At the 1985 Academy Awards, actress Sally Field won Best Actress for Places in the Heart, after having won the same award in 1980 for Norma Rae. She never actually said the exact words I use in my headline, but everyone thinks she did. Regardless, Sally nailed it.
In my previous life as a litigation attorney, I recognized early the truth in Clarence Darrow’s famous quote: “The main work of a trial attorney is to make a jury like his client.” I saw first hand that how the jury felt about the client was more important than the law, the evidence, or the truth. You’ve likely witnessed the same thing with a few celebrity trials.
Being likable to your online prospects is an important key to sales success. Let’s take a look at some of the ways “liking” affects the capacity for influence.
Social psychology research shows that we automatically assign good-looking people other favorable traits, such as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence, and we are generally not even aware that we do it. More troubling is the data showing that better-looking politicians get more votes, attractive people tend to get the job over less-attractive people, and that handsome men get better results in both criminal and civil court cases. Interestingly, this is why many attractive people are insecure, because they know people think better of them simply due to the “halo effect” of their looks.
We tend to like people who are similar to us. Whether in the arena of similar opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle, research shows that we have a positive bias toward people we deem to be comparable to ourselves. Herein lies another secret to the power of niche marketing — not only does a narrow niche allow for fanatical levels of specialization and service, it simply makes your target audience like you more, which leads to an easier sales process.
You may not need a research study to tell you that people tend to like you better when you compliment them, but the research confirms it just the same. Flattery works, plain and simple. Joe Girard has been considered by many to be the “greatest car salesman” ever. His secret? He mailed each of his 13,000 former customers a card every single month, usually tied to a holiday like New Years, Valentine’s Day, or St. Patrick’s Day. All he wrote on each card was “I like you” and his name.
On a completely unrelated note, I just want to take a moment to say that I have the greatest, most intelligent and all-around upstanding readers in the entire world.
Despite the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt,” our tendency to identify with and have positive feelings toward the familiar is very strong. We are also more likely to have positive and familiar feelings toward those who cooperate with us (the root of all link love). Familiarity is why people and brands with a little bit of fame have a better chance at getting really famous — it’s name recognition. It’s also why the politician who “gets the word out” often gets elected, regardless of what their actual positions on the issues are. The “word” is their name, not their platform.
Although the power of admiration may be a step removed, sometimes the benefits of liking can transfer to something that has a mere association. This is why ads for beer and cars often feature gorgeous women, why Tang was associated with the popular astronauts of the 1960s, and why successful athletes are featured on Wheaties boxes. It’s also why meteorologists in California are adored, and weathercasters in Buffalo get hate mail (guilt by association).
I Like Your Blog
Blogging provides an excellent vehicle to establish a relationship with your readers that can lead them to genuinely like you. Your personality can really shine through in your writing, and that can lead to more client and customer relationships.
Your focus on a niche will allow your audience to feel like they have something in common with you, and you will certainly gain from treating them with respect and even flattering them. And your audience will surely grow as more and more people become familiar with your blog via links from others they already read and respect.
And, of course, if you’re highly attractive, plaster your picture all over the place. Start a video blog, even! Unless you actually think nerdy guys watch Rocketboom for the witty commentary, that is.
FYI, here’s what Sally Field really said at the 1985 Oscars:
“I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
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