Lately, many of my friends have been going out and buying TOMS shoes. You know… the ugly looking alpargatas shoes you get a Whole Foods while grocery shopping. It turns out, you can also get them at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom’s and Bergdorf Goodman and get exclusive styles through these retailers and a pair costs you anywhere from $50-100 depending on the style.
If you haven’t heard of TOMS shoes yet, let me tell you the story: Entrepreneur and Amazing Race contestant Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS shoes in 2006 after a trip to Argentina where he would witness every day children living in poverty and without shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers. And as of September 2010, TOMS has given over one million pairs of new shoes to children in need through Giving Partners around the world.
TOMS has done most of their marketing through social media having a YouTube station with dozens of professionally executed videos, telling their story and giving different perspectives. The PR has virtually come to them with big name pubs like LA Times and The Wall Street Journal writing about their story; no pitch required from Blake and his staff. Even their retail partners have become brand evangelists where one retailer describes how they have a picture of Blake putting TOMS shoes on the feet of a child in Argentina right above their TOMS shoes display.
So now you can see what makes this brand so special. But from a Marketing perspective, what this brand has done in terms of grassroots PR and Marketing is just as amazing. TOMS has done virtually no advertising. Their success is all through word-of-mouth marketing; a true grassroots case study. You can also argue that the reason word-of-mouth marketing is so successful in this case is because the story behind the shoes – every person that wears a pair of TOMS shoes becomes a marketer for the brand. They now have a story to tell when they talk about their shoes and they can feel good telling that story because they now can talk about how they have helped those in need through their purchase. Just take a look at their holiday video that talks about how you become their marketing engine.
So what do you think… has this brand revolutionized how we approach word-of-mouth Marketing?