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Last Update: Friday December 15, 2017

Key Idea: Sell the Mission

Paula and Margaret Quenemoen sell their gear to people who want to enjoy the process of mountain climbing while their competitors stress getting to the top.

Key Question:

A: 

Build your business by selling the mission first, the product second.

Jagged Edge is a tiny company compared to the giants. Although Margaret and Paula continuously work to add distinctive features to their , outerwear products,Patagonia, Eddie Bauer and Jagged Edge are more alike than different. Knowing this, they have always built their image by selling the mission first, then the product. Their first unique products included designs for small women. But, over the years others have copied them and they find more results in attaching themselves to their mission than to any one specific design element.

Q: What is distinctive about the Jagged Edge mission?

A: The mission comes from an ancient tradition that Paula experienced personally during her five years in China. Even though it is ancient it seems unique in this industry dominated by symbols of accomplishment, achievement and reaching the summit.

Paula told me, "Our competition sells the summit. We sell the journey."

Jagged Edge is teaching its customers how to think about life, and in the meantime, that same customer buys Jagged Edge outerwear to experience the journey.

Q: Why do companies do so well selling a mission as opposed to a product?

A: Human beings want to belong and we want to belong to a group that represents something that is meaningful to us. Just to buy a vest or waterproof outerwear is not an adventure. It is an adventure to buy from this little-known company that we believe we can identify with closely.

Q: Why is selling the journey so different when it comes to extreme sports?

A: The Zen teachings are very different from the traditional American value of: win at all costs. Winning means there's a looser and winning means there's a finish line. Paula and Margaret are trying to appeal to people who are tired of this winner-take-all, dog-eat-dog competitive culture. They want people to buy their gear and simply enjoy walking around wearing it and simply enjoy the path they choose rather than be forced to feel as if they have to get to the top of some summit. Also, it may take weeks to get to the top of a mountain then once you get there you may plant a flag, look and the view then head back down. The time spent on the journey is much greater than the time spent at the summit.

Q: Why does a company like Jagged Edge need a unique selling proposition?

A: Because they were not first to market and because they have huge competitors like North Face and Patagonia.

Q:  Why should someone buy Jagged Edge when they can buy these other two big brands and get very much the same type of product?

A:  Jagged Edge does attempt to make gear for small women because Paula and Margaret are small but the product uniqueness is not great enough to talk about as a unique selling proposition.

Q: Name some other companies who sell the mission harder than the product?

A: Volvo sells safety, Sundance Catalog sells the great American west. 

Think about it

What is your mission statement and how do you use it to sell your product or service?

Clip from: Jagged Edge Mountain Gear

Enjoy your summer while you have it!  Winter will return!

Telluride, Colorado and Moab, Utah: Deep-seated within every American is the dream of starting and owning a business. Most of us are barely aware that this concept is deeply ingrained in our culture. The modern concept of a corporation actually has its roots in the American revolution. This drive to start a business -- to incorporate under a name -- mystifies much of the world and it has a lot to do with one's sense of purpose or "calling" and also one's process of self-actualization.

In this episode of the show, you meet many very special people, but the stars are Margaret Quenemoen and her sister, Paula. It will become quickly apparent that they are identical twins who share a huge love of life. Their honesty and integrity, their openness and their achievement, their vision and their tenacity, over-qualify them to be our MasterClass teachers.

So, let's drive into the deep mountains of Colorado to look at their foundations, business plan, financing, direct public offering, and so much more.

We'll learn what went right, what went wrong, and what their vision of the future is.

Jagged Edge Mountain Gear (MQ)

Margaret Quenemoen, Founder

223 E. Colorado Ave.
PO Box 2256
Telluride, CO 81435

Visit our web site: http://www.jagged-edge-telluride.com

Business Classification:
Retail

Year Founded: 1991

Sell the Mission

PAULA: (From graphic on screen) `The Journey teaches us, makes us strong, lets us touch enlightenment -- if even for a moment.'

HATTIE: (Voiceover) So, Paula, how are you using the Internet?

PAULA: (Voiceover) Well, we use it every day to communicate with some companies. In the past, we did a mitten production with China, using the Internet fully. We would communicate on the Internet, and it saved a terrific amount of expenses (speaking Chinese).

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Jagged Edge is already doing business globally. But they are positioned perfectly for expansion into Asia because of Paula's command of Mandarin and her understanding of the culture.

PAULA: ... That's me. Confucius White Lotus.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Currently, they purchase trim from Asia, and some garments are sewn in Taiwan. Doing business is easier now because of the Internet, faxing and global priority mail moves payments back and forth quickly. When no English translators are available to read documents sent through cyberspace, Paula writes by hand and uses fax and mail.

PAULA: (writing Chinese) I said `Thank you very much, again, for all the help you have given us.'

Lightbulb HATTIE: (In the Studio) Jagged Edge is a tiny company compared to the giants. Although Margaret and Paula continuously work to add features that are distinctive, outerwear products are more alike than different. What is distinctive about Jagged Edge is its mission. That mission is part of what the customer buys. Although the mission comes from an ancient tradition that Paula experienced personally during her five years in China, it seems unique in this industry dominated by symbols of accomplishment, achievement and reaching the summit.

Paula told me, `Our competition sells the summit. We sell the journey.' Jagged Edge is teaching its customers how to think about life, and in the meantime, that same customer buys Jagged Edge outerwear to experience the journey.

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