Bodybuilder to Billionaire
By Daniel Murray
|Today’s email highlights a shark. No, not a great white. |
A gym shark that goes by the name Ben Francis, who implemented one of the most effective influencer marketing campaigns I have seen with my two eyes.
|Lets kick it wayy back to 2012, when Ben was delivering pizza (extra pineapple) for Pizza Hut for $8/hr. |
Realizing Papa Johns wasn’t looking to hire and the $8/hr wasn’t cracking it, Ben looked to build his own brand.
An avid gym goer, Ben and his friend Lewis Morgan began buying supplements in bulk and selling them on their own website, Gymshark. Doing Ecom before Ecom was cool.
|Profits were incredibly slim, forcing Ben to pivot. So he began stitching his own fitness clothing from his parent’s garage with a used sewing machine and printer. |
Talk about an origin story. I mean, you saw the intro, Ben is a billionaire, so how did he go from parent’s garage to business mogul shark? Influencer Marketing.
|At the foundation of influencer marketing is relationships. If you want to CRUSH influencer marketing, prioritize relationships. |
In its infancy Gymshark relied heavily on its word of mouth success. One of Gymshark’s first strategic moves was setting up a booth at a BodyPower Expo event (the UK’s #1 fitness event). At this event Ben made it a point to talk to as many people as possible.
Casting a wide net at the event, getting his product in the hands of influencers, and building connections at scale. This initial buzz from the event led Gymshark to sell out their first drop in 30 minutes, but that was just the beginning.
|Working with a minimal budget Ben started sending out free product to his favorite fitness influencers on Instagram and YouTube. |
Whether they had 100k or 10k followers, if they were speaking to Gymshark’s target audience, they were sent product to wear head-to-toe. This had a tandem effect on the brand. One, if influencers were creating content in Gymshark clothing, the brand was being advertised in front of a new audience.
Boom, easy money for Marketers. Two, Gymshark was a small business, but putting product into hands of influencers at scale gave the appearance of a well-established brand, immediately building credibility. Boom, we love this as Marketers.
|Where traditional wisdom would say spend the big bucks on big name personalities, Gymshark leaned into the power of the microinfluencer. Arnold Schwarzenegger collab? No. Your fav microinfluencer being paid $500/mo to wear Gymshark clothing? Yes. |
Gymshark uncovered the loyalty and authority that influencers with a smaller following have.
The trust between a microinfluencer and their audience is unprecedented, something we don’t often see with larger creators. And I’ve said it 100 times before, trust is EVERYTHING in Marketing.
|Within a few years Gymshark’s daily sales soared from $450/day to $45,000/day. And in 2018 Gymshark did something Ben Francis never did, graduate. |
Well not in the traditional sense, but Gymshark graduated from Ben’s parents garage to a gorgeous headquarters in Solihull, England.
This is when Gymshark really reached maturity. Introducing a Gymshark ambassador program that brought the business to new heights.
|The secret sauce to the entire program was aligning incentives and values. Gymshark athletes (the ambassadors) are fitness advocates whose personal message is cohesive with Gymshark’s brand message. |
Gymshark prioritized building mutually beneficial relationships that see both the business grow and the athletes following grow.
|That’s why we see many Gymshark athletes stay with the brand for years and the company has amassed an ambassador program featuring the likes of Ryan Garcia and Francis Ngannou. |
Relationships, aligning values, and investing in “David” (trying to make a David and Goliath reference here LOL) is what led Gymshark to success. Don’t ever forget the fundamentals, Marketing Bestie.