As I wrote recently, people are different and should be treated differently (as long as they are all treated fairly). One area to think about when dealing with people is their clout.
In this case, I’m defining clout as the amount of influence the person has.
One of the mistakes people make is to forget that some people have more clout than others and also to not realize that just because a person has clout in one area it doesn’t mean they have (or should have) clout in other areas.
Charles Barkley, former NBA star and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, has stated that athletes should not be considered role models to kids. He is partly right and partly wrong. They SHOULD be considered role models to kids for their athletic endeavors (it makes perfect sense for kids to look up to them and try to emulate what they do on a basketball court, soccer field, football field etc) but the rest of their lives they are just another person, nothing better and nothing worse. A business person could/should be a role model in their business dealings but not in the rest of their lives.
It’s shocking to me that if NASCAR driver endorses (is paid to endorse) a product, his/her fans will go and buy that product. If Michael Jordan tells people to wear a certain type of underwear millions of people go and buy that product.
When trying to sell your product or service, it’s extremely helpful to find people who have clout IN YOUR SPECIFIC AREA (this can mean industry, geographic location or both) and get them behind your cause.
The key to people with clout is if they like what you have to offer, others will follow. If they tell others, others listen.
Seth Godin refers to these people as “sneezers” (in his book “Unleashing the Ideavirus” which is one of the many books that he has written that is worth reading). He breaks it down further into those who spread the word for money (advertising, paid endorsements etc) and those who do it because they truly care for what you are doing and tell others because they feels it’s the right thing to do. Someone who is paid to spread the message can get the message out there but their credibility is somewhat suspect (does anyone truly believe that Michael Jordan knows more about underwear because he was a great basketball player?) while those who spread the word because they truly believe in what you are doing have much greater clout (assuming the same name recognition). As an example, when Oprah Winfrey would recommend a book on her talk show, it was going to sell because she recommended what she believed in and wasn’t compensated for it. If a person could have bought her recommendation, that recommendation wouldn’t have been worth as much.
When looking to get your product or service out there, look to find people with clout in the right areas and see if you can get them to back what you are doing. If they do it because they truly believe in what you are doing, that is golden. If not, you might have to pay for their support but realize that while it costs more, it’s worth less.
When hearing a person of influence, give some thought if they are recommending something because they believe in it or is it because they are being compensated? It makes a difference.
Have a great day!