The Power Of Other People

In this excerpt from the new book Launch, author Michael A. Stelzner examines how businesses thrive on the ability of others to spread their message, and how businesses can focus on that power.


In the context of marketing, the power brokers used to be the people who controlled the traditional media. Now the people with enormous influence are everyday people, like you and me.


This power shift is due to the mass adoption of social media.

“Social media has altered the scale and velocity of word of mouth,” explained David Jones, Global CEO of the 12,000-employee ad agency Havas and of Euro RSCG Worldwide. “For example, we did the Roller Babies ad for Evian. This was the most downloaded piece of commercial content in history, with 125 million YouTube downloads. Time named it the TV ad of the year in 2009, yet it had never been on TV.”

Social media has fundamentally altered the way people share. “Now we’ve got this big tool to take word of mouth that might have been one-to-one or one-to-two, and suddenly it’s one-to-1,000 or one-to-50,000,” explained Andy Sernovitz, author, Word of Mouth Marketing (Kaplan Business, 2006).

This meteoric shift is equivalent to the invention of the automobile. With the invention of cars, people were able to expand their known world. With the massive growth of social media, anyone anywhere can group together and have a massive impact.

With the click of a button, people can share your great content with all of their friends and fans. For your business this represents an incredible opportunity to be quickly discovered–without reliance on traditional costly marketing methods.


When you build a strong base of readers, they become a powerful force that can propel your rocket ship. People consume the fuel (your great content) taking your rocket ship sky-high very quickly. Your goal is to resonate with the right people.

Who Do You Want to Reach?

McDonald’s Ray Kroc knew he wanted to reach on-the-go families living in suburban neighborhoods. Whom do you want to reach?

You’ll need to attract a base of people on whom you can build your business. They’re the people you’ll create content for. They’re the force that moves your rocket ship forward.

The people in your base usually comprise readers of your blog, subscribers to your content, fans of your social media sites, and your customers.

Your goal should be to come up with a specific and detailed profile of the people you want to reach, making it easier to create great content for them and to find relevant experts.


When determining the profile of these people, you’ll want to be targeted and precise. The broader your audience, the harder it will be for you to connect with them.

David Meerman Scott, in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly (Wiley, 2007), introduced the concept of buyer personas. He explains that if you can classify buyers (or readers) into a distinct group, and document what you know about them, you can easily create targeted content for that group. Scott adds that the interests, problems, and desires of various persona groups should be carefully examined and written down.

He says, “By truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, egocentric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about, into valuable information people are eager to consume.” And when people eagerly consume your fuel, your business will quickly grow.

In context of the elevation principle, buyer personas might be better classified as people personas. The end game is to attract many people, only a portion of whom will become future customers. By broadening the term from buyer to people, you’ll have room to attract future evangelists who may never purchase from you, but who will happily spread the word about your great content, driving more people to your business.

Persona Examples

Internet software company HubSpot has two primary personas: Owner Ollie and Marketer Mary.


Owner Ollie is a small business owner with fewer than 25 employees. Ollie is busy managing human resources, marketing, sales, operations, and finance for his company, and has little time left for executing new ideas. He lacks on-staff marketing resources and does most of his company’s marketing himself. He’s curious about inbound marketing, but hasn’t made any significant investments. His top priority is generating new leads for his business.

Marketer Mary works as a marketer for a small business, with 26 to 100 employees. A marketing team supports Mary and the programs she oversees. She is familiar with newer inbound marketing techniques and is actively seeking help with running, evaluating, and justifying her marketing investments to upper management. Mary wants sophisticated measurement tools, and has money to spend on her marketing programs.

As you can see from these two examples, HubSpot has two very clear groups it targets with its content.

“Our content strategy for us really boils down to who the persona is that we’re trying to reach. We’re trying to reach small business owners and marketing professionals at small- and medium-size businesses. We think about: What is the content that’s interesting to them and what’s going to be useful and valuable to them? Then that’s the content we try to produce,” explained Mike Volpe, HubSpot’s vice president of marketing.

Notice that Volpe didn’t say, “And then we try to sell to them.” Rather, he said HubSpot creates content that is useful and valuable to the company’s base.


Who do you want to reach? Is there some group of people that you’d love to get in front of? Building a profile (or persona) for your ideal people base is an essential first step toward reaching them.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition by Michael A. Stelzner. Copyright (c) 2011 by Michael A. Stelzner.