Handy little article on Marketing Profs today regarding who influencers are, and how you can start a dialogue with one. Here are some of my favorite thoughts:
"These alpha influencers are the key to other customers' awareness, consideration, preference, and purchase. They advocate, rank, sort, evaluate, and ultimately create marketplace adoption. They come in the form of users, developers, channel partners, and press people."
"...general guidelines: they are well-traveled, almost always have a religious life, are often leaders (civic, business, nonprofit), and generally hold an activist approach to life. Almost always, they have a general sense of optimism because they believe in the power of good, they like people, love to orchestrate ideas, and they tend to be (but not always) great at building relationships.
Interesting statistic: four in ten have a connection to a professional association. This is a sign of their restless intellectual interests. Influencers continuously take input from what they see, hear, read, and keep turning it over in their mind for new insights and ideas. They are sometimes entrepreneurs."
"Influencers and alpha consumers are people who place importance on values: enduring love, knowledge, authenticity, stable personal relationships, learning, and freedom. When you can get them to pay attention to your offer/product/solution, you have the opportunity to shape the market."
The piece then goes on to outline in step by step fashion some guidelines on how to select and engage the right influencers:
1. Selection/sort matters
2. Size matters
3. Two-way flow is critical
4. Without listening, you're dead already
5. Spread the word using a calculated set of steps
I found the article to be pretty interesting—it's certainly worth the read. BTW, if you're thinking about approaching me now that I'm a "level 2 influencer" (if you go by my fancy visual) ;-)—here are a few pointers:
1. If you're pitching—be honest and open about it. Tell me you are pitching and don't lather me up with praise. Tell me why what your pitching is great. Better yet—prove it.
2. Know something about me—find some common ground and strike up a conversation. Just like in life, chances are I'll be receptive and we'll end up talking.
3. Make sure there is a fit. If I don't see an obvious connection, I'll think you are approaching everyone else the same way and get turned off in the process.
4. *Comment here. I'm very loyal to the folks who take time to comment, participate and say something of value here. I read and take to heart every comment on this blog even if I don't respond to it. Commenting is actually a way of communicating with me. I consider it a form of dialogue. (* this gets flagged because it's a big deal with me)
5. Be yourself. Nobody likes a fake—not in marketing, business or life. Just be who you are—I'll appreciate it because I'm trying to do the same thing here.
Anyway, good article. Check it out.