The Influentials: Missed Opportunity or Marketing Genius?


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Influentials are the 10 percent of the population who tell the other 90 percent what to do — what brand of toothpaste to buy, what diet to try, what new diagnostic test or drug to ask their doctor about. And yet, influentials are not necessarily the academic, business or association VIPs. Influentials are often the "go-to" people on the community board, the organizer of a letter-writing campaign or the president of the PTA. In this presentation, you'll learn the impact of these influentials on health care legislation at the state and federal level. You'll also learn how to recruit these movers and shakers and put them to work to sway public opinion, or generate results in fund-raising, advocacy and issue awareness.

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The Influentials: Missed Opportunity or Marketing Genius?

  1. 1. The InfluentialsMissed Opportunity or Marketing Genius?Joseph LaMountainVice President, Reingold Inc.Adjunct Faculty, Georgetown University
  2. 2. Session OverviewLearning Objectives:Who are the Influentials?What makes them special?Why are they important?Where can you find them?When should you engage them inyour campaigns?How can you use them in yourmarketing and communications?
  3. 3. Session OverviewI. IntroductionsII. Communication LandscapeIII. The InfluentialsIV. Case Study: NPAFPresident’s CouncilV. Future ApplicationsVI. Discussion
  4. 4. Communications Landscape
  5. 5. Communications is not new…What’s the oldestform ofcommunications bythe earliesthumans?How did peoplecommunicate withone another?
  6. 6. Body Language/Gesturing
  7. 7. Communications is not new…
  8. 8. Why Do We Talk to One Another?Man is a socialanimal. Thetendency to formsocial unions beyondreproduction isbiologically encoded.We seek friends aswell as mates andpartners.Evolutionary benefit to those who find social relationshipshelpful. Promotes genetic selection of people withgenetic trait (though loners can survive).
  9. 9. Language facilitates social movements
  10. 10. Christianity = GrassrootsHow did Christianity (orJudaism or Islam) spread?Mark 16:15 - He said “Go yeinto the world and preachthe gospel to everycreature.”Those who spread thegospel were known asevangelists.This is origin of term “brandevangelist” used today.St. Paul as an example…
  11. 11. Paul’s Missionary Travels
  12. 12. Christianity’s Success…Impressive given available toolsKey grassroots elements in thehistory of Christianity:Fills psychological need(Cialdini)Interesting and appealingmessage (be saved)A specific call to action(convert/baptism and spreadword to others).But there’s more....
  13. 13. 3 Reasons Paul Succeeded1. Reached out to smallgroups: synagogues, workersguilds and clubs (Gladwell).2. Focus on cities and“connectors,” who know a lotof people (Gladwell).3. Used a logo for visualrepresentation.Described by paganopponents as a “contagion”(Gladwell, again).
  14. 14. Who are modern evangelists?
  15. 15. Who are modern evangelistsChurch of Latter DaySaints sends youngmembers on missionsworldwide to convertpeople.Organizations likeGreenpeace, US PIRG andother send young believersdoor-to-door forsolicitations and support.Other examples?
  16. 16. Clipboard Wielding HippiesAd Age Columnist:Canvassing is annoying, awaste of time. Focus onsocial media instead.New York Times:Distributing brochures innewsworthy (who knew)Does canvassing work?Can social media replacemore traditional forms ofcommunication?
  17. 17. An Insider’s Perspective…Target Analytics White Paper:Street canvassers recruitingmonthly donors#1 fundraising method inAustralia and the UKGreenpeace, WWF andUNICEF raise most moneyinternationally this way.84% of recurring donors arenew to the organizationHigh Value = High Touch
  18. 18. Are there other ways to evangelize?
  19. 19. Evangelists and…Tattoos?Evangelism doesn’talways mean going door-to-door.People can becomeevangelicals in other waysfor a cause, candidate orcompany.What about tattoos?How did Obamaevangelists show theirsupport?
  20. 20. Tattoos as EvangelismThis is one reason why strong logo and brand identity are key!
  21. 21. Yesterday’s News...How aretattoos aform ofinfluence?Why wouldsomeonepay a personto get one?Does itmatter if youget paid todo it?
  22. 22. Obama-vangelistsObama/brand = Center oftheir social network.How can you get supportersto do something similar?Will people becomeevangelists for your cause?
  23. 23. The start of mass communications
  24. 24. 15th C Tech Revolution1439: Guttenberg inventsthe printing press andchanges communicationsInformation flows more freelyand widely. You don’t needto speak face to face withsomeone.Information is nowpermanent, longer lastingthan oral tradition. Allowsmessage to seep in.
  25. 25. It’s No Coincidence…Within 100 years of printingpress invention, you haveProtestant Reformation.Would Reformation happenw/o printing press?Tech will always change theway we communicate.What does future hold?Modern analogue toProtestant Reformation?
  26. 26. A Modern Analogue?Social unrest in Middle Eastfacilitated through online.Religion involved too.Twitter, Facebook = TheNew Printing Press.Harder to political leadersto censor than books andprinted materials.Information flows morefreely.Offline component too.
  27. 27. American & French RevolutionsCommunications breedrevolutions and movements.More people are literate.Written materials are key.“Most readily adopted bypartisans in a political or socialcrisis” in FranceCommon Sense - Biggestselling book in US history.“The most incendiary andpopular pamphlet of the entirerevolutionary era”
  28. 28. It’s More than Just Words
  29. 29. Songs of the RevolutionMusic/singing wasfundamental to the Fr andAmer RevolutionsThousands of hymns andsongs created. Star SpangledBanner and La Marsellaise.Circulated political information,easier to remember thantreatises or pamphlets.A group activity, it helped unifythe peasants and affirm theirsolidarity
  30. 30. Songs still influence...“Yes We Can” by will.i.amand “Crush on Obama” byObama GirlDon’t Stop by FleetwoodMac for Clinton 1992How is music used bypoliticians today? Bycompanies seeking to selltheir products?What was the role of musicin the US Antiwarmovement?
  31. 31. What about Pussy Riot?
  32. 32. What about Pussy Riot?
  33. 33. Back to Our History Lesson…
  34. 34. Another example....Lyman Beecher, early 19thcentury minister.“Built his own evangelicalarmy” in support of his socialcauses (e.g. abolition,temperance).“Cheap mass-producednewspapers and tracts...anda coordinated distributionsystem of ministers and layvolunteers.”
  35. 35. But Personal Still PersuadesCopperheads were Northernopponents of Civil War“Ginned up” opposition toLincoln. Newspapers andmajor communications tool.“Soldiers began to flood thehome front with lettersexplaining why Lincoln shouldbe reelected.” He was.Why were soldiers letters moreinfluential than newspapers?
  36. 36. 19th Century TechnologyThe Victorian Internet:Tom StandageFirst onlinecommunications tool.Allowed for first-timeever instantaneouscommunications“As perplexing,controversial, andrevolutionary as theInternet is today.”
  37. 37. Downton Abbey and Technology
  38. 38. The Changing LandscapeFrom 1900-2000 was amajor transformation ofcommunicationsHow have Candidates,Companies & Causeschanged the way theycommunicate?What do they still do thesame as in 1900?What’s the result of allthese changes incommunications?
  39. 39. In 1980…7 TV channels inNYC burbs, no internet,VCR/DVD, email, etc…1990 my 5 person departmentshared a PC. Whole officeshared 1 fax machine.In 2000, no social media andway to connect with friendsand colleagues onlineReductive: Now we’re movingto image-based social media:Instagram, PinterestThe Information Age
  40. 40. Technology RevolutionInformation Age - 20th C.has seen great changeInstant and widespreadability to reach people, butharder to do so.What changes since since1900? How does it changehow we communicate?Technology depersonalizescommunications. They haveless impact.
  41. 41. One thing hasn’t changed…
  42. 42. Communications is not new…
  43. 43. Body Language/Gesturing
  44. 44. Harder and harder…We are swimming inmessages (3K a day)Much more difficult to reachpeople using traditionalvehicles (mass media)Social media and internetreduce barriers, but they alsoincrease volumeHow do you reach someone?By going back to personalcommunications!
  45. 45. Lots of competition!Each US Rep receives anaverage of 10K emailsevery week.5,000 bills are introducedin a typical session ofCongress.Capitol Hill (and everyoneelse) is drowning ininformationPersonal conversationscut through that clutter
  46. 46. Highly personal contacts, likeshaking hands, phone banks,canvassing.Working with groups:businesses, social clubs,houses of worship, unionsClear call to action: Vote!They also use lots of paper(signs, flyers, buttons,postcards)Obama 08 & 12 Case StudyPoliticians Excel at Personal
  47. 47. Ground Game GOTVObama has 900+ people onpayroll, Romney has ~400. DNChad 292 staffers and RNC 208.The Obama campaign says itssize gives it a sheer manpoweradvantage, presumably reachingmore potential voters.Republicans say their smallerstaff is reaching big results:84,000 volunteers made over 30million voter contacts (350 each).Obama campaign has 1.5M vols.
  48. 48. Senator Harry Reid’s 2010reelection campaign.Hostile climate: Highest ratesof unemployment, homesunderwater and foreclosures.Approval rating 30-40Absolutely outmuscledopponent, Sharon Angle.Mobilized bodies/voters withthe help of unions and otherallies. Strongarm.Political Case Study
  49. 49. The Most Important Graphic Ever!
  50. 50. The Communications Pyramid
  51. 51. The Power of People to Influence
  52. 52. What does this mean?No silver bullets.You can’t rely on just onetool (like Luther).Communications must beintegrated and coordinatedwith one another.Organization trumpsEnthusiasmGrassroots, personaldiscussions influence andcuts through the clutter.
  53. 53. Influentials
  54. 54. The 10%...Influentials are the 10% ofthe population who tell theother 90% what to buy,candidates to support,causes to support.They are hard to reach andpersuade, but if you can getthem on your side, they canhelp make the case for yourcompany, cause orcandidate
  55. 55. The Tipping PointInformation spreads likediseaseWe can learn how tofacilitate spread ofinformation by looking atdiseases and epidemics.Little things can make ahuge difference andfacilitate a firestorm ofcommunications.
  56. 56. Three Laws of Epidemics1.The Law of the Few - Onesick person can lead toinfection of millions2.The Stickiness Factor - Thespread of disease depends onhow contagious it is.3.The Power of Context - Yourlikelihood of getting sickdepends on factors (age,location, immunity).Gladwell says this is also truefor ideas and information.
  57. 57. The Law of the FewGaetan Dugas aka AIDS“Patient Zero”Connected to 40 of first 248AIDS patientsTraveled worldwide as flightattendantDevelop symptoms,continued to travel and infectsexual partnersThis is why we havequarantines (for invasivespecies too).
  58. 58. Began with Kansas farmers.Highly contagious. Spread tolocal army base with 60,000soldiers.Aided by WWI troopmovements, it circled theglobe and killed 50-100million in just 18 months.It killed more in 24 monthsthan AIDS in 24 years, morein 1 year than the plaguekilled in a century.Influenza Epidemic of 1918
  59. 59. Who spreads information?Gladwell says 3 kinds ofpeople facilitate flow ofinformationConnectors: a.k.a. peoplespecialistsMavens: informationspecialistsSalesmen: persuaders,influence specialistsYou need to proactivelyengage them in your efforts
  60. 60. ConnectorsWilliam Dawes vs PaulRevere (The Connector)1960s Milgram study:Letter delivery in Omaha(six degrees of separation)If they know about yourcause, candidate orcompany they’ll blabLaMountain’s Law: Themore people you havetalking the faster and widerinformation spreads. Key!
  61. 61. MavensCollector of knowledge in aninformation age, credibleWant to share with others(best doctor, new band,hottest restaurant, etc).Paul Revere was also amaven.Connect them with aconnector and the partybeginsThey can start an informationepidemic
  62. 62. Meet Chandler...#1 reviewer on Amazon.comHas reviewed 696 items andsecured 40,965 “helpful”votes on the site (96% of allreviews she’s made).Amazon: “Our top reviewershave helped millions of theirfellow customers makeinformed purchase decisionson with theirconsistently helpful, high-quality reviews.”
  63. 63. SalesmenCase Study: Tom Gau,Financial Planner & WoodyFaircloth, Telecom ExecThe psychology ofpersuasion (Cialdini)Power of non-verbalcommunications (PeterJennings and Reagan)Conversational harmonyThe “likeability” factor
  64. 64. An Influential combinesattributes of a connector, amaven and a salesmanBecause they know manypeople and soak up largeamounts of information,Influentials stand out assmart, informed sources ofadvice and insight.Who do you know like this?Are you an influential?Influentials stand out
  65. 65. Why are Influentials…Influential?
  66. 66. Persuasion and and ActionExplains thepsychology of whypeople say “yes” andhow to apply thoseunderstandings.Incorporating theseprinciples into yourtactics cansignificantly increaseadoption.
  67. 67. Fixed Action PatternsRegular, blindly mechanicalpatterns of action in species(including humans).Turkey “cheep cheep”The trigger features thatactivate them can be usedinto duping us into playingthem at he wrong times.Evolutionary biology rearsits head again (memes).Is this ethical?
  68. 68. The Power of AuthorityStanley Milgram again…65% of people willing togive others maximumshock when ordered to by ascientist.Authority allows for a wellfunctioning societyAs authorities in theircommunity, Influentialshave the ability to persuade
  69. 69. An example of the use of authority
  70. 70. The Power of Doctors
  71. 71. The Power of Doctors
  72. 72. Opinion LeadersChronicle of HigherEducation articleTerm coined in 1955 inbook “Personal Influence”Opinion leaders “avoidmasses” (and mass mediacosts) by concentrating onspecial people.Opinion leaders still used.But how has rolechanged? Who is anopinion leader today?
  73. 73. Some characteristicsNot necessarily thewealthiest, best educated,in most powerful jobsWhat most identifiesInfluential Americans istheir activism andconnectedness.They are involved in life,local affairs, make theiropinions known to others.They work the levers ofsociety to achieve goals.
  74. 74. A Classic Use of InfluentialsGeorgia Sadler: Raisinghealth awareness in SanDiego among AfricanAmericansTried seminars after churchbut no one came.Realized she needed a newcontext for her messages.She also needed a newinfluential messenger.What did she do?
  75. 75. Some other examples…Recruited hair stylists: “partconnector, maven andsalesman”Captive audience. Trainedthem on health andeffective communications.Gave them gossipy“conversation starters” tokeep it interesting.Evaluations found theprogram worked, morepeople got tested.
  76. 76. Politicians have this down…Tom Boyer, an old workcolleague (1995-98) contactedme before election day.“The Obama campaign justsent me a note to remind youto register to vote if you havenot done so already. True.Their records indicate that youmay not be registered voteand the final day to register istomorrow. How crazy is that?”
  77. 77. Finding Influentials
  78. 78. How/where do you find them?Connectors, Mavens,Salesmen?Ivory Soap 1-800 numberPeople with a lot of FB orLinkedIn connections?People with a lot ofreviews on Amazon, Yelpor TripAdvisor?How do you get them tofind you and start themtalking???
  79. 79. Case Study: The InfluentialsRoper ASW research andpolling firm developedquestionnaire to IDinfluentials.Those answering “yes” to3+ questions wereconsidered influential intheir community.How could this be used inreal life to find influentialvolunteers?
  80. 80. The QuestionsHave you ever...__ Written/called any politician about health care?__ Attended a political/policy event?__ Attended a public meeting or hearing on health care?__ Served on a committee for a local organization?__ Served as an officer for a club or organization?__ Written a letter to editor or called a live radio/TV show?__ Signed a petition in support of/opposition to an issue?__ Been interviewed on television or radio?__ Participated in a Washington, DC lobby day?__ Volunteered for a political campaign or party?__ Made a political donation/contribution?__ Held or run for any political office?__ Been active in a group trying to influence government?
  81. 81. Case Study: NPAF
  82. 82. From Theory to PracticeNPAF wanted to recruit a a“grasstops” volunteeradvocacy networkCEO: “I want them to be hardwired into politics and healthcare.”The NPAF President’sCouncil would engage withpolicymakers and regulatorson a high level.Quality vs. Quantity
  83. 83. Where do you Find ThemNPAF wanted Influentialsalready familiar withorganization and its work.Only base was network of2,500 disengaged volunteers.We created an applicationand positioned it as“exclusive” opportunity formembership.Modified version of RoperASW questions (addition ofhealth care)
  84. 84. Selecting themMore than 275 applicationswere received (about 10% oftotal pool of volunteers).Individuals were “scored” onthe number of “yes”responses to questions.The more “yes” answers, thehigher your ranking.Other criteria included ethnic,gender and geographicdiversity.
  85. 85. The ResultsPersonal interviews with 100 people.78 accepted into the program.Average # of “yes” responses was 9(Influential=3).• 99% contacted elected on health care.• 94% attended a meeting on health care.• 88% active in a group seeking to influencegovernment.• 86% served as officer for organization.• 71% interviewed on live TV or radio.• 61% participated in a DC lobby day.• 60% volunteered for a candidate/party.
  86. 86. The ResultsNPAF President’s CouncilDemographics....80% university degree (US avg is 30%)45% post-grad degree (US avg is 9.5%)86% “very familiar” with health care.60% live within 75 miles of their statecapital; 40% within 30 miles49% have been served by PAF (othershave referred patients to PAF)50% personally know elected official
  87. 87. My favorite story…Mary Edwards of HowardCounty, Maryland.Registered Nurse, formerinsurance company executive.Within 1 week of beingrecruited, testified before MDlegislature on cancer legislation.Was able to work her contactsto get additional groups andpeople involved.No training needed!
  88. 88. The ResultsThey have beena gold mine.Larry LanierNPAF Vice President
  89. 89. A Cautionary NoteCritical to keep engaged. Whatdo you want them to do?Important to have specific,meaningful calls to action.Because they are busy, try notto overuse or inundate withrequests (2-4 hrs/month).Quality vs QuantityKeep ongoing dialogue (email,webinar conference call).
  90. 90. Other uses
  91. 91. How can you apply?What are some potentialapplications for Influentialvolunteers by companies,causes and candidates?How could you use influentialvolunteers, customers orsupporters in your line ofwork?Do many companies, causesor candidates currently followthis approach?
  92. 92. How can you useInfluentials to helpincrease presence?Where do you find them?How can you use them toengage with electedofficials and staff?What are some specificthings they can do?What are some potentialpitfalls or barriers to use?Advocacy and GR
  93. 93. How can you useInfluentials to helpincrease funding?Where do you find them?How can you use them togain more customers, or tosupport your sales team?What are some specificthings they can do?What are some potentialpitfalls or barriers to use?Fundraising/Sales
  94. 94. How can Influentials helpyou raise awareness abouta disease or test that candiagnose?Where do you find them?What are some specificactionable things they cando to help reach people?What are the challengesand barriers to usinginfluentials to raiseawareness?Raising Awareness
  95. 95. Nonprofit leaders hesitant toadopt. Easier to press abutton and send an email.Many don’t understandvalue of personalengagement, still focusedon mass communications.A team of individualsrequires time to manage,require hand holding.Unorthodox. “Risky”Barriers to Adoption
  96. 96. Happy to discuss recruitingand mobilizing Influentials inyour community.Feel free to contact me afterthe conference if I or Reingoldcan be of any assistance.Can provide freeanalysis/recommendations for5 groups at this conference.Leave me your biz card with“Influentials” written on it.Thank you!
  97. 97. Contact:Joseph