Friday, July 25, 2008

Leverage Your Marketing Influence

Marketing is all about influence. You're trying to influence your potential customer base to give you a try. Of course you have to deliver on expectations once you convince someone to come your way, but your success is first dependent on getting the customer to your website, your door or on the phone.

There are many ways to go about reaching your customer base. Most of them are very expensive. After all, putting an idea in front of thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people can take a lot of distribution resources. What if you could reach them through proxies? What if you only had to reach 100 people to influence 10,000?

In marketing, this is done all the time. The most common form of this type of marketing is the celebrity endorsement. The idea is to influence the people who influence your customer base, or at least a significant percentage of them. You could make the worst ham sandwich in the world, but if Brad Pitt went on a television interview and said "Boy the ham sandwich I had at Bob's Deli on 5th street the other day was the best thing I've ever tasted." you can bet that Bob's Deli would be swamped, at least for a few days. To make good use of leveraged marketing you have to get to know your customers. What else are they interested in? Who do they look up to? Where do they get their information? To be sure, all of your customers are not going to be the same, but if you could reach 80% of them by focusing on a half dozen areas of interest, you can save yourself a lot of time and resources.

Choose your targets carefully. You don't want to turn on one segment of your potential customers while turning off another. For example, if 40% of your customers are registered with one political party and 30% with another, specifically creating a message to appeal to one or the other risks turning off 60-70% of your customers. You want to associate your product with personalities and ideas which are appealing to a significant segment of your customers and at least neutral to the rest. If you decide to team up with an organization, don't choose a polarizing one.

Your budget may not allow for a celebrity endorsement from Brad Pitt, but there are no doubt, celebrities you can tap. Use the image of a popular radio show personality, team up with your local YMCA, think of industry experts in your field and how you can work together. Whenever possible, feature your current customers in your advertising.

Most importantly, keep in mind that everyone you deal with everyday will interact with a number of other people during the course of their day. Will they talk about you? What will they say? Will they relate a positive experience or a negative one? The people within your sphere of influence each have their own spheres of influence. Always be aware of that fact and look for opportunities to engage new spheres in a positive manner.

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