L.L. Bean Understands 21st Century Marketing

L.L. Bean Understands 21st Century Marketing We see it all the time. A well cultured and storied company struggle to bridge the gap between old age approach and the new age of marketing. One could easily foresee L.L. Bean falling victim to this trap, being a company stuck in the “old ways.” With a history of over a 100 years, L.L. Bean seems like the logical candidate to get stuck in the 1980’s.

When it comes to marketing, the playbook has changed.

But this does not mean culture and value propositions must change.

Think about it, when was the last time you wrote a thank you letter? It has likely been years. Sending that text or email with thx is just easier. Most sales are done via gmail and online (mobile) sales funnels today. The dynamics of sales have changed. The dynamics of customer acquisition have changed. The things that made L.L. Bean a titan of the apparel world 50 years ago are no longer pertinent. Now the approach is which athlete or reality tv star can we sponsor with the biggest twitter following.

For a company still located down the road from their original store, how can they compete in today’s world but still remain true to themselves? How does a billion dollar company stay down to earth, true to its roots and still compete with an entourage of full stack marketers?

Here is how:


An actual letter I received in the mail from L.L. Bean

An actual letter I received in the mail from L.L. Bean

Thank you for your L.L. Bean Boot order

We didn’t get your size wrong. We just wanted to let you know we appreciate your patience while our stitchers in Maine are hard at work handcrafting your boots. We make our boots right, not fast, so while you may have to wait a little while to get yours, we promise they will be worth it.


Raina Maxwell

VP Customer Satisfaction and Customer Advocate

Nothing says I am sorry like a true letter. Not an email. Not a text. A formal apology with a signature from a real person (she is real, click here for her LinkedIn). A physical letter gives you something to feel, to grasp, to comprehend.

The letter hits many important points. One of the greatest importance is being made in America. With many in the shoe space moving overseas, this is a testament to brand differentiation. The letter is short, funny and clever.

The most brilliant point about this note is not just the attached promotional item. The boot pictured above is a keychain, looks to be handcrafted and is a constant branding reminder. This letter helps reestablish the brand you are already familiar with. One where the quality of the product vastly outweighs the need it now mentality of todays world.

L.L. Bean makes an all encompassing statement with this “apology.” Essentially stating we would rather do it right than not at all. This is the perfect example of taken a potentially horrible public relations situation and instead reinforcing a corporate culture of caring and quality. Just for that I will gladly wait an additional two weeks for my boots. I may just buy an extra pair.