Marques Brownlee Journey:
How did this young 14-year-old named Marques Brownlee grow to become titled “The Best Tech Reviewer on the planet” and regularly meet with business leaders like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, Barak Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and celebrities like Will Smith and Kobe Bryant?
This is exactly what we’ll find out in this analysis. And we will look at the Marques Brownlee Journey in this article.
As of writing this article, Marques Keith Brownlee, or “MKBHD” as he is better known has over 1.8 billion views on his YouTube channel, over 13 million subscribers, and another 4.9 million followers on Twitter and 2.9 million on Instagram.
Apart from consistently improving his videos, Marques had to find ways of reaching new audiences to speed up the growth of his channel and I say speed up, because he actually had slow growth in his first three years on YouTube an Apart from relying on luck and YouTube’salgorithm to promote his videos, Marques, like many other content creators on the platform collaborated with fellow YouTubers to make videos that would have twice the reach they normally would.
MKBHD Collaborations with YouTubers:
Not only did MKBHD master the art of YouTube collaborations eventually working with YouTube celebrities like Casey Neistat, but he also took it to a whole new level.
Let me show you exactly how he progressed.
On April 22nd, 2009 after having already made 172 videos and being a small channel with around 750 subscribers he began his first attempt at reaching new audiences by doing shout-outs for other channels in his videos.
While this wasn’t very effective marques was just getting started. Two years later on August 30th, 2011 he made his first proper collaboration with fellow friend and tech reviewer Austin Evans.
After agreeing on a topic, both of them would film apart and upload the combined video linking the collaborator’s channel.
In some cases, they’d upload two separate parts with viewers having to go to both channels to get the full picture.
After more than 30 videos with YouTubers within his niche, Marques fully grasped the formula for successful collaborations.
March 25th, 2017 marked the day MKBHD channel saw its biggest result from the collaboration. He released a video with YouTube’s most famous vlogger at the time, Casey Neistat.
Collaborating with famous YouTubers like Casey Neistat and Peter McKinnon outside of the tech review niche allowed Marques to tap into fresh audiences who might have never heard of him before.
The results were astounding. The video with Casey for example brought him over 35,000 subscribers in ONE SINGLE DAY.
This is the point where almost all successful YouTube content creators stop at. Many think that making videos with YouTube celebrities is as high as one can go in terms of collaboration strategies. But Marques?
No. He completely broke through YouTube’s standards venturing out of the platform to make videos with some of the world’s most influential people.
Marques Brownlee is a true genius when it comes to collaborations, very few people grasp their mechanics as well as he does.
The 2 main principles that set him up for success
- Always seeking a win-win-win outcome. Marques will only do a collab if he the counterpart and the viewers all benefit from it more than from a video he would have made alone.
- Always making videos that he himself would want to watch meant staying true to himself and not sacrificing values in favor of getting extra views or money, this also meant he automatically avoided the pitfall many YouTubers go through when they burn out from producing content they no longer enjoy.
Although Marques had the right mindset, he still had two big problems he needed to resolve before being able to make videos with famous people outside of YouTube.
His 2 Main Problems are
- How would he get in touch with the likes of Elon Musk and Bill Gates who also happen to be some of the busiest people on the planet?
- Why in the world would they speak to a YouTuber who is still a student and films out of his dorm room?
The odds were clearly against him. You see YouTube or any of its content creators for that matter, regardless of how big they were, were not treated seriously outside of the platform.
Here let me give you an example. The Consumer Electronics Show or CES for short is one of the largest annual trade shows featuring thousands of newly released products and technologies.
Well, what you didn’t know is that even in 2014 when Marques had 900 thousand subscribers on YouTube, he couldn’t get into CES without an exception being made because tech YouTubers were still not considered as real press.
This means that even if you had hundreds of thousands of monthly views, by default, you couldn’t get into CES but a person with a few readers on his tech website could.
You get the idea, it was pretty ridiculous. Fortunately, this is now changing with Marques Brownlee being one of the pioneers breaking down the stereotype, but at that time YouTubers’ lack of reputation was a real handicap he had to get rid of.
He was patient and did two things to tackle both problems.
- He grew the counterpart’s potential “WIN” to a size they couldn’t ignore. This meant continuing to improve the quality of his videos and growing his channel.
- And the second thing he did was build up his credibility and reputation as a high-quality tech reviewer, establishing himself up as an authority in his field.
For the specific techniques, Marques used to start quickly growing his YouTube channel despite 3 years of slow growth.
In this article, we’re focusing on Marques’s more difficult task of building up his personal brand authority despite being a “YouTuber” and what exact steps he took to interview this growing list of famous and influential people.
The answer to how MKBHD started this series of impressive interviews is actually hidden in the past. We have to go back to February 14th, 2013 when Google+ was still around.
Marques Brownlee was one of the first to adopt the service and grew a sizable following.
Apart from bringing additional traffic to his YouTube channel, his three-plus years of solid engagement on the platform allowed him to be selected as one of the few people whose questions would be played for guess who President Obama.
Let’s go ahead and bring up the video that’s now unlisted: Odds that it’s going to happen.
Mr. President, let’s transition to the economy next and go to one of the tops voted YouTube questions that were submitted.
This one comes from Marques Brownlee, let’s watch. Hi Mr. President, my name is Marques and I’m a student in New Jersey Marques actually said, the added exposure from this was nice but what was even better was the legitimacy the video conveyed when people looked at tech blogs in 2013 it’s the written blogs that had the most credibility.
“On YouTube, that’s less so the case,” he said but here they can see” he’s talking with the president, he’s reaching out to a lot of people”
This was his first small victory and his first step in building himself up as an authority in his field.
His brand now had a small association with President Obama, which he could highlight when reaching out to professionals in the industry.
Marques’s second victory was huge. It came five months later in the summer of 2013, this time with Google stepping into the picture.
Google Interest in Promoting MKBHD:
By the end of July 2013 with 400,000 subscribers on YouTube. It’s likely that Google was already sending Marques products for review.
Here are some facts that point to this: On July 24th he already had Google’s Nexus 7, 2 days before it was officially released On August 1st, Google’s highly anticipated Moto X smartphone had just been announced yet Marques Brownlee already had it.
He also mentioned in an interview that he was the only YouTuber to be invited by Google for a Moto X hands-on review.
This is also probably where he was able to film THIS scene, given that he didn’t have the colored models in any of his other videos.
The building where the video was filmed, also happens to be only 20 minutes away from his office.
I know. It’s common practice for manufacturers to send out their products for tech reviews to increase exposure, but here’s what was different in this case.
August 2nd after Marques released the video explaining the features of the Moto X Vic Gundotra then senior vice-president at Google, with almost 7 million followers on Google+ posted, “Marques Brownlee is the best technology reviewer on the planet right now. You might want to follow him. Watch him practice his craft below” linking his video.
On the same day, Guy Kawasaki, then adviser to Google-owned Motorola, tweeted MKBHD’s video twice, commenting: “Hot video from MKBHD. Please retweet”
Now besides the senior Google executives clearly having their own agenda, which was to promote the newly launched and highly anticipated Moto X, by putting Marques on a pedestal thereby maximizing his positive review’s reach to increase sales, this doesn’t take away from the fact that their actions seriously helped build up his reputation and credibility as a tech reviewer.
Apart from him being featured in President Obama’s Q& session he now had a senior Google executive publicly praising him as the best tech reviewer on the planet and another famous business figure recommending his work.
Combined, these were three incredibly powerful signs of credibility that Marques could now use to open a lot of doors that were previously closed.
MKBHD’s First Interview:
Meeting influential figures was no longer a far-fetched dream. These developments from the summer of 2013 really set the stage for Marques’s first interview with Dennis Woodside the CEO of Motorola Mobility.
With Google executives publicly praising him and Motorola Mobility even having communicated with him during Moto X Software updates, Marques had a proven track record and made it easy for the CEO to accept his interview.
Besides December 6th, 2013 when the interview took place, was also right after Moto G’s mid-November release and thus an opportunity to further advertise the phone to potential buyers among Marques’ than seven hundred eighty-seven thousand subscribers onYouTube.
If Motorola already spent five hundred million dollars in advertising, a free interview reaching close to a million tech enthusiasts surely wouldn’t hurt.
Marques continued to make his own videos and grow at a steady pace.
Whenever he’d be covered in the news reporters would now cite Vic Gundotra’s quote, further solidifying the strength of the claim and making it an inherent part of his reputation on the market.
Want to see just the effect it had? A business magazine named Fast Company interviewed Marques on the 5th of November 2015 and added him to their list of most creative people, citing the Google executives quote in both articles.
How MKBHD Met Kobe Bryant:
Why am I mentioning Fast Company?
Fast forward one month to December 15th, 2015, the day when Marques Brownlee interviewed late basketball legend Kobe Bryant listen carefully to what Kobe Says when they greet each other Following Fast company’s news coverage of Marques who they were now in contact with it’s highly likely that they were the ones that invited him to join the press conference for Kobe Bryant’supcoming Kobe 11 shoes, set to be released on January 9th, 2016.
What better way to advertise the shoe’s advanced technology than having MKBHD dedicate an entire interview to it.
I mean he had over three million subscribers and had been called the best tech reviewer on the planet by Google after all.
After two interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson, a chat with Apple senior vice president Craig Federighi and naturally being picked by YouTube to take part in 2016’s Democratic debate the next interview was with Elon Musk
MKBHD Interview with Elon Musk:
This one’s really interesting because we get to see exactly how the relationship developed up to the point where Elon agreed to be interviewed by Marques.
For this let’s open up Twitter and go back in time November 28th, 2013 marked the day when Marques began tweeting at Elon Musk Even with 750,000 YouTube subscribers at that point, Elon would not reply to any of his messages.
A whole three years and seven months later, Marques won in a Tesla advertisement contest with ElonMusk mentioning MKBHD in his tweet for the first time when announcing the winner.
It took another six months for Elon to finally reply to a casual tweet from Marques, and once communication was established three more months for Marquees to casually mention the possibility of having a chat with Elon about tech whenever he’s free, and Elon replying positively.
Just as Marques said, what was more important than the tweets themselves, was the backing each of them got.
Take a look at the final tweet where Marques proposes the interview. It got an astounding 18.4 thousand likes 609 retweets and 249 comments with people practically begging the interview to take place.
While an email might have also worked, Marques leveraged his existing popularity on the platform to strengthen his message’s appeal.
Imagine if that same tweet were to have close to no engagement.
Using Twitter also helped set the right tone for the upcoming meeting, it will be a casual chat to geek over tech they’re passionate about, clearly a breath of fresh air for Elon after stressful calls with analysts.
Another Point of interest is how indirectly Marques makes the ask, casually putting it out there to make it very easy for Elon to refuse as well as protecting his own reputation to avoid a public rejection.
You can assume he had the same low-pressure approach when asking Bill Gates and Will Smith.
The only thing that would change with each request, would be the growing list of his prior accomplishments and the potential exposure they would get from meeting him.
With you now having a clear picture of how MKBHD quality reviews and engagement helped him build up his reputation and get meetings with the likes of Elon Musk and Kobe Bryant, let’s quickly take a look at the wins his counterparts got from agreeing to meet with him.
Apart from increased personal publicity, out of the noteworthy examples, Bill Gates advertised his annual letter, tracking the number of people who came to his website on both occasions, and Elon Musk finally connected with Tesla’s true customers like Marques, especially at a time when reporters and short-sellers cast him and the company in a bad light.
What Mark has got out of these meetings apart from new viewers and increased media coverage was his increased authority as a tech reviewer.
His personal brand fed off the strong associations it now had with the famous people he met.
He was no longer just a college student making good tech reviews from a dorm room but actually grew into becoming the best tech reviewer on the planet, whom people like Elon Musk and Bill Gates found influential enough to agree to meet with.
He also interviewed Mark Zuckerberg and Barak Obama in 2020 on a digital platform.
Marques was honored in the Forbes 30 under 30 listing in its Social media category in December 2020.
With this said, this is why MKBHD deserves to be called YouTube’s King of Collaborations. Marques is now growing beyond YouTube with more room for him to spread his tech empire.
In fact, Marques changed his paradigm entirely from a YouTube centric one to a viewer centric one.
Marques: “the day YouTube ever disappears. YouTube was down the other day and I thought about this a lot. If Youtube’s ever gone like yeah, we do have to think about what’s next, which for me I think will still stay in reviewing tech in online video but maybe it’s somewhere else”
You Can also visit the Marques Brownlee Wikipedia page here
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