Pipeline Podcast, (E2/S1)

This edition of Pipeline Glenis and David discuss three epic stories that highlight how other people can be more effective at selling a brand than the brand itself. We start with the famous Nordstrom Tire Story told for 40 years, the Ocean Spray Skateboarder and the Movie Air.

Influencer Marketing

Understanding the Power of Influencer Marketing

What do you think of when you hear the word “Influencer”? Probably a TikTok or Instagram star that leverages their popularity to attract sponsorships from brands.  However, Influencers can be a powerful driver of revenue for B2B companies due to the psychology of how people make decisions when buying products.

When done correctly, influencer marketing accelerates your prospects’ information gathering phase when researching new products and allows them to gain valuable insights from a trusted source.  This removes a major obstacle when making a purchase, because it helps a prospect to make an informed decision before moving forward.

Here are some examples that showcase the power of influence from everyday people to all-star athletes.

The Nordstrom Tire Story

Have you heard of the legendary Nordstrom Tire Story?  It’s not only a true story, but it’s traveled the world for over forty years, passed from person to person!  David and Glenis (founders of Wave) first heard the story in their early twenties, as new Nordstrom employees, as an example of providing great customer service.

In 1979 Fairbanks Alaska had a new Nordstrom store.  A customer walked into Mens Clothing with a pair of old used tires wanting to return them without a receipt.  The Nordstrom employee explained that this is a clothing retailer, to which the gentleman insisted that he purchased them there with a two year warranty and demanded a refund.  So, the employee called a local tire store to find out their value, measuring the tread he found they were worth twenty-five dollars.  He refunded the customer and he happily left with his money.  The funny thing about this story is that the customer was right.  He really did purchase the tires in that building two years before Nordstrom had purchased it.

The takeaway: Besides acting as an example of legendary customer service, the bigger takeaway is that customers have perpetuated the Nordstrom tire story for decades around the world.  Since people tell the story, instead of the brand, it’s become a powerful “Ad Campaign” that cost Nordstrom only twenty-five dollars.

Ocean Spray Skateboarder

A native from Idaho, Nathan Apodaca made a twenty-three second video on his skateboard drinking Ocean Spray while lip-syncing to Dreams by Fleetwood Mac.  It went viral and dramatically increased Ocean Spray sales across the nation.  Ocean Spray showed their appreciation to Nathan by buying him a truck filled to the top with Ocean Spray juice along with a new custom made skateboard as a special thank you gift.  Ocean Spray has further expressed their gratitude by sending Nathan and his fiancé on their dream honeymoon.  Even the 1977 hit single, “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, catapulted back on the charts, tripling in sales with the band reporting its best week ever on streaming.

The takeaway:  Ocean Spray couldn’t have created a more successful ad campaign themselves.  The Ocean Spray skateboarding video demonstrates the power of everyday people to influence others to purchase a brand’s products as effectively as the brand themselves.

Air, the story of Michael Jordan and Nike

Spoiler alert – stop here if you haven’t watched the 2023 movie Air starting Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Jason Bateman.

In 1984, Nike successfully negotiated one of the most successful partnerships with basketball legend, Michael Jordan.  It took an insightful sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro to see the potential of a partnership and the “all-in” attitude of Nike CEO Phil Knight to sign Michael Jordan to Nike. There are numerous lessons within this true story, from great communication from Howard White, incredible marketing from Rob Strasser, personalization by Peter Moore and breaking consensus by Sonny Vaccaro in the pursuit of an opportunity that would sell more shoes than Nike could have imagined.

The takeaway:  Though this is an extreme success story of influencer marketing, there are a few things to consider.  As an athlete, Michael Jordan is a subject matter expert and extremely influential due to this success on the court.  Michael Jordan’s popularity influences fans to purchase basketball shoes not Nike.  Nike’s efforts alone wouldn’t have allowed them to attract these buyers, only through collaboration.

Why does influencer marketing work?

The larger the purchase, the more a buyer researches, preferring to source their information from outside of the brand itself.  Brands are extremely aware of this fact, and are increasing influencer marketing budgets, with 2023 already set to hit twenty-one point one billion dollars. These numbers continue to trend upward every single year, more than doubling since 2019.

B2B marketing is now picking up on this trend, and allocating specific budgets for influencer marketing.  Knowing that while prospects have a wealth of information at their fingertips, it’s overwhelming and frustrating for them when trying to properly research ahead of a purchase.  Prospects avoid filling out forms to download information on company websites because the moment they do, they’ll be bombarded with sales calls and marketing emails from the brand.

Therefore, they prefer to obtain insights from other sources, the challenge for B2B companies is that a source could misrepresent their brand with inaccurate information about their solutions, citing competitive talking points, etc.

Irrelevance vs Relevance

If marketing is going to have a chance to successfully convey value to a prospect scrolling through their LinkedIn feed, they must first show relevance.  Wave is obsessed with creating relevant content for our clients, if you’re interested in working with our creative team, we would love to hear your story and how your brand provides value.

Thank you for reading.  Find out more about these stories on Pipeline Episode 2.