Summary: We all know the secret of real style is having the personality to match.
The key lessons from Donald Trump about style and influence are not what you think they are.
This is a series of posts that began with, Influence marketing experts’ top secrets. Today we focus on the ingredients that help one become an influencer.
Recently I had a talk with two friends in brand marketing and one in the hotel business. Here are some of the topics we covered.
1. Storytelling: Just ask Pension Guggenberger
If you are a Gaestehaus Guggenberger, you do not have a multi-million dollar budget like the Mandarin Oriental group to tell your story. Hence, a global advertising campaign “He’s a Fan / She’s a Fan” with award-winning French actress, Isabelle Huppert or Morgan Freeman is out of the question.
Nevertheless, you can focus on what some call “signature stories”. This is an intriguing, authentic, involving narrative with a strategic message. Stories have been shown to be superior to facts in getting attention, being remembered and getting people to change opinions.
The story should represent some form of strategic statement (see Karen Dietz) about the firm’s mission, values, brand or customer relationship. In turn, it can help achieve corporate strategy.
As a family business for more than 30 years, we need to find a story that helps people relate to the hotel, including “heroes” who have done great things for guests (i.e. family members and employees).
Bottom line: If famous people are part of your marketing campaign, some celebs will do your brand and sales efforts some good, and others will not.
If we lack the cash, we can touch customers and clarify our business values by creating a powerful narrative – storytelling at its best.
Donald always has a story to tell – on and off stage. We may not like it, but it is interesting if not outrageous, and it engages. Hillary doesn’t manage this very well, but Sanders is giving it his best shot.
Read: Aaker, David & Aaker, Jenifer (2016). California Management Review, Vol. 58 No. 3, Spring 2016; (pp. 49-65) DOI: 10.1525/cmr.2016.58.3.49 (short synposis Stanford U.).
2. Superstar economics works – ask JK Rowling
As the author of the Harry Potter novels you have shown yourself capable of telling a great story.
But besides the story, if you are famous like JK Rowling, that helps you sell books. She used the nom de plume Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo’s Calling, supposedly his first novel.
Shortly after it was published in April 2013 it got a few reviews, but nothing spectacular. Over seven months and with plenty of marketing, it sold only about 450 hardback copies in the UK under Galbraith’s name. But somehow through word-of-mouth or gossip it was revealed that JK Rowling was the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, at which point it surged to bestseller status on Amazon within a week.
Meanwhile, my book sold just under 1,000 copies in the first seven months even though the publisher had a hiccough. Such a number is great for a non-fiction, technical book. Nevertheless, without much marketing behind it, this illustrates that selling a lot of books is a tough job.
Bottom line: Name recognition makes things easier. For JK Rowling it means selling more books, for Hilary Clinton it won her a New York senate seat, and for Donald Trump it means… (see below).
3. Understanding influence: Ask style bloggers
You may not have the winning combination of a thought-provoking, interesting and possibly entertaining story to tell. Nor may the superstar economics or brand recognition of your name be good enough to get through the clutter of rivals and newcomers.
Authenticity is one more way to reach out. But for this Instagram fashion bloggers need to wear clothes that actually suit them. Furthermore, their style needs to express something of their personality, instead of the homogenous fairy dolls that typically populate the red carpet.
Some like Michèle seem to suggest that, “Real style is having the personality to match. I know it when I see it.”
As we discussed in the last blog entry, being female and young seems to help. Apparently, fashion labels believe that a 20-year-old blogger can sell a 50-year-old professional the brand’s latest creations.
Just because somebody has many followers or fans does not mean they can convince people to run out and buy their latest skirt from brand X. This even applies if you are making a living from brands, but actually are lost in a mess of peroxide and passionless fashionability.
See the above in action when you read, Hello, I’m Michèle, I’m a foolish, dumb, little blogger (so worth it – thoughful and sassy).
Bottom line: Influencer marketing is a great field where few can show anyone the numbers. It is not good enough to claim, “I know it when I see it.” Otherwise, why do brands fail to sponsor bloggers over 30? Do these people not need clothes, accessories or cosmetics?
4. Eyeballs matter: Just ask Donald Trump
So your story is authentic, with substance and intriguing. You are famous and your voice is being heard through the noise. But do you have the personality and style, if not substance to go with it?
This is what the US Presidential primaries illustrate. All candidates have or had a story to tell, but some are clearly better at being more authentic and engaging than others. One thing is clear, Trump was already considered the most visible of contenders in 2011 for November 2016’s possible GOP (Grand Old Party = Republican Party) presidential candidates in the US election.
Donald Trump has gotten more nightly network news coverage than the entire Democratic field combined (see report). Mrs Clinton has struggled to get the air time that Mr Trump has, a skill that helped him beat 16 rivals.The Economist 2016-02-29: American presidential candidates and social media
Most of Donald Trump’s speeches or events tend to be carried live by US television networks. To illustrate, in week 21, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC chose to broadcast Mr Trump’s event in North Dakota, instead of an event by Mrs Clinton held in Las Vegas. This even though Mr Trump has essentially wrapped up the Republican nomination while the Democratic primary election battle rages on.
Mr Trump plays the media well and the media allows itself to be played with. It will be a tough fight for Mrs Clinton.
Interesting read: Does your marketing influence B2B decision-makers? Word-of-mouth is a winner – marketing, not so much. EMarketer. Retrieved, January 15, 2016 from http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Your-Marketing-Influence-B2B-Decision-Makers/1012927
Bottom line: If you get a lot of TV airtime and are often written about in online and traditional media, it helps – as Donald Trump knows. It makes you even more famous (see point 1 and #helpilayda crowdfunding campaign).
5. Influence is tough to measure, but Donald Trump appears to have some
When you come across a statistic that suggests nearly two out of five managers are influenced by their peers and colleagues, you start to think.
How much do they listen to their colleagues?
Does it stop them from firing somebody?
Will it get them to stay at my hotel the next time they are in Munich?
Will they change their vote from Trump to Clinton?
Word-of-mouth influences somebody to consider a new product or another brand, hotel, etc, but thinking about or even considering buying a brand is one thing. Going out and buying the product is a big step further than that, and reading an influencer’s tweet or blog entry will not do the trick alone.
The above is from our Social Media Monitoring group on Xing – Jan Sedlacek posted an entry.
Influence is difficult to grasp and even more challenging to measure. For instance, for an outsider it is hard to understand that a tennis player such as Maria Sharapova, who does not rank in the top ten, garners the most lucrative sponsorship deals. Nike was served disappointing news in March 2016 when Sharapova was found to have failed a drugs test. In turn, the company dropped its sponsorship of the tennis star.
And while Roger Federer is no longer at the top of the rankings, his sponsorship deals outshine those of Novak Djokovic, the current number one.
Accordingly, we do not know if Roger Federer or Morgan Freeman bring more guests to the hotel that features them in advertising. They might put our brand in a better light. We hope so. Unfortunately, we cannot be certain.
The secret to real style is having the personality to match and doing things with some substance. Of course, our behaviour may influence our kids every day.
But just because I clear the breakfast table does not mean I influence my kids to help. In fact, unless I have a serious word with them tomorrow morning, they continue to leave a mess. The result is that I have to continue cleaning up after them every morning. NOT.
Some interesting reads
5. Have your say – join the conversation
What is your opinion?
- Do you know a small business person that is influential in your circles? How did it happen? Offline, online, or both?
- Is social media just an instant signal or does it influence our decisions in what to purchase?
- How do you decide which are next quarter’s top three activities to improve your bottom line?
The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither own any of these brands’ products nor are they our clients).
6. Just do it: Ask Renata Flores Rivera
Incidentally, you can be part of a minority, use a Michael Jackson song and sing it in your native tongue. That is what Renata Flores Rivera did (Quechua are a native minority in Peru). She was heard and became famous across her native country.
Nevertheless, most of us do not even manage to be heard and seen through the clutter in our industry or field of work. Just live with it.
And no, 15 minutes of fame (Nat Finkelstein and Andy Warhol saying) may not be in your cards – it’s that simple.