Lululemon and Infrastructure Marketing

You wouldn’t think this New Yorker article about a maker of fancy women’s yoga clothing would have much to say to infrastructure marketers… but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read it. The article tells the story of Lululemon which was once one of the hottest clothing brands in the world.

But Lululemon fell on hard times, and for a reason that really should be of interest to my clients—firms that sell manhole risers, trenchless sewer repair solutions, and high tech sewer nozzles… not to mention the world’s biggest maker of land surveying equipment.

Lululemon ran into trouble over a very basic issue—quality control. Some of their yoga pants were made in a way that left them totally transparent when stretched over the bums of women doing, well, yoga poses. But the real problem, and the point of the New Yorker story, is how quickly the quality control issues became extremely well known. Lululemon sales dropped like a bowling ball rolling off a table, and the company is still struggling a year later.

The message of the article, and my message for you, is that brands are dead. Pervasive advertising, sponsored webcasts, mass mailing… none of it matters; if things go badly, no amount of “brand building” will be able to outrun bad press. Google is just too good at returning relevant results, social media is just too effective at spreading bad news.

So what’s an infrastructure marketer to do? Forget brands… do content marketing instead. Assemble a good-sized collection of customer success stories, case studies, reports, white papers, and other educational content. Then, get that content online, in magazines and on your own website. And also, distribute it directly to your prospects, via email campaigns, newsletters, and mass mailings—infrastructure firms really need to be their own publishers now. (For more on this, see my free white paper)

By focusing on educational, informative content that prospective buyers will actually read and share, infrastructure firms can build, brick by brick, a dominant internet presence that attracts and convinces prospects, and expands market share. While doing so, they’re also building a defensive ‘wall’ that insulates against bad publicity—sure, a project or two might go south, but anyone who comes across difficult reports will at the same time learn about your company’s successes.

There’s a big upside, and no real downside, to expanding your suite of educational content. White papers and case studies are relatively cheap to prepare, and have long useful lives in your marketing campaigns. Long after quarter-page ads or banner ads are forgotten, your marketing content will turn up in Google searches and generate leads.

But there is a catch; it’s hard to assemble good content quickly. Which means you should start now, and keep at it steadily, so it starts working for you, and is in place in case of emergencies.

I consult for free on content marketing for infrastructure firms; I’ve been doing this since 2002, and have written for about 50 infrastructure firms of all sizes. Want some free advice? Just call or email.

And if anything here piques your interest, you’ll probably benefit from a read of my free white paper, Long Sales Cycles and Skeptical Customers are Good Things: Information Marketing in Infrastructure.

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Angus W. Stocking

Angus W. Stocking, L.S., is a licensed land surveyor who now prepares information marketing content for the infrastructure industry.


Angus W. Stocking, L.S.
P.O. Box 872
Paonia CO 81428
270.363.0033 office