Influence in direct marketing: liking at work

you-like-meHat tip to The Interview Guys for the image

Liking sounds like it is exclusively the property of face-to-face asks, where you work to be liked so as to directly solicit a gift.  There’s a reason that we direct marketers stay behind a desk while our glad-handling extrovert brethren ask for major gifts. (In my case, it’s introversion, a love of numbers, and a face most suitable for print.)

Did that self-deprecating humor make you like me more?  Good!  Then we can continue with the post.  (Also probably for the best that you think it is self-deprecating; there’s a reason this blog has no picture of me.)

There are three major areas in which the psychology of liking can give us a significant advantage, even when we aren’t physically with a person.

The first is in persona.  Not the hip marketing term where you put a name, face, and demographic/psychographic profile of your constituents, also that’s a bit of the idea.  Rather, it’s who the virtual faces to your brands are in your various communications.

In The Audacity to Win, David Plouffe talked about their digital strategy for fundraising and who quality signers were for various content:

To keep things fresh, we varied the length and tone of the messages–some were long and informative, others quite short and informal. Perhaps most important, we learned that people responded very well to e-mails from Michelle Obama and that we needed to use Barack somewhat sparingly–when he signed an e-mail it always produced by far the biggest response, but we did not want this to become a stale event. So many of the e-mails came from me, though when we needed a big response to an ask–for money, volunteer time, or to watch an event–we made sure the e-mails came from the Obamas.

To me, this speaks to a compartmentalization of voice: Barack Obama was the primary persona in the campaign, used for speeches, policy positions, debates, etc. etc.  Because he was everywhere and in every media, a communication needed to feel special.  However, Michelle Obama did not present in the same way.  A communication from her was able to touch different emotions, make different points, and, frankly, be liked in a way that you can’t like a person that you agree with even 90% of the time, because that 10% will always be in the way.

So who are the different voices in your organization and how do you use them?  I would recommend an inventory of people and uses.  For some, a victim/survivor is one certain type of voice.  A head of policy or government affairs can be the attack dog that your advocacy supporters and donors want to hear from.  A development staff member or volunteer can be used for institutional appeals – renewals of membership or reminders to fulfill pledges – so that your passionate voices aren’t drawn into this bureaucracy.  A celebrity can bring in his/her followers to the fold, even if they are loosely affiliated at first.

And so on.  Some even might want to transcend the human – would an animal charity want to have an official spokesdog?  I recommend using a person as a mouthpiece for a specific type of communication to a specific type of person who wants to receive that communication and will like the person who is the messenger. 

Don’t have institutional messages that aren’t from someone.  So many e-newsletters fall into this  trap.  They are from the National Conglomeration for the Amelioration of Sesquipedalianism, when they could be from Rachael.  I don’t know Rachael, but because she’s a human, people will generally like her more than the monolithic NCAS.

The second is in being liked by liking.  As with consistency, praise for past actions will get you everywhere.  People generally like people who like them.  Similarly, flattering works and since I mentioned that yesterday, here’s another study that shows this, lest I not be giving you sufficient value.

The third major impact of liking is that people are more likely to like people like them.  I’ve seen a 30%+ increase in response rate to a communication when people were told that the story they were hearing happened in their own state – and that includes states like California or Texas, where the case may not have even been within a full day’s drive.

Similarly, people reaction better to communications from, and about, people of similar age, background, religious persuasion, racial or ethnic breakdown, educational background, and so on and so on.  This is not to say that you should go out and create “the Hispanic mail package.”  In fact, please don’t.  But customization can help you talk about how the problem you are trying to solve affects the people like the person you are talking to.

These rich details given a good picture of a person and the more someone can picture a person, the more they like and empathize with that person.

So these help your communications make your voices, and you, more liked and bring in donations.  After Christmas, we’ll talk a bit about authority in influence.

Influence in direct marketing: liking at work

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