Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tipping the Sales

If you're serious about growing your business and your brand, have you discovered the three people who create unstoppable word-of-mouth momentum?

In your perfect world, you create a "Tipping Point"; that precious space in time when critical mass boils over, allowing your ideas, products and messages to spread in much the same manner as a virus. In his best-selling book, Malcolm Gladwell points to examples such as the rise in popularity of Hush Puppies shoes in the mid-1990s and the dramatic drop in New York City crime rates in the late 1990s.

Perhaps this post will help explain how three guys from Colorado managed to spread the word about the ugliest footwear ever made faster than a Paris Hilton sex tape. Scott, George and Duke knew they were on to something big when the fire marshal at the 2002 Fort Lauderdale, Florida, boat show started yelling that the crowd gathered around their booth was blocking the aisles. The trio was tossing pairs of colorful boating shoes at passersby, asking them to slip them on.

They did, and sold all 200 pairs of CROCS in two days.

From there, popularity mushroomed. Sales poured in. By 2003 CROCS had become a bona-fide phenomenon, universally accepted as an all-purpose shoe for comfort-seeking, suburban fashionistas.

According to Gladwell, the dynamics involved in generating a "Tipping Point" transcend all product and service categories - even more so in today's Facebook world. And while technology may be connecting more strangers than ever, are there certain fundamentals that have not changed? And what are the implications for leveraging the power of your brand?

Today, The Seamless Brand explores some underlying factors.

Much of Gladwell's analysis as to why "tipping points" occur is based on the 1967"Six Degrees of Separation" study by sociologist Stanley Milgram. Milgram gave letters to 160 people in Nebraska, with instructions to send them to a stockbroker in Boston by passing the letters to somebody socially closer to the target. The study found that it took an average of six links to deliver each letter. Of particular interest to Gladwell was the finding that the three friends of the stockbroker provided the final link for more than half of those letters.

This revelation is what sparked Gladwell's theory that there are three types of people who hold the key to unlock viral forces that will fan the flames of a wildfire brand.

CONNECTORS: These are the people who link us up with others. People with a special gift for bringing the world together

MAVENS: Otherwise known as "information specialists", or people we rely upon to connect us with the latest and greatest trends and technology. They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others.

SALESMEN: These are the "great persuaders". Charismatic people with a powerful ability to influence in such a way as to make others agree with them.

In this video, some college kids in the U.S. took a creative, albeit cheesy, crack at explaining these character types in more detail.

Since we rely so heavily on word-of-mouth information when determining what products to buy, which companies to trust and who to believe, can you see the advantage in having some of these "Tipping Point" characters included in your circle of influence? These characters exist in every community and very likely a few happened to strolling along the aisles at a Fort Lauderdale boat show when they saw something that caught their eye. Another great example of a brand that has adopted some of these marketing principles is Apple. Former Apple marketing and sales exec, Steve Chazin has identified 5 of the things that make the folks who brought us the iPod and iPhone such successful marketers. You can discover them in a little 8 page e-Book that Steve calls "MarketingApple: 5 Secrets of the World's Best Marketing Machine".

But as Steve explains, you need something worth talking about for your brand to go viral. In other words, word-of-mouth evangelism are gifts that your customers can give you, but first they must be earned.

Do you have treasures with substance worth spreading? And if so, are you plugged in to the connectors, mavens and salesmen that surround you?

Or, are you saying to yourself, "This post is nothing but a pile of CROC?"

"It will work. I am a marketing genius" PARIS HILTON

No comments: