Skora Running was founded in 2008. It manufactures high performance, minimalist running shoes. In late August 2016, Skora disappeared, which led to a lot of speculation on reddit (Skora Running – bites the dust?).
On April 20, 2017, Skora announced they secured an investor and were relaunching. Here’s the CEO’s letter. The initial letter promised products would be available in October 2017 as part of its 2018 relaunch. It’s now November 22nd. No word on new inventory. No word on new products. No word on anything. And the letter was amended and the September relaunch date was removed.
A little backstory. I love running. I started running competitively as a sophomore in high school and have worked through injury after injury to keep running. Like most runners, I’m pretty picky with the shoes I wear. If I find a pair I like, I’m extremely brand loyal and champion those shoes. I was a devoted Skora FIT wearer until they were no longer available.
Why Skora? I fractured a sesamoid in my left foot (a small bone underneath the big toe). My podiatrist put me in orthotics, sent me to physical therapy to mobilize the toe joint, and suggested Altra running shoes. Altra is another zero drop shoe manufacturer. Zero drop means there’s no differential height between back of the shoe and the front. I was a loyal Altra Instinct wearer until they increased the stack height (amount of rubber and padding between your foot and the bottom of the shoe) and changed the cushioning (felt like running on marshmallows). I hated Altra’s new shoes, so I had to search for alternatives. I tried two pairs of Saucony Kinvara 5’s to no avail. Then I found Skora. And boy did I love Skora. Durable, comfortable, stylish, etc.
Losing your favorite product stinks. Learning it’s coming back is exciting. Not knowing when they’re coming back though is like re-uniting with an ex – the chemistry is still there, but you’re unsure. Speaking of relationships, business communication is like communication in any relationship. If you want the relationship to last, frequent, authentic, transparent communication is critical. With that in mind, here are five public relations lessons companies can learn from Skora:
Lesson One: If you don’t want your customers speculating what’s going on with your company, don’t ghost your customers. Make a definitive announcement – we are running out of capital and, unless we get an influx of capital, we’re out of business, thank you for your support. Who knows, maybe one of its customers could have made beneficial investment connections for the company?
Lesson Two: If you’re going to set a timetable, use it to your advantage. Build interest leading up to the event. Skora put up single, coming soon landing page to let people know about the relaunch. In the midst of missing its relaunch deadline, they put up the old website with an out of stock message. It’s disappointing, but, more importantly, the company is missing a huge opportunity. Where’s the countdown clock? Where’s the updated branding? Where’s the new look and feel?
Lesson Three: If you miss the timetable, let people know what happened, why it happened, and what to expect next. Staying silent only creates more frustration and leads to a deluge of comments on your facebook page.
Lesson Four: If you want to keep your base energized, you have to constantly engage them. Since the company went dark, it has communicated once through social media. The CEO letter was posted on April 20th. Customers haven’t heard anything since. Why not tease new products? New color schemes? New tips? There’s a lost opportunity to create energy, excitement and momentum.
Lesson Five: Consumers control the brand and competitors are always right around the corner. Patience only goes so far. And running shoes only last so long. By going silent, customers are switching brands. Altra recently introduced a new version of its popular Instinct and TOPO just announced the Magnifly – 2, a zero drop, 25mm stack height running shoe that looks awfully appealing.
We’ll see how this plays out, but each day that goes by without communication allows brand loyalty to erode.
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