Of course, "going after" bloggers can backfire because they can smell a desperate pitch a mile away. But have no fear: If you have the next hot product, they'll find you. That's what happened at Freebord, a skateboard company founded in 2001 that still has just five employees. In November, 36-year-old CEO Bayard Winthrop got an e-mail from a designer in New York asking about Freebord's unique six-wheel rides. Winthrop e-mailed back a patient explanation.
The designer turned out to be Josh Rubin, owner of Coolhunting.com, which gets more than 125,000 unique visitors a month and has a readership that is 73 percent male and 81 percent age 35 or under. After Rubin's post about Freebord, traffic on the company's site exploded, increasing fivefold almost immediately. Sales jumped too, but it was the surge in awareness that really amazed Winthrop. "We weren't very well known, and suddenly everyone was checking us out," he says. "We heard from skaters and from investors who wanted in on the company." Overseas blogs then started writing about Freebord, resulting in two European distribution deals. Freebord still does no advertising and spends its entire $1,800 marketing budget on stickers, but Winthrop says revenue will double this year to $1.5 million.
Cover Story by Michael Copeland and Andrew Tilin