What do Nashville hot fried chicken, full-quill ostrich boots, and Smokey Bear have in common? Western apparel retailer Tecovas—or at least its director of consumer acquisition, Zain Din.
Called the “Warby Parker of cowboy boots,” Tecovas has made headlines for its online, direct-to-consumer success story. The brand was founded in 2015 with a two-person team, and has since scaled to millions of dollars in revenue and even brick-and-mortar stores.
In a recent interview with Taboola, Din shared insights about Tecovas’ evolving marketing strategy, how the brand has adapted during the pandemic, and, of course, why his French Bulldog is named after 2 Chainz.
Watch the full interview, or check out the transcript below:
What do you do at Tecovas?
I oversee our paid marketing. That includes digital and offline marketing channels.
How is your marketing org keeping in touch with consumers as a whole?
During the pandemic, we’ve really focused on community engagement and what we say is ‘hugging our customers.’ We have two Facebook groups.
One of them is a larger community that was actually started by a super fan, and some of our brand loyalists lead that group. And then we also have a community that’s a private group, which is composed of our highest-LTV customers.
Employees throughout Tecovas are engaging with these folks several times a day through these communities, and it’s just been a great way to stay in touch with consumers, get a pulse on what’s happening, what’s impactful for them.
We get a lot of enjoyment out of engaging with them through that medium. The majority of the content is folks showing off what they’re wearing for the day. They’ve kind of started their own movement.
For instance, we sell full-quill ostrich boots. So Friday is ‘Full-quill Friday.’ So it’s all these people sharing pictures of themselves wearing their full-quill boots.
A lot of it is style advice. Some of it is just asking for recommendations on which product they should buy next, what are the differences, positives and negatives of certain leathers and certain styles. A lot of it is just getting feedback on what their next purchase should be.
What’s the most complicated dish you know how to cook?
This one’s a bit top-of-mind because I just made it, but it would be Nashville hot fried chicken. I love fried chicken. It’s my favorite food.
With Nashville hot fried chicken, I double-fry it, get it nice and juicy but [with] a nice crisp.
The second component outside of just cooking it is coming out with the Nashville sauce to put on top. So there’s a lot of components that go into that dish, and it’s one of my favorites.
What marketing strategies have you kept and dropped since COVID?
Once the pandemic really took effect and we started to see an impact to sales, the decision we made was let’s still capture the lowest-hanging fruit.
What that entailed was essentially, let’s maximize our impression share on paid search still. If folks are seeking out our category, they still have high intent to purchase.
Likewise, we’ve continued to push on Western enthusiasts, as well as continuing to push on proven publishers. So if we know that something has worked in the past and we’re seeing signals that there’s still strength in our ROI from those mediums, we’ve kind of sustained a level of investment there throughout the pandemic.
I’d say the biggest change we made was intentionally avoiding any media buys that require long-term commitments. So an example of that would be scaling back on radio.
A lot of radio personalities require that you commit to them for six months, nine months, 12 months out. We really tried to avoid those types of deals or negotiate contingency plans so that we have flexibility to pivot if our business requires it.
What’s your pet’s name and why?
I have a French Bulldog. He’s a small guy. His name is Chainz. He’s actually named after 2 Chainz the rapper.
I was watching 2 Chainz’ show on Vice where he was actually showcasing some French bulldogs right around the time I was about to purchase Chainz. So that influenced his name.
What do your paid campaigns focus on now? How has that changed?
Our focus for paid search is continuing to tackle the lowest-hanging fruit. We focused a lot on list-building still throughout the pandemic. It’s kind of interesting because our lowest point in the year is typically late-spring into summer just because folks don’t really want to wear boots when it’s hot out.
That coincided with the peak of the pandemic as well. Really, we took a similar approach to what we’ve done in prior years when we hit slow periods in our business. And that is, still continue to build our email list.
Those folks aren’t interested in purchasing yet, but let’s foster them and warm them up and get them to purchase when the time feels right, which is normally Q4.
That was kind of a big focus for us, and coming into the fall and winter months now, we’ll start to harvest some of that list-building activity.
What’s on your favorite t-shirt?
My favorite t-shirt is probably one from Filson. They did a specialty line with Smokey the Bear.
It’s just a camp shirt that has Smokey the Bear covered all over it doing a variety of outdoor activities. And I love that shirt. It gets a lot of comments.
How are you looking to plan your digital marketing efforts for the rest of 2020?
I think in this environment, it can be really overwhelming to be a marketer. It’s so difficult to forecast with so many unknowns occurring.
You have to pivot so much from a media standpoint. So really the first step for me from a planning standpoint was, let’s outline what is predictable.
What do we know with great certainty?
For example, we’ll be launching some new products in the coming months that I know are going to be home runs. Let’s eliminate our focus from the things that we feel confident in. And then let’s allocate our resources on the less predictable things, the unknown things.
Likewise, we have products that we’ll be launching that are pretty big deviations from what we’ve done in the past. So those to me are more unknown. That’s where I want to allocate my team resources towards to solve for problems around that and also build contingency plans.
You know, did we get an inaccurate read on those things?
If so, how can we quickly mobilize to squeeze out the performance that we need from those components?
And then I think the communication with our partners is key. Partners like Taboola have a greater pulse on what’s happening within the marketplace, because ya’ll are composing inputs from so many businesses.
I think this year, we’re going to be leaning in our partners more than we ever have because of the value that they can bring.
What’s your favorite place to read?
In my office, I actually have a daybed. Very basic, but I love it. I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t have in their homes.
I highly recommend it for any office space. It’s just a cozy and welcoming environment.
Especially with working 100% remote right now with our office being closed, it’s nice to just be able to step away from the desk a little bit, put your feet up, and just take some time to recalibrate and work from that space. It helps me a lot.