Mention public relations or marketing to most people and you’ll be greeted with rolled eyes and accusations of spin and untruths, however Internet marketing guru Rohit Barghava has positioned himself as the man to cut through the spin and give us ‘Likeonomics’ instead.
Anyone looking for media jobs should certainly make sure they have the likeability factor before heading to those interviews, according to Barghava.
Bhargava is an alumni of George Mason University and has previously worked at Ogilvy, Leo Burnett Australia and Dimension Data (formerly Com Tech). He currently teaches marketing at Georgetown University.
As a proud exponent of putting humanity back into business, Barghava cites himself as a ‘non-obvious’ marketing expert with two best-selling books under his belt. Personality Not Included introduced readers to the fact that more companies needed to show that they had a human side in order to garner the trust of their stakeholders, while Likeonomics dealt with how likeability is the key to business success. The book was an Amazon best seller in six categories and the fourth biggest selling business book in the US in the month of launch (May, 2012).
He has over 1000 articles on all aspects of online and offline marketing on his award-winning blog ‘Influential Marketing’ (ranked by AdAge as one of the 25 most influential marketing blogs in the world) and he was the first to introduce the idea of Social Media Optimization as well as defining Content Curation.
Dragging Marketing and PR Back From the Brink
According to Barghava, traditional PR and marketing suffer from deep mistrust. After bombarding consumers with spin and marketing messages for years they have distanced their clients from their customers, who now treat such communications with suspicion. Rohit believes that customers are constantly wary and always on the lookout for the motives behind each claim, motto or message.
Barghava feels that currently, marketing and PR are undergoing a ‘believability crisis’, as consumers feel that all information is motivated by greed or deception. However all is not lost.
“Affinity has become the new secret weapon — we believe in people and companies that we like,” he said.
Likeonomics, he continues “explains the new affinity economy where the most likeable people, ideas and organizations are the ones we believe in, buy from and get inspired by.”
He states that in order to become ‘likeable’, an organisation must first be ‘simple, human, brutally honest and emotional’.
It may seem an alien concept – even scary – to some businesses to open their hearts and show their human side, but the social media revolution has made sure that companies that choose to engage, have nowhere to hide. Market a car as the next big thing and it doesn’t work? Your customers are going to tell you and the rest of the world while they’re at it. Acknowledge and embrace the power of honesty and you’re halfway there.
By supporting charities, encouraging their customers to get involved with the brand and by engaging with stakeholders on a less formal level, companies can leverage the power of their humanity and reap the rewards. Similarly, by being honest and admitting where you might have gone wrong, along with being open about how you plan to correct things, will help people get over the fact that previously, they may not have trusted you. And by admitting faults, you are encouraging people to emotionally invest as you begin to show that human side.