Your best stories have little to do about you6 min read
I recently spent 24 straight hours traipsing around Seattle with a group of friends, arm wrestling strangers, doing pushups in Pioneer Square, and decorating a friend’s face like a cake:
It was all a part of a 24-hour scavenger-hunt-like event called Questival, put on by a company named Cotopaxi.
Prior to the event, I had no idea who Cotopaxi was. I assumed it was a company that organized adventure outings across the country.
Come to find out Cotopaxi is actually an outdoor gear brand (like North Face). The thing is, I didn’t find that out during Questival. Despite organizing it, Cotopaxi didn’t shove their branding, or products down my face.
No, I only discovered it afterwards, when, following a much needed nap, shower, and solid meal, I hopped online to learn more about the people who just gave me one of the coolest experiences of my life.
For 24 hours I did things I’d never thought I’d do, and had such an amazing time doing it. And unbeknownst to me, the entire event was one big clinic on kickass content marketing.
I marvel at the brilliance of it all.
First, consider how Cotopaxi created a piece of content (Questival) that aligns with their branding.
Cotopaxi’s mission is: Bold products. Big events. Better ways to help others. Gear for Good.
They aim to attract adventurous folks who value the importance of being good to the Earth and others.
Questival, by its very nature, is an event that attracts these types of people, myself included. I fancy myself an adventurer. I like to do good by the Earth. I’m not even sure how I learned about Questival, except to know that when it crossed my path, it spoke to me.
I didn’t care who Cotopaxi was. That name had nothing to do with my decision to sign up for Questival. I just wanted a good time.
So my friends and I signed up. Simple as that.
Next, I need only think about the premise of the entire event.
Most of the “obstacles” or “challenges” our team had to complete included fun, quirky, meet-new-people activities as well as the occasional do-good tasks like “pick up 50 pieces of trash” or “do a good deed for a stranger.”
Looking back, I realize that aside from the backpacks given to each participant (with Cotopaxi’s name branded on it) the company was nowhere to be explicitly found throughout Questival.
Yet, their branding was everywhere: Adventure. Fun. Bold. Do Good.
For 24 hours I was being fed Cotopaxi’s company culture, but I sure as hell didn’t feel like I was being marketed to.
And of course, by the end of 24 hours, some folks likely never gave Cotopaxi a second glance – marketing isn’t intended to catch everyone.
But for those of us who:
- Never heard of Cotopaxi, but
- Loved their experience at Questival …
It seemed only natural to learn more about the company that just hosted a killer event.
So, like I said, when I got home I looked Cotopaxi up, purely out of curiosity. Again, I assumed this was all they did – host adventure outings.
That’s when I found out they’re just like North Face, except, North Face never gave me a 24-hour Questival.
+1 for Cotopaxi.
I also did what most other searchers do when they want to know about a brand. I hopped on Cotopaxi’s social profiles, namely Instagram.
While their 69k followers impressed me, that’s just a stupid little number. What was more impactful to me was:
- Their catchy bio line and,
- The images they chose to represent their brand
My road to discovering Cotopaxi is not unlike many others’ roads to discovering a brand they eventually fall in love with.
All too often, companies and entrepreneurs get hung up on selling the benefits of their services or products.
Instead, we should try to sell the experience of being a part of our world.
After my 24 hours hopping around Seattle, I know exactly what to expect from Cotopaxi as a company. I know what types of experiences they’re looking to share with their followers.
And you know what? I like what I saw. And while I’m not in the market for any new gear at the moment, when I am, I’ll almost definitely look at them first.
What can you do to follow Cotopaxi’s lead?
It’s not an easy question to answer. And what’s frustrating is that this type of approach doesn’t deliver fast results. It’s a long-term strategy, but one that delivers devotees rather than passive customers who’ll jump ship at the next best 10% off coupon.
I have to admit – this whole experience woke me from a bout of content marketing fatigue. One of the go-to strategies I suggest to my clients and employ for myself is the run-of-the-mill “Download this free eBook!” offer.
Damn. I’ve been lazy.
Sure, my intentions are good, but I’m lacking creativity and, as a result, these strategies will and do lack in performance.
Now, I don’t expect you to host a 500+ team event that takes over a city. What I am saying is maybe it’s time you really think beyond “ebooks”, “blog posts”, “webinars” and the like.
Tap into what it is your company represents, and find a way to give your target market one hell of an experience, even if your brand takes a back seat in the process.
Cotopaxi pulled it off with perfection and, in the process, very likely created a lifelong fan.