Combining his knowledge of creating global branding campaigns in the athletic industry with a personal passion for sports and the outdoors, Steve Lesnard has flourished in his many roles at The North Face. Recently, he made waves by appearing on the “Love This Podcast” show and heading up a social justice campaign.
Steve Lesnard Shares Marketing Secrets
Hosted by Beth O’Brien and Joe Carter, “Love This Podcast” is an engaging biweekly marketing and advertising show. On each episode, the hosts interview some of the world’s best marketing and creative leaders on a variety of interesting topics, such as business, culture, creativity, marketing trends, innovation, and more.
Near the end of September 2020, Steve Lesnard was featured as a guest on the podcast. The North Face CMO was invited to speak about his current role and give some valuable insights. Aside from general advice, he shared some marketing secrets. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
- Always consider the consumer experience.
Steve Lesnard is the CMO and head of product creation at The North Face, a rare position that straddles two different departments. However, as he explained in the interview, the two roles must work in sync to create a positive end-to-end customer experience. With that in mind, he is in the most fortuitous position that gives him a chance to lead the brand to success. His advice to all marketers is to work closely with the product creation team from start to finish. Only in doing so can you ensure that you deliver the goods.
“The rule of a marketer is to think about the consumer journey end to end [and] to think about the consumer experience. Whether you’re in a position like mine to work with the two teams together or as a marketer, having to create bridges with the creation team, I think there’s incredible power in thinking at the conceptual stage,” Lesnard explained on the recent episode. “There’s a lot of natural synergy between these two departments, but they don’t often talk to each other at the right time.”
- Become a source of information.
Avoiding the hard sell is a tough feat for most businesses. However, during the “Love This Podcast” episode, Steve Lesnard explained the value of becoming a source of information for customers. Rather than continuously trying to sell to your audience, you can earn their trust by sharing knowledge and expertise that goes beyond your products and services.
“It’s important to understand some of the questions that a consumer has. I believe that if you’re not trying to answer a consumer question, they’ll know,” said Lesnard. “They will know that you’re trying to sell them something. For instance, some of the biggest search terms are literally about tutorials. We believe that earning trust is about delivering on their expectation, whether we have the products they need or not. Being a trusted source of information goes beyond the transactional.”
- Deliver on your promises.
While we’re on the subject of earning your customers’ trust, making sure that you deliver on company promises is a top priority. In his role at The North Face, Steve Lesnard has embraced the brand’s ongoing missions and looks toward the long-term fulfillment of each of them. With a strong emphasis on community and empowering people to do more, the brand has become synonymous with honesty, trust, and inclusivity.
“We have a mission to make the outdoors more inclusive and accessible. We believe that not only do we have to solve problems and create the best products for consumers, but we [also] think it’s really important to engage with our community. I think it’s really exciting to bring people to these new experiences,” explained Lesnard.
- Prove the value of your products.
Needless to say, competitive pricing plays a role in marketing any product. However, when you’re selling high-end and long-lasting products, they demand a higher price point. The cost of manufacturing such products is high. For example, The North Face offers gear that is specifically designed to last decades. As Lesnard explained on the podcast, this provides an opportunity to prove the innate value of the products to your customer base.
“The North Face initially built equipment and gear to enable athletes to go further and farther. Their belief at the time was that, to have the most minimal impact on the environment, you had to make gear that would last a lifetime. So, at the beginning of The North Face, we had a lifetime guarantee on all of our products. We want our products to stand the test of time. Earning that trust puts quality first for us and making sure that our consumers will see the value,” said Lesnard.
The North Face and the #StopHateforProfit Campaign
During his time at The North Face, Steve Lesnard has taken active steps toward positive change in the world of marketing. As such, The North Face is one of the key brands at the helm of the #StopHateforProfit campaign. The outdoor retailer is not buying any advertising or posting content to Facebook or Facebook-owned channels in the U.S.
The move came as a response to six civil rights groups in the U.S. asking advertisers to stop buying advertisements on the platform. The Facebook boycott aims to force the business to prevent hate speech and misinformation on its platform. Back in June 2020, The North Face announced that it would become the first well-known brand to join the campaign. There are now more than 1,000 advertisers committed to ceasing their ongoing advertising.
“Facebook is the second-largest media partner in our space,” Lesnard recently told Digiday. “It’s a significant media partner of ours. Being off the platform speaks to our commitment to see progress.”
Last year alone, around 98 percent of the social media giant’s $70 billion revenue came from ads. Taking this huge stand against the platform shows Lesnard’s commitment to fighting for social justice. It doesn’t end there; he has also said that the company will be reviewing all media owners from which the brand regularly buys advertisements.
“It’s an issue we’re taking a close look at,” Lesnard told Digiday. “Right now, the aim is to focus our efforts on Facebook because it’s the biggest media platform and so will raise awareness. Hopefully, that will change any inaction from other platforms. The catalyst is the current conversation around Facebook that was started by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People supported by us.”
The overarching goal of the #StopHateForProfit campaign is to push Facebook to stop the spread of hate speech. As a response to the boycott, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with campaigners in July. However, after the meeting, group officials said that “he made clear he had no intention of taking any steps to tackle our requests.” The campaigners have since released 10 recommended next steps for the platform.
“We want to see immediate changes from Facebook, but we also want to see real commitment. The stakes are too high, as the communities are too big on Facebook, so we need to drive for immediate change on the platform,” Lesnard told Digiday in June.
About Steve Lesnard
Steve Lesnard is currently the CMO and head of product creation at The North Face. His career began more than two decades ago in 1997, when he became the global sports marketing and footwear project manager at another athletic brand. In the role, he signed and serviced the American and Canadian snowboard teams for the 1998 Winter Olympics.
After that, he served as the brand’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa brand director for women & cross, a role that would see him redefine women’s retail sports experience. By partnering with influencers, such as Madonna’s choreographer – Jamie King – and Rihanna, Lesnard pushed the brand toward engaging women in sports. Aside from that, he was also responsible for opening the brand’s first women’s-only retail stores.
As part of his current roles at The North Face, Steve Lesnard has headed up a remarkable campaign to launch the innovative technology FUTURELIGHT. The company appointed Lesnard at a prime time, ahead of this huge launch. The game-changing technology is sure to boost the brand’s presence, especially with his creative mind taking the lead.