It's been years since I have been a conference attendee. Normally, I am at a conference to speak or support the organization. At a conference, you meet and interact with so many interesting people, from so many places, with so many agendas, and so many different levels of experience, knowledge, and stature.
The latest conference I attended was the 2023 Leadership Summit for chapter leaders of the AMA (American Marketing Association). I was tapped to be the VP of communications for the Raleigh AMA Triangle chapter. Many of the attendees were new to leadership and/or new to the AMA (like me).
The AMA is an international association with 70+ chapters and offers newbies (like me) a guide called a Board in a Box. It's a compilation of documents that help with the structure of the chapter, roles of leaders, expectations for chapter organizations, goals, and other best practices.
What I learned at this conference is that not all chapters are the same. They are cohesive to the AMA brand, yet with diversity and individuality. Although there are handrails to stop chapters from going rogue, there is a culture that allows each of them to create their own inspiration and influence.
The main purpose of each AMA chapter is to grow and maintain membership in their communities. There are also members at large that don't even affiliate with a chapter.
That means that each chapter has to create community, value, and relevance. As I listened to people from chapters from New Your to California, from Texas to Minnesota (and yes, Canada, Hawaii, and Alaska) I learned that all struggle with creating messages that resonate with a wide variety of potential members. Each tries to serve their specific regional cultures with people who range from college students to freelancers, and agencies to C-Suite professionals.
With no paid staff (all volunteers), and a limited budget, you are supposed to try to inspire people to join and influence them enough to maintain their memberships. Smaller chapters have less to work with all around. Yet, you still have to inspire newbies to senior management to network, attend events, and more.
How can you communicate all the features and benefits of membership to multiple groups, with multiple needs and wants, and not bore everyone in the process?
How do you differentiate between enticing new members, while engaging current members with very limited time, budgets, and (more importantly) attention spans?
What I find interesting is the infatuation with Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the marketing community, but there is near silence on Human Influence or Inspiration (HI). Albeit, AI is amazing, it still takes a human to ask the questions and interpret the answers.
Emotional Intelligence is how we as leaders can facilitate business relationships. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions while recognizing and responding to others. It's a set of skills that enables you to navigate social situations in order to form positive relationships with others.
If you want to inspire and attract newbies, do a webinar or presentation on AI, and you will get the largest possible audience. But if you want to attract influencers, you have to be prepared to talk with a small, and very focused audience.
If you think about engaging those different audiences, influencers need to be inspired. And, it takes influencers to inspire newbies.
Let me explain my thinking…
Influence is defined as the ability to have an effect on the beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, or decisions of others. It can come from a variety of sources, such as one's position of authority, expertise in a particular field, charisma, or social status.
Influencers could be people trying to build a tribe out of thin air (known as the internet), or they could be a leader in charge of a team or division. The goal of influence is to align a group of people to adhere to and/or promote goals and standards.
Influencers online are trying to communicate to the largest possible audience. Team influencers get the best results by using Emotional Intelligence to empathize and relate to individuals.
Inspiration is a feeling or emotion that is triggered by something that sparks creativity, motivation, or enthusiasm. It can come from various sources, such as nature, art, music, literature, people, experiences, or ideas.
Inspirational people often try to get people to think and act for themselves or their tribes. The goal of inspiration is to ignite a spark to get people to take action.
Inspiration online may reach a large audience, but only a select few will be at a place where they need what you are emoting, and are ready to take action.
If you want to communicate to the largest audience, you have to segment your communications to tailor to the goals and needs of different audiences. The further you tend to niche down, the smaller the group gets.
That does not mean the message has to change, even if you are trying to influence or inspire everyone. It just means you have to tweak how you deliver it.
Take AI for example. If you want to communicate to the C-Suite, you may lead with “How AI will affect your workforce.” If you want to inspire newbies, you may lead with “How AI will improve your ability to be part of the workforce.”
Once you get everyone onboard, then you can influence a group by identifying them first and then saying, “For you, AI means… this!” If you get everyone to read an article, or attend a presentation, you can use Emotional Intelligence to help each group empathize, engage, and hopefully interact with others.
Then continue to engage by building peer groups where they can discuss best practices or challenges.
I think that if you are trying to inspire influencers, you can get the best results by getting them together in a small group and using that to facilitate their inspiring each other.
Then you can cultivate influencers to share what they have learned with a larger group of those who need to be inspired.
You can't be everything to everyone, and those who try will have a hard time getting their messages out. But, you can communicate in a way that embraces a diversity of perspectives while finding commonalities that create bonds and amplification.
So, if you can co-influence, and co-inspire, you may find that groups will start to self-segment for you. Use that segmentation to target your messages to increase engagement, and ultimately, get the results you (your organization or sales team) were working towards.
“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”
– Robert Frost
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about how you create and distribute messages! Are you finding AI disruptive or engaging? How do you decide what topics your audience will engage with? How much attention do you pay to headlines and attraction images? Do you have a consistent content distribution system, or is it willy-nilly?
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.