The Power of Likeability

It's not enough to just be good at what you do. Modern brands must be human, trustworthy, and likeable, says Rohit Bhargava, opening keynoter at ASAE's 2013 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference.

“Likeable” is a quality we typically assign to people: a friend, a neighbor, a coworker. But being likeable is becoming more and more important to organizations and brands.

The public’s lack of trust in institutions is a “modern believability crisis,” said Rohit Bhargava, founder of Influential Marketing Group and the opening general session speaker at ASAE’s 2013 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference. That’s why being likeable can make a brand stand out from the competition.

We do business and build relationships with people we like.

Bhargava, author of Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action, pointed to a wealth of research on the human tendency to make decisions based on emotions and relationships rather than information. Traditionally, organizations have tried to influence decisions with big ideas, incentives, and rationales, but their efficacy depends on perceptions of the person or brand. “It matters who is doing the explaining,” Bhargava said.

The result is what he calls the “likeability gap,” the difference between what people will do because they have to and what they’ll do because they want to (the latter is always more). In the end, “we do business and build relationships with people we like,” he said.

For associations, better likeability can lead to greater ease in earning attention, member retention, and volunteer participation. The key to getting there is in being more human and more trustworthy, Bhargava said, and he offered five principles to adopt to make your association more likeable:

  1. Truth
  2. Relevance
  3. Unselfishness
  4. Simplicity
  5. Timing

How are you making your association more likeable? Does a focus on likeability change how you design marketing and member experiences?

Follow the learning and discussion at MMCC via Twitter with the #MMCCon hashtag or here at Associations Now.

Rohit Bhargava, founder of Influential Marketing Group. (photo by Jimmy Minichello for ASAE)

Joe Rominiecki

By Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications at the Entomological Society of America, is a former senior editor at Associations Now. MORE

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