Andy Howard

L.L.Bean Discovery Project

L.L.Bean unearthed genuinely interesting customer stories for a recent advertising campaign celebrating 100 years of reliable outdoor apparel. One story is about Steve, a customer who was given a L.L.Bean backpack during college that became a catalyst for the next 15 years of his life. Steve hiked with the backpack in numerous countries, 12 states and 14 national parks. He hiked 104 mountains with the L.L.Bean pack on his back and wrote a letter to L.L.Bean sharing his adventures.

Subsequently, L.L.Bean made the ‘Discover Something with Steve’ film to tell Steve’s story as part of their centenary campaign. The company also featured Steve and his tales in a centenary book. Humbled, as a gesture of thanks Steve reached out to his personal network with messages about L.L.Bean’s initiative to donate to the National Park Foundation; the custodian of national parks Steve has visited and loves. His messages were heard and knowledge of L.L.Bean’s initiative spread. By listening to a customer, valuing their brand experience and acknowledging their story, L.L.Bean turned a customer into a devoted (and effective) advocate.

More recently, Steve’s been selected for the company’s ‘Discovery Project’ - a pilot program consisting of 18 carefully selected customers to test 4 different outdoor kits over the course of a year. The brand receives useful ‘beta’ feedback from a passionate group of brand advocates, and the advocates have new messages to spread about the products L.L.Bean is working on.

100 years on, here’s a company doing things right. Where are your stories and how are you telling them?

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