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Experts in the Room Podcast – Episode 3

The Experts in the Room podcast explores the evolving worlds of customer experience, retention and data with some of the leading minds in some of the fastest-growing and most competitive industries in the world.

 

Episode 3, Influencer Marketing can be listened to here. Our guest, Nick Cooke, co-founder of the GOAT Agency talks about influencer marketing and how it can be integral to customer engagement.

 

00:00:06:12 – 00:00:26:13

Will

I’m Will Hansen and welcome to the Experts in the Room podcast brought to you by Xtremepush. In this series, we chat with some of the leading minds working in the customer experience, retention and data space in some of the most competitive and fastest-growing industries in the world. In this episode, Influencer Marketing, I spoke to co-founder of the GOAT Agency Nick Cooke.

 

00:00:27:07 – 00:00:45:18

Will

Nick is one of the pioneers of influencer and micro-influencer marketing and leads one of the best agencies in the business. We head down some fun and winding rabbit holes as we uncover some of the best ways for brands to unlock social channels. The do’s and don’ts of influencer marketing and the challenges and opportunities of running one of the fastest growing agencies in the world.

 

00:00:46:08 – 00:01:12:22

Will

This is a cracker. So strap yourselves in. Super excited here today to be joined by Nick Cooke, co-founder of the GOAT Agency, one of the premier, or might I say the best influencer in social media agencies getting around at the moment. I know you guys are the fourth fastest-growing global agency in the world at the moment. I think that was an award for Maverick and one of the social media agencies of the year with the Drum.

 

00:01:12:23 – 00:01:20:18

Will

So Nick, I’m hugely excited about today and having you on board, chatting to us on the podcast Experts in the Room. So, very welcome.

 

00:01:20:19 – 00:01:23:03

Nick

Thank you very much. Pleased to be here, looking forward to it.

 

00:01:23:15 – 00:01:52:18

Will

Yeah, I think today is going to be really insightful given the types of clients that we work with here at Xtremepush, particularly heavy in the sports betting and gaming industry. I know you guys service that industry, but eCommerce, publishing and a lot of luxury brands as well in there. So hopefully we can dig into some real, real pieces of wisdom from you guys on your experience running such a vibrant agency in such an interesting area, maybe as a way to kick it off.

 

00:01:53:01 – 00:02:08:22

Will

If you give us a little bit of a brief introduction to yourself. You co-founded the agency, I think, in 2015. You guys kicked off with this idea for the GOAT agency that came about very much in a different way than most ideas come about. So yeah, be awesome to hear a little bit about that.

 

00:02:09:00 – 00:02:32:09

Nick

Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, I suppose the history of the business is we were born out of a brand. So I’ve got two business partners, Aron and Harry, and we all met working for our previous business, which was called Sport Lobster; like a sports social media platform. And Harry Knight joined us. So the fifth and sixth employees and it was unbelievable.

 

00:02:32:09 – 00:02:52:08

Nick

We had three years of trying to build the next Facebook for sport and Aron and his business partner raised quite a lot of money. And basically, I ran the marketing team and my job was to drive app installs and build a community on the platform. And I joined as an unpaid intern, so I had very little experience and I really didn’t know what I was doing.

 

00:02:52:11 – 00:03:09:01

Nick

And our investors were big sports fans, so lots of the money was sort of wasted on sponsorship deals. We were a sponsor of Crystal Palace football club and the NBA and an amazing experience for me.

 

00:03:09:01 – 00:03:14:07

Will

Not to say, Nick, to all our Crystal Palace fans here, that’s a wasted investment for them.

 

00:03:14:18 – 00:03:34:09

Nick

Of course. Of course not. But that didn’t drive a huge volume of installs, no. But I did get to go to the box every week which was quite fun. But yeah, essentially, I was put in charge of building this community and lots of what we did, didn’t work and lots did. But I still start to understand performance marketing.

 

00:03:34:09 – 00:03:56:05

Nick

And in the end, a lot of our budget was going through digital and social channels, but we kind of stumbled across influencers by mistake. And we had lots of celebrity ambassadors. The main one was Cristiano Ronaldo, who was and is the most followed man or person on the planet on social media. And we thought that was going to be unbelievable.

 

00:03:56:05 – 00:04:18:21

Nick

He’d post about us, it would crash the app and we’d all retire. And it turned out it wasn’t that effective. And at the same time, (we started this is, sort of, ten years ago) around 2012 started identifying micro-influencers in the sports space. So they might have 10,000 followers, or they might have a hundred thousand at that point.

 

00:04:18:21 – 00:04:46:17

Nick

It was all Twitter and Facebook based. Yeah. And we just started paying them for posts and putting trackable links to our app and content and seeing if it worked. And what we discovered was that Ronaldo had 180 million followers and he drove 3000 app installs. When he posted and someone with 50,000 followers, if they were the right influencer and most didn’t work, if they were the right influencer with the right community and the right creative message, it might drive 4000.

 

00:04:47:04 – 00:05:15:09

Nick

So that was sort of the basis of why we exist. We kind of realized that if we correctly use influencers, it became a most effective performance channel and we realized there were thousands of these influencers and they were springing up all over the place. So in 2015, we left that business to start running performance influencer campaigns, as you say, initially in the sports space, which meant we worked with lots of betting and gaming companies.

 

00:05:16:06 – 00:05:43:24

Will

I think it’s an amazing story about that transition and part of the trends that that we hear in the industry as marketers, particularly in the sports industry, is that intersection between community experience and driving that with your player base or your customer base. So I think that you know, the brands that are winning, they’re the ones that are either showing that community, being a publisher, you know, driving that engagement.

 

00:05:43:24 – 00:06:06:11

Will

I think the whole idea of driving that through kind of influencers and micro-influencers is hugely relevant to some of the brands. So hopefully we can dig into some tips around best practices with that. I’m sure best practices ring GOAT agency to everyone listening to the call. I know you mentioned there the word performance marketing as a channel.

 

00:06:08:01 – 00:06:32:13

Will

I think that that’s probably not something that is picked up on by most brands. I think most marketers would still consider influencer work and paid work within that space to probably be more of a media channel rather than or PR channel. Sorry. Rather than being kind of a performance channel. Talk to me about the challenge that you’ve had around that and how important it is to kind of view these channels as performance channels.

 

00:06:33:07 – 00:07:03:03

Nick

Yeah, I completely agree. And even now, you know, we’ve been going seven, eight years and pretty much all of our clients are still trying to juggle where influencer sits within their business. Is it PR, is it content, is it media? And often internally at these brands, there’s still a lot of sort of conflict around that because most ultimately the reason influencer works are that it sort of combines that content creation with the media value.

 

00:07:03:03 – 00:07:24:12

Nick

And so we work with a lot of companies who don’t have to use models and actors and, you know, have these incredibly expensive production shoots to create content. And at the same time, it should drive a competitive CPM. I think that creates an opportunity if you can use influencers to drive a good CPM or cost prejudgment or cost per click.

 

00:07:26:04 – 00:07:48:10

Nick

I think that’s the whole bit though. I think when we start at the business, influencer marketing didn’t exist, so we’ve sort of, to be honest, made it up as we’ve gone and we sort of spearheaded an industry that didn’t exist, but from the word go, because we came from a brand that we had a limited budget and I was called into the CEO’s office and he’d say, How many installs we got this month?

 

00:07:48:12 – 00:08:12:01

Nick

We had to be performance focused and track everything from, you know, how much are we paying this guy, what kind of cost per click, what kind of customer and so what kind of customer acquisition? We were to early stage look at things like lifetime value, but because we were forced to look at it in that way, we collected a huge amount of data across every influencer we used even before we started the agency.

 

00:08:12:12 – 00:08:35:10

Nick

So that I think, really is why we’ve grown quicker than everyone else, because when we were there working with brands, we were able to in advance know what we were going to deliver. And so we built a small piece of software that enables us to guarantee results going into campaigns. So we see it as both content creation and media.

 

00:08:35:15 – 00:08:57:19

Nick

But the way we from a commercial point of view, we guarantee a set of media results. And ultimately, our aim when we work with brands is can we outperform every other media channel in a very trackable way therefore more of that media mix is going to go into influencer and social, and then we’re going to grow. So it is all it’s very outcome focused.

 

00:08:58:08 – 00:09:16:15

Nick

But to do that and position yourself as media, you need all the data. So I think a lot of influencer agencies, you know, the out all over the place, but a lot of them are focusing on collecting that data at the beginning. But there’s a huge barrier to entry because you can’t just start and have seven years of data if that makes sense.

 

00:09:17:04 – 00:09:40:01

Will

Yeah, I think that’s hugely interesting. One, one of the things that we talked CRM managers and data managers or even CBOs and digital marketing managers about a lot is how they’re conceptualizing and understanding their data when they’re talking about their campaigning, whether it’s acquisition at the top of the funnel or whether it’s retention in the CRM space, which we play.

 

00:09:40:01 – 00:09:56:04

Will

And I think the brands that have a good grasp of that are the ones that are succeeding. The brands that are trying to get across that are the ones that are going to succeed in the brands that are kind of too focused on vanity metrics or not focused enough and are a bit too scattergun are the ones that struggle.

 

00:09:56:11 – 00:10:26:00

Will

I think your point there around being able to replicate it and scale it quickly, I can’t help but as a sales guy try to ask that question of yours around the competitive advantage that you guys have as an agency because of that data set as you’ve just touched on it there, how difficult is it to kind of stack it up against obviously competing interests within a business that might own some of their social channels, might be dabbling in it themselves or trying to do that?

 

00:10:26:07 – 00:10:44:13

Will

Or are you finding that people are coming on board and using it as complementary channels, or are they using it completely as their main kind of channel focus, particularly around that acquisition based on AI installs and CPMs and KPIs will be hugely important to you guys as a measuring stick? But yeah, maybe talk to us a little bit about that.

 

00:10:45:15 – 00:11:23:10

Nick

Yeah, I think I guess a good way of framing this conversation is who our clients are and normally they fit within two buckets. So one is kind of, you know, the biggest businesses in the world, enterprise-sized global businesses, where they’re not necessarily trying to track a CPA in the way that a betting company would. Yeah, they are trying to track ROAS or sales, but often it’s through models because if you’re working for Dell and their budgets, $100 million, it’s we’re running $10 billion of influencer activity.

 

00:11:23:10 – 00:11:30:12

Nick

It’s not like people buy a laptop immediately when they see a link and it’s in a way to get back up this.

 

00:11:30:14 – 00:11:35:01

Will

Or an Audi I see that you guys have a really nice case study with them on your website.

 

00:11:35:01 – 00:11:59:18

Nick

So exactly like cars are the ultimate example, right? It’s like, but even when you’re working with a big automotive company, the marketing director is still saying how we’re tracking sales. And so, yeah, you do have to dial back what we’re another. But the other type of client is a sort of B2C business who maybe they’ve raised their series A and they’re incredibly focused on down funnel objectives.

 

00:11:59:18 – 00:12:24:01

Nick

You know, what is the CPC, and how is it converting to ROAS? And actually, the way normally it works is that they’ve tried a load of channels with kind of small test budgets and they’ve often tried influence before and they just haven’t been able to prove that out as an acquisition channel. What we essentially have done is create a way of using influencers that is an additional channel on top of what they do.

 

00:12:24:13 – 00:12:50:01

Nick

So normally they can already have a social, which should be a big channel for them and it probably running paid media through their brand channel and it’s probably converting well. What we do is layer on an influencer, both organic influencers and then paid media through the influencer channels. And as long as we’re working closely with them, we shouldn’t be bidding against the same audiences and driving prices up.

 

00:12:50:01 – 00:13:19:02

Nick

So, you know, your question is an additional channel that should be scalable but also help them access new audiences and new audience data that either we or someone else can retarget push down the funnel. I think the only other thing there is that we’ve self-transitioned from being an influencer agency into a full-service social agency. So in an ideal world, we’d then be also doing the media through the brand channel or creating all the organic social content as well.

 

00:13:19:02 – 00:13:20:01

Nick

That’s when it works best.

 

00:13:20:07 – 00:13:40:16

Will

I was about to ask about that, that niche role that you guys sit in, but it’s a wider niche than just talking about obviously influencers. It’s that full social perspective. How hard has it been as an agency to keep and as a leader within the agency to keep ahead of trends, particularly with technology?

 

00:13:40:16 – 00:14:00:23

Will

Right. As you mentioned earlier in the chat there, Twitter and Facebook will matter with the original channels that you’ve looked at since then. You’ve had other channels come on board. Tik Tok being probably the biggest one in the influence influencer space. And I know we’re using the word influencer. And I was in a chat with Tik Tok earlier in the year saying We do not call them influencers.

 

00:14:00:23 – 00:14:02:10

Nick

Their creative side is Yeah.

 

00:14:02:17 – 00:14:30:21

Will

Yeah, an interesting one with that. They’re very feminine about that. So always stuck in my mind that and I know their platform, particularly where they’ve struggled to prove exactly like you’re talking about datasets behind what’s happening with raw data for performance teams to be able to do that, they’re getting better at that. I think it’s what they’re pushing for as a performance channel when they were originally kind of pitching themselves much more as kind of a branding channel.

 

00:14:30:21 – 00:14:46:09

Will

So how hard that been for you guys, to kind of adapt, start to gather datasets and kind of really drive that product adoption or do you find that one or the other is a better channel still? Or is it kind of case by case and influencer by influencer, I would presume?

 

00:14:47:11 – 00:15:06:23

Nick

Yeah. And it changes all the time is the truth. I think we need to stay on top of it because again, that’s how you gain competitive advantage. But I think our model, again, to go back to why our model is unique and useful is that we don’t manage any influencers ourselves. Yeah. So a lot of influencer agencies are talent management companies or therefore even social media publishers like Ladbible, for example.

 

00:15:06:23 – 00:15:28:06

Nick

And if you’re a publisher and you’ve got a huge Facebook channel that is your business and suddenly no one’s using Facebook anymore, then, you know, you drop off a cliff. If you’re a talent management company, you manage a lot of influencers, which are huge on Instagram and suddenly people aren’t using Instagram.

 

00:15:28:06 – 00:16:09:00

Nick

Then again you’re exposed. So we’re neutral, which helps, we can just pick and choose based on what’s going on in the market. I think what we’ve seen is that TikTok which normally does happen when new platforms emerge. TikTok had the audience, but they didn’t have the time to build out that platform. So Brands wanted to advertise on TikTok because the algorithm meant that organic content can just fly and you can get 40 million views without any followers, which was unique, but at the same time you didn’t have any demographic information, and if you spent money through ads, then you had no idea really what the results were.

 

00:16:09:16 – 00:16:34:17

Nick

So what they’ve been doing is both growing their audience, but also building out their ad platform, which is now got to the point where you can A) track everything, but B) drive great conversion across the full funnel. So I think the platforms, their audience is key. But then you know, what we’re seeing as well on other platforms at the moment is that the value you get as an advertiser with paid media varies enormously.

 

00:16:34:17 – 00:17:08:16

Nick

So there’s a huge conversation around Twitter at the moment. Elon Musk has bought Twitter. He’s saying the audiences are increasing, but he’s also moaning that people, and brands like Apple have stopped advertising. So it’s about the balance between, you know, the money going through Twitter like from brands has always been far below Meta and now TikTok because it’s trickier to make content engaging and just the ad platform the algorithm means it’s very difficult to prove out competitive cost per clicks and return on ad spend.

 

00:17:08:16 – 00:17:16:14

Nick

So it’s an interesting discussion. We just need to, again, have more data on what works and we can pivot accordingly.

 

00:17:17:13 – 00:17:36:02

Will

Are there any platforms that we need to keep a lookout for? So the Nick tips for 2023 that you think might be the next TikTok or the next Instagram that’s going to be pushing through or is it a case of the big boys at the moment doing well and they probably are the majority?

 

00:17:36:18 – 00:17:58:20

Nick

I think every year if you ask me that question, I’ll probably give you the name of a platform that didn’t make it, but just a year ago, probably would be Clubhouse or something. BeReal is the one that has an increasingly big audience and is cutting through, but again, similarly, no brands are advertising with BeReal because they don’t have a platform to do it.

 

00:17:58:20 – 00:18:10:10

Nick

So I imagine they’re working on that in the background, but yeah, I think it’s impossible to predict which platform is going to take off.

 

00:18:10:11 – 00:18:38:21

Will

Yeah. So be agnostic and be ready to pivot I imagine. Yeah, exactly what you guys are talking about. Consumers are hugely driven by community and experience and it’s something that we talk about a lot here at Xtremepush around making sure that you’re driving that community experience across the whole touch point of view brands. So from the top down to the bottom, when you’ve got someone finally installed your app, they’re starting to or they’re on their website and they’re buying something.

 

00:18:40:05 – 00:18:59:17

Will

How do you guys envisage community and being able to drive that as an agency? So you’re a full-service social agency. Like is that the type of strategy that you guys are leaning into when you’re talking to brands around that? Or are you purely performance-focused as well? Like, is there a big focus on the brand?

 

00:19:00:21 – 00:19:22:17

Nick

Yeah, there’s definitely both. And you know that a lot of our clients who aren’t in that kind of D2C space are looking for a full awareness strategy. They could be looking to change brand reception. So there is a lot of that work that we do, and I think influencer marketing is a great channel for that just because of the variety of content.

 

00:19:22:20 – 00:19:47:16

Nick

But we work with so many brands where the concept is product-focused. It’s kind of boring and not engaging. So I think a lot of it is content driven. I think the community is a really interesting word and I think what we always talk about is that social media is basically like the real world and that people live in communities on social like you would in the real world.

 

00:19:47:16 – 00:20:11:13

Nick

So if you’re a Red Sox fan, you’ve probably followed 20 Red Sox pages. If you’re, you know, a skateboarder or a new mum, then you might follow other new mums and you kind of live within these communities. And what influencer and social broadly enable us to do is access those communities in a way that is kind of trackable and authentic.

 

00:20:11:13 – 00:20:34:05

Nick

So I think in terms of building a community around your brand, the first step is sort of understanding what the communities of social are and then kind of accessing them. Yeah, because often we brand the brief as always demographics. It’s always like, you know, we want these three audiences and you know, from as a name and it’s like, This is Jenny, this is Mark and that’s fine.

 

00:20:34:05 – 00:20:55:14

Nick

But what we then normally do is kind of layer over the actual communities those people live in and then dove into them. But yeah, it’s the way you measure. The way we measure the sort of upper funnel activity is also completely different. So, you know, we use social listening tools, but we focus on CPMs and engagement rather than actual track sales.

 

00:20:56:00 – 00:21:17:02

Will

Yeah, that it’s super interesting. I stealing something from your LinkedIn account but the agency talking about looking at brands that are doing a really good job with data at the moment as far as talking to their customers or their listeners on a 1 to 1 basis. So I just got my Spotify wrapped, which was interesting.

 

00:21:17:02 – 00:21:40:01

Will

Apparently, I’m not very good on Spotify, but I can’t remember what I was called as a demographic. But I think it’s a really good example of a brand using the data that they have on their user and simply coming back with something quite interesting. You know, I’m not the one, not the type of person that’s going to be posting up my unwrapped on, on, on a website.

 

00:21:40:01 – 00:21:45:05

Will

Most of it is driven by me listening to podcasts and to and to different music.

 

00:21:46:01 – 00:21:47:18

Nick

And saying, is that what we’re saying?

 

00:21:47:19 – 00:22:05:13

Will

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It could be too embarrassing. So but how important is that for you as an agency to maybe do that 1 to 1 with your customers talking about, look, look, these are the wrap-ups that we have with you guys for a year? Like driving into that data, like do you find that that’s useful and do you think brands should be doing more of it?

 

00:22:06:24 – 00:22:31:20

Nick

Yeah, I think I mean, we do a lot for the brands who we work with in terms of using creative mechanics to engage their audience. We don’t do a huge amount with our clients. So the brands who are our clients, it’s more around the performance of how do we figure out what value we’ve driven you versus everything else you’re spending your money in?

 

00:22:32:01 – 00:22:55:08

Nick

So it’s a bit more of a kind of simple take, but t’s interesting in the influencer and social space. The significance put on creative, I think, differs massively depending on what you’re trying to do. And a lot of the campaigns, when we’re building a strategy for a potential new client, we kind of have to ask ourselves, like, how much do they care about results?

 

00:22:55:10 – 00:23:15:21

Nick

How much do they care about that kind of creative mechanics? Because sometimes we’ve lost pitches because well, we just build a deck showing that we believe we’re the best partner for them and we’re kind of the market leader and we can drive performance. And, if you haven’t understood what’s kind of important to them, you can just get it completely wrong.

 

00:23:15:21 – 00:23:26:10

Nick

So some clients don’t care at all about results. They just want an idea that cuts through and they can go to their boss and say, look, we did something on TikTok that drove UGC or whatever.

 

00:23:26:21 – 00:23:41:09

Will

That’s probably a good segue. Your company went from, I think, four or five of you starting it all to 190 now.

 

00:23:41:17 – 00:23:42:15

Nick

Yeah. Around that now.

 

00:23:43:00 – 00:24:05:11

Will

Yeah. It’s spread around the world and I will touch on that in a moment, about the challenges of scale within the business side of it. I’d love to hear about some campaigns that you think have been really good and potentially challenging. Conversations that you’ve had to have where, while you’re starting the agency, it’s maybe that we spent five K of this budget and we’re not sure if it worked.

 

00:24:05:11 – 00:24:12:24

Will

I think for some of the CRM and marketing people listening, knowing that they’re in the same boat is probably really useful.

 

00:24:14:02 – 00:24:16:08

Nick

Yeah, well there have been a few.

 

00:24:16:23 – 00:24:20:09

Will

I think we don’t have to name names by the way, that’s fine. You don’t have to throw any brands under the bus.

 

00:24:20:14 – 00:25:07:13

Nick

With some, I would love nothing more than to name names, but I think the challenge for us being an influencer-first agency is that we rely on influencers. The media we buy is mostly human beings. Essentially, as awful as that sounds, we’re paying human beings who are very talented often and have huge value, but they may also have an ego, or they may just turn up late for a shoot, or they may just, you know, I think the advantage we have is that although we guarantee results and that is always a cause of stress because we always have to hit those for the most part, we’re pretty accurate at predicting what’s going to happen. 

 

00:25:07:13 – 00:25:40:19

Nick

So the stress often is just influencers letting us down. You might think it would be influencers being paid a certain amount and not delivering the media value we need, but it’s kind of a weird situation where we have more data on you as an influencer and what you can drive than you do because you might say: I’m $10,000 for an Instagram post and you probably understand how many impressions and engagements and maybe video views that’s going to drive.

 

00:25:41:06 – 00:26:07:23

Nick

But if we say, okay, let’s do an Instagram story and we’re going to use the paid media and put a trackable link in that, you have no idea. It’s our trackable link. We’ve got all the conversion data right now of how many sales you’ve driven, so you never really have access to that information. So we’ll pay you the money for your content and your platform and then you have all the data on how many people see it, etc., but you have none of that kind of data beyond that.

 

00:26:07:24 – 00:26:37:17

Nick

So in terms of kind of horror shows, it’s not really about how much value you drive. It’s more about are you going to post on time? Because client services in the influencer world are so focused around you knowing we’ve got this much content going live. This is the day it’s going out. You know, maybe we’ve got a Thanksgiving campaign where it has to go out by a certain date and we tell the client it’s all going to go out by that date and maybe someone’s ill or maybe someone’s-

 

00:26:37:18 – 00:26:57:22

Nick

You know, there are completely valid reasons, like, you know, someone’s pregnant or something. Yeah, but often there are just people that let you down. So the key thing for us is just understanding every time that happens, we make sure that there’s a little cross against the name in our database so that we kind of know they’re untrustworthy. But yeah, it can be a nightmare.

 

00:26:58:05 – 00:27:22:06

Will

Yeah, I think that’s so interesting compared to, you know, traditional media channels where it’s, you know, programmatic, you know, being let down by a person. Like it’s out there, it’s going to be happening. You know, you’re buying about it on a publisher. It’s going to be there. It’s your creative team that might let you down. Like, if you have, like we talk about what is Valencia or what’s the name of.

 

00:27:22:06 – 00:27:22:24

Nick

Balenciaga, yeah.

 

00:27:23:09 – 00:27:44:13

Will

Yeah. Like it shows you that things can still go wrong. Yeah, but yeah, I think the human element is so, so interesting in what you guys do. Very different probably to 99% of the markets that are out there working in some of these channels day to day when they’re not dealing with an influencer on the back end of it.

 

00:27:45:00 – 00:28:01:11

Nick

Yeah, I think the other interesting thing that’s different in our space is that we kind of have to rely on influencers, we have to give them a little creative license, otherwise, it’s just not going to work. So you have to find that balance between letting them kind of run with it and also making sure we have some degree of control.

 

00:28:01:23 – 00:28:23:07

Nick

So we do sign everything off like no content will go live until we’ve approved it. But when we’re briefing influencers, we give them a top-line brief. But we also say, you know, your audience, you know, you come back to us and tell you what you want to do, and often we won’t change that, but when we approve it, we just have to make sure all the sort of legalities are signed off.

 

00:28:24:06 – 00:28:49:01

Will

Does it add a layer of complexity in that you are having to deal with two sets of relationships? They’re like, you’re dealing with a brand on one side and then you’re dealing with the influencer on the other side. That in itself is a little bit different. You might be dealing with an account manager at Meta or at TikTok or something like that, but it’s very much a transactional thing where you’re dictating terms into those types of environments.

 

00:28:49:01 – 00:28:55:08

Will

Does that add complexity to as far as the skill sets that you need from an agency perspective in your teams?

 

00:28:56:00 – 00:29:14:07

Nick

Yeah, absolutely. And the way we’ve done it is just completely separate roles from the seller. So a lot of agencies, even in our space have, you know, you speak to like an account manager and they’ll be the one dealing with the client, but then they’ll also be the one dealing with influencers. And we’ve our solution to that has always been completely separate the roles.

 

00:29:14:07 – 00:29:36:10

Nick

So if you’re an account manager, or account director, you only speak to the client externally and then you sort of manage the internal team security. You have what we call a campaign team or media team to deal with influencers inside of media. And you sort of lead the team internally as a whole, and then the campaign team deal with the actual influencers.

 

00:29:36:10 – 00:30:07:13

Nick

But they’re all client calls, so they’re hearing client feedback and things. But there’s never a situation where an account manager is dealing with an influencer, which I think is important and we always talk about healthy friction. So if the account team and the campaign team, A, you know, there should be a slight kind of holding each other to account there, which we try not to encourage because otherwise the kind of standards across the team can quite easily sort of drop a little bit and then something goes up like that.

 

00:30:07:14 – 00:30:25:14

Nick

Two things go out late. So it’s kind of about an account manager is quite able to hold everyone else to account. Which I think is important and almost like a client, that’s often the advice we give as well. So, you know, if you’ve got a tricky client, you kind of have to act like a tricky client internally.

 

00:30:25:14 – 00:30:48:23

Will

Yeah. Okay, interesting. I’m sure that leads to some good conversations. But as you say, it’s probably driving that expertise within your business as well, creating that friction. That’s probably a good point to pivot into. One of the amazing things talking to you and looking at the profile of the company, like your growth in, what, less than ten years or ten?

 

00:30:49:06 – 00:31:23:02

Will

Yeah, less than ten years from 5 to 190, COVID smack bang in the middle of it, starting as a sports team and having to diversify into these global brands that you’re talking about. It would be really cool to get a perspective, maybe, from you as a person having gone from being a marketing manager in a smaller environment, to a co-founder and managing a team of 190. How has the business dealt with that change, what’s been successful, what has not been successful? 

 

00:31:23:02 – 00:31:24:02

Will

I think would be really cool.

 

00:31:25:17 – 00:31:53:16

Nick

It’s happened very quickly, but it doesn’t feel like it’s happened overnight, if that makes sense, that it’s still been a huge number of downs as well as ups, you know, challenging conversations. And I think this is what we envisage when we started. But it is incredible to think that it’s sort of overall it’s going to happen in the way we thought it would.

 

00:31:54:13 – 00:32:27:03

Nick

I think we’ve been very lucky with the market that we identified as something that would exist and would scale has done what we predicted. And I can think of lots of things that we did wrong as well as right as we went. But I know the challenge for me is, is always human beings. If I if I kind of reflect on what it’s like to effectively kind of look after 190 human beings, I think that’s always the hard bit.

 

00:32:27:03 – 00:32:50:22

Nick

It’s if someone isn’t quite doing as well as you want, how can you get the balance right between upskilling, supporting and also holding to account? Kind of being ruthless where you need to be or just someone doing something stupid or unprofessional and how do you call that out? Well, you know, I’m very much a people pleaser.

 

00:32:50:22 – 00:33:12:12

Nick

So my challenge is always, you know, I want people to like me. But that’s not very easy. But I think the other thing is my two co-founders and I are incredibly different people, with different skill sets. And I think that’s also been important to understand that from an early stage and I guess the fact we’d all work together for each other.

 

00:33:12:12 – 00:33:32:19

Nick

So I reported to Aaron and Harry reported to me at the previous business, which I think is a very unusual dynamic, to then start a company together. So we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, but we also weren’t friends and we’re still not friends, friends with professional friends, but, you know, hang out outside of work to a degree.

 

00:33:32:19 – 00:33:38:04

Nick

But I think that separation has been really helpful actually.

 

00:33:38:17 – 00:33:56:14

Will

Yeah. And it’s so interesting and I know obviously in prep for this call, we do a bit of back and forth. Your investment round and the due diligence that came with that gave you guys a real shot in the arm in that in that your product is good. It is it does what it says on the box and it’s excellent on it.

 

00:33:56:14 – 00:34:18:15

Will

Like, that was something that you guys were obviously as a founder, you were you would have been nervous about it. But deep down, I’m sure you knew that it was going to pass with flying colours. But how is that positioning you and the GOAT agency to move into the future? Like what? What’s on the horizon for you guys, I guess, is a bit of a double question, that one maybe so that you can talk to.

 

00:34:19:14 – 00:34:44:01

Nick

So we did a deal with a private equity house at the start of 2021, which was a sort of unexpected but quite big moment for us. And I guess our focus has always been just growing and making sure that revenues and profits are growing year on year. And we’re becoming more and more of a leader in the space as well as diversifying.

 

00:34:45:10 – 00:35:25:04

Nick

And so that transaction came a little bit out of nowhere and we felt like they were the right partner to help us scale the next level. And, as part of doing a deal like that, suddenly you’re into quite extensive due diligence, which we did to a degree before, but not to the same extent. And I think it was a big education for me, so different layers to it, but I guess the tech part was something we were aware of but not concerned about because we have an amazing engineering team and we know that product works and we’re not an external tech company, so we’re not a software company.

 

00:35:25:04 – 00:35:49:19

Nick

We just have a tool we built, which is an internal tool that helps us use all our value really is the data, but we also have a tool that helps us access the data. So we were concerned about it going in. I think just going through a full tech process and hearing back from consultants who specialize in this and sort of analyzing it from a critical point of view and hearing that our product is incredibly robust.

 

00:35:49:19 – 00:36:13:23

Nick

And yes, we can make some tweaks, but overall it sort of does what it says on the tin was, I think, a big validation for everyone and has helped us double down on it, put more resources into it and realized the value of it. We don’t want to change up, you know, if we chose up positioning and say we’re now a software company and you can license a software, I’m sure a multiple of valuation would be very good.

 

00:36:13:23 – 00:36:30:01

Nick

But our focus is in that our focus is on being profitable and growing our revenues year over year. But yeah, that was great because you come out the other end of it, you think, okay, we did the whole thing in five weeks as well, which is very.

 

00:36:30:12 – 00:36:35:05

Will

Ever spoken to a fan or an entrepreneur that goes, ‘oh no, we had a good six months to do that’.

 

00:36:35:19 – 00:36:50:05

Nick

Yeah, exactly. But we had a clear deadline we wanted to do it by, and all of the people involved were great at doing that. But yeah, that has given us another boost of confidence to be like, okay, we can kind of take this to the next level.

 

00:36:50:17 – 00:37:11:19

Will

Yeah, a really good position to be in. I want to do one that I didn’t prep before. Nick on this. So bear with me. I got to go a one-word answer, two things that I throw out to you here. You’ll see where this goes quite quickly, but just to get you to get your opinion on what might be coming.

 

00:37:11:19 – 00:37:27:09

Will

So our 2023 predictions, we’ve mentioned a whole lot of different brands here, a whole lot of different partners that you guys work with, but maybe a one-word answer on a few of these. So I’ll start with an easy one for you. Meta.

 

00:37:27:09 – 00:37:28:09

Nick

You would say one word.

 

00:37:28:16 – 00:37:37:07

Will

Yeah, one word. So you can say the best of, you know, within reason, one word or you can give me a spiel I don’t mind.

 

00:37:37:11 – 00:37:47:04

Nick

I’ll say, client. Safe. They are a client and a platform for us. So, I need to be a bit careful there. 

 

00:37:47:22 – 00:37:50:00

Will

What about TikTok as a channel.

 

00:37:51:17 – 00:37:53:10

Nick

Conversion, I would say.

 

00:37:53:13 – 00:38:02:14

Will

Podcasting. Relevant for today. If you say overrated, my marketing manager will shoot me.

 

00:38:02:17 – 00:38:04:06

Nick

I’ll say everywhere. Yeah.

 

00:38:05:15 – 00:38:06:13

Will

What about Twitter?

 

00:38:06:15 – 00:38:07:20

Nick

I’ll say, not dead.

 

00:38:08:04 – 00:38:09:09

Will

Instagram, then.

 

00:38:09:09 – 00:38:10:08

Nick

I’ll say video.

 

00:38:11:10 – 00:38:19:04

Will

What about your favourite influencer? I hope you pick one that’s on your platform or your offering.

 

00:38:19:14 – 00:38:36:06

Nick

Yeah, well, I would have said Frances Bourgeois a few months ago, but he is doing some cool stuff still. I think you’ve got to say, Mr Beast, just because people aren’t aware of Mr Beast, you’ve got to go and see what he’s doing. He’s spearheading the whole industry in a very cool way.

 

00:38:36:18 – 00:38:55:13

Will

Okay, we’ll have to look into that. I don’t know that one. I do know Francois, though, is his content at first I was like: What am I watching? But then it gets quite addictive. But yeah. What about let’s go with the last prediction for the sports fans on his World Cup winner? And this will probably be published after the World Cup.

 

00:38:56:10 – 00:39:00:09

Will

So I to be able to hold you to it, whether you’ve got it and you won’t want to be a football fan, I don’t know.

 

00:39:02:24 – 00:39:11:19

Nick

I’d love to say England. Well, I do hope Australia keep that keep going strong. My prediction now I think is probably France.

 

00:39:12:09 – 00:39:43:14

Will

Yeah, they are a safe prediction. We filmed this the day after the Australian Socceroos had a miraculous win over the Danish. So yeah, we’ve done well with that. Yeah. Nick Cooke from the GOAT agency, absolute pleasure talking to you today on the Experts in the Room podcast. For anyone that is looking to explore this channel, the influencer channel, you know who to go to now with Nick and the GOAT agency playing hugely in this space and being a market leader within it.

 

00:39:43:22 – 00:40:00:09

Will

I think plenty of our brands here at Xtremepush that we work with talk to us constantly about these types of channels and what they’re doing and how it then feeds their retention strategies. So Nick, huge pleasure from us here at Xtremepush and on the podcast for joining us today.

 

00:40:01:02 – 00:40:03:06

Nick

Thanks very much. I loved it. Appreciate it.

 

00:40:03:13 – 00:40:15:03

Will

Awesome. Thanks, mate.

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