Interview and advice from Howler Brothers CMO

From working in a medical device startup, to starting an investment fund, Rick Wittenbraker is a man with a lot experience building companies. Rick is now the marketing director at Howler Brothers apparel company, and he’s our guest on this episode of GetCast.

Starting out with startups

[00:02:23] Rick started his career with a job in a private equity firm. He explains how from there, he decided to move back to Austin to connect with some friends and lead their medical device startup in areas of marketing and business development.

[00:06:14] Not satisfied with working in a startup, Rick and his brother decided to take a bigger role and invest. Together, they pooled their money and established Stage One Capital, investing in a variety of startups.

[00:10:30] During his time as an investor, Rick listened to a lot of pitches and learned a thing or two about what successful companies need to do to grow. Here, Rick shares some advice for those that take the Lean Startup methodology to heart. (Hint: this is what will get you closer to generating revenue.)

Moving out of the cooler

[00:16:13] In 2014, Rick left the awesome ice chest company, Yeti Coolers, but before he left, he picked up one interesting piece of insight: his most avid customers were online shoppers. They were the ones who came online to buy all the add-ons and accessories.

Rick left Yeti Coolers to join the apparel company Howler Brothers, which creates products for people who love the outdoors.

The secrets of marketing an eCommerce store

[00:22:41] Rick was fortunate to be an early investor in one of the most fresh and dynamic clothing companies, Bonobos. He explains how over the years, he was able to discover the marketing tactics responsible for 80 percent of its revenue.

A day in the life of a marketing expert

[00:29:27] Today, Rick is dedicated to understanding why a customer buys something. His day always starts by checking out Howler Brothers’ Shopify data to monitor what’s been bought.

Rick also mentions that part of the company’s growth and success is due to improving operations. Since starting to use Ordoro for inventory management, Rick has noticed an increase in productivity. He explains why Ordoro is a good fit for anyone doing their own fulfillment and wanting to automate tedious manual tasks.

[00:35:30] Rick reveals some of the other apps that Howler Brothers use, including Basecamp and Highrise for internal project management and communication, and MailChimp for email marketing analytics and aesthetics.

Why automatic tweets are a marketing no-no

[00:39:54] Rick suggests some simple marketing tips for anyone building an eCommerce business: “Take people behind the scenes of what’s going on, and be transparent,” he says. “Breathe a real life human element into what you’re doing.”

Additionally, Rick blasted auto-tweeters, saying: “if you’re pushing your tweets out a week in advance, it’s a waste of time. If you’re not having a true dialog, why do it?”

Some suggested blogs

[00:44:04] As a big “product guy”, it’s only natural that one of Rick’s favorite blogs is product related. Kuiu is a hunting brand that, in Rick’s own words, “is doing amazing product marketing”. Definitely go and check out how Kuiu is doing things.

The other blog that Rick frequently visits and highly recommends to entrepreneurs is Both Sides of The Table, written from the real life lessons of Mark Suster.

How to choose a business app

[00:48:46] The last bit of advice that Rick has is about knowing which apps to buy. He recommends identifying the bottlenecks in your business, or the areas holding you back and taking up the most resources and time.

“Don’t be afraid to spend money for the right tool that will help you save time.”

Wise final words from the marketing manager at www.HowlerBros.com.