The fifth (out of six) universal factor to getting people to say “yes” found by Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, is Liking.

The principle of Liking states that we most prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like.

One of the most familiar examples of this is the Tupperware party, where a party host or hostess agrees to hold a gathering a friends and promote a variety of Tupperware products.  The reason these parties have been so incredibly successful, at one point resulting in roughly $2.5 MILLION sales EACH day, is because they rely on the powerful principle of Liking.

By providing the host/hostess with a percentage of the total sales, Tupperware has arranged for its customers to buy from someone they already know, like, and trust instead of an unknown salesperson.  ”In this way,” writes Cialdini, “the attraction, the warmth, the security, and the obligation of friendship are brought to bear on the sales setting.”

Researchers have found that the strength of that social bond is twice as likely to determine product purchase as is preference for the product itself.

Another example comes from Joe Girard, listed as the world’s “greatest car salesman” by the Guinness Book of World Records.  For twelve years straight, he won the title as the “number one car salesman” averaging more than five cars and trucks sold every day he worked.  Yeah, this guy’s got some experience.

When asked about his approach, Girard revealed his very simple plan: offer a fair price and be someone they like to buy from.  In his words, “Finding the salesman they like, plus the price; put them both together, and you get a deal.”

How To Get People To Like You?

First off, it’s refreshing to talk about the principle of “Liking” without it pertaining to Facebook.  I find it sad that so many photographers focus the vast amount of their marketing efforts on social media.  (More of my Social Media rant here…)

Cialdini lists several factors that cause one person to like another.  They are:

  1. Physical Attractiveness
  2. Similarity
  3. Compliments
  4. Contact & Cooperation
  5. Conditioning & Association

While I don’t have the time to go into each one, I will touch on two of them.

Similarity.  We like people who are similar to us.  This is true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle. Therefore, the more we can show our similarity to our clients and prospects, the greater the influence of Liking, which increases our persuasion power.

Compliments.  We are phenomenal suckers for flattery.  We love it when people pay us compliments.  And according to various studies, we tend to believe the praise that we receive and to like those who provide it, even when it is clearly false.

Information is great but let’s get down to how to implement this powerful principle to your photography business.

How To Apply To Your Photography Business

Here are a few examples of how you can apply these factors of Liking to increase your persuasion power with your photography clients and prospects.

1. Uncover Similarities

An easy way to employ the Liking principle is to uncover similarities between you and your prospect or client.  When you meet in person for a consultation, ask them non-related questions about interests, hobbies, background, education, etc. Are they into sports?  What music do they like to listen to?  This is really easy to do but can provide huge dividends as you continue to forge a relationship with them.

It doesn’t have to be done in person, either.  My first email response back to a new client inquiry contains a list of several questions that are related both to the scope of the photography project (ie. schedule of wedding day) as well as non-related items (how did the couple meet, favorite candy, etc.).

Uncovering these nuggets of information help me better understand the type of person I’m dealing with but, more importantly, they allow me to make those connections to things that we have in common. And by doing so, those clients tend to see me as being very similar to them, making it easier for them to work with me for their photography needs.

Another easy way to do this is talk about the type of person you are on your website and marketing materials.  Avoid being sterile and impersonal and actually open up about what you like to do and some of your interests.

Advanced Marketing Tip

*For the stealth marketer, you can employ this principle of Similarity & Liking by marketing specifically to those people that are most like you, those with the most shared similarities. As a result, when your prospect discovers you as on option for their photographer, they often conclude: Wow, this person is EXACTLY who I'm looking for! I feel like they are talking directly to me.

Often times this is called affinity marketing, where you market your message to those that are fans of the Utah Jazz, for example. (Go Jazz!) People like to feel that they are part of the group, that they belong to a community of other like-minded individuals.

It’s just like that commercial for Buffalo Wild Wings, where two total strangers end up sitting near each other while watching a game at the restaurant. By the end of the game, they have become impassioned fans, high-fiving each other after every big play, and mourning over all the bad plays, without even knowing each other’s name.

2. Compliments

Let’s go back to Joe Girard, our car salesman example.  One of the tactics that Joe employed was that of sending each one of his 13,000+ past customers a holiday greeting card with a personal message every month. The holiday portion on the front naturally changed with each month but the message on the inside was the exact same each time.  It read, “I like you.”  Nothing else on the card besides that and his name.

Can you imagine sending out over 156,000 cards each year to your past clients with that simple message?  What would that do for you business?

It’s certainly something to think about.  What’s even more interesting, is that it’s crystal clear that Joe’s message isn’t really personal.  It’s not hand-written.  There’s no additional note asking about the wife and kids.  It’s not a different message each time.  It’s the same three words, every single time.

But yet, it works.

Can you do something similar in your photography business with your past clients?

One thing that you could do is include that message in your monthly newsletter.  (If you are not currently sending out a monthly newsletter, you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity to increase referrals and repeat business) Show your clients that you like them, just as Joe Girard did.  And what’s cool is that it doesn’t have to be something expensive, time-consuming, or elaborate.  You can just say it.

Another thing that I have done in the past to my wedding clients is to send out a few 5×7 prints from their big day for their anniversary. It’s proved to be an effective way to re-connect with those past clients, show them you care, and generate new referrals.

Apply Today

Again, information is important.  But what’s critically more important is applying that information to your photography business.  Take some time today to start implementing these ideas into your marketing.

-Mark