Enlisting the socio-metric leader
Increase sales through personal recommendations of individuals who have influence in the community your business serves. Encourage these individuals to spread the word about your product through their social or business networks. This can build a community of customers who trust the recommendation of the influencer.
The challenge is in identifying the individuals who will promote the virtues of your product within their circle of influence. Stories of the benefits of a product narrated at a social or business event can convince prospects within the niche segment to buy.
Identify whom members of the community turn to for advice. The individual most often referred to by members of the community as the person to turn to for advice is very often the one with the most influence within the community. This in sociology is often referred to as, "the socio-metric leader". This individual is well respected and strongly influences members of her or his community. This individual may not choose to stand out and often may not know she or he is the socio-metric leader. However, this individual’s recommendations have a strong influence on members of the community.
Establish a relationship with the socio-metric leaders within relevant organizations and cyber business networking websites. The key is to get well-connected individuals sold on the product. They in turn will invariably promote the product to the individuals they influence.
Marketing campaigns targeting leaders in a group or known experts in a field don’t necessarily create a sequence of recommendations within the target community. This is probably because, too often the individual with the most influence within the group may not necessarily be, the most visible individual in the community. The challenge remains in identifying the individual that links the network together. This is the individual who can create the word of mouth chain reaction of positive recommendations.
Socio-metric leaders who are sold on a product or idea are more likely to influence those within their network to buy the product through recommendations. They are also more networked through the community then leaders with a formal title within the community.
There is a case of a beer company targeting tandoori restaurants in Britain as a channel to reach British beer drinkers which illustrates how socio-metric marketing works. It was assumed that the best person to recommend a beer would be the restaurant owner who recommended the curries to customers. It turned out that this assumption was invalid. The real promoters of the beer were the regular customers who drank the beer. All the owners' did was to leave the beer bottles on the table. As new customers noticed the beers and saw the regular customers enjoying the beer they too started ordering the beer. It was the regular customers who acted as the socio-metric leaders influencing the new customers by communicating their satisfaction.
When introducing a new product into a community the socio-metric leader who has influence within the community can help influence the buying decision within the community as these leaders influence key members of the community.
Understanding the local community networks and identifying the socio-metric leaders within is therefore an important marketing tool.
You should get involved in business events and web based networks. Identify the socio metric leaders within these groups who can promote your products and services in new markets and provide them with timely information about your offering.
International Business Consultant
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