In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, he looks at the spread of word of mouth. The first step is understanding who leads, causes or carries the idea. “The Law of the Few” identifies three different kinds of people, each distinguished by their behavior.
- Connectors – are just what you think, they are well connected individuals. The
strongest connectors are known for branching out to a variety of subgroups.
- Mavens – are today’s information junkies. They simultaneously play the teacher and the student. They are socially savvy enough to share a message but don’t have the same transmission power as the connectors.
- Salesmen – are the charismatic persuaders. Good salesmen are known for their ability to build rapport quickly.
Physical disease, like messages are carried by people. In order to reach market saturation, marketers and PR professionals depend on these kind of people. I would also say that our line of work pushes us to wear all three hats at one time or another. However there is enough room within our profession that we can still play to our strength.
Connectors are important because of their wide spread influence. If you need raw word of mouth exposure, you want connectors on your side. As a bonus, it doesn’t matter if the interaction is face-to-face or if it happens digitally. (It is cool when this takes place digitally because you can see how many times the message has been shared, liked and commented on.) In terms of a business or a non-profit this could become a lucrative powerful numbers game.
In the digital information age we value and encourage the development of Mavens. My smart phone knows when I have been to a restaurant, when I leave it asks me to write a Google Review. According to a Forbes article, one of the reasons companies are embracing thought leadership campaigns is because Millennials trust that more than traditional advertising. Thought leadership requires you to research current trends, form an opinion and then share it. Klout can take this one step further by measuring how much interaction you have with your audience.
It is interesting that as marketers we are very concerned with the connectors and the mavens but we often forget the Salesmen…and I don’t think it is because they are down the hall in a different department. The truth is, without someone closing sales, there is no bottom line which means there is no business. The same with a movement, if there is no cool factor why would anyone jump on-board with an idea?
Truthfully it is important to play to your strengths. Here is a quiz that can help you determine where you fall in the “law of the few.” Please share your results below.