Likeable and valuable.

A few weeks ago I made a provocative statement.
At least it was viewed that way.
It was during a keynote speech to leaders of nonprofit organizations.
First I asked a rhetorical question.
“Is being likable a component of value?”
And then I answered it.
“No, it is not.”
I could almost hear my words ricochet off of their walls.
Those mental barriers erected to reject new ideas.
Especially ones that are antithetical to one’s identity and beliefs.
I’m sure it made them uncomfortable.
But I wasn’t there to make them feel good.
I was there to help them see the world differently.
So I revealed the reality of today’s marketplace.
By breaking it down into distinct and progressive steps.
The first one is engagement, where the brand connects with the feeling mind.
Through a look and feel that says, “I understand you.”
Being likable helps with this step.
It draws the audience in, so they’ll take a closer look.
That’s why advertising tries so hard to be likable.
Unfortunately, that’s the end of that step.
At the next step people are looking for value.
Not kind, funny, or friendly.
Professional, personalized, and pain-free.
They want to know specifically what’s in it for them.
It’s the harsh reality of our egocentric system.
And seldom revealed in today’s socially connected marketplace.
Where everyone wants to be “liked” by everyone else.
But it’s not reality.
The real marketplace is driven by people’s desires.
And those who succeed do the really hard work of identifying those hungers.
And uniquely feeding them.
You don’t have to like that it’s this way (I don’t).
But I urge you to accept it.
And to then get on with producing the goods.
Because there are a lot of people trying to be likable.
Just like there are a lot of trees in the woods.
But it’s only the ones that bear fruit who get the necessary attention.
And the care and feeding which allows them to grow.

Tom Asacker