Friday, May 10, 2013

Find the Influencers in Your Community to Spread Word of Mouth. Marketing Secret 38/101

Target the movers and shakers, then become one - make them feel like insiders

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In every "community" there are those who are influencers.  Wikipedia says that:
There are substantial differences in the definition of what an influencer is. Peck defines influencers as "a range of third parties who exercise influence over the organization and its potential customers".[4] Similarly, Brown and Hayes define an influencer as "a third party who significantly shapes the customer's purchasing decision, but may never be accountable for it.".[1] The Word of Mouth Marketing Association defines an influencer as "A person who has a greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace.[5] Keller and Berry note that influencers are activists, are well-connected, have impact, have active minds, and are trendsetters,[6] though this set of attributes is aligned specifically to consumer markets.
Influencers may or may not every buy a product or service from you.  However, they are a conduit of information to others who find their advice to be useful.   So your goal is to make yourself know to influencers, so they can do what they do so well.

First, you need to identify these individuals within your community.  And even the community needs to be determined.  It could be geographic, industry specific, political, religious, or any number of interest groups.  Other communities might be identified by age, gender, ethnicity, or income.

Once you've identified a dozen, a hundred, or even more of these folks, you can set out to find a way to bring them into your fold.  Here are some likely methods:
  1. Join the clubs, groups, or associations that they belong to
  2. Become active in service that is attractive to those influencers
  3. Ask your best customers who they believe to be an influencer you should connect with
  4. Pay special attention to those in your current circle who might be influencers
  5. Connect with these leaders in social media where they are active
  6. Be bold.  Set up an appointment to discuss how you can help one another
Once you have a core of influencers to work with, consider ways to help them spread the word about you.  Refer back to chapter 37, dealing with ways to equip those that you hope will "sell" for you.

Create A VIP Club and Invite Influencers to Join

One way you might turn them into a mighty sales force would be to establish an inner circle, a VIP club, or an unofficial board of directors.  These folks love to influence, provide counsel, and use their powers for good.  Give them what they want.  Once they have "bought into" your entire business plan as members of the elite wise council, they will clearly become cheerleaders at every possible chance.

If you do this, be certain to choose carefully.  You will need to actually implement some of their ideas to keep them interested and motivated.  Pay them with favors they can give to friends, samples to test, and "inner circle dinners."

Influencers in the Social Media World

In addition to the real world, we now have the virtual world.  I used to have a radio talk show program.  On that program I had a couple of fairly articulate listeners who called in all the time.  They were influencers in that medium.  I later met one of them, and he was socially awkward and unattractive.  He would likely not have had much influence in "real world" setting.  However, he was talking to thousands on my show.

So, too, on Facebook, Google+, Blogs, and more.  One of the most influential media in the US today is Mommy blogs.  These women may or many not be on the phone or giving advice at church, but their blogs often have very long reach.

You can more easily determine who the online influencers are, as they will be searchable in Google and within the various other media.  They may also be difficult to reach, but the effort might truly be worth it.  By creating lots of online media yourself, you may actually get the phone call or email from those very folks you hope to reach.  My clients have received calls from radio shows, ehow, major industry blogs, Yahoo, and others, asking for contributions in print or live. 

Linkedin is a fantastic way to "meet" influencers who might have huge walls around them in the real world. Most will be willing to connect with you. Then it is up to you to create an authentic conversation with them through Linkedin mail.

What other ways are you finding, reaching out to, and generating better WOM from influencers in your community?  Help us all out with your influential comments. 

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