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Newsletter #1053: The “When Times Get Tough” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Did you know it took Rocket Chemical Company 39 failed formulas to come up with the WD-40 formula? They owned their history of failed attempts with their name, and now, it’s a household one. When something fails, when the competition is closing in, and when the pressure is on, the companies that come out strong often do the opposite of what we expect them to do.

Here’s how three businesses succeeded by:

1. Embracing vulnerability
2. Leaving with class
3. Standing their ground
4. Check it out: Iconic Album Cover Locations

1. Embracing vulnerability

Laura Beck started StripedShirt.com to sell a different kind of sports apparel for women and children. But after five years, her small business was failing, her home was overrun by striped shirts, and her friends and family were tired of getting her failed product as gifts. So Laura made her failure public. She created a quick, honest, and funny video explaining why she was done trying to make her business work, and why she needed your help “kickstopping” her “indienogo.” The video’s racked up over 130,000 views and orders for the discounted shirts have been rolling in.

The lesson: Most businesses would quietly go into a liquidation sale and disappear. But Laura took the opportunity to draw attention to her vulnerability, honesty, and humor that could make her successful in another business venture.

Learn more: LinkedIn

2. Leaving with class

This Is My Jam started in 2011 as a social site that let people share their favorite song with their friends. That’s it. “All hits, no filler. Every song is someone’s favorite.” But since then, the creators of This Is My Jam have decided they’d like to put their time and energy into new ideas and their next big projects, so they’re shutting it down. But instead of just packing up and flipping off the lights, they’re turning the site into a “read-only time capsule.” They’re going to stop adding new users but continue to host it and keep their users’ profiles available to browse. That way, users won’t lose their information or the stuff their friends have posted.

The lesson: Your customers are going to remember their first and last impressions of you the most. By making their last impression a good one, This Is My Jam’s creators will most likely have fans already lined up for their next project.

Learn more: Digital Trends

3. Standing their ground

Chipotle has been out of carnitas in about a third of their restaurants for seven months. Why? One of their suppliers violated Chipotle’s company standards of “responsibly” raised pork, and they pulled it from their restaurants. Chipotle didn’t try to hide it or put a disclaimer on it until they found a new supplier. They got rid of it completely. And while it may have lost them some customers during their carnitas shortage, once they get pork back on the menu, you can bet those customers will come back in full force.

The lesson: Chipotle made the difficult decision to stick to their company standards and ideals. Even if it meant losing some customers for the short-term, they knew their decision would earn them loyal fans in the long-term.

Learn more: Consumerist

4. Check it out: Iconic Album Cover Locations

The Guardian found the locations of famous album covers in Google Street View and superimposed the album art over it.

Check it out: The Guardian

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