Social movements throughout history have brought about transformational change. They first start in communities that unite people around a shared purpose, amplifying a single message that inevitably inspires mass action. Revolutions come from community movements. Big shifts can happen. The result: impact!
Organizations know that if they want to realize their vision and powerfully communicate their mission to the world, they likely won’t be able to do so in a box. To bring their mission more efficiently and effectively to the masses, a community of people needs to rally around it. The more people, the more that mission inspires action, the more results it creates. When community movements develop around one’s mission, they can move mountains, according to lifestyle entrepreneur, Blake Mallen. And, he’s been able to prove it time and time again.
Mallen believes the ability to create community movements has played a key factor in his success building billion-dollar brands throughout the past two decades. “I’ve learned how to take an idea or personal mission and turn it into a movement of people unified around a shared message, which can quickly take on a life of its own,” he says.
Over 20 years as an entrepreneur, Mallen has become an expert in connecting community movements to brand platforms in the health, wellness and lifestyle categories. In 2005, for example, with business partner, Nick Sarnicola, he founded the global health transformation company, Vi, with the mission to transform Life, Health and Prosperity around the world.
But Mallen and Sarnicola knew that to make a real impact on the masses, they needed to mainstream their mission through the power of community.
“We wanted to bring our mission to millions of people, but we knew we couldn’t do that with just our team—we had to think bigger and get those people’s attention and alignment,” says Mallen.
It’s when Mallen and his team architected a first-of-its-kind “challenge marketing” strategy that inspired people to commit to a 90-day Challenge and post on social media their results for a chance to win prizes. His vision also orchestrated viral marketing campaigns and community events that motivated and rewarded mass groups of people to share the mission of Life, Health and Prosperity.
The payoffs were big. Vi achieved a sales growth of 171% in a single year in North America, growing from $230 million in 2011 to $624 million the following year. The company went on to impact over three million people across 16 countries and ultimately generate nearly two billion dollars in cumulative sales revenue.
“What helped to make all that possible was that we created powerful movements of people around our shared mission,” says Mallen. “These community movements allowed us to go further, faster than we could have ever done on our own. My company literally went from millions a year to hundreds of millions a year in less than a four-year time frame. That would not have happened if there wasn’t a community movement powering it all. It’s incredible to see how things that at one time I thought were impossible, not only become possible, but probable! And all because of the power of people coming together around a worthy cause.”
Case in point: Vi’s community movements organically attracted mainstream celebrities and influencers to join the company’s mission.
“I was able to work alongside people that as an young entrepreneur, I would have never thought I’d be given the chance to collaborate with—noted business leaders like John C. Maxwell, John Wooden, Tony Robbins, Dale Brown; athletes like Jerry Rice, Roy Jones Jr; or international celebrities like Jessica Beal, Master P, Terrene Jenkins, Chris Daughtry, to name a few,” says Mallen. “My most memorable had to be working closely with Hulk Hogan on a number of campaigns. Come on, what boy who grew up in the 80’s wouldn’t geek out over doing a pose down on stage with Hulk Hogan!”
Celebrity Alfonso Ribeiro had also hopped onboard, getting behind Mallen’s vision of mobilizing tens of thousands of people to take the concept of flashmobs to a whole new level.
“At the time, everybody loved Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and flashmobs were just popping up, so I asked Alfonso if he wanted to partner up and put together a fun community event on a national scale that would bring people together while doing “the Carlton Dance” at the exact same time across the U.S and Canada,” says Mallen. “He loved the idea, so we worked together to choreograph the dance, leverage social media tools to find and empower “flash mob captains” to rally and teach people in their local town, coordinate the date and time, and then pull everybody together to pull off their flash mob in cities across North America on the exact same day. The event was even more successful than we could have ever anticipated.”
The flashmob stunt mobilized more than 50,000 people in over 300 cities across North America, and generated hundreds of millions of media impressions. It was featured on almost every local news channel, and even a few major news channels, including TMZ, broadcasting the sight of people breaking out into song and dance at the same time. The movement earned Mallen and his company a world record in April 2012 for ‘World’s Largest Simultaneous Flash Mob’.
“This flashmob we pulled off is just an example that when groups of people are aligned on and engaged in a shared purpose, anything is possible, no matter how ‘crazy’ it may seem,” notes Mallen.
Then in Jan. 2015, Mallen and the Vi community once again created a community movement and earned an additional world record for the World’s Largest Simultaneous Group Workout, with a total of 2,180 groups, consisting of 15,180 attendees from 11 countries performing a simultaneous group workout.
Community momentum drove millions of dollars in sales for the company and landed Mallen and his partners on the cover of SUCCESS From Home Magazine (September 2010 issue) and in subsequent issues. Mallen then had the idea of using the power of his community to launch their own magazine, and sure enough on January 2012, The Challenge Magazine hit newsstands and bookstore chains nationwide.
According to Mallen: “Our store shelf magazine became the #1 most sold health and fitness magazine on shelves across North America in January that year. We’re not even in the magazine business, but we were able to do that because of the community movement that had developed around our mission.”
But, Mallen believes the biggest takeaway is not about the celebrities, magazines, flashmobs or popularity. “The point of all this is that if you’re able to find a way to harness the power of people coming together, you can create ways for your mission to be shared on a level you never dreamed possible on your own.”
Mallen’s advice to people or companies that want to build mass brand awareness is to create a community movement around a mission that matters.
“It all starts with a mission you are genuinely passionate about and the impact you really want to make. Then, put your energy into building a community of people who share that same mission,” explains Mallen. “And remember, in almost every movement throughout history, before there were many, there were few. People follow passion. People want to be inspired. People want to be a part of something that makes a difference. And if your mission is something you believe can make a positive impact, trust that there will be others who feel the same way. Over time, what starts as a simple idea can turn into a powerful movement of millions of people across different cultures, languages and geographies. And with that, the doors you never thought would open will open wide.”
For tips on how to create community movements, see Mallen’s article on “7 Musts for Turning Missions into Movements”.