Closing Time

Influence vs. Influencer Marketing: How to Harness Real Influence That Drives Meaningful Impact

When you hear the word ‘influence,’ who (or what) do you think of?

The GTM leader on LinkedIn with 100k followers? The SaaS company that hires a luminary to advocate for their product?

People can be ‘influencers’ without necessarily having real ‘influence.’

In his book, Secrets of Influence, Matt Brown dives into the heart of what influence means, highlighting that it isn’t about vanity metrics but rather meaningful impact—it’s about elevating others rather than yourself.

In this episode of Closing Time, Matt explains the difference between influence vs. influencer marketing and helps B2B sellers and marketers create their own influence and harness the power of others… which might be the missing ingredients your brand needs.

Watch the video:
Key Moments:
Influence is NOT influencer marketing

Before we can talk about what real influence is, let’s talk about what it is NOT. It’s not a mere tally of social media followers or a collection of superficial engagements. Real influence isn’t about self-promotion or the number of likes and shares your posts receive. It’s not measured by the echo of your voice in a digital vacuum where interaction is fleeting and often insincere.

True influence is deeper and far more impactful than influencer marketing, where someone with a big following sings the praises of a product no one cares about; it transcends the surface level of popularity and delves into the realm of meaningful change and genuine connection.

Matt Brown explains in his interview that real influence is about inspiring and elevating others, not oneself (or the brand they represent). Think of influential figures like Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, and Satya Nadella and their transformative impact on industries, cultures, and societies beyond mere celebrity status. They inspire change and foster innovation and progress.

Matt shared his personal journey to illustrate the power of attention and influence. When he moved to the U.S. from South Africa, he lost his established network. To rebuild it, he reached out to numerous startups in California, offering them free PR exposure on his popular business show, The Matt Brown Show. The overwhelming response he received demonstrated the potent combination of gaining attention and wielding influence.

He also discussed his “Secrets of Fail” series, where he interviewed CEOs about their failures, countering the typical success narratives prevalent on platforms like LinkedIn. This initiative not only garnered significant attention but also led to a bestselling book and numerous speaking opportunities, showcasing how leveraging one’s platform can amplify influence.

Matt distilled the essence of impactful influence in today’s business landscape into three key components: attention, influence, and leverage. Attention is the new currency in the digital age, influence is the driving force behind growth, and leverage is the strategic use of resources to maximize impact. When harnessed effectively, this powerful trifecta can lead to significant business success and leadership impact.

Making influence work for you

Alright, now for the burning question: How can one create influence?

Matt emphasizes that cultivating influence is always a choice—just like the decision to belong to a community or a brand like Harley-Davidson or KTM. This choice stems from a deep-seated desire to make a difference and find meaning, as exemplified by figures like Nelson Mandela, who chose forgiveness and transformation after enduring years of suffering.

For B2B go-to-market leaders, Matt advised a shift in focus. He observed that many in this field tend to concentrate on marketing their solutions to problems, but not necessarily the value they offer.

Making influence work for you

Drawing from his experience with ad agencies and conversations with business leaders, he illustrated this point using his own venture, the Matt Brown Show. While the show could be marketed as a platform for CEOs seeking PR exposure, Matt identified that it’s true value lies in the wealth of knowledge and insights gathered from over 800 episodes featuring CEOs, billionaires, and bestselling authors. This value surpasses merely offering an interview slot; it’s about the depth and richness of experience and perspectives shared.

Matt challenged go-to-market leaders to reevaluate their strategies by asking themselves what their real value is, beyond the problems they solve and the solutions they provide. He urged them to consider how redefining their value proposition could transform their approach to the market.

This shift in perspective, from merely solving problems to offering unique, intrinsic value, is crucial for creating lasting influence and attention in the business world.

How to harness your own influence and that of others

Imagine turning the spotlight not just on yourself but on others, and in doing so, amplifying your own influence – this is the art of harnessing the influence of others. This approach to influence isn’t about self-promotion; it’s a strategic method of building networks and relationships that mutually benefit all involved. By understanding how to effectively engage with and leverage the influence of others, you can create a powerful ripple effect that extends your reach, enhances your impact, and drives collective success in any professional arena.

Matt shared his strategy of leveraging the influence of guests on his podcast, the Matt Brown Show, to expand his own influence. Matt explained that a podcast isn’t just about positioning oneself as an expert but more about facilitating valuable conversations and offering utility to an audience.

He highlighted the concept of reciprocity in building influence. By inviting mid-market CEOs to his show and providing them with a platform to share their stories, Matt activates an emotional trigger of reciprocity.

This approach often results in these CEOs sharing their podcast episodes within their networks, thereby amplifying Matt’s reach and influence indirectly. He emphasized the importance of focusing on the value added to each individual rather than getting caught up in vanity metrics like the number of downloads or streams.

Matt also touched on the concept of true fans in the context of influence. He proposed that in today’s interconnected world, the focus shouldn’t be on amassing a vast following but rather on cultivating a smaller, more engaged group of true fans. According to him, even a hundred true fans can significantly impact and create commercial value.

In Matt’s own words, “Building and nurturing influence is essential in today’s business landscape, serving as the currency of future business leadership.






If you enjoyed this conversation and would like to learn more, check out the Matt Brown Show


What is influence and how can it help you in B2B?
We’re going to talk all about influence in this episode
of Closing Time.
Welcome to Closing Time the show for Go to Market leaders.
My name is Chip House.
I’m the CMO of Insightly CRM and today
I’m excited to be joined by Matt Brown.
He’s a two time author and also host of The Matt Brown Show.
Welcome to the show, Matt.
Great to be here, Chip. Super excited.
So as you can tell from my intro, we’re going to talk about influence.
And you wrote a book called Secrets of Influence.
So I know you know a thing or two about this,
and this should be an entire softball for you, Matt.
What is influence?
It’s a great question, because if you ask ten CEOs
what is influence, you’ll get ten different answers.
But I think it’s probably easier to let the audience know what influence isn’t.
So, Influence isn’t about vanity metrics, like how many followers you have.
That’s really like influencer marketing, which is really about elevating oneself.
So brands paying an influencer to elevate themselves,
making money and promoting products that no one really cares about,
but true influence in the context of business leadership
is not about elevating oneself, it’s about elevating others.
And if you think about the like the world’s greatest influencers.
Think about Elon Musk.
If you think about Oprah Winfrey, if you think about Nelson Mandela.
I’m from South Africa as an example.
If you think about Satya Nadella and what he’s done with Microsoft
from an influence perspective, that’s what true influence is.
It’s about elevating others and not yourself.
From a marketing perspective, it’s really about shifting perceptions,
inspiring actions and driving decision making at scale.
And it’s one of those things where it feels like, you know, influence
when you see it or experience it, you can sense the influence,
you know, in a great leader, like some of the people that you named.
You asked me this question.
So I was on your show two weeks ago
and you said, Chip, what is influence to you?
And I kind of winged an answer, but I said, it sits at the intersection
of charisma, substance and trust.
And I guess my point there was there’s sort of an element about the person that’s
maybe sort of part of their personality that’s maybe unnamable.
And then substance means that they
can back whatever their persona is up
with real world knowledge or benefit or leadership.
And then trust is there’s sort of this
path of them delivering,
you know, of them doing what they said they could do.
And so that was my best attempt at trying to name what you mean by influence.
But I’m curious, you know,
do you feel, if you were going to give three things
to describe influence, what would it be for you, Matt?
Well, the important thing to
start off with is to understand the context within which influence lives.
So if you’re an aspiring business leader or a business influencer
and you want to influence your market, the number one thing that you need
first is attention.
So attention today has become the new oil.
But influence is the fuel that powers the engine of growth.
So you need attention and you need influence.
So I’m going to share with you a quick story
which might land those three things for your audience really well.
So when I arrived in the US about 18 months ago, I had lost all my network.
And that’s what happens when you move to a different country.
And you’re from South Africa originally, right?
That’s correct, yeah.
And so I sent a thousand emails to startups in California
who had raised $1,000,000 or more in the preceding year.
And I sent them a very short email saying, Hi, my name’s Matt Brown.
I ran a popular business show.
And, you know, it’s featured Steve Blank and all these famous guys and I’d love
to interview you for half an hour to give you some free PR exposure.
And I went to bed that night
and wake up the next morning and I had 190 booked interviews.
And that’s what I mean by attention and influence.
Another example to land this point here is this
I ran this series on the show called Secrets of Fail.
And so what. I wanted to do as an influencer
was really paint a counter-narrative to what
you see on LinkedIn today, which is that everyone’s successful.
So if you go and LinkedIn, what do you see?
You see people winning awards, companies being bought.
And it’s just this amazing timeline of success, isn’t it?
But you and I both know that failure is a big part of becoming successful.
It’s a prerequisite to success.
And so I did this whole series where I interviewed about 150 CEOs.
The aggregate revenues were over 10 billion, just about their failures.
And then as an example, what I did
was I took that content and created a book which became a best seller.
And then it was crazy to see.
But we put 300 videos into the market over a period of about ten days.
My organic reach just shot through the roof
and I was booked on eight different podcasts within about ten days.
That’s what I mean by attention and influence.
And then if you think about what I’ve really done
is that I’ve used my platform to leverage my attention and leverage my influence.
So as an example,. I invested my time in doing an interview,
but then that interview became a chapter in a book, which then became
a bestseller, which then drove my speaking opportunities,
which then also, you know, got a lot of attention in the markets
and really helped business leaders to get over this idea that failure
is, you know, not a cool thing to talk about.
I actually think failure is a very powerful thing to talk about,
but we don’t do that enough.
So it’s about attention, influence and leverage.
Those are the three things that really drive impact today.
Attention, influence and leverage.
So how does one create attention?
I mean, is
influence a choice that we can make?
It’s always a choice.
It’s like belonging.
You know, if you want to belong to Harley-Davidson or KTM, you have to
And I think subconsciously we want to choose, right?
We want to belong.
We want to make a difference deep down.
I mean, why do we suffer as business leaders?
Why do we suffer as entrepreneurs?
It’s because we find meaning in that.
And if you think about Nelson Mandela, he was in prison for 32 years, right,
suffering for 32 years, but when he came out, he forgave,
you know, his persecutors and he transformed South Africa.
Right. So that’s what I mean.
It’s a choice.
He didn’t have to choose that, but he did.
And that’s what made him such a powerful influencer.
What would your advice be to
somebody in the B2B space?
In general, people that watch this are B2B go to market leaders.
How do they put
influence to work for themselves and their own brands?
Yeah, it’s a good question.
So what I found in the go to market space,. I mean, I spent a lot of time
in ad agencies like TBWA Ogilvy and all this kind of stuff.
And also. I talk to business leaders every day
and what I see on LinkedIn predominantly is that go to market leaders are focused
on marketing the problem and their solutions, but not their value.
So let me unpack that in the context of the Matt Brown Show.
So if I was marketing the problem right, what would I say to a CEO?
I’d say to him, Hey,
why don’t you come on to my show, you’re looking for some free PR exposure?
Or do you need PR exposure?
Come on to the Matt Brown show.
It has an audience in 100 countries and I’ll interview you.
But that’s not my value.
That’s the problem that I can solve.
And that’s the solution that I can provide.
But it’s not my value.
So what is my value?
Well, my value is I’ve done over 800 episodes
with CEOs, billionaires is New York Times best selling authors.
Imagine the knowledge capital within those 800 episodes
and all the experience, the insights, the lessons and the perspective.
What is that worth?
Versus marketing an interview for 60 Minutes.
That’s what I mean by value.
So I think the question
that I would like to pose to go to marketers is what is your real value?
If you if you shifted your frame from the problem that you solve
and the solution that you provide, what is your real value?
And think about what that means and what you would do to your go to market strategy
If you came up with a different question and a different answer
to what you do as a business.
I mean, there’s so much value in those stories from business leaders,
and they all bring their own perspectives,
their own industry, their own background.
And, you know, I just had breakfast this morning with a CMO who’s
an entirely different industry,
and I think we learned a lot from each other, right,
because I think that the benefits of talking to other people
is you get an idea of how they’re impacting their own audiences.
So one of the things. I guess I would build on is
can I harness the influence in others?
If I’m somebody that’s inspiring or inspired
to try to build my own influence, but maybe I haven’t done it yet,
how in B2B can I harness or
can I harness the influence of others?
So it’s a great another great question, Chip,
You’re putting me in the hot seat today.
So. That’s what we do hear on Closing. Time.
Yeah, exactly.
Closing time.
We’ll let’s close this one out for your audience.
So I’ll share what I’m currently doing
to leverage the influence of others to expand my own influence.
So if you think about what I’m doing with the Matt Brown Show,
so a podcast is actually a really fantastic lead generation tool.
People seem to think it’s a thought leadership vehicle, but it really isn’t.
In other words, Chip, if you’re interviewing me, right, I’m
the expert, and when I was interviewing you,
you were the expert.
So it’s important to recognize that a podcast is not positioning you
as an expert.
It’s just facilitating conversation and utility for an audience.
But what I’m doing with my own show is I’m inviting
mid-market CEOs as an example to come on to my show for an interview.
And so what I’m doing here is, is I’m activating an emotional trigger.
And specifically that emotional trigger is reciprocity.
So now what I’m doing is. I’m giving the CEO access to my platform
for half an hour for him to promote his story
or to talk about a conversation that matters to both of us.
And at the end of that interview,. I can simply say to him or her,
I really enjoy talking to you.
I’d love to talk to you about Y.
Because, you know,. I feel like we can add value there.
And I can tell you now, for every hundred times
that I do that as an example, 99 times,. I will get that meeting.
But why?
Because I’m activating that emotional trigger of reciprocity.
In other words, when you do something for someone else, you benefit the most.
And here’s the beautiful part about that.
When that podcast goes out, when that video goes out,
what does that CEO do?
Well, he shares it on LinkedIn.
He shares it with his team.
He shares it with his networks.
He shares it with other influences.
And so what I’ve done is. I’ve given him access to my platform.
But what I’ve really done is I’ve harnessed his influence in his network
by giving him value added content and a platform
that can not only make a difference to him and myself, but to his networks as well.
So I think there’s a lot to unpack there.
You know, one of the things I would say is, you know, when I was on your show,
you know, if you
have influence Matt, does that make you an influencer?
When I think about being able to be in front of your audience, it’s a value to me
and to my brand.
Mm hmm.
I think people get so romanced with the downloads.
Right. Well, how many followers do you have?
So, like, I get 11,000 streams a month on average just on Spotify.
And when I think about that, do I go to myself,
Well, Joe Rogan’s getting a million,
so am I doing enough?
Am I influencing enough?
And so this is what happens with podcasters.
There’s a whole graveyard of podcast with three episodes
that could have been something great, but people quit because they’re focusing
on the wrong things.
So I don’t care about the 11,000 streams on Spotify.
I care about the one stream where that person, him or her
listen to what you had to say, Chip, or listen to what I had to say or listen
to something someone else had to say and then made a decision.
We, in other words, we inspired an action
or we shifted a perception and then they made a decision to not quit
or they made the decision to do something differently.
So that’s what I think is important today to think about,
you know, what is real influence.
It’s about the one person.
If you can reach, if you can impact a million or a billion, fantastic,
But most of us can’t.
But it’s not about the 11,000 streams.
It’s about the one stream that makes all the difference.
Yeah, entirely.
I mean, we all live in the long tail now, you know?
And I was just thinking about this as Spotify came out with their rankings
and Taylor Swift had 26 billion streams in the last year.
And I noticed a local musician friend of mine who I love,
I think he’s a phenomenal musician,. Rob Meany.
And he had 25,000 streams. Right.
Which is great for,. I think, a local talent, you know.
And, you know, he’s heavily appealing to the audience that loves his music.
And I think that that’s fine.
You know, he’s not everybody has to be Taylor Swift
or a gigantic brand to have impact with their influence.
Yeah 100%.
I mean I don’t know if you remember
this idea of, you know, you need 1000 true fans.
So when the Internet had sex and social media arrived,
it was like, well, how many true fans can I get?
And it used to be a thousand.
I actually think today that you need 100, you need a hundred true fans.
You need far less, you know, sort of scale
to really impact and generate commercial value.
Yeah, well, this is a great discussion,. Matt, thanks so much.
Any final thoughts for us?
Um, yes, Plato said
if any man, I’m paraphrasing it, but if any man
doesn’t invest in his influence, he will be ruled by lesser men
and so invest in your influence.
It’s the currency of future business leadership.
I love that. Wow.
Ending with a quote from Plato.
That’s amazing.
I think that’s maybe the first Plato quote we’ve had.
That was pretty, pretty solid.
I see what you did there, Chipalicious.
All right.
Well, it was phenomenal to have you, Matt.
Thanks so much for taking time.
Ah, dude. It’s been a real privilege.. Thank you.
Yeah, absolutely.
And maybe we’ll find time to have you back and drill it more into your fail book.
I think that’s super interesting as well.
And thanks to all of you for joining us on this episode of Closing Time
and Tick the bell, hit subscribe, and we’d love to see you again.

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