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Launched as an alternative to traditional marketing strategies, Stance’s Finders Keepers program is a simple, yet interesting concept that engages consumers by giving them the chance to find and win free product. The campaign officially started when Stance President and industry veteran John Wilson devised a plan to develop a grassroots approach to developing increased brand awareness. Stance— a company launched in January 2010 by Skullcandy’s Rick Alden, former Element Global Marketing Director Ryan Kingman and former Reef President John Wilson—has been gradually building its brand and gaining momentum within the action sports industry, and this step is taking them to the next level with the consumer, according to Kingman. The scavenger hunt-style campaign starts with several fortunate individuals who find hanging socks branded with stickers at various high traffic locations like skateparks, popular surf spots, snow resorts, and industry specific events. They are then prompted to visit the brand’s social media channels to enter a larger contest to win free socks for an entire year, and sign up for Stance’s newsletter—a tactic that has seen measurable results.

We sat down with Kingman to discuss the logistics of combining social media and a grass roots approach in one campaign, why Stance chose to head in this direction and how the brand foresees social media playing an ever increasing role in future marketing efforts.

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Stance Marketing Director Ryan Kingman at Agenda NYC last week.

What’s the story behind Finders Keepers?
It was actually our brand President, John Wilson, who came up with idea to hang socks at locations where we could engage potential Stance consumers. We were looking for a grass roots approach to connect with people, get them to try our product and connect them to our brand in a manner that was different and fun. It’s a national activation, soon to be global, that is cost-effective.

Can you go into more detail about how it’s cost effective? What are the benefits and disadvantages?
[It’s] the cost of a pair of socks and a sticker. If you measured that cost against a CPM rate it could be argued that the gross volume isn’t there but we would in turn argue that the connection you get from an advertisement or event may not be as genuinely effective. There’s a digital platform connected to the program that we initiated so as to capture the consumers’ ongoing attention once they have been introduced to the brand. Benefits are that it’s unique, engaging and generates an instant connection in a manner that is not common in the market. Disadvantage may be the sheer number of socks you would have to give away to make an impression on consumers.

How do you see social media and grassroots marketing becoming a bigger part of the branding strategy for Stance and other start ups?
When demand creation is the goal, you have to use every tool available to create that demand. These are relatively affordable tools that are effective in communicating with your consumers and fans of your brand. Once you grow your consumer base and generate income you can then hopefully add to your demand creation arsenal.

What tangible results have you seen since you launched the program?
The coolest part is when you have someone come to your Facebook page and post that they found a pair and were compelled to come and let us and their friends know about it. We’ve seen many cases where those same fans then bought socks on our site upon visiting. We’ve also seen a significant increase in Facebook fan base, Twitter followers, and overall web traffic that can be partially attributed to the Finders Keepers program.

Which locations have the most traction as far as drawing the consumer to your sites, and/or is there a particular case study example you can give to show the overall success of this program?

Skateparks, surf spots, and mountain lift locations seem to generate the most connections which could probably be attributed to the fact that these are true participants that want to connect with us [and] maybe be a part of something new and different. Other times we leave them around they are picked up by someone who may not get it or is simply stoked to get some free socks and doesn’t care to take the next steps or make any attempt to learn anything more.