Brand Marketing’s Holy Grail: Activating Influence-Hers

It’s no secret that the people who exert the most influence over women’s purchase decisions are those nearest to her: family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and her extended social graph.  But what continues to confound marketers is reaching and evangelizing this elusive group – particularly the super-influencers who cast the biggest net in her sphere of influence.

A survey released today by Marina Maher Communications (MMC), reveals this elite group – we call them “Influence-Hers” – is surprisingly open to being influenced.   But not just by anyone:  only particular endorsers and media resonate with her and ultimately move her to activate her extensive social web.

The survey of more than 2,000 women ages 18-59, conducted by the Keller Fay Group,  identified “Influence-Hers” as the 12 percent of all women to whom everyday women turn most often for advice.   Not only do these women have profound influence within their own inner circles, they can potentially reach hundreds or thousands of others as their activities reverberate online.  The average Influence-Her has a social network more than twice the size of the average woman.  She engages much more often in activities that create a powerful viral echo effect: “like”ing brands on Facebook, submitting online reviews and posting comments about brands on web sites and forums.

What drives this evangelism?  Influence-Hers derive their credibility and social status by being “in the know” – aware of the latest trends and up on the latest news. Her social network considers her a more powerful and credible source than the media, but unlike reporters and bloggers, she often has no special access to information.  So she seeks out brand news, trends and innovations, adds her personal twist and then shares it with others.

Today, strong return on investment is expected on virtually every marketing dollar spent. Reaching the women who are most likely to spread brand messages to her broad network offers marketers the most cost effective and efficient way to engage consumers. So considering the power of these uber influencers, what can marketers do to win them over?

  • Choose the right endorsers to reach her. One of the most surprising findings of the survey is that this savvy group of women is unusually open to the influence of people that marketers can control, such as celebrities, paid expert endorsers and media. Without exception, Influence-Hers are far more likely to value the advice or opinions of brand endorsers than all women. The key is finding the right endorsers, because category context plays an important role in determining who moves them to action.  An endorser who resonates on beauty trends, for example, may fall flat in the health and well being arena.
  • Provide her with relevant, share-able information on your web site and social media properties that can enhance her life vs. sell your brand benefits. Information is the coin of her realm; “Did you know?” are her three favorite words.  Tap into her desire to share and give her the tools to pass what she learns on to others. She is also an enthusiastic product reviewer, so include review functionality on all brand online properties. Make brand websites a one-stop shop by aggregating brand discussions from across the social web and allowing her to log in to the brand site from a Facebook or Twitter account.
  • Show her you care. Because Influence-Hers are, by nature, over represented on brand online sites, chances are the woman sharing her opinion or asking for information has a powerful social graph. So talk to her.  Engaging in real conversation and showing you value her opinion will convert her from an observer to an advocate.

You can make Influence-Hers do their best for you with a brand endorser who most effectively resonates with her and set her network in motion.  Based on the MMC survey and our knowledge of women, media and brand endorsers, MMC has introduced a comprehensive Brand Influence Model – a research-based tool that maps a brand’s influence with target female consumers and designs appropriate paths to reach her.  At the heart of this model is a proprietary algorithm, the MMC Brand Endorser Index: the first quantitative tool to measure the relative influence of potential brand endorsers and their distinctive connection to this powerful group of women, the Influence-Hers.

If you’d like us to send you an overview of our MMC Influencer-Her Study, please .