Now Sneak ’em! – Roger

Last week we talked about five major keys a lot of entrepreneurs use when they market their own brands and learned about how we can increase the efficiency of our own marketing strategies. As promised, this week I am going to explore how I should advertise for my own sneaker brand by learning from different marketing methods used by successful businesses. This will also be our last rodeo in the world of marketing, so without further ado, let’s get right into it!

When we talk about sneaker companies, the first couple brands that come into our mind must include Nike and Adidas. Indeed, besides sneakers, Nike and Adidas are also doing very well in the sportswear industry in general, but it is undeniable that their amazing performance in the sneaker industry has brought them tons of profits and success. When we look at big companies such as Nike and Adidas, we discover that one of their major marketing campaigns comes from their affiliation with celebrities. For Nike, the signing of Michael Jordan may arguably be their most successful marketing campaign, or probably even the most successful marketing strategy of the 21st century. When people are still, according to Forbes, talking about how Michael Jordan is still making more than $100 million every year, they forget about how the Jordan brand has helped push Nike to the top spot in the sneaker industry. Last year, “at an average price of $180, according to SportScanInfo, Nike sold more than $80 million of the “Legend Blue” within its first week with most of the sales on the first day.” Again these facts all firmly show us how Nike has used a smart marketing campaign to improve themselves. The contract with Michael Jordan might be very expensive, but in the end Nike makes more money than it spends, and people fall in love with Nike because of Michael Jordan. Adidas, on the other hand, is also good at using celebrities as their major marketing campaign. The signing of Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Nick Young has helped them take solid steps in their pursuit of a world that is not only athletic but also fashionable. When nowadays people can easily relate Adidas with street fashion, it is safe to say that Adidas has accomplished a lot in marketing themselves.

However, as a small company that has just started, I am not able to either attract celebrities or present them with huge contracts, what should I do? Don’t worry, signing celebrities is of course not the only marketing campaign Nike and Adidas use. Another marketing strategy they like to use is to present themselves with a signature logo or slogan. For Nike, the check and “Just Do It!” have become so prevalent in our daily life that almost everyone can relate them with the brand. Of course, the three stripes from Adidas is just as recognizable an image. When we take a step back and explore these two companies, we realize that what they did was actually very simple: create a memorable logo or slogan, and then put it everywhere – bulletin boards, city buildings, all of their products, etc. What’s more, this is a marketing campaign that every single company can use. For my sneaker company, how about the title of this blog post – “Sneak ‘Em”? If this is the way we are going to advertise for ourselves, I believe a lot of sneakerheads will be interested by such a slogan, as it indicates that Sole Garage is able to provide limited sneakers at an attractive price. Then what we need to do is to put “Sneak ‘Em” everywhere: the shipping box of our sneakers, our eBay shop, or even some major websites on the Internet. Marketing is just to make people come “sneak” our sneakers, isn’t it?

After talking about huge companies like Nike and Adidas, let’s take a look at some smaller sneaker resell businesses. Sole Supremacy, a sneaker resell boutique whose owner has become a good friend of mine over the last year, has shared with me some of his marketing strategies. One of his unique ways of marketing is to move the customers with real life stories. On the website of Sole Supremacy, there is a special section called “Our Story,” in which Derek Lew, the founder of the business, tells about how he lost his job during the 2008 economic recession and struggled to found Sole Supremacy. He also shows the customers a full storyline of how Sole Supremacy grew up to be one of the most renowned sneaker resell brand among sneakerheads. Besides the “Our Story” section on the website, Derek also shares a lot of stories about Sole Supremacy on its official Instagram page, in which he talks about how entrepreneurs should treat employees and how much he loves all his team members as families. Not many entrepreneurs out there love to share personal stories with the public; however, Derek takes a different direction to use personal anecdotes as a marketing campaign to attract more customers. In my opinion, such a strategy brings the entrepreneurs closer to the customers, and customers would be more likely to buy from you if they can establish personal connections with you. Therefore I would love the idea of sharing some of my values and the story of Sole Garage to the public, just to let the customers see how we have come through and make them understand our perspectives so that they will appreciate what we have been working on.

After looking at sneaker brands, let’s also take a look at successful businesses from other industries in general and learn from their marketing campaigns. Patagonia, a company that I have studied for a long time, markets themselves with a social mission to save the environment. It is smart to advertise yourself as a socially responsible business because such a strategy attracts thousands of customers who are aware of similar social problems and share similar values. Not only Patagonia, but also companies such as Tom’s and Warby Parker have achieved great success from using social responsibility, not only as a genuine way to run their business, but also as an effective marketing campaign. As we have been trying to make Sole Garage a socially responsible business for a long time, we see the potential how such a move is going to bring us a more solid customer base. There are many things we can do. For example, we are actively seeking partnership with Sole Supremacy in support of a movement Derek has started: “Life > Shoes.” This movement emphasizes how sneakerheads should not sacrifice other parts of their life, for example, their family, their relationships, or even their lives, because of the pursuit for the most wanted sneakers. For more than once I have personally heard about a sneaker enthusiast attacks another sneaker collector just to take the shoes away from the victim, and I am deeply hurt seeing such things happening. That’s why I find Sole Supremacy’s movement intriguing, and am trying to bring it to Sole Garage, not only as a marketing campaign, but also as a sign of our attitude.

Here we wraps up this week’s blog post, as well as our fruitful study in the topic of marketing. I have realized that due to senior project, our study of marketing has spanned for a long time period, and finally we are moving on from here! Next week we will jump into a new topic of research – management, especially the management of personnel. Stay tuned and wish everyone a great week ahead!

1 thought on “Now Sneak ’em! – Roger

  1. margaretjhaviland

    Roger, why is sharing a life story an effective marketing strategy for a small business such as Sole Supremacy? Why wouldn’t the CEO of Nike sharing his personal story have the same impact? Why is it better for a big corporation to market through a different story….such as the greatness of Michael Jordan who wears Nike’s shoes? This story is, you can be like Mike and therefore great, by wearing Nike shoes.
    What stories do you find most compelling? When is the manipulation of marketing good and when does it make you cringe?

    I know you are switching to management, but I think you might give this a moment’s consideration.


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