The Content Marketing Secrets Behind the Huckberry $158M Success Story
When Andy Forch and Richard Greiner decided to quit their jobs and launch a business, they had no clue what to expect. All the two friends had was their passion for the industry—even if they actually knew very little about that industry. With just two personal investments of $10,000 each, the duo decided to take the gamble of their life. And in 2010, Huckberry launched. Andy and Richard quit their well-paying (and probably highly stable) finance jobs. And they began building their outdoor menswear brand inside a cramped San Francisco apartment.
The gamble paid off in a big way. In 2020, Huckberry reported $158 million in revenues.
What's the secret to Huckberry's success? Clever and meaningful content marketing. But before analyzing their winning strategy, we must first examine the obstacles Andy and Richard faced in this crowded marketplace.
The Founders Were Their Avatar
Bootstrapping a business seems reasonable on paper, but taking the risk is another story entirely. Huckberry started with just $20,000—pretty much all the money in Andy and Richard's bank accounts combined. The founders only had a vision and lots of grit.
Andy and Richard knew they wanted to reinvent the typical men's stores. Sure, there were plenty of retail and online shops out there, but none of them spoke to them. The retailers either catered to the rugged outdoorsman or an average metrosexual male. But Andy and Richard didn't fall into either category, and they felt they weren't the only ones.
Huckberry would become a men's store for guys who lived in the city yet craved outdoor adventures. Men who commuted to work during the week and camped in the mountains on the weekends. It would reshape how men shopped, played, and interacted. And in only ten years, it would be legendary.
But getting things off the ground wasn't easy. It was an uphill climb with all sorts of jagged rocks and sudden winds.
The Treacherous Climb to the Top
At first, other menswear and outdoor companies didn't understand the brand's vision. Andy and Richard struggled to find products for the website. And even after gaining some ground, they found themselves without any money to pay their workers. Instead of tossing in the towel, Andy and Richard emptied what little remained in their savings accounts to cover payroll.
There were many times when it didn't seem like the Huckberry would survive. But the co-founders embraced and overcame the challenges. Their unwavering dedication is what makes their story genuine and sincere. As Andy told his audience in the "10 Years of Huckberry" journal entry, "Just playing the hits would not only be disingenuous to the Huckberry story, but also to all of the other entrepreneurs out there who are just getting started."
Andy and Richard never let a bit of rocky terrain or a cavernous pit full of venomous snakes get between them and their dream. Instead, they sought out to build the most loyal audience of adventure-seeking men the world had ever seen.
Here's Huckberry's Winning Marketing Strategy
Competing in an oversaturated market is never an easy task. The only way to succeed is by creating something better than what already exists. Huckberry decided to do just that. And content marketing would become their secret weapon.
However, not just any content would suffice. Huckberry would have to create content that meant something to their audience. Something eye-catching. Something interesting. And more than anything else, something with real value.
Through plenty of trial and error, Huckberry mastered the art of great content marketing. And this is how they did it:
Engage Customers Through Storytelling
Huckberry sells men's outerwear, gadgets, home decor, and lots of miscellaneous knickknacks. But grabbing the customer's attention and evoking emotion always remained the brand's top priority.
Instead of spamming social media with boring product descriptions, Huckberry tried a different route—storytelling. Great products sell themselves, but telling a relatable brand story builds a loyal audience. And combining the two is a guaranteed win.
Huckberry mixes beautiful product photos with inspirational stories to entice curious visitors. The brand's social media channels feature clever captions to tell the brand's story. And with Huckberry's revenue surpassing the $150 million mark, it's a proven strategy.
Reach a Larger Audience with Affiliate Marketing
The more people a brand can reach, the more customers it'll create. In the early stages, the co-founders realized Huckberry wouldn't grow without some help from others. Affiliate marketing programs became a staple. And the brand teamed up with some of the biggest names in the industry.
During the brand's initial year, money was scarce. Andy and Richard had to brainstorm creative ways to advertise. Huckberry ultimately joined forces with The Art of Manliness and Outside. These partnerships introduced a vast audience to Huckberry and helped take the brand to the next level.
Affiliate marketing is an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" strategy. Brands pay affiliates a commission to share their products. Huckberry also partnered with industry ambassadors like photographer Chris Burkard to grow its audience even more.
What does an affiliate advertisement look like? Here's what Business Insider wrote in an affiliate post: "Huckberry is a great catch-all brand for everything from clothing and camping gear to gadgets and decor. Their selection of casual outdoor wear is top-notch, and you can regularly find tents and hammocks at a discount."
Valuable Content Is the Only Way
Content marketing isn't so much about how much you write as it is about what you write. Everything you post online or write in an email needs to be meaningful to the reader. Otherwise, it just ends up in the trash folder.
Huckberry remains committed to providing valuable content every day. Andy and Richard only publish relevant content that stays true to the brand's story. On their site, you'll find plenty of helpful roundups and gift guides to help lead shoppers in the right direction. This type of content inspires readers and encourages clicks.
And yes, SEO does play a significant role in what gets published. Huckberry targets prime keywords to optimize. Playing the SEO game ensures the content ranks well on Google and reaches a vast audience.
Connect and Reconnect with Customers
It's easier to retain a customer than it is to find a new one. Huckberry makes a conscious effort to engage with all its customers through email campaigns. And the brand mastered how to build an email list.
Huckberry is a member's only site. While anyone can browse the products and read the content, customers must become members before purchasing. Membership is entirely free, but members do get added to the email list automatically.
Email is an essential tool for Huckberry. The brand sends out regular emails to inspire and engage with its audience. And every email is a masterpiece. Andy and Richard want their emails to read in an editorial way. Some emails direct readers to buy products, but others divert them to other websites. It's all part of the Huckberry content marketing plan.
But even great emails don't always get results. Some customers seem to get lost in the shuffle. If a customer doesn't buy anything after a few months, it triggers a unique email campaign. Huckberry relies on very detailed analytics to determine the best content to reactivate the customer. For example, if the customer abandoned their cart, the brand may send out emails featuring the items left behind.
Never Underestimate Grassroots Marketing
Organic marketing is always the best. Curious shoppers need to know what their friends and family think before making a purchase. Loyal fans want to shout their experience from the rooftops. And word-of-mouth advertising delivers unbeatable results. That's why you'll find actual Huckberry reviews on the brand's website and in its emails and social media posts.
Huckberry relies on grassroots campaigns to increase awareness. These campaigns feature real-life stories from relatable people and actual customers. It also gives the brand more content for its social media posts and emails.
One example of a successful grassroots campaign is Huckberry's annual Explorer's Grant. According to Outside, "The Explorer's Grant was established to emphasize the value of outdoor immersion, wilderness discovery, and a deliberate defiance of the daily mundane."
Each year, contestants write a 250-word essay to complete for the grant. The winner receives a $2,000 store credit and gets to go on an epic adventure with a Huckberry Ambassador. This contest generates buzz and helps reach a bigger audience.
Get to Know Huckberry Behind-the-Scenes
Now that you know the secrets behind Huckberry's impressive success story, let's answer a few questions you may have.
Does Huckberry Have Any Investors?
Huckberry's unique marketing approach made it a leader in the outdoor menswear industry. The company that started with a nearly empty bank account now has others ready to invest. When reading about Huckberry on Crunchbase, you'll learn that the brand raised a cool $6.3 million in a single funding round.
Will There Be a Huckberry IPO?
Huckberry is currently a privately-owned company. Neither Andy nor Richard have even hinted about going public. While the exact Huckberry valuation numbers aren't available, the brand continues to profit year after year. Therefore, an eventual IPO isn't completely far-fetched, and if it does happen, you'll be able to purchase Huckberry stock.
How Much Are the Huckberry Co-Founders Worth?
Although the co-founders both keep their finances private, one can assume they make a decent living. Andy Forch's net worth is well over $499K. Richard Greiner probably has a similar—if not identical—net worth.
Smooth Sailing Ahead for Huckberry
Although Andy and Richard were clueless when they launched Huckberry, they didn't let a few mishaps get in their way. Instead, they pulled up their bootstraps even higher and aimed for the stars.
Today, Huckberry is one of the top-performing names in outdoor menswear. And the co-founders owe much—if not all—of their success to a clever marketing strategy. Combining storytelling with valuable content helped the brand reach a broader audience than it ever thought possible. And thanks to the creative thinking of Andy and Richard, Huckberry is a 9-figure brand with no end in sight.