Starting with Gorilla Marketing: Learning from a Streetwear Brand
The Hundreds, a Los Angeles-based streetwear brand, started in 2003. If you can, think back to the days where the internet was just making a mark. There were no social media platforms. Facebook status’ and Instagram stories were still good ways in the future. News articles and our favorite celebrities were not at the tips of our fingers. Yet, this brand was able to strive and make waves in the industry at a time when influencers and hashtags didn’t exist. The brand has now been successful for over 10 years because of the early gorilla marketing, tactfulness, and growth needed over the years.
Why do we bring this up? The Hundreds was a passion project that churned out a cult following. And though they didn’t use traditional marketing, they figured out what worked for them and their fan base and went with it. It’s a tactic that every brand can learn from. Take what you have—your products, your skill sets, your story—and mold it in a way that is relatable and understood by your consumers. Each business will be unique, and each marketing strategy should be unique because of that.
An Early Street Team
As with many startups, The Hundreds started in a small studio apartment (not unlike the famous garage). Two law school students had an idea about starting a streetwear brand that would start with t-shirts. Along with the t-shirts and designs printed on them, a blog post would coincide. They were able to tie in the inspiration behind each design and tell its story on this platform. A fan base quickly began to form. And from that fanbase, came a “street team”. Now, a street team is usually a group of people that will post flyers, stickers, or sell items “on the street”. They’re not behind a desk, instead of going out in the real world to spread brand awareness.
Take this tactic. Learn from this. Without the internet, retail consumers only had the option of leaving their homes to purchase clothing. If your company can team up with a festival, a community event, or create its own event, it will only do good. With that said, know what works for you. If your company or brand has a very specific consumer base, team up with the same people in the industry. Since the internet is such a big part of everyone’s lives now, spread your street team in this fashion. This would be your micro-influencers and your friends (who need to tell their friends). Having a core of excitement around your brand is important to fuel the fire.
Creating a Following
Being able to create a following and loyal fanbase is something every brand wants to achieve. It’s not something that every brand can easily achieve though. Telling your brand story is key. The Hundreds created a blog to go along with their designs because they didn’t want to be just another t-shirt company. Their designs were a reaction to pop culture, politics, and current events. The blog was also more content, aside from their clothes, that they could share. It also didn’t require anyone to buy anything. It was free access into the brand. Since the rise of social media, they’ve now created content for their pages and made it easy to buy directly online. What is your brand story? What will your brand do that is different?
Brand awareness is a form of marketing. Your “call to action” doesn’t have to lead someone to your $100 product. It can be a Facebook or Instagram ad that shows people using your product with a caption detailing your story. Or, it can be a simple logo with your website underneath. You have to know who your audience is how to capture their attention—even if it means not shoving your actual products down their throats.
Gorilla Marketing Changed, So Should You
When your company started, it might have advised that you create “x” amount of social posts a week and only spend “x” amount on ads. That was years ago. That same tactic doesn’t work in 2019. For the most part, things that might have worked as soon as last year might not work today. Social media and digital marketing are always changing. Though gorilla marketing may not be effective for you (hanging up flyers, etc), you need to have a marketing plan. It’s good to be flexible, continue learning, and grow when the platforms grow. If you see trends where your customer base is leaning towards Facebook, then put more effort into Facebook. If Google ads weren’t something you thought about, maybe it’s time to give it a chance. The only way to keep your brand out there is to keep relevant.
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