By Maria Verven
From its humble beginnings in 2009 to today, ProVape and its ProVari line of products have come a long way, baby. Manufactured in the U.S. and sold in over 68 countries, ProVari has grown into a top-rated personal vaporizer thanks to its dependability, durability, safety and performance – not to mention thousands of raving fans.
“ProVari has a huge fan base,” said Phil Busardo, a popular reviewer. “If you were to post something negative, fans sense something negative and will come and vigorously defend it.”
In other words, ProVari is blowing away the competition.
David Flagg, ProVape CEO and a full-time vaper who hasn’t had a cigarette since he switched to vaping in 2009, said he and his business partner Phillip Schuessler weren’t happy with most Chinese devices due to their poor performance, lack of quality control and safety.
“When we first got into the market, we saw a lot of poorly designed products,” Flagg said. “So we set out to improve on those designs. We didn’t just want to make a premium device; we also wanted to keep manufacturing here in the U.S. to support American workers.”
Flagg said everything – from engineering designs to circuit boards to the metal work on all ProVari products – is made in Monroe, Wash., a small town about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Since the release of the ProVari 1 in 2010, ProV ape has released several different models, including the ProVari 2, 2.5 and 3, the ProVari Classic and the ergonomically designed ProVari Radius, launched last October.
Starting with only four staffers in a 6,000 square foot facility, ProVape has grown to over 40 employees working out of a 24,000 square foot facility. “It’s nice having all the extra space,” Flagg said. “Having departments instead of everyone crammed into a small area really helps us be more organized.”
From Word of Mouth to Top Google Ranking
In the early days, there was very little marketing to speak of; word of mouth from customers was their only advertising. Even so, thanks to great reviews, sales were going well.
In 2013, they hired Eventige, a full-service marketing agency, to update the website. “Our focus had to be on building and testing products and shipping orders,” Flagg said. “We looked around at several agencies, but connected with the Eventige team and their vision.”
Eventige lists dozens of clients, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Ford Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott, Microsoft, Skype, Uber and The Wall Street Journal. Their client list also includes Logic and Ecig Caddy. Alexei Alankin, CEO and founder, is a vaper and passionate about the industry. Eventige was a key sponsor at SFATA’s annual meeting last year.
Alankin and the Eventige team came up with several suggestions and marketing ideas, eventually honing their strategy and focusing on new product launches. They started by creating a unique look and feel for every ProVape product page on the website. As the relationship with ProVape grew, so did their engagement until eventually Eventige assumed responsibility for all of ProVape’s social media, website and marketing.
Eventige created and implemented a global brand strategy that aligned all brand marketing activities into a cohesive and milestone driven roadmap. The goal was to increase brand awareness and global sales to smokers as well as current vapers.
“We first focused on developing an online marketing strategy,
…continued from above
and then created the materials needed to reach the mass market,” Alankin said. “Our experience in e-commerce and online positioning helped us navigate this difficult terrain and find unique ways to propel the ProVape message forward.”
Alankin said they boosted online sales by focusing on inbound lead strategies that elevated ProVape’s organic ranking in Google searches. After implementing both on- and off-page proven SEO (search engine optimization) strategies, they then improved the website load speeds and user interface design and optimized the website conversion rate, turning more visitors into buyers and eventually fans.
Thanks to these efforts, ProVape increased its search traffic by a whopping 1,600 percent. ProVape.com continues to hold the number one position on Google and other search engines for several important keyword searches used by people seeking high quality vaping devices. This is a critical strategy, since any business selling vape products cannot use Google AdWords or paid acquisition strategies to generate website traffic.
Quadrupling the Fan Base
Eventige also developed loyalty programs, online contests and social media aggregate platforms to strengthen public opinion, increase sharing and optimize opportunities for the ProVari brand to build a following in the vape community.
On the #VapeProVari fan board, they delivered a daily influx of user-generated content that continues to drive engagement and attraction. This helped quadruple the number of social media fans in a very short period of time. For example, in one campaign, they sent ‘Zombies’ roaming the virtual streets via digital media to promote the Zombie version of the ProVari. This unique design of the classic unit features a coating that looks like blood spatter, and the design was a hit with fans all around the world.
When ProVape got ready to roll out its new ProVari 3, Eventige created custom packaging that emulated the brand’s sleek, elegant, modern look. They also created a campaign to promote the lighter, titanium version of the P3, which weighs 2.1 oz. vs. the 3.8 oz. stainless steel version. Advertisements promoting the Titanium P3’s unique selling features show the ProVari 3 balancing on a fulcrum with a feather.
Retail distribution hit over 900 dealers worldwide with USB keys and loyalty cards included in their point of display promotional packages. Articles have also appeared in major print media such as Reuters, Forbes, and the Daily Caller as well as vape publications VAPE News and Vapor Voice.
Today, ProVape continues to experience aggressive growth rates; even celebrities like Katherine Heigl are using a ProVari device. The partnership between ProVape and Eventige is also as strong as ever.
“Four years ago when I started vaping, I was looking for that perfect product,” Alankin said. “Ever since I met David (Flagg), the ProVari was it for me. Over the years, I upgraded whenever a new model came out. I’ve also helped many friends and family make the switch.”
Meanwhile, Alankin is always experimenting with ways to drive new customers to the ProVari brand. “It’s very much a rotating platter when it comes to what to try next,” he said. “We’re always trying to see what gets the most attention.”
The original “Vaping VampTM,” Maria Verven is a 35-year P.R. veteran and owner of Verve P.R, a marketing firm focused on the vape industry.
– Maria Verven