3 Brand Values Sears/Craftsman Taught Us

craftsman-the-power-of-brandingEvery now and then I find an article written by someone else that’s so good it has to be shared. That’s the case with this blog post from Kleber & Associates, a building products sales and marketing company.

When you go to branding school, one of the first things you learn is a lesson on the power of a brand, using the example of Coca-Cola.

The professor is likely to quiz the students: “If you could divide the Coca-Cola company into two parts — one part is all of the factories, bottlers, formula, buildings, equipment assets, and the other part is the Coke brand name and trademark — which would you take?”

Your answer better be the Coke brand.

Why? Because all of that other infrastructure and distribution can be replicated, but a brand with the magnitude of Coke would take generations to rebuild.

But aside from a lesson for marketing students, why would anyone consider that a company be parsed up in that way?

In a way, however, it just happened, and with an iconic American brand, no less. Not with Coke, but with Craftsman.

In a move designed to stave off insolvency, Sears recently sold the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million. While we’re sure there was more to the sale than the Craftsman name and branding standards manual, it all appears so very counter-intuitive to us.

We can’t help but think that Sears Holdings Corp. CEO Edward Lampert should have kept the Craftsman brand and sold everything else.

craftsman-logoMention the Craftsman brand to any red-blooded American male (and an increasing number of females), and they’ll rattle off a list of traits the brand has come to stand for. Durable, American made, strong, reliable. Despite missteps over the years, and the struggles of the brand’s caretakers at Sears, the Craftsman name is largely unspoiled.

We as marketers and branding nerds can all rest easy, as it appears the cherished Craftsman name is in good hands. We can also look back and remember what the Craftsman brand has been over the years.

Most importantly, we can take heed of some of the lessons Craftsman has taught us about how to build a strong brand:

 

Make a simple, strong promise

While we respect the role legal and actuarial professionals play in advising how building products and tools are marketed, how warm-n-fuzzy does it make you feel when you hear that a product has a “limited lifetime” warranty?

The Craftsman brand confidently stood for “Made in America. Guaranteed forever.” Forever. There’s no mincing words in that tagline.

Granted, it’s easy to guarantee forever if your product is essentially a hunk of nearly indestructible forged steel.

But the point is that a brand is the sum of the simplest, strongest promises it can build.

 

Keep innovating

When you think of Craftsman tools, you most likely think of the multi-piece wrench sets, neatly hanging in order of size on a pegboard. It’s a product that hasn’t been changed in a century.

Still, every year Craftsman came out with some new gadget or gizmo. Some were pretty superfluous (a battery-powered heated jacket, really?), others actually pretty smart.

But no matter what, those new products always caught the eye of their target audience (see below) and brought people into the Sears stores to buy them, along with the standard wrench sets. Craftsman never stood pat. They always found a way to capture consumers’ attention with their innovations.

Well, except for the battery-powered jacket.

 

Remember your audience

Since their founding in 1927, Craftsman stayed true to their two audiences: NASCAR mechanics and middle-aged, suburban men who secretly wished they were NASCAR mechanics. The second group was probably the biggest.

Craftsman has always been for the guys. They didn’t ebb into pink tools for women or co-brand with Star Wars to appeal to kids. They knew who their audience was and always, always connected with him. In fact, when Jimmy Carter was presented with a farewell gift as he departed from the White House, it was a Craftsman woodworking set.

In this day and age of an ever-changing landscape — where brands feel like they have to please everyone — it’s refreshing to see a brand remember who got them where they are.

So why hold onto the stores, Mr. Lampert? Will you be auctioning the DieHard battery and Kenmore appliance brands next? We’d advise instead, that you should have taken a page from Revlon’s playbook, as they are clearly prioritizing their brands over distribution. They realize astutely in this omni-channel age, that audiences are far less loyal to rigid shopping venues and that customer allegiance celebrates Brand Value over Brand Available.

So Stanley Black & Decker will now leverage the American-made, forever-guaranteed torch. We’re confident that the Craftsman brand is in good hands and will continue to occupy a prominent place in American garages for years to come.

As for its former parent brand, Sears… well, the future is not so bright.

Good Selling!

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Are You Leveraging These Up & Coming Social Media Apps To Make Your Brand Standout?

Up & Coming Social Media AppsYou’ve finally gotten a handle on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. But here’s one guarantee about social media platforms: They’re constantly changing. What’s today’s popular site is tomorrow’s old news. Translation? You have to take extra care to pay attention to what’s new and where people of all ages are flocking.

Some of these sites are likely on your radar. Those include Snapchat and Vimeo. Others, like Yo and Yik Yak, might be less so. Why do more and more new sites keep popping up? Because more and more users worldwide are diving in to social media—some estimates place that total in the billions.

There are social benefits for individuals to all these programs, but businesses aren’t excluded from good things, too. You’ll cement your community, increase your sales, and boost your brand presence.

Use this graphic to get started on what’s new, and understand what you need to do to take advantage of social media platforms

Click To Enlarge

11 Smaller Social Media Apps Poised to Break Out in 2016

Via Salesforce

More Ways To Use Content Marketing To Increase Sales

Capture emails and generate qualified leads using gated content

B2B buyers communicate mainly by e-mailWhile an active blog can drive thousands of marketing qualified leads, gated content tends to drive better, sales-qualified leads. B2B businesses generate more ROI from their content efforts by hiding their most valuable resources behind a form. Doing so enables sales teams to gain direct access to highly qualified customers who have demonstrated a clear need and expressed interest in learning more about how you can help them successfully achieve their goals.

Types of gated content sales reps can use include:

  • Case studies
  • Checklists or worksheets
  • Ebooks
  • Webinar recordings
  • Whitepapers

Instead of making all your content available to audiences, keep high-impact resources behind a contact form. That way, sales reps can capture readers’ email addresses and phone numbers, which they may use to initiate a sales conversation.

Delve into actionable data with original research and reports

Grow_C3_P4_Budgeting_and_forecasting_for_growthData is everywhere and clever brands package the data they gather to develop actionable insights. This content helps their customers make better business decisions. Companies like CoSchedule, DocSend, and Yesware have taken a data-driven approach to content marketing by processing large swaths of data to identify important industry-wide trends that affect businesses around the world. Often, smart salespeople use the research their brand has developed to call out stats that may encourage potential customers to want whatever the sales rep is selling.

Three ways to implement data storytelling include:

  • Analyzing active user behaviors and data
  • Conducting surveys of your target audience or user base
  • Using public data sources—from government archives, industry sources, or on social media

Furthermore, many brands now use original research and reports to drive brand awareness and positive public mention. Some of the best examples of data storytelling from brands are:

Demonstrate ongoing success through client case studies

notebooks_stackedSales prospects who are unfamiliar with your brand or have reservations about the cost of your proposal need to understand the tangible value of your offer. A proven track record of success is often enough to justify costs and close the sale. Case studies are invaluable resources that detail the specific challenge a client faced, the action you took to help solve their problem (or the action they took using your product or service), and the results the clients saw with the help of your product or service.

When entrepreneur Neil Patel added three case studies to his personal site, the results were astounding: Sales grew 185 per cent. When customers know exactly what you have done for your clients in the past, they get the sense you can replicate that success with their business.

Other case studies worth mimicking are:

Give clients an insider look with product manuals

Salespeople who offer potential customers a firsthand look at how a product works build trust with prospects—it shows they have nothing to hide. Sales teams can reference product manuals on sales calls and in written correspondence to give buyers a taste of what they can expect when they purchase your product. This helps alleviate the common customer concern that product onboarding is difficult and a huge distraction for new users. In fact, companies waste millions each year procuring systems and technologies that go relatively unused.

For example, to overcome a buyer’s reservation about how other people at their company may adopt your solution, sales reps can strategically use clear and succinct product manuals. Modern-day product manuals, to a certain extent, have taken on the form of a knowledge base too. And to build a great knowledge base, marketing expert Gregory Ciotti recommends:

  • Avoid making assumptions. Be clear and unambiguous with your instructions and be generous with images, videos, and screenshots.
  • Prioritize your content’s readability. Add bullet points, callouts, line breaks, and subheadings to break up text. Use language your users will be familiar with instead of technical jargon.
  • Organize your articles in logical groupings and categories. Group related articles and include recommendations for similar reads in case customers want to read more.
  • Use plain titles. Knowledge-base articles are not clickbait. Customers want to find something specific and shouldn’t have to click through several ambiguous titles before finding the information they need.

Reach new audiences as a guest blogger

Guest posting on influential sites was the primary driver of growth for Buffer, a budding social media management app, as it acquired its first 100,000 users. For Groove, guest blogging allowed the help-desk software company to reach an audience of more than 1 million people.

Brand representatives use guest blogging as another way to reach a large and targeted audience. Instead of building their own readership, companies publish content on sites that are influential within their niche to develop thought leadership and attract new customers at scale. There are four steps to follow to become a guest blogger on any site.

  1. Identify a list of the most influential sites in your niche that are well-read by your target audience.
  2. Start a relationship with the publication’s editor in an in-person meeting, over email, or onsocial media.
  3. Provide a portfolio of your writing to show you can meet their editorial standards.
  4. Pitch topics their audiences want to read.

To convert any traffic you receive into qualified leads, link to a targeted landing page in your byline. Reference related articles from your site in the post in order to drive additional referral traffic.

Good Selling!

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