Solar is cool. Well… at least BirkSun’s new Boost Sports Collection is. Designed to be lightweight, durable, and waterproof, these bags were made for the active, youthful, and adventurous. Just under $250 and rechargeable via the sun or a wall outlet, Boost Sport bags can charge your phone and other electronics easily – and anywhere. Learn more about BirkSun, their new Boost Sports Collection, and their digital marketing strategy (which includes influencers & far-reaching partnerships) with BirkSun’s Digital Marketer Maddy Washburn.
What’s going on with BirkSun’s new Boost Sport Collection?
We’ve completely redesigned the Boost Sport Collection bags, a new breed of solar backpack, and upgraded everything from the material to the charging technology. People are now able to recharge their bag from either a wall outlet or from the sun using the waterproof solar panels, both of which charge at the same rate of 2.4 amps – about 2 minutes of charge-time equals a 1% charge. The built-in battery stores 150% phone charge and has a built-in USB Port.
Currently BirkSun backpacks come in a variety of colors, including Mythos Black, Glacier White, Tropical Navy, Gunmetal Gray, California Blue and Festival Pink. However, customers can also custom embroider their own bags for larger orders. These bags are designed to be lightweight, highly durable, and waterproof (built to withstand rain and wind, but not to be fully submerged).
How did BirkSun get started?
BirkSun got started when the co-founders decided they wanted to get involved in the renewable energy space and solve the all-too-familiar problem of their cell phone batteries always dying. The co-founders began selling onsite at music festivals to get the company off the ground and the company has advanced and progressed from there.
What’s the marketing strategy for the Boost Sport Collection?
Here at BirkSun, we try to sell a lifestyle more than just a product. Our main target consumers are travelers, beachgoers, young people in Los Angeles, active individuals and festival lovers. We also try to target people from the ages of 18-34 who fall into these categories.
What’s the competition like in the solar backpack market?
While there are a few other solar backpack companies in the market, they sell very “techy” products. BirkSun differentiates itself by incorporating fashion/design into our bags, as well as using the highest quality solar panels, batteries and fabrics on the market. Our bags are built to easily last 5+ years.
What other features will be added to the bags in the future?
A future feature that has been discussed is developing an app similar to FitBit or Nest where consumers will be able to measure the energy created from their BirkSun products. The app would also be able to map BirkSun charging around the world. We want to demonstrate the global impact– we want to demonstrate how we’re changing the way the world is powered, one BirkSun at a time!
You’ve recently started a new Ambassador Program as well. What’s that all about?
This is something I’m really excited about that we just launched at the end of July. We were looking for about 20 influencers to partner with through our social media networks, who would help promote our new Boost Sports bags. It was awesome when we got more than 200 proposals – it’s great to see how stoked people are about the brand and our new products!
What do you mean by influencer?
An influencer, by nature of the term, is someone who has “influence,” meaning they have an engaged following on social media. They have a voice in the community, and they can help spread the word about BirkSun. A perfect influencer is someone whose personal brand aligns with the BirkSun brand and values. For example, they live the “charge your passion” lifestyle. They are active, whether it be traveling, hiking, going to music festivals, etc.
How did you select your influencers and what will they be doing?
We selected our ambassadors by looking over their overall social media presence as well as looking at their engagement levels on their Instagram accounts since that is where the program primarily takes place. We were looking for someone who fit that “charge your passion” lifestyle as well as having an organic, honest following. Our ambassadors will be making about four posts on Instagram each, that prominently feature their BirkSun in the photo as well as tagging us in the captions. They will also be doing two snapchat or Instagram stories each, aligning with the BirkSun brand.
Why is it important to have influencers?
I think it’s important to have influencers because it provides people with a more honest view of the brand when they see others posting about our bags. We measure the impact of influencers based on the web traffic they drive to birksun.com, the sales associated with their individual discount codes and the type of engagement (likes/comments) they receive from their dedicated social media posts.
Birksun is also partnering with companies to create greater awareness about solar backpacks. What companies are you partnering with? How are these partnerships created?
We’re pretty excited about partnering with more companies that are focused on commercial/government solar projects in hopes of creating more awareness around solar by bringing it directly to the consumer. It’s great to see where solar can go on a more global scale! We generally partner with solar companies, Fortune 500 companies or companies just looking to give their employees some “swag.” Companies will reach out to us most of the time, but we also reach out to companies we think would be a good fit and would like our bags. We exhibit them at solar conferences and work with promotinal companies as well.
Where did the idea to partner with companies originate?
We partner with companies/organizations in two main ways: we offer custom embroidering so companies will order large quantities of product to be used as employee gifts, client incentives, company conferences, etc. Secondly, we can help with raising money or offering products to non-profits and specific organizations looking to spread solar awareness. We have previously done a ‘buy one, give one’ campaign with Solar Sister (an amazing nonprofit organization) and are in the process of working with Solar Head of State to help raise money by donating 50% of revenue during a specific marketing campaign.
Most of our partnerships land within the US, but some do come along internationally such as Solar Head of State which is located in the Caribbean. We also ship our product worldwide. The partnerships are each determined on an individual basis and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Our main goal is to create a beneficial relationship between both companies as well as further spread the word about BirkSun.
What bothers you most about what is happening in your industry/professional world today?
I think what bothers me the most is that some people have this preconceived notion of solar and solar technology – they think of it as something that is “too techy”. But solar doesn’t just have to be on rooftops! We are trying to to create more awareness around solar in hopes of changing the way the world is powered. Part of my job requires using social media to show people that solar can actually be cool. My favorite part of the job is when customers buy a bag for the first time and send us photos of them wearing their new BirkSun. Hearing how excited they are about their bag and hearing the surprise in their voice that the solar panel actually worked is awesome!
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