Dave Mayer is from Portola Valley, California. He’s a road cyclist and mountain biker. As such, water bottles are part of his gear. Anyone who has used water bottles while cycling, running or working out knows the difficulty of cleaning them. After awhile, they get moldy, grimy or just plain funky. Dave solved that problem by creating Clean Bottle – an ingenious design wherein both the top and bottom of the bottle can be unscrewed and removed – thus allowing easier, more effective cleaning.
Dave had a great idea. Many people are thinkers and have wonderful ideas (often the same idea). But Dave did something about his idea. Dave Mayer is an entrepreneur.
Great idea, nice execution – but how do you get it in front of enough people to make Clean Bottle a success? How do you market your product or service to the right audience without spending a bundle?
Dave Mayer is also a terrific marketer – he set his sights on the Tour de France. Talk about positioning. For the price of a plane ticket, three weeks in a camper van and a five-foot-tall Clean Bottle costume, Dave took his show on the road.
Each day of the three-week-long Tour de France, Dave would drive to each stage finish, park the camper van, bundle his costume into a giant duffle bag and strap it to an improvised and unwieldy bike trailer (he was often accused of hauling a coffin, dead body or sometimes “the missus”). Dave would then tow that trailer up the highest mountains in the Alps or the Pyrenees, don the costume and proceed to run up steep windy roads next to the top competitors in the Tour.
All in all, an uncomfortable, trying exercise. And why?
Exposure. Dave, wearing his Clean Bottle costume, has been seen by millions who line the Tour course but even more monumentally, by many more millions who follow the Tour on television. Not only is Dave’s Clean Bottle seen running alongside the premier racers (those who get the most TV coverage) but Dave’s Clean Bottle character has become a favorite of Phil Liggett, bike racing’s ubiquitous commentator. Phil’s fondness garners Dave frequent Clean Bottle mentions during Tour broadcasts. And on one of the final days of the Tour, Dave scored an on-camera interview with Frankie Andreu (one of VS. TV’s field color commentators). As far as I know, Dave is the only non-sponsor, non-team affiliated person that was granted such treatment.
You can’t buy that kind of exposure. At least Dave can’t. We’re talking many hundreds of thousands of dollars in commercial production and media buys. For Dave, his extraordinary exposure came at the cost of a trip to France, a costume, his personal investment of time and the chutzpah to really believe in his business – and do something about it.
Dave’s enterprising marketing endeavor (and chutzpah) worked for me – I ordered three bottles (buy three and get one free!). I’ve emailed Dave to congratulate him on an excellent product and superb marketing. I’ve asked him to let me know how successful his personal Tour de France was – I can’t wait to hear.
Ask yourself: do you believe in your business enough to put yourself on the line like Dave?
Martha Spelman is a creative marketing consultant as well as an avid road and mountain bike cyclist. To find our more, visit: marthaspelman.com