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Newsletter #982: The “Lessons from American Giant” 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.]

When one Slate reporter wrote “This Is The Greatest Hoodie Ever Made” about American Giant’s heavyweight hoodie, it seemed like pretty high praise for something as simple as a sweatshirt. But once people started checking out the clothing manufacturer, they found it lived up to the word of mouth.

Here are lessons we can learn from the company who makes “the greatest hoodie ever made”:

1. Scarcity can be your best selling point — but not forever
2. Be completely transparent
3. Stick to what you’re great at
4. Share your obsession
5. Check it out: Contextual Calendar

1. Scarcity can be your best selling point — but not forever

Without any traditional advertising, what caught everyone’s attention for a simple sweatshirt? The four-month waiting list for it. American Giant’s heavyweight sweatshirt sold out so fast, they couldn’t keep up with the orders. That’s an endorsement that speaks for itself. Not only do people love their stuff, but it’s obvious American Giant wasn’t willing to change their high-quality process just to meet immediate demand. Instead, they slowly caught up with the need for their stuff, letting the word spread without disappointing their customers.

The lesson: Scarcity is a great word of mouth motivator, but it shouldn’t be your only marketing tactic. Your customers need to not only feel like it’s worth the wait, but also feel like your stuff is attainable.

Learn more: Business Insider

2. Be completely transparent

From the seeds sown for the cotton they use to their manufacturing techniques and sparse marketing budget, American Giant is transparent about everything. That makes their story of quality more believable, makes the company seem trustworthy, and makes their stuff more valuable.

The lesson: You can see why this only works if you’re a good guy. When you let your customers see how your company operates, it helps separate the businesses that do the right thing from those who don’t.

Learn more: Slate

3. Stick to what you’re great at

American Giant website

Photo thanks to American Giant.

American Giant makes sweats, T-shirts, and hats. That’s all. They also only sell their stuff online, directly to the customer — no brick and mortar shops and no distributors. Why? Because they’re focused on perfecting what they already do well, not expanding their product line.

The lesson: American Giant doesn’t just follow this simple business model, they make it their story. After all, there’s no “and” in “brand.”

4. Share your obsession

cotton fields

Photo thanks to American Giant.

At American Giant, cotton is a huge part of what they do. And they love it. To show their love, they documented the cotton they use in manufacturing “from the field to fashion,” explaining the process the whole way. It’s way more information than any of their customers need to know. But it shows just how much they obsess over the details. Another example of their passion: a blog post on why they don’t call their T-shirts “tees.”

The lesson: Is there something your employees can’t stop talking about? Do you have a strong opinion about the way your company works? Even the smallest details can become something more meaningful when you show your customers how much you care about them.

Learn more: American Giant

5. Check it out: Contextual Calendar

contextual calendar

Photo thanks to Fake Is The New Real.

If you’re the kind of person who says “the other day” when you mean “a couple months ago,” this calendar can help. It puts each day of the year into perspective from today.

Check it out: Fake Is The New Real

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