Influence = Attention + Trust: Inside Kellogg’s Pioneering New Marketing Course

What kind of executive would benefit from this course? What kind of leaders are you trying to reach?

I think that if you are a leader of any kind, if you are an executive at any level, or if you simply want to advance your career, you need to know about influencer marketing. Even if you’re in a medical field or engineering. It’s not only the brands and the businesses with the best products that need to think about how to influence customers. 

A lot of the best brands with cult followings have nothing to do with the quality of their products. Look at Crocs, for example. Like, what the heck? Yet look how widely accepted and popular they are and their level of conversion. It means that anybody who’s looking to grow and scale needs to understand influence, and what the influencers are over their market. 

Where do you think the skepticism or reluctance from some leaders comes from?

I think this idea is largely being ignored because it’s either misunderstood or it’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming because there’s so much data, there’s all these different technologies, there’s all these different social platforms. It’s easy to say, “Let’s just do it the way that we’ve always done it because change is hard, and we’re not even sure where to begin.” Or it’s misunderstood and leaders think they just need to get on every social media platform. It’s neither of those. 

Course brochure

This program was designed to bring a framework for how to embrace it. The way that we did marketing even 10 years ago doesn’t apply today. It’s not that the principles of marketing have changed because humans fundamentally are the same. It’s about shifting the lens through which you apply those marketing efforts. That subtle shift in perspective can transform an entire company. 

Where did your interest in influencer marketing come from?

Part of what made me really passionate about this subject was how my career evolved over the years. Nothing in this world can make you understand the power of influence or a network than when you don’t have one, and that was that was my path starting out. When I was living in New York, I created a YouTube channel as a business school project. YouTube has a little more respect as a career choice now, but can you imagine it 10 years ago? My parents were embarrassed to talk about what I was doing. 

How do you get respected? How do you gain influence, especially in the field like that, and I realized that it was through association, through your forces that already had influence or credibility. 

That’s how I built a network, almost leapfrogging to wider influence. It didn’t matter to me what sphere they were in. I worked with the Plaza Hotel because I knew that if I did, everybody in that space was going to take me seriously. I then worked with a respected entertainment company in Hollywood to earn credibility in that sphere. I started basically picking influence partners that way and trying to figure out what motivated them and how I could add value in these partnerships. 

Tell us about the guest speakers, which is an interesting collection of influencers.

The experts that we’ve chosen for this course are people from my network that I believe have achieved influence in their spaces in very unconventional ways. Larry Namer is from old school television, and he created a TV network before social media or the internet, when television was run by conglomerates. You couldn’t, as a single person, create a television network. They told him that it couldn’t be done, so he found another way. And Jesse Itzler who started a private jet company with zero experience, and then he continued to do that in different spaces where he had no experience. They all speak to the same theme of how to identify the sources of influence. I love the fact that a lot of them will say that it wasn’t necessarily built on years and years of experience, but this is the way the world works now, and here’s how to do it.

So, will they be offering practical advice on building these centers of influence?

Some of them are more tactical and from the actual marketing space or in influencer marketing agencies. I also wanted to choose something that was dynamic and speakers that are really engaging, but traditionally would not be seen in a business school setting. 

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