Founded in 2014, Cotopaxi is an outdoor apparel and equipment start-up focused on creating Gear for Good. At the heart of their mission is supporting the spirit of adventure in a structure that seamlessly blends product and philanthropy. With over 250 brand ambassadors, Cotopaxi has built an active, engaged community of fans that help propel the brand’s mission. We had a chance to interview Cotopaxi’s Social Media Manager, Paisley Wildman, on the brand’s approach to cultivating a community focused on adventure and making the world a better place.
What is your role at Cotopaxi and what does your day-to-day look like?
I’m the Social Media Manager at Cotopaxi. My main responsibility is to represent the Cotopaxi brand on social media channels, including campaign creation and management, responding to messages, and leading our ambassador program. I also curate user-generated content for use in email and website displays, and coordinate PR and strategic product placement opportunities.
How have you had to adjust your organic marketing strategies and what new challenges are you facing now?
The most immediate shift we had to face with COVID-19 was in our messaging around adventure. Prior to the pandemic, much of our organic marketing incorporated adventure travel around the globe. We’d meshed seasonal marketing campaigns for product lines with immersive travel experiences; For example, last fall we went to Colombia to shoot our new products, and earlier this spring we were in beautiful Argentina. Quickly, around-the-globe adventures became a no-go, so that meant adjusting our approach. Fortunately, adventure can be found in many ways. Through a community engagement campaign around our repurposed Del Da line, an at-home version of our Questival Adventure Race, our #OneUtah campaign to help those locally on the front lines of the pandemic and a few other initiatives, we were able to shift our course and accommodate the “new normal”. Moving forward, we will certainly continue to be challenged by the shifting status quo.
Can you give some insight into the ambassador program at Cotopaxi and how you’ve been able to build and maintain such strong relationships with them?
Currently, we have over 250 ambassadors ranging from influencers with millions of followers to micro-influencers, or “advocates” with only hundreds. No matter how big or small their audience, each one of our ambassadors plays an important role in our program. I feel extremely fortunate to have built relationships with all of them, and to feel a genuine connection between them and our brand. At the end of the day, what perpetuates the success of this program is our mission. Cotopaxi’s commitment towards creating sustainable products, alleviating poverty, and inspiring adventure is what unites people from all walks of life around the Cotopaxi brand, and that authenticity is what enables our ambassadorships to resonate with wider audiences.
How does the Cotopaxi mission affect the way you think about and interact with your community?
We believe in the power of adventure to make the world a better place. Everything we do as a company boils down to that mission, and our community knows to expect that. It’s easy to throw around a catchphrase like “Do Good”, but we feel a great responsibility to walk the walk. From our supply chain to our company culture and giving model, we see business as an opportunity to make a positive impact. Through our interactions with consumers, we aim to convey that same level of responsibility and optimism. Simply selling products isn’t good enough anymore, and we’re lucky to have a community of conscious citizens that recognize that there’s better ways of doing business than what was once accepted.
Our team has been really inspired by the content Cotopaxi has been driving — what has been your favorite community engagement initiative in the last few months and how did it come together?
My favorite campaign I’ve led over the last few months is our Día By Día Challenge, an initiative encouraging our audience to share creative ways to use Del Dia packs. The idea was designed to engage our community around an uplifting initiative and make people smile amidst a time of chaos. We asked for fun, quirky and unique submissions with rewards offered to the top submissions as voted on by our whole team. The content they delivered was epic. From a DIY home-gym setup to a toilet paper holder to a homemade Chinchilla-sized fanny pack, their challenge submissions were highly memorable. Not only did we succeed in bringing our audience together around the challenge, the Cotopaxi team had a great time judging the submissions. It brought us a sense of togetherness in an otherwise isolating time and was a happy reminder just how incredible and dedicated our community is.
What are some trends you’re seeing now in building customer relationships that you think will last?
I’m seeing more and more brands push towards transparency, which I think is so important right now and always. Behind-the-scenes content, employee spotlights, (a lot of) Instagram Lives, AMAs: brands are embracing their humanity in a time when it’s more appreciated than ever and our human desire to connect is at an all time high. I think this focus on authenticity will stick around as the polished facade of traditional marketing becomes increasingly unrelatable.
Thank you Paisley!