Yesterday morning I checked Google and was depressed to learn that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and we were in for six more weeks of winter.  I was wondering what I could do to get myself through another two months of bleak and frigid weather when I saw these really cute red boots in the Oprah magazine.  When I saw the same boots again in the Parade insert in the Sunday paper, I took it as a sign.  These red boots would be like my Ruby Slippers and get me home to Spring.

So I went to L.L. Bean to order a pair, and was even more depressed that they were out of my size.  A few more mouse clicks told me that they were out of every size, both on line and in every store, but they would be available for shipment on April 24!  Cute winter boots will (surely?) be of no use to me in almost three months and I suspect the same is true for most of their customers.

Once again, a great product and great marketing are useless without a distribution system to get it there.  I understand that the “boots are hand sewn in Maine — one pair at a time — by expert craftspeople” but someone should have mentioned this to the fashion editors when they called about this product.  L.L. Bean prominently mentions on their website that these boots were featured in Parade and the Oprah Magazine, meaning they knew hundreds (thousands?) of customers were likely to come calling and they would have demand that exceeded their production by a quarter of the year.  Grr.

I am sure it is ultra tempting to jump into the spotlight and get the unbelievable free publicity that a product endorsement by either of these publications can bring.  But in this case, it brought far more frustration than goodwill, and I suspect I am not alone in that feeling.

Behind the scenes is just as important as the front of the house.  Your organization can benefit greatly by aligning your infrastructure with your sales team; in fact it’s the only way to create a happy client.

— beth triplett

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