Malcolm Gladwell has emphasized the importance of connectors, mavens and salesmen very clearly in The Tipping Point. Mavens, the people who are experts on a subject matter, play a critical role in success or failure of a product. They are different from paid consultants, because they pass on their advice not for money or business, but for the love of it. They are the product enthusiasts, the people who are willing to shell out a premium to be the first ones to use a product. This zeal of these seemingly weird people adds a greater credibility to whatever they have to say.
Mavens are the people who kick start the word of mouth epidemic. They are the ones on whom their friends or neighbors or coworkers rely to get expert advice. But in this connected World, mavens have become a more powerful force than ever before. They have got new weapons in the form of blogs and newsgroups to spread the word and extend their reach. They have the channels to start and spread the epidemic faster. So quite obviously, the companies need to find and embrace the mavens, more than ever before.
The accent of information age has made one thing easier for the companies, that is, finding the mavens. The companies can set their maven traps on the web and locate the mavens. Mavens on the web are the early adopters, the beta participants, the feedback providers and the newsgroup contributors. Though locating mavens on the web in no way, shape or form should substitute the much more outreaching maven traps, but it makes it easier for the companies to communicate to the mavens, listen to them and give credibility to them.
Now let’s talk about embracing the mavens. If there is only one thing a marketing organization can do right for launching a product, it should be this. The most important task for any marketing organization is to connect to the customers. And who are better people to connect to than the mavens? Every company should welcome the feedback given by these product enthusiasts, and more important than that, make sure they know that their feedback is being noted and taken seriously. How you can embrace the mavens in the Internet age? Share the spotlight with them. Thank them publicly in newsgroups or blogs for their advice. When they reply to someone else’s query, back them up as if they are part of your company.
Mavens can sometimes be a big pain to deal with. But remember, it’s not the 0.1 percent of your customer base that makes a lot of noise, it’s the 0.1 percent of your customer base that can make or break the remaining 99.9 percent of your market. There are lots of examples where the mavens have shifted the dynamics of the market. They have the unique capacity of making or breaking a brand. If a company handles the mavens in their industry with care, they can add a virtual sales force to their marketing team which is unmatched to anything else in the World!