For the next couple of weeks we’re going to be presenting a series of articles on Cialdini’s Six Principles of Persuasion as they relate to marketing, with a dash of the social science behind them. I think we could be friends, so I’ll tell you something about liking.
It sounds pretty obvious that if you like someone, you’re more likely to be persuaded by them. At the same time, it sounds very unhelpful and tautological from a marketing perspective – “how do I get audiences to like my brand? By getting audiences to like my brand!” Fortunately, there is a way into that endless circle. What makes you like someone? Probably shared interests, a similar mindset or sense of humour to yourself, and maybe a physical attraction. And if you like someone, you want them to like you back – so you’re going to say ‘yes’ to them much more often than to someone you don’t like. It’s a simple matter to tap into the idea of ‘this person is like me, so I like them’ and ‘this person is beautiful, so I like them’ in marketing.
In psychology, the ‘halo effect’ refers to the phenomenon by which we assume something with a positive trait must have other positive traits. For example, a beautiful person must also be kind and intelligent, or a brand having one great product must mean that their other products are just as great. Beauty has long been used in advertising to sell products, although the tired phrase ‘sex sells’ doesn’t actually hold as true as you might think. Whilst attractive models in an advertisement do increase attention towards it, overt sexuality or nudity – especially when unrelated to the product at all – tends to just result in the nudity being remembered, and not the product or brand. When using beauty or sexuality in marketing, make sure the content is going to be remembered, as well as the model!
Somewhat more effective is the use of ‘relatable’ characters in advertisements. This ties in well with storytelling in marketing (check out the link for our previous blog on storytelling and why it works!). When brands use characters which are well-crafted, believable, and relatable, we identify with them, and trust their judgement, just like we might trust a friend’s judgement.
Populating your marketing with characters who are like your customers and have the same needs (needs which can be met by your product or service!) is a great way to achieve ‘liking’ and thus win loyal customers. Just make sure you don’t accidentally turn it into an infomercial!
“Does this ever happen to you?”
In conclusion, in order to have an audience like your brand more, you simply need them to already like you! Alternatively, the tried-and-tested method of using attractive and/or relatable characters in your marketing will go a long way towards increasing liking. Don’t overdo it – or you’ll have people remember what was most salient about your advertising (and it probably won’t be the content!).