Marketing Lessons from Nike

Monday 11th, July 2016

nike photo

The Nike swoosh is one of the most recognizable logos in the world.

‘Just do it’ is the phrase that comes to our minds when we see the Air Jordan sneakers and those legendary athlete endorsements.

So how did Nike achieve this near ubiquitous recognition?

Advertisements and celebrity endorsements – Is that all there is to what Nike is doing? Or is there something deeper, something psychological that we’re missing?

Think about it – how many brands from the 70’s are still considered cool? Not retro cool, but cool?

Not many.

It’s primarily because once a generation associates itself with a brand, the succeeding one sees them as old fashioned. Levi’s is a great example of this. They didn’t adapt to demands of the next generation and got left behind.

Yet, Nike has retained its charm, and has reinvented itself to become the world’s largest footwear and clothing company. It still remains a brand that closely associates itself with the young and fashion conscious.

So let’s find out how Nike ‘Just does it’.

Stay Customer Focused

People like great products that provides them serious benefits.

A great example of this is the Nike Moon shoes.

Bill Bowerman, one of the founders of Nike, while experimenting with his wife’s waffle maker, accidentally invented a better tread for running shoes, which later went on to become the first Nike shoe – commonly known as the ‘Nike Moon’ shoe.

He began educating people about the benefits of jogging and its health benefits.

He wasn’t simply selling jogging shoes. He promoted something he believed in. Selling shoes was just a result of his vision.

This is what, you as a business owner, should strive for. Understand the needs of your customer; educate them about the problem and how they can solve it. Once you achieve that, you won’t even have to pitch your product – it’ll automatically sell.

Think Outside the Box

If one remembers the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, one of the best case studies in guerrilla marketing comes from Nike.

Reebok was the official sportswear sponsor – which implied that only they could use the logo and be seen within the stadiums.

So Nike came up with this brilliant idea – they booked pretty much all of the advertising space around the stadiums, and dispensed swoosh banners to wave and even built a “Nike Centre” next to the main stadium.

While analyzing the impact through surveys, it was found that a large majority thought Nike was an official sponsor, with few recalling the Reebok brand at all.

This way, Nike’s attitude towards thinking both creatively and aggressively earned a much greater ROI than their competitor.

Believe In Your Proposition

It’s highly unlikely that Bowerman wanted to get rich by selling jogging shoes.

It wasn’t why he did what he did. His primary goal was to promote a sport – something he believed in.

Nike has stuck to this ideology ever since.

Even in the Nike’s advertisements, you’ll never find them talking about their air soles – and how they’re better than Reebok’s air soles.

So what do they do ?

They honor great athletes and athletics. This is what they are, and this is what they’re about.

We as marketers, should believe in our products and the ideas we are selling.

For Bowerman, it sure made marketing a lot easier. He was “marketing” without even realizing what he was up to.

Sell benefits – and not products

Most people wouldn’t understand waffle tread or the importance of having a light weight shoe for jogging.

He promoted jogging and how Nike would provide a better way for people to get in shape.

This strategy worked and before we know it, Nike became the industry leader and gained the respect that it deserved.

It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in. You should effectively communicate the benefits of your product and how it’ll make people’s lives better.

Image by anna kortes 


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