I’ve talked about J Peterman here before. I think he’s the best. Most of the copy ends up being not about the product, but the person who wears the product. Not until he has you in the shirt does he start talking about the finer details that make you want to actually finish the transaction.
Now, out of the blue, I received a Duluth Trading Company catalog in the mail this week. It reminds me of the J Peterman catalog of old with a minor twist…instead of writing about the classes, this company targets the masses. It’s a catalog for working men. Oh, we all work, but these are the working men who are doing the work according to the scientific definition…they are moving things, building things and getting their hands dirty in the process.
It’s not perfect, but some of it is darn good. Any company that sets out to solve the problem of “plumber’s butt” by adding 3″ of length to a t-shirt deserves the gratitude and loyalty of those men who must twist, bend and stretch to get the job done. (Come to think of it, somebody should buy one of these shirts for Larry the Cable Guy).
Like the J Peterman company, Duluth Traders does not photograph their products for their catalog or website. I think they realize that when the real deal shows up on my doorstep it will never look quite as appealing as it does in the photo studio. However, in my mind it will always look just like it did in the watercolored line-drawings on the pages of the catalog and the web.
I’ve said before that I write about Cabela’s because they are headquartered right here in my little hometown. I’m a fan of the company. I’m a cheerleader because when they do well, my town does well. That being said, some of the best writers inside those taxidermied walls are not writing the product blurbs for the web or the catalog. They are writing features for the field guides that don’t always get the prominence that they should. These are the pieces that are capable of cementing customer relationships.
Another web strategy observation: You won’t find Duluth’s front page web real estate littered with transactional “SALE!” messages. Oh, they’ve got sale and clearance items, but you’ll have to follow your trusty dog to find them. They recognize that their customers are more interested in what the product means than what it costs.
If your company was built on relationships, it’s usually a mistake to focus too much on the transaction. There’s always somebody who can sell for less, but if you take care of your relationships, the transactions will take care of themselves.