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How Influence Types Affect Your Business
By Rick Ott

© 2012 Nightingale-Conant Corporation

A friend of mine opened a vinyl music store last year. The other day I asked him how it was going. He said, "As long as vinyl music stays in the Type One and Type Two ranges, I’ll be fine. But if it spreads into the Type Three range, I’m dead.

What is he talking about with references to "Type One," "Type Two," and "Type Three ranges"? He’s referring to Influence Types and how they affect his business. This is something you need to understand too, because Influence Types are affecting your business — and you personally — each and every day.

Here’s a simple explanation.

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Type One Consumers

Type One people are very receptive to style, art, and fashion newness. (We’ll treat style, art, and fashion as a single entity for purposes of this discussion). In fact, quite often it’s the Type Ones who create new style, art, and fashion. Type Ones view themselves as on the cutting edge; the trendsetters. Type Ones make up about 10 percent of the population.

Type Two Consumers

Type Twos are receptive to style, art, and fashion newness too, but not as easily or as readily as Type Ones. Type Twos have to put forth effort to maintain an awareness of the developing trends, but they do so because the effort is enjoyable. Type Twos wait for the Type Ones to create and/or adopt new style, art, and fashion behavior before they adopt. Type Twos account for about 20 percent of the population.

Type Three Consumers

Unlike Types One and Two, who actively seek and display style, art, and fashion newness, Type Threes exert minimal effort. Type Threes do not believe it is up to them to reach out and embrace style, art, and fashion newness. Instead, they wait for style, art, and fashion newness to work its way through the Type One and Type Two segments of the population before they adopt. (By this time, it’s a lower level of newness.) Type Threes are a whopping 40 percent of the population.

Type Four Consumers

Type Fours are very averse to style, art, and fashion newness. They don’t want it, don’t need it. Most of the time they’re oblivious to style, art, and fashion newness. Also, Type Fours are very slow to relinquish old style, art, and fashion preferences. But eventually, after something has worked its way through the Type Ones, Twos, and Threes, the Type Fours will adopt. (By this time, it’s not new at all.) Type Fours account for about 30 percent of the population.

Based on this information only, you probably know what that vinyl music storeowner was talking about. The resurgence of vinyl records (and turntables) in recent years is definitely a Type One and Type Two thing. If its appeal stays in these two ranges, the owner can serve this segment of the population and do good business. But if vinyl music adoption expands into the Type Three range not to mention the Type Four range — meaning it has gone "mainstream" — then all kinds of other mass-appeal retailers would get into it, and the little vinyl store would find it hard to compete.

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Influence Types Affect Everything


Every single product, service, or business exudes some level of style, art, and fashion newness — high, low, or in between. Some products or services may seem to exude no style, art, and fashion at all, such as life insurance, dry cleaning, fast food, accounting services, power tools, etc., but the marketing of such items certainly does.

Here are two companies in the technology industry: Apple and Microsoft. Based on the level of style, art, and fashion newness each exudes, which of the two leans toward the Type One and Two ranges, and which leans toward the Type Three and Four ranges? Of course, Apple, with its artsy designs, and Microsoft with its stodgy designs, makes this one easy to determine. And here’s another interesting angle to all of this. Remember we said Type Threes and Type Fours will adopt something only when it has been around for a while, after the Type Ones and Twos have long since adopted? For many years, Apple products were purchased primarily by Type Ones and eventually by Type Twos. Since Type Ones and Twos combined are only 30 percent of the population, Apple’s appeal was limited. Other computer companies like Dell and HP (along with the Microsoft operating system), with Type Three and Four appeal, dominated. It took several years for the adoption of Apple products to make its way into the Type Three and Four ranges. That’s when Apple became mass-appeal and sales exploded.

Two more companies in the same industry: FedEx and UPS. Again, which leans in the Oneish-Twoish direction and which leans in the Threeish-Fourish direction? Notice we are not considering the quality of their respective delivery services because that has nothing to do with style, art, and fashion. Rather, it’s their color schemes — which have a lot to do with style, art, and fashion — that give them away. FedEx’s vibrant purple and orange colors lean it in the One-Two direction, while UPS’s dominating brown makes it Type Four appeal.

Finally, two more: Target and Walmart. Neither appeals to Type Ones. Target is Type Two and Three appeal; Walmart is Type Three and Four appeal.

People Exude It Too

How do you know if a person is a Type One, Two, Three, or Four? Through simple observation. Most notably, by observing their appearance. (I must interject here with this admonition: While we might look at someone’s appearance to ascertain his or her Influence Type, we are not judging people. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad. It’s no better to be a Type One than a Type Three, or no better to be a Type Four than a Type Two, etc. You need to keep any biases you might have out of this to make it work for you in the marketplace.)

As an example, let’s look at the television show Seinfeld. (Even though it’s been long out of production, the reruns have never stopped airing on various cable channels, so I’ll assume you’re familiar with it.) There are four main characters in the show, and it so happens they are each a different Influence Type. Based on their appearance only — which would include clothing, glasses, hairstyle, and shoes — go ahead and match Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, and George with their respective Influence Type. (Answer: Kramer: Type One; Elaine: Type Two; Jerry: Type Three; George: Type Four.)

I said earlier that, as marketers, we need to keep any biases we might have out of this to be able to make good use of it. But the people out there in the real-world marketplace do have biases toward one another. Type Ones see Type Fours as square, unhip, clueless. Type Fours see Type Ones as the weird wackos of the world. And whatever Type we are, we think we’re normal! (It’s all a matter of perspective).

Time to Implement

So far, I’ve covered the basics of Influence Types and how they work. Strictly on what you’ve read here and now, you’re ready to create demand for your own product, service, or business. Simply follow these two steps to implement:

Step One: Decide which Influence Type you want to appeal to. Avoid the temptation to choose more than one. The wider your target, the trickier it becomes. In my Creating Demand program, I go into much greater detail, including how to widen your appeal by attracting more than one Influence Type. But for now, keep it simple and choose only one Influence Type as your target.

Step Two: Design your marketing to match your targeted Influence Type. You may need to raise or lower the level of style, art, and fashion of your marketing elements to match the Influence Type you’ve chosen to appeal to. You may also need to adjust the style, art, and fashion of your actual product and/or packaging design too.

Bottom-Line Results

When the level of style, art, and fashion newness you’re exuding matches a particular Influence Type, consumers of that Type are immediately and strongly attracted. It works like magic... and you’re definitely creating demand!

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