A Little Patagonia Love

Patagonia: great clothes, peerless marketing.

Patagonia's marketing

Like their apparel, Patagonia's marketing is top quality, thoughtfully designed, well-edited and highly functional. I recently received an irresistible email from them that brought me to a web page.

The web page is simple. It's a blog post that is mostly pictures. The piece tells the story of a Patagonia trip across the USA in a van. The van stopped in various towns en route, where Patagonia agents solicited clothes that required mending. People brought their clothes to the van for fixes. Simple story.

The article and photos showcases the journey and the interactions with customers who love Patagonia clothes. You get the sense of a company that cares about its community. You get swept along in the feel-good nature of place and person encounters. And of course, everyone enjoys the free-spirited flavor of a road trip.

You can't help but feel good reading it. You kind of wish you'd been there. That is good marketing!

Small business notes

The Patagonia piece does something else, something often overlooked by even the best online marketers. Patagonia hired a great photographer (D. Hedden) to go on the trip and take outstanding pictures.

Standout images are critical for every company's website, emails and brochures. It's true at every revenue level. It's even true on Etsy! Here's an example.

A woman sells inexpensive items on Etsy. She makes $1 million per year. True story. Alicia Shaffer is the owner of ThreeBirdNest, an Etsy shop selling "bohemian women's accessories." Last year she made $960,000. She reported $128,000 in sales in the month of January 2015.

And what's her secret? Good pictures are her secret! In her own words:

It all comes down to photography and the way you style your items, Shaffer says. ThreeBirdNest’s items are among the top hits for an Etsy search of "lace headband," and the images are among the only ones that are well-lit, featuring a professional-looking model. -- Fast Company

That's it! That's the million dollar difference! "Good lighting and a good model." Because all of us will click on the best looking image. That's a fact. Yet so much online marketing continues to use mediocre images. Usually with "good-enough" staging done by non-creatives -- all nested in lazy writing that an intern churned out in 45 minutes, after an all night fraternity event.

That is not a million dollar revenue ladder.

That's as far as you can get from what Patagonia and Alicia Shaffer are doing.

The good news is, it's easy to stand out. Good taste goes a long way these days. Hire creative professionals. Even if you think you're pretty good at it.

It's a simple story

In Patagonia's case, they used world-class, standout photography documenting the journey, along with excellent writing and a simple story. Here's their simple story:

"We went across the country to meet our customers and to mend, for free, any holes or wear & tear in the products they bought from us; here's who we met and what we saw."

Any company could do it on a smaller scale. Meet with customers in your state. Maybe this:

"We met with people in our home state who use our products. We bought them a slice of pizza, snapped a few photos of us joking around, and we talked about why they like our stuff; here's who we met and what we saw."

Augment that with great photos. Use short and sweet writing. It's a memorable and shareable marketing message. We'll want to go along with you. That's good marketing! Even if it's the only blog post you ever do.

What's your company's message? Would an article like Patagonia's work on your website? Or perhaps your enterprise would benefit from simply finding a standout photographer in your area and serving up compelling, one-of-a-kind images that make your audience want to connect with you. For example, just pictures of aircraft perform very well in terms of people's attention. Pictures of mountains are also popular. And there are other tricks to use that keep your web page, content and even printed materials "sticky," meaning that people will engage with them longer. 

Contact us to have a discussion about what might work for you.


Kathleen Hurley