Build Brand Influence That Lasts

Jason Falls joins Matt to discuss the power of influence in marketing, rather than the emphasis on influencers.  Most of what is called “influencer marketing” misses the mark, according to Jason, as it focuses on the wrong things.

Building influence is an online and offline activity that a business or organization needs to develop to create effective persuasion. It all starts with the context of the ask and the planning of the campaign. Jason shares his 4 methods of creating and measuring influence from his latest book, Winfluence: Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand.

Transcript

[00:00:00] Jason Falls: There’s literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of incredible content creators out there online who have attracted audience for a variety of reasons, but they have engagement with their audiences, their audiences trust them. And when brands can partner with them in meaningful ways, it’s really good for the brands.

And so the argument in the book “Winfluence” is, if you call it influencer marketing, you’re looking at it through a tunnel. And if you just take away that “R,” and focus on the verb of “influence,” the action that you’re trying to take, rather than the person that you’re trying to take it with, or the noun that’s involved in that equation, now of a sudden, you, you opened up your, your periphery and you can see the horizon and you understand there’s much more here to be had than, you know, sponsoring a post from an Instagrammer.

[00:00:52] Bumper Intro-Outro: Welcome to Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture and media for our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey, as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat, and thanks for joining.

[00:01:17] Matt Bailey: Well, hello and welcome again to another edition of the Endless Coffee Cup podcast. And today I’ve got a great guest, uh, Jason falls. Jason and I actually met, uh, years ago at a blogger social, uh, if you can believe it. I think that was, uh, late 2000’s. Uh, but, uh, Jason, I remember him because he worked for Jim Beam, and he brought, uh, bourbon glasses for everybody as a gift and that just stuck into my head. But, uh, Jason, you’ve not only worked for Jim, you, you’ve worked for, uh, you know, I’m looking at your, your bio. AT&T, GE, General Motors, uh, but then I also see Maker’s Mark as well. So you don’t stray too far. You’re in, you’re in Kentucky. You’re in bourbon country.

[00:02:03] Jason Falls: Yeah, you’re right. I’ve, I’ve had the, the good fortune and the good honor to work with, uh, several really nice major bourbon brands. You mentioned Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, and, uh, you know, that was, you know, 15 years ago or so. And I worked with them and I now have the honor of working with the Sazerac family bourbons from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. So, Buffalo Trace Eagle Rare, Weller, Pappy Van Winkle a little bit, so.

[00:02:24] Matt Bailey: Oh wow, oh yeah.

[00:02:25] Jason Falls: So yeah, it’s, uh, it’s when you’re in Kentucky and you’re in marketing, you’re probably going to touch bourbon at some point and it’s a good thing I’m a big fan, so that’s good.

[00:02:33] Matt Bailey: That’s funny. So I, you know, I’m up here in the Canton, Ohio area, the rust belt. And we always say, if you, if you were in marketing here, it’s B2B manufacturing. That’s, that’s what we cut our teeth on.

[00:02:48] Jason Falls: Yeah. We’ve, we’ve got bourbon, we’ve got horses, um, and uh, lately we’ve got tourism, although the last year has been a little rough on that one, of course…

[00:02:58] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:02:58] Jason Falls: …with the pandemic and whatnot, but bourbon and horses is a good place to start. We, we, we like our, uh, we like our fun.

[00:03:05] Matt Bailey: That’s a beautiful part of the country. If, if, uh, listeners, if you’ve not been there, Lexington, Kentucky is just a beautiful, beautiful piece of land.

[00:03:14] Jason Falls: It is.

[00:03:14] Matt Bailey: It’s just amazing there. Well, Jason, you’ve, you’ve developed a new book here. You’ve written a new book called “Winfluence.” and, uh, you know, I, I’m always interested to talk about influencers because I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about influencers, and I think for some people it’s almost a dirty word. So I’m really interested to hear, you know, what you’re doing and what’s your spin on, uh, you know, what caused you to write the book and what, what angle are you taking with it here?

[00:03:46] Jason Falls: Well, actually you’re, you know, you’re, you’re sort of lead in there is exactly why I wrote the book because I think for a lot of business owners and marketers out there who maybe don’t know a whole lot about influencers, when they, when they hear that term or when they see mainstream media talking about it, they it’s, it’s portrayed in a negative light.

Um, you know, there’s a documentary on HBO right now called “Fake Famous” where Nick Bilton who’s the former technology reporter for the New York Times did a documentary where he took three people who did not have very many online followers and basically bought followers for them and bought engagement for them. One of them actually stuck with him longer than the other two and ended up with a quarter of a million followers and started getting offers from brands.

And his conclusion in this documentary is that all influencers buy their followers and fake their engagement, and none of them are really, you know, they’re all just, you know what I call the peace sign, duck lips crowd, they just take selfies and talk about their food and there, there’s no substance there.

[00:04:46] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:04:46] Jason Falls: And anybody who works in marketing with influencers and has for the last 15, 20 years, because it goes back a lot farther than Instagram, um, knows that there are, there’s literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of incredible content creators out there online who have attracted audience for a variety of reasons, but they have engagement with their audiences, their audiences trust them, and when brands can partner with them in meaningful ways, it’s really good for the brands.

And so the argument in the book “Winfluence” is, if you call it influencer marketing, you’re looking at it through a tunnel. And if you just take away that “R,” and focus on the verb of influence, the action that you’re trying to take rather than the person that you’re trying to take it with, or the noun that’s involved in that equation, now, all of a sudden, you, you opened up your, your periphery and you can see the horizon and you understand there’s much more here to be had than, you know, sponsoring a post from an Instagrammer.

[00:05:42] Matt Bailey: Oh, absolutely. I mean, and you look historically at marketing and advertising, there’s always been a celebrity aspect to it, but I think it’s much more powerful when you know that is part of the celebrity rather than them just, you know, standing there posing with a product, you know that’s part of their persona, their personality.

Um, so absolutely, I mean, influence has always been an aspect of it. So I appreciate you making that, defining, you know, let’s look at the verb, what are we trying to influence? So, so I like how you’ve defined that and, so, how does it work? How are you proposing this in the book?

[00:06:18] Jason Falls: So really the, the whole sort of approach to “Winfluence”, which is just the little clever way of saying practicing influence marketing, as opposed as opposed to influencer marketing is really kind of goes back to that core principle of what are you trying to do?

You know, you start with your goal, you’re trying to influence an audience to take action. And so depending upon your brand, depending upon, you know, the type of audience you’re trying to reach, where you can potentially reach them, you have to ask yourself, okay, who or what influences them?

It might be that an audience is influenced, if it’s a beauty brand, they’re influenced by people with lots of followers on Instagram and YouTube doing beauty content. But if you are a local business and your target audience is, you know, uh, maybe 30 and 40 year old women, then it could be that the president of the local PTA might be as influential as anybody else that you can deal with.

So you’ve got to think about influence, not influencers, and that gives you the opportunity to think about offline influence and other ways to get to the audience that you’re trying to reach. Uh, we have a great case study that we did, um, you know, here at Cornett with the University of Kentucky Healthcare System a couple of years ago, and you know, kind of long story short, we were trying to drive activity around an online film that kicked off a big campaign. And we wanted to get people to watch a two-minute movie about a hospital, which is kind of hard to do because who wants to watch a two minute movie about a hospital, right?

But what we did is we found online influencers, remember we’re geographically confined to this footprint of this hospital. We found online influencers who do impact that local audience, but more important to our strategy was getting the mayor and the president of the Urban League and a local dentist who was really popular, and lots of people who influence the community, not online influencers involved in the, the, the launch was a resounding success and, and, and entice people to not only interact with the video, but tell their story about their, you know, interactions with the healthcare system.

And we’ve taken those stories now and parlayed that into a, you know, kind of a new content wing on the website that’s helping them with SEO and everything. So the, the whole idea of influence marketing instead of influencer marketing opened up our opportunities to do so much more.

[00:08:33] Matt Bailey: Oh, absolutely. And I love that example because it’s so full of context that we’re trying to influence a community, which, you know, I love the offline aspect, but just, you know, I think so many times when people think of influence or influencer marketing, they’re thinking of, “I’ve got to contact an agency, and that agency is going to go find influencers with millions of followers, and that’s how I’m going to build it out there.”

Rather than taking that time and thinking about who, what, and, and working through, I mean, it was a very specific strategy and I love that story because it, it really brings out the power of influence.

[00:09:13] Jason Falls: It does. And, and, you know, we, I like to think of it that way. In fact, I’m doing a new strategy now for a client and yes, I start out with, “Okay, who influences this audience?” And I start out with, “Okay, who are the online voices? Where are the, the, you know, the blogs, the media outlets, the YouTube channels, the Instagram accounts, et cetera?”

[00:10:00] I start my thinking there, but then I say, “Okay, stop, pull back. There are circles of influence for every business and every brand.” And if you start, uh, with, you know, the employees as sort of your inner circle, well, let’s figure out how we can arm them to influence their family and friends. And then let’s step one circle out and talk about vendors and partners and other businesses that we have a relationship. How can we arm them to influence on our behalf? Then you take another step out from that. And maybe you’re talking about the media, or maybe you’re talking about other people in the community. And so there’s lots of different audiences that you can find for your business, where you can map influence to ultimately reach the audience that you’re trying to reach.

And so, yeah, my head is still in the online influence world sometimes, but in order to really do our clients justice, we’ve got to say, “Where can we drive influence?” And it may be online, but it may also be offline. So we have to consider that.

[00:10:25] Matt Bailey: That’s, it reminds me of a campaign I worked on in a tourism, uh, aspect where interviewing people, the geographical area was huge. And what we found was that people wanted the insider’s view, you know, where are the good places to go see the landscape? Where are the good restaurants? What, I, and what they wanted was the locals’ point of view. And so, I mean, this was, you know, almost 15 years ago, but what we’re doing is we’re going to local people, restaurant owners, I’m thinking like, trail guides and getting their view of their recommendations.

That content was so valuable. That’s what people wanted. And it ended up creating a great content asset to build on for this community. And so it’s just so funny because, you know, I would have never thought we were doing influence marketing or influencer marketing. I don’t think the term was there yet.

[00:11:23] Jason Falls: Yeah, that’s true, and actually one of the, there’s a couple of different ways that I would sort of interpret that for folks. Um, you know, one of our clients at Cornett is, is VisitLEX, which is the local CVB for Lexington, Kentucky. And, um, they, you know, have, a, a site or a suite on their website called “Share the Lex,” which is basically stories sometimes written by the brand, but sometimes written by, you know, the locals in town who were saying, “Hey, if you’re going to visit Lexington, here’s the inside scoop on the best bars or the best, you know, antique shops and whatnot.”

And so a lot of that content is out there and that’s exactly the strategy is the most influential people for this brand, for the people who are going to be coming here, not necessarily enticing people to come here in the first place, but once they’re locked in, we want to serve them up content from influential people who are going to help them have a better experience here.

And who are those influencers? It’s the local folks who know that, the town. It’s not, you know, somebody who’s got a bazillion followers on Instagram.

[00:12:19] Matt Bailey: Right. So really, I mean, so when we start looking at that definition of an influencer, I mean, really it’s exactly opposite. Like you said, it’s, it’s the duck lips, peace sign, it’s the, exactly the opposite of what people think.

[00:12:31] Jason Falls: Yep.

[00:12:32] Matt Bailey: And so the challenge I would say, and, you know, I, would be who is the influencer? That seems to be the challenge then of identifying.

[00:12:41] Jason Falls: It really is. It’s identifying, you know, who influences your audience and think about this. I mean, we are, everybody is an influencer to a degree.

I mean, if you go back and look at the research from, um, you know, the, the book “Talk Triggers” by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin, the research that was in that book was, was published in a report the year before called “Chatter Matters.” And one of the things that they asked is, you know, uh, ask the survey of people, “Who do you turn to? Where do you turn for advice on major purchases?”

And, you know, the, their experience with the brand and/or their own, you know, personal experience was one and two, but the next three were family and friends, um, online reviews, and expert reviews.

[00:13:20] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:13:20] Jason Falls: And so if, if you look at those three categories, particularly family and friends, by definition, everyone is an influencer because we have families and friends.

I’ve also been standing behind people having a conversation at the grocery store about something. Might not be a product, it might be a TV show or something, but they influence whether or not I want to watch that show or whether or not I want to , you know, consider buying this particular product or going to an event.

So we all have some degree of influence. The challenge for your brand or your strategist or your agency, or, you know, whatever it is, whoever it is that’s kind of formulating your influence marketing approach, is you’ve got to try to identify who are the most effective and persuasive influencers for the audience that we’re trying to reach within the context of what it is we do.

Because again, uh, you know, your, your mother, uh, may be great at giving you advice on what headache medicine to take, but you’re probably not going to turn to her for advice on which club to go dancing at. Right? So you have to define the context and understand, “All right, who are the right influencers? And then how can we develop communication strategies to empower them to influence on our behalf?”

[00:14:29] Matt Bailey: Hmm. Yeah, that’s powerful. I mean, the funny thing is, is it, it, it makes so much sense because it’s common sense. Um, and if anything, I would say that the, the marketing and the marketing media world has just made this more murky and complex and, you know, I guess trying to put a shine on something that just seems to be human nature.

[00:14:52] Jason Falls: You’re, you know, you’re absolutely right. I mean, some of the best communication strategies, some of the best campaigns, some of the best, you know, brand programs over the years are always driven by simplicity. It’s just communicating a simple idea in a very, you know, easy fashion. Um, you know, the, the one that, that, that I think about all the time is, is, you know, Apple, um, you know, they spark word of mouth, people turning to their friends and talking about their products, but they don’t do it with an ad campaign, and they don’t do it with, with anything other than just the design of their products.

They lead with design, and their design is so good and so appealing to people that others are going to turn around and talk about it. They’re innovators, they’re leaders in that regard. And you look at other, you know, brands, a lot of people love them or hate them for whatever reason, a lot of people talk about Chick-fil-A and it’s because they do a great job with billboards.

You know, their billboards are clever and well-placed and fun and funny. Right? And so, um, you know, the simplicity of the communications mesh is the one that really stands out. And so sometimes we in the marketing world overthink things and try to be too fancy and put too fine a polish on it, and sometimes it’s just, “Hey, this is our product. This is what it does. How can we communicate that very simply to an audience that will turn and tell other people about it?”

[00:16:11] Matt Bailey: Wow. That’s the key. It really is the key. Will you break down four ways that, uh, businesses can use influence marketing? What are those?

[00:16:22] Jason Falls: So the four purposes, the reasons that you might use influence marketing, um, are, are sort of the last quarter of the book and I, I really spend a lot of time, uh, focused on those because I wanted to equate, um, you know, what I think influence marketing can be used for, into terms that everybody can understand. You know, the CEO of a company who doesn’t know anything about marketing is going to get this, right?

So the four purposes are the first, the first one is to “persuade.” And that is kind of the root of, of all types of advertising, right? So, um, you can use influencers to persuade an audience to take action. That’s actually the core definition of what you’re trying to do with any type of influence marketing, but you can actually use the influencers to persuade an audience to buy your product, right? So persuasion equates to advertising.

You can also, though, think beyond just the transactional sort of phase of, of marketing here and think about, okay, “What else do we need to accomplish, uh, in our communication strategies?” Well, uh, the second purpose of influence is to “associate” and I, uh, parallel this to public relations. So if you understand PR it’s typically about aligning your business or your product with, um, you know, certain media publications, certain audiences, maybe even certain celebrities, certain shows where there’s product placement, that’s where PR kind of comes into play.

And so the association factor in influence marketing is not so much about driving transaction, but about aligning yourself with a certain lifestyle, a certain look, a certain field. Um, so for one of our clients, Buffalo Trace Bourbon to give you an example, um, they, we’ve had a partnership with, um, uh, Derek Wolfe had “Over the Fire Cooking” for a couple of years now, and he basically teaches people how to grill out.

And so you’re talking someone who’s very, you know, strong and outdoorsy and, um, you know, a very powerful, you know, rugged individual, but who is showing people, being very useful and showing them how to cook out and make delicious meals with good recipes and so on and so forth.

Well, the audience that’s going to eat a good cooked out steak is a lot, real close to the audience that’s going to like a really good bourbon. And so we kind of put those two together and now all of a sudden we’ve got this really nice partnership. It’s not so much about selling Buffalo Trace, even though yes, that’s the ultimate goal. It’s about aligning and associating with Derek and his type of content and his personality.

The third one is “validation,” and this is sort of closely aligned to customer service, but in the online space, I kind of equate it to ratings and reviews. So you can actually push some buttons with influencers to drive ratings and reviews. Now, let me put a caveat in there. You don’t want to drive influencers to do ratings and reviews on Amazon or on Google or on Yelp because it’s against those sites’ terms of service for you to solicit reviews.

But what you can do, is you can capture their use of your product, and their reviews of your product, and put those reviews on your own website, which Google and all the search engines look at as a measure of third-party validation of what you do, so it helps your SEO. And you can capture this really good engaging content from these really good engaging content creators around your product that you can also use, so that validation is there too.

And then the last one kind of aligns with some of the things we’ve been talking about here, is “enthuse.” So you can use, uh, influence marketing to drive enthusiasm around your brand, which I align to word of mouth. So it’s again, getting people excited enough to turn around and tell somebody else about what you’re doing.

[00:20:00] And so if you build a really good influence partnership, I’m sure there are people out there who might watch a couple of episodes of Over the Fire Cooking on YouTube with Derek Wolfe and he’s toasting Buffalo Trace at the end of that, I’ll guarantee you that that’s going to call someone to say, “Hey, let’s go get some Buffalo Trace and see what this bourbon is that Derek’s drinking.”

And then they’re going to drink it and realize it’s really good and go, “Hey, you should try this Buffalo Trace.” Now they’re turning around and telling their friends, and that drive, that’s driving enthusiasm through an association with a, uh, an influencer.

[00:20:23] Matt Bailey: Those are great. Those are, I really like how you broke that down into very specific steps, but also the transition of, okay, persuading is transactional, association is PR, validation, I like how you brought those different areas in, and, and really what you’re doing is showing that influence marketing is nothing new. It’s just, it’s a part of developing relationships with people who are like-minded, and I love the lifestyle example of, of the whiskey with outdoor cooking.

It, it’s, it’s the same audience. It’s the same psychographics that you’re trying to reach. It just makes sense. I love that example.

[00:21:01] Jason Falls: It does.

[00:21:02] Matt Bailey: What’s a great example of someone who’s employed these four steps that maybe you’ve worked on, or maybe just observed?

[00:21:10] Jason Falls: Wow. You know, there’s, there’s a lot of really good examples out there. I think, you know, there’s, there’s plenty of brands that have done some really good content partnerships. Um, here’s, uh, here’s an example that’s a little different to help you think about influencers, even, even from a completely different angle. I just interviewed a guy named Ron John Roy, who is, for my podcast, who is the VP of Strategy for Adore Me, Adore Me is a, uh, a women’s clothing, or a lingerie brand at first, but they’ve expanded beyond lingerie.

Um, and they tried, you know, sort of the, the, you know, the mega influencer, the celebrity influencer type stuff for a while, and they didn’t really see the return that they were hoping to see from it. So they completely pivoted their influence marketing, turned it completely around and said, we’re going to allow our customers and empower, empower our customers to be our influencers.

So what they did is they invited their customers who were already creating content about them and said, “Hey, we’d like for you to come into our creators program. And if you post, you know, your, um, your clothing purchases, your reviews of our product and whatnot to your social networks, you’ll be rewarded with gift cards for more product.” So they don’t even have to pay them anything…

[00:22:23] Matt Bailey: Wow.

[00:22:23] Jason Falls: …other than product, and now they’ve got hundreds, if not thousands of customers who are, you know, willing to come in and say, “I just want to tell people how much I love your brand, and if I’m going to get rewarded for it, that’s a bonus.” But they’ve got these really active, passionate brand fans who are coming in and serving as their influencer program.

They’ve even built a custom, you know, sort of back-end system to have these people come in and be ambassadors, but the gift cards are generated from a point-of-sale system that kicks it out to them, and it’s all tracked so that they know which of their customers is the most influential. It’s amazing what they’re doing.

[00:22:59] Matt Bailey: You know, I am amazed that so many companies, I think overlook the customer, in looking outside for an influencer or for a campaign or, or that next silver bullet that’s going to get them to the next level. When in reality, if you’ve got customers that love you and love your product, you’re overlooking a massive amount of content, a massive amount of validation that is just going to help sell itself. Uh, that is an excellent example.

[00:23:29] Jason Falls: Well, and if you think about it too, if you can, just look at your customer base. If you can find someone, let’s say you’re a brand who has not yet figured out or explored Tik Tok, which there’s a lot of brands that haven’t, and it’s okay. I haven’t either. I don’t like it all that much either, but anyway.

[00:23:45] Matt Bailey: I’m with you.

[00:23:45] Jason Falls: So you want to get into Tik Tok, you want to figure it out. You think your audience is there. If you go to Tik Tok and do a keyword search or something for your brand, and you find somebody who’s already a customer, who already likes what you do, loves your brand for, or at least speaks positively about it in some form or fashion. And you can see that they have lots of engagement and create good content on Tik Tok.

Doesn’t matter how many, how many followers they have. It doesn’t really matter how many views their videos have. But if you can look at it and say, “This is pretty good Tik Tok content,” that’s a content partner. Reach out to that person and say, “Hey, you love our brand. We love your content. Let’s put those two things together and you help us create content so that we can figure out Tik Tok from someone who knows Tik Tok.” I mean, you basically have a freelancer that’s helping introduce you to a whole new audience if you do that.

[00:24:34] Matt Bailey: I love it. It’s a new way of looking at it and building relationships. I mean, this goes back to, I want to say the early days of the, of, of blogging, where there was someone who created a blog about Moleskin notebooks, and I can’t remember their name. And Moleskin ended up saying, “Well, let’s just buy the blog…”

[00:24:52] Jason Falls: Yep.

[00:24:52] Matt Bailey: “…And employ him as a writer.” And it was like one of the first times I think blogging was just validated by this. And we started to see that, but in reality, that’s exactly what you’re talking about. This is influence, this is developing partnerships, or even at, you know, most extreme, let’s bring it in house.

[00:25:11] Jason Falls: Yeah, absolutely. And there’s, there are a number of examples now of, of folks just like that, influencers who have started talking about their love of a brand online and the brand reaches out to them and creates a partnership, and I’m sure there’s probably some examples out there of people just like the Moleskin guy who ended up getting hired by the company because, uh, they love the brand so much that the brand said, “Okay, let’s, let’s bring you in and have you work for us.”

[00:25:36] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Okay. So let’s look at the other side of this. What are some of the mistakes that brands make? That’s one, and then, well, maybe I should hold this ’til, cause the other concern, especially when it comes to influencer marketing, and I don’t know about you, Jason, but I saw articles like this all the time and they never sat well. And it was, “You have to give up brand freedom,” and some of the articles were just, “You need to just let go, let the influencer do whatever they want to do.”

And this was in the era of, of the Paul brothers, uh, that, “If you’re going to get Jake Paul to do something, you need to let him do whatever he wants with your brand.” Those articles never really sat well with me. So I, I’m curious, that’s why I’m asking you this in two parts. Number one, what are mistakes? Two, when it comes to brand freedom and you know, what parameters would you put on that?

[00:26:24] Jason Falls: Sure. Well, I think we’ve reached a point where, uh, I mean, obviously if you’re going to go and do something with one of the Paul brothers, you’re going to have to be kind of on the bleeding edge of taking risks, right? Because that’s a, that’s a level of content, I mean, if you’re sponsoring PewDiePie, you’re out there on the fringes anyway.

[00:26:41] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:26:42] Jason Falls: Um, but I think we’ve reached a point now with the maturity of the influence marketing space, that content creators who have been doing this awhile and working with brands and the newer ones who are, you know, kind of getting advice from those who have been around, they understand, “Hey, the brand is going to do a partnership with you, but there are going to be some guardrails.”

You know, there are some certain things, like for instance, we work with spirits brands. We certainly, you know, can’t have anybody, uh, out there talking about over consumption because that’s something we can’t have in the messaging for, uh, you know, uh, communication.

And we go so far as to say, it’s not just about over consumption on this one post, or the posts that you do with us, but if you come out next week and, you know, have a story about you getting drunk, we can’t work with you. It’s just not good for the brand. It’s not the messaging that we want out there. And so, um, there are going to be guardrails and you can, as a brand say, “Hey, we would love to partner with you. We do want to give you creative freedom because you’re the content creator here. You’re the one who knows your audience and knows how to create content, to engage them. And that’s why we’re coming to you. But we, we would like for you to respect these guard rails.”

Throw up a few things that are, you know, some kind of, some must do’s or some must not do’s, but then do give them that creative freedom to have fun with the video or, um, you know, uh, one area that is really popular right now because of COVID and whatnot is live streaming. And I think brands are very nervous about turning over, you know, an influencer who’s going to host something or do something like that in a live stream. But if you work with the ones who do it a lot and are kind of broadcasters kind of by the way they do things, they’re going to understand, “Hey, there’s guard rails and there are parameters, and as long as I work within those, we can have some fun with it.”

Yeah. You have to trust them a little bit, but if you do a really good job of vetting on the front end, then you can probably, um, you know, have, have a much higher level of confidence, which actually leads to the other question of the mistakes. Vetting on the front end is probably the biggest mistake that brands make. It’s something they don’t do. And, and, and here’s kind of a way to think about it. There’s lots of influence marketing softwares out there where you can go type in a few keywords, spit back a list of, “Hey, here’s 25 people that are influential around this topic.”

[00:28:50] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:28:51] Jason Falls: Too many brands take that list and say, “These are our targets. These are the influencers we’re going after.” You have got to vet that list. The list is a starting point. Not an ending point. You got to go through each one of those and get to know their content. Get to know them. Go back a couple of years, cause like I say, if you’re a spirits brand and you see someone who, “Oh, I love this person’s content, let’s go with it,” and you haven’t gone back two or three years ago to figure out that they got busted for DUI, you’re in trouble. Somebody is going to see that and you’re going to be thrown under the bus.

So you’ve really got to do a job, a good job of getting to know them and their content. And while you’re doing that, then you can spot the ones who are the fakers, the ones who have this very light, superficial engagement, it’s just a bunch of emojis and one words, that’s, that’s the kind of behavior that a bot would do, that not a person would do.

[00:30:00] So you can look at the comments, you can look at the engagement, see are they in there going back and forth with their audience, really driving the conversation? Are their fans actually saying, “Hey, I just went out and tried that, or did that,” are they giving you indications that this particular influencer is persuasive? You’re going to see that, but you’re only going to see it if you dig in and vet those, those lists.

[00:30:04] Matt Bailey: Wow. Yeah, absolutely. Research number one. Uh, I love what you said. I don’t think enough research is done, uh, when brands are getting into this, or they’re relying on an agency to do it, which I don’t think in many times the agency is going to be as brand aware or safety aware, uh, in doing that.

So, absolutely. I agree with you. Research is, has got to be the number one, probably, mistake that brands make. Well, what about, uh, managing, uh, the influencer? Once they have an agreement or, and I imagine that is part of the research, you’re looking to see how they’ve worked with other brands. Um, but what about, uh, the management of the relationship?

[00:30:42] Jason Falls: So I, you know, I’m a, I’m a PR guy by trade. So the relationship part is really, really important to me. I like to have a direct connection with the influencer or the influencer’s talent manager, if you have to go through that level. Um, but I like to have a direct relationship with the influencer, and I like for the influencer to be as close to the brand as possible. You know, we’re developing a strategy now, and my idea is let’s identify four or five, you know, really influential people within the audience we’re trying to reach.

And let’s sort of welcome them in as brand ambassadors. Let’s bring them on site, show them how the product’s made, get them involved in some R&D sessions and talking to the product team, make them feel like they’re baked into what we’re doing so that when they go back and talk to their audiences, they feel like they’re an extension of our brand and they feel like they’re really part of who we are.

So I’m real big on that sort of long-term investment relationship building with a few influential people that you’re hitting their audience with, not just reach, but also frequency, you know, over time, some good old advertising terms that people understand. Um, those are the ones that I think are more genuine and work a lot better, uh, for building a brand through influencers and having a really good impact, uh, on the audience.

But there are also opportunities where, you know what, if like, if you need 50 million people to see, uh, something about your brand by Monday, then you better hope the Superbowl’s Sunday and you better hope you got $5.6 million to buy a commercial. So there are opportunities and there are, uh, necessities where you have to reach a lot of people fast.

And so you might use a man, use a managed service, uh, which is kind of an agency that will go out and kind of handle everything for you. Or you can use one of these influencer marketing software companies that has a managed service component and have them go out there and do it for you, and it’s much more of a transactional thing.

The, the, again, the biggest thing that you need to do on the front end of either of those scenarios, is that front end research to understand those influencers. I’ve got one client right now that’s working with a managed service. And as they’re the advertising agency communications arm of the brand, we are, you know, giving the managed service feedback on the lists that they’re bringing back to us.

So last week they brought us a list of influencers and we sat and looked at it and said, okay, two, two or three of these 20 are right, but the rest of them are off brand. And so from, from the creative perspective, we went back to them and said, “We need to narrow in a little bit so that when we go to the brand team, we’ve got a list of 20 good ones, not 2 and, you know, 18 that are not, not on, on point.”

They came back to us a few days later and now we’ve got 20 that are on brand and are really good, and they did the research, we validated the research. Now we’ve got a roster of, of influencers we can go back. So again, it all goes back to understanding as deeply as you can the influence partners you’re choosing, so that you have a better chance of being aligned, being on brand, making sure that they’re going to work within the parameters you want to work. And you can do that manually, or you can use managed service and software to handle all that.

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[00:35:13] Matt Bailey: Alright, listener, thanks for, uh, hanging through the break here. And as I left off, I, I, some, a thought came to me as we were talking about digging into these influencers that were getting ready to do a campaign with. We’re doing the research. I, I, Jason, in today’s cancel culture, and we’ve seen numerous examples of this where a tweet or a post from 10 years ago is coming back to haunt people. And you had mentioned that earlier, that if you’re doing something with a spirits company, they’ve got to have a clean record and they’ve got to have a clean, how often is this a concern?

And is this something that, uh, you know, if you want to be an influencer, right? And, and part of it is I’m not recommending influencing as a job. I’m not recommending it. But this is something that I feel like any professional or anyone who wants to have a business visibility, that maintaining or, or understanding what you’ve posted maybe 10, now we’re getting into 20 years ago, this may come back on you. I mean, have you experienced part of this?

[00:36:22] Jason Falls: Yeah, a little bit. And you know, 2020 was, uh, a year where, um, you know, the social landscape changed a lot for, for brands.

[00:36:31] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:36:31] Jason Falls: For the first time, really, in history, you had a number of brands, not one or two, but you know, dozens of brands saying, “We’re going to take a stand on Black Lives Matter.”

We’re going to take a stand on some of these social issues. And, um, and they, there were also influencers who were taking a stand, but they were taking a stand without, you know, communicating back with their brand partners and saying, are you okay with this? And so some influencers lost some of their brand connections because the brands they were working with weren’t comfortable with taking a stand, not necessarily that the brand disagreed with them. They just weren’t necessarily interested in being associated with someone who was so, you know, forward on certain particular issues.

[00:37:09] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.

[00:37:10] Jason Falls: So we have entered a new era where the social conscious, uh, is a big part of a brand’s decision on who they want to work with. And so that’s part of that research too, you know, if you are a, uh, let’s say you’re a relatively conservative, uh, you know, company, uh, and you are, you know, one that, you know, you, you want to serve as wide an audience as possible, and you don’t necessarily want to stick your foot in the political mud, um, you’ve got to make sure that the influencers that you’re working with are, you know, moderate to right, and not necessarily out, you know, in the, you know, activism space, because it’s probably going to be a misalignment for your brand.

So it’s definitely something you’ve got to watch out for. I just read an article not too long ago, an influencer from Sephora, uh, who was working with Sephora, you know, made some statement about the, uh, the incursion in the capital that was, you know, insensitive and Sephora just said, “You’re gone, sorry, we’re not working with you anymore.”

So the influencers have got to watch out for it, and the brands have got to keep an eye on it because they need to protect their reputation, too.

[00:38:11] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, I fully agree, we’ve entered a new era and, uh, but even before this, I would see, uh, peers posting and part of me felt like, why would you alienate half your audience by taking such an extreme stand on this?

Uh, and, and it’s not so much the stand, I think sometimes it’s how you say it. You know, getting back to what my grandmother would tell me, it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it. Uh, and, and again, you’re going to alienate and now with this division, uh, it’s so easy to, “I’m not going to buy from them because of this. I’m not going to buy from them because of that.” And I feel like as a brand, I want to sell to as many people as possible.

[00:38:55] Jason Falls: That’s true. But I would, I would also use, an example that I used earlier, let me throw out there again, you know, Chick-fil-A is a very polarizing brand from a political and social perspective.

Um, you know, they’re the ownership’s family, uh, uh, Truett Cathy’s family history, I think that’s right. Is that Truett Cathy? I think it is.

[00:39:13] Matt Bailey: I think it is.

[00:39:13] Jason Falls: The family history there, the executives are right-wing Christian conservative groups. Uh, they, uh, allegedly, I don’t know all the details, they support, uh, organizations that are anti-LGBTQ.

Um, and so there’s a big division. In fact, there are some places in the world where you can go, if you’re holding a Chick-fil-A cup, your LGBTQ friends will be looking at you like, “What are you doing? Or do you hate me? What what’s wrong with you?”

It’s a very divisive brand. And when the public came out and said, “Wait, we don’t like this.” Or some people in the public came out, said that they really don’t like this. Chick-fil-A was like, “So? This is who we are. We’re, we’re a family brand. We were founded on Christian principles. This is what we believe. Tough.” And they’re just fine by the way.

[00:39:57] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:39:57] Jason Falls: So, you know, it’s, from a brand perspective, I think you have to own who you are and, and, and if you’re not comfortable being out there, owning who you are visibly to the world, then don’t. That’s okay too.

[00:40:00] But I think there are some brands that are like, you know what, I’m taking this side of this issue because it’s who I am, and that’s who the company is, and that’s what we support. And I don’t see anything wrong with that necessarily because we’re, we’re in a big world, and it’s not an in some game, you know, everybody can win.

[00:40:26] Matt Bailey: That is very, very true. That is a, a good example. And, uh, yeah, I mean, there are brands that make that stand and part of that is, you know, and, and from that consumer standpoint, am I going to, you’ve got to make that choice as well as, am I going to completely say, “Never again, will I, um, purchase from that brand?” Or are there going to be times where I’m going to have to make an exception or, you know, or does the big political picture mean that much to me? That’s…

[00:40:56] Jason Falls: I think, I think the landscape really is that most people, um, they might, if they, if they have the opportunity to choose not, they might, but most people will be like, “Yeah, but they make really good chicken, so I’m going to go.”

[00:41:08] Matt Bailey: Exactly.

[00:41:11] Jason Falls: There’s, there’s people on either end of the spectrum that are absolutely principled and, “I will never eat there. I will never shop there, et cetera,” and good for you.

[00:41:19] Matt Bailey: Yep.

[00:41:19] Jason Falls: But a lot of us, and I say us because I don’t agree with the political, you know, direction of the way Chick-fil-A thinks. But dammit, they make good chicken, so I’m going to eat there sometimes.

[00:41:30] Matt Bailey: I think there’s a lot of people in that, in that area, because I mean, you go with what’s good. It’s quality. And so, uh, yeah. That’s the best thing you can do as a company, and I guess that’s the, the, you know, if you want to make a stand, you better have a quality product. That’s…

[00:41:45] Jason Falls: Absolutely.

[00:41:45] Matt Bailey: And people that love you. Alright, well, let’s kind of turn their focus because you alluded to this a little earlier, and that is, and here’s the big question that I always get about, not just influence marketing, but anything that has to do with social and that’s measurement. I mean, that is the big question. How do I measure? What goes on with that?

[00:42:09] Jason Falls: That’s my favorite question.

[00:42:11] Matt Bailey: Exactly.

[00:42:12] Jason Falls: And I, of course, as you know, we, we get it a lot. But it’s my favorite question because I honestly think, and I hope that what I’m about to say will maybe enlighten some people and make you see things a little differently, but I am baffled by the people who are, who are baffled by measurement.

Um, it, it, I just scratch my head and say, well, this is not hard. This is really not, this ain’t rocket surgery. Now this is, this is not hard to do. Um, now the, what you have to understand though, is that measurement is not something you do after the fact. It is something you do from the beginning all the way through.

[00:42:48] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:42:49] Jason Falls: And so, my sort of mantra that I try to remind everybody that I work with around is, we have to plan to measure. And that means when you’re starting your strategy and you set your goal, you have to plan how you’re going to measure to that goal. And, now if your goal is “We want to drive more sales,” then you obviously have to be able to track how many sales you have. That’s pretty simple.

But you’re also going to want to lay data traps along the way to capture KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, because the sales is your VPI, the performance indicator, but you’re going to want to track, trap your KPI data along the way so that you can understand, how are you doing? Are you headed in the right direction?

If you don’t know how you’re doing along the way, then you won’t be able to course correct if you’re, you’ve made a wrong turn, or if you’ve made a wrong decision, or if the market’s not responding the way you anticipated. So, this is true for influencers. It’s true for social media. It’s true for any other part of marketing.

So if your goal is brand awareness, you want to make more people aware of what you’re doing, then you have to start with a plan to measure awareness, which means you have to start with a benchmark. How many people are aware of you now? Because if you don’t know that, then how many people you measured at the end, it’s not gonna matter. You’re not gonna be able to compare it to anything.

So you start out with a Q-score, a survey, um, you know, social listening to see how many people are talking about your brand at this particular point in time. And then you set the data traps along the way, the key performance indicators that are going to tell you how, how, if you’re headed in the right direction, like, how many impressions you’re getting from your social content? Uh, how much reach are you getting from your influencers or your, your online media? Um, how many comments are happening? How many social listening measures? How many people are mentioning you?

You trap those key performance indicators along the way so that you can see the trend. So that if there, the trend is not looking good, you can say, “Okay, we’re doing something wrong. Let’s reconfigure and figure out how we need to make more people aware of what we do.” and then at the end, you hopefully go back to that same initial benchmark and measure the same thing to see what the difference is. And that’s how you measure your return on awareness.

Now, ROI, Return on Investment, is a little misleading because it’s an accounting firm. It’s, it’s how much, you know, money you made minus how much money you spent, divided by how much money you spent, I think is the equation. It’s a math thing, so I’m not real good at it, but it’s a, it’s an accounting term. If your goal is awareness, you don’t measure awareness in $56,000.27. Right?

[00:45:26] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.

[00:45:27] Jason Falls: You measure awareness in the difference between aware now versus aware then. So understand that the ROI is sometimes the wrong question.

If the goal is revenue, if the goal is money, then absolutely ROI is valid and you can correlate increases in awareness to increases in sales, but understanding, level set those expectations with your executives or your clients upfront. Hey, if they’re going to ask the ROI question, then our goal has to be driving money and then we can correlate all the other things.

[00:46:00] Matt Bailey: Yep. I, I, I understand why this is your favorite question. I, so in the past, boy, I want to say in the past four months, I have trained about 30 companies in analytics through digital, through online workshops. Two questions that always come up. How do we measure? Second question consistently, how do we determine benchmarks?

And, and that blows my mind because, you know, I love how you pointed that, if you don’t have a benchmark, you don’t have anything to compare to, I can’t tell you if you’re doing good or bad, and it’s amazing how in every session, benchmarks comes up as an obstacle.

Um, in fact, I just, yesterday I had the, uh, the lead data scientist for a major company tell me that when they’re planning to measure, they’re doing an awareness campaign, but here’s the stakeholder, the VP saying, “But I still want to drive leads.” And this is, and so organizationally, measurement is just a problem from the top down of the expectation of what measurement does and, and its role. Uh, but you know, yeah, “This is an awareness campaign, but I still want to drive leads.”

[00:47:13] Jason Falls: Well, what I would say then is, “You need two campaigns. You need one to drive awareness, and one to drive leads.” And you can correlate the two, sure.

[00:47:21] Matt Bailey: Yep.

[00:47:21] Jason Falls: But you’re, you’re doing, trying to do two type of thing. The more goals you have, the harder it is to make sense of any of them.

[00:47:29] Matt Bailey: Absolutely.

[00:47:30] Jason Falls: So, if you have one goal, and everybody’s pointed in the same direction, you’re going to be a lot happier with your results.

[00:47:36] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Absolutely. I like how you walk through that. Yeah. You could go all day on measurement. It’s a, it’s a great, great topic, but, and that’s one of the things I love what you pointed out, because I tell people if, if analytics or measurement depended on math, it’d be in trouble. If there’s dollar signs next to it, we’re good. That’s, that’s what makes math understandable.

So what are some, some creative ways that companies can leverage influence, uh, as, as we kind of get to the end here, um, some practical takeaways, uh, that a business could implement?

[00:48:10] Jason Falls: So, a couple of things, you know, obviously, you know, just the whole idea of incorporating offline influence and that we’ve talked about already, is, is, I think the primary thing I would say there.

But also, too, think about your influence partners, not in a vacuum. And I’ll go back to Derek Wolfe and Over the Fire Cooking, uh, with Buffalo Trace Bourbon. A couple of years ago, Derek, you know, started and built his whole brand with these little 62nd time-lapse videos that were basically sort of video recipes on how to cook certain types of meat outdoors.

[00:48:40] Matt Bailey: Oh, those are popular. I love those.

[00:48:43] Jason Falls: Oh, they’re fantastic. I’ve learned so much just from watching his channel on Instagram. It’s amazing. I’m not, I’m still a good, not a good cook, but whatever. Um, so he, he, that’s how he built his brand with these little 62nd videos, and they were taken with his phone and it was kind of, you know, suspended sort of, I don’t know how he was above the fire without melting the phone, but at any rate they were, they were, you know, they were kind of amateurish.

And so we actually went to him after we had partnered with him for a while and started to really see some good traction and realized this is a guy we want to build a relationship with. We went to him after a while and said, “Hey, let’s, let’s up the production value of what you’re doing. Let the brand bring some production quality to the table and let’s record basically an outdoor cooking show. Let’s do four or five episodes of a show.”

Because we quite frankly thought Derek should be on the Outdoor Network or the Discovery Channel or something doing an actual TV show. So, that was some value we brought to him was, “Let’s increase the production value. Let’s do something a little different.” So we plotted out these four episodes of a first series of Over the Fire Cooking, the TV series.

Um, but we didn’t just have Derek teaching people how to cook. The first episode we brought in another influencer and had Danielle Pruitt from Wild + Whole teach us how to hunt big game. And then the second episode, we had, uh, a butcher, uh, um, Porter Road Butchers in Nashville who had a nice online following, came in and showed us how to, you know, break down, uh, an animal for, for cooking and distribution and whatnot.

[00:50:00] And then the third episode, we had a blacksmith influencer come in and show us how to make blades, and silverware, and stuff, knives and whatnot for either hunting or cooking. Um, and then the fourth episode we had, um, uh, Derek come to the Buffalo Trace Distillery and cook with Harlan Wheatley, the master distiller at Buffalo Trace, had the other three influencers come in for a big dinner, so the, the…

[00:50:32] Matt Bailey: Oh.

[00:50:33] Jason Falls: …finale was everybody coming together.

So if you think about an influencer and partnering with them for content singularly, you miss the opportunity to capitalize on all the other influencers you’re using. Bring them together and do something with them in a group setting. And now all of a sudden, you’re amplifying and magnifying what you’re doing.

[00:50:51] Matt Bailey: Uh, okay. So I got to ask you, how much content did that create? I mean…

[00:50:55] Jason Falls: Oh, geez.

[00:50:56] Matt Bailey: …re-purposing and developing, I mean, yeah, a lot of planning, but at the end result, the, the, the content assets that you must have at the end of that.

[00:51:05] Jason Falls: Yeah. I mean, it was, it was at least six months of content for the brand.

[00:51:10] Matt Bailey: Wow.

[00:51:10] Jason Falls: And, and probably beyond that, because we not only had the long form episodes, but then we had, within each episode, we had these little, you know, video snippets and vignettes that would either promote the episode or just be good content in and of, in, in and of themselves on Instagram and whatnot.

Plus, we had still images from each to do on, you know, Instagram or Facebook. Um, you know, plus we had, um, you know, some really interesting mentions in PR and whatnot that were happening because all this was going on. Derek was putting, you know, content from each of the episodes on his channels, we were putting it on our channels, I mean, all told if you strung it all together, it was probably nine months to a year worth of content. And the episodes lasted, I mean, it was four episodes, so it was a four-week run.

[00:51:53] Matt Bailey: That’s amazing. That’s one thing I think a lot of people overlook, and I saw a recent survey of marketers and they were saying that coming up with new content is one of the biggest problems they have. And I think a lot of times they’re thinking in terms of little pieces, rather than, I love this. It’s a big picture. It’s a bold move. But like you said, that, the repurposing, the, the cutting it apart, using it in different ways, distribute, distribution is king…

[00:52:21] Jason Falls: Oh, yeah.

[00:52:21] Matt Bailey: …is really when it comes down to it.

it

[00:52:24] Jason Falls: And, and, and think about this too, each episode had a recipe, because they cooked something.

[00:52:29] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:52:30] Jason Falls: Each, each episode theoretically could have had a cocktail recipe on top of that, because they were drinking something. Now they drank it neat at the end, but Buffalo Trace is a really good cocktail bourbon, so we could have done that too. And so many different things you can do, uh, with just one big idea that is, uh, you know, a longer form piece of content, and then you cut it up and repurpose it in a bunch of different ways.

And by the way, if your brand is, is, is nervous about, or doesn’t, you know, it’s like, “Ah, we have a hard time creating content.” That’s why you partner with influencers, because they don’t have a hard time with content.

[00:53:00] Matt Bailey: No.

[00:53:00] Jason Falls: They know how to do it. So that’s where you want to partner.

[00:53:04] Matt Bailey: No, that is a great, great idea because I think a lot of brands, they don’t think about that, uh, I, you know, I call it the content asset. It’s it’s the, once this is created, it’s content for a year and it’s something that you continually build, rather than do these constant one-offs that they live on their own, no one probably ever looks at them. Uh, but you can just redevelop, repurpose, reuse constantly, uh, for a number of years.

And yeah. You know, influencers are great with that. Uh, but also it’s that bold thinking. It’s that big picture. And I think a lot of times brands don’t really understand what they’ve got, uh, inside their own walls, uh, in telling their own story or telling how people can use this.

And I, and I think sometimes they just need that nudge of someone from the outside, looking at them and saying, “That’s phenomenal, that the world needs to hear that or see that.” And I think that’s the missing piece with a lot of brands, is that inability to see the value of what they’re doing.

[00:54:08] Jason Falls: I think you’re right. And I, and I think there’s lots of opportunities out there and influencers can bring that third-party perspective to you and say, “Look, you know, you’re telling this story, but there’s all sorts of different ways you could tell it in, in addition to all sorts of different avenues we could take with extending that story.” so, you know, these people are content creators and storytellers, so leverage them for that.

[00:54:28] Matt Bailey: That’s great. Great. Jason, hey, it has been great having you here. And, uh, the last few minutes, you know, I thought, you’re a bourbon guy, so you’ve you, you have referenced it a number of times. I think I told you earlier, I have just recently been, uh, exploring some bourbon, uh, through one of my daughter’s relationships there, but you know, typically I am a single malt whiskey guy.

Um, I’ve been exploring now the single cask whiskeys out of Scotland. And, uh, that’s been my lockdown hobby is just, you know, doing the cask strength, single bottling out of a cask. It’s been a lot of fun. Um, but the, the bourbon, so what is it about the bourbon that, that you love?

[00:55:12] Jason Falls: Well, I mean, obviously I’m from Kentucky and 95% of the world’s bourbon is from Kentucky too.

[00:55:17] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:55:17] Jason Falls: So it’s a little bit of a, kind of a homeboy thing for me, but, um, I really love exploring bourbons. You know, I, I, I work with the Sazerac family of brands, but have worked with several others over the years. And I bet, my big thing is, you know, when we get back to where it’s safe to go out to bars more frequently, I love to sit down at the bar and pick one out that I’ve never tried and just, you know, see what the, you know, the flavor, the aroma, you know, I kind of drink it a little bit like people would drink wine.

I kind of mash it around a little bit and see what kind of flavors can come out of it. I don’t have a real sophisticated palette, but I know the difference between rye and wheat and how they taste and whatnot. So I really just love exploring it. I think for someone like you, who’s into, you know, single malts and/or single casks, the good, the good news for you is, is a lot of bourbons are now coming out with full proof expressions, which are, you know, the 125 proof or so coming out of the barrel.

Um, and a lot of them like Weller or 1792, uh, full proof have just this beautiful, you know, mouthfeel, and they’ve got some really great flavors that come out. It’s obviously different than scotch because it’s got different grains. It’s actually technically more complex…

[00:56:26] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:56:26] Jason Falls: …than scotch because it’s got, you know, not just barley, it’s got corn and wheat or rye, one of the two in there, um, and different variations of that mash bill. And so it just brings out, you know, a different flavor. Some bourbons I taste, and I think, “Meh, they’re not, not that great.” And some I’m, I’m just in love with and always want to go back to them. Most of the ones I always want to go back to are really expensive though. I got to work on that.

[00:56:48] Matt Bailey: You know, I have noticed that as well in the scotch world, the, the ones I really, uh, and, uh, I would say my favorite ones though, I, when I’m asked to describe it, invariably, it’s butter.

[00:57:01] Jason Falls: Yeah.

[00:57:02] Matt Bailey: I don’t know why, but butter seems to be at the top of the list of the whiskeys that I love. There’s, just has this taste of like, almost like a toasted butter.

[00:57:11] Jason Falls: Yep.

[00:57:11] Matt Bailey: And that’s…

[00:57:13] Jason Falls: That’s, what you’re talking about there is smooth.

[00:57:15] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:57:16] Jason Falls: You know, toasted butter feel to, mouthfeel to me, that means it’s really smooth and you can get really high proof, hot whiskeys that are still very, very smooth. 1792 full proof, full disclosure they’re a client, won the world whiskey of the year a couple of years ago. And, um, it has that, it’s really hot, um, and has a high proof. So if you’re not used to whiskey, it’s going to burn your mouth.

But if you’re used to whiskey or you have a few sips of it before you really try to taste it, and you let it kinda sit on your tongue, it’s got that warm buttery feel, but it’s got all these really cool caramel notes and whatnot that just kind of come out and you’re like, wow, this is really delicious stuff.

[00:57:56] Matt Bailey: Wow. Yeah, I always equate that to it’s a little angry for being let out too early. That’s a…

[00:58:01] Jason Falls: Yeah. That’s a good way of putting it. I like it. I usually call high proof hot. Um, and I, I usually call rye-based bourbon sour, not in a bad way, that’s just the feel I get out of my mouth.

[00:58:13] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:58:14] Jason Falls: And then wheated bourbons are sweet. They have a much more softer, smoother, mixable kind of flavor. I like wheated bourbons better, which is like the Maker’s Marks and the Wellers of the world. Those are my favorite bourbons.

[00:58:24] Matt Bailey: Right. I could see that. I’ve, I’ve been to Kentucky a few times and played around with those and, uh, always, always a fun experience to try and experience, you know, different areas and things like that. But, uh, yeah, I pick up an angry one every once in a while, but, uh, you know, like you said that, the fun ones, the, uh, you know, whiskey it’s, it’s age, uh, you know, anything over 20, absolutely.

But, uh, for our listeners, just be aware when we’re talking about these casks, when we’re talking about this proof, only drinking a little tiny bit.

[00:58:55] Jason Falls: Oh yeah.

[00:58:55] Matt Bailey: And for those of you on camera, you can see.

[00:58:59] Jason Falls: Yeah, maybe.

[00:59:00] Matt Bailey: And I’ve had to explain to my kids, uh, we were watching something the other day and, uh, uh, it was on a television show. They’re pouring whiskeys in shot glasses and they probably did four or five shots. And I’m looking at them going, “That, no. No. That is, it’s not healthy.”

[00:59:16] Jason Falls: It’s a waste of whiskey.

[00:59:16] Matt Bailey: “It’s not recommended.” Yeah. I’m like that’s, and it’s bad whiskey.

[00:59:20] Jason Falls: Yeah.

[00:59:20] Matt Bailey: It’s meant to be sipped over a long period…

[00:59:24] Jason Falls: Yeah.

[00:59:24] Matt Bailey: …of time.

[00:59:24] Jason Falls: If you have to shoot it, you picked the wrong brand.

[00:59:27] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Absolutely.

[00:59:28] Jason Falls: Right? You need to put that in your mouth, swish it around a little bit, let it settle on your tongue, taste it. That’s, that’s good whiskey.

[00:59:36] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. It’s, it’s sipping whiskey, sipping bourbon. That’s, that’s the key. And that’s where you really, I would say you enjoy it more than picking yourself up off the floor.

[00:59:46] Jason Falls: Well, and also too, if you drink bourbon that way, you actually enjoy it, and you drink less. So you don’t wind up over consuming. You don’t wind up with a hangover, because you’re just enjoying the flavor of it as opposed to saying, “How many shots can I do in an hour?” Because…

[01:00:00] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[01:00:01] Jason Falls: A, you’re not going to taste any of that. You’re going to feel like crap tomorrow.

[01:00:06] Matt Bailey: Well, and that’s where I always felt like it, you know, getting it neat, uh, at the end of the day, you know, especially, you know, after a show, you know, I can make that glass last 90 minutes, maybe two hours.

[01:00:16] Jason Falls: Oh yeah.

[01:00:16] Matt Bailey: Depending upon the conversation, because you’re not attacking it. Uh, you’re just enjoying a good, good taste. So…

[01:00:24] Jason Falls: It’s like, it’s like a good sunset, man. You start out at about 5:30, 6 o’clock and you sit there with it till 7:30, 8:00, man. Just let it, let it go.

[01:00:33] Matt Bailey: Yeah. And the flavor changes, the complexity changes, getting that oxygen in there. Uh, listener, I hope you’re enjoying this conversation because this is, uh…

[01:00:41] Jason Falls: I’m getting thirsty.

[01:00:42] Matt Bailey: I know.

[01:00:42] Jason Falls: Well, this is a cup of coffee, right? That’s close.

[01:00:48] Matt Bailey: Yeah. I, I, I’m doing coffee right now and uh, you know, in a couple of hours, I, you know, maybe I’ll break out a Macallan or something, but, uh…

[01:00:54] Jason Falls: There you go, that’s good.

[01:00:57] Matt Bailey: Hey, Jason, it has been a lot of fun talking with you. Uh, definitely want to give you a chance here, if listeners, if they want to find out more about you, I know you’ve got a couple of podcasts, uh, and a couple of things going on. Where can people find you? And I’ll also put the links in my show notes.

[01:01:14] Jason Falls: Sure. The easiest way is jasonfalls.com. I think I’ve got links to everything there. Um, the, uh, the two podcasts, one is “Winfluence the Influence Marketing Podcast,” which is a companion piece to the book “Winfluence.”

Um, you can also find the book information at jasonfalls.com. So real one-stop shopping there for everyone. The other podcast is called “Digging Deeper,” and that’s one that I do with my colleagues at Cornett. And we, uh, we talk about what, our tagline is, “We make creativity your business advantage.” So on the show, we try to talk to people from the, more in the broader marketing sense of the word, uh, and space and people in the creative space as well, to drive strategy and, and creative discussions there.

So, um, you know, I’ve got, we, we’ve interviewed everybody from CEOs of companies to, you know, folks who are, you know, social media managers, just talking about how they, uh, you know, attack the world of marketing strategy and creative. So it’s a lot of fun.

[01:02:07] Matt Bailey: Great. Great. Love to hear that, and love to hear people, you know, developing amazing content and helping people tell their stories. So, Jason, thanks again. It’s been a pleasure having you on board here.

[01:02:18] Jason Falls: Matt, it’s great to catch up. It’s been far too long, my friend.

[01:02:20] Matt Bailey: It has, it has. We’ll have to get together next time I’m in Kentucky, and I’ll look forward to that bourbon tour.

[01:02:26] Jason Falls: Absolutely.

[01:02:27] Matt Bailey: Alright. Hey, listener, thanks again for listening to another episode of the Endless Coffee Cup, or if you’ve been, uh, you know, sampling the bourbon or whiskey, the Endless Whiskey Glass, uh, episode here.

Thanks again. Look forward to seeing you again in the next episode of the Endless Coffee Cup.

Featured Guest:

Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Author, Winfluence: Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

Digital Strategist, Conductor

Jason Falls | LinkedIn

Jason Falls | Twitter

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