Leveraging Influencers to get what you need

Everett Rogers, a Professor of Rural Sociology, conducted research to discover the “Law of Diffusion of Innovation” to better understand how fast a new product, idea or technology is likely to be successful in market. In order to become self-sustaining, an innovation has to be widely adopted and reach a point of critical mass.

Adoption is where an individual undergoes a series of stages from first hearing about a product to finally adopting it. Diffusion indicates a group phenomenon, which suggests how an innovation spreads.

Roger detailed the diffusion process by categorising groups of people who aid at certain points in a product life cycle. He identified these as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and then the laggards. He recognised that whilst the innovators account for only 2.5% of the population, they are critical in accelerating product adoption. They influence the next group of early adopters, accounting for 13.5%, who in turn influence the early majority and so on and so forth until the final group the laggards who will be the final group to adopt, but only when their usual product is no longer available. A good example of these groups of individuals adoption uptake, could be that of a new iPhone launch. The innovators are likely to queue outside the Apple store for hours waiting for the doors to open to purchase, and at the other end of the scale, the laggards may still have an old Nokia phone on their belt and will not even consider a new phone until theirs is defunct!

This same principle can be applied, not only to product life cycles and marketing strategies, but also in any day to day selling, whether business or personal, internal or external. If you get the right people on board at the right time, decisions or trends can accelerate much quicker. If we are aware of the personality traits and the role individuals play, we can consider who we should influence first, to ensure others follow.

Identifying who those influencers are shouldn’t be that tricky either. They tend to be vocal, happy to share their opinions. They also tend to make their own choices based on what looks right and new. They are rarely affected by others influencing them. They should also have a history of getting things done through influence and are regarded as a person with positive impact.

So, if you need some traction with a sell or an idea, identify the influencers within your circle and get your idea across to them. If they are on board, they will then get the ball rolling in influencing those that you need to be influenced.

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