Are you Orvis or Carhartt?

Working in Boston, now back traveling to the offices of our clients, teaching at Tufts, hanging out in NH, and digging in the dirt and snow of Vermont, I go through lots of different clothes, boots, shoes and jackets.  Like you, I greatly appreciate quality, style and especially value in what I wear and the cars I drive, which is why I drive a Subaru Outback most of the time.  When it comes to clothes and shoes, being a Vermonter I love both the brands of Orvis (the headquarters is just down the road a piece) and Carhartt (the basic uniform of most Vermonters).  

  • Both look good and come in a wide variety of styles and colors.
  • Both focus on being active and being outdoors in all kinds of weather.
  • Both are excellent quality, are durable and have superb customer service. 

orvis 2But then they significantly shift from one another in who they focus on and in the pricing structures that go with each brand.  While both brands feature excellent products with a heavy emphasis on comfortable and durable outerwear, Orvis places its focus on being active outdoors with products and pictures featuring relaxation, fishing and hunting, and family adventures...all with good looking models, and, of course, hunting dogs.


carhartt 3The Carhartt brand on the other hand emphasizes working outdoors with its focus on durability, toughness and real people in construction, on the farm and deep into the dirt. 

In actuality, in both brands, the quality of the fabrics, the detail of the workmanship in stitching and their choices of zippers and buttons, along with their excellent customer service and return policies is identically superior.  

What differs significantly is their persona focus and the related price points that are often 50% higher in Orvis. For example, both brands have excellent quality men's, fit, durability, and variety.  The price point for men's Carhartt ranges between $38 and $43, while Orvis's similar jeans are between $85 and $105.

Just to complicate this category of rugged activewear even more, I also buy products from Filson, where their brand of "tin-cloth" pants, which I use when I'm out in my woodlot logging, will cost $135.  That may sound high, but it's a very cheap price compared to leg surgery, and more than once, I've thanked Filson for their products.  I also buy workwear from quirky and fun Duluth, another excellent brand, where quality and price points match those of Carhartt.   Of course, there are hundreds of other outerwear brands, but for that special superior marketing mix of quality, personal value and trust, nothing comes close to any of these brands.  Sorry, Patagonia, you used to have it, but no longer because you've lost your persona focus on who your customers are.  I continue to be confused by whether you're marketing to rock climbers, soccer moms or novice skier?  

marketing always needs to begin with your personas!

The criticality of thoroughly understanding your persona focus and the value propositions that you apply to those individual three or four personas for your own products and services is exactly why we wrote and just released a totally redone edition of our free ebook, Writing the Winning Marketing Plan in 2021.  

  • One reason for doing the rewrite is that I was never really comfortable with the structure in the prior editions.  While it did provide a very good process as to how a large marketing team for a corporation should manage creating a marketing plan, it did not actually spell out a how-to approach as to how-to actually write the plan itself.
  • This edition does both. The first half of the book is versed in how-to terms of structure, flow and content with my intent to focus on any business from first-revenue startup to companies in the $100m range. The second half of the book focuses heavily on process and is written mostly for those larger companies which would range from $100m to $250m.  
  • In this edition, there is a heavy focus on personas and the related value proposition creation that links directly to those personas, which is why I write this morning about the significant differences between the personas and price points of Orvis and Carhartt customers, while the actual product quality, workmanship and customer service is very similar.   

You can download the book by clicking here, take a spin through it and let me know what you think!  

Have a great day selling today as we now speed along to the end of this very critical quarter.  If you have any questions or want a sounding board over the next two weeks, just connect with me at any time.

Also, if you're interested in becoming a project for our fall semester course, "The Science of Sales" and working with a team of my gifted juniors, seniors and grad students, just connect with me, (, and we will quickly set up a call.  These projects can range from a complete sales plan for a specific product or for your entire business to detailed research with recommended action plans for sales models, hiring and comp plans or channel work...or anything else  you just needs to be a complex project.    

Enjoy what looks like a beautiful weekend!

Jack Derby, Professor & Sales Coach


If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener, and we can get deep into tactics if you want. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience. 




Tags: marketing effectiveness, marketing productivity, marketing plans, how to write a marketing plan