A friend of mine had been talking about moving to the USA for years.
Then they visited Florida to test the water and hated it.
This man is bright; he runs a highly successful IT company; makes a lot of money.
So he thought he’d go to the States to set up a company.
Humanly speaking he should have been a roaring success.
But he couldn’t persuade the Americans to adopt his vision.
His idea wasn’t good enough; it never would have been good enough, even if it was brilliant.
I recently finished Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
My friend’s story reminded me of what Mr Cialdini explains in his book.
He speaks of social proof.
It comes down to this: people follow the lead of those who are most similar to them.
Marketers who focus on social media use the term to sell the importance of a large social media following, but it goes deeper than that.
It’s like tribalism.
In other words, it’s good to say, “See how many people like our product!” It’s great to say, “See how many people just like you like our product!”
You can market your product or service as much as you like to a specific demographic, but if you’re not part of that demographic you’re going to have a hard time selling to them.
My friend wasn’t nearly American enough.
If he had gone to the States and tried to sell his concept with the help of an American entity, instead of selling TO them, things might have been different.
This begs a question.
Why are Elon Musk, Trevor Noah and Charlise Theron doing so well in the USA?
That’s because all three of them became American. America consumed them.
There’s a remarkable difference between Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show accent and his South African stand-up routine accent. Charlise Theron sounds so American you’d never say she’s from Africa. Elon Musk is, well, Elon Musk.
Years ago I worked for a company that had a branch in South Africa’s KZN province, where you’ll find the world’s largest Indian population outside of India.
Their sales rep was an amiable Caucasian guy.
By his own admittance he found it hard to break into the Indian market. His competitors used Indian reps who did far better than he did. They would always do better, even if their product wasn’t as good as his.
The bottom line is, if you want to sell more products, do yourself a favour by taking into account the social proof principle. Do everything in your power to look, speak, walk, eat and talk like your target market. If you can’t do that, get someone on your side who can.
And get Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. He tackles many more principles that’ll help you understand marketing and sales better.