Harnessing the Power of the Influencer to Drive Growth

How you can woo not only your client but the influencers behind them.

I recently purchased a condo. Although I consider myself an independent person, I have an entourage of what I consider to be “personal advisors.” Throughout this purchasing decision, I relied heavily on these personal advisors for guidance. Since I am a stereotypical parent-loving Millennial, Mom and Dad are co-presidents of this imaginary advisory board. As my realtor took me from place to place, she seemed unaware of this personal advisor phenomenon. When I would return from showings my parents would bombard me with questions about the mortgage, the inspection, the property tax, etc. Although my realtor spoke in broad terms with me about these topics, she left out specifics. My parents recommended that I switch realtors and look for someone who has more experience with first-time buyers. The realtor lost my business because she didn’t take into consideration that my parents are influencers in my decision-making.

This is not unique to Millennials. Each generation looks to parents, friends, and family for guidance in certain situations. It is critical to figure out who contributes to the decision-making process and how to appeal to the influencers.

Traditionalist Influencers (born before 1946):

Traditionalists may not bite when you propose new ideas but it is important that they are kept in the loop. If not, when their children ask them about their investments, they will be unimpressed by an advisor who hasn’t bothered keeping their parent’s up-to-date.

Traditionalists are being greatly influenced by their children and grandchildren. While your Traditionalist clients may not be searching for cutting edge solutions, they may be hearing about these from younger generations. As they think about passing the advisor relationship to their children, they are forced to analyze if you will still be a fit. Stay relevant and don’t put this generation out to the pastures. There are three younger generations beneath them who are influencing their decisions.

Baby Boomer Influencers (1946-1964):

The adoration Millennials have toward their parents is mutual. Baby Boomers have been looking to their Millennial children for advice since they figured out that connecting to Wifi was simply easier if you asked your child for directions. When discussing topics that affect their children, give them options on how to communicate this information with their children. Through online forums or concise booklets, allow Baby Boomers to incorporate their children into the process. Not only does this encourage those collaborative relationships that already exist between Boomers and their children, it also helps you, as an advisor, build a relationship with the next generation.

Gen X Influencers (1965-1981):

This is the generation with the least amount of influencers. Fiercely independent by nature, Gen Xers often trust their own research above the opinions of others. Of course, most people have a small group they turn to for guidance, but the power of the influencer plays the smallest role with this generation. The main influencer for a Gen Xer is proof. Be sure to have facts to back up your recommendations.

Millennial Influencers (1982-2000):

Millennials and their parents have a strong bond. Baby Boomer parents are often highly involved in the decision-making processes of their children, particularly when it comes to finances. Make sure to anticipate the types of questions that a Millennial will get from their parents. Millennials may not always know the right questions to ask but their parents will. Offer take-home material they can share with their parents. C.H. Robinson created “The Parent Pack” for Millennial new hires. It’s a pamphlet of information that Millennials can share with their parents to answer questions regarding salary and benefits. It may sound over-bearing, but Baby Boomer parents are asking for the information and if the Millennial can’t provide answers, it may appear to be a shortfall from the service provider.

Numerous factors are at play throughout the decision-making process. It is imperative to have the foresight to appeal to the decision makers who may not be in the room. Keep Traditionalists up-to-date, allow Boomers to incorporate their children into the process, and provide information for Millennials’ parents. The last thing you want is to end up like the realtor who lost business by ignoring the influencers.