It pays to be popular

Marketing, it’s about persuading people to do things. Right? Buy our new product. Visit our website. Recommend us to a friend.

The problem is, people don’t like being told what to do. YouGov data shows that 80% of the UK population agrees with this statement.

In fact, only 35% of people agree that advertising helps them choose what to buy. 72% say that they find advertising annoying. There’s also scepticism around advertising and brands. 74% believe that “brands will slap a label on anything to make money”.

This doesn’t feel very positive for us marketers! And yet, people buy brands. And we know advertising works.

If people don’t trust brands or advertising why do they end up choosing one brand over another?

Well, there’s an old saying, people buy from people. The salesperson in the car showroom isn’t really selling you a car; you’ve already researched the details online and know the pros and cons. They are selling themselves. If they can make you like them, and trust them, you’ll buy the car.

If you ask people which advertising format they trust the most, recommendations from someone they know always comes out on top. In the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report (2015) 83% of people said they trust “recommendations from people I know”. In comparison, only 60% trust newspaper adverts.

We won’t buy something just because we’ve been told to by an advert. But if someone we like or trust tells us they have bought a brand or product, we are more likely to do so as well.

We don’t actually even need to know the person making the recommendation, or for the recommendation to be made directly to us. We choose busy restaurants over quiet ones. “The food must be great if it’s busy”, we reason. The people inside are indirectly recommending this restaurant to us.

Similarly, the recent news stories about the new Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 selling out before they are even released will be great for future sales. If something is really popular it must be really good.

So rather than using direct messages and persuading people to buy your brand, the more effective approach is to make as many people as possible like you – or at least make it appear that lots of people do.

If you can make people feel good when you communicate with them then they will like you and remember you. So be entertaining, surprising, funny or even nostalgic.

The more people see or hear messages from your brand that make them feel good, the more they will like you. The more often people see your brand, the more they will feel it is reputable and trustworthy. They might even talk to someone they know about you.

Once people like you, and feel they can trust your product to be good quality, you won’t need to do much persuading to get them to buy from you. They will just need a gentle nudge.

Need some help with applying this to your brand? Get in touch with our strategy team who specialise in providing real life, effective solutions for getting people feeling good about brands.

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