Fast-Track Trust: Amplifying Your Marketing With Rapport

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Where are you from?”

That’s always the very first question I ask when I’m on a video meeting with someone new – whether they’re a prospect, a partner, an influencer, even a podcast guest!

Can you guess why that is, Mike?

First, it gives them an opportunity to talk about themselves for a moment, however briefly, which is easy and natural. I never know in advance if the person I’m going to be talking to has any nervousness about being on camera or meeting new people, so this is an easy break-the-ice tactic. I ask them a question that they definitively know the answer to, can answer briefly or extensively without pretext, and have a natural follow-up question to me they can ask if they wish, eliminating awkward conversational gaps.

I could just as easily ask them about the weather or some other small talk topic, but the question of where they’re from has a second utility for me.

It gives me an opportunity to quickly think of a way in which I can relate to them on that topic and demonstrate rapport. In that moment, I’m able to build an emotional and intellectual connection to that person which builds trust and understanding. And that results in more effective communication for the rest of the meeting or interview, which can have a profound impact on both our businesses.

Today I’m going to share with you why rapport is critical to marketing, some examples of how and when I employ rapport-building tactics, and how you can too.

Building rapport is essential in both business and marketing.

What Is Rapport In Marketing And Business?

Let’s talk for a moment about what rapport really is.

Dictionaries define rapport as a relationship marked by harmony, conformity, accord or affinity. It supports agreement, alignment, likeness or similarity.

In Neuro-Linguistic Processing (NLP), the definition of rapport is taken a bit further in that it is the ability to relate to others in a way that creates trust and understanding. It is the ability to see the other’s point of view and get them to understand yours. You don’t have to agree with their point of view or even like it. It makes any form of communication easier.


I’m sure you can see how incredibly valuable that is to marketing and business. Some might argue that it’s essential. If you read last week’s newsletter on the AI Revolution, you might even see rapport-building as a key differentiator between AI and human-generated content and interactions. While AI is powered by an unfathomable amount of information and can provide all manner of answers and guidance, it cannot form a point of view that you can relate to and use as a basis for a relationship and communication.

The key is to recognize that in order to build rapport, you must express a point of view that another person can potentially relate to. And vice versa.

You cannot build rapport by sharing facts. You will never create an opportunity to understand or be understood by reciting statistics or long lists of features.

It’s like expecting someone to have empathy for the ATM machine that coldly responds with your bank balance. It’s a machine, providing information, nothing more. And yet sadly that’s what so many of us do with our marketing, isn’t it?

Pop Quiz: What Do You Know About The City Of Brotherly Love?

“I’m in Philadelphia,” she said, nervously. It was her first time ever being interviews for a podcast or any other medium, and she was incredibly nervous about it. While this social media manager for a large retail brand was understandably anxious about not making a fool out of herself, she was also incredibly brave for both taking the interview, and for admitting her nervousness to me. She’d done so in an email the day before so when we joined the green room before starting the podcast recording, I had a pretty good idea how she might be feeling.

Time to build rapport!

When someone’s feeling nervous in a business situation, that’s an impediment to moving forward. Whether they’re a customer or an interviewee, the anxiety they’re feeling about that situation is going to distract them from thinking about the situation analytically or creatively, resulting far less effective meetings or interviews. By working to build rapport, even just a little, you can develop trust and understanding which will ease their anxiety and open up additional levels of communication.

As soon as she replied to my question of where she was at, I responded, “I love Philadelphia! I got to spend a week in Valley Forge when I was in high school and my dad and I spend an afternoon in Philly before we headed home.” She smiled and asked me if I saw the Liberty Bell, which of course I had, and she said she lived just down the street from there. I then went on to share that I had just recently shown my little girls National Treasure, which has a key scene in that very neighborhood, and that they were keen to visit.

We spent just minutes talking about that, then went on to get into the details of how the podcast was going to proceed. She did admit again to being nervous but she also said, “I trust you.

It worked.

Someone I’d never met before in my life, who came into a situation feeling anxious, turned into a trusting individual and more comfortable podcast interviewee within moments. And delivered a terrific conversation about her role as an SMM.

That’s the power of rapport building.

Building Trust, One Post At A Time

While I’m sure you can see how that’s useful when you’re talking to someone via video or in person, how does that apply to social media marketing and other marketing mediums?

In truth it’s definitely harder. When you and I talk on video or in person, we have the benefit of hearing each other’s voices, seeing each other’s body language and facial expressions, and having an actual back-and-forth conversation. Digital mediums like social networks obviously lack many of those benefits for the most part.

That’s why having a video presence is so crucial to marketing today. Again, being able to establish rapport and build relationships with humans is a true business differentiator. Mark Schaefer said, years ago, that the most human business wins, and he couldn’t have been more prescient.

And while one-to-many video won’t offer the kinds of opportunities for rapport building that a real conversation will, it is still an opportunity for you to Show Up as a real human. That’s also whey AI-generated video likely will never be as effective.

But all of that aside, even text and image posts to social media can be effective opportunities to build rapport with your audience. While on an individual basis they won’t have the same impact as a conversation, they can make up for that through the sheer reach of a social post.

Here’s how.

Remember what I said earlier about the key to building rapport? It’s ok, you can cheat and scroll back up if you want.

It’s the expression of a point of view.

When you think about social media, it’s the influencers and brands who express a point of view who are most effective. In fact, virtually every article or video that talks about what to actually post to social talks about sharing your perspective, even if the content you’re sharing is someone else’s. While it’s likely most don’t know the nuance and psychology of why that works, they definitely recognize the reality of the situation.

If you share your new blog post as a simple title and link post, it will get a fraction of the reach and engagement it might otherwise get if you took the time to write a post that expresses your perspective on the topic of the post, then links to the post for more information.

Now believe me, I get it. Writing additional copy for social shares takes time and sometimes we just don’t have that luxury. My own social posts are often deliberately not engaging because I know I don’t have time to craft a post or respond to comments. But, if your goal is to build connections with your audience and build off those connections to reach larger audiences, then your goal should be to make every post as engaging as possible.

And strange as it might sound, that means you need to use every post as an opportunity to relate to your audience and build trust.

Rapport-Building Tactics For Marketing

In NLP, you build rapport with another individual by matching and mirroring. You pay attention to aspects of their physiology or communication and look for opportunities to emphasize similarities or to develop and maintain pacing. The definitions are geared toward in-person exchanges, such as literally matching someone’s breathing. And yet, there are a wealth of opportunities for us in marketing, both on video and in digital mediums like social media or email.

And I’ve already shared the tactic that’s key to building rapport a couple of times now: expressing a point of view.

For instance, in my article on the AI Revolution I mentioned earlier, I made the statement, “By leveraging machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics, marketers are not just automating tasks; they are creating smarter, more engaging, and highly personalized marketing strategies that resonate with consumers on a new level.”

That was me expressing my point of view of AI right now, which some of you might agree with and relate to. Obviously some of you might not agree with that, and that’s ok. You don’t have to agree on everything to build rapport.

And you don’t have to express controversial points of view. In fact, I would argue that expressing and talking about controversial topics will not help to build rapport overall because by definition, a sizable and immeasurable part of your audience will have a contrary perspective and the potential relationship with them could be harmed by the point. That’s not to suggest brands shouldn’t have values and take a stand on certain issues, just understand that’s a different strategy and not related to what we’re talking about here.

Rather, express your point of view on the business topics that relate to your brand and which are important to your audience. An easy example would be to look at any of the latest developments in your indusrtry over the past week and determine how you, and your brand, feels about any one of them in particular.

NLP refers to this as Beliefs and Values. Authentically trying to understand another person’s beliefs and values without judgment can create very deep rapport. Once again, you do not have to agree with them or change any of your own values; the goal is to understand.

Through interesting posts and engaging discussion in the comments, you can definitely build rapport with your audience members. Interesting, when you engage in conversation on a social media post, you’re not just talking to the individual who commented. Your discussion will also be read by anyone else who happens to see the post and read the comments, and they can similarly be impacted.

Another NLP tactic that you can employ is the use of Language Patterns. Matching language patterns is a favorite technique with sales and marketing people. By using the same words to describe things and processes, the person feels understood.

When you’re crafting your content, actively think about how you’re talking about your subject and whether you’re using the same words and phrases and style of speech as your target audience.

If you’re trying to connect with young consumers, for instance, your copy shouldn’t read like it was written by corporate attorneys.

Finally, the skilled marketer can leverage Representational Systems to build rapport.

Representational systems are are our internal senses. We “re-present” what we experience on the outside on our internal mental screen. Our external senses (our seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting) match our internal senses. The importance and utility of these senses though varies from individual to individual. If you’ve ever felt like you just ‘weren’t on the same wavelength’ as someone, this is likely why.

Again, the most effective utilization of representational systems occurs when you’re face to face with someone and can hear how they talk and see things like eye patterns, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage this psychology in your marketing.

Listen, everyone’s different. But I bet you’d get a buzz if you knew every time you wrote some copy, it really hit home with everyone who saw it. Even though they don’t all see eye to eye. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

If you re-read that simple paragraph, maybe you’ll pick up on how the tactical use of language and representational systems can be applied. These, and other NLP tactics, are ones that I employ so often throughout everything that I’m writing and saying that many occur without thought or intention. I’ve learned and practiced and now ingrained into my core style of communication an understanding of human psychology to a degree sufficient to communicate effectively and establish rapport quickly.

Imagine if you could build rapport instantly too! Because being able to communicate and rapidly get to Know, Like & Trust is important.

(Ooooh, I just did it again! But that tactic is one I’ll save for another time.)

Asking where someone is from is a specific tactic that works for me because from a very young age, I had a solid understanding of geography, history, and relative locations. And through the years, I’ve been very well traveled. I can now confidently walk into a conversation and ask a question like that knowing that there’s virtually no place in the world someone whom I’m likely to be meeting with can respond and leave me with absolutely nothing to say.

What about you? I challenge you to think of one or two ice breaker type questions you can ask that someone else should be able to answer easily, and would give you something to talk about and potentially relate on quickly.

Vous pouvez trouver cet article en Anglais sur www.thesocialmediahat.com

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