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Are you thinking about the ways you could use NFTs for your digital agency? After working in nine agencies, Kent Lewis decided to start Anvil Media in 2000, which is nowadays one of the oldest search engine marketing agencies in the Pacific Northwest that specializes in analytics, SEO, paid media, and organic social media strategy. Last year, during the NFT boom, Kent wrote a not so serious press release about this phenomenon and got the attention of companies wanted to learn how to use these one-of-a-kind digital assets. Just like that, he got into the NFT world and is developing some projects around them. Today he joins Jason to talk about what are NFTs, how some companies started using them, the possibilities to further develop their potential, and how can digital agencies get in on the action too.3 Golden Nuggets
- What are NFTs? There’s been a lot of talk about non-fungible tokens since their boom last year. In essence, it is is a unit of data stored on a blockchain that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. We’ve seen sold for hundreds of thousands, but how can companies use them? Some early adopters saw success from selling digital items to create brand awareness (Pizza Hut selling digital pizzas, Pringles selling a golden chip). But there’s still much room to continue innovating.
- How brands are using them. If the first step was brand engagement the future of NFTs for companies includes brand engagement and brand perception management. In this post-pandemic world of much more remote work and remote communication, it makes sense to add digital products to your offerings. The future of NFTs includes its gamification, meaning tokens, rewards, exclusive access, and more.
- How can agencies get in on the action? As we’ve seen, agencies can help their clients jump on the NFT trend to create brand awareness and engagement. But some agencies are themselves starting to use NFTs. Access to exclusive rewards is a good way to create interest in your brand. Some agencies are starting to do this by the tokenization of their time. For example, someone that gets a good deal on one of your agency’s tokens could get a good deal for an hour of your time. Kent also recommends paying close attention to how Gary Vaynerchuk is innovating with NFTs.
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Jason: [00:00:00] Hey, what's up, agency owners? Jason Swenk here and have another amazing guest for you. We're going to talk about how your agency can use NFTs. That's right. And we're going to tell his story and so you can do that. So let's go ahead and jump into the episode.
Hey, Ken. Welcome to the show.
Kent: [00:00:25] Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Jason: [00:00:27] Yeah, man. I'm excited to have you on. So tell us who are you and what do you do?
Kent: [00:00:32] So my name is Kent Lewis. I am based in Portland, Oregon since 95, you know, marketing PR background. But in 96, I got involved in the internet, started optimizing websites before Google was a thing.
And I've been a part of nine agencies, founded two, co-founded two. But when I was fired the second time from an agency that I was a key manager in, I decided I'm probably unemployable. Better do my own thing. So started out in 2000 with Anvil Media, as a consultancy and started bringing in employees in 03. And have been active and keeping it a relatively boutique-sized digital marketing agency since then.
And when I'm not doing the agency thing, you know, I'm trying to get outside. That's the great thing about Portland, we're an hour and a half from the ocean, from the mountains from rivers, you name it.
Jason: [00:01:20] Awesome, so are you a fly fisherman?
Kent: [00:01:23] My first ever fly fishing experience was on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon, about three months ago. Gal, one of my friends, she gave me the rod and said Kent, and one just keep throwing it. And I caught a least solid three and a half-inch steelhead. So I didn't eat it. It was probably good for a pizza.
And I guess you could say I was maybe hooked. So I think I might try more of that later, but I'm mostly like bike cycling, snowboarding, skiing, kind of guy.
Jason: [00:01:50] Very cool. We'll get along very well. That's, that's all me. That's why I live in the mountains. But, um, we're not here to talk about the mountains. Let's talk about… I'm curious, because I've been fired from almost every job. Why were you fired from that one agency?
Kent: [00:02:05] Well, so the first time I was fired was an agency I co-founded in 99. And by fall of 2000 we had a disagreement about equity and our role. There were two junior folks. I was like 25, 26 at the time. And there was the founder who used his 401k to fund it and we helped grow it to three and a half million, 35 people in less than two years.
But, you know, we had gone in… much as I should ran of myself, my other young partner who ran the PR side and I ran the internet side. She was like I'm going in to get more equity. Are you in? I was like, I guess, yeah, because I helped build this thing. And he was offended by that and instead of firing just her he fired both of us.
And by the next week, uh, October, 2000, I created Anvil as a, as a placeholder. Interestingly, the name Anvil Media comes from an easy I'd been running for four years. I thought I'll just sell the easy for a million dollars and retire. It's still archived at @anvil-media.com, but I haven't touched it since 06. Not worth a dime now, but that team that I left in late 2000 was acquired by another agency.
And then my boss, who was my mentor and, you know, it was tragic to me that we had a falling out. He died of a massive heart attack at 42. So they needed somebody to run my own team. So this old school agency asked me to take my team back over and I tripled revenue. Then, in the end, my girlfriend decided the Creative Director was more interesting than I was, even though he was married.
And since he was on the board and had been there 20 years, he had a little more juice than I did and canned my ass. And then I decided I better do my own thing. So it was about a girl the second time. Actually, it was about a girl both times. The other was my business partner and she was very amazing and also made a lot of bag mistakes. And I got lumped in when she and I united.
So there's a whole book there somewhere when I have the time, but it was never about my performance. It was never about my abilities. It was always about bad judgment. I'm not innocent in it so much as I picked the wrong horses.
Jason: [00:03:56] Yeah, gotcha. I do want to get to how you tripled revenue later on, but I do want to get into the NFTs. So explain for some people that have… I mean, if you've been living under a rock, what an NFT is and then how can agencies use NFTs to really benefit their agency?
Kent: [00:04:15] Yeah. So it's actually a great story, but I'll just answer your question directly. If we have time, I'll go into the backstory because it exemplifies the timing in my career. Um, I'm not that smart. I'm just tall male with a short name and I'm not unattractive. And I think that's been as much of my success as hard work and smarts.
So NFTs. So I'd been reading about, you know, what Pizza Hut and Pringles and all these brands were messing around doing these little PR stunts, basically. Creating these little non-fungible tokens, being their little digital assets that you can own.
And, you know, buy, sell, trade. And because they're probably of blockchain, you can have a whole history of that item. So brand we'll get into, you know, why it matters to marketers. But to back then, we're talking March, 2021. I was like, this seems like second life. You remember second life, the virtual world.
I was consulting with HP on that like however many, 14 years ago. And I realized for the first time in career, I could be one word ahead or one sentence ahead in the book. I didn't have to write the book. I didn't have to write the chapter, I just needed to spend a little more time on it and think about it just another 30 minutes longer than my client, and then help guide them through how to create a second life experience.
Same thing with, uh, it's all over again, right? The world repeats. It’s a spiral and a circle, historically speaking, even in tech. I read about these non fungible tokens. You create this asset, like these virtual tacos or virtual pizzas, like Pizza Hut or these Pringle gold chips. And then people get excited because you're an early adopter, even if there's a fairly worthless asset. But it wasn't because people were reselling these on the secondary market.
They got them for free and they were selling them for 10, 20, $30,000. And I was like, this sounds a lot like Bitcoin for brands. And so I wrote a press release April 1st, as I've been doing the last 15, 18 years. I write a fake press release on April every year, and this one was about NFTs and, you know, NFTs, you might know as most famous things, digital watches from Jacobson and Company or digital sneakers.
And so I took the idea of a digital sneaker because we're in the backyard of Adidas America and of course, Nike and I said that these other agencies are building digital sneakers. We're 10 steps ahead where building virtual shoe boxes to story of virtual sneakers to put in a virtual closet and a virtual house that we build you just to store your digital sneakers.
Just totally full of it, right? Totally riffing off of a core concept. And low and behold, a very large social media platform with a blue logo reached out to me and said, hey, we need help. We've got… We're getting a virtual sneaker build for one of their communities. And we can, would, they could tell that we're very serious about it by reading that press release.
So they didn't read the press release that closely, bless their hearts. And that led to another conversation. So basically what I did is I would hopped back a second and I was like, shoot, if they're serious, then I'm serious. So I read up on it. I wrote an article that's on a website called thinknorthwest.org.
It's a big ad networks for the West Coast, Portland, San Francisco. Uh, about what is NFT and why does it matter? And we can talk more about that in a second, but in the end I've been talking to three large brands, including a sneaker brand about how to use NFTs. Including one of the brands that's a big technology company with a black and white logo that basically is trying to use it for B2B.
How do you get into the tech community? And can we use NFTs to incentivize behaviors for deep tech clientele. Even the OEM channel reseller channel, very complicated, convoluted, not theoretically as sexy. And I love the challenge. So I'm talking with them in an hour, then try and see if we can finalize a project.
So long story short, we took this, what was a press release joke into a reality of an offering to clients. And we're having these multiple discussions with larger brands. So in the past, I've evangelized mobile marketing, video marketing, podcasting, voice search, Amazon marketing. And I evangelize it as a, with my PR background, speak about it, write about it, and then develop through my articles, a concept or a structure for a service, and then sell that service.
I've done that for most of my career. And the NFT happened to start out as a joke, skeptical, healthy skepticism, that it was really something. As I did the research, I realized it's extremely powerful. Because it solves… NFTs, non-fungible tokens, unlike Bitcoin, where if there's equal value, one Bitcoin equals one bitcoin. I own one, you own one. It's the same value.
And a non-fungible is a one-off item that you can pay me for with Bitcoin, but it's non-replicable. Non-scalable. And so the idea is you're, you're owning an asset for something. And that's why you can say that's 30 grand to own this. Or the meme of the fire girl, the little girl with the blazing fire out of her house. And she's staring at the camera and they sold…
That gal, now that she's going into college, sold it for half a million dollars and helped fund college and gave some to charity. Just for some rich person to own the digital rights to that, right? Beeple’s $69 million collage. Um, he's arguably not a good artist, but he's a first-mover developed a lot of credibility in the space and had enough of a following that some very wealthy art collector, using the term loosely, decided to get a bidding war and spend crazy money.
But how does that relate to brands? So there's a couple things to keep in mind for NFTs. And that is there's, because it's blockchain, it's trackable, defensible. There's no fraud, theft, or manipulation possible with an NFT, you can create as many copies as you want.
You can sell them, you can give them away. But it allows… In the end, it allows for a few different things for brands. One is just general awareness. So the things that you've seen in the, in the press related to these predominantly quick-service restaurants or manufacturers and retail, lifestyle brands, Pringles, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut… Charmin has an NFT-P as in "TP."
So they're just creating brand awareness. And if you like the brand, you might love them for that, if you're technologically savvy. But what I think is the next phase, because that's really what's happening in the last year. What's happening in the next year is brand engagement brand perception management.
So luxury brands are getting into it. Hoochie, Jacob & Co., like I said, Jacobs & Co. are obviously a very expensive watch brand and sold an NFT watch for $100,000. Again, fairly worthless other than to the buyer, right? So brand engagement. Uh, what I think is really the secret sauce is, and this is where it gets into the B2B world, where it can apply is in the engagement for the customer. And customer retention is using it for gamification and incentives.
So tokens, loyalty reward programs, earn certain tokens. Those tokens can be exchanged for things, art, music, whatever. And so it's just a clever way to up your ante and see, be seen as a forward-looking brand or an agency that creates this stuff for clients.
Because a lot of like the top shot, NBA, virtual trading cards of the top 10, most expensive trading cards of all time up there with Honus Wagner is the Dallas Maverick, right? And his car traded for almost $3 million and it's a digital card. But in my backyard, Damian Lillard with the Portland trailblazers, he's added special access to groups, discussion groups, VIP access to certain events, or just access to him.
So you're getting, you're paying a premium, but you're getting something that's very exclusive. That's really what NFTs are about right now, or now is exclusivity. I think also that the next phase, which will be one plus years out would be the product extensions. Agencies helping brands create products that are natural extension of their current offerings, especially in a post pandemic world.
There's a lot more of this remote work, remote communication. So creating products that are more digital and interactive, it's particularly interesting right now. And then the last component would be the tokenization of time. So as an agency, you could tokenize your time where it can be bought and sold on the secondary market.
Why people might do that? Hard to say. But, uh, there's a Reuben Bramanathan who's with IDEO CoLab Ventures. He's tokenized his time. And one token is equal to one hour of his time and the guy might trade his time. He might, I might have to pay him 500 or a thousand dollars. But if I get a good deal on a token, I might save a ton of money more than likely to pay right now, paying more for a token than it's worth. And then relate to that is just creating that digital ecosystem.
So when I mentioned second life, there's a new version of that. And that is, there are many of them actually, but one of them is popular. It's called Superworld, where you can own the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel tower in a virtual recreation of the world, the planet. Using satellite imagery, you could add things into that world.
You can develop things like second life, but mainly if you want to say I own the Eiffel tower, you can go in Superworld and buy it. If it's not already been purchased since I last looked. The Great Wall, Taj Mahal, etcetera. Those are just some of the ways a brands are using it today.
One that I glossed over that's product extension. A good example is gaming. So you've got Ubisoft has a game called Rabbits. F1 has Delta time. So what, what F1 has done well with their reality show on I think Netflix. And then this, uh, F1, uh, Delta time NFT assets related to kind of gamification of F1 is they're extending out what is a very elite wealthy following.
Most people don't fly to Monaco to watch the race from a yacht, but there are other ways to interact with the brand. And F1 has mastered that. Uh, and then even Microsoft has a fairly ghetto Minecraft-like game called Azure Space Mystery. That is, um, kind of remedial, but it has, it's in the NFT world.
So, um, how that relates is Fortnight, if it stays relevant for another year or two, or other games like it, you could buy and sell armor and weapons and other customizations. That's one way you can buy, sell, and trade your gear within the games would be through NFTs because of the trackability that you need to do the anti-fraud protection. And then brands can obviously create assets and then know that they've protected that asset through NFT.
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Now my head's spinning, which I… with ideas. And I mean, it's just to comprehend all of this is a, a little overwhelming figuring out. But that's, it's really pretty fascinating that's where a lot of the world is actually going. And, uh, those are some great examples, you know, from F1, Microsoft, and even how some of the agencies are selling their time for NFTs. It's crazy.
Kent: [00:16:02] Yeah. For now it is and it will settle down. It's, it's more profound, you know, Gary Vaynerchuk has doubled down. So if you want to figure out how does an agency monetize NFTs just look at what Gary Vaynerchuk has done with NFTs. And I've had the luxury to seen him speak twice. And I thought he was just a grade-A douche bag and nothing better.
And he's far more than. In fact, I firmly believed that it’s, his, his character his act and he really has a huge heart and does a lot of good things. You just wouldn't know it because he has a potty mouth, which I have no problem with. And, uh, just the way he kind of yells and preaches at people. But he has a lot of good things.
I never disagree that he's a smart guy and he's on point, but he's doubling down on NFTs in ways that make me look like a troglodyte. Like I'm, you know, like, I don't get it. And he's built a whole marketplace and a bunch of assets and that's cool. Cause he can do that. Cause you know, he shouldn't even be working anymore, but he's never going to stop.
So look at what he's done. If you want to see what a true agency pioneer that started out just as a small wine dealer has done, it's pretty remarkable.
Jason: [00:17:00] Give us one example of what you really liked that he's doing in his agency using NFTs.
Kent: [00:17:06] Well, I like that he's giving back. So with his NFT agency and I, we're going to apply cause we're doing an NFT mural fundraiser here in Portland, in September. But we can apply once we build the NFT and what do you call mint it, then we can apply. If we put it on the right, uh, marketplace and use the right technology, he can use some of the proceeds and resources he's developed with his NFT company. You know, like it basically an NFT agency to help you build something better, especially if it is for a nonprofit or cause-driven social responsibility sort of thing.
And, and you can get some horsepower. So he's already built giving back into his model, which I really appreciate and admire. Look at what he's doing there. So he's not just riding the money train, he's pivoting that to provide opportunities to do social good in the process.
Jason: [00:17:55] Awesome. Well, this is been very educational and, uh, and really pretty cool to listen to.
What's the website people can go and, uh, check the agency out?
Kent: [00:18:04] Uh, you can go to anvilmediainc.com or just Google Anvil Media. You'll find me with Anvil, Portland, anvil, Kent Lewis, whatever. And then if you just Google Kent, Kent Lewis NFT, or just go to thinknorthwest.org and their blog, you'll find my article, NFT Marketing: How brands can use NFTs to engage consumers and generate revenue. I think that's a great read.
And then just also look at what Gary Vaynerchuk and NFTs looked that up and news and, um, Google search generally, and you'll find a lot of great information.
Jason: [00:18:36] awesome logo. Everyone go check that out and thanks so much, Kent, for coming on the show. If you guys liked this episode, make sure you guys subscribe.
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And until next time have a Swenk day.