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How to Be Persuasive: The Liking Principle

We’re in the middle of a conversation about the importance of persuasion, and are working through Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence: Science and Practice,” and his six principles for being persuasive. Don’t miss the discussion about the first three principles, Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, and Social Proof.

The next principle is Liking, which says we’re more likely to be influenced by people or brands that are similar to us. This principle is important when you are considering which people should represent your product, brand, or idea. This could include sales representatives, spokespeople, a company’s CEO, or the models in your ads. Do the members of your audience like these people? Do they relate to them? Do they want to be like them?

This also relates to how one comes across in writing. Throughout this series, I’ve been telling stories from my life. They’ve been set at a grocery store, at business school, at a train station, and so on. Do these stories sound like your life? Are they relatable?

I’m going to bet that at least one of the stories was similar to your life. That’s why I used them.

[pq]We’re more likely to be influenced by people or brands that are similar to us.[/pq]

This principle is not just about people—it includes brands and ideas. I subscribe to Birchbox, which is a subscription service that sends me a box full of makeup samples for $10 a month. I like this because it allows me to try different products before committing to them. Recently I got a coupon in my Birchbox for another company called Rent the Runway. This company allows users to rent designer clothes and accessories without committing to the full purchase price. The coupon offered $30 off for Birchbox members, because they figured if you like beauty items, but want to try them before paying full price, you might like their offerings too.

It’s probably true that the audience who uses Birchbox greatly overlaps with the audience who uses Rent the Runway, and they are counting on the idea that if you like one, you’ll like the other. Birchbox is also hoping that if you like Rent the Runway, you may like Birchbox more for introducing you to it.

When you are trying to be persuasive, think about what other people or ideas might help your audience like you and your arguments. Investigate if those other people might be willing to endorse your project or help introduce you to people. I’d also recommend paying it forward. If you already have an established audience, be willing to endorse other ideas with which you agree.

Have you experienced or used this principle? We’d love to hear about it in the comment section below. The next principle we’re going to look at is Authority.