If you claim to be interested in where marketing is heading, then you really ought to take a look at Mack Collier and his Viral Garden—which is turning out to be an interesting case study in how to grow your personal brand in record time. Mack’s Viral Garden Blog has recently cracked the top 10 in his own Top 25 list of Marketing blogs (debuted at #8) mostly because he is utilizing effective strategies and tactics aligned with all things 2.0 (Marketing, Brand, and Community). In fact, that’s an interesting way to break it down:
1. Marketing: Did a top 25 marketing list even exist before Mack Collier hit the scene? If it did, I never heard of it. Mack came up with a killer idea that has drawn the influencers to him and gets us talking about what he is doing (like I am doing here). That’s a brilliant strategy that any brand would benefit from. Mack says that he’s terrible at self promotion, but in reality he’s drumming up the best kind—getting others to speak about him. The Top 25 list is what initially raises awareness about Mack and his Viral Garden—it’s the equivalent of viral marketing buzz campaign. And it’s effective. But once you are drawn in—Mack rewards you with providing readers a quality experience on his blog—which leads to the next step in this 1-2-3 knockout combination... the brand experience he serves up.
2. Brand Experience: Mack’s brand is consistent and differentiated. His style of writing is both distinctive and appealing. Mack doesn’t mince words and shoots from the hip. Point in case—note how Mack states the need for prominant bloggers to join their communities vs. passively feeding them content:
“Don't lock yourself up in an ivory tower and call down to your crowd that 'you guys just don't get me'. They don't 'get' you because you won't JOIN them.”
You don’t have to read between the lines to get Mack’s point. And further, Mack offers a consistent EXPERIENCE that his personal brand portrays. He responds to comments quickly and does so in the same voice that he writes in. His personal brand experience is consistent across a variety of touch points you could say. Mack is building his brand in a not so different way than we’ve seen with Google, Firefox, or even Flickr—he provides a service/experience that others will talk about and he invites feedback and participation along the way.
In other words, Mack Collier is an open source brand.
3. Community: Talk to anyone in the Marketing blogosphere and they’ll tell you that Mack Collier and Community are nearly synonymous. When Mack isn’t blogging—he’s practicing what he preaches by going out to other people’s blogs and commenting. He’s planting seeds and engaging people in conversations. He’s making introductions and he often will post not only about new blogs that he comes across—but how they somehow link back to him. He’s embraced the Social Network as not just a place to spread ideas but spread and sustain relationships in meaningful ways. In a short amount of time—Mack has become a master at this.
Now, here’s a little trick. Go back and read this post and imagine that the name of a brand like “Coke” was swapped out in every place that I’ve written"Mack". This is where the rubber hits the road. The reason why marketers should pay close attention to Mack's story is because the big brands can benefit from this type of 1-2-3 combination as well. Imagine if this post and dozens of others from influential individuals sang the praises of “Coke” and urged people to try a new product. Or maybe it’s not even about a product. Maybe it’s just about how Coke is more than just a beverage...
The bottom line is that what Mack is doing goes beyond blogging.
Even beyond community. It’s really interesting to take a step back and think about it as it unfolds in real time. The Viral Garden is currently at #8. Seths Blog is at #1. One blog is written by a published author several times over who travels the world and speaks to scores of marketers everywhere. The other by a less known individual who pounds the virtual pavement building his brand one post at a time. The Viral Garden has been around for three Months while Seth’s Blog has been around for over three years. Yet they both exist in the Top 10. It’s an interesting nugget to chew on in a world where marketing, advertising and media are being turned on their collective heads.