The Tao of Influence: Part One

Earlier this month I had the privilege of speaking at Lesbians Who Tech’s New York Summit. The topic, Influencer Relations. I offered my point of view on why influencing the influencers- those beyond media- matters. I also shared a quick framework for how to approach this work. The following series of posts, are an adaptation of my talk. (Thanks @MediaMath for the Twitter pic!)

Why Influencers Matter

Want to know the quickest way to kill a conversation? Begin and end with your undisputed awesomeness. Too harsh? Perhaps, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Winning the hearts and minds of customers is an opportunity for a conversation. The catch is, the conversation isn’t always between you and the customer. Other people and groups influence customer decisions, often more heavily than we’d like to admit.

Have you ever made a major purchase decision based solely on what you saw in an ad or on the company’s website? No other convincing necessary, the ad copy and value proposition were enough. I’d wager you can count the number of times you have done this on one hand.

Most people check information sources they trust before a purchase decision. According to global PR agency Edelman, the three most trusted resources the average person has are: Friends, Family and “Experts.”

Every year as part of the Trust Barometer survey, Edelman takes the collective population’s temperature on how much they trust, or distrust different information sources.

The 2015 survey turned in some results that I think are particularly relevant.

  • 68 percent of those surveyed recommended a company that they trusted to a friend or colleague.
  • 80 percent bought a product or service because they trusted the company behind it.

Now, friends and family lead this list of most trusted. But what about those “experts,” those “other influencers?”

Trusted Influencers as I call them, offer a unique opportunity to generate word of mouth and help build trust in your company and products. Notice, I’m talking about what they offer, as opposed to who they are.

In reality you could put a wide variety of groups or people at the center, customers, developers, partners, industry analysts or associations all fit the bill. The group or groups to focus on will depend on your business needs.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 12.49.05 PM

Trusted Influencers Offer:

  • Visibility: Remember the marketing rule of 7? A prospect needs to see or hear about your brand seven times before things click.
  • Access to Audiences you care about. Think of this as another door into the conversation with your potential customers.
  • Credibility: It’s one thing to say you’re product is awesome- it’s another for someone else to say it.
  • Engagement outside the purchase “funnel”- for example trainings.
  • Innovation & Insight: a feedback loop, which in my experience can often be more candid than simply asking customers directly.

Great, we know what they offer. Now, how do you get them to work with you? Hint, there will be horses, references to 80’s hair care products and a framework for engaging influencer audiences. Tune in for part two soon!

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