As busy operators, how many decision makers and opinion leaders can we reach?
The video below shows 4 groups: a wide range of consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, then pro-sumers further up (still numerous), then amateur influencers and finally at the top, the brand journalists. These last are the small handful of reviewers or magazine writers who we've traditionally been desperate to reach, hoping for a 'once in a lifetime' review or mention. Or we ensure their attention with enough money so an 'advertorial' looks our way.
We're always reaching out to consumers, through advertising, promotions, email, and good service to keep them coming back. But now we there are two other groups that influence public opinion and 5 years ago they hardly existed.
Pro-sumers are, in the case of hospitality, the people who eat or drink out a lot, or travel frequently, and like to share their opinions on review sites eg TripAdvisor, Yelp or Eatability. Not just once when they had a bad experience, but regularly: they feel a duty to share or boast about good (and bad) finds. They may also join relevant Facebook Groups or Pages eg one for Best Eats in your city. Coffee fanatics, craft beer and chocolate fans are other examples. As operators we can influence them by joining discussions on websites, posting comments on blogs, responding to reviews and joining Facebook groups.
Higher up the chain (just below, and sometimes resented by journalists) are the amateur influencers who work hard on their specialist blogs or websites, reviewing and gathering information. Some of them leverage their appeal to run banner ads and Google Adwords to make a reasonable income. They reach out through Twitter and newsletters, and are increasing sought by PR groups for product or venue launches.
How many amateur influencers are there? Some months ago we found a list of more than 500 locally in Australia (pop. 21 million) - scale that up or down for where you are: it's a lot! Your influence comes from making friends, posting comments and above all offering a good product! They pride themselves on finding the venues that mainstream media don't cover, and representing the 'voice of the people'. The photo above shows how MuMu Grill posts food blog mentions in their window - a nice compliment and a good read for people passing by.
[hat tip to Harry Joiner]