When anyone, company or individual, makes a purchase decision, that choice is based on a perception of product or service competence (credibility) as well as image (likeability).
We all readily accept that first premise. (We’re making decisions based on facts, right?) It’s the second one we sometimes have a hard time believing. After all, who needs warmth from a Samsung refrigerator? Don’t we just look at all the product’s features, then compare the Samsung to all the other brands, weigh in cost, and make the most rational cost-to-benefit determination?
Nope, not according to market psychoanalysts.
“In deciding whether to trust a company or brand, we weigh both competence and warmth,” say coauthors Maurice Schweitzer and Adam Galinsky in their book Friend and Foe, When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both.
“That means, according to Schweitzer and Galinsky, “people choosing a new product, service or brand are asking:
- Does this (refrigerator) have the ability to get the job done?
- Does (Samsung) have my best interests at heart?”
It makes sense when you think about it. When you take in any kind of advertising or marketing, you are “meeting” a company and their product. You are rating them in terms of competence for sure. But you are also swayed by your emotions.
Schweitzer and Galinsky say there are two elements at work here:
- Credibility – the content of your marketing material shows you’re the subject matter expert (SME) they’ve been seeking, and
- Reliability – you’ve helped clients and customers “just like them” many times before and you’re familiar with their needs and concerns.
So, even if you’ve worked hard to come across as the most brilliant and knowledgeable of providers in your niche, you still need to pass the “warmth” test.
Seeking that obvious warmth quotient is why so many ads employ likeable jingles, or warm and fuzzy family scenarios, or dogs in their commercials. But its also reflected less overtly, such as when your social media presents your organization and your employees as “real people”, with a passion for serving in your field (such as in blogs, Tweets, and other forms of social connection.)
Interestingly, sometimes that warmth can come through when you show your audience your own human failures as well as your successes, according to Friend and Foe. Humor does the same thing. Both methods can be a good point of connection – which is a big part of warmth.
So, ask yourself this question:
As business owners/marketers in today’s high-speed, click-on-it, research online, ADHD world, are you sure your marketing content demonstrates to online searchers that you are not only terrific at what you do, but you are also considerably warmer than your competition?