How Likeability Impacts Marketing Success

social media book reviewsDo you care about being liked at work?

Do you think likeability should even play a role in business decisions?

If you’re struggling to answer these questions, you might be confusing ‘likeability’ with being considered ‘nice.’ The two are not the same thing.

In his latest book, Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action, Rohit Bhargava explains that likeability has nothing to do with being nice, and everything to do with being believable.

Having sat through hundreds of pitch meetings, I can tell you one thing for sure… unlikeable entrepreneurs never get funded. ~ Guy Kawasaki

The Jobs Paradox

Steve Jobs was clearly a visionary with a brilliant mind. But he is often described as having been an egomaniac and ‘hard to work with.’

When Nike CEO Mark Parker was asked about the best advice he ever received, he recalls Jobs telling him some months before he died:

Nike makes some of the best products in the world—products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crap and focus on the good stuff.

Jobs didn’t play nice, but he had the type of honesty and clarity of vision that drew people to him, made him believable and even likeable, in his own way.

If you want to learn how to be more likeable and build a thriving career or business, Likeonomics is the best investment you’ll ever make. Here’s what you need to know about the book.

Author’s Purpose

rohit bhargava

Rohit Bhargava, author of Likeonomics.

Likeonomics tackles what the author considers to be the biggest crisis in business today: ‘believability’ (or trust). It’s the absence of trust that makes it hard for businesses to succeed, for people to find or keep a job, or for anyone to believe in anything.

Rohit argues that in order to be more believable and more trusted, businesses need to be more likeable. The gist of Likeonomics is how people and organizations lose trust and how they can get it back!

What to Expect

likeonomics book cover

Unlike previous books I have reviewed here on Social Media Examiner, Likeonomics is the first book that that has little to do with social media. It’s actually a business version of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Likeonomics explains why we have a deep need to be liked, what it really takes to be likeable and how building great relationships with others translates into exponential business success!

You will learn about:

  • The believability crisis and how to solve it
  • Why networking needs to die
  • The ROI of likeability (and why your website actually stinks)
  • Why likeable businesspeople (and politicians) always win
  • The five principles of likeability
  • And much more

Book Highlights

The Believability Crisis

We live in a society where people have lost trust in institutions of all forms. The reason for this crisis boils down to four things:

  • Marketing spin and actual lies—for every nutrition label that declares something that the product is not (e.g., “all natural,” “heart healthy” or “lose 14 lbs. in 14 days!”), consumers’ faith in truth dies just a little. When companies lie to us by hiding the truth and these lies turn into scandals, we lose trust in them in a big way (e.g., The Barclays Bank CEO pay scandal).
  • Facelessness and Corporate-Speak—when messages come from large companies with which we have no personal connection, we are less likely to believe them. Faceless organizations and people are nearly impossible to like, let alone believe in. Think of the IRS or TSA.

    man with earth head

    Without a personal connection, faceless companies are hard to trust or like. Image source: iStockphoto

  • Volume—Consumers today are bombarded with anywhere from 3,500 to 5,000 marketing messages per day (according to marketing firm Yankelovich). When message volume increases so enormously, we have no choice but to start in a default state of distrust. Consider how many unopened emails you have in your inbox right now.
  • Consumer Protection—The very nature of consumer protection involves educating consumers to be savvier. Ironically, this education also leads them to be suspicious about everything (e.g., this California Man Is Suing Apple Because Siri ‘Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About‘), and to automatically distrust organizations whose messages (they believe) are designed to manipulate them in some way.

The Principles of Likeonomics

The question of likeability is all around us. For example, there’s a reason why a politician’s likeability is such an important polling question these days. According to research, people may say they vote squarely on the issues, but as Emory University psychologist Drew Westen puts it, “…when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins.”

And so it is with business. Entrepreneurs who are so results-driven that they forget what consumers really want display a flawed understanding of how the marketplace works. So what do consumers want?

#1: Truth

In April 2009, two rogue Domino’s employees filmed themselves doing crazy things with a pizza they were about to deliver to a customer. They then posted that video on YouTube. Soon after that, CEO Patrick Doyle apologized, but it was too late.

Pizza sales began to decline as the media picked up on the viral video. The usual marketing solution would have been to let the storm pass and then load up on discounts or some other ‘genius’ campaign to save the day.

But Doyle wanted to do something different. He decided to change reality instead. Acting upon candid customer feedback challenging Domino’s to change their product, he did exactly that—he changed everything from the seasoning to the sauce—and when they were done, ran a brand-new ad about the “Pizza Turnaround.”

It was real, it was human and it got people to start to reconsider Domino’s. Within the first quarter of running the new ads, sales increased by double digits and the company announced a net income growth of 10.6%!

Takeaway: People respond to human companies in human ways, and sometimes the most human thing you can do is admit an inconvenient truth. It inspires loyalty and trust.

#2: Unselfishness

Customers respond to brands that reach out to them in unselfish ways. The good news is that Twitter has turned out to be one of the most powerful tools for businesses to do exactly that.

Back in 2011, some of the world’s largest brands gathered together at the Useful Social Media Summit in New York City to figure out how using social media might result in better customer care (apparently no-one knew how this worked).

As the summit progressed, marketers began to realize that those brands that had focused on building relationships by creating the most engagement on Twitter were the ones who were seeing the most successful customer experiences.

They weren’t just answering customer questions or complaints on Twitter, they were also proactively answering questions that customers hadn’t asked them directly (Twelpforce Best Buy does this). And while this would have been very creepy on the phone, it was welcomed and celebrated on the social web!

Takeaway: Twitter allows brands to connect with consumers by offering a useful point of view that helps customers with their problems. Sure, it’s time-consuming and may not always result in financial gain, but marketers who want to create deeper customer connections should converse unselfishly with their customers both on- and offline.

#3: Simplicity

There’s a reason why Google has religiously resisted the temptation to put anything on their home page save for a text box and a search button. It’s the same reason why customers around the globe appreciated Steve Jobs. His true brilliance showed in the way he created things that were simple enough for a child to use.

Customers want simplicity because it eliminates confusion and leads to more trust. For example, take a look at this SlideShare ‘napkin presentation‘ by Dan Roam explaining in stunning simplicity how the U.S. healthcare system works.

When it comes to simplicity, there are three things you should keep in mind:

  • When you can simplify an idea, product or service, it becomes clearer, easier to remember and easier to do.
  • Simplicity can come from reduction. Find a product designer who can remove all of the layers or activities that don’t matter and focus on the essence of the thing.
  • The power of visual thinking and drawing pictures instead of just using words is a perfect way to simplify ideas and make them more widely understood.

Relevance and timing are two other key principles of likeability that Rohit discusses, but I don’t want to give away everything here, so I’ll let you read about those yourself.

Personal Impression

Please, please, please head over to Amazon and pick up this book RIGHT NOW! Let me explain why:

  • If you’re a B2B brand, you need to know that there are many people who perceive your category as being aloof and unapproachable. But don’t worry, Rohit will show you what to do.
  • If you’re not in B2B, you might think that you’re likeable by default, and that all of your customers simply love you. But are you sure? Why not find out, because you might actually be missing something.
  • You might also think that using social media makes you suddenly likeable. The fact is many companies make unlikeable social media mistakes every single day. While there are easy ways to make your content more likeable, this book will help you nail it.
  • The book (and the author!) are super-likeable and that makes me think, if there’s anyone who knows something about likeability, it’s Rohit Bhargava. After all, his personal mission is to bring humanity back to business. It doesn’t get more likeable than that.

Social Media Examiner is pleased to give this wise and wonderful book a full 5 star rating.

Over to You

What do you think? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Image from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Woohoo! I will definitely check out Likeonomics, Patricia. It is becoming more and more apparent that in the world of social media, playing it safe does not always score you points. I am sure this book will give me more insights on what I must do to bring in a stronger “trust factor” into my venture.

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading John! It’s true — the ‘trust factor’ is very easy to lose as you will discover in the book. E.g. Using big lofty words, or using logos in our social avatars instead of faces — these are sure fire ways to lose trust. You’re going to love it. Cheers :)

  • http://www.911healthshop.com/ 911 Healthshop

    Great article! Trust and influence are becoming a very important part of marketing and it’s nice to hear your thoughts on this, Patricia. Being genuine, responding to others in a helpful way, and being a good member of the community of the social networks that you are participating in goes a long way. Good advice!

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  • Jay

    Excellent review, Patricia.

    I started reading this, but after reading this review, I hope to finish it this weekend.
    Thanks.

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading Healthshop!

  • predsicker

    Great to hear Jay – glad I was able to persuade you :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25905570 Tara Nelson

    Next we’ll have a book on “Assholecononomic” or “How to Thrive In America By Being A Jerk.” Because we don’t have enough arrogant bastards out there now running the country in their own self-interest. Bravo.

  • Liz King

    Thank you for a really interesting article about “likeability”.  I’m looking forward to reading the book.  It reminds me of the psychology research on “influence”. 

  • http://twitter.com/women_unlimited Women Unlimited

    One of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. Being based in the UK I had missed the Dominos story – really inspiring.  So great to see real employees feeling pride (and sadness at the feedback). Brilliant.

  • http://www.rohitbhargava.com/ Rohit Bhargava

    Patricia – thanks for this brilliant, thorough and well written review.  It’s not often that an author gets to delight in seeing a review take some of the most important points in his book and distill them down in a clear and compelling way as you did here.  I know how much effort and dedication that takes … so on behalf of myself and anyone who wanted to get a clear picture of what the book is really about, I want to say THANK YOU!  I’ll be sending people over here to check out this review, and featuring it on the book website as well. :-)

  • kevinwalli

    I enjoyed this and agree with most of what was said. I worked at Apple and they focused on two things to stay on top, customer service and simplicity. It is an easy formula to follow. You may also find this advice very useful:
    http://www.cross-check.com/blog/bid/157826/Check-Processing-Sales-Lessons-from-a-10-Year-Old

  • http://www.theistudio.com Judith

    Good Stuff, Patricia!  I think the “Like” thing has become diluted — just look at how many “Likes” businesses have with absolutely no personal connection to the “likers”.  One thing about likeability is that it has to be genuine — and consistent.  Likeability bleeds through everything you do, in every e-mail, every post, the opinions you care to share and how you share them.  From how you treat customers every day — when no one is looking — to how you handle comments in public forums.   Do it right and like turns to love!

  • predsicker

    So Tara…what part of this book review plucked your nerves?

  • predsicker

    You’re a smart cookie Judith – I like (no pun intended) everything you said :) What kind of work do you do?

  • predsicker

    Why, thank you Women Unlimited, do you have a real name…Lol!! :)  

    Yes, the Domino’s video is pretty neat and I love how they took their customers feedback to heart and committed to giving them what they wanted. Definitely a sure fire way to win back unhappy customers. Cheers for reading :)

  • predsicker

    Thank you for reading my review Liz. I’ll bet you’ll like the book even more. Enjoy!

  • http://www.thesmallbusinessideassite.com/ Dave MacKayu

    I concur. trust is huge. I suggest that people quickly trust or distrust as they read a blog or have a conversation, if the message is mixed distrust moves in and customer  goes away. Thanks for posting this, I will pick up a copy of the book later.

  • http://www.theistudio.com Judith

    Great minds think alike?  ;-)   Been doing business online for almost 18 years now — as a Business Coach and WordPress Consultant — and I also help my husband with his online enterprise.   I can tell you from experience that “like” is not enough for long term success — it has to be a love story!

  • Isaidgo

    Wow, thank you, Patricia! What a great teaser! Now I’m so excited to read his book, and I’m particularly curious to know more about his idea that networking needs to die. Trust is huge, and bringing humanity to businesses will capture the attention of Gen Y. –April

  • predsicker

    Hmmm….interesting line of work. Let’s talk – hit me at patricia at wordviewediting dot com. I have a question for you. Talk soon :)

  • predsicker

    Oh I’m so happy to hear that Rohit – thank you. But you do realize that it would be impossible for me to write such a fantastic review if YOU hadn’t written such a fantastic book, so credit where credit is due :)
    I have followed your work for a long time, and I hope to meet you one of these days.

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much for your comments and for reading this review Dave. I “trust” that you will enjoy the book :)

  • http://twitter.com/salyris Salyris Studios

    Nailed it! This falls under the categories of Conscious Leadership/Capitalism. People in general (due to the Internet and cable TV shows) are becoming smarter consumers. They are seeing right through the old ways of marketing “spin” and want the straight honest truth. Now, you need to have your entire staff on social media singing the praises of your company and engaging online as well as offline. Openness and honesty breeds likability and I love the word “Likeonomics” since that is what has come out of all of this and should be taken seriously.

    Likability Consultants should be the next “craze” for Marketing/PR firms. :)

  • Meg Bertini

    What is interesting is that before social media, a small company did better by appearing to be larger….now it seems like larger companies do better by appearing smaller and more personal and personable.  And small companies certainly shouldn’t hide behind logos (note to self: Change my Facebook fan page….!).   I am very much looking forward to reading the book.

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  • http://tekkbuzz.com Deborah Richmond

    Facelessness and corporate speak!  Yes, let’s address that!  I talk a lot with my clients about these topics all the time.  It will take time, but many are starting to understand how this holds a barrier between them and their audience.

  • Skatsoolis

    Thanks for the great article!  Likeonomics sounds like a winner. 

  • Joycefeustel

    Thanks,. Patricia, for this very insightful and thorough review of what sounds like the next book for my bookshelf.

  • http://www.callbox.com.my/ Christine Steffensen

    Hi Patricia,

    Well the same with marketing trends. That can be a new sales strategy appears like an ideal selection for you, making time to do the research before your carry it out to the business is something crucial. Like your post here.

  • http://www.visitworcestershire.org/ Visit Worcestershire

    Looking forward to reading my copy, as a tourism business likeability is key to getting people to be interested in what you have to say and also in coming to visit you…

  • Tim McKane

    I think that we are overusing the nomics in titles – and that makes it unlikeable. There is a lot of truth in there, but I feel that sometimes people are writing books that are simply a reinforcement of common sense. I have come to digital and social media in my 50s and bring 30 years experience in advertising, We used to have a saying – you can’t sell a bad product twice – and what we meant was that if you over promised, underdelivered,  hid the truth etc, then you were on a hiding to nothing, Great marketing has always been about simplicity presented creatively – (Think Small for Volkswagon by Bill Berbech – Google it). That being said, the book looks interesting. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000749556081 Kathy Jean

    GREAT ARTICLE,  IM LEARNING ALOT……

  • http://twitter.com/creativconcpts creative concepts

    GREAT ARTICLE…..

  • predsicker

    Hi April, thanks for reading. Yes, that ‘networking needs to die’ idea got me as well — very interesting stuff. Glad that you’ll be reading the book – a worthwhile investment indeed :)

  • predsicker

    I liked the word ‘Likeonomics’ as well and I think you’re on to something with likeability consultants. I think I’ll tweak my resume :)  
    Thank you for reading.

  • predsicker

    Thank you for your comments Meg – I’m glad that you liked the review – you’ll like the book even better!

  • predsicker

    It most certainly is! Thank you for taking the time to read my review.

  • predsicker

    Thanks for your kind comments Joyce – glad you’ll be picking up a copy. Enjoy!

  • predsicker

    Thanks Christine. Nice looking avatar by the way :)

  • predsicker

    Hey Tim, reinforcement of common sense is a good thing right? – especially as it’s still sorely needed :)
    But seriously though, the book is definitely worth its weight in gold and I think even if the title didn’t grab you, you’ll see that ideas in there are phenomenal – give it a try.

    Cheers Tim.

  • predsicker

    Cheers Kathy!

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  • http://twitter.com/kevinandkaren kevinandkarenlynch

    Great insights.  I will be picking up the book.  People buy from who they like and trust…well, I know I do!

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  • http://about.me/alialmoosawi Ali Almoosawi

    Useful information, thanks for sharing..

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