How this green start-up disrupted the $2 TRILLION CPG INDUSTRY without buying ads

How does a scrappy start-up disrupt the $2 trillion consumer packaged goods industry, while spending almost nothing on paid media?

Method, an eco-friendly cleaning products, built a successful business and brand by inspiring advocacy.

"Don't sell to customers, create Advocates for your social mission," Method founders Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry state in their excellent book, "The Method Method."

In fact, inspiring advocacy is so key to Method that it's one of their seven "obsessions" or guiding principles for the company.


Method's Success Formula

Method lacked the marketing warchest to wage a paid media battle against giants like P&G and Unilever, each of which spends billions annually on ads.

As a challenger brand, Method needed a more cost-effective marketing approach to build its brand and business.

So Method focused on inspiring Advocates. 

Here's Method's method:

1. Start with a belief

What's your brand's social mission? What do you stand for? Think beyond the products you sell. Method's social mission was to get dirty out of people's homes.

2. Brand from the inside out.

Building a belief brand starts on the inside. Create the kinds of products you'd want your family members to use and hire people who embody your brand's values.

3. Aim small and over-serve.

Focus on a niche and serve this niche better than anyone else. Method focused on three archetypes --  true greenies, trend-setters, and status-seekers --  that together represent about 27% of US households. As you do this, your goal should be to make Advocates your biggest group vs. a small percentage of your customers.

4. Create a movement.

Method did more than sell a product. It created a movement, as summarized by the tagline "People Against Dirty."

Method engaged its Advocates on an ongoing basis --- soliciting their ideas, enabling them to share the Method story, inviting them to join and participate in an online community of like-minded people, and even getting Advocates to protest against a legal action against Methd by Clorox.

Shift your Mind-Set

Here's how Ryan and Lowry sum it up:

" succeed in a world of earned and social media requires to shift your mind-set from talking to customers to inspiring Advocates."

Learn More about Method

You'll find more about the Method story in my book Brand Advocates. Footnote: Method was acquired in 2012 by Belgian company ECover. Nice exit for Eric, Adam, and the Method team.