strategy. When a customer likes your brand, they'll return to you no matter what the competition offers. When you become trusted by one person, they recommend you to their friends. When people see a swell of support and positivity around your brand, they see your brand as an authority in the field.
What you heard isn't true. Nice guys don't finish last.
Becoming Mr. Popular
Making your business likable isn't as easy as throwing a bunch of emoticons on you social media feeds. It takes a dedicated commitment to certain values and practices over the long-term. That's the thing, if you want people to like you, you have to be genuine. Insincerity is a trust killer.
Be honest – Honesty is one of the top admired qualities for both potential dates and potential businesses. If your exaggerating what your service or product will provide, who can blame your customers for having a tepid opinion of your business? Always strive to be as honest, transparent, and straight-forward as possible in every aspect of your business.
Be interested in your customers – It's like that old Dale Carnegie quote "interesting people are interested.” Like any relationship, there has to be a give and take. If you make it all about yourself (which is kind of the whole thing with traditional marketing), why would anybody else care?
Smart businesses that want their customers to see them as more than just another brand to choose from make a point of getting to know their customers. This can be done on every level – from quality social media control (responding to customer comments, contributing to conversations when appropriate, being approachable), to research surveys, to simple good old fashion personal interactions. Care about your customers, and they'll care about your business.
Show some personality – A lot of marketing dogma is based on grooming a particular image. Of building your brand up as some kind of authoritative monolith in the field. But, after decades of that technique being hammered into the ground, people are hungry for a business that isn't afraid to be a little more human.
When you interact with customers, act less like a policy description, and more like a person. Don't be afraid to be funny, self-effacing, or sassy (as long as you're not getting into jerk territory). This is especially important in the world of social media. No one wants to follow yet another boring, sanitized corporate feed.
Social proof and the trust economy
There is no marketing more powerful than the recommendation of a friend you trust. Word of mouth might be an old concept, but its still the Holy Grail of marketing for a reason – it works.
You can't control word of mouth, all you can do is tilt the odds in your favor as much as possible. By being likable, interested in your customers, and straight-forward in your dealings, you'll build a reputation as a quality brand your customers will go to bat for.
In the mean time, you can always go for the next-best thing to a friend's recommendation – testimonials and positive reviews.
Testimonials are also old fashion, but they serve two important goals. One, they establish that your business has a customer base. Nobody wants to take a chance on some unknown company. It's one thing to say you have a great product or service your customers enjoy, it's another to have one of those customer's back it up. Two, they provide an objective second opinion that can be trusted.
We live in a culture that is hyper-aware of marketing and its goals. There is a high level of cynicism out there that just assumes most businesses make bigger claims than they can deliver on. Having someone, even a complete stranger, who has no vested interested in the product or business confirm that its the real deal is worth far more in the average customer's eyes than any pop-up or newspaper ad.
There is no shortcut or easy way to make your business well liked overnight, but a persistent adherence to honesty, sincerity, and engagement will build your brand overtime and return far more rewards than any other strategy.