Doctors – the original hot dog influencers

Doctors – the original hot dog influencers

This summer we got into a bit of a routine. Every Saturday, after a long week at Manhattan's B2B coalface in Earnezt HQ, we would hop on the subway down to Coney Island.

Nathan Handwerker's creative thinking delivered perhaps the first true example of a great influencer campaign, and the lessons learned are perfect for B2B.

For our non-NYC friends, Coney Island is a real throwback to the 50s and one of the funnest places in the city, where you can stroll along the sea edge and enjoy the rides at Luna Park.

It also serves the best hot dogs in the five boroughs.

Nathan’s Famous has been serving world-beating hot dogs to the public in Coney Island since 1916 and is now the place to pick up a lunchtime snack.

But Nathan’s wasn’t always as beloved as it is today. 

Back in 1916, Nathan Handwerker was a hungry young Polish entrepreneur who saw a chance to overtake the competition. Not only would his hot dogs be made from real beef, he would also undercut all of the competition on price by half – charging five cents versus their ten. 

But his generous offer didn’t work. Customers were suspicious of his low prices, and even with the added incentive of a free beer with every dog, they remained sceptical about the quality of a 5-cent hot dog.

Nathan knew he needed some creative thinking to turn things around, so he came up with the genius ploy of recruiting young men to come and stand by his stall eating hot dogs, wearing the full medical accoutrements of stethoscopes and white lab coats.

Now, because of something called ‘authority bias’, people believed that if Nathan’s hot dogs were good enough for doctors, they were certainly good enough for themselves. This innate trust in the perspicacity of doctors kickstarted that has continued to thrive to this very day.

To me, the creative thinking of Nathan Handwerker is perhaps the first true example of a great influencer campaign. All too often I have heard B2B marketers say that influencers and influencer campaigns are a fad and “more of a B2C thing”. This is nonsense. 

Marketers simply need to harness the authority bias and identify the subject experts related to their product or service – the people that automatically provide reassurance to customers.

And remember: it doesn’t need to be a celebrity or an Instagram superstar. In fact, these will very often cheapen your product.

To get you thinking about your B2B influencer strategy we’ve put together a short guide that you can read here and if you ever fancy a chat, we’d love to hear from you.

***

[Header photo: Paulo Silva on Unsplash]