SXSW – Creating a Global Microbrand

Again my rough notes; this was one of fun ones here, i recommend you grab this podcast when it comes out.

Blogger Hugh MacLeod has espoused the notion of “The Global Microbrand” or a small, tiny brand that sells globally. The Global Microbrand is nothing new but with the advent of the Internet and blogging it’s much easier for merchents and even consultants to reach a global audience. For many, blogging is an avenue to creating a personal Global Microbrand and getting off of the corporate hamster wheel. This panel will focus on the two most well known stories — English Cut and Stormhoek — showing how blogging has changed the rules and allowed small players to break out and play to a global audience.

Hugh MacLeod Blogger,
David Parmet Owner, Marketing Begins At Home LLC
Gabe Rivera CEO, Techmeme
Kathy Sierra CreatingPassionateUsers

David: please give us some a definitions

Hugh: a small business, but instead of local community stuff, it has a global community of customers and users and people who care about them. as a blogger it is tempting to think you could not have that with out the web. but not true, look at holland and holland, shotguns, that cost about $120k; their reputation is world wide and everyone buys from there eventually, if a shotgun geek. make 200 guns a year. they do not want to grow further with guns, but are extending in other ways. been around about 200 years. now you do not have to wait that long to be there with the web. now I’m recession proof, income from all over the planet. can build community with a blog. I don’t have a boss anymore and no-one can tell me what to do. i have a constituency of several thousand people, some give me money and some don’t. it’s not about how easy it is to make money, the key is freedom and personal sovereignty. I don’t have to work in a cube in a glass building with a dickless boss.

David: so how does techmeme fit in?
Gabe: it’s fueled by people’s global microbrands (GM). it’s a news site, there’s a lot of news sites but a lot of other kind of people who are not really trying to report news but are also writing stuff ..with an identity that transcends their job, that translates into excellent future opportunities. a lot of these people have great first hand knowledge, or axe to grind (which can make news interesting). Robert Scoble is an excellent example of a GM, a following that moves with him. he has a personal brand. look at Jeremy Zawodny and Matt Cutts, they got into a war about who was copying whom [their respective companies]…an inside account about what it was like to complete in these companies. they come out as voice of companies even though not their day job. do this to promote own GM, but provide content that is for the good of the web. As a GM you are not going to advertise, so you have to create content that people will link to and value. create stuff that people want to repeat, that people want to augment, put stuff out there that people want to attack or bash.

David: Kathy, on tips on how to grow GM

Kathy: i was inspired by Hugh, 2 years ago, the big moment for me when I had a higher ranking that my publisher. (O”Reilly) on Technorati I would not have started if I had not lost my job at Sun.. now I would not go back. the rules I follow may not be agreed with, other people have had success with some of the things I say not to do. they come to me all the time, asking how to get readers. so here are the 7 virtues of the GM

Be grateful.. the single most important one. every moment people give us attention to read us…so with 55m blogs..for someone to spend 30 seconds on yours..i never stop being grateful, it is a gift and the day I forget this is the day it stops.

Be Humble: a lot of people find this difficult. don’t make it all about you. you have to give something back. our job is to make people feel better about themselves, not us. we want people to think that they rock. you want the reader to say that they are brilliant, not that the product or company is brilliant.

Be Patient: we did not think about monetising, we thought about giving what we could give. give them info that is helpful. see what happens. you have to wait. took about a year, year and half to have bigger ranking than hugh

Be Brave: you need to grow thick skin, the critics come out with popularity, they can be brutal. I got slammed and I started pulling back..I needed to take own advice, do stuff that is love or hate, not mediocre.

Show respect: recognise the value of time you give me is really worth a lot. enchant your users. give your readers superpowers. respect what people are coming there to see.

Be generous – giveaway your knowledge, what i get paid to do, is the stuff i do online as well. I help people with presentations, send them slides, will talk and advice. tell people how you do what you do. Do a learning blog..if you can teach people how to do it. we give away what we can, be inspirational and motivational. it;s the outside expert syndrome..f someone says says it it is more meaningful. remember talk to the brain not the mind, therefore don’t blog the cat..dont; name drop! It;s not about you. the people who have taken it, have been pretty successful.

David: the blog is a resume. you will piss people off who may be potential clients…but there is a flip side.

Audience Questions:

Q: how do you demonstrate that you are grateful.

Hugh: if they leave a really nice comment, then I will quote it. readers can tell whether you find them interesting. I’m bad a responding in comment section, I wish I was better. you try and be nice. I don’t put up with trolls, I will tell the to fuck themselves. I quote in follow up posts, I”ll link to URL, I’m comment. you get all these interesting people and you can learn so much from them. link to people who read rather than the a-list.

Q: you don’t have time to respond all…so how give back without an overload point?

Hugh: with great difficulty. I took Stormhoek to bloggers. i want people to think it is real. offered to all bloggers. you don’t have to be an influencer, we sponsored geek dinners. we wanted to start a conversation, believe good things would happen down the road. 2 years ago we were selling 40k cases a year..and now we sold 40k cases last week.

Kathy its been quite some time since I could keep up with comments. I’m trying to respect peoples time with posts I make. I do graphs so that people can get idea without reading post do it, get the idea, respect the time, I don’t post all the time; if I’m busy and can’t add value, I won’t clutter the feed with posts for posts put quality not just posts.

Q: (Tara Hunt) it s a problem of volume, of being important, you read too much, have followers…it was an important step when I stopped reading techmeme. the more readers I got, the less care I took. I had to let go of the drug. the relationships are more quality.

Hugh: before stormhoek, I was working with Thomas, tailor. I built him a blog. his business tripled inside 6 months. now he gets 3 more suits for every order..he has 6mnths waiting list to get on waiting list! he does not care about Technorati rankings, trackbacks. he does not care about the technorati mafia. he cares about making the best suits in the world and his customers. when I talk about a GM, I’m not talking about consultants with blogs, I’m talking about people who make products.

David: it’s not about reaching the most people, it’s about reaching the right people.

Hugh: at the beginning we were following the numbers with English Cut…then we focused more on the business. Tara’s transition from numbers to letting go is the same.

Gabe: forget metrics and then you find your own footings..then you do better.

Q: (Brian Overkirk) can you talk about the other things that come from it. stories about the tiny victories that mean a great deal

Kathy: i year ago I posted about my seizure disorder, i blogged it, and a reader wrote to me with advice and a new drug I would not be here without that advice

Hugh: David was a blog reader, left comments, he lost his job and blogged about it, so I blogged about it, asked people to hire him. with english cut, i started a traveling service where thomas would visit in NY hotels. we needed PR, I knew nothing about PR so I asked David. David was them working for us, we got in NYT which tipped the scale and we were taken seriously. he’s not this fantasy tailor blogger. next thing Scoble and Shel Israel were righting a book, talking about Thomas, David and I hooking up in the book. and now David has the reputation of being The Suit Guy.

Gabe: when I launched in 2005 I was reading a bunch of blogs I found useful, I had a lot of respect for people writing the, over time, every single one of those have said they have found my site useful and that is personal success for me.

David: its about meeting;s about being able to convince my kids they don’t have to works a the big glass building with dickless death…

Q: I get a kick out of being here…a kick because you come to know people, it may be a one way relationship; you can figure out that you have similarities,in cube land you forget there are people like you.. it;s not about how often you publish…snot sure how long you do it with quality. I appreciate what has come out of panel, i see so many people trying to be popular..2 quotes come to mind…Jerry Garcier – at first you worry about copying and then you get your own sound. and the other quote was stop worrying about the best you can do and start being the only one. so, you are all awesome

hugh: go back 2-3 years…we all started hitting critical mass, we’d spent a few years writing and then we had a business week article and the next thing you know this may be real. i get to write what want, i have the readers I want and I am grateful for that. it makes me happy when other people make a good go of it. and real jobs do suck the more people who find something remarkable and can express it to the world the happier this would well be.

Katthy: i always try and take it one step further…my job is to make someone be kick-ass at what they do. take focus off myself, i did not want it to be about me, it’s about helping others. I’m happy now, I reaching more people and that is what is rewarding to me.

Q: (Chris Messina) i find helping people kick-ass the better I feel. I wanted to share an anecdote….I started at LesBlogs in Paris…I thought i had to sound really smart, be really articulate, but then I went out (drinking heavily) with Tom Rafferty and he had told me to stop thinking about having an audience and think about 3 or 4 people you are writing to, as an email.. once is abandoned the idea of writing to a large audience…I was able to get a lot more out of it personally and were able to speak with a clear voice. I used to work for Flock…the work I was doing there represents me, the people i work for reflect what me is. once flock stopped representing me and my values. , I left

Hugh: questions for you.I think the best way to get approval is not to need it

Chrsi – I had to give myself permission.

Q: you say that blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly, look at twitter, social objects etc. what is your take is.

Hugh: a had this idea, i did this cartoon. ” if you talk to people the way advertising people talk, they would punch you in the face.” [one of the cartoons I rotate as my desktop at work] you start a conversation, you start rather random. i started putting cartoon out in hi res. they can be printed. is ell things, but you can still download. you’ve taken the time to read my stuff and I want you to enjoy it.

It’s all about love!!! and don’t forget to google social object.

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