How Schwinn Uses Stories to Power Brand Advocacy

“Don’t be afraid to to embrace your brand ambassadors. Make them a part of your marketing.” Schwinn Bicycles is a historic brand that’s part of the lives of generations. As Associate Marketing Manager, it’s part of Samantha Hersil’s job to communicate this history while finding new stories from customers, advocates, and their own innovations. We discussed all of this on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

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About Samantha Hersil

Samantha Hersil is the Associate Marketing Manager for Schwinn Bicycles and is a 2013 University of Wisconsin alumni. When not immersed in the digital world of marketing and communication for Schwinn Bicycles she can be found, volunteering, practicing yoga, riding bikes, running around her neighborhood, or knee deep in one of her many hobbies.

Last year Samantha completed her first marathon and biked her first half century. An avid adventure seeker she currently is planning her next backpacking adventure with her boyfriend Chris. Samantha is highly involved in Girls on the Run and believes you can always make time to better your health and give back to your local community.

Episode Highlights

Scrappy marketing at Schwinn. I began the show by sharing my favorite story about Samantha Hersil. While refining the ideas that would become my book Get ScrappySamantha was instrumental in helping me define the term. It’s not just about your business size because, as she says, “We could all use a few people and a few dollars more.”

“Communication is a key to a brand team.” A big part of Samantha’s job is communicating Schwinn’s message both internally to other team members and externally to their brand ambassadors. “We have about 24 brand ambassadors total. They are people that speak to every discipline, age, gender. Schwinn is really about bikes for everyone.” Message strategy is also key. “We’re like the auto industry. We’re always planning one year while executing another.”

Stories matter. “We went to Winnebago’s event in Iowa. Our customers are similar — similar lifestyles — they’re people seeking adventures. We talked to real people and collected stories — emotional stories of people saving up for their bikes. These stories are important as they end up on our blog and in our marketing.”

Living the brand. As you can tell from the adventures outlined in Samantha’s bio and her community involvement, it’s very important for her and other employees to live the brand. In fact, there’s an hour-long lunch break where many employees ride together and teach each other. There are road bikes, mountain trails, and gentle rides. In addition to living the brand, this is also great for company culture as it creates a cross-pollination of teams throughout the organization. “I don’t get to interact with people in accounting every day.”

What brand has made Samantha smile recently? “With watching the Olympics I’d have to say the Apple iPhone ad with Maya Angelou. It’s so inspiring. It really speaks to what I do as a brand marketer.”

To learn more about Samantha, you can connect with her on LinkedIn or the various Schwinn social media channels which you can find on their website.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community … Recently Molly Nicholson in Minnesota gave a shoutout to our episode featuring Daryl Weber, author of Brand Seduction. Thanks for listening Molly!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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