Finding Your Crazies: Asking a Simple Question Can Supercharge Your Influencer Marketing

August 18, 2017

By Robert Davis



Influencer marketing has understandable appeal, but too often companies end up paying a premium to "rent" the voices of people their audience might pay attention to. If you're really committed to changing the way people engage with your brand and purchase your products, our experience shows that this one question can help you find the most valuable influencers — and even convince them to work for you for free:

Who shares your beliefs so strongly they will personally invest in helping you succeed, almost as if they were part of your company?

We call these influencers your Crazies, and they are exponentially more valuable than paid influencers. Crazies are people with whom you share a powerful common cause. You'll find all kinds of people with this kind of shared passion and the built-in potential to scale far beyond your employee base or your best customers.

So where can you find them?

At PJA, we've long recognized the value of Crazies, and we've developed approaches to help our clients engage them. To help get you started, here are three personas you can use to help identify your super influencers:

Persona #1: Crazy about a Bigger Mission
Often brands are a little schizophrenic about their mission. They align it with hiring and social responsibility commitments, while simultaneously relegating it to the "About Us" status on the website. Holistically integrating your mission into your business can open up new possibilities to engage people who share your ideals.

For example, Waze's traffic maps get better when citizen mapmakers voluntarily enter information into their database. In more than 100 cities around the world, Waze runs the Connected Citizens Program to help cities use their data to improve traffic or find and fix potholes as it does in Boston. Social and business missions are closely linked and continue to inspire more volunteers to gather and share data and evangelize for the brand.

Action step: If your mission is aspirational but also connects to your core business value, ask yourself who else might want to connect to that mission? (If your mission and business value don't rhyme, shoot me a note — you gotta fix that.)

Persona #2: Crazy about Their Careers
Rather than paying new people to advocate on your behalf, why not consider the people with whom you already share business interests and who want to grow their own careers as well? Finding new ways to build on a common cause can charge up your channel partner relationships.

To succeed, American Express needs all kinds of businesses to accept their card. While large businesses don't really have that much of a choice, independent local businesses do. When American Express created Small Business Saturday, they put a significant marketing investment to work to advance a mission that directly benefited these small businesses. This investment unleashed tremendous brand loyalty from American Express small business partners.

Action step: Ask your team and your partners for ideas about how your brand might help drive greater success for your partners. Don't stop until you have at least ten ideas to discuss and prioritize.

Persona #3: Crazy about Category Potential
It's great to have people who are crazy about your brand, but there's also just as much value in finding the people who are wildly enthusiastic about the potential of your business category. We call them the cheerleaders, but you could just as easily define them as forward-looking risk takers. The majority of buyers validate a potential purchase by looking for proven solutions — but what if you paid more attention to the 20 percent or so of your market who might consider using something new based on the potential of innovations like yours?

It's an approach that has a lot in common with Tesla's pre-order strategy for their first commercially available electric car. Your deposit was as much an investment in, and personal statement of support for, the potential for really cool electric cars as it was a down payment for your own Model S.

Action step: Ask peers to introduce you to people excited about the kind of future you see for your category. Get three or four of them together to talk about what they could do to help make that vision come true, without talking about your brand at all. Then map your brand against their ideas. Some of the overlaps will point to opportunities to engage category cheerleaders.

Get Crazy for Change
In each of the examples I've shared, brands and Crazies find common cause in growing something bigger than the bottom line, and for a good reason. When brands align their marketing with the kind of mission-driven change that really matters, it gets a lot easier to inspire and engage influencers with passion to spare.


Robert Davis ( is an EVP and Director of Strategy at PJA Advertising + Marketing. To learn more about the Crazies and some of the companies mentioned in this post, check out The Crazies: How GE, Waze, and Big Ass Fans Enlist an Army Of Advocates, Episode 2 of Season 6 of The Unconventionals.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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