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We are working with Lands’ End in its search for a VP of Digital Marketing based in Dodgeville, WI.

Lands’ End is a premier source of apparel and gear for women, men, kids and the home, sold by catalog, online, and at nearly 300 Lands’ End Shops at Sears. Since 1963, the company has earned a reputation for quality, value and exceptional customer service embodied by one simple promise: “Everything we sell is Guaranteed. Period.” Lands’ End is a member of the Sears Holdings family of companies.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: I’m hearing that my posts are getting forwarded to highly qualified passive candidates by their friends. That’s wonderful! But it also presents my clients with a curious dilemma: How much dirt do they want me to throw on their uniforms when I write these things up? Seriously.

Because recruiting is about two things: Trust and Credibility.

A few years ago, a candidate chided himself for asking me for advice, quipping that “asking a recruiter if he should take a job is like asking a barber if he needed a haircut.” D’oh! Right then and there, I resolved to always sell FOR and AGAINST every position. On the phone, I’m famous for this. Online, not so much.

But those days are over, because candidates don’t operate in a vacuum. They know how to dig up the dirt on any company, just as companies know how to research candidates’ backgrounds. Might as well get it all out in the open. After all, …

“You can’t ignore the 500-lb elephant in the room.” – Tony Soprano

In the future, the HARRY’S COMMENTS section will take this approach. And why not? All A-players are realists. No doubt, you’ll be asking yourself the same questions as the ones I’ll be addressing, so we might as well tackle those head on.

Now then, on to today’s epic search:

Lands’ End seeks a VP of Digital Marketing. In this industry, getting a job like that is like landing a spot in the starting rotation of the St. Louis Cardinals – a team with a rich history, loyal fans, a deep bench, and usually, a chance to win it all.

About the job:

As the Vice President of Digital Marketing you will mobilize the company’s already engaged consumer base, attract new customers, and drive purchases through the use of all available digital techniques, including emerging platforms and technologies.

Reporting to the CMO, this is a pivotal role in developing and delivering the Lands’ End and Lands’ End’s Canvas business and marketing plans for the US Consumer Direct Business Unit. You will elevate and expand the consumers experience with Lands’ End. You will lead the building of our digital business including direct response programs, new customer acquisition, customer retention and engagement and web campaigns to grow the overall business by focused on the key business metrics of return on ad spend, demand, traffic, and site conversion, retention and engagement.

QUESTION: What’s the one thing I need to do to be successful in this role?

Acquire new customers. Simple, but not easy. Remember, this is branded apparel were talking about. It’s one of the world’s most competitive markets, and everyone at Lands’ End understands how daunting the task will be. Beyond having an iron grip on the technical aspects of the job, you will need to have a teachable point of view on how to grow the business. That means having …

  1. Great acquisition ideas based on a crystal clear knowledge of what it takes to win in the marketplace and how the organization should operate.
  2. Acquisition philosophies that are on-brand and support values that everyone in the organization understands and lives up to.
  3. Emotional energy that creates positive emotional energy in others.
  4. An edge; the ability to make tough, informed decisions about which products to promote, through which channels, and how much to invest in specific acquisition media.

This is about so much more than just being able to push the buttons. Profitable growth is about having the right mindset — and helping others embrace it. It will involve helping Lands’ End become less catalog dependent. You must be an agent for positive change. Lands’ End has millions of customers in its database, and its goal is to get all of its customers digitally engaged across all digital platforms: tablets, smart phones, desktops, and more.

There is a lot I can share with candidates about Lands’ End’s channel priorities. For now, understand that email, paid search, and organic search are particularly important (and mobile is coming on strong).

  • For SEO, success means improving the relationship between high quality content, social connections, and backlinks. You won’t be in charge of each of these things – but you’ll have a vested interest in their improvement (vis-à-vis higher Adwords quality scores). Knowledge of Ontolo, MajesticSEO, Raven, etc is strongly desired.
  • For PPC, beyond a linear process, we’ll expect you to lower Adwords costs by identifying better marketplace opportunities, developing a better process for identifying better keyword lists, and working with the team to create harder hitting selling themes, stronger text ads, and highly effective landing pages. On a massive scale, btw.
  • Regarding email, Lands’ End’s volume is mind-bending, and management sees plenty of opportunity to improve this channel’s leading indicators of success (opt-in rates; open rates; bounce rates; click throughs, etc); lagging indicators (revenues; AOVs; etc) and integration with other channels. Email is hugely important in this role, and you must be as awesome in email as you are in organic and paid search. Be prepared to discuss your successes in all three of these areas …

BOTTOM LINE: We need an acquisition leader + strategist with a strong track record of success as a tactician. Agency-side candidates are fine, as are client-side Directors who are ready to take a major step up. In this role, on any given day you may find yourself leading your team by “doing” – or presenting to a roomful of company executives. Either way, you’ll need to be amazingly authentic and authentically amazing.

QUESTION: How much does Sears’ business effect Lands’ End’s?

You’ve got an internet connection, so there’s no use in ducking this question. The last few years have been challenging for Sears, as evidenced by its recent announcement to close 62 stores. It’s a jungle out there. But such trials (necessary for any brick and mortar retailer in an era of showrooming) have had little impact on Lands’ End, whose brands, innovation initiatives, and viability as a stand-alone business remain as strong as ever. See if you don’t agree.

In November 2009, Lands’ End launched a new line called “Lands’ End Canvas,” which offers a more fashion-oriented selection of casual clothing for men and women. The line is doing very well, both in terms of sales and its social media mojo.

In fact, Canvas’ social media successes have had a significant impact on Lands’ End as a whole.

Social media is making everything about Lands’ End’s approach to business is tighter and leaner. Land’s End is actively listening to its customers, which is creating tighter feedback loops between its customers and product development team, thereby enabling the company to move towards monthly product introductions versus the seasonal cadence that has dominated the fashion industry since its earliest days.

And skeptics: Remember too, that Sears is #7 on Internet Retailer’s Top 500, so its not like they don’t “get” ecommerce. They do, and they appreciate Lands’ End’s accomplishments online. Call me for specific evidence on this point.

If anything, there’s a chance that continued problems at Sears could lead to substantially more marketing autonomy for Lands’ End (which is definitely NOT a liability for Sears). If you decide to apply for this role, I’d encourage you to put me to work as your free researcher. We subscribe to several high-priced research databases, and we want you to go into this thing with your eyes wide open.

QUESTION: What can you tell me about Dodgeville, WI? I don’t see myself working in a small town.

I get it. But Dodgeville is awesome. See for yourself. Plus the crime rates and costs of living are really low. Remember fresh air and being able to sleep like a baby with your windows open? Me neither. But if you’ve ever wanted to ditch the rat race for a few years, this is your chance.

QUESTION: What’s the deal with the apostrophe on Lands’ End? That’s a typo, right?

Yes, it is. The company is named from its sailboat heritage, after Land’s End, but the misplaced apostrophe was a typographical error that founder, Gary Comer, could not afford to change, as promotional materials had already been printed.

Anyway, it took me several hours to write this, and I’m sitting on a pile of intel that I pulled off of multiple databases – yours free if you are a qualified candidate. Plus, I’ll even talk you through my uncut kickoff call notes with Meg. She was really candid! But before you apply: Remember! You’ll need to LEAD (not manage) 30-40 online marketing pros in this role. Is this really you??

Do you have the technical customer acquisition chops to do that? Seriously? Have you ever inspired a team of smart, hungry marketers who are just itching to make a difference? If so, we’d like to hear your story. Apply below.

Position Profile:

This is a critical role in the development and delivery of the brand’s digital presence, driving purchasing behavior through the use of all available digital techniques, including emerging platforms and technologies. With a strong focus on the key business metrics including revenue, profit, demand, traffic, site conversion, retention, and engagement, you will lead the growth of the digital business to deliver a growing profit stream and expand the consumer’s positive experience with the Brand. Leadership responsibilities include the user experience, email, customer loyalty, and program management functions. Qualified candidates must have a strong ability to drive transformation from catalog to an exceptional online customer experience.


  • Develop digital marketing plans to increase traffic and engagement with new, prospective customers, building a “best customer” program that enables consumers to become passionate brand advocates, while also driving cross-category purchases.
  • Dramatically accelerate e-commerce sales, including programs with established and new etailers and strategic partners (key external stakeholders across the app and digital publishing space, and industry experts).
  • Lead the thinking for mobile platform development: Website content, e-commerce, partnership and community development, consumer research, marketing, and website technology
  • Grow and upgrade organizational capability in the digital area and seamlessly integrate digital marketing into each marketing program.
  • Manage dedicated digital staff as well as overseeing a cross-functional team of web developers
  • Actively partner and collaborate with cross-functional partners including key stakeholders, public relations, creative, national advertising, and go-to-market and campaign teams to ensure a consistent message and focus across all consumer touch points.
  • Partner to develop advertising strategies for this space that provide key insights, meaningful engagements and build the brand with the key consumer targets.
  • Leverage the use of marketing analytics to provide insights and make recommendations to reach the consumer in new ways to improve marketing ROI recommendations and overall strategies.

Skills and Experience Requirements:

  • 15+ years of marketing experience with at least 8-10 years digital experience with integrated media and marketing platforms that include experience in social, digital, and traditional marketing.
  • Demonstrated experience with implementing digital marketing initiatives that will scale to support the requirements of a growing organization with multiple brands.
  • Deep understanding of the digital environment and evolving tools and platforms used to improve online presence with excellent working knowledge of social media outreach strategies. Able to translate trends into brand right business opportunities.
  • Strong leadership and consensus building skills, with a willingness to continually embrace personal and professional development.
  • Prior experience leading and developing a team of professionals, as well as working across indirect reports and cross functional partners.
  • Able to interact with all levels of the organization; must be able to articulate a vision and develop and deliver supporting marketing plans.
  • Strong relationship builder both within the organization and with external partners.
  • Comfortable working with ambiguity and change. Must be able to work in a fast pace environment.
  • Bachelor Degree in Marketing / MBA strongly preferred.

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. To apply, CLICK HERECandidates, please be sure to email Harry Joiner for a packet of market research and company / competitive intel that will differentiate you in your candidacy. Due to the intensely competitive nature of this search, thorough preparation for these interviews with this proprietary material is strongly recommended.

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