Can I really make this claim? Are there really guaranteed ways to boost your bottom line?


And they’ve got nothing to do with increasing your prices or slashing overheads.

They have everything to do with you and your likeability.

Let me start by asking you a question:  When was the last time you willingly did business with someone you didn’t like or trust?

The answer is probably ‘never’.

So, if someone doesn’t like you, what are the chances of them parting with their hard-earned cash – given the choice?

I’d say around zero to none.

Why There is No Exception to The Rule of Likeability

Mark McCormack, the late American sports agent, and writer, said:

All things being equal, people will do business with a friend. All things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend.

He’s not referring to your best buddy. He’s talking about our basic human instinct to buy from people we like and trust. Those we believe are going to deliver the goods.

There’s no point in saying this doesn’t apply to your business because it does. There is no exception.

Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, says 95% of our decision-making process takes place in the subconscious mind, which is hard-wired to our intuition and deep-seated desires.  This is where we intuitively decide if we like and trust someone enough to do business with them.  

By the time the process reaches our conscious mind and logic kicks in, it’s too late.  All our rational brain can do is justify our decision to buy.

So, if you want a guaranteed boost to your bottom line, you need to reach right into your audience’s subconscious mind and say, “Hello friend, I think you’re going to find me insanely likable.’

Disclaimer:  Your likeability factor is not something you can simply state. Telling people how likable you are is a great way to demonstrate that you are, in fact, a complete knob.

You should show your audience that likeability is inherent in everything you do, not tell them.

And content marketing is a great way to do just that.

5 Ways to Show Your Audience How Darn Likable You Are

1.  Give, and It Shall Be Given Unto You 

Stop thinking of content marketing as a sales platform, and start getting into the mindset of a friend.

Friends don’t sell to each other.  They’re generous with their time and knowledge. They’re dependable and supportive. They add value to each other’s lives.

They give without expecting anything in return.  So should you.

Take what you know best and share it freely with others. If you’re a lawyer, tell your audience what they need to know about their will in our new COVID-19 world. If you sell food, share the secret food combinations that can triple weight loss.

Don’t focus on what your business can do for people if they become a customer. Be a friend.  Give them something useful whether they buy from you or not.

Be generous with your time and support of others.  Encourage your audience to ask for help, and give willing support when they do.  If you’re a large corporation with a substantial audience, like UK phone company, Giffgaff, you might have a dedicated support page that packs a friendly welcome.

But if you’re a small two-man band (like me), you should still demonstrate your willingness to respond promptly and warmly to requests for help, whether it’s from existing customers or not.

Be over-generous. Always value add. Sometimes the value is in the outstanding creativity of an instructional video, like this one by Wendy Nguyen which has attracted almost 40 million views:

Or maybe it lies in the unique twist you give to your content.  Amy Shearn does it really well in this blog post for fitPregnancy, where she promises practical advice you won’t find anywhere else.

Example of unique advice

Another way to add value is to offer an unexpected bonus for free, like this one from Temple & Webster

Example of free download

And for epic value, you can’t go past this recent email from Jon Morrow of Smart Blogger fame, sent exclusively to his subscribers:

Example of massive value

Never be scared to give away your knowledge for free.  There’s a fear that being overly generous may undermine your paid work.  But it’s seldom the case.

When you share your expertise you’re showing people you know your stuff, which builds trust and credibility. Useful content is certainly going to help your audience achieve significant steps. But it’s not giving them full access to your years of practical experience or professional training.  That’s the real ‘secret sauce’.

To get their hands on that, your audience will happily pay for your product or service, because you’ve already earned their respect by being downright likeable and generous.

2.  Leave Your Ego at The Door

A common mistake many businesses make is to use content marketing to trumpet their expertise.  It’s not a good look.

On your quest to become likable, you have to earn people’s attention by putting their needs first, which requires a good dose of humility.

This isn’t a weakness.  It displays a genuine desire to engage your audience.  Humility shines through when:

  • You listen.  You keep your finger firmly on the pulse of your audience’s opinion and act on it. Ask your customers questions. Pay attention to the comments they leave on your blog or social media.  Show you’ve responded to their feedback and made some changes.  Here’s a good starting point on getting customer feedback from Neil Patel
  • You encourage conversations. A quick tweet or a one-off newsletter is egotistical self-promotion, not content marketing. You need to build an on-going connection with your audience by giving them content they need and encouraging conversations.  Pet Smart, a pet product and services retailer, does this brilliantly by delivering content of massive value on its website, and continuing the conversations across its social media accounts (1 million views and 188 comments on its latest Facebook post, so far).
  • You fess up to your failures.  Everyone loves stories of human frailty, especially if you can show how the lessons you’ve learned are going to benefit your audience. This is an epic example of humility from one of the most successful bloggers in the US, Danny Iny, who still manages to convey a quiet confidence while fessing up to his mistakes. The tsunami of comments is almost as interesting as the post, and I bet he pays attention to them all.

3.  Find Your Business Spark and Ignite it

Don’t you love people who throw themselves into things with such passion it’s contagious?  Their enthusiasm can light up a room, and make you want to join the party. Doggone, they’re just so likable!

Be that person.

Find the spark in your business, and let it shine through your content, like  Laura Belgray of Super Shrimp frame.  For passion so tangible, you can taste it, you can’t go past her ‘About‘ page, which I was compelled to read from beginning to end and then sign up to become a ‘shrimper’.  That’s what genuine likeability can do.

Here’s another example from the owners of the Blue Bottle Cafe, whose love of coffee is the spark that ignites their business. The video is so focused on how they can improve my life through coffee, I forgot they were promoting a book.  And, boy, could I smell those beans!

4.  Be Human. Show Your Personality

Every business has a personality and a story. You may be a firm of dark-suited financiers, or a down-to-earth plumber with a bright orange van.  The point is, we are all human and we are naturally drawn to authentic stories told in a likable human voice, whatever that story may be.

You need to bring your personality to the fore and stop hiding behind industry jargon, or formal business-blah.  You wouldn’t speak to your friends like that, so why bore your audience to death?

Have some fun. Create moments to make your audience’s lives a little richer. Laugh with them, and at yourself occasionally.  You want them to look forward to your emails, and enjoy their time spent reading your blog.

If you’re a fast-food diner like Denny’s, you can sit in the funny-to-downright-weird lane with your social media posts, because that’s what makes your audience laugh.

Denny's Social Media Posts

Or you can shove your tongue firmly in your cheek and have gobs of fun, like they do at Chubbies Shorts.

Chubbies Shorts Instagram

But you don’t always have to aim for funny.  Burberry is an iconic, UK luxury brand that wanted to connect with a younger audience. So they launched an interactive campaign called Burberry Kisses, which was a simple, sweet, and unique concept, oozing with personality to appeal to younger fashionistas, while staying true to the Burberry brand.

5.  Be A Business Superhero.

Do you know what people most want from you?  It isn’t your product or service.  Sure, they have a problem your business can solve. But so can your competitor.  And that’s their dilemma.

What most people want is someone (you) to take the decision out of their hands, because they’d rather not shop around.

They want you to be their superhero and swoon into your strong, capable arms, relieved to have found the right business for the job.

Your content marketing needs to persuade them they can stop looking, they have made the right decision.  It needs to address their concerns and answer their questions. It needs to radiate confidence, professionalism and authority.

This is one of my favourite examples of a business superhero –  Method sells everyday cleaning products.  So far, not very exciting.

But here’s their opening statement:

Our powerful, planet-friendly cleaning products handle big messes beautifully. so leave the cleanup to us.

Now team that statement with its home page video:  A filthy mutt, doing a slow motion shake-down against the cleanest, girly-pink background.  And look at that bold headline.

I’m sold already!

Method’s website oozes cleanliness. It’s beautifully designed and written with lots of crisp white space and fresh bright colors.  Everything you would expect from an authority on cleaning products.

Be still my beating heart.

If you want to become a business superhero, follow Method’s lead (online and off):

  • Deliver what you promise
  • Present yourself in a way that reflects your business mission and personality
  • Exude confidence (but always with a touch of humility)
  • Be consistent and consistently good
  • Know what questions your audience is going to ask, and answer them first

Wanna Be Friends?

Many years ago, a very wise client told me he aimed to make friends with his customers. As an ambitious, corporate-climber, I thought this was a strange and somewhat whimsical statement to make.

I passed it off as an eccentricity. But it stuck with me. Niggling somewhere in my sub-conscience.

Now I get it.

As businesses, we should be doing everything in our power to show our audience how likable, dependable, and trustworthy we are.  To make friends.

We need to be generous with our time and knowledge. We need to add massive value and earn our audience’s attention by putting their needs first. We must find our spark and passion, and show some authentic personality. And above all, we must be the professional superheroes our audience is looking for.

It’s not easy, and it’s not something you can do once, then walk away.

But if you can guarantee you’ll do everything in your power to show these traits to your audience, you’ll see that boost to your bottom line.


Cheers, friend.  Mel

Photo by David Siglin on Unsplash (thanks, David)