Welcome to our new website!
July 2, 2020

Episode 034 - Behind the Billboard: Michael Mathis, President of Atturo Tires

Episode 034 - Behind the Billboard: Michael Mathis, President of Atturo Tires

Today's guest is Michael Mathis, President of Atturo Tires.

Atturo Tires doesn't just exist where the rubber meets the road but has built a true brand around the off-road, motorsport and leading by example in their community - especially with Veteran causes.

Michael shares how Atturo Tires has used out of home advertising (OOH) to grow their brand, carve out a nice piece of the market as a startup and continue to do so in combination with grassroots marketing.

Atturo Tires has a great instagram that showcases their customer's vehicles and other elements of their brand and you can check it out here: 

Personally, I have the Trail Blade A/T installed on my 2018 Toyota 4Runner and LOVE them.

Let's connect on LinkedIn, it's the best way to find me:

Or drop a note at outofhomeinsider@gmail.com

Today's show is made possible through partnership with oohswag.com
Get your very own I ❤️ OOH swag and use promo code INSIDER for 10% off your order!

Support the show (http://oohswag.com)

Welcome to out of home. Insider today's guest is Michael Mathis. Michael is the president of a Turo tire, a tire company that doesn't just exist where the rubber meets the road, but there's built a brand around the off-road lifestyle Motorsports and leading by example in their community, especially.

With veteran related causes. I first heard of a Turo tires from a digital billboard on my daily commute that used great imagery of that off-road lineage lineage that positions a Turo as a proper lifestyle brand. We'll get to know Michael, uh, how we moved from commercial insurance to president of a Turo tire and how they've used out of home to truly build a brand.

Michael, thanks for being. Glad to appreciate you having us on Tim and, uh, getting a chance to kind of talk about what we do and kind of our belief in out of home. Yeah. It's always great to hear from the brand or the advertiser's perspective because oftentimes an out of home, we all operate in our own little silos, right?

Maybe I sell billboards and you know, my friend over here sells wrapped vehicles and we kind of operate in this silo, but for a brand that really you approach it completely holistically. It's going to be great to hear that perspective. As we, as we build that story and get there. Tell me about how you went from commercial insurance to, to run in a pretty cool tire company.

Yeah. It's not exactly a normal path, but, um, you know, really I grew up in the tire business. That's what my father had always worked in. And, uh, when I got out of college, I kind of wanted to try and do something different. So I spent my first 10 plus years, uh, out of college working as a commercial insurance broker.

Built up a decent business there. And, uh, slowly started getting, uh, involved in providing insurance for some different tire distributors, a few tire brands. And, uh, then that eventually led, uh, you know, to an opportunity with a tire factory was looking for a, uh, It had some excess capacity in a particular product range and asked us if we were interested in developing a private brand around it.

And so that's kind of how we, how we got into a Turo. And that was, that was back in 2009, started producing our first product then, and have been, uh, just working at growing the brand, uh, globally, ever since then. Uh, you know, we've expanded from that single product range to, um, you know, really kind of encompass the full white truck SUV crossover segment.

Now. Moving, even into a muscle car segment and, uh, you know, continuing to try and build out, expand that. So it sounds like there's been a bit of an evolution and, and just in researching, preparing for this conversation, it looks like it was really in that more aggressive off road, specific application. Is that right?

The evolution is kind of taking place from. Yeah, our very first product was a performance tire for SUV's and S street trucks. That was our very first product. And, you know, seeing how that SUV and, um, light truck pickup truck market was growing and not just in the U S but globally, that's where all the growth is.

Um, you know, we kind of embraced that and started to try and develop compelling products. For that segment, you know, again with, uh, a primary focus in our, in our product portfolio, along what we refer to as the aftermarket. So we're not an original equipment provider. Uh, we do have some, oh, we replacement type products, you know, for, uh, consumers that are looking for that.

But our main focus in the brand is developing kind of more exciting. Uh, tread designs in particularly the strength of our, of our off-road trail blade series is the sidewall designs really been kind of innovative in that with, uh, applying those, um, you know, really, really bold designs into the end of the tire.

And then of course, still trying to find some unique sizes, unique applications, different kind of stuff that we can do to, uh, You know, bring that kind of a product to different segments. For example, we're seeing a lot more of the small crossovers building into off-road type use. So, you know, those vehicles have, uh, um, typically come from the factory with a pretty mild original equipment, all seasoned type tire.

So we give them something a little bit more exciting. It's a niche thing, but, um, you know, certainly one we're happy to. They say the riches are in the niches. And that timing is kind of the, the differentiator between companies that succeed and companies that don't and your timing was kind of perfect.

Right? 2009, 2010, that light truck. Crossover segment really starts to take off. How important do you think the timing is right as we go through this interesting sort of transitional phase, how important is timing in your perspective? Well, I think it was, uh, critical for us that, um, you know, we were probably the only brand that was embracing that specific market segment.

Purely, uh, at, you know, through our first eight, nine years, um, you know, there, there were others out there that obviously almost every tire brand makes tires for that segment, but we were the only ones that were really solely focused on it as being our, our claimed niche and territory. And, um, staking that out at the beginning, it was a tough sell.

A lot of, a lot of distributors found our product range to narrow, uh, to, to command any shelf space. But eventually the market came to us as, as those vehicles outpaced the sales of your traditional sedans. Um, you know, that's, that's the market today in new cars and used cars. And of course that follows through in, in tires.

So yeah, timing was, timing was critical for us there. And, um, you know, it's, uh, I, I wish I could claim that I saw it coming, but you know, it really was kind of opportunistic and we stuck with it. Um, and you know, really kind of did carve out a name for ourselves in that. I guess it's kind of funny. I'm sure at the time, if someone had come to you and said, Hey Ford in 10 years is going to stop making cars.

We, we would have just left them out of the room. We would have never thought that to be a reality. So to think that you have that challenge initially, uh, we can't get shelf space because it's too niche to now. That's the majority of the market is it's fun to see how, when you stick with it, you saw the opportunity.

And capitalize on the opportunity. So let's talk about, you've got this great product, right? Great supply. We've got demand now in the marketplace, but there's lots of tire companies. There's lots of choices. How did you go about building a brand? So. Customers would choose you. That's a, that's a good question.

Um, and that's a challenge that we still, you know, try to address every day, you know, because, uh, we are still in the, in the great big tire world. We're still just a little bit player, you know? Um, and, and we are trying to, you know, wave our flag and make, uh, make a little bit of noise. As I like to say, we try and punch above our weight, you know?

Uh, so, um, you know, we've, we've tried to have some innovative mixes of. Of where we go. Um, we've thrown ourselves out there, you know, over the past years, obviously this season, there's not a lot of racing going on at the moment, but, you know, getting into off-road racing and, you know, throwing our hat in the ring and competing with those big names and, and coming out, winning and, uh, you know, doing a good, solid job there.

Uh, then just our, our overall mix of marketing that's, uh, consumer-facing, that's been a big effort of ours is to make our marketing mostly consumer-facing. Over what we spend on dealer directed type advertising, creating that demand, right. Creating a pull from the market. And one of the things that we talk about on this show, that is one of my favorite things about out of home.

Maybe the only medium that does allow us smaller brands to really punch above their weight and stand with the big guys. Is, is that kind of your thought process going thought process going into, out of home or is it just an evolution of the model? Um, I think it's a, it's a, it's a critical piece of our overall marketing.

You know, obviously we do. Um, I still am a believer in a lot of traditional marketing, uh, print and out of home being two of them, as opposed to obviously, you know, the new wave of digital everybody. So you have to do digital. Um, and, and here's, here's the big difference for me in out of home. People are the only ones who see those ads.

Right. So, I mean, nobody trying to attract click bots, um, you know, and so I want to sell the people and that's who looks at print advertising. That's who looks at out of home advertising and, you know, it's a, uh, It's the most compelling reason to be in those mediums. And in particularly for out of home, you know, in, in the, in the traditional print media guides and they seem to be moving away from this, you know, they would say, okay, we, we print this many issues and then we claim that X number of people will look at each issue.

I can tell you from my perspective, my copies of magazines, don't get passed around to five people. I'm always skeptical of those numbers. Um, Uh, I'm not even going to get into the fraud. That's out there in digital. We do it, but we try to be selective in it so that we try to avoid that stuff. But out of home, that's the big, broad breach.

And in the last two years, we kind of felt like we'd, um, we'd done our part in the print and the digital that we do have targeting kind of that, that enthusiasm. For those aftermarket type products that I was describing, that was our core. And then we wanted to take the next step of doing broader brand building.

And that's where it really, you know, adding the in particularly billboards, you know, came into our out of home, uh, initiative, you know, went along with that, something that we've always done where, you know, again, the example of, uh, off-road racing was a, a bit more challenging because you know, you don't just have to show up there, but you actually have to have good tire.

So. We, we thought we had a good tire and we went out and we proved it. But, you know, along with those kinds of events, we've always done, um, you know, a pretty healthy calendar of consumer events, you know, again, we're going out and seeing people, you know, and, and that's, uh, you know, this, this weekend, we're down at a, you know, one of the, one of the few shows that still happening, you know, writers show right down thing.

Right. You know, is the scraping the coast. Yeah. So nor under a normal year, we would be doing, um, you know, almost every weekend of, from spring through fall, we'd be out at an event somewhere in the country. Jeep shows, truck shows, um, you know, all kinds of different custom vehicle shows, uh, and getting out there, you know, with our, with our mobile display and, and going out and engaging with people.

So, you know, those components of, out of home, you know, I think are critical. Uh, In a consumer way, doing essentially that amounts to kind of grassroots. You know, marketing, um, and then in the, in the broader, you know, bigger brand building a brand awareness kind of level with our, with our billboard campaigns, you know, that's, that's really been, I think, a critical thing for us of getting out there and, uh, You know yeah.

The other good thing about both of those there, that they're very, uh, geographic, uh, targeted. So we know that we went and we had a presence in this particular area through a combination of these other efforts. And, you know, we can then see the carry on effect of the success that our distributors and the dealers have in those markets as a result of those efforts.

So it's a. You know, it's, it's something that we can really, uh, monitor and see results from. Right. And it's, I really appreciate talking about the boots on the ground stuff, because it's, it's all of the sexy, digital marketing buzzwords, right? It's geographically targeted. It's the right target audience and we're creating engagement except we're actually doing it in the real world with people who.

We, we can show a tire too. We can, we can have an impressive wrapped vehicle behind it and create that big brand feel that you can't do with a Facebook ad. You just can't, you can't accomplish that. Do you think that that's an opportunity as we kind of move into this recession phase? If you will, do you think that that's an opportunity for smaller players to go out and really grab market share is more of that grassroots?

Type of approach. Uh, I certainly think it is, you know, and, and we look at. You know, early on, we would look at, uh, uh, in, particularly in, uh, uh, commercial, uh, more of a B2B kind of an event we would always pay attention to, well, are the big brands there, you know, Michelin, Goodyear, Bridgestone, or those guys showing up.

Cause we will show up because they're going to bring in the B2B buyers on the other hand, on consumer events, um, we like to show up where they are. Because it is that opportunity for a little guy to show up and say, you know what? I don't need to have an event with a hundred thousand people. It's worth it for me to come out and see 20, 30, 50, you know, um, and even smaller.

We've certainly done smaller events too. Uh, you know, when they, when they fit in for us. Um, and it absolutely is an opportunity to get out there and do exactly what you said of engaging with those people on a one-to-one basis. Um, you know, Um, there's also a power in, in those kinds of things, where from a consumer mindset, when I see a digital ad, I'm the only one that I know saw it.

You probably didn't get served that ad because your, your mix of profile that they used to target me is different than yours. Right? Sure. So you may not have ever seen that ad. So, but you know that everybody in your area is getting served that before. Right. So if you show up and say, oh, I've got a Turo tires, there's chances are that your neighbors and friends they've heard of it too.

And that, that helps to reinforce that consumer's purchase decision when they know that a broader community saw that same thing. So, you know, I think that's something that, um, you know, helps him and we see it at the consumer shows when people are, um, Showing up and coming to us. So I've got your tires on my truck.

It's over here and, you know, they'll want to come and move in parking art, you know, next to our booth or something. Uh, so, you know, it builds that enthusiasm for them. It helps them feel good about their purchase. They know that we're out there with them, you know, doing part of that, uh, that lifestyle. We enjoy those kinds of shows and those events.

Um, we like seeing our stuff out there in the, in the wild, so to speak and, uh, you know, it, it has a reinforcing, uh, Benefit that you don't get from some of these other mediums. I think that's a really powerful takeaway. How do you, how do you measure success around your marketing in a world where we're tied to the, you know, to a click or to a particular digital, uh, you know, Google analytic metric, how do you measure success of the things that you're spending on?

That's always a tough thing, you know? I mean, it's the old, it's the old adage that you're wasting half of your marketing money. You just don't know which half. Right. So, um, you know, we, we obviously do all the, all the kind of reporting we can, you know, as far as looking at, uh, for example, where do we run billboards?

And then to the extent we can. Are we shipping tires into those areas. So we can look at that and we can see, you know, whether there's an impact or if there's, you know, the, the tough thing on marketing is not everybody needs a tire today. Sure. And we're not advertising sandwiches where you're going to eat lunch or dinner every day, you know?

Um, so there, there could be a lag. So we try to look for that account for it a little bit, but, um, From, uh, from, uh, anecdotal, but still what I consider to be a powerful thing. Every time we come back from a show, our marketing guys talk about how many people came up to us and said, I've never heard of the term.

Tell me about it. So that tells us two things. Number one, if we get a whole bunch of people who came up and didn't know us, we absolutely needed to be at that event. Makes sense on the flip side, if we got a lot of people who come up and, uh, oh, thanks for coming back this year. They remembered us. They may not have our tires, but they remembered us.

They showed up and got another free shirt or whatever we were given away that day. Um, so you know, those two things, even though they're anecdotal or they're not big data, they're important because they tell us that people saw it or, you know, Um, you know, you told me you saw the billboard, you know, when my sister lives in St.

Louis says, Hey, I saw your billboard or, you know, uh, somebody from Michigan, oh, I saw your billboard. You know, again, those are reinforcements where we know that I have humans, not, you know, digital fantasies are seeing our ads and that's, that's really, uh, really a critical measurement for us. Because naturally, it's going to follow on that.

If, if we do a good job in the rest of our, our distribution and marketing, where a dealer is now going to have the competence themselves and offer that a turtle product to the consumer, the consumer has heard that name before they've, they've seen it somewhere and it's going to ring with them that, you know, okay, this is something I'm comfortable.

Now in a spectrum where we're not in the market as an entry-level product, we're not going to be the cheapest offer. Um, you know, and that's how we're trying to position ourselves. We build a, you know, a better than, than, than average tire. And, you know, we want to try and earn that price point as well, so that all plays into it.

And I think it's so important, like for myself, right? I've had, you know, a couple of Jeep Wranglers over the years, big jacked up tires and all that stuff. And as soon as I saw the creative with the Jeep and it's, you know, do a little bit of flex it up on the rock, I was like, I don't know who they are, but that resonated with me like creative was on point.

And it's now, I don't know, probably six months later. And I don't know how long that campaign actually ran for the market, but it stuck with me that much. I was like, okay, now I'm due for tires. Let me, let me find a Turo and see if they make myself. And I got to just compliment you. And I don't know, uh, what, what this takes to get done, but it was the easiest tire purchase of my life.

I went on your website. I found the tire size I had, I went to Amazon. I typed in Arturo tire 2 65, 70 17. Here it is. Schedule your installation pay it. It was awesome. So kudos to you. Well, I'm glad it worked out for you. Um, you know, and, uh, I know you'd mentioned before we started that. You're, uh, getting the truck back soon with the tires on there.

So, uh, yeah. You know, um, being able to obviously be able to, uh, fulfill those orders is a critical thing. And that's one of the other things that out of home really allows us to do is we can do. Real geographic targeting around not where the consumer is located, but around where we know we have good dealer, uh, resources.

So we need to know that we've got a distributor, that's got our tires in stock in a particular Metro area. We need to know that we've got, uh, retail installers that are in that area. And then we can follow on and, and support them with these kinds of, out of home things, whether that's going to events that are in those areas or doing the, you know, targeted billboard type advertising, uh, in those markets for the business development people.

And I'm just I'll issue the official out-of-home insider warning. Don't start blowing up Michael or his people. We're going to ask him a question here. For the business development account, executive types, what's the best way to like get in touch with a marketing team of a company, your size, like what I do, you guys use an agency?

Do you do most stuff in house? If you could give them one or two pointers, um, as they look to rebuild the rest of their 2020. What's the key to getting in front of a business like yours and your size? Well, I guess for us, um, you know, because we're not a mega advertising spender, you know, we go into the year with, uh, with a plan with a budget, you know, and we have an idea of what our placements are going to be, but we've always got a little bit of a reserve for kind of the new thing, you know, or the opportunity that.

So, um, we do a mix, uh, we have our own in-house marketing team, but then we do also use an outside agency. That's responsible for both creative, as well as placements. They bring placements to us, we bring some to them and then we figure out which ones make sense for us to be in. So it's a little bit of both, you know, um, as far as, uh, for, for an ad rep kind of a person, they could start at either point, you know, um, they could start at the agency level or they could start with us, but it's going to have to pass through.

Makes sense. That's really helpful. Don't try to circumvent one, I think. And you're going to pull a fast one and just get the deal. Exactly. Um, you know, and we, and we try and stick to that, you know, because we that's, the reason we pay them is because we value their input. Um, you know, Helping to balance the mix of things that we do and all that kind of stuff is, is important to, you know, we can get excited about a single thing of, you know, Hey, I can be on the billboard, outside some great venue, but does that really fit in?

Do we have a dealer near there? That's something that we always have. Um, you know, how's that fit in with the overall brand image and message that we're trying to convey and those kinds of things, and believe me today, you even need to be more careful about different considerations, you know, in those things in, you know, in today's social environment.

So, um, you know, I guess I would say that, uh, you know, obviously we get pelted. With offers for all kinds of different things. You know, just as we're sitting here, I've got, you know, an email popping up about, you know, TV commercials on CNN. Well, um, typically those big broad networks, that's not something that's going to resonate with us, you know?

So, um, It's easy to send out the generic mass emails, but the stuff that catches our attention is, uh, stuff that's a lot more specific to us and being able to meet those kinds of needs around what, um, still a niche and small brand in the entire world, you know, is going after. So, you know, um, hitting us with, with placements that are, you know, six figures to even talk.

That's usually not going to get in the door if we grow to that because of success. That's great. But, um, you know, it's gotta be, it's gotta be a, an offer that's compelling for our product. Um, you know, in order and honestly, something that's a little bit different, you know, uh, the majority of the billboards, for example, that we've done have been.

Um, and a lot of that is because of cost-effectiveness, you know, we've done a handful of the traditional billboards, you know, that are gonna stay up for a month long placement. Uh, but those really have to be strategically placed, you know, to have some value for us. So. You know, again, it's, um, it's people coming up with those kinds of compelling offers, uh, even to take something that's a traditional medium, like a billboard, but show us how either your location or your digital version of it.

Uh, you know, some other twist on it, it's really gonna gonna make it work for. It's really  and I'll have to go back and maybe mash the two clips up because I had a great conversation, uh, on a recent episode with the CEO of a well known out of home company that, uh, is specifically involves Lightbox out of home, shout them out.

Um, but he talks about, I would rather make 10 to 12 really effective. Calls a day than just running through the numbers. So doing the research and understanding what's important to Michael, what's important to a Turo looking at right. There's so much digital proof out there that exists. You can do the research and see what have they historically done, what what's the look and feel of their brand and what really makes sense as an entry point.

So I think that's helpful feedback for the business development folks tuning in. Thank you. Thank you for. Yeah, for sure. Michael, where can people find out more about a Touro, the events that, uh, that you guys are going to be at? You've got a great Instagram. Where's the places that we can find you. Yeah, of course our, uh, you know, our social media outlets for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you know, we keep those updated, uh, daily.

Um, but then of course, just our website, arturo.com, you can find product info. Uh, where to buy, uh, in our newsfeed is where we keep information about all the events that we're attending. So, uh, even those, those have been limited under, uh, you know, the, uh, COVID situation. We are starting to get back out there again, uh, toward the end of the summer here.

So, uh, we're looking forward to getting out and engaging more along those lines, but yeah, those are, those are our main, uh, main touch points for people. Cool. And we'll make sure to link to all that stuff, wherever you're listening. It's in the show notes, or if it's on YouTube, check the description below.

Michael before I let you go. We added a new segment is called questions from Carlos Carlos Devola, he's the marketing manager for InMotion media. And he said, Tim, can you ask all of your guests these three questions? So if you're game, uh, they're, they're a little bit outside the context of this, but we'll have a little fun.

If you weren't president of a Turo tires and you could do anything that you wanted to do, what would you be doing? Um, you know, uh, I love what I do. I I'd probably have another tire company. That's a great answer. I dunno. It's like the old godfather wine, just when you think you're out, they pull you back in.

So, you know, the is in the blood and I think I'd, uh, I'd be around the industry somewhere. I love cars. I love trucks. Um, you know, I like, I like that kind of lifestyle and, uh, I like our product. It's fun. Um, and so long as it is this, this is what I'm going to do. Yeah. Now it's a fun product. It's a fun brand.

I can totally understand that. What are you most excited about right now? Uh, you know, I think I'm excited about, you know, this move that we're making into address in the muscle car segment. Um, we kind of fell into it a little bit, inadvertently, uh, with consumers using, uh, our high performance tire on their muscle cars.

And, you know, uh, we, uh, kinda got led into it by them. Um, we didn't see it coming, but it's, it looks like it's working in that. There's an opportunity there and it's, uh, it's a different twist on, you know, Taking what had been this light truck SUV brand, but the crossover between those two things, you know, the number of Mustang owners who have an F150 or the number of Mopar guys, who've got a Ram in the garage, um, is incredible.

So I think that's what really excites me. And it's another fun segment to get into. Of people who love their vehicles and want to do cool stuff with them. So, you know, that's, that's always great when you can, when you can deal with people who are enthusiastic, because that, that comes, that comes from us.

But it also helps, you know, build us up that we get excited about people who are excited about their vehicles and their, and their stuff. Sure. And then w w you could have an eternal household and that's the introduction. I, I really mean that about the lifestyle brand. I. Just bought coffee, a t-shirt and a mug from black rifle coffee.

I'm like, it's just coffee, but it's, it's a brand, right? It's a brand that resonates with, Hey, I love their big coffee. Yeah. Right. So, and I love that you guys are going out and your, your battle tests and your stuff everyday. You're not just, you know, Hey, we make a product and we hide behind this logo. Like now we make a product and if it doesn't work, we're about to find it.

So respect to that. Are you a, are you a reader or a podcast guy? Any, any places that you go for sources of inspiration or self-development. Entertainment general. Uh, no offense. I'm only a mild podcaster, uh, catch those, uh, infrequently, but I, uh, I love the medium, you know, it's something actually that we've, uh, that we've started to investigate about what advertising opportunities are in podcasting.

So, you know, it's something that we're paying attention to. Um, but yeah, I mean, I enjoy reading, obviously, a lot of industry publications, um, and I, I try and watch. Areas outside of our natural segment, just to see what's going on there. Um, so take, for example, uh, the electric vehicle market, everybody always thinks at least years ago, everybody thought about the Prius.

Sure. Then people would think about Tesla. Well, look at where the market's coming around to. You know, the Ford Maki is an SUV. Uh, you've got ribbon, uh, Niccola are coming out with pickup trucks. Tesla's got something that's supposed to be a pickup truck. Uh, you know, there's, that's what the market's coming over here.

So, you know, we're going to have to pay attention to the market now. Um, so you know, that's another exciting opportunity for us. That's the kind of stuff I try and look at is, uh, you know, obviously you got to pay attention to the day to day, so you can keep the lights on, but looking down the road, how are you going to, how are you going to stay relevant as the, as the market changes?

I think that's a great takeaway in a, in a great closing. So, Michael, thanks again for being here spent a lot of. I appreciate you having me and thanks. Most of all for being a customer. Absolutely. I'm excited to be one. And if this has been helpful, I encourage you to share it as always click the subscribe button.