“What do you think is a cool marketing example, Sander?”

The launch (and sales) of the book titled “Cut the Bullsh*t Marketing” we wrote is going very well. I am very grateful for all the reactions, the engagement, and the customers who are putting their hard earned money down to buy a copy on Amazon, CreateSpace or our Dutch web shop. It is very humbling and exciting. I love hearing people’s opinion as to what they think the book is all about. Naturally, we wrote it with an intent, but I learned now that no two people ever read the same book…the feedback has been amazing, NYU is considering using it for a class on Integrated Marketing later this year, and I will be at Carnegie Mellon University myself next week to lecture on it.

A few days ago, I got a question from someone who bought the book asking me for an example of cool marketing (she asked for my personal opinion) outside of my world in technology. I had to think a little bit about it, and decided to list an example of a brand I engage with myself; a brand that I think is cool. It is not your ‘usual’ brand. I picked that deliberately to ‘stretch the fabric’ a bit and look outside of technology; and outside of the examples of brands most people list when they are asked to give an example of a cool brand. This particular brand does marketing that inspires me. It resonates with me because of their personal approach, their imaginative way of communicating, and the way they create a community of fans around stories; their marketing is packed with emotion. And, yes, again, this product will sound very ‘ordinary’ at the surface, maybe even ‘commodity’…but that makes it even cooler, in my opinion. In my lectures at Stanford University, I always say that there are no ‘unsexy products, just unimaginative (marketing) solutions. That very much applies to the following example.

The example?: Yeti (famous for their coolers and stainless steel drinkware).

“Coolers?”, you might say? “Aren’t those commodity goods and doesn’t ‘everyone’ make those?”. This is true, but Yeti takes their respective products to a whole different level. A cooler at Yeti can cost ~400USD. An equivalent cooler at a random vendor may go for 25% of that price. Yet, Yeti’s products are in such high demand that some items are restricted in their web store. For the more ‘number oriented’ people in my network: Yeti reported it had a net sales growth from $89.9 million in 2013 to $468.9 million in 2015. The company’s net income increased from $7.3 million in 2013 to $74.2 million in 2015. I haven’t been able to find ‘margins’, but I assume they are just fine :-).

Ok, those were the cold numbers (no pun intended). Why do I think they so successful, and why do people pay a premium to own their products? Yeti, in my opinion, creates an emotional connection with their customers. Whenever I put my cooler in my car, I also think I am a very cool dude, for example :-). Yeti takes storytelling very seriously. Their website features stories. It takes their customers with them on an a true adventure, and ‘sells’ products along the way. I also love some of their imaginative web copy: [from the Yeti website]:

“..Built for close calls in far-flung places. Built for tall tales and epic adventures. Built for finding comfort well outside comfort zones. Built for the wild.”
Or:
“The YETI Colster® is like a stainless steel bear hug for your sodas or longnecks”

Who doesn’t want to own one, I ask you?

Yeti also creates documentary type of stories in video format. Here’s an example that I watched and loved. It is very well done; there is video as well as pictures with short captions. The captions are imaginative and build an emotional connection to the brand and the products.

I hope you will check out some of the links in this post. For the record, I am not consulting for Yeti (I would, though, in a heartbeat, if they asked me to :-)) nor do I get commission on products sold. I can tell you, however, that I own a Yeti cooler myself and it is the best cooler I ever owned.

In closing, here is one caption from a photo on their website that says a lot:

“In the end, experiences shared with others are what make life meaningful. Being able to share places like Christmas Island with others brings a sense of purpose to what I do. Seeing someone experience something the first time brings me great joy and it’s what keeps me going everyday. Life is so much better when it is shared.”

What do YOU think are great brands that do great marketing? There are quite a few, I think. I recently studied a company called Traeger Grills, and I think Traeger is also a very cool brand that re-invented itself. They sell ~1,000 USD grills/smokers, and a have a very loyal following. Check out this really cool case study on them right here.

I deliberately picked Yeti (and Traeger) for this blog post (they are not very mainstream brands, and deliberately outside of the usual examples like Apple, Nike, Salesforce.com, etc). I am very curious to hear your opinion on this topic: what do you think is a cool brand that does great marketing?

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