Stimulating Personal Influence Channels

In this article we are deliberating upon companies that take several steps to stimulate personal influence channels to work on their behalf. Given in the ensuing paragraphs detail how the companies proceed to achieve this.

Identify influential individuals and companies and devote extra effort to them. In technology, influencers might be large corporate customers, industry analysts and journalists, selected policy makers, and a sampling of early adopters.

Create opinion leaders by supplying certain people with the product on attractive terms. For instance Pepsi liberally sampled its Mountain Dew spin-off, Code Red, and also encouraged its core 13-to-19 year old target audience to stumble on the new flavor in such places as vending machines at malls. They allowed these teen influencers to be advocates for the brand. They launched it in their own little world.

Work through community influence such as local disk jockeys, class presidents, and presidents of women’s organizations. When Ford introduced the Focus, it handed out the cars to DJs and trendy people so they would be seen around town in them. Ford also identified 100 influential young consumers in five key marketing states and also gave them cars to drive around.

Use influential or believable people in testimonial advertising. Accenture, American Express, Nike, and Buick use golf megastar Tiger woods as an endorser to talk up the virtues of their respective companies and products.

Develop advertising that has high “conversation value” or better yet, incorporate buzz worthy features into your product design. Some ads have a slogan that becomes part of the cultural vernacular such as Wendy’s where’s the Beef? Anheuser Busch has crafter a number of catch phrases that have captured the public’s imagination: Yes I Am and I Love you Man” for Bud Light in the 1990s, and more recently, Whassup?! For Budweiser.

Develop word-of-mouth referral channels to build business: Professionals will often encourage clients to recommend their services. Weight Watchers found that word-of-mouth referrals from a relationship with someone in the program had a huge impact on its business.

Establish an electronic forum:

Toyota owners who use an online service line such as America Online can hold online discussions to share experiences.

Use viral marketing:

Internet marketers are using viral marketing as form of word of mouth, or word of mouse, to draw attention to their sites. Viral marketing involves passing on company developed products, services, or information from user to user. As a classic example, Hotmail and Internet Service Provider (ISO), offered a free e-mail account to anyone who signed up. Each e-mail sent by a Hotmail subscriber included the simple tag at the bottom of each message: Get your free private e-mail at Users were in effect advertising Hotmail to others. Hotmail spent less than $500,000 on marketing and within 18 months attracted 12 million subscribers.

One team of viral marketing experts caution that while influencers or “alphas” start trends, they are often too introspective and socially alienated to spread them. They advise marketers to cultivate “bees” hyper-devoted customers who are not just satisfied knowing about the next trend but who live to spread the word. Here’s how one company cultivated bees and harvested “honey” in the form of media impressions and huge sales.