So much of what we do, we do because of status and the Tools the Pros Use. We act in accordance with where we feel we stand in the pecking order. And we’re a lock on falling into place.
A lot of status is perceived authority. Within this group of people, who appears to be the leader? Who exudes authority? Who has the most experience? Who looks the part? Remember that authority isn’t always simply based upon education or training. It can be about results. Who’s results top the group?
We seek status in our daily decision making. Status drives brands. People generally buy because of how a product makes them feel or how it solves a problem. Apple has always been a high end brand designing computers and electronics. Apple initially created a strong cult following and then, with iPhone and iPad, became a premium consumer electronics brand. They don’t make cheap stuff. They never will make cheap stuff. Apple is about high status. Apple Stores are about high status in high end retail locations. They seek people to align with their story, and tons of us do. For most of us, it feels good to align with Apple and their products. It feels good to use their products.
Since it has become the 3rd Place, we barely even think about Starbucks registering on the status scale but it does. Highly. A standard cup of coffee was around 75 cents to $1. Starbucks comes along a few decades ago, tells a great story with well appointed stores and a keen focus on positive customer experiences, and sells us a cup of coffee for $2, some upward of $5. Gotta be some profit in that. Starbucks sells us a higher status experience. The whole enterprise makes us feel good, even when we go through the drive-thru. In fact, we’re willing to wait in line for 20 minutes to envelop ourselves in these positive experiences. Who would characterize waiting in line as a positive experience? I’ve waited in Starbucks’ lines built upward of 50+ people. 50! And yet there we all were, anticipating our positive experience with the brand.
Some might argue that since Starbucks is ubiquitous, it no longer has the cache that it once did. I disagree. Apple is now ubiquitous and it still carries cache. Just because something is found everywhere doesn’t mean its status diminishes. Starbucks delivers us a high status, positive experience every time. Plus, most of us like hanging out at Starbucks more than school or the office. They not only offer a great product; they offer a great place to enjoy that product and to build community around that product. The Starbucks Status Experience consists of an excellent product, cool place to enjoy it, and a community of great people to enjoy it with.
We find status in the clothes we wear. Why pay $150 for jeans when you can buy them for $40? The denim’s the same. The cotton’s the same. The colors are roughly the same. The difference is the brand story told and what it stands for and for whom. Who do they make these high end jeans for? Who identifies with them? What’s the big reason? Status. Celebrities are notorious for wearing high end clothing. And these are the people the clothing manufactures want wearing their wears. It is delivered to them in a gift bag. For who better to sell high end ticket items than celebrities and their collective status?
Which brings us to influencer marketing. We all want to use the Tools the Pros Use. None of us is exempt from this fact. We want to perform like the pros. We want to act like the pros. We want the results of the pros. Therefore, we want the tools the pros use. In fact, we insist on it. This is why influencer marketing is so powerful. Incidentally, it isn’t new. It only seems new. Influencer marketing is simply celebrity promotion (those with large followings) surrounded by social proof. If the pros pitch something, there’s status behind it. There are perceived results behind it. There is belief behind it. That’s a powerful pitch! Most of us would have to pitch rather hard to generate results like these while a celebrity or someone with a large following can create the same results relatively easily. If Tim Ferriss says something is good and worth checking out, I’m far more likely to check it out because I believe Tim wouldn’t align his name and brand with crappy products. If Elon Musk says something is good and worth checking out, I’m clearly more likely to check it out with his vetting. If Tim Cook says something is good and worth checking out…
When we don’t know what to do, we look to others for cues.
It is pointless to condemn Influencer Marketing because it’s human nature. We are sentient, results-seeking beings, many of which have goals and dreams of a compelling future. We have every reason to believe certain products will enhance our day-to-day lives because they do. We just need help in determining which products will enhance them and how they’ll do it. People of influence act as our short-cut in decision making. They’re doing the tough work of vetting products on our behalf. They’re saving us time. They’re providing a service. When we don’t know what to do, we look to others for cues. This is the foundation of social proof. Further, we all make recommendations to others: to our friends, to our family, to random strangers. We may not know how truly influential we are until we think about it and see it in action. We have more power and guidance than we think.
Look at the daily recommendations you make: food choices; restaurants; work-outs; cars; vacations; workplaces; electronics; gadgets; clothes. Are you an expert in any of these categories? Maybe a few. But that doesn’t stop you from leaping outside of your expertise and making recommendations to others, does it? You’re exerting your influence and you may not even be aware of it. Again, we rarely stop to think about it. We are advice-giving creatures. Recommendations are second nature to us.
For parents out there, you’re a tremendous influence on your children. Aside from their peers, no one else wields this much power and influence over them to shape and mold them into great people. As parents, we guide and course-correct errant behavior. We’re shaping thoughts. We’re helping our kids through their feelings. We’re ensuring they’re on the right path at school and in extracurricular activities. Our kids would be lost without us, adrift, directionless, and would have great difficulty with school. They require constant supervision and direction and influence to ensure they’re on the right path. Even if we often don’t feel we’re influential on our kids, especially our teenagers, this is where we need to really think about where they’d be without us and our guiding hands. An irony of parenting is the less you think you’re making an impact on your kids, the more you actually are. Positive feedback in parenting is elusive while negative feedback in parenting is abundant. This makes it hard to feel that you’re making a difference. Parents can turn out to be heroes to their kids if they set out to be. It is all a matter of influential choice.
We should seek further influence in our professional lives, whatever that looks like to you. Wouldn’t your life be easier if you exerted more influence? As a boss? As a friend? As a parent? Couldn’t you get more done in less time through others with greater influence? Nearly all aspiring writers seek the New York Times’ bestseller status because of the influence it wields. It blows open the doors of opportunity. It means speaking engagements, consulting contracts, sponsorships and other deals with companies. Every writer wants these, and bestselling status greases the chute toward these desires. Interestingly, nothing else about you professionally has changed: same education; same experience; same abilities. You reached a new professional status level elusive to most who try. There is great perceived value and status in that, which results in the aforementioned deals.