5 Questions for YETI Coolers’ Corey Maynard

Austin AMA: Five Questions for Corey Maynard, VP of Marketing at YETI Coolers

In advance of Marketing Jam on June 18, 2015, we sat down with our speaker, Corey Maynard of YETI Coolers, to get his take on branding, what marketers need to learn to stay competitive, and what B2B brands can learn from successful B2C tactics.

Like many of us, you’re not from around here. But Austin-transplants and Austin-natives alike are very fond of our local brands. How important is the local story when marketing a product sold globally?

There are a few key factors to keep in mind when figuring out how important the local story is for your brand (and company).

The first – and most important – is how important success in your local market is to your overall business. If most of your customers are local, it’s critical they know you’re one of them, and that supporting your brand will benefit their community. If hometown success is not as important to your overall business, the local story may not justify prioritization over other brand messages.

From a broader market perspective, the importance of a brand’s place of origin depends on the brand’s larger narrative and position – and the perception of your hometown within your entire consumer base. If your hometown is a defining part of your DNA and is positive and meaningful to your consumers, it should probably play an important part of your messaging.

Austin has its own brand identity locally, statewide, nationally, and globally. If your company’s position is reinforced by association with Austin’s brand, your hometown can be a powerful part of your brand story. It’s safe to say that Peoria City Limits would have been less compelling nationally than Austin City Limits. If perceptions of your hometown conflict with your desired brand position, however, the association is probably not an asset for the brand.

A third consideration for the local story is less about the brand and more about the company. Being seen and respected within your home community can have significant positive benefits for recruiting, employee pride/satisfaction, and retention. I’m not sure this would justify making Austin a central part of a global campaign, but it could help rationalize participation in local events and media.


In our ever-evolving industry, what are the skills younger marketers should learn from more experienced marketers and vice versa?

This is a good question, and I think an important one in our industry. Technology has so fundamentally rocked the marketing world that it’s not unfair to categorize marketers as those who were around before the digital marketing revolution and those who grew up in immersed in it. Both groups have a lot to learn from each other, and I worry that various social barriers (ego, title, salary, arrogance, ignorance, fear) prevent the collaboration that each group desperately needs.

Technology has blown up every link in the marketing chain to allow nearly infinite options for creative (what you say/how you say it) and media (where you say it), and has completely blurred the lines between those once-distinct disciplines. Digital Marketing now allows pinpoint targeting, real-time optimization, and reams upon reams of analytics. Tastes and trends and even platforms rise and fall at lightning speed, fueled by communications frenzy.

For those who came of age before all of this came to be, it can be flat-out overwhelming. Staying on top of every trend and app and business model feels impossible. For those who grew up with hyper-connectedness as a way of life, it’s neither overwhelming nor daunting. Like growing up in a household that spoke French, it’s much easier for younger marketers to process the language of media complexity and navigate its waters effectively. And that’s something “experienced” marketers need from their younger peers.

But the digital revolution also did serious damage to quality marketing, and this is where younger marketers could take cues from their more experienced peers. Technology has lowered the costs and other barriers to creating brand messaging, and the explosion of media options has given everybody the chance to publish their content to the world. While this has enormous positive social implications, it shifted many marketers’ mindsets.

In the pre-digital world, campaigns were very, very expensive, and successful marketers had to carefully consider every aspect of their mix, for fear of blowing their budgets and losing their jobs. Storytelling, emotional resonance, connection to brand position, and ability to move sales numbers could shine as driving consideration points, in part because media options were so limited, and in part because the investment required deep scrutiny.

To me, building human connections with consumers – seeing through the noise of technology, media, content, and analytics over-proliferation — to achieve real emotional reactions through quality storytelling is absolutely critical to successful brand building. And I think pre-revolution marketers tend to have more experience considering the importance of storytelling rather than falling in love with a technology or relying on analytics to chart a course.


Many of our Austin AMA members focus on B2B. What B2C tactics do you see best-in-class B2B companies adopting that are separating them from the B2B pack?

The basics of marketing apply to B2B just as much as B2C; it’s just the media that changes. It starts with understanding your consumers: who are they? What do they care about? How do they make decisions related to your product? Who influences their decisions? How do you find those influencers? What media (broadly defined) do they consume? How do they feel about your brand today? How do they feel about your competitors? You have to start with a deep and unbiased understanding of the how the people you are trying to reach behave and what they care about.

Then you need to have clarity of your own voice. What does your brand/company believe in? What is your personality and position relative to your competitors? Will consumers’ experience with your product or service legitimately back up the position you are trying to achieve?

Ultimately, effective marketing (both B2B and B2C) occurs in the convergence of your understanding of your consumer and own brand voice/position. Each marketer is then charged with identifying the media that can most effectively deliver their message to their unique target.


Your wildly” successful social campaign is #BuiltForTheWild. What wild adventure would you undertake with a free afternoon, a YETI cooler, and a transporter to beam you anywhere?

I imagine myself on a boat in a tropical location with a fishing rod in my hand.


What would you pack in your YETI?

Cold beverages, orange slices, and a Franklin brisket.

YETI Coolers' Corey Maynard in the Grand Canyon

Photo: Grand Canyon, May 2015; courtesy of Corey Maynard










Join us on June 18 at The Rattle Inn to hear YETI’s brand story. Register here!