If you’ve been on Twitter for a while, chance are that you’ve heard of a service called Klout that tries to judge how influential you are based on the social signals it collects across the various accounts you authorize the service to monitor.
Anyone who has talked with me about Klout before knows that I see major holes in their scoring system, but at least they are trying to do something different.
More importantly, big brands are willing to experiment with rewards for users Klout dictates as “influencers” to get their product into their hands which can completely change perceptions and have a ripple effect within certain demographics.
That’s exactly what happened when they gave me a Chevy Volt for 5 days.
Importance of Hands On
If there’s one thing we know about creating a great product, is that “If you build it, they will come” NEVER works out.
Execution in reaching your market seems to take precedent over having a good product, but having a good product sure makes that job a hell of a lot easier.
So how does someone reach their market effectively? One of the most seasoned ways is just getting your quality, thought out product, into the hands of consumers who will either make a great case study to show other prospective customers or will tell their audience about.
The Volt is a perfect example of this – before driving it, I made fun of electric cars. I may have even called them “Expensive, tree hugging, impractical and worthless pieces of garbage”.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Volt was not only well equipped, but more importantly it was fun to drive.
How My View Changed
The particularly interesting part of this whole experiment is that I had zero interest in this class of vehicles before the hands-on. I certainly would have never gone out of my way to go test drive one, hell I almost even passed up the opportunity to have free wheels for 5 days.
I was always of the opinion that just getting a diesel vehicle (like the TDI Golf or Passat) made way more sense than trying to turn gas into electricity. While I still think if you are going to actually own a car, that’s still the route to go. But this type of vehicle is a heavy contender for anyone looking to lease a fuel efficient car to zip them around urban areas but still has the range capability to make a long journey.
The thing that surprised me the most was how smooth and linear it was able to navigate everything from clogged Interstates to twisty backroads. It’s pretty common knowledge that electric motors have instant torque (the secret sauce to “get up and go”), but it feels so much sportier than it likely reports in actual 0-60 times.
The second thing that I wasn’t expecting was how it felt like a small, but polished luxury car. The leather was soft, the controls for the console advanced and the sound system was phenomenal. When I pictured electric vehicles before driving the Volt I always pictured a hippie in a car with a range of about 15 miles.
A complete 180 degree change in perspective was the result of my hands-on. Don’t you think that could be useful for your product, if it’s good? Especially if it’s trying to break the mold and do something truly new.
Getting Your Product Out There
I totally understand that a) you probably aren’t in the car business and that b) you might not have the budget to get an expensive product in the hands of just anyone.
So here’s how you execute on the similar benefits of this experiment, regardless of what your market is.
Step 1: Allocate at least 10% of your resources towards influence marketing
The best way to get the masses of your market trusting your solution is to see the leaders in your space using your product.
Just like SEO, you want the authorities using your product because it gives you intense market validation and makes your sales process so much easier.
Step 2: Make a list of your top 100 “dream influencers”
You can’t give away the farm to just anyone, so make a list of the top 100 influencers in your space and essentially stalk them.
Find their pain points in relation to your solution and craft a personal pitch for each. Let them know exactly what you are doing, that you are so confident they are going to love your solution you’ll give them a “sponsored experience” just for privilege of working with them.
Step 3: Pound the pavement and get people using your stuff
Once you have the pitch put together, it’s just a numbers game. Get out there and get in touch with the decision makers from your dream 100.
I can promise you that any successful product or brand has started in these same shoes. When you are the new guy on the block, you have to prove yourself and often times that’s partly because nobody knows you and partly because your solution has something new about it and people are skeptical.
Don’t give up, just grind it out and get those useful brand associations. It can make or break your business in a big way.