The most important people in marketing are not who you think they are.
You might have expected Mark Zuckerberg or Biz Stone or Sergey Brin to make the list, but those aren’t the kind of people we have in mind. We’re talking about the people that get your business or your client off the ground and make it last, but instead the ones who have an impact on a network (online or otherwise), who spark the fires, and form connections.
They’re the reason we wear fluorescent Ray-Bans, put feathers in our hair, and eat way too much frozen yogurt.
Books like Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point
have documented mavens and connectors and other archetypes that cause trends to, well, tip. But while Gladwell’s peeps are subject to accident and happenstance, these people are not. With the right support and incentives, the people we’re talking about can make or break your business—and there’s no reason why you can’t know (or in some cases, hire) each and every one of them.
1. The Early Adopter
The Early Adopter is the one who finds (and loves) your company first. They are probably experts in your field who stay abreast of the latest and greatest, and they know a good thing when they see it—even if their friends and favorite blogs haven’t heard of it.
Early Adopters are very important because they will eventually tell their friends and favorite bloggers about your business, and they are the ones who help your business earn its first buck. Don’t miss an opportunity to let them know you appreciate it! Reward them with specials, deals, and inside info—if you’re lucky they just might evolve into one (or all) of the other important people on this list.
2. The Digital Ambassador
The Digital Ambassador has become a pretty big player in the marketing community, so you’ve probably heard the title before. These guys are responsible for spreading your message on their personal social media networks, and they are effective because they are real people with real opinions talking to other real people—not a corporate entity.
If you’re lucky, you already know people who retweet your every post and comment on your Facebook page. If you don’t, some companies have been known to hire one. However, proceed with caution. Hiring a digital ambassador comes with risks of its own, and we highly recommend you ask yourself the following questions:
• Does this person really believe in my product/service/business?
• Does this person have a robust social media network?
• Does this person have a professional attitude and social media presence?
A Digital Ambassador can be a great asset to your business, but only if he or she represents you well.
3. The Non-Digital Ambassador
This person is a lot like the Digital Ambassador, only the talking is happening offline. This person may attend events (as themselves, not as a company rep) and share your goods with their extensive social network. Ideally, a Non-Digital Ambassador and a Digital Ambassador can be the same person—or at least work in tandem—but that’s not always possible.
No matter what, when you spot a person who is so passionate about your business that they won’t shut up about it, don’t give them any reason to stop. Provide incentives and commission to keep them spreading the good word.
4. The Regular
Unless you were born after 1993 (and if you were, don’t tell us because that makes us feel old), you probably remember the NBC hit “Cheers.” You know, the place “where everybody knows your name.” There’s something magical about having someone order “the usual” and greeting a familiar face when it walks in a door.
When you find a customer that loyal, make sure they recognize their requited love in you. This is a person who can say things like, “I’ve been eating there for 10 years,” or, “Billy Bob from So-And-So has been with my family since my oldest child was born.” And you just can’t buy that kind of advertising.
Each one of these people is essential to building a lasting, successful business. Don’t take them for granted. Though we’ve listed four people here, these titles are not mutually exclusive. Anyone could fill any of these roles at once or at any given time, and they’ll be more willing to do so if they know what’s in it for them.
Treat your customers and clients with care, and they’ll return the favor without even thinking about it.
A version of this story first appeared on The Black Sheep Agency Blog.