If I were to ask my dad who the greatest influences in his life have been, I’m confident he would put Oprah Winfrey at the top of his list. It’s not that he’s ever wanted to meet her, or that he would even admit this out loud, but when going through one of the darkest times in his life, she became his therapist. Every day at 3 pm he’d watch her show. Over the course of a year, 60 minutes at a time, he became a better man.
Oprah had kind of a rough go of it when she was a kid. In an interview she was once asked if she could go back, would she change anything about her life? With conviction, she told the journalist that she wouldn’t trade any of it. All of those experiences — the bad and the good — have made her who she is today. It was all part of her journey.
13 years ago when I started this company, I had no vision for what I was building. I had quit a junior high teaching job, completed graduate school, and endured many, many failed attempts at achieving employment. I needed a job, so I started building websites in a home office just down the hall from my bedroom.
Over the years, my vision for this company has materialized from a great deal of contrast. So many questions asked. So many words read. So many conversations had. So many projects released. So many ways of working adapted. So many sharp stones beneath my feet. And so much clarity gained.
The past 13 years of Mack Web brought us our layers. Web design opened up to web development. UX made way for SEO. SEO didn’t work without content and social and email and paid and community, so we added that, too. But even with all of it — the fully integrated package — I knew there was something more. Those were just the tools. We were really good at using them, but this digital marketing base eagerly awaited my realization that it wasn’t only about the appearance on the outside. Marketing had to come from a much deeper and more meaningful place inside these companies.
The way our world has evolved has completely changed how companies must shape and market. People not only interact differently with businesses, they expect more. A “brand” isn’t about generating a virtual identity through websites, emails, social media, and being found at the top of Google.
Great brands are real and human and they follow through. They are made up of passionate people who want to rise above the level of mediocrity that consumers — and many brands — contend with every day. Brands have a personality. A voice. They have conversations. They make mistakes. They exhibit integrity. They are part of our lives.
The changes in our world have caused a fundamental shift in marketing. It can no longer be just about how your company is packaged. It must be about who your company is.
13 years of layers means that Mack Web has slowly become an amalgam of what I couldn’t see coming. As a company, I want to teach businesses that marketing and building a brand isn’t just about promoting your business; it’s about improving it. I want to help companies understand that although technology has made the world smaller and more connected, that tools are not going to build an audience or a thriving community around their brand. They —as real, authentic people — will.
And now that I have this clarity — of who we really are and what we’re truly here to do — I want to call us something different:
Genuinely — by definition — is something that’s done in a way that’s real and true. And that’s where our work comes from. We are a digital strategy company who passionately believes that in order to authentically build trust with your customers, your marketing must come from a genuine place inside the very core of your company. It must come from your purpose.
We want to help companies build better businesses. Ones that are worth connecting to. And for the next many years, we’re going to play an integral role in shaping and marketing them.
As we launch Genuinely today, I’m pretty sure there won’t be any marching bands in our honor. No parades with floats and costumes and kids racing to collect the candy as it falls to the asphalt.
Rather it’s a quiet and extremely proud moment where I get to reflect on this great company we’ve built. A time for me to tuck away this book comprising the many hurdles, tiny victories, and findings we’ve made over the last 13 years. The very detailed and emotional record of all of the things that have made us Genuinely.
I am thankful for our layers. The sharp stones I’ve reluctantly walked on top of. All of the stuff — especially the really, really hard things — that has brought us here. And I’m elated that we finally get to press our pen to paper on the clean pages of a new book. One that will hold all the pieces of this next adventure in our journey.
- Mission briefing
- Stop One: Our New Digs
- Stop Two: Cultivate an Asset
- Stop Three: Pick a Good Alias
- Stop Four: Improvise
- Stop Five: Regroup & Conquer
- Stop Six: Safe House
- Stop Seven: Get the Intel
- Stop Eight: Hang on Tight
- Stop Nine: Mack Web is now Genuinely