Matt Taylor created something special when he created Tracksmith. Based on heritage and collegiate styles, Tracksmith has redefined outdoor apparel in a space that is dominated by household names and global retailers. In the second half: LVMH bids on Tiffany and Sucharita Kodali of Forrester gives us the low-down on 180-year-old brand.
- Brian and Phillip are joined in today's episode by Matt Taylor, the Co-Founder and CEO of Tracksmith and they are recording today's episode at the Trackhouse in Boston.
- Tracksmith is geared towards dedicated runners and has fostered a dedicated fan base based on those values.
- With customer acquisition costs on the rise, where should your brand focus its efforts to make the most out of your hard-earned dollars?
- Capturing the passion you have for your brand helps identify your ideal customers, and is invaluable when it comes to developing your brand's identity.
Heritage: An Accurate Description of Tracksmith of a Brand:
- Matt recalls the first time the brand was in the Trackhouse back in 2015 when Tracksmith used the building as their first pop-up location.
- As a runner for his entire life, Matt has been involved in running since middle school, which makes running a big part of his life.
- After college, Matt got more and more interested in running, and before starting Tracksmith, he was the Head of Marketing for the Running and Training categories at Puma.
- He built an iPhone game with Usain Bolt before the 2012 Olympics that gave him a bridge to take a year to work and develop Tracksmith.
A Powerful Combination: Fusing Interest and Passion:
- Tracksmith is described by Matt as a combination of personal interest and passion, but also a representation of his years of experience in the industry.
- There is a lot of talk about timing within the market when it comes to starting a business, but very few people talk about the importance of timing in a founder's personal life.
- There is always a risk when starting your business venture and everyone's situation is different.
- What personal factors contribute to an ideal environment if you were to leave a corporate job and start your own venture?
That Tracksmith Feel: Diversifying Against a Giant:
- Hailed as an Anti-Nike, Tracksmith has developed a unique feel and has a special way they have decided to tell their story.
- You can't manufacture authenticity, it has to come from a sincere place and for Tracksmith, that authenticity comes from a genuine passion for running.
- As other running brands have grown, they have left behind a void in the market that is comprised of the core, committed running consumer.
- Tracksmith has made it a mission to serve the dedicated running audience, and it is something they constantly check in with to make sure they stay on message.
The Pressure to Grow: Navigating a Harsh Environment:
- There is a lot of pressure to grow in the current environment, especially if you are venture-backed.
- Brian asks Matt if he thinks that it's inevitable for Tracksmith to broaden its horizons given the constant push for growth.
- Matt doesn't think that will happen any time soon because there is such a consistent market in the running vertical so there is no pressure to build a multi-billion dollar brand in the immediate future.
- Where is the line drawn between staying true to a core customer and growing to reach other customer sets?
Who Is and Who Isn't?: Identifying Your Customers:
- There is a very strong feel to Tracksmith, so Brian asks if Matt thinks that this strong feel is exclusionary in any way.
- Tracksmith does not view their brand as exclusionary, but rather aspirational which can sometimes feel far away for some people.
- People tend to think negatively first instead of coming together to build something up.
- Tracksmith is geared towards people that have made running a part of their identity, and overcoming obstacles is especially poignant to that group.
Selective Partnering: How to Choose Compatible Brands:
- Phillip is interested to know what Tracksmith's approach is when it comes to partnering with other brands.
- Tracksmith partnered with Rowing Blazers after they did a pop-up close to the Trackhouse and quickly realized that both brands shared a passion for their respective sports.
- Team endurance sports specifically become harder post-college due to the difficulty of finding a crew, so there was hope for discovery in partnering with Rowing Blazers.
- Tracksmith just announced a partnership with outerwear company Boathouse as well as a partnership with Article One Eyewear.
Facilitating Community: How To Foster Relationships With Your Brand:
- From the beginning, physical interaction was very important for Tracksmith for their customers to connect with their product.
- Most brands in most spaces don't have an opportunity to create a community, but the running community already exists even before they purchase anything.
- Tracksmith was hosting runs from inception, but having a location in Boston facilitates the community even further.
- Boston is unique in the running world as it holds a special space in the minds of the running community.
CAC On The Rise: What It Costs to Run a Business in 2019:
- A connection that is outside of the purchase experience is trending to be the main way that brands are reaching their customers.
- There is an opportunity for Tracksmith to build longer-lasting relationships via print due to its very visual nature.
- Over time, unselfish content builds a stronger connection with your brand but is very hard to draw a straight line back to your revenue.
- Tracksmith's biggest driving force for content is photography; pictures and words drive everything else they do.
Patience is a Virtue: Emotionally Capturing a Brand:
- Tracksmith specifically takes extra time to highlight the runner themselves, and that is comprised of more than just the run itself.
- If you do care deeply about something, there is a process that you go through that bypasses our current world of instant gratification.
- Matt grew up in a family of makers, and when you grow up around that, he was immersed in the value of something that is handcrafted with time and love.
- Running is in such stark contrast to the world of today where everything is so instant.
Building Up Your Employees: A Major Key to Success:
- Employees are the face of your brand and provide your customers with their experience with the brand.
- Relationships with customers are starting to supersede your story when it comes to building brand loyalty.
- Tracksmith naturally attracts employees who are passionate about running, and that passion comes across in customer interactions.
- Phillip has personally experienced the employee passion at Trackhouse when an employee recognized him from an interaction that was months ago.
Pursuing Your Passion: Advice for Other Founders:
- Phillip asks Matt if he has any advice for other founders that are considering taking a risk and pursuing their passion.
- A lot of people want to give you advice, but a lot of that advice is specific to their personal experience, and this doesn't necessarily apply to you.
- Absorb as much information and advice as you can, but you need to discover what makes your situation unique.
- Identifying what makes your brand unique will help you form your voice and brand identity,
Brands Mentioned in this Episode:
As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! How can you capture the passion you have for your brand and impart those feelings in your content and product to truly impact your customers?
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