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The Influentials: One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy Hardcover – January 13, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
There's a group of people, Keller and Berry posit, who are responsible for driving trends, influencing mass opinion and, most importantly, selling a great many products. These are the Influentials, the early adopters who had a digital camera before everyone else and who were the first to fly again after September 11. Like Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point), these authors are keen to point out a common phenomenon and spin it for the edification of marketing executives. Their assertion is that 10% of Americans determine how the rest consume and live by chatting about their likes and dislikes. Keller and Berry spend most of the book bolstering their theory with extensive findings from Roper polls (both authors work for Roper). Following this is a suggested plan of action for capturing Influentials' interest, with suggestions on how to target them, how to sell and even how to treat them in a customer service setting. Being an Influential today is similar to being a Vanderbilt in a bygone era: "[T]he company should invite them in and engage them in a conversation... and keep tabs on them in the weeks that follow." Because its points are so concrete and straightforward, the book should have little trouble finding adherents who want to woo such a powerful consumer base. Keller and Berry's theories are compelling and exceedingly well researched, and should be a boon to anyone looking to promote the next big thing.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Veterans of RoperASW, Keller and Berry based their first book on decades of research through the Roper Polls. Their findings suggest that one in ten people affects the way everyone else thinks via word of mouth. Presenting profiles of 12 such "Influentials" along with results of the polls, the authors argue that the most influential people in America are often everyday people, folks in one's own neighborhood who are active in civics, charities, and religious institutions. The premise is that marketers who understand these dynamics can focus their resources on these individuals in order to influence everyone else. Though the authors support their arguments with an impressive array of statistics, provided in minute detail to substantiate the premise, a much more lively discussion of a similar theme can be found in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. Clearly targeted toward practicing marketing professionals and business executives, this book is appropriate for libraries with specialized collections, such as those in business schools and advertising/PR agencies.
Stephen Turner, Turner & Assocs., San Francisco
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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This book is well worth reading.
Interspersed with the data and trend analysis, Berry and Keller introduce in mini-bios to actual Influentials. These particularly well-written sections serve to embody the data, (the data sections can get a little overwhelming at times) and show us how an Influential lives, thinks and leads. Most are local community leaders, or have real involvement in their communities, and and as such are the nodes of wide personal networks. They are the people who get things done, the people to whom others look to for advice or counsel. By the way, over the years, about 10% of Americans have ?qualified? by their behavior to be counted as Influentials. The definition of an Influential is based on a question about people's political and other civic behavior that Roper has been asking since the 1920s, and has been updating ever since to reflect changing times.
Now it could be argued that the Roper definition of what constitutes an influential American is antiquated, no longer applicable in the post-modern era. For instance it could be said that the influence of super-empowered individuals (to use Thomas Friedman's term) has been magnified in our hypermediated age to such an extent that "celebrities" now have exponentially more sway over how we choose to think, to live, to dream than any local influential. A good point, but Keller and Berry do not reject the influence of the celebrity and celebrity brand culture. They answer that that Roper Influentials are not only leaders in the sense that others look to them for political or community leadership, but that non-Influentials also look to them for guidance on most consumer goods and entertainment because Influentials also tend to be early adopters of new goods, services and culture. In other words, Influentials serve as an early warning system for those trends that other Americans will get to a six months to a year or so later.
What's really impressive about THE INFLUENTIALS is that Berry and Keller share so much data. That runs counter to another kind of marketing book that readers in this field will recognize -- the marketing books as "teaser." In this type of marketing trends book, the reader is told that the insights offered in the books are based on years of trend data, presumably similar to that found in THE INFLUENTIALS. This type of marketing trends book then indicates that the real information is only available to the clients of the writers. They go on to cite case studies where organizations have used the data to effect stellar marketing programs and boost profit. In other words, now you?ve got to buy their consulting services to get the real information and the real help you need. In THE INFLUENTIALS, it's all there - sometimes actually too much is there - but that's certainly better than books that are empty shells, "door openers" for standard consulting services.
All in all a solid, well-conceived, time-tested and amply proven marketing paradigm. A rare treat.
One thing that I found interesting were the case studies scattered through the book. Basically these were mini-biographies of influentials slanted more towards what they were up to at the moment. Even these weren't all that helpful.
I recommend skipping The Influentials. The title is really good but the book doesn't focus or do much to back it up. Actually things just get muddled. The Tipping Point by Malcome Gladwell has a good bit of discussion about who influences opinions and how. Check that out instead.
The book is a good read though, and the marketing trend to place the customer at the center of all the firm's efforts is right on target.