Market influence is earned, not appointed. Yet, I’ve got to believe that Aneesh Chopra, recently appointed as the first CTO of the United States, is going to become a force of influence very quickly. And I’m looking forward to hearing him speak next week at the Churchill Club.

Most of the government tech influencers are people advising on government tech spending, government tech purchasing processes and tech-related regulatory and legal matters.

Mr. Chopra presents a new possibility in the role of government as a force exerting influence on the tech industry and as a target for influencer relations.

Check out details and costs here. Let me know if you’ll be there too. Would love to connect.

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Barbara on July 29th, 2009

rohit_webthumbThe Silicon Valley chapter of the AMA is teaming up with HP Analyst Relations for an evening focused on what’s working and what’s not working in marketing today. Rohit Bhargava will keynote, then moderate a panel of HP and Intel marketers.

Rohit publishes the Influential Marketing Blog, ranked among the top 50 marketing blogs in the world, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and other global media. He is a frequent keynote speaker on marketing and business and is commonly recognized as the creator of the new marketing concept Social Media Optimization (SMO).

Cost is $30 and up. Networking, food and cocktails start at 5:30pm. More info at See you there!

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makeitrightJon Peddie and Kathleen Maher are two of the reasons that analysts make such an impact in the graphics industry and beyond. Like many of the top players, they’re not content with producing market intelligence and opining. They’re part of their market. Case in point: in addition to analyzing what’s hot and not at the upcoming Siggraph, they’re working with the Siggraph Graphics Pioneers to sponsor a Make-It-Right house for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. And you can help.

Make It Right, a collaboration between actor Brad Pitt, Graft Architects, Cherokee Gives Back and William McDonough + Partners was founded in 2007 to help rebuild the New Orleans Lower 9th Ward. The area was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Make It Right Foundation is committed to building 150 energy efficient, solar powered, storm resistant homes in the 9th Ward and the Siggraph Graphics Pioneers wants to help.

Jon Peddie Research is an active supporter of the Siggraph Pioneers and the Siggraph Pioneers Make It Right housing project. The firm will donate $200 from every report it sells from the 1st to the 31st of August to the project. They are also promoting a link so that you can donate directly to the Siggraph Graphics Pioneers House. Go to Make It Right - Team Sponsored Homes and scroll down to “The House That Siggraph Pioneers Built”. Or go right into the donation process.

They’ll continue fund raising after the conference, and will recognize significant donors on their site.

Drop me a line if you’re in the high tech influencer / influencer relations space and are out there doing good deeds — or know of someone who is. Happy to help get word out around my corner of the community.

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Barbara on July 22nd, 2009

Bernie Reilly, head of Influencer50 in Australia, has built several high-performance sales channels in Asia Pacific. Here, he shares a candid account of his reaction to influencer marketing. This is a reprint of his article in ‘The Influencer’: Q3′09′. Register here for alerts on future issues.

I am new to the world of Influencer Marketing having joined Influencer50 just three months ago. The reasons why I came to Influencer50 may well parallel why I think you should be beginning a conversation with us.

As a former Managing Director of three NASDAQ-listed network security companies for Asia-Pacific, I have spent the last 20 years trying to develop collaborative efforts between my salesforce and my marketing teams, with few solid metrics to gauge my success or failure.

Many believe that the purpose of marketing is to be on the mind of the prospect, when they are ready to buy. So if knowing your target customers is a golden rule of marketing, then we all need to update our understanding of the various categories of Influencers in the B2B and B2C marketplaces.

The most observable forms of influence in the tech & telecoms sector have traditionally come from commercial forces like AR and PR. Yet in the past 10-15 years we have seen the influence of analysts and journalists drop from their highs of 80-90% down to most likely 40-50%.

How has your marketing team coped with uncovering the behind the scenes influencers? Your salesforce may be able to get to the decision-makers, but they can’t get to their influencers. As these individuals are not customers, you most likely do not have them on any prospect or client list. They come from previously undocumented sources, so they’re unlikely to be on a database of yours either.

That is why Influencer50 was established - to leverage the 50-60% of the influencers you are not presently engaging. Sales forces tell us that they love us for what we do - they believe we really aid their sales efforts.

So when I was introduced to Influencer50 by a respected peer late last year, I found myself wondering if this could be a path to leads. High quality leads. You all recognize the real hot leads - they come from a senior executive in a company, or a member of your Board of Directors. When you are handed them, they come with a note saying something like “Please have your BDM call this CFO, he has a need, he has my business card and is expecting your call.” These types of leads have a very high ratio of lead-to-sales conversion. These leads get you in early enough to influence the writing of a tender or a requirements doc. These leads all come from word of mouth. Now think about the quality of leads you would want to generate over time, if you could know and then engage with those influencers who have the ear of the check signer at your prospect. That is what brought me to Influencer50!

Now that I am here in Sydney heading up Influencer50’s Asia-Pacific Office, I would love to hear your thoughts on merging the gap between sales and marketing and what you think works for you on high-quality lead generation.

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Barbara on July 21st, 2009

Megan over at Bite Communications has written a thoughtful post on influencer marketing. She points out the innate common sense of addressing the rich variety of influencers part of so many purchase decisions. And, she ends the post with a very good question:

“Where do we draw the line between direct influence and a trickle-down effect of traditional comms?”

That’s an important point for everyone in consumer marketing. With the rise of social media and social networks, it’s also becoming an important question for B2B marketers working in press and analyst relations, advertising, events and partnering. We’ll see how both types of marketers answer that question as they reveal their 2010 budgeting priorities.

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Barbara on July 16th, 2009

This is a reprint of my article in ‘The Influencer’: Q3′09. Register now for alerts on future issues.

Nick and I were fortunate enough to spend quality time with a number of new clients and prospects in Silicon Valley during the first half of the year. One of the influencer topics that cropped up again and again during our conversations was the ‘hidden influencers’. There’s a particular interest right now in understanding how to spot hidden influencers and what to do about them.

Hidden influencers can represent up to half of a tech company’s top influencers in a typical B2B market. We’ve identified more than 24 categories of these influencers. They’re considered ‘hidden’ because they don’t have business titles reflecting their roles as decision-maker influencers. Most lie beyond the reach of product marketing, public relations and analyst relations programs. At best, they are scattered across various silos: direct sales, channel, alliance, developer, corporate and product marketing. Many simply fall through the outreach net.

When it comes to hidden influencers, awareness is the first step in a revolution. Once you become aware that your programs are ignoring up to half of the people influencing purchases of your products and services, you’re ready to take some sort of corrective action. Here are three essential steps you can take right away.

1. Conduct research to identify the top influencers operating outside the company envelope. Identify a realistic market segment and then talk to typical decision-makers, known influencers, successful salespeople and trusted partners within that segment. Who do they respect as experts? Who do they run into during the normal course of business? What specialist knowledge do they value? Where do they turn for information?

This research begins to shed light on influencers you don’t know. Just as importantly, it indicates what you need to know about them and their motivations.

2. Use your research to model a typical decision-maker ecosystem. Every single decision-maker puts together a unique ecosystem of advisors for an important purchase. However, you’re likely to find that certain categories of influencers are common to many individual ecosystems.

This exercise gives you insight into the types of influencers you should be addressing, even if you are still unclear at this point as to the specific names and faces. Don’t be surprised to find 10 or more categories of influencers joining the more familiar categories, such as journalists and analysts.

3. Map your influencer categories across the decision lifecycle. Different types of influencers play different roles during a decision process. Some are active early in the decision process, such as those who help decide whether a purchase is even appropriate. Others are active late in the game, such as those who advise on pricing and terms.

This third step helps you visualize the way that influencers interact with decision-makers and with each other. You may find that some influencers engage at multiple stages of a decision process.

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Barbara on July 15th, 2009

donbulmer_sapDon Bulmer, the SNCR-award winning head of influencer relations at SAP, is forming an informal think tank project on social influence, and in particular, best practices for social influence. He’s issued an open invitation to participate and contribute content.

He’s outlined an ambitious agenda. In his words,

“As I think about this I am inspired to look more deeply at how social media has affected the dynamics and rules of ’social influence’ across a number of areas of society (business, politics, philanthropy/giving, personal productivity/advancement, etc.). To understand how the phenomena has affected the behaviors and motivations of people for greater benefit and activism.”

I’m in. Looks like a good opportunity to ponder influencer dynamics beyond the business setting and to do it in the company of great minds. Get the scoop at his blog. Or if you work inhouse on the corporate side, consider collaborating in concert with the Influencer Marketing & Influencer Relations Group at LinkedIn.

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Barbara on July 14th, 2009

Those of us who watch the watchers tend to use phrases like “the analysts”, “the media”, “the integrators”, “the bloggers”, “the academics”, and so on.  In most cases, we use these phrases simply as short hand.  We know that there are few common denominators uniting the people in these positions.  However, that’s not the message we send to our colleagues and clients when we use these terms.

And perhaps no one is more sensitive to this misrepresentation than the people we’re talking about.

A Twitter exchange this morning with @dale_vile and @NaomiHi reminded me of the importance of being — at times, at least — a bit more articulate, a bit less concise.

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