Wednesday, April 9, 2008

1-800-Maven Trap

A quick update: 
Whatever all of you are doing out there - it is working!  As of this moment (7:00 a.m.), we have 360  people who have visited the web site yesterday.  That puts our grand total at 2,623.  We have one week left until April 16 - and 2,377 more times that must be viewed. A look at Googleanalytics (thanks to my good friend, Katie) would suggest that readership on the weekend is less than it is during the week. Therefore... one last big push during the later part of this week will be key to hitting our magic number.
Also, we had a few new people post comments yesterday.  Thanks for engaging... Treye, Allison, and Patrick.  We look forward to hearing more from all three of you.

Get ready to "Workshop"
Monday we warmed up with Six Degrees of Separation (which is still actively being pursued by some very tenacious readers) and yesterday (4/8) we explored the importance of CONNECTORS (people who know a lot of people) when trying to make an idea "tip."  Today, we are going to look at another type of person who plays an essential role in spreading ideas.... MAVENS.  Perhaps I can best illustrate a maven by giving you some examples.
  • A number of years ago I received an email from my friend in California informing me that Gap t-shirts were on sale for a quarter of their normal price.  At the time I lived in Georgia.  
  • This same person sent me another email a few years later telling me that a certain brand of coffee was on sale in supermarkets.  At that point I was living in Kentucky.
  • Yesterday I received an email from a different friend in California telling me of a job opening at a University in Dallas.
These people are mavens.  They LOVE information.  In fact, the only thing they love more than information is the idea of sharing information with others.  They want you to know when there is a great sale on anything from t-shirts to coffee to gas to airplane tickets; when an important date is approaching (last day to register to vote in November election); or when a new model of an old gadget is hitting the market.
Why are these people important to helping your idea tip?  Because mavens love information, they are often on the front end of an idea or trend.  They scan their environment for what's worthy of sharing and then swiftly go about providing you the best possible form of advertising... WORD OF MOUTH. We might all have received the newspaper informing us that Gap t-shirts were on sale, but the details associated with the ad (dates, price, type of shirt) are registering mostly with our MAVENS.  If they are excited about the idea, they can not help themselves in spreading the word.  They might not know as many people as CONNECTORS, but they possess information and get truly enthused about passing it along.

Companies have learned the benefit of knowing who their loyal mavens are - people who use their product and love telling others about it.  They build what Gladwell refers to as Maven Traps.  These are tools employed to get one step closer to the mavens utilizing their product. I'm looking at a bottle of shampoo right now - Suave Shampoo for Men.  On the back of the label there is a small note reading, "The Suave Promise: Full satisfaction guaranteed or we will replace or refund your purchase.  For details call us at 1-800-782-8301.  Now really... this is a $1.89 bottle of shampoo.  All it has to do is lather when my husband applies it to his hair and leave his hair looking relatively clean.  What real reason would he ever have to actually call the 1-800 number?  Even better, who would actually take time from their day to call the number and lodge a complaint?  A MAVEN, that's who.  They are Maven Traps because only a maven would think to call and when they do, you better believe Suave is making note.  They know chances are they have a MAVEN on their hands and that, whatever the outcome, he or she can't wait to tell someone about it!  

My friend Dawn is the consummate MAVEN.  She loves information, but more importantly... she LOVES sharing the information she has.  For years she and I, along with my sister, a number of my friends, her family, and her friends all stayed in touch through our travel agent (this, of course,  has since been replaced by Expedia and others).  Dawn happenstanced on a great travel agent, Jennifer Ferguson, who worked very hard and always found you the cheapest deal possible.  Once Dawn found her, she could not resist telling everyone she knew about her great discovery.  Before you know it... Dawn and a huge network of people she knew were all using Jennifer.  So, if I wanted to know what Dawn was up to and she was too busy to return my calls, I could always call Jennifer to get an update.  It might also be worth noting that the travel agent lived in California, Dawn was in Arizona, my sister was in New York, I was in North Carolina, and our circle of friends were comparably spread around the U.S. .  An additionally funny note... none of us ever met Jennifer, but we all had our own bet going on what she looked like (my image... tall, long blond hair, slender.  Dawn's guess... average height, brown hair, and slightly over weight). 

Concept applied... Albeit limited, there is information associated with my site. You have to know and remember the address; the focus of the website - to share a creative idea a day - except for Sundays; maybe even some special features such as Whack on the Side of Head Wednesday and Free for All Fridays; how long it's been around; etc...  See some people would know about, and even use, the website but wouldn't get a charge out of sharing the information with other people.  Others might think to share the information, but then the details might be forgotten (address, etc...).  Mavens are the perfect combination of both - information and the desire to share.

So, who what mavens do you know and how might you employ them to promote your idea? D.O. which of the parents at your school who are MAVENS?  If so, what is there experience and how are you helping to mobilize them to share the benefits with their friends and neighbors of sending a student there?  H.S.  What mavens do you have on campus?  How can you intentionally feed them with information about your campus-wide event, knowing that they won't resist passing it along?  N.A.... Do you know who your mavens are?  People currently using your product and raving about it to others?  If you know who they are, it might be worth making sure they are first to know about a new design or product offering.  Once they know, they won't be able to resist sharing it with their friends, neighbors, and colleagues. 

You want to test your MAVEN-like abilities?  See the envelope-looking icon at the bottom of today's post?  Click on that and then share with someone(s) you know, by forwarding today's (or any other day's) in an email.

Signing off until tomorrow when we take time out to Whack Ourselves on the Side of the Head... 

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