3 Things Skateboarding Taught Me about Marketing
1. Think Out of Step
If you grew up skateboarding in the 80’s or 90’s, there’s a good chance you owned a copy of Minor Threats’ Out of Step — or at least your older brother did.
The black sheep mentality of punk music has always been a mainstay in the skate community, but the lessons that stuck with me have forever shaped my approach to business and marketing.
Skateboarding taught me to be an outlier long before I discovered the likes of Seth Godin or Gary Vaynerchuk.
2. Hustle vs. #hustle
Minor Threats’ founder, Ian Mackaye, started a record label in 1980 called Dischord that has been rejecting the status quo for over 30 years.
In a 2014 interview, Mackaye talks about never even having contracts or using lawyers. (Not recommending this.) Ian worked multiple jobs to build the label while the band maintained a rigorous touring schedule, investing every dime back into the business.
This is what hustle meant before fake entrepreneurs started inundating Instagram with posts of watches, rented Lambos, and the ever-constant hashtag #Hustle on Instagram.
I realized quickly that if you want to make something happen, it requires less talk and more execution. Without the advantage of social media, bands and brands were forced to work on a ground level to get the word out.
Today, if you apply that same work ethic to technology, you can build a loyal fanbase of brand advocates.
"Skateboarding taught me to be an outlier long before I discovered the likes of Seth Godin or Gary Vaynerchuk."
3. Quality Content, Not Commercials
Punk rock and skateboarding went hand-in-hand, and so did their business ethics. Back in those days, marketing without great content was called a “commercial.”
For the bands and brands in this culture, this was not a viable option. They didn’t have the funds to produce something outside of what they actually did. I paid attention to the ads just as much as the photos and articles.
Here’s how it went down:
You waited for the newest video from your favorite skate company, watched it until you wore out the VHS tape, and scraped together enough cash to buy a new skate set-up.
Today, big brands are just starting to make the shift to using quality content instead of commercials to engage their customers. Turns out those punks had it right all along.
- Don’t be afraid to think differently.
- Work insanely hard — and then work some more.
- Never wait for someone else to make something happen.
- Stop worrying about numbers and seek cult-like fans.