Power Mapping: How to Identify and Contact The Key Individuals who will Help You Achieve Your Goal

Get those dominos falling! You can inflence those around you — but who do you start with? Eathan Mertz’ article explains the strategy of power-mapping.

I got my start in marketing as a campaign director with the PIRGs [Public Interest Research Groups: grassroots political organizing groups affiliated with Ralph Nader]. Political campaigns and marketing drives are roughly the same thing. One tool we used was “Power Mapping.” Quite simply, it’s the art of determining whom you need to influence, exactly who can influence your target, and whom you can actually influence to start the dominoes in motion.

Everyone is affected by people around them. Maybe your family holds sway over some aspects of your life, while your church group, school chums, co-workers, favorite supermodels, neighbors, or in-laws hold sway over other aspects of your life. The same is true for all of them. If you combine this with the concept of “six degrees of separation”–the idea that you can link up with any lther person by finding six people who “know someone who knows someone”–you’ll see that everyone holds a certain amount of sway over everyone else. You can use this as part of your marketing strategy.

Jim Wilson of VirtualPROMOTE Gazette (where this article first appeared) obviously understands this concept, and practices it frequently. Recently he wrote:

“Time for the Gazetteers to saddle up and ride to victory once again!

“The annual Surfers Choice Site of The Year voting is going on right now and VirtualPROMOTE needs every vote it can get. We appear to be neck-and-neck with a very nice sports news site that has a web camera showing that they have a room full of employees. Sure be nice to beat them, but I need your vote. Voting is taking place at (URL) and we don’t have enough votes yet to insure victory. Time is running out, so please take a moment and vote!”

This is a very simple example. Jim wants to influence Surfers Choice, netizens can influence Surfers Choice, Jim has influence over a group of netizens (us readers), so he asks us to ask them to make VirtualPROMOTE the site of the year. This is almost a no-brainer, but imagine how many spheres of influence you might have to go through to influence the President, or to get Martha Stewart to do a show on your online interior decorating site. For these, you’ll need a bit more complex path to get to your goal.

First thing you need to do is to grab a big old easel pad, let your brain cloud over for some serious brain-storming, and pop the cap off of a large felt pen. Ask yourself what you want done, and who you want to do it. Put them in the center of your page.

Next you need to note who has direct influence over them. Mark them down in some sort of logical manner. Who has direct influence over the people you just wrote down? Write them down, and repeat the question you just finished answering. Before long, your page will be a huge mess, but you’ll start to see a few people or groups that you do have direct influence over, and you’ll see a very clear path directly to the person you want to do whatever it is that you want done.

Pick your most likely path. Now attempt to figure out what the main influence would have to do to cause your central figure to suit your needs. Repeat this, moving away from the center for each sub-influence. When you get back to you, it’s time to knock over the first domino; go out and influence!

If I wanted to get merchants to visit CatalogFinder–and merchants read the Gazette, and Jim runs the Gazette–I guess I’d have to influence Jim. Jim would have to say something nice about CatalogFinder before most of you would jump on over to our site. I think I’d have to make Jim happy before he’d visit and decide to say something nice about our site. Jim might be looking for some content for the Gazette. Maybe if I wrote a little piece…

Written by Eathan Mertz’s.