"Social media helps us take on larger competitors at a fraction of the cost."

-Joe Middleton

PlayerLayer competes in the big leagues using Salesforce

PlayerLayer, a luxury sports brand based in Nottingham, England, sells technical sports clothing and baselayers to elite athletes and sportsmen. A modern spin on the old-time tailor shops offering made-to-measure men’s suits, PlayerLayer makes custom-branded clothing for consumers, schools, sports teams, and universities in the U.K. As a start-up competing with giant athletic apparel companies, the company uses social media to level the playing field. According to CEO Joe Middleton, “When you’re social, you don’t need a $100 million advertising budget. You just need good ideas.”

The young company initially began using Salesforce when it needed a CRM system to manage account information, forecasting, and reporting without draining the company’s cash reserves. Previously PlayerLayer was using multiple Excel files to manage data and did not have a holistic view of the business.

Sales Cloud helped PlayerLayer determine the best schools and teams to target, and tracked leads ranging from cricket teams to independent schools. Easy forecasting and reporting helps the company maximise every opportunity. Geographically dispersed employees work together and collaborate via Salesforce Chatter. “Chatter is a game changer. It helps sales reps in different parts of the country connect for fantastic efficiency,” says Middleton.

As the company’s product line expanded to 500+ items with hundreds of fabric and color options—plus custom options available via the Web—PlayerLayer created social customer profiles to help it know consumers better. “We don’t just see email address and contact information,” explains Middleton. “We understand what customers like, what they talk about with their friends, what their friends like, their influences, and how their tastes are changing. All of this helps inform our marketing and sales strategies.”

Changing the rules of the game

In the early days of the company, PlayerLayer recruited a team of well-known athletes to evangelise the brand. They provide feedback, wear PlayerLayer products and talk about them on social media, stimulating conversation and helping to grow the brand.

The company actively connects with consumers on Twitter and Facebook, engaging in conversations about popular sports teams and events, as well as promoting its apparel. Not only is social media a key marketing vehicle for the company, but it’s also a key input for product direction. “Social media lets us hear from consumers,” says Middleton. “Their feedback helps us build the products they want today as well as what they want in the future.”

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