The Three Lenses That Power L.L. Bean: Lessons From CMO Steve Fuller

01 Feb 2012 12:23 PM | Deleted user
Attendees of the latest Ad Club CMO breakfast, featuring L.L. Bean Chief Marketing Officer, Steve Fuller, couldn’t help but turn their heads as they walked through the doors of 1 Memorial Drive. Idly parked on the side of the street was none other than a giant boot.


Yes, a giant boot…with four-wheel drive.


Enter the Bootmobile and some of the marketing initiatives that have driven (ah, we love puns) L.L. Bean from an idea in 1912 to a worldwide corporation netting approximately $1.5 billion in sales.


Like several great CMOs, Steve kicked off his presentation with a story, one that featured hardship and perseverance. Leon Leonwood Bean was an orphan, who never made it past high school but possessed a genuine passion for the outdoors. It was his passion and unrelenting drive for quality customer service that enabled him to build L.L. Bean.


As they look back and celebrate 100 years of business, Steve and his team wished to highlight the company’s roots, ones that he claims are the fiber behind all new and established marketing initiatives. In order to share that story, he broke it down into three different lenses: uniqueness, relevancy, and community.



Steve consistently recognizes L.L. Bean as a service company and one of his biggest worries is the company becoming a commodity rather than an experience. L.L. Bean features real employees in catalogues and commercials and historically has depended on phone and in-store service to turn customers into L.L. Bean lifers. 


While the apparel company is revamping their website and establishing more of a mobile presence, there are a few unique projects that will help them stand out and highlight 100 years of excellence. Look for a brand new L.L. Bean Tarp to cover Fenway Park during rain delays, and when it’s sunny and the Red Sox are out of town, head to Fenway for an outdoor discovery class. Finally, once you’ve picked up a new skill, indulge in some Muddy Bean Boots ice cream (vanilla, caramel, and bits of brownie) to top off the day, a treat they hope arrives by summertime. 



L.L. Bean prides itself on customer relationships, something that is a little more complicated to accomplish over the web than in person. But as the Bean employees go to work building new communication channels like blogs, online rating and review platforms, social games, and more to keep the Bean ecosystem connected, they look to stay relevant in communities across the world.


In addition to addressing emerging technology growth such as mobile commerce, the company has donated $1 million dollars to the National Parks Foundation for youth programs, yet again, echoing the passion of L.L himself for nature and immersing oneself in it.



Have you ever considered learning how to fly fish or trap shoot? L.L. Bean will teach you how through one of its many Outdoor Discovery Schools. This is just one of many ways L.L. Bean extends beyond a simple commodity and acts as a common thread among life enthusiasts.  


Steve Fuller and his giant Bootmobile packed the Microsoft NERD center and enlightened the crowd on 100 years of rich L.L. Bean history while giving us a glimpse of the things to come. When the talk concluded and it was time to leave, there was but one thing to do.


Discover Something.

A special thanks to Steve Fuller and Microsoft for allowing us to host a memorable CMO breakfast.


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