My biggest word of mouth marketing influences

By Ted Wright April 8, 2019

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By Ted Wright

Someone said I should write about who has influenced me. I enjoy reading about other people’s business influences – who helped them get to where they are today. So I thought it would be fun to add my voice to the dialogue. Drum roll please . . . . . I heart Seth Godin!

Seth Godin

For a while now, I’ve said that If I ever make significant money and buy a sweet sports car, the license plate will read PURPL COW. Or if I ever buy a boat, I’ll call it the PURPLE COW. And if I get super lucky and gather enough scratch together to snag a beach house, the little sign in front is going to say Purpaidh Bø Taigh, which is Scottish for “Purple Cow House.”

Why the purple cow obsession, because just like Saul on the way to Damascus, once I read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable the scales fell from my eyes. I could see the future of marketing and that future revolved around conversation between two people about products and services that they loved enough to share about. I figure that I owe Seth at least a naming.

Seth continues to amaze. His writing, his insights, the way he keeps trying things, his willingness to be available to people. These are all traits that I try to emulate with greater and lessor success. If you are reading this then of course you have read Seth before. What I’d encourage you to do is read something else of his. Something that you haven’t gotten around to yet but know that you should. Every time I make a moment on my schedule to do just that, I am rewarded with a nugget. You should do the same.

It is the book of the same name that truly inspired me to do what I do today. I love all of Seth Godin’s books but Purple Cow helped me see the business world in a new way. I began to see how conversations make the world go ‘round and how I fit into this world.

I’ve read nearly all of his books and Seth continues to inspire me with his work today.

Sam Zell

Sam Zell is a billionaire and one of the richest men in the world. He made his early fortunes in real estate and went on to invest in a wide range of companies.

I got a chance to work for him for a while. And what I learned from Sam is, it’s okay to do your own thing, it’s okay to kind of be your own person.

Sam is a very centered individual with quite a particular view of the world … and he’s made like $9 billion being his eccentric self so why wouldn’t you listen to him?

That really made an impression on me.

An example of how this plays out for me is the dress code at Fizz.

I would say most agencies have some sort of expectation around a dress code, either spoken or unspoken. But that has nothing to do with productivity. If people want to wear costumes to work, I don’t care. That affects the work in no way.

So we just kind of let people do what they want and be who they want to be and I think a lot of that comes from Sam’s influence.

Jim Schrager

Jim was one of my professors at the University of Chicago when I was in graduate school.

He’s awesome because he was able to break down strategy into tiny component pieces and show how each of the pieces builds upon each other. He basically made you build strategy out of Legos.

If you put the blocks together a certain way, you get one strategy and if you assemble the same blocks another way you get an entirely different strategy. He helped me view the world more strategically.

It was a great lesson and great fun. His is the only notebook I kept and refer back to after all these years and the lessons are still totally cool, totally relevant today.

So those are my three great business influences, but I also owe a lot to my parents. My dad was an entrepreneur and he taught me to think that way. I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for the way my parents raised me.

Honestly, there have been a lot of people who went down this word of mouth marketing route who aren’t around any more. I think I was able to stick it out and see it through based on how I was raised.

Ted Wright

Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth.


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