YOU want ME!

At grave risk of sounding woefully full of myself, I feel it’s incumbent on me to announce to the marketing world that you would do well to target your efforts to me.

Why would I make such an unbelievably and uncharacteristically narcissistic comment? Well, over the years it’s occurred to me that I am what’s known as an influencer and brand advocate. Trust me, it wasn’t easy to admit this to myself as I try to be a pretty modest, low-key individual. Still, the fact remains, for me, ownership is a process that starts with research followed by acquisition, (hopefully) enjoyment, appreciation and advocacy. When I find a product I like and believe in, I just can’t help myself. It becomes my unofficial duty to tell people about it, and explain why they should have one of their own.

I could go on and on with examples from Quaker Oats to gym memberships to sailboat purchases, but honestly it’s a little odd for me to think about it, let alone talk about any influence that little old me could have on the purchasing decisions of those around me.

Influencers and brand advocates are everywhere, and their behavior is (if I may say so) marketing gold.

As a recent column on ClickZ indicates, the reach and power of brand advocates increases daily with more and more online retailers offering product reviews and rankings on their sites. Additionally, user forums, blogs and so forth provide an even greater platform for influencers to spread the word.

Word of mouth is more powerful than ever, so how is a marketer to get products or service offerings in the hands of influencers? Perhaps the biggest key is a good understanding of advocates’ buying behavior.

Brand advocates typically make well thought out purchases. Their decisions are well researched and planned. This drawn-out buying process will generally involve extensive searching, leading advocates to product review sites, blogs and competitor sites. It is here that a marketer is best served by great visibility on a search engine results page.

Additionally, It’s through a relationship and credibility building process that influencers come to love the products and brands that they will later recommend to their circle of influence.