3 Marketing Strategies Every Brand Needs to Learn From YETI


WRITTEN BY drake rustand

In less than a decade, YETI has dominated the outdoor and cooler industry, averaging about $500 million in sales. With the increase in these popular products, it’s hard not to admire this abominable snowman brand. You may be asking yourself the same question as we are: “how did a cooler company build such an avid following?”

Behind the hard exterior, we find an extremely empowering strategy that allowed a company selling expensive coolers to start a global movement.

Whether your company is small or in a completely different market you can use these strategies to skyrocket your reach and grow an avid audience that is more loyal than ever.

1. Let your audience tell your story for you

Image via YETI

Image via YETI

To be fair, Yeti was able to create a durable cooler that truly does “keeps ice longer,” but Yeti’s product is not the reason people put a cooler company logo on the back of their cars, hats, shirts, and all over social media, instead it was their trusted voice that sold for them.

The real reason the cooler “cult” took off was the way the company told their story. With the lovely sentiment of “improve the damn thing,” the Seider brothers saw a need and sought out to find a solution. They grew up on boat decks and deer leases, and they built the best cooler simply because they wanted to use it. Founded in 2006 there was no precedent for an unbreakable luxury cooler priced between $250 and $1,300, but sticking to the reason why they created the cooler opened a new kind of marketing.

In 2006, we founded YETI Coolers with a simple mission: build the cooler we’d use every day if it existed. One that was built for the serious outdoor enthusiast rather than for the mass-discount retailers. One that could take the abuse we knew we’d put it through out in the field and on the water. One that simply wouldn’t break.
— Roy & Ryan Seiders

The reason behind making these coolers impacted every marketing decision they made from that point on. They used a top-down pyramid method as the company started paid programming specifically targeting “influencers” and “prosumers” according to Corey Maynard, VP of Marketing. "Those commercials didn’t reach millions of people, but the people that they did reach were the most serious hunters and fisherman," Maynard said. "So it would reach 100,000 or so hardcore hunters and fishermen who would be the person within their circle of friends who their buddies would ask about the latest gear."

"We targeted people who spent the money on the best gear," Maynard said. "The people who will always have the latest stuff, and then we let them tell their stories to their friends on our behalf."

Needless to say this strategy worked. In 2011, Yeti pulled in $30 million in revenues. That number grew to $100 million by 2013.

trusted voice:

Whether you offer an actual product or a service instead it always matters more who talks about you. Your brand is not who you say you are, but who they say you are. Building a network of trusted influencers to create regular content whether it be photography, video clips, articles, or even just telling friends, can truly make a larger impact for your business rather than just shouting from the rooftops.

2. Build a lifestyle, not a product

Image via YETI

Image via YETI

Content is king right? Well in Yeti’s case the right content is king.

The digital world has changed marketing forever, and many brands trying to get their message in front of the right people can be tricky. While video is still the most important tactic, blog articles, and photography are not far behind. When Yeti decided to use influencers more than traditional advertising, they also had to do it the right way.

Knowing 47% of users turn off ads and 14% cannot even remember when they last saw an ad and what it promoted should scare any advertiser into influencer marketing, but not only that – 49% of people rely on influencer recommendations and that number is only going up.

Yeti realized it was not only a trusted voice that should use a cooler, bucket, hat, or tumbler – but it was how they advertised their own product. Yeti promoted a lifestyle of the users who would own their product, instead of promoting them directly. Often in many Yeti advertisements, the product is hardly in the foreground, and even sometimes the logo can be hidden. This type of advertising allows an audience to attach with your brand through the people using it.

This moved concept carried over to blog articles using recipes, tips, and ambassadors using photography to promote the Yeti lifestyle, almost more than just the product.

how to build a lifestyle? with ASSociation in your niche:

A brand that sells trucks, for example, could figure out their target audience and market themselves through articles like “how to properly tow a trailer”, boat, or even tips to road trip across the country. By connecting a network of influencers on social media, you can use your product naturally and post articles, videos, photos, and tips creating an association with your product with icons fans trust.

This builds the ideals of your brand, ingraining the idea that if you fall into this category, your brand is the only one for this avid audience. This is how Yeti has built such a devout following. They attached their great product to the spokesmen who had audiences from all over the globe. Once your company does that, your product hardly needs to be front and center, but in the mind of the user, it is necessary for the experience.

3. Know who you are and tell your story

YETI | Stories – Cosmo

Recently, you have probably seen one of the Yeti films (unless you live under a rock), and many people might be asking why a cooler company would spend so much on such high-quality films. This phenomenon was recently explained by Yeti’s Marketing team:

"If you look at branded content, they lose that [connection] a lot," Yeti’s team says. "I was watching a truck commercial the other day. It was about this artist I really liked, but then they ruined it because it was about this truck in the end...Of course, there are Yeti products incorporated [into the films], but our first priority is telling a really good story about a really good person."

everything goes back to the why

Your story matters, to everyone. Marketers can learn from the Yeti example to pay attention to the unconventional arsenal of weapons Yeti has made at their disposal. From influencers to articles, and from amazing photography to films, all of this great content hinges on the fact that Yeti never once lost sight of who they are, and why they started.

The lesson for any growing or expanding company is to know your audience and create a full network building a lifestyle around your brand through utilization of the one thing that connects us all – people. Nowadays the traditional “throw your product in front of people” model is fading away and the way of the future is influencer marketing.

Seem like a lot to implement? We’d love to talk with you more to see if Waypoint can help implement this system for your company.

Drake Rustand