Circles of Influence (A Workshop Idea)

According to the sidebar here on BlogCampaigning, this blog is normally about "advertising, technology, public relations, social media, video games and pretty much whatever we feel is important." 

What's been important for the last little while seems to be hiking, surfing and skiing, but that doesn't mean I've totally forgotten about advertising and all that other exciting stuff. 

I'm in the midst of putting together a workshop for some clients based on the Google Ventures 3 Hour Brand Sprint, but felt that it didn't go into quite enough detail for some of the components.

In the process of adapting it, I came across a "Circles of Influence" exercise (in the Hyper Island Toolbox). This felt like a good start for understanding audiences, but I also wanted to extend it for the particular brand workshop I'm planning and wanted to go deeper into some details and so added on to it. (The Circles of Influence exercise itself is based on a more personal/leadership exercise by Stephen Covey)


Objective: To uncover insights about target audience influences, concerns and the role a brand/organisation/product/service may have in their life. 

Time: 20-40 minutes (depending on number of people, complexity.

Note: Although this can be conducted as a stand-alone session, I think it ideally works alongside other workshop activities to help define key audiences and even (re)define what the brand/organisation/product/service actually does and why. 

How It Works: 

1.) The room is divided up into smaller groups (2-3), and each group is assigned a key audience (ideally, these audiences are identified and agreed upon during a previous part of the workshop). 

For our example, let's pretend that the brand we're working on is a residential real estate agency, and that one of their audiences is Home Buyer in a large North American city. 

2.) First, each group is asked to take out the Circles of Concern page (Worksheet I) in the PDF below. The Moderator gives them about 5 minutes to write down all the things that they think this audience might be concerned about, particularly as they relate to the brand/target and their mindset. 

In the example below, I've worked with a friend of mine who is a Real Estate agent to identify some of the concerns his clients might have. 


3.) Next, each group takes out the Circles of Influence page (Worksheet II) and discusses which of the items from the first worksheet ("Circle of Concern") are things that the target would have control over. These go in the inner circle of the diagram. Those that don't fit in there go in the outer circle. Again, the Moderator gives the groups about 5 minutes for this. 

You can see what it looks like in our Home Buyer/Real Estate example below: 


4.) Each group now takes out the Brand Influence page (Worksheet III). Once again, they transfer all the words/phrases from one sheet to another, this time from the Circle of Influence page (Worksheet II) to the Circle of Brand Influence page (Worksheet III). As they do it, they put all the issues/concerns that the brand can help with in the middle circle. The ones outside both the brand and audience's concern go in the outer circle, and the ones that the audience can influence but not the brand go in the inner circle. Again, take about 5 minutes for this. You can see our example again below: 


5.) Lastly, the different groups (working on different audiences) should share their final worksheet with the rest of the group. The Moderator should guide them through the conversation, and note down any key points/insights from this, particularly where there is solid alignment from the different groups. Some questions to ask at this point: 

Can we group any of these items in Brand Influence together? 

Is there anything in the Circle of Concern or Circle of Influence that the brand isn't addressing? Or that competitors are? 

Are there any similarities between the different audiences? 

Are the items in the circle of Brand Influence truly the most important to the audience? Does this matter, based on our brand and audience? 

In our hypothetical example of a First-Time Home Buyer, we might realize that although the Real Estate Agent/Agency have done a lot of work around communicating market conditions and other homes in the area, they have't done nay communicating around the actual process of buying a home or why their agents are trusted. This might lead to some interesting territories for communication that can set them apart. 


Could small groups, or even a single person, arrive at a similar conclusion without this workshop, and without even the worksheets?  Probably. But I also think there is value in getting a key group of people to think through some of the decisions. Hopefully, the discussion will lead to alignment between different teams and the actual role that the brand/organization/service/produce can play in the role of the lives of particular audiences. It might not lead to any new insights, but it can help fine-tune existing ones.  

This is also only one component of a greater workshop/series of activities. 

As I mentioned above, all parties at the workshop should come to this meeting reasonably well-prepared. In the case of client stakeholders, they probably already have a very good idea of who their audience is and some of their concerns. 

In the case of agency partners attending the meeting, they should do some pre-thinking to put themselves in the mind of the different audiences and their needs/concerns. 

Circles of Concern/Influence/Brand Worksheets - PDF DOWNLOAD (if you end up using these printouts, print them on large size paper. You're gonna run out of space if you only print them on 8x11).

By way of disclosure: I'm not a home buyer. I don't work with any real estate agencies as clients. And I didn't full explain the purpose of this exercise to my friend, so the answers in the example aren't super deep.