You’ve dished out the $160 – $200+ (even though that was a great portion of that weeks check) to get you a pair of the now impossible to find shoes that only a few people in your city were able to get their hands on. You’ve only worn them a few times and always return them right back to the box keeping them in best possible condition you can. Every time you wear them out people ask where you got them only for you to explain that you got them at sorryyoullneverownthese.com before they sold out with a deep sense of pride and accomplishment.
Then during one of the maybe 6 times you’ve ever worn them something drops right near, if not on, your foot. As this unforeseen, liquid-y, color intense, substance splashes on your fresh, clean, bright, crowns of glory over socks your heart sinks. You take a closer look at the damage to see that the substance didn’t land on any easily wipe-able area (leather, vinyl, plastic, midsole), it never does. It landed on an area of extremely absorbent cloth-like material and has already saturated into the stitching that holds the pieces of your shoe together.
You try your best to dab out the moisture and gently rub the stain away with a cloth and warm water only to see the stain still glaring at you. You pick up the only shoe cleaner you have to read the non-existent information about whether or not it works on this material. Even if it said it did, could you trust it? Will this cleaner ruin the shoe? What gets out mud, red dye, ketchup, barbecue sauce, salsa, Coca-Cola, orange pop (or orange anything)? What trick, little known remedy, or household cleaner will save your shoes?
Yep, this how wearing your freshest pair sneakers used to be for decades.
Today there are so many sneaker cleaners out that people may have forgotten the old days when the only cleaners were Kiwi and whatever Foot Locker put out. We were always looking for a solution to the stain that wouldn’t budge. As a collector and off-duty customizer, I remember trading strategies and techniques on the forums (the only way sneaker collectors used to communicate before social media) of the best ways to clean different shoes and materials. Since shoes didn’t re-retro as often as they do today and cleaning or restoring shoes was a trial and error process, you could very easily ruin a pair of kicks you had no way of replacing.
This went on for years. Then came Jason Markk, Premium Sneaker Cleaner, courtesy of Jason M. Angsuvarn which forever changed the sneaker cleaning game. When Jason Markk hit the scene in 2007 it created a new or lesser recognized area within the already niche market of sneaker culture. Shortly after many other sneaker cleaning brands popped up to get their piece of the sneaker cleaning pie; Crep Protect, Mint, Reshoeven8tor to name a few.
It isn’t unusual for one company to start something that several others copy once they see there’s a demand for it. Sometimes they do it better, sometimes they do it differently, and other times (more often than not), they’re just a worse version of the original. Either way, they saw that there was something in the success of that business that they could imitate or to borrow from in order to create their own success.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flatterly – Charles Caleb Colton
What is it that all these other brands saw that made them want to copy Jason Markk?
How can you successfully copy Jason Markk?
I don’t mean copy as in go mix some stuff you found under your sink put in a bottle and sell it as “Deebo’s Sneaker Cleaner”. I mean how do you create a formula for success in the same way Jason Markk did?
After doing a little research, I discovered 5 ways that Jason Markk became the top sneaker cleaning brand that everyone else wanted to copy:
- Solve a Problem – Jason didn’t create light up shoelaces that look cool. He saw that there was a real need for a quality sneaker cleaner that cleaned with out ruining your kicks. So he created a solution.
- Focus on one thing – Jason didn’t create a shoe cleaner for construction workers boots, sandals, cleats and Louboutins. He didn’t set out to create a sock/car/hat/sneaker cleaner. He created a high quality cleaner for sneaker collectors that cleaned the kind of shoes sneaker collectors buy.
- Start small – Don’t do too much too soon. You can buy pins, stickers, hats and more on the Jason Markk site today, but in the beginning they just sold sneaker cleaning kits and the replacement pieces. There wasn’t even a physical store yet.
- Marketing – They sent their product to sneaker blogs to try out for themselves so they would blog about them to their audience which was much bigger than their own at the time.
- Collaborate (more marketing) – Rather than just promote themselves, Jason Markk used what’s called cross promotion. In order to gain a bigger following they did collaborations with brands already established in sneaker culture. This was a win-win for both parties, becuase Jason Markk got exposed to the major brands audience and the major brand got to provide their audience with a premium sneaker cleaner (This only works if your product benefits the other brand in some way). They still use this strategy today.
If you want to have a Jason Markk kind of success with your business, then hopefully this case study can help to guide you to that success.