HYDES, Md. – Lifelong hunter and angler, Ben Verner, knows a thing or two about creating successful outdoor brands. Best known, perhaps, for his founder-turned-CEO role with Marolina Outdoor, Inc. – parent company to the highly successful Huk and Nomad fishing and hunting apparel brands – Verner first gained mega-brand marketing and sales experience by pulling the levers behind the curtains at giants, Black & Decker and Under Armour.
But experiences are only valuable when they lead to lessons that can be applied elsewhere. Today, Verner is doing just that – and leveraging his own deep-rooted passions for fishing, hunting and the outdoors in the process – to help outdoor companies with great products stand out and sell in crowded markets. How? Largely by focusing on performance and brand authenticity, but also by following a new model of creative resource sharing.
Verner believes every successful product has at least one competitive advantage, and that every successful brand has a unique voice that clearly communicates those advantages to the right people. “In the outdoors space, technologies are meant to be experienced during experiences,” Verner offers. “What I mean by that is successful companies always keep the passions of their customers in clear view… they have an end-user focus. They design and make products that elevate the experiences their customers already love, then they make sure their brand voice clearly communicates their advantages.
“My unique skill is an ability to understand where the competitive advantages exist, envision how the consumer will receive those message, and deliver the package in a way that compels them to want to be a part of the brand and receive all the advantages the products offer,” says Verner. “That’s what successful companies with great products do, but many lack the resources and expertise to formulate and execute a winning plan.”
Building Critical Mass
Enter Critical Mass Brands, Verner’s most-recent company, which uses a shared-resource model to help smaller companies with great products and shy resources remain viable, grow, and ultimately prosper alongside bigger brands with greater resources.
Critical Mass Brands is conceived to offer smaller, independent companies the critical, competitive advantages enjoyed by larger conglomerates. Outsource some or all of your company’s functions while keeping your brand. Critical Mass Brands can assume financing, strategy, relationships, design, marketing, customer acquisition, distribution and more. From product creation to merchandising, the Critical Mass Brands Team can help products move quickly and smartly from ideation to market, while supporting your brand with the best marketing and content creation in the business.
“Our shared-cost model provides incredible savings to our brands while building product, marketing, and acquisition programs to drive momentum and velocity,” Verner explains. “We extend the shared-cost model to address rising customer acquisition costs, too. Our brand-selection process allows us to share those and other costs across our client base, creating incredible sales velocities and economies for smaller businesses. Our collective size and scale afford access to the most innovative and precise targeting technologies to support marketing and sales.”
The Rebirth of GoLite
“GoLite came to Critical Mass Brands with uncommon products and common problems,” Verner reveals. “The brand’s line of technical active performance apparel and mountaineering gear is sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly, superbly-engineered and constructed, and extremely lightweight. But they have been trying to win in a rigged game,” he continues, alluding to the challenges that come from competing for voice, distribution and ultimately sales in traditional channels that favor large, established brands. “We’re helping GoLite get back to their roots, reach new customers and increase market share in non-traditional ways. Thru-hikers, mountaineering enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers of all types should keep their eyes peeled for GoLite’s launch early next month.
In the outdoors space, Critical Mass Brands is already working with Simms Fishing Products on unlocking new markets, as well as GoLite and RVOLN (pronounced REVOLUTION) in CEO, design, marketing, and operations capacities. “While the brands we work with are independent of one another, we’re building our portfolio in a measured and calculated way,” says Verner. “Authenticity may be an overused marketing modifier, but it’s critical to the success of our model. If you’ve got great products that provide an advantage, I’d love to talk with you about how our shared-resource services and uniquely qualified team can help develop and execute a plan to exceed your goals. Your products are built for the long haul; your business, marketing and sales plans should be, too. We can help.”
The Revolution is Coming
The RVOLN brand is Verner’s latest brainchild. No longer will retailers determine the goods that make it to market. RVOLN’s customers set the market. “With RVOLN, we are living up to the name and revolutionizing how our customers can interact with the brand. From helping design products and providing feedback to earning the ability to get early access to products and other exclusive rewards, RVOLN gives passionate consumers and brand fans an unprecedented chance to become involved in RVOLN’s voice and direction,” Verner says. RVOLN will launch in Q4 of 2020 with crowdfunding (details coming soon) and traditional investment fueling the brand for a big splash.