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The Likeability Factor: Corporate Personality Matters! (Part 2 of 3)

 

Last week... you read how the positive impact that being "likeable" can have on business. This week... read about the formula - the VOAL formula, for "value of a like.

Dan Zarrella, a social media scientist with HubSpot took a stab at finding out and developed a formula - the VOAL formula, for "value of a like." Others have provided similar perspectives. But, Facebook is still, by and large, a social site and one where B2C companies seem to resonate far more than B2B. For those in the B2B world, an important question is: Does liability matter in the B2B world?

The answer, according to business people, analysts and marketers: Yes!

Michelle Lederman is a certified coach and the founder of Executive Essentials (http://www.executiveessentials.org/index.html), in the New York City area. She is the author of The 11 Laws of Likeability (AMACOM, 2011). "Businesses can absolutely be Likeable and it is many of the same drivers that impact how people determine Likeability." Number one, she says, is authenticity. Does the company really stand behind its brand image? A close second-transparency.

Perception is another key driver and one that businesses have come to impact through actions tied to community advocacy and corporate social responsibility, notes Lederman.

Stephen Balzac, is president of 7 Steps Ahead, LLC (http://www.7stepsahead.com/). Supporting popular causes or associating with things people like is a way businesses attempt to be Likeable, agrees Balzac. "IBM, of course, was famous in the 1970s for its charitable contributions. This gave them the image of being a contributor to the community and people like that."

The concept of Likeability for businesses is becoming increasingly important, agrees Bruce Clark, associate professor and group coordinator, marketing, at the D'Amore-McKim School of Business (http://damore-mckim.northeastern.edu) in Boston. "When you have a choice, why wouldn't you buy from someone you like? This is one of the reasons companies invest so much money in building a positive brand image," he says.

From Likeability to Loyalty
How can you measure not only the extent, but the value, of your business' Likeability? One way is through a relatively simple metric that has become widely used in both B2C and B2B applications-the net promoter score. Fred Reichheld, a Fellow at Bain & Company, is the creator of the Net Promoter System and the author of The Ultimate Question 2.0 (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011). The metric is based on the response to a very basic question: "How likely would you be to recommend my company?"

It is a response, though, suggests Abhay Padgaonkar, that is really getting at a different issue: loyalty. Padgaonkar is a management consultant, author and speaker, and the president of Innovative Solutions Consulting, LLC (http://www.innovativesolutions.org), based in the Phoenix area.

For B2B organizations, unlike personal relationships, says Padgaonkar, Likeability and loyalty are not always synonymous. "In B2B relationships, clients often 'break up' with companies they may personally like," he says. "That is not to say that emotions are not a factor. They play a huge part. However, there is more to it than just saying that I 'like' you," says Padgaonkar.

Next week... read why employees need to understand the impact that they have on framing the personality of the business and, ultimately, its Likeability.

Lin Grensing-Pophal has written on topics ranging from health and wellness, to careers and HR-related topics, to marketing and social media. Her most recent book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Strategic Planning" (Penguin), was released in spring 2011. Lin is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the Society of Professional Journalists.