Marketing Idea for Outdoor Retailers and How You Can Get More for Your Money

Whether you're a mountain gear shop owner or simply an outdoor enthusiast, this article can either increase your sales or respectively make you shop more often, getting a surprise gift for your sweetheart each time you buy a piece of outdoor equipment from your favorite store.

So, if you run an outdoor store, keep reading. This might improve your business.

If you're a mountain sports addict, keep reading. And educate the owner of the local mountain shop to implement this simple and yet effective marketing idea described below.

When was the last time Marmot or The North Face wrote you a check?

There's a high chance you're not a sponsored athlete so I guess the only person who writes you checks is your employer. You're not the only one.

But why should The North Face write you checks?

Well, they should do this because each time you buy their apparel or gear you become one of their marketing agents. And they are aware of that more than you are. Whenever you’re wearing their jackets, you’re basically a walking advertisement for their brand. And if you are a strong athlete this means you are also influential within your circle of friends, making them more likely to buy the same brand of gear.

Yeah but doesn't this happens with all things we buy: cars, bikes, shoes, etc?


And now let’s look at it from a retailer's perspective who has a commercial interest in every effort he/she does. The smart thing to do is to combine the seller's interest with the buyer’s interest.

Each time a customer buys a Gore Tex jacket, for instance, the retailer hopes at least one of his friends will see the jacket and come to the shop to buy one for himself/herself. Nothing new here. This is the case for each purchase we make. So for each client satisfied the seller hopes for favorable word of mouth that will (hopefully) bring in more clients ready to spend their cash.

Positive word of mouth comes from great service, great product, good price/value ratio, incredible warranty terms, awesome return policies, convenience of shopping (either online or in brick and mortar stores), fast shipping, the politeness of the salesman, etc. Now, considering all the above factors are equal for all outdoor retailers, then it should make no difference from where you buy your gear.

But what if for each sopping spree greater than say $120 you get a gift?

Not for you, but for a person of the opposite sex.

And now here are the benefits both for the client and the retailer:

  • The client will be pleasantly surprised; this is something unexpected but desirable at the same time.
  • The business becomes viral by word of mouth; the client will tell at least his friends about receiving the unexpected gift. He would have told them about the jacket anyway or they would have noticed it but in this case he (the client) will intentionally bring up the subject. Word of moth on steroids as Gary Vaynerchuk says. 
  • With each client, the business reaches another potential client; the friend who will receive the gift will be aware of the company and he/she will be enticed to buy a product just to see what gift he/she gets for his/her sweetheart. And hey, if there is no sweetheart in the picture then the gift may be an incentive to start a conversation with a possible partner:
Hi, Jane! I got this lady climbing T-shirt as a gift when I bought my waterproof jacket. I’d like you to have it. You don’t have to kiss me or anything… (blush)
  • The client receives gratification by giving the gift to someone else; the surprise gift encourages social interaction and friendship. I personally am happier when I give than when I receive.
  • If the gift is not entirely in accordance with the current lifestyle of the receiver then he/she might give it to someone else (thus spreading the word even further) or he/she will become open minded towards practicing new outdoor activities (climbing in our example).
What this gift giveaway marketing thing says is this – The retailer should share a small part of the profit with the client. The seller rewards the customer for the purchase.

Not only the client but his/her friend as well. And rightly so. Coz what's better? To make 10 sales with $50 profit per sale or to make 20 sales with $40 profit per sale?

Why would this work? Coz nobody’s doing it. Well…nobody except which is perhaps the most loved e commerce website in USA (or in the world?!). They offer free shipping both ways for any purchase, that's how obsessed they are with customer service. For example, if you wanna buy an item that is no longer in stock, they will check out other websites that have it and redirect you there. They wanna help you so much that they risk loosing you to the competition. That’s solid! But they actually win more doing this. More on this inside the book Delivering Happiness written by the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh.

And if all of a sudden every mountain shop in the world starts doing it then we’re all winners.

It can be done in various ways:
  • Buy a bike and get bike jersey for free (a lady jersey if the buyer is a guy or vice versa)
  • Buy a pair of winter boots and get a pair of sandals for your lady. Sandals should be cheaper outside the hot season so the retailer could afford the extra expense plus they will get tons of publicity – sandals in the middle of the winter?! This is outrageous! Yes it is and everyone will find out about it.
  • Buy a backpack and get a trekking T-shirt for your boyfriend.
The T-shirt gift may be the best solution as it is a universal piece of clothing that everyone loves to wear. Especially if the printed design says something about the person who wears it. You can have a design for each outdoor sport.

A funny climbing T-shirt creates a conversation much easier because it’s always in full sight unlike other possible gifts. T-shirts can be worn almost everywhere - and unconventional people will always wear them exactly where it is inappropriate, capturing attention.

You (the retailer) should respect two conditions for the full effect of this tactic:
  • The gift should always be a surprise. No advertising whatsoever about this! The only person allowed to spread the word is the surprised customer.
  • Each gift should be destined to a member of the opposite sex. If the buyer is a lady then the gift should be for a man, etc. In other words, give away gifts that will be given further as gifts.
Of course there will be people who’ll try to get as many gifts as possible. But as long as the company knows that for each X amount of dollars spent by the client they can give away a free T-shirt this shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, it can be valuable advertising at the expense of one T-shirt for each sale. And if people are buying expensive gear just to get T-shirts then there's not much to complain about.

What about you? What else do you think outdoor retailers should do to keep us as clients?

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  1. Outstanding idea! It's far too rare to get good service or an unexpected gift, so this really makes sense.

  2. great idea, i love adventurer....

  3. Thanks, Donix & Kovas!
    @ Kovas - Yup, that's the whole point - to deliver service in a new unique way and integrating smart advertising into the sales process. It's a win-win situation both for the client and the seller.

    I as a customer would love to receive such treatment. And my sweetheart may think I bought the present for her so I get extra credit at home. :-)


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