How Solo Stove Made Starting a Fire Accessible to All

close up photo of fire pit
Published on
Apr 5, 2023
Written by
Kayla Ellman
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The brand’s mantra “Create Good” fuels how they educate and inspire their community of loyal customers.

There’s something mesmerizing about sitting around a fire with your family and friends. No matter what you’re doing—sipping coffee, roasting marshmallows, or just talking and enjoying the warmth on a summer night—you’re making memories with the people you care about.

Moments like these are at the heart of Solo Stove. The brand is driven by the mantra “Create Good,” to bring people together and help them reconnect with what matters most.

It all started in 2011 when brothers Jeff and Spencer Jan launched the Lite, a small but mighty portable camp stove for hikers, backpackers, and campers to take on their adventures. But their customers wanted more. Over the next few years, the brothers turned to Kickstarter for more funding to grow their product line, introducing their first backyard fire pit, the Bonfire, in 2016. 

Since then, Solo Stove has gone public and expanded into cooktops, pizza ovens, and a range of other accessories—each new product release inspired by feedback from their community.

We recently had a chance to sit down with Solo Stove’s team at their headquarters in Dallas. Watch their story below, and read on to learn how they think about the relationship with their customers, from helping them light their first fire to making sure they keep coming back for more.

Helping customers find their spark

Solo Stove’s products are designed to be simple to use, so anyone can enjoy the experience of gathering around a bonfire or making pizza in the backyard. But the brand understands that there's a learning curve for their customers who aren’t familiar with how to light a camp stove, fire pit, or pizza oven.

After someone makes their first purchase, Solo Stove engages them with relevant how-to content, like how to build a fire in one minute, using wood vs. pellets, and basic care and maintenance tips. “We want to make it approachable for anyone,” says Rachel Laubacher, Senior Manager, Retention Marketing at Solo Stove. “We don’t want it to be an intimidating process. We want everyone to feel empowered.”

Part of instilling confidence in their customers is taking an open-minded approach to product education and creating helpful content through the lens of, “How would I want my friend to coach me through this?” It’s reliable advice that says, “This is what has worked well for us,” and not, “You have to do it this way.” 

The team learns from the tricks their customers have figured out on their own. When one of their brand ambassadors found a different method for lighting their fire pit and filmed a how-to video, the brand pushed it out to their email and SMS subscribers to share the knowledge.

User-generated content like this helps Solo Stove foster a loyal community, where people can learn from each other and connect over a shared passion for creating good moments. “Our customers do a great job of speaking to the brand for us, and we want to give them platforms to do that,” explains Laubacher. In the brand’s community Facebook group, for example, people share photos and videos of their favorite moments around the fire, tips or tricks they’ve discovered, and more.

Their customers talk about how much they love their Solo Stoves in real life, too. Loyalty perks have been a huge way for the brand to encourage and reward referrals. “If you're telling your friends and family about Solo Stove, and they're making a purchase because of you, we want you to know that's valuable for us as a brand,” says Laubacher.

Sharing the lifetime value of Solo Stove 

When you buy a Solo Stove, you’re not just buying a fire pit. You’re investing in a lifetime full of memories. Leading with that core value—and helping people visualize how the product fits into their lives—is the cornerstone of every marketing campaign for the brand. “Not everyone uses our products in the same way,” explains Laubacher. “We want to make sure everything we’re doing feels personalized to the individual.” 

That mindset extends to Solo Stove’s design philosophy of showing people with products, creating memorable moments in different settings—on a hike, at a cozy campsite, hanging out in the backyard. Representing varied backgrounds and atmospheres “opens peoples' minds up to the infinite possibilities of what can be done with our products,” adds Kierstyn Sherman, Graphic Designer at Solo Stove.

When the brand introduced Mesa, their tabletop fire pit, they knew imagery would be a selling point because it was unlike any other Solo Stove product. It has a much smaller footprint than their larger fire pits, only takes 30-45 minutes to burn, and comes in a variety of colors. As a designer, Sherman was excited to highlight Mesa as an interactive centerpiece that reflects the personal style or aesthetic of someone’s space.

SMS product launch example from Solo Stove

Solo Stove led with that visual in their SMS launch campaign, using the pop of color—and the uniqueness of the product—to capture subscribers’ attention. “As soon as someone sees it, they know it's different than anything else we've offered before,” says Laubacher, adding that the strategy helped the brand drive more sales on launch day.

Mesa was something their community had asked for through feedback, which also contributed to the success of the launch. They wanted to be able to enjoy the experience of lighting a fire, even when they’re short on time or don’t have the space for a larger fire pit, and Solo Stove delivered.

Strengthening the customer experience with SMS

Striking the right balance between promotions and education, and deciding when to share different content on different channels, is an art and a science. But when their customers need to see a certain message to have the best possible experience, Solo Stove turns to SMS.

For a one-day flash sale, they’ll send an email in the morning, then use SMS as a last call to drive more purchases toward the end of the day. “You see an immediate spike in traffic when you're sending a text message that’s encouraging an action or behavior,” says Laubacher. “We’ve been using SMS for a few years now, and that aspect hasn't lost its impact.”

The team uses the "exclusive" side of the channel to increase the lifetime value of their existing customers (and offset acquisition costs). They build early access lists ahead of new product launches, rewarding people for their loyalty with the chance to “be the first to know” or get a discount code to shop before anyone else.

SMS early access list example from Solo Stove

For the brand, the immediacy of text messaging is also key for getting their how-to content into the hands of their customers post-purchase. “SMS is a huge part of how we stay in contact with people and educate them about all the ways they can use our products,” explains Hannah McKay, Email and SMS Coordinator at Solo Stove.

After a subscriber makes a purchase, Solo Stove sends them down a post-purchase path based on the specific product they bought. “It’s all about making that education accessible,” adds Laubacher. “We know customers are using their phones frequently, and this content is right at their fingertips." 

post-purchase text message examples from Solo Stove

With the addition of Attentive Concierge™, Solo Stove’s SMS channel is also an extension of their community support team. They have more people available to proactively help their customers by having back and forth conversations over text. “Attentive Concierge makes people feel like they can reach out and ask questions,” says McKay. “It’s been really helpful in engaging customers and being able to turn a question that might have gotten lost otherwise into a sale.”

Attentive Concierge conversation examples from Solo Stove

These one-on-one interactions are a great way for the brand to add a personal touch to the whole shopping experience. But they also reveal potential points of friction on the path to purchase. If someone has a specific question or concern, Solo Stove can take that information and act on it—both in real time and in the long-term by adjusting their strategy.

At the end of the day, their goal is to make things easy and enjoyable for their customers, whether that’s ‌building a community for them to be a part of or helping them get the most out of their Solo Stove, so they can reconnect with what matters most. “Our driving force is creating good and always being in touch with the customer,” shares Laubacher. “As a brand, we always want to remember where we came from as we continue to grow.”

We just released our 2023 Global State of Conversational Commerce‌ report. Learn how 8,000 consumers view loyalty and what keeps them coming back.

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