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Photograph of an old retro Volkswagen caravan

People like us

Imagine you are out walking through your neighbourhood early one morning, while it’s still quiet and there aren’t many people about, and you pass another person in the street. Chances are you’ll say hello to them, because you somehow belong to the very exclusive “we are people who are up and out early” club. A short while later, when the rest of the world has caught up and the pavements are full of people going about their day, it magically stops. You are no longer in an exclusive club, and the in-group no longer works.

Cyclists do this. Walkers do it too. So do mums with buggies. Train drivers and bus drivers flash their lights and wave as they pass each other. Vintage mini drivers will hop into a convoy on the highway for a couple of miles – just because. Think of the many wonderful and varied types of associations, owner’s clubs and fan groups who spend time together because they all like the same thing.

Humans have an extra liking for others with whom we share a key common thing: people in a recognisable in-group with us. It’s called the “in-group bias”, an unconscious attraction towards others in a group we also belong to. It goes something like this… they like the same thing I do… they have similar values to me… they are similar to me… I like them more.

It works for invisible things too, which you can only uncover from conversation, like having the same name (or even the same first initial), the same star sign, the same life experiences and liking the same holiday destination.

Any way you can show customers that you are human too, that you live lives like they do, that you struggle with the same daily things they do, that you like the same things they do, the in-group strengthens and customers will like you more.

People buy from and are more persuaded by people they like and who are like them. In what ways are you like your customers? Authentically. And how can you demonstrate it?

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