How Kenneth Cole beat the system

In the balls-to-the-wall world of viral marketing, data-driven experimentation is the secret sauce that separates the winners from the losers.

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Today’s Briefing👇

  • Story: How Kenneth Cole Beat the System 👞

  • Insight: Growth Hack Your Way to Success 😎

  • Action: Take the “Swipe File Scavenger Hunt” 🔎


How Kenneth Cole Beat the System 👞

Kenneth Cole Productions Presents…

[Story Snapshot 📸 ] In 1982, Kenneth Cole was flat-broke and needed to pull an outrageous stunt to get noticed in the unforgivable New York fashion scene. To do so, he faked a movie. Here’s how:

Before founding his company that sells footwear, apparel, handbags, and fragrances worldwide, he started with nothing.

Cole found an Italian shoe factory desperate for clients and scored a line of credit. Almost overnight, shoes were rolling off the production line. But how would he sell them?

"At the time, a shoe company had two options," Cole recalled, referring to the New York Shoe Expo, a major trade show event.

  1. "You could get a room at the Hilton [during the NY Shoe Expo],"

  2. "Or get a fancy showroom in Midtown Manhattan. More identity, much more money too."

But Cole had a wild idea. What if he could set up shop right in front of the event, get more exposure than a streaker at the Super Bowl, and spend less money doing it?

  1. He borrowed a box truck, changed his company name to "Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc.," and applied for a permit to shoot a movie.

The fake movie, The Birth of a Shoe Company, would give him a front row soapbox in Manhattan to hawk merch because the permit allowed him to park on the busy Manhattan street for several days.

"With Kenneth Cole Productions painted on the side of the truck, we parked at 1370 6th Avenue, across from the New York Hilton, the day of the shoe show," Cole said.

He "opened for business" with a fully furnished 40 foot trailer, a film director, a camera, models as actresses, and two of New York's finest as the doormen.

The result? Cole sold 40,000 pairs of shoes in just 2.5 days. 💸💸

This momentous event catapulted Kenneth Cole into a globally recognized fashion brand with over $1 billion in revenue, a presence in 100+ countries, and millions of social media followers.

Key takeaway: There are always more options than those presented.


Growth Hack Your Way to Success 😎

👉 INSIGHT: Data-driven experimentation boosts business performance.

Kenneth Cole was essentially capturing what Ryan Holiday would write about later in the marketing book, Growth Hacker Marketing.

This book is about finding creative ways to get people talking about your brand, like the time you "accidentally" sent a dick pic to your entire contact list.

  1. Seek rapid viral growth: Dropbox grew from 100,000 to 4 million users in just 15 months through a free storage referral program.

  2. Experiment based on data-driven decisions: Airbnb leveraged data-driven experimentation, resulting in a 300% increase in bookings.

  3. Explore low-cost marketing tactics: Dollar Shave Club's "Our Blades Are F**king Great" cost $4,500 to make but generated 12,000 new orders and over 27 million views.

  4. Create compelling content: Blendtec's "Will It Blend?" YouTube series, which showcased the power of their blenders by blending unusual items, increased sales by 700% and earned millions of views.

  5. Leveraging existing platforms in new ways: Spotify's integration with Facebook allowed users to share their listening activity, leading to 1 million new users joining Spotify.

In other words, growth hacking is all about being a scrappy little f**ker who can make shit happen with nothing but a few bucks and a metric-ton of data.


Take the “Swipe File Scavenger Hunt” 🔎

Marketing pros like Russell Brunson saved and studied thousands of junk mailer ads to make millions as a copywriter. Luckily for you, social media targeting does all of this for you.

Here’s how you can start a swipe file collection right now:

  1. Create "Ad Swipe File" album in iPhone Photos.

  2. Browse social media, find clever ads.

  3. Screenshot ad, crop if needed.

  4. Save to "Ad Swipe File" album.

Once you have a collection that rivals your porn gif stash, you’ll have a ready-made media plan for your next viral business launch.

Memes of the Week 🤣 

Bite-Sized Reads 📚

[Watch] Watch a super-short video on Kenneth Cole’s “Birth of a Shoe Company” scheme.

[Read] “Most of the time, that flood of junk mail and spam holds the key to invaluable marketing insights.”

[Read] Copywriting swipe files vs. Design swipe files vs. Social swipe files vs. Email swipe files

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Publisher: Jordan Belfort

Editors in Chief: Brock Swinson and Davis Richardson

DISCLAIMER: None of this is financial advice. This newsletter is strictly for educational purposes and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. Please be careful and do your own

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