“The work with retail influencers created extraordinary new demand for the product. Retail partnerships increased 180 percent in 12 months.”

Business situation

The client was a global retailer who was a late entry into the extreme sports marketplace. The company had strong brand recognition but no social media presence among the young sports enthusiasts it needed to attract to build sales in a new niche. Competitors had an overwhelming head start and a completely dominant social media market presence.


Mark Schaefer brought in category specialists in word-of-mouth, sports marketing, and SEO to help craft a strategy.

Working closely with the client, the team immersed themselves in the marketplace, conducting original research and efficiently assembling available data to assess possible market strategies. They also conducted interviews with athletes, store owners, and others who were influential in the category.

This was an urgent client project and total elapsed time to create and present the strategy was just six weeks.


Through their research, the team made a discovery that the competitors truly had a dominant position on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter but was seemingly ignoring the youth-oriented channels of Instagram and Snapchat. Further research proved that the competitor customers were aging, and the companies were not connecting to the youth market. This became the space where we could “maneuver” to create competitive advantage.

Our discovery suggested the types of content, brand voice, and even product adjustments that could be made to conquer this niche. We supported the brand by connecting with the right resources that could scale and execute on a strategy very quickly.

We also developed a strategy aimed at influence marketing. While the company had started to contract with extreme sports athletes, we showed how these influencers were largely ineffective and needed more comprehensive social media training. We also created a plan to involve influential shop owners, sporting guides and even high school coaches and teams.


The key to success was to scale very quickly. By utilizing expert partners and extreme sports influencers were able to build a large and highly-engaged audience with a few months.

The company’s research showed that brand awareness increased dramatically during this period, although it was impossible to attribute a specific contribution from social media due to other advertising activities occurring at the same time.

The work with retail influencers created extraordinary new demand for the product. Retail partnerships increased 180 percent in 12 months.

Using an objective measure, we could show that social media effectiveness of the contracted athletes improved an average of 70 percent just weeks after the social media training.

The company continues to use out techniques and resources to keep a sizable lead on youth-oriented channels in terms of both audience size and level of engagement.


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