Osprey Packs’ dedication to creating innovative, high performance gear is only matched by their dedication to creating striking marketing content and a supportive, forward-thinking approach to marketing with specialty retailers.
To learn more about this approach, we sat down with Sarah Harper Burke, Retail Marketing Manager at Osprey. Sarah is an industry veteran in the outdoor community and is a past recipient of the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition First Ascent Award for leadership. In her role, Sarah is tasked with creating alignment from the brand down to the local level and finding innovative ways to provide retailer support.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Osprey.
I’ve been with Osprey for about six and a half years, and in the role of Retail Marketing Manager for just over three of that. I have a full background in the outdoor industry, mostly in the field of whitewater kayaking and in the whitewater community. That’s where I started my career, and I’ve moved on to the greater outdoor industry as a whole. It’s such an awesome industry to work and live in. It’s some of the best people that you’ll meet in your life, and we’re all really passionate about getting outside and enabling people to do the same.
Why are specialty retailers so important to Osprey?
Osprey is in a unique position in that we don’t sell direct. We fully rely on our outdoor specialty retail channel for our business and for our success. It’s imperative that we are providing them with all of the best tools in order for them to be successful in our category.
What are the types of challenges that your retailers face? How does Osprey support them through these challenges?
One of our retailers’ biggest challenges is scope of work. Most retailers don’t have internal marketing teams or people to manage and monitor their social media channels. That makes it really challenging for them to curate good content, as well as stay updated and engaged with their consumers. That’s one challenge in which the Promoboxx platform can really help because it’s so easy to use.
How did you initially become interested in a solution like Promoboxx?
Osprey is a brand of innovation, and that goes further than just our products. We work to find innovative and new ways to support our specialty retailers. In looking for ways to support a digital solution, Promoboxx really stood out as a great opportunity that would be easy for the retailer to use and really help our brand stand out in terms of consistency and positioning.
Previously, we provided retailers with an asset management portal, but the organization was a challenge and there wasn’t an opportunity to get the word out to our retailers on what’s available and how to use it effectively.
Promoboxx also bolsters our go-to-market strategy. It enabled an awesome opportunity to launch a first-to-market opportunity with specialty retailers for our Volt/Viva packs. The product is coming out spring 2016, but we were able to release that new product just through specialty retailers starting in October 2015 and help them tell the story.
Here is an example of our Volt/Viva packs campaign promoted by our retail partners:
Osprey creates great content. What advice would you give to brands in this space who are looking to make better content available to their retailers?
Nobody trusts ads, so we want to make sure that our social strategy is social and stays social. One way to do that is to have a diversity of story offerings. You can have posts available that display the features and benefits of your products but always have some good content like, “Great Hikes Around the Boston Area”. That offers some great opportunities to not only talk about your product but also to tie in your local retailers and their markets, so it makes everything a little more holistic.
Today, where do you think most outdoor brands fall as it relates to their digital retail marketing strategy? Are they more innovative or just keeping up?
I think the outdoor industry is at a very sophomoric stage of finding unique opportunities to help our retailers thrive. It’s a challenging time to be an outdoor specialty retailer. As that business shifts, we need to do more and we need to do better to ensure that they not only survive but that they remain competitive and relevant to our consumers. All of us really need to step up and figure out something that can change the game and allow us to be better resources for our retail partners.
What are your top retail marketing goals for 2016?
My goal is for Osprey to be the go-to vendor for all marketing knowledge. This idea was actually inspired by Promoboxx’s Aligned Conference from Dani Brock [Director of Retail Marketing for Shaw Floors]. Her presentation on leading your retailers to be awesome was fantastic. Afterwards, I tried to pitch internally that this is the kind of support that we need to be giving to retailers within our industry.
I want to prepare our retailers to become marketing professionals, so that they can win at their business. I want to be a resource for how to do social media, how to do merchandising, how to do better buying. I want to not only provide our retailers with those solutions, but I also want to say, here’s how social media works, here’s how you can be successful at social media, and here’s the tool, Promoboxx, that Osprey is providing to help you be successful.
Thank you, Sarah, for taking the time to speak with us and share your insights into the importance of strong brand-retailer relationships!