Would you rather have Sachin Tendulkar be your brand ambassador or a beefed-up, tall good-looking model? The choice is obvious, isn’t it? Yet, the question is why?
Man has always had someone to look up to, since prehistoric times. The concept of gods and godmen arose from our inner need for approval and taking the path towards our destined future. Our fear of making a mistake, losing out and embarrassing ourselves in front of the community has created a fertile ground for idolatry.
It is interesting to throw some light on anthropology, to understand the tropes of influence and persuasion- marketers need this! If there is one business that uses psychology and especially human behaviour to its best advantage, it would probably have to be advertising and marketing.
From the times when the king’s men would roam about the streets and make loud proclamations in the name of his lordship to the modern-day video blogs telling what to do and who’s the name, influence plays a great role in selling, with influential people basking in the gloried limelight.
Who can forget Aamir Khan holding the bottle of Coke or Madhuri Dixit as the Lux soap lady? For the novice, it must seem like a very expensive proposition to have Amitabh Bachchan promote the Just Dial app, yet the keen marketer would consider otherwise. When the Big B himself asks you to download the app, you don’t question it- you just do it.
Let’s delve into the Math behind the supposed power of influence. To set up and operate a running business is a humungous challenge. Any product that you see on the TV or YouTube has been developed and mass-produced at a great cost, with money from banks and investors that comes with riders and interest. A lot depends on the growth and reputation of a product in a business. The most important factor being how FAST can you grow, as time determines traction of profit as well as recall value.
Gone are the times when you had pioneers (with you at gunpoint) and monopoly was the way of the world. Today giants disappear in a matter of months and the markets have witnessed many such demises.
The choice is clear- spend millions over a horizon of 2 to 3 years or hire an influencer and grow 10x in 3 months. Now, not every brand or business can afford the A list influencers. For businesses with budget constraints, hiring altruistic industry experts or niche talent is a great option. Every industry has a few names to reckon with who are as popular or more in their particular segment than a Hollywood star. For example, not everybody may know who Marshall Goldsmith is, but any management trainer worth his salt would know him.
With the widespread use of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and more, talented people have garnered celebrity status. They are superstars in their own right and are widely followed. Marketing agencies also hire a lot of bloggers who write online and have a respectable following. As we move towards an increasingly technology-driven world, we shall see more of YouTube launches and Instagram branding.
People do not buy products or services; they buy the guarantee served by their idols. So, the next time you hear your favourite radio jokey recommend that fancy Italian restaurant and without trying to sell it, know that he is most likely being paid for it. When our current realities define us as the brands and products we use, it pays to be a celebrity. Happy shopping.