January 21, 2013

Marie Forleo, Tara Stiles, Gabrielle Bernstein & Kris Carr: How the Miracle Mafia is Taking Over the Mindful Marketplace from the Inside Out.

While they may not refer to themselves that way, there is a Miracle Mafia spawning from the greater New York City region.

These are young ambitious women guiding (mostly) other young ambitious women to lead happier, healthier, and yes, miraculous lives. The Godmothers I’ve selected for the Miracle Mafia are Marie Forleo, Tara Stiles, Gabrielle Bernstein, and Kris Carr.

I don’t recall my first interaction with the Miracle Mafia, but I believe it started with Kris Carr, and, through the power of YouTube and the tight-knitedness of the Miracle Mafia, I discovered Gabby Bernstein, Tara Stiles, and most recently Marie Forleo. They all have slightly different angles targeting a similar audience—basically me: female, youngish, professionally ambitious, health conscious and striving for a happy and fulfilling life, with one caveat:

I’m not someone who would normally use the term miracle, and yet these women still won me over.

As someone who wants to see healthier, happier people in the world, I like their message; but as a marketer, I appreciate their business savvy.

The Miracle Mafia gets inbound marketing.

For those unfamiliar with the term inbound marketing or permission marketing, it focuses on gaining the ‘permission’ of your prospects by giving away valuable content, whereas traditional marketing or ‘interruption marketing’ focuses on forcing a message down your prospects’ throats (think commercials, bill boards, many pop-up and banner ads, etc.). Through their inbound marketing, the Miracle Mafia has cultivated a loyal band of followers or ambassadors, if you will.

This core ambassador group is key to your business success; this is what marketing guru Seth Godin would call your Tribe. For a small business or any business that wants to gain market share, you don’t want to sell to just anyone; you want to sell your remarkable products or services to remarkable people—your Tribe. The Miracle Mafia does just that. They don’t target mainstream consumers; they target their Tribes using channels and tools that these individuals use, i.e., new media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, USTREAM, etc.

Let’s dive in and do a quick run down of how the Miracle Mafia is leveraging video to begin taking over the mindful marketplace.

If they see you, they will come.

All of these women are YouTube regulars, who contribute regular vlogs (video blogs) typically once per week if not more. Why are vlogs smart marketing? First, the Miracle Mafia’s target customer is fairly tech savvy, and regular and consistent vlogs are a great way to build a direct relationship with this audience. Why does this matter? People buy things from people they like. I personally have purchased books, guided meditations, and attended a live event—despite the fact that 90 percent of their content is already available free from them! Here are a few strategies the Miracle Mafia have used to leverage video for their brands.

Stay on Message…or Don’t

The Miracle Mafia does not have a consistent vlogging strategy; however, there are two ends of the spectrum in utilizing YouTube videos. On one side there is Marie Forleo, who does the best job leveraging her videos for business. She answers fans’ questions every Tuesday in a silly short video with a few key elements:

  1. Consistency. Her videos are always live on Tuesday and she reminds the new viewer that she is reliable.
  2. Valuable Content. She helps me solve my business issues, with the occasional small pitch for her products.
  3. Social Leverage. Marie includes “tweetables”—short quotes during the episodes that fans can tweet—this helps her fans build their own social presence giving them a quick freebee to tweet (and ideally credit her, of course).
  4. A Call to Action: At the end of every video she asks viewers to sign up for her newsletter (for exclusive content, of course), and to engage in a discussion on her website. I’ve actually been to her website and read through discussions; they were helpful.

On the other side of the spectrum is the freer-flowing vlogger and uber-YouTuber, Tara Stiles. Tara’s strategy seems to be: Do what you love, even if it’s a little outside of your mission. Many of you know Tara Stiles as a yoga instructor, which she is, but on YouTube she is also a chef, knitter, meditation guide, and travel vlogger. It is clear that Tara loves YouTube and she has 80,000+ subscribers to prove it. While normally I would say ‘stay on brand’ and stick to what you know, Tara’s prolific YouTube contributions allow her to create a huge number of videos for yoga as well as videos for her other hobbies. I actually think Tara’s style works well because we, again, get to know her better as a person, and she seems super-likable. Last time I was in New York, I planned a trip to her class at her studio Strala Yoga, just because I wanted to meet her (I hope this does not come across as stalker-esque, because it was totally innocent).

What Competition? Try Co-opetition.

I don’t watch Oprah, but I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday to see my Gabrielle Bernstein and Marie Forleo discuss their mission and business with another Miracle Mafioso, Mastin Kipp. They described their relationship targeting the same audience as co-opetition, that there is enough pie for everyone and they need to spread the message far and wide.

This cross promotion through collaborating on vlogs, blogs and in events makes them more powerful in business.

After all, I learned about each of them through another one, and have bought products from most. I love this idea of co-opetition; however, I must admit I have a burning desire to know what those contract negotiations are like!

Take events virtual.

Events and speaking engagements, both live and virtual, are pillars of the Miracle Mafia’s success. These women have successfully leveraged virtual event platforms like USTREAM and live video streaming platforms to grow their audience with little overhead. Gabrielle Bernstein regularly offers live events that those outside of the area can attend virtually. This allows her to book a space for say 200 people and have revenue from 5,000 attendees. Why would people pay to attend a virtual event? Good inbound marketing of course! Gabrielle has put many hours of video of her speaking events on her site on YouTube and Vimeo; by doing this she gave away a taste of the energy she brings to her live events as part of her good inbound marketing. The result was that those who saw videos of her events opted in to attend a live event EVEN when not in person. Virtual events are a great way to grow your audience with a low-cost threshold for attendees.

Promote yourself, but not too much.

I’ve heard the criticism that these women are too self-promotional. For the most part I disagree; however, inbound marketing missteps do happen. Kris Carr had a recent moment not in line with good inbound marketing and appeared to be a bit too self-promoting. Kris is not nearly as prolific a vlogger as the other women; in fact, she was off vlogging for over a year and only started up prior to the launch of her new book. Coming back just before her book launch appears a bit too self-promoting. Ideally, you want to have an ongoing consistent dialogue with your community. To her starved YouTube fan base, Kris had some ‘splaining to do. When Kris resurfaced, she explained that she had done a business overhaul. My interpretation of this was that her business and she were spread too thin and they needed to focus on producing a manageable amount of quality content for her audience.

It is fine if your schedule does not allow you to vlog/blog every week, what’s more important is to set a consistent schedule, stick to it, and let people know if you’re going to switch things up.

It is my hope that moving forward Kris and the Crazy Sexy Team will revive their inbound marketing strengths and not just release videos promoting her products.

Most of the time these women are great inbound marketers; they follow a split of roughly 80/20 valuable content to promotion—meaning 80 percent of the time they are giving away valuable content whether in weekly vlogs, blogs, podcasts, radio, ebooks, etc. The other 20 percent of the time they are promoting their products, which range from books, web events, live events, ebooks, audio trainings, etc. As a member of their communities, I don’t mind when they sell to me for two reasons: one, the things they are selling are relevant to me, and two, they aren’t selling most of the time—most of the time they are giving away free advice and helping me solve my pain points on my own.

While vlogging is not a tool appropriate for all businesses, it can be a powerful way to build your relationship with your community and grow your message.

What do you think of the Miracle Mafia’s video marketing? Too self-promotional or just right? Do you feel inspired to incorporate this into your marketing mix?

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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