Word of Mouth has been called the holy grail of marketing. Some of the world’s best marketing case studies center around brands with great word of mouth, or WOM programs. The Harley Davidson Owners Group, Maker’s Mark Ambassadors, Fiskars Scissors, Pabst Blue Ribbon’s hip resurgence—all classic Word of Mouth case studies. 

But Word of Mouth is still a bit of an enigma to many brands. The output isn’t an ad. Or a website. Or a piece of collateral. The outcomes … at least of those of successful programs … is often incredible lift for the brand over time. But over time is complicated. Was it this magic sauce word-of-mouth that you don’t actually see or was it all the other marketing things we were doing?

Ted Wright has authored probably half of the top 10 most successful word of mouth marketing programs. He is perhaps known most for reigniting the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand 20 years ago. A good portion of Chapter 14 of Winfluence – Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand is pieces of my interview for the book.

But I wanted to go deeper with him on some of his experience and ideas about word of mouth to see if influence marketing and even online influencers are just a variation of the theme. In some ways, I feel like what we do as influence marketers is build word of mouth programs. But I know better than to outright claim that because folks like Ted tend to take exception to people hitching onto their wagon without at least running it by them first.

In the spirit of my interviews of late, I suppose, we get a little vocal toward the end as Ted builds an argument that influencers aren’t effective. But that’s what happens me Ted and I get together. We enjoy the disagreements and are never disagreeable with one another.

Enjoy this one. Ted Wright is always fun to talk to.

You can find Ted on LinkedIn and Fizz at FizzCorp.com.


Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

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Winfluence Transcript – Ted Wright – Fizz

Jason Falls
Hello again friends thanks for listening to Winfluence – The Influence Marketing Podcast. Word of mouth marketing has been called the holy grail of marketing. Some of the world’s best marketing case studies centered around brands with great word of mouth or WOM programs. The Harley Davidson Owners Group, Maker’s Mark Ambassadors, Fiskars Scissors, Pabst Blue Ribbon’s hip resurgence, all classic word of mouth brands and programs. But word of mouth is still a bit of an enigma to many brands. The output isn’t an ad or a website or a piece of collateral. The outcomes at least those of successful programs is often incredible lift for the brand over time. But overtime is complicated. Was it this magic sauce, word of mouth that you don’t actually see? Or was it all the other marketing things we were doing?

Jason Falls
Ted Wright has authored probably half of the top 10 most successful word of mouth marketing programs. He is perhaps known most for reigniting the Pabst Blue Ribbon brand 20 years ago. A good portion of Chapter 14 of Winfluence – Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand is pieces of my talk with Ted that I did for the book. But I wanted to go deeper with him on some of his experience and ideas about word of mouth to see if influence marketing and even online influencers are just a variation of the theme. In some ways. I feel like what we do as influence marketers is build word of mouth programs. But I know better than to outright claim that because folks like Ted tend to take exception to people hitching onto their wagon, without at least running it by them first. So today, we’re running it by Ted Wright, the CEO of Fizz, and word of mouth marketing guru, he’s next on Winfluence.

Jason Falls
This is normally the point in the program where someone jumps in and says, “Support for today’s podcast …” Well support for today’s episode of Winfluence – The Influence Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Winfluence the book! Winfluence – Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand is available now from Entrepreneur Press. You can find it in bookstores everywhere, but I’ll have a special place to go online and get a discount in just a second so get ready to jot down a note. Winfluence the book is not just a strategic blueprint to help you employ smart influence marketing strategies for your business or clients. But it explains why our common perception of influencer marketing is all wrong. I take you through how to rethink and reframe the concepts to turn influencer marketing into influence marketing broaden the perspective and open new avenues of leveraging influential people online and offline to grow your business. Here’s the special URL and discount code just for you the listeners of this podcast go to jason.online/buywinfluence. That’s jason.online/buywinfluence. That takes you to the book on the Entrepreneur Press Bookstore. Buy the book and use the code FALLS20 — all caps – F-A-L-L-S-2-0 and get 20% off the retail price. The address again is jason.online/buywinfluence. Leave a review on Amazon after you read it because select reviews will be read here on the show. Winfluence – Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand is available now. Go to jason.online/buywinfluence and use the code FALLS20 today.

Jason Falls
Ted, before we get into a little armwrestling here over influence marketing versus word of mouth, I want to ask you this. I’ve encountered brand managers and CMOs in my time who nod and smile a lot like what you have to say think you’re smart. Then you bring up word of mouth marketing and they either sigh and roll their eyes or they get confused and suddenly think you’re talking a different language. Why do you think some brand folks out there are so ignorant and or afraid of word of mouth marketing?

Ted Wright
Well, so I think that word of mouth, when it’s out there live in the field looks different than things that marketers are most comfortable with. And I think one of the reasons so we went from radio to TV, and TV was just radio with pictures. And then we went to the interwebs which was TV, but just on your own device. And now we’ve gone from the interwebs to having videos on all kinds of different devices, including stuff that hangs out on your wrist, and in your pocket, and on in your, in your car, and all the rest of that. So I think that’s very easy to understand. It’s also easy to see. So word of mouth is where you see it is you see it most easily in like the bottom line results, like, Hey, we used to sell this, and now we’re selling that and the only thing we did different is these three things. And now let’s assign those three things responsibility for whatever the growth is. So it’s kind of hard to see. But it’s hard to see in the same way that unicorns are hard to see. But when you do one, you’re like, Oh, that’s amazing. I didn’t think this stuff was real. So, you know, we had the other day CEO, one of our clients, and you know, it’s a really big global company is literally in the whole foods in his, you know, in in Dallas. And in front of him was two people. And they were talking about his product. And he like Ted, he calls me from his car in the Whole Foods parking lot. It says, Ted, that is exactly what you said would happen. But like three years ago, and the only reason we’re still here is I’m like I know, because we you do results. But it’s hard to see it’s hard to measure. And so that’s when it’s hard to see and hard to measure. It’s it’s more faith based. And at this point, faith based marketing is not really something that has a lot of people get super excited about it. That’s Yeah, that’s very true. The my follow up question to that was going to be almost exactly what you said, This isn’t ads, billboards. And despite what people may think it’s not tchotchkes or product samples, either. Word of mouth, you know, is is something that may be that there’s a lack of tangible byproduct, that might be the problem. And I think that’s what I hear you saying. So I think it can be. So for everyone who’s listening out there, when somebody says you word of mouth marketing, you should think about this as a discipline, instead of a toolset. Like when the sales people or the you know, for Facebook or Twitter come to you, or podcast, they’re selling you a tool. They’re saying you have a nail, I have this tool, it can drive that nail for you.

Ted Wright
Word of mouth marketing is more like you have a nail, this is what you should do to drive that nail in this situation, versus this nail and another situation. And here’s all the different tools. So when you know Jason, when your audience is listening to this, they need to think like, Look, what’s Ted talking about? And he’s and the answer is word of mouth marketing is the discipline by which you can organize people to share your brand story with other people that they know.

Jason Falls
Okay

Ted Wright
Chick-Fil-A does it wonderfully using billboards? Oh my god. Apple does it wonderfully by using design. Heineken used it for the most interesting man in the road campaign in TV, all three of those companies and all of those campaigns around there, all this stuff that Fernando is doing with Burger King, every bit of stuff that comes out of Burger King. Hi, Fernando … For the next for the last two years has been all about, can we get one person to say, “Oh my god, I saw this thing about Burger King?” And can we get this it’s so remarkable that they will in fact remark on it to other people.

Jason Falls
So in that regard, then is everything to a degree word of mouth? I mean, it sounds to me like you’re describing every bit of marketing communications can be word of mouth. Are they one in the same? Or is it something more specific.

Ted Wright
So word of mouth marketing. So word of mouth is just people talking to each other word of mouth marketing, we’d like to save you extra M is for organization, just because we think we’re funny. So word of mouth marketing is taking that discipline and saying all marketing should be at this point about getting one person to share a story with somebody else. How you do that. And what tool you’re using really depends on what is the story? who is and who is the target. And we get into the target, where do they hang out? And where are you most likely to be able to communicate with them where you don’t interrupt or intersect? Because what you want to do is you want to spread your message out to those people that are most likely to go Hmm, that’s super interesting. Tell me more. And hopefully those people are what we refer to as the advocate personality, which has three distinctive parts like they tried to like try new things because they’re new. They love to share Stories are their friends. And they’re intrinsically motivated. They’re looking for stories to share. Right, as Peter Gruber just said on a podcast a couple weeks ago, story is the emotional transportation that people use to get from where they are now to bind your thing. And facts are part of that, what makes that go. But what makes it remembered and what drives to action is the narrative is the storytelling. Because we’re talking in a very broad way, that word of mouth marketing is somewhat intangible, in some ways can be tangible. But a lot of it is intangible. Talk to me about the tangible what are the success numbers and such that word of mouth marketing campaigns typically turn out that you would give to someone to say, this is why you should do it. So I have no idea what a typical word of mouth marketing campaign turns out, because, you know, I don’t think there’s a lot of people that put a lot of say, like, this is a typical thing, right? I can tell you, I can tell everybody in your audience what we do. So if you hang out with us, for 436 months, you’ll make four X on your investment. So the number is the natural number is 3.7 to 6.1. So you’ll make 370 to 610% on your money.

Ted Wright
At a minimum, you know, we have there’s a whiskey company that we took over and helped build their marketing, and they’re doing about $2 million in 2011. And in 2019, they did just south of a billion. And, you know, they basically built it off of word of mouth. They didn’t spend any I mean, if you look at their spend, they didn’t spend anything on Oh, we’re gonna do TV, or we’re gonna do a bunch of, you know, famous people. And there’s nothing wrong with famous people mean Ryan Reynolds is absolutely an advocate personality. Outro is absolutely an advocate personality. They love to share stories with other people. And and then of course, and Ryan is funny AF. So he’s even more people like, oh, come here, look at this hilarious thing. And then you know, when he does it, so does, you know, a hilarious ad. And then everyone wants to run over to his ad agency. And he has some really good stuff to get people talking about aviation gin, which for those of you who are unfamiliar, was an awesome gin long before Ryan Reynolds ever tasted it, much less bought it, and it was selling a bunch, but he just added fuel to his fire because everyone’s like, Okay, I’m paying attention to you because you’re creating content that’s worth talking about.

Jason Falls
So Ryan Reynolds in that instance, obviously, is a celebrity endorser a little bit beyond a celebrity endorser, because he, you know, he bought the brand. But that is an example in my mind of influence marketing. It’s someone who has an audience who has a captive audience who creates content for that audience. And in the course of creating that content, creates a persuasive argument to tribe something, buy something, do something think a different way. What makes influencer marketing in that context different than word of mouth marketing, or are they not different?

Ted Wright
So I like the new phrase that you’ve come up with influence marketing, because, you know, I’m about the most anti using the word influencer, because that word corrupted. So Bravo for coming up with a new phrase. Because I and Bravo, seriously, because I think it’s right. So look, people share stories that have three qualities to them. They’re authentic, they’re interesting, and they’re relevant. We also or and if throw your listeners out there that like acronyms, you know, stories that shared have air authentic, interesting and relevant. Right? You’re welcome. Celebrities are interesting, because they have a certain number of people that think they’re cool, because of the work that they do. Because they love their music, they love their comedy, they love whatever. So when they’re wearing drinking, being playing with something, some people out there are going to be like, Oh, that’s cool. I want to do that. Now, it doesn’t always work. So celebrity so you do have to have influence, which I think means you also have to have relevancy. And I actually keep a bottle I have a bottle. I have a bottle of Ed McMahon vodka in my office, and it’s signed by Ed himself. I think I picked it up at WSWA, which again, for the unwashed is the Wine Spirits Wholesalers Association – Big trade show meeting in Vegas all about booze. Everyone should go at least once in their life. And then big man was sitting there. And I kept that because and of course, had a star on it. Everyone should google Star Search if you’re, you know, under 30. And you should look at this and it’ll, it’ll be hilarious. It’s it. And so what that reminds me is that just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you can sell stuff.

Ted Wright
It has to be relevant. I mean, there’s, I mean, there’s a guy out there running around his famous movie star, and he’s got this new tequila, and he’s selling a bunch of stuff. And, you know, for people who have tasted a tequila before, and it tasted other tequila is like, hey, but you know, he sold a bunch. So everyone’s run around, like, Oh, I need a celebrity. Okay, again, for all my friends out there in marketing, what you need is you need something that is compelling enough story about your brand product or service, that will engage people to want to learn about it. And 10% of that population has this advocate personality, they’ll their story, on average here in the United States gets shared right around 40,000 times in a year conversion rate on their stories to get somebody to sample your product, or service is 10 times what it is coming out of your company. And it’s 100 times more likely that they’ll share the story with somebody else than if they got that same information from you the brand, the other 90% of us, our stories get shared six times a year on average. And nobody leaves us more than they believe brand stuff. So what you’ve got Jason is you’ve got 10% of the population that are aching for these stories. And they’re the ones that are really driving the conversation. So when you know that and you fall into the discipline, of word of mouth, marketing, and hand doing that, well always focused on will x activation will x marketing thing, whatever that marketing thing is, drive more conversation for those same dollars, then why? And you always go for the more conversation, always, always, always more conversation, more conversation leads for more sales, more sales leads to more profit, and you win.

Jason Falls
There you go. Now I know a big sticking point for you on the discipline of word of mouth is the kind of the purest definition is that that the pass along activity is a one to one transaction. It’s one person having a conversation with another person. And I think by that measure, an online influencer posting on social media doesn’t necessarily qualify, because it’s one person broadcasting a message to people who may or may not feel like they are being talked to directly. But is it physically one to one? Or can the audience perception that this online person is talking to them be an adequate substitute and fall into that definition?

Ted Wright
Oh, it’s totally an adequate substitute. Look at what those two folks Chip and Joanna Gaines did down in Waco, Texas. $50,000 houses in Waco, they were fallen down, they put another 100 grand in them. And they talked to us and they said, Look at all these fun things we’re doing y’all. And that’s what makes a really good storyteller. They just happen to use TV. Some people out there just happen to use Facebook. Some people use Twitter, some people just use the relationships they have day to day, some people draw cartoons. Everybody who wants to share a story has figured out a way to share that in the most efficient, most effective way that they know. And now we come up with new tools, and then people like them, but it’s it’s less I you know, for everyone who’s listening to this success and marketing is not about channel. It is about story. And you really shouldn’t care where somebody shares your story. You should care that they’re sharing the story and scale. One advocate what before 2016 we in our shop used to call influencers because I wrote the first paper on influencer marketing back in 1999 when I was a nerd and thought I knew more than better than everybody else. Those advocates is single advocate is worth 40,000 discussions of why your brand your product your service kicks ass. And sample rate off of that is huge. And then when the story matches the experience that that that new listener has, then they’re like, Oh my gosh, that is the tequila that is the red Swingline stapler. That is the movie. That is the college. That is the car. You’re right, I should go pay attention to that. Worst case scenario, it limits it changes there, it adds something to their universe of things they really considering. So think about cars. Like there’s all cars at a $30,000 price point.

Unknown Speaker
The typical us consumer is going to go look at the ones that they’ve driven before than the ones are driven, right? And the one they’re driving right now of a new car, you and your friends is Oh my god, I love this key Optima. It’s amazing. Like I’ve never I do they make cars in South Korea, I’ve been making cards, upgrade, bringing them in this country for like 30 years, you should go check it out. Okay, so now all of a sudden, I’ve gone from two things in my universe as the listener of that story to three. And that’s what Kia wants. In that scenario, Kia wants an opportunity to be in the mix, as opposed to all cars everywhere that cost $30,000. It’s so now instead of being one of 50 different options is now one of three. And every marketer wants to be in the one of three pile instead of the one and 50.

Jason Falls
So you’ve been responsible for probably five or six, the top 10 or so, kind of gold standard word of mouth marketing programs, if anyone under the age of 40 out there, if you know Pabst Blue Ribbon, it’s because of Ted and Fizz. Another that I love the is the work you did with chocolate milk, which I use as an example in the book. Take us quickly through that case study. So people understand the context. And then I’ll tell you why I love it so much.

Ted Wright
All right. So context. So I’m sitting at a beverage convention with Joon wed and by the way, Jason, we definitely we this is an all beverage kind of discussion. So both Jason and I do work with other clients besides beverages and cars, FYI. All right. So I’m sitting there at this convention. And the woman who’s running a big piece of the dairy business here in the United States, for the for the huge trade association says, I wish people would have drink more chocolate milk, or not as like, you know, it’d be cool if we could figure out a way everyone who has a gallon of chocolate milk, can we get them to also have a quart of chocolate in their, you know, in the refrigerator, she’s like, Oh, we could do that. That’d be great. I was like, Challenge accepted. So it turns out so you know, when you’re thinking about doing word of mouth marketing, you should really go in, and you should take all the attributes of the brand, or the product or service that you’re looking at, and should put them all on the board, including pickles that we make our green, like put them all on there. And then you need to rank order them based on what you think is most interesting. And then of all those things that are interesting, rank them against authentic and then rank that pile against interesting. And once you get it through interesting, relevant, authentic, you ought to have five or six attributes that are like amazing that you could build a lot of great stories around. So chocolate milk, what we found out so there was a study that we found in a pile of data that they had, and they brought it to us and the study said that chocolate milk was the best thing to drink after working out. And we in the office, we were like … What? That, isn’t it? Yeah, I never heard that before Chocolate, chocolate milk is yummy. It’s delicious. And it’s full of chocolate goodness, but it’s not good for you, is it? And it turns out that it is and we said Haha, that’s interesting. It’s relevant, particularly for people that are working out. So who likes to work out, okay, people hang out in gyms, people are professional athletes, oh my god, high school athletes, they also work out too. And whether they’re in the gym, or they’re on the field, let’s go share this story with them. And so we shared the story and one person tells another and they tell two friends and so on and so on. And today good friends. If you go and Google chocolate milk, you will hear and you will read people talk about it is the is the engine to refuel your body. That was something that was created by us when we were looking at this and we said okay, this is what it’s going to do. And people now drink chocolate milk for all the runners out there when especially if you’re doing long distance running like marathons and things. When you get at the end of whatever run you’re doing from a five K to a marathon, there’s always somebody handing out chocolate milk. That’s because 20 years ago, almost at least a good 15 were out there doing it and everyone’s like, oh, why are you doing this? That’s crazy. And we’re like, and we told the story and then they tried the product and they in fact felt refreshed. refueled and ready to go, you know, 20 minutes later and they’re like, dang, this stuff works. So we’re like, yep, tasty, and so everyone just went and did it.

Jason Falls
Now, the reason I love that so much is in the proces, you identified the people who would influence the target audience, the teenage athletes, you came up with their coaches, and notable college and pro players, you engage them to carry that message forward, that milk is an important part of the post workout routine of keeping your bones strong and refreshing you and all that good stuff. So that they would those those teenage athletes would drink it beyond childhood, and find another use for it in their teenage and then adult lives. That, to me is a perfect example of influence marketing, because it’s offline influence. It doesn’t depend on Instagram, it doesn’t depend on YouTube. You identified influencers of a given audience, you engage them to carry forward a message message received, behavior changed, goal accomplished. So my broad definition of influence marketing, which includes but isn’t limited to online influencers … Do you think I’m just saying word of mouth in a different context or word, you still separate the two?

Ted Wright
And because I love you, I might not separate the two. You know, I’ve been working with the phrase word about marketing for like, 20 years. So it’s good to be tough for me to change. But it’s up to me about four months ago, and my mind is like, dang it. Jason done good. You know, Jason’s come up with something that’s really smart. And so why I think what you’re doing is smart, is because you basically created a tent where influencers which I love them dearly, they’re basically they’re their broadcasters. There’s no difference between pick your quote influencer, and Ellen DeGeneres zero difference, right? They are they want to perform there, their job is to perform. And their job is to say nice things about people that pay them to say nice things about their products and services. That’s it. Now there is some integrity in that as well. I would don’t know about Ellen DeGeneres. But I know a lot of influencers, you know, they pass on things that they don’t use. But it is a pay for play business, period. And so the more the more better. The more true, pure and effective way is if you don’t pay for people, you earn people. Now, can people online, earn their audiences and earn the respect to people? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, they make their money by getting paid by a brand to say these things about that brand. Period, that’s their job. And so they’re not really something new. They’re no different than any other celebrity endorser. And their celebrity is because, you know, they make really large pizzas, or they drive cars into walls are they play your games really well, or they do crocheting or take pictures of cats, all of which are noble and awesome, awesome pursuits, but there’s, you know, they’re not new, they’re not different and they’re not especially effective.

Jason Falls
Okay, so let me play devil’s advocate on that a little bit because …

Ted Wright
The devil doesn’t need an advocate. You know that!

Jason Falls
Well, true. But I know and have worked with several online influencers, who Yes, I might pay to engage them for a client or a brand. But I think the really good effective online influencers are those that say, Look, I’ll do a partnership with you, but I’m not going to take your talking points and regurgitate them. I’m going to be really genuine and honest with my audience about the product. I’m going to disclose that you’re paying me but if I don’t like it, I don’t like it and that’s just that’s what you get out. And so I think there’s a there’s a gray area in between where we your your claim that they are just a celebrity endorser and a really sort of genuine connection with their audience saying something honest about a product, agree or disagree.

Ted Wright
Wait, you can be a celebrity endorser and have a genuine and honest connection with your with your audience. I am not you know questioning that at all. I am saying that the business that everyone refers to as influencer marketing is a pay to play business period.

Jason Falls
Okay, what about the influencers that will do it for product is that still pay to play?

Ted Wright
Well, you know, I’ve not met somebody who will do it for product and then eventually doesn’t want money they’re only doing it for a product basically because they’re I’m a big enough audience yet that they think that they can pay. Okay. They can get charged now. I mean, look, I we have some clients of ours. They are like globally famous musicians. And one of them that comes to mind right this second. He had a shoe company approach him. And he is worn a different, but very specific pair of shoes on stage, since he was like 15. And now you know, he, and he’s just always worn those, and these people want him to switch on. He said, Nope, because I don’t wear those shoes, I wear these shoes. always like, hey, these guys called me is like, and I was like, well, let’s call, you know, the company that you were, and let’s tell them the story. Let’s see if we can do a deal. And you know, they’re, they’re an English company. And so they kind of him didn’t audit us. And I was like, no, it’s like, we’re just telling you what happened. And if you want to do something with that, somebody else, you know, brought this up. And if you don’t think that music moves shoes, you can call your friends at Adidas or Converse, and they’d be glad to tell you how much money that they make off of music and shoes. We’re back from them. And then you know, we did a deal. Now, this guy is talking about these things more often than he would because he is getting paid to do so full stop period. Does that mean that any of his conversations inauthentic? No. And nor am I saying any influencer, quote unquote influencer has inauthentic conversation? Because I don’t know. Maybe they really do think that these super long eyelashes or this Korean snail mask, or these, you know, pills that are supposed to do this to this part of my body are real? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a beautician, I don’t know. But it does seem like a awful lot of people talk about an awful lot of stuff. And so and here’s why, just from a marketing perspective, just from on the marketer side of this, I think it is a really risky place to go. If, in fact, influencers really worked that well. Then brands would never leap.

Ted Wright
Then once you started paying Kim Kardashian, if this thing paid off, you do it and you’d stay and you’d stay forever, just like people stayed so long and soap operas, that they ended up calling them soap operas, because the soap company spent 1020 3040 years being the main sponsor, you don’t see that in influencers, quote unquote. So therefore, somebody must be doing the analysis. And they say, this is not paying off. We’re going back to something else.

Jason Falls
But I would argue that you are seeing that in influencer marketing, which is I think influencer marketing, let’s put the R on it for this part of the conversation. I think you are seeing that. But I also think influencer marketing is still very early in its sort of nascent stages of maturity, because last fall, Estee Lauder CEO came out and said, we’re spending 75% of our marketing budget on influencers, and it’s going to go up. All right, and they’re their marketing budget. is one point something billion dollars with a B.

Ted Wright
Yes, I do not think you can take edge cases and use that to prove the rest of the field. Beauty is definitely one of those things that this works all the time awesomely. Great. Well, Estee Lauder actually spend 2.75 times 1.7 billion on influencers. I just with respect, probably not. They 1.7 5 billion probably does a lot of stuff. What I do think they’ll do is I think they’ll spend a bunch of money, they’ll be very successful, and they’ll drop all the rest of the money. They’re not spending, they’ll just drop to the bottom line. And they’ll look like they’re genius. But that’s an edge that is an edge category. And that is not true. And cars at the same rate as cars, cell phones, shoes, mechanical watches, where you go to college, all this people so again, for our my marketing friends that are out there, you don’t just follow the money. if if if somebody isn’t hiring if you see people moving around a lot and moving with one influencer, and then another influencer and another influencer, they’re either stupid, or if they have math that says it’s not paying off.

Jason Falls
See now I’ll disagree with you on that. Because if I’m only dealing with one influence, or that I only have access to one audience, if I’m dealing with 20 or 30, I have access to a different number of people. And I also and I also think your argument that you can’t use sort of the fringe example, to lead the way I think you can. Because again, we’re still early in the evolution of influencer marketing and you’re going to have those bleeding edge leading edge people who are out there doing it, and the rest of the marketplace is going to follow and to your point that you’re it’s not the same and cars and it’s not the same. Well, that’s true on any type of advertising. Advertising for cars is different than advertising for beauty. You’re going to have different rates of investment, you’re going to have different rates of return. So I can throw all that back at you, I think and say, wait a minute, I think you’re missing this, Ted. I think this I think you’re wrong about this.

Ted Wright
All right. So you threw a bunch back at me. Sorry, you know, I’m stupid, so I kind of got to take them one at a time.

Jason Falls
Okay.

Ted Wright
So we’re, the question is not nobody stays in the same way that nobody very few people re up their stadium deal, their stadium sponsorship deal, and very people re up their bowl sponsorship. You know, don’t worry, it’s not the Doritos or Tostitos Fiesta Bowl anymore, isn’t it somebody else’s. If Tostitos or Doritos, or whoever was making money on that investment, and they knew it, they would stay that they leave means that there are better uses for their money. Or they’re completely irrational and stupid. And we know that there’s no such thing really, as you know, as necessarily irrational. So what I’m suggesting to you is that it is not near as effective as people think. Also, this and this is now I’m going to be like, super mean and nasty about this stuff. The the excuse that our young and we’re learning and we’re learning how to bull cookies. This is big boy table, and big girl playing. And y’all have been around at least 15 years, that’s plenty of time to figure out what’s going on. That’s like radio in 1950, making excuse because we’re only 15 years old. And we’ve been doing the only been doing since 1935. If y’all are effective, and you’re good, you’re going to be the thing that everyone is flocking to. And they’re not, I don’t have a single cmo that I know and I don’t know, I know them all. But I probably know 30 of them well enough to like, get a real Christmas card from them and or have their direct number and my cell phone. I don’t know a single one of those men and women that consistently are working with the same influencer or set of influencers over time, because it doesn’t pay off. They have all the metrics behind them that says this investment does not make me as much money as the other investment. So I’m going to make those investments in a different place. Now they keep trying influencers, because everyone keeps coming to them. And it’s kind of inexpensive to start and let’s try and you know, then get some little stuff, but it doesn’t pay off. And we know it doesn’t pay off because people don’t stay for a while, you know, Ford must be making money on their TV ads because they’ve been doing it since before you and I were born Jason and and you don’t see them doing the same thing with other folks with with other types of marketing. So that must mean that TV is paying better for them. And Pepsi’s figured out how to make money off Superbowl ads, and other people haven’t. So they come and go.

Ted Wright
I mean, you know, I’m not picking on people. But I saw that avocados from Mexico is not going to be on the Superbowl ad this year. Okay, so they figured out after doing it for two or three years that it wasn’t paying off, like they thought and so they’re gonna go take their money and try something else. Because if it was paying off, they’d stay Same deal with influence.

Jason Falls
Well, I think that you’re looking at individual influencers versus influencer marketing as a practice because the numbers show me that companies are continuing to put money into it and more money into it year over year. So it might be that I’m not working with the same three or four influencers I was working with last year, but I’m still investing in it because it is showing me some sort of return. It may not be showing me as good a return as other channels. Sure. But in the in a diverse, you know, communications marketing strategy where you’re trying to hit consumers in multiple touchpoints and influencers are becoming a trusted reliable source for product information. I think the Edelman trust barometer from last year, you know showed that 58% of consumers have admitted I’ve bought a product because an influencer recommended an online influencer. So I think as an overall meta budget investment companies are putting more money into it and are moving forward with it. And I believe you’re looking at it more from an individual influencer investment Am I wrong?

Ted Wright
Hmm. I think that when half the people polled said they have made at least they have made one purchase by something they saw online, I think that’s a very low bar to hurdle over here in the United States, where everybody makes 1000s of purchasing decisions every year. So I think Edelman saying that 58% of people did something once. I’m sure that 58% of people also, you know, took a right turn on red when they shouldn’t have, and at least that many people did over the speed limit and a whole bunch of other stuff that’s going on. That’s a very that poll question is a poll question is designed to get a response, not trying to figure out with respect to everybody at element? What’s really going on?

Jason Falls
Okay, well, I mean, that that that’s one number, another number from that same research, 63% of consumers trust influencers, for information about products. And they even broke it down this last year by channel, and I think it’s 39% Trust TicTok influencers, which I think is ridiculous, personally, but I just think I think it’s headed in, I think it’s headed up into the right, and you seem to think it’s not.

Ted Wright
Um, I think that folks that want this thing to work, need to be really, really careful about how it is that they’re using the tool. Again, this is a tool just like everything else is just like billboards, just like direct mail, just like anything else. You know, since we’re thrown out quotes, you know, Wall Street Journal did something last year, that said, half, half of all the metrics that come out in so called influencer marketing are fake. And not like, Oh, I misunderstood it, or not like, I have a poll question that asked you have you done so at least once, like fake fake, like fraud, like those people don’t really exist? Those are just computers talking to each other, most of that stuff was offshore. So it’s a lot it Look, you want to talk about this? I am not the anti influencer guy, I say, you know, go with God, if you can make it work, that’s great. Fundamentally, it is problematic. Because there is zero third party out there saying these metrics are true. And these are not so that like, you know, the, the audit Bureau and the circulation Bureau for magazines and Nielsen for TV. I mean, there’s somebody else out there saying, okay, we’re mathematically pretty sure that this is the truth. So the numbers are questionable.

Ted Wright
And, you know, it’s fundamentally a pay for play industry masquerading as Oh, I’m just here to tell you about things that I like, that’s just not true. It isn’t, it is not you can buy into anybody, anybody’s podcast, anybody’s whatever, you know, do they have some integrity? Sure. Did they have a lot will money always Trump at will. And that’s, and that’s different from the word of mouth perspective, because it’s really hard for us to get somebody to lie to their friend, versus lie to a big audience, lots of people all the time that make up stuff to a big audience and tell them stuff that’s that they know is not true. I mean, we see that all the time in America these days, it’s really, really tough for somebody to say, you’re my friend, and I’m now gotten this thing, this money. And, and now I’m going to tell you something, I think is only kind of true, or a little bit true, or I’m going to shade the truth. That’s not how friends deal with each other. And that, fundamentally, is the power of word of mouth, the power of word of mouth is all these conversations are going between people who know each other, and so on the trust that goes in there, and with a ton of trust, comes a ton of people wanting to try new things. And that’s how they discover stuff. And then when the story they were told, matches the experience they had, then they become a fan or interested in that thing.

Jason Falls
That’s a great way to wrap this up. As as I think everybody out there listening can tell Ted and I could carry on all day talking about this, whether it’s you know, arguing about one point or another or agreeing with each other about several things. I love exploring word of mouth with you, Ted, and I can’t thank you enough for making all of us smarter about it here on the show. I’m certainly honored and thrilled also to have you as part of the expertise shared in the book. So thank you for being part of that and doing this today as well. Tell everyone where they can find you online and find out more about Ted Wright and Fizz.

Ted Wright
So just a Google search for Ted Wright and Fizz will bring you in whatever platform you have joy with using, you’ll be able to find us. We’re here in Atlanta. And Jason, I want to thank you you know for y’all that have never been like, talked with Jason and I, when we’re together, we definitely want to argue like the little tiny marketing points like no this many angels can dance on the head of a pen, no, this many angels .. and you get a couple bourbons in us, you know it, it can just get really like WWE on on each other. So this is always a real thrill for me to, you know, chat cross swords with one of the intellects in marketing. So thank you, Jason. I appreciate it.

Jason Falls
Well, thank you for saying that Ted. And I’m just going to declare me The winner of the argument.

Ted Wright
Well, it’s your podcast, of course you’ve won. I’ve won.

Ted Wright
All right. Thanks, everybody.

Transcribed by otter.ai

The Winfluence theme music is “One More Look” featuring Jacquire King and Stephan Sharp by The K Club found on Facebook Sound Collection.


Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

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