Blog Home

The Creative Edge

Did Peter McKinnon Hack Community Marketing?

By Angelica Fierro on

In this episode of The Marketing Cave, Host Carter Severns awards Peter McKinnon the big gold marketing star that doesn't exist (you're welcome, Pete). Did Peter hack the community marketing model or did it just fall into place for him?

Peter McKinnon built the perfect community marketing model, and that is worth talking about. This episode shows how he did, lessons we can take from him, and some insight on how community marketing is working today.

Peter McKinnon on YouTube:
Pete's Pirate Life IG: 



You can give it a listen here: 

You can also listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts! Or a bunch of other places to listen here.

Enjoying this episode? Make sure and rate ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and share it with your friends! You can also connect with the host, Carter, on LinkedIn.


Here is the transcript:


Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Marketing cave. My name is Carter. And on this week's episode, I want to talk about how specifically Peter McKinnon hacked this whole community marketing thing. If you don't know who Peter McKinnon is, don't you worry your little self, I'm going to get there. And I'll talk through all of that. Obviously, you could Google him quickly and kind of figure it out pretty easily. But before I jump into, you know, what Peter actually did, and kind of how he went about this, and like the genius behind it, which, you know, I don't know if he meant to do this or not, but if he did, then, kudos, it was pretty incredible. But before we jump into that, I want to just kind of talk through like what community marketing is, maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't. But I kind of found this little like definition online that seemed to kind of like tie it up in at least like a somewhat of a nice little bow and that is community marketing is about connecting, engaging and establishing long term relationships with both potential and existing customers. I said I found it online I kind of tweaked it a little bit to what I thought made more sense. But basically, it's this whole concept that people want to connect right they want to they want to belong, there's a feeling of like, like exclusivity In fact, if I said that correctly exclusivity and that that feeling of belonging and being a part of something that's bigger than yourself right so there's plenty of examples of people who are who are using these you know, these communities basically as an opportunity to market to people but hopefully you know, if you're doing it right the the core reason or the the value behind the group or why it's actually been constructed to put together is for people to connect and share information and educate each other or or ask questions. 

So these groups can exist like all over the internet or even in person maybe but you know, where I tend to see the most like Facebook groups or on subreddit, or maybe even through just a common hashtag. I think people also do a lot of these on LinkedIn where you've got, you know topics specific groups that people create to connect with other people who are in their same field or have the same interest. So even if it is like a brand or company that's creating this group, as long as their intentions are in the right place, it can be done really, really well and being extremely beneficial thing for both the company or the brand itself, as well as the customer or the potential customer. So here just really quickly, here are a few benefits of these community groups. And then we'll jump into the PMD cannon example or story but you know, there's an opportunity here for when you create these groups, it gives brands or companies and opportunity to to reward their customers for referrals or for leaving reviews or any type of advocacy or brand loyalty, you can really promote that within this group because you've got a direct chance to speak and interact with them. In that same vein, you also can collect feedback and send out surveys and get into That you can then react to or act on to help improve your product, your service your company. And then that also is a great benefit for customers, right? They feel like they can actually tap into a direct line to give you feedback and share with you their frustrations or their their wins and victories. And that's an opportunity for for customers or potential customers to feel heard. And then as long as you as a company or a brand are there providing value and solving problems and giving out thought leadership and giving opportunities to continue to educate themselves maybe through that you do have the opportunity to market to them or actually show them sell them on your product. OK, so now that we have laid the groundwork and understand you know, community marketing and kind of how that works from a more like b2b b2c type thing. 

Let's dive into kind of this, this Peter McKinnon story and how he kind of used that same concept. But before I get into that, who is Peter McKinnon so he is a YouTuber, he's a filmmaker, I would now say you could also call him an entrepreneur. He was originally just a photographer videographer working for a magic company for a really long time. I've been following him on YouTube for probably a couple years now. So I've kind of just seen him grow and the evolution and what's really different about him up until recently is the way that a lot of you know full time youtubers will monetize is through selling merchandise. So they'll create t shirts and backpacks and socks and you name it and put their logo or their face on it and that's a way for them to monetize their audience or or to actually make an income. Besides the small amount of money you get from from AdSense from Google on your videos. Some YouTubers are really good at this. They do a great job of making it feel very organic and seamless and not like they're just asking you for your money. Others are very shameless about it and just make songs about hey, go buy my stuff. But the way Peter McKinnon kind of like went about stepping into this arena of having a merchandise or having a parallel or brand is really genius. 

So he actually created a secret Instagram account. It's called Pete's pirate life, so I didn't even know that this existed until a few months ago. And then I started realizing that he was like laying the groundwork for this entire community marketing thing to happen. So he had this Instagram account where he was just posting, I, you know, it's like different things that he liked. It was knives and everyday carry type items and things that he was using on a regular basis. Obviously, He's incredible photographer. So the visuals of the account are really incredible. It looks really great. It's got a very, it's got a very specific style, but he never acknowledged it. He never like put his face in any of the photos. He never talked about it on his YouTube or his twitter or his other public Instagram account. And he was just kinda like building it in the background. Now if he knew from the beginning that he eventually was going to take this into a community exclusive. Here's my brand, then Dude, that's like a big golden marketing star that I will give to you. That doesn't exist. So if you really didn't know if this was like his plan all along. Amazing kudos, I would love to shake your hand. But what he was doing was building this cute community that people felt like they were secretly a part over, they knew about something that other people didn't know about. So he was providing value there of sharing what he liked and didn't like. 

So as people started to follow this, or maybe they started putting two and two together that this was his actual second account, they started to feel like they had this like behind the scenes look or like some exclusive community that that not everyone is a part of the guy has like 4 million subscribers on YouTube. And this account I think, has like 50 or 60,000 followers. So even now, I think it's still somewhat of a small community that he's built just through posting on Instagram. So then finally, he acknowledged it he in a YouTube video he talks about Yes, that's me. It's my second account, you should go get a follow if you just want to see what I'm up to. beyond my usual here's my face all the time Instagram account. And then shortly after that, he launched his first brand item or his first piece of merchandise and what's really interesting, it was like a super organic, natural progression from hey, here's a bunch of cool stuff that I like to carry and here's a pen that Making with my brand, my logo. And I put it together myself and they took it to another level, hey, for the next three days, you can pre order the pen if you don't get it now, we may never sell it again, this is your only chance. And then once it's closed, hey, that's it, we're done. But it felt like this genius community marketing thing that he had done, where people didn't even feel like they're being sold to. It was just like, oh, he's going to do a pin now. And I want one because I'm a part of this exclusive community that not everyone completely knows about. And it still has that feeling. If you go to his website, I think it's like Pete's pirate life. com, you can't even get to the website. He's got a password protected until the next product comes out. So it's continually portraying this feeling of like exclusivity in this this secret community that you only know when new products are coming up because you're following him on Instagram. That's his community group that I just talked about. 

So I know that's a little bit more of like an influencer brand type, situation or scenario but I just thought it was an incredibly genius move to slowly be building that secret. community in the background. And as that grows, people start to identify with it. And they feel like they're a part of something that maybe not everyone knows about. And so when he did release that pen, it just didn't feel out of place. It felt like it was just like the next progression, what he was doing on this page. And of course, it's sold out only who knows how many he sold it, people are snatching him up like crazy. I think for like three days, you could order it and now it's completely closed out. So that's another play on the exclusivity thing. There's only so many pins that you can get if you don't get it. They're gone forever. It's pretty genius. That part's nothing new. get him get him before they're gone thing has nothing to do. But I just really liked the way that he kind of like in the background was building this thing without actually coming out and saying, here's my merch, here's my brand, go buy my T shirt. He's doing like this curated one item at a time. Something that he really cares about has a lot of his look and feel into it. And I just thought it was smart. I thought it was a really good job. And that just made me think of the way that that community marketing is happening elsewhere. 

And there's one other example that I want to give that is B2B and that's a company called Drift. If my creative cave team is that's going to start laughing because I talk about these guys all the time on the set with them. Their marketing is incredible. I think their product is really great. They just do a really good job of giving themselves a brand and an otherwise kind of  B2B math type of space, it's very difficult to have a personality and feel like you can connect to a brand in the B2B space. And they do a really, really good job of it. But they do a group called the drift Insider. And basically, what they just do is give you access to even more content, more trainings behind the scenes type stuff, you get to see interviews with some of their leaders. And then there's, you know, opportunities to connect with other people who are in marketing. And it's just, they just do a really good job. It's an exclusive group where you have to sign up to become a part of it. And then you get these exclusive emails and things sent to you. And it's just super smart. It's another great example of kind of building this community marketing or this feeling of exclusivity through sharing valuable information. 

So I understand maybe these this community marketing isn't right for everyone. I don't know that it necessarily makes sense for every single company or brand or or agency out there. But what I do know is in your marketing, if you can give people a feeling of belonging or community or an opportunity to feel like they're connecting with you on a level that is exclusive to them. That's a huge win for your marketing. I think it really portrays personality and gives you a chance to separate yourself from your competitors. So that's really it for this episode. It's kind of a quick one. It's just something that I noticed over the past few weeks that I've been thinking about, and I was really impressed with it. I just thought it really related to to the way that we look at community marketing where that that that is a common thing that people are doing. And I don't know if Peter necessarily knew that that's what he was doing in the background, like I said, but if he did, he executed it to perfection. I just thought there was a lesson maybe that could be learned there. And I just wanted to share that with you guys. 

So thank you so much for tuning in. If you made it this far, go tag Peter on Instagram or Twitter or something and see if he'll take a listen to this episode. I would really like to know if that was his plan all along. I don't know if he would admit it, even if it was but I still want to find out. So thank you so much for tuning in. Have a wonderful week, and I'll see you in the next week.

topicIcon The Marketing Cave