True Rivalry competes in a highly competitive market using advertising methods that don't cost a thing.
Sports apparel is a one of the fastest growing verticals in ecommerce. Sports themed t-shirts, hats, and hoodies are popping up in online stores everywhere. True Rivalry is a successful sports apparel company that sells their goods through their Shopify store. They have steady sales, they've had a few of their products go viral, and they've garnered a whole bunch of local and national press - all without spending money on advertising.
Jason Portnoy, founder of True Rivalry, gives five effective advertising strategies that won't cost you any money:
1. Tweet celebrities
If you’re not utilizing social media, then you need to start. Twitter in particular is a great way to reach out to influential people and celebrities. We did our research on influential sports fans and simply engaged them on twitter by saying we were big fans and since they were sports fans, they should check out our apparel. Of course, most ignored us, but every now and then a celebrity would respond. Since we began reaching out to celebrities via Twitter, quite a few have become supporters of our brand, and even tweet about our products, including actor Jay Baruchel. We can't directly relate these tweets to sales, but celebrity endorsement does create some positive brand awareness and adds credibility to our online store.
2. Get your timing right
We always try to find a way to stay current with the sports market. Our Tebow “ALL I DO IS WIN” t-shirt is a perfect example of that. We were the first to capitalize on the “Tebow-Mania” and reaped the rewards. When billboards and blogs started popping up demanding for Tebow to be the starting Quarterback in Denver, we knew something big was about to happen. We teamed up with bloggers to mention our Tebow shirt and through their outlets in the two months of Tebowmania we saw an increase in traffic by 580%! If you make an effort to stay current, you’ll see it payoff with an increase in your sales.
3. Give bloggers stories and stuffBloggers are always looking for ways to give back to their readers. In addition to good story ideas, offer them promo codes, and giveaways they can give their audience. When Tebowmania hit, we teamed up with one of the leading Denver Broncos blogs and offered them a deal, the return for True Rivalry was an article, and a significant increase in sales. Since then we reach out to as many major sports teams blogs as we can. A lot of emails will go unanswered, but it only takes a couple reply's to make your effort worthwhile.
4. Start local, go national
The problem with a lot of internet companies, and startups in particular, is that they have the tendency to disregard the local press. They think it's a waste of time and resources, and it's more effective to focus all PR efforts on national media. That's a mistake. You have to crawl before you run. At True Rivalry we have garnered national press but only after getting local press mentions first. Getting a local paper or television show to feature your story, or products, is far easier than getting national coverage. Once we laid a foundation of small press mentions, we added it to our press kit and then approached bigger more influential publications.
5. Give to charity
Good karma is a reality. A perfect example of this is when we decided to give all profits from out Gary Carter Tribute shirt to The Gary Carter Foundation. It was something we wanted to do (not just for press, but to support a good cause), but it also got the attention of local radio stations and newspapers. Here's what we wrote in the product description: "Proceeds from this shirt will be going to The Gary Carter Foundation. It's our way of memorializing and paying our respect, in style, to a great athlete and person who was taken away from us way too early." Since then we have donated portions of sales and clothing to raise money for a lot of great charities. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and/or fits with your brand and team up with them.