An Interview With John Roman - Chief Marketing Officer at BattlBox!

It’s time for the second installment of our interview series! 

This time, we are speaking with John Roman, Chief Marketing Officer at BattlBox.

battlbox primary logo

We’re honored to have had the opportunity to interview an executive at such a well-known brand. If at all possible, please share the information about their “JustOne Project” as described below. It’s for a great cause!

Ok… let’s jump right into it.

Hey John! Thanks so much for joining us today. First off, can you tell us a little bit about your position with BattlBox and how you came to be with the company?

Thanks for having me!  Sure, I oversee sales, marketing, and a few other business/technical related aspects of the company.  

The story of me joining BattlBox is a nontraditional one for sure.  I was originally simply an investor in the brand/concept and did not ever imagine becoming a full-time BattlBox employee.  I started out dedicating around 15 hours a week in assistance to growing the brand.

We saw exponential growth in our first year, and BattlBox was on pace to do eight figures the second year.  Given the growth and success of the brand and time/bandwidth issues, it was time for me to join the team in a full-time capacity. 

What was your background before joining BattlBox? Do you have any formal marketing education or training?

I had around seven years’ experience in sales and marketing prior. I had worked for Telecom and Software companies managing & growing their sales and marketing teams.  My focus until BattlBox had always been Business to Business (B2B) sales & marketing, but the transition to Business to Consumer (B2C) was easy to adapt.

Your company serves a very specific customer base. Was the company formed because you saw a need in the marketplace? If not, can you tell us a little bit about how it was launched?

The story of how BattlBox launched is a really great one!  

Daniel Dabbs, our founder, and CEO, created BattlBox simply because of a personal want (but he obviously knew he was not alone).  His girlfriend was receiving BirchBox every month. BirchBox is a monthly subscription box that focuses on makeup and other beauty products.  

Daniel watched her open her BirchBox each month and get excited at the contents; Daniel wanted a box like that for himself (with cool outdoor gear, not makeup).  He searched online for one, and it did not exist. When he realized it was not in existence, the next steps were what you would assume, he created it!

BattlBox includes some of the highest quality products we’ve seen in the survival and outdoor subscription category. Can you tell us a little bit about how your company decides what products to include in each delivery?  

Correct, it’s a long process!  

First, we come up with the theme & skillset for an upcoming box.  After that, we start to build the basis of what types of products would be included.  We request samples of all potential products and literally test them all.

The end result is that only high-quality gear makes its way into the box.  Everything we include has been “Battl Tested.”

Do you have a personal favorite item that’s been included in a monthly delivery? If so, what is it?

I do. The Bastion Braza EDC Folding knife is still, to this day, one of my most favorite knives we have included.

Who would you say is your target demographic? Would you say that BattlBox is only for people with a military or “prepper” background, or would it be useful for anyone that enjoys being outdoors?

Our demographic is mostly male, but it’s the latter, anyone that enjoys the outdoors.  

The military and prepper demographic are obviously part of our customer base as well, but they are included in the larger “outdoor enthusiasts” group. 

Do you find that a lot of your subscribers come back to purchase items from your shop after taking part in a monthly option?

Yes, for a couple of reasons.  

One, for items where it’s useful to have more than one of; we typically have the best pricing online. We also have weekly sales which often have insanely good deals.  

Second, when a customer receives a high-quality item from us, they know they can order another from us a la carte for gifting purposes. Because, why would they not keep the one they already have for themselves?

Being the Chief Marketing Officer of the company, can you tell us what kind of hurdles you face when trying to gain market share?

There are two big hurdles we face.  

The first is the plethora of copycat companies.  When we launched, we were the only one. There was a point in early 2017 where we had over 30 direct competitors.  Some of these companies copied everything we offered, often not even changing the names of the tiers (Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Pro Plus).  Fast forward to 2018, most of these companies no longer exist, but we still see a new one launch every couple of months.

The other big hurdle (and the largest) we face is from certain social media platforms and their “double standard views.”  

We put a knife in our highest tier box and offer some knives in our online shop.  Knives are considered “weapons” by “Zuck & Co” which has become very problematic for our advertising efforts on the unmentioned social media platform.  

We spend an insane amount of hours making sure we only advertise our “non-weapon” items, but we still consistently get our Ads disapproved.  The reason for this has always been because we sell “weapons” in general.

An extreme double standard for the likes of WalMart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and many other large corporations that also sell knives and GUNS and run into ZERO advertising hurdles!  Why does the double standard exist? Spend over $1M with them, and you can be on the same side as the large corporations.

Touchy subject, can you tell?

I see you recently spoke at SubSummit (that’s awesome). How was that experience?

Amazing.  Subta (who puts on the SubSummit) has done some amazing stuff for our industry, and I really enjoy working with them.

Have you formed any unexpected relationships or had any surprising experiences as a result of working in the outdoor & survival space?

Too many to list!  

The first thing that comes to mind though is our JustOne Project.  It’s the non-profit side of BattlBox and participating in it has truly changed my life. Each year, we select “just one” veteran that is in need and attempt to make a significant impact in their well being.  

Last year was the first year. There is a video recap on our YouTube channel which you can see here:

Currently, we are in the midst of going through submissions for this year.  

Going up to Maryland last year and meeting Sgt. Christopher Cymek and his family was an extremely emotional moment.  

We are still accepting nominations at justone@battlbox.com!

What can subscribers look forward to seeing from BattlBox in the future?

We have some really great things planned this year.  

We will be launching the BattlBox app (for both iOS and Android), launching our new rewards program BattlBucks, and a kid-centric BattlBox to get them started in learning essential skills and get them outside.

If you’d like to keep up with John and BattlBox, follow him on Twitter here.

You can learn more about BattlBox by reading their company profile!

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