I worked with a few car companies. One unnamed firm focused solely on performance marketing and deals. There was always a sale, there was always another new feature they wanted to communicate.

We told them this might work in the short run but at one point they need to make people actually like them and put the overall experience at the center of their communication. They didn’t and they suffered mightily through the last recession, almost didn’t make it out.  Now they put the brand first and are doing fine.



Toys R Us


The list is endless. Autocrats and market monopolies always end up dealing with revolutions. I worked with agencies that were beloved by clients. They might not deliver the best work, but the likability factor was so high that even mediocrity kept the agency around. And I worked with agencies that were brilliant but most of the leadership were jerks. When they made a tiny mistake, the client looked quickly for a new agency.

That’s why tech companies are investing more and more in emotional branding campaigns. Disruption gets you far but only that far. Everybody messes up and users have the choice of sticking with the brand or moving on to something new. If you are beloved, they will stick around. If not, they will abandon you in a second.

The current wave of DTC brands is about to learn this lesson, too. Actually, they are learning it as we speak. In the beginning, it’s enough for people to buy you. But there will be a time when people have to like you to buy you.

Precision targeting, conversion, and your MarTech stack will only get you that far. At one point, someone will have better data, better technology, and better persuasion methods. Your best weapon is not better technology and data. It is the likability factor.