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!

6 Effective Ways on How Building Materials Marketers Must Use Social Media

Social Media For Building Materials Marketers Social media marketing is no longer an afterthought strategy for companies and organizations, even if your company is in the building materials industry. Every major brand is already present across the social media platforms. Companies from every industry are taking advantage of the social media. But the building products industry is lagging behind.

One of the reasons is the lack of understanding about how social media works and how building materials marketers can integrate it with their marketing efforts.

Another reason is that building product manufacturers are behind their customers when it comes to social media. They are supposed to be the smart marketers. You would think they would embrace the newest marketing tools before their dealer, builder and contractor customers. You would think they would at least keep up with their consumer customers.

What the building materials organizations don’t realize is that these can be easily overcome. And they should never stand in the way of building a social media marketing strategy.

For a great article on social media for building material companies, I suggest reading 8 Ways Building Materials Companies Can Use Social Media by Mark Mitchell.

If you’re a building materials marketer, here are five ways on how to effectively use social media.

Use social media to interact and engage

Social media icons on smartphoneYour social media accounts should be used to give your organization a voice and a way to interact with your customers and homeowners.

Building materials companies are not so great when communicating with homeowners. You can stand out from the rest by showing a bit of personality when you homeowners in social media. One thing that you can do is to humanize your organization while you respond to inquiries and reviews. Use it as a customer service advantage.

Educate your customers and their customers

Need help with your Facebook marketing strategySocial media isn’t only a place to advertise your products but it’s also an ideal platform to share information about home building issues. Make sure that you limit self-promotional posts. Instead, focus on raising awareness of a certain problem in home building, remodeling or repair.

Another good idea for your social media use is to give customers even more reasons to buy your products. Oftentimes, if a person gets information from you about an idea they use, they will have a sense of loyalty towards you and your company.

Raise awareness through social media advertising

Building Materials Marketers Must Use Social MediaTake advantage of social media advertising to help raise awareness for your brand or drive leads to your premium content. In this way, you can nurture your visitors and turn them into customers.

However, when you do use social media ads, make sure that they’re relevant and well-written in a way that they can grab your reader’s attention. 

Give your readers something that they can’t find anywhere

Social Media Is A Must for Building Materials CompaniesWhen it comes to social media, the sky is the limit. One of the things you can give your readers that they can’t get elsewhere is to how-to videos or infographics with tips that bring our products to light in an interesting and educational way.

Not surprisingly, companies don’t see results from their building material social media campaign – and certainly not sales. Here’s what they are missing: You are helping someone solve a problem where your product is a possible solution.  You are not selling them why your product is the best solution.

Regardless of what segment your company is in the building materials industry, there’s a place for you in the social media. Give your audience something that’s unique so it will be shared, retweeted or favorited.

Social media isn’t scary

Social media shouldn't be scary for building materials marketersBuilding materials marketers should take advantage of social media to communicate with their customers and homeowners. If you don’t have any idea on what to post, try monitoring other consumer durable products companies (especially appliance manufacturers’ like KitchenAid) and find out what posts they publish on their accounts. Take notes of what truly resonates with you.

When you start engaging with your audience through social media, your building materials industry can reap the rewards for many years to come.

Good Selling!

Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

5 Ways To Make B2B Communications More Effective

 five quick tips for making your communications more powerfulWhat is your one competitive advantage – smarter? faster? cheaper? – or the most service-driven player in the field? You need to find it and communicate it. Because being all things to all people went out with floppy disks and slide projectors.

This insight comes from Bill Faust, managing partner at Ologie. I’m sharing his original article combined with an updated version from the Ologie site: Think B2B doesn’t apply to you? Think again.

Use these 5 tips to power up your B2B marketing

5 Tips fopr making B2B communications more powerfulCommunicating with a business audience is very different from talking to consumers. And this is important because just about organization has to do both.

Here are five quick tips for making your communications more powerful, B2B or not.

1. Simplify the complex

Channel Marketing Can Help You Through The Customer MazeDon’t hide behind your jargon. Every potential client or prospect wants the plain truth – straight talk, simple terms and no-nonsense explanations.

Regardless of how complex the product or service, avoid the temptation of using complicated explanations and overly technical copy to make your selling point. You understand it, your customers might not.

Break it down into simple chunks and focus on the benefits. Skip the laundry list and focus on the relevant results. Walk step by step through your business. It’s complex information. Show them that you’re smart enough to keep it simple.

 2. Focus on the benefits

In any industry, it’s easy to get caught up in who you are and what you do: your products, your services, your offers, your approach, and your capabilities. But your clients would rather hear about what’s in it for them. As you communicate, stay focused on the benefits—what you will do for clients. You’re bound to make more connections that way.

3. Consistency, consistency, consistency

Consistency Consistency ConsistencyIn real estate, it’s location, in B2B it’s consistency. Consistent execution. Consistent branding. Consistent focus.

This is especially true for communications. From your website to collateral to PowerPoint presentations, show a clear and consistent image with a single, powerful voice. One-eyed branding. There’s too much competition out there already – don’t add to that by looking like two companies instead of one.

4. Make the intangible tangible

confused-manNo matter what you’re selling, from legal advice to IT consulting to business insurance, there are ways to make intangible products and services tangible.

Use narratives, metaphors, analogies, and case studies. Lean on video, photography, and infographics. Make what you do more tangible, and you’ll quickly transform your communications.

Remember; just because you get it doesn’t mean your customers do. You live it, every day. And, believe it or not, that can be a disadvantage.

So think like your prospect.  Get in their head. Step back and ask the dumb questions. The same questions your customer is probably asking all the time. After all, a little naivete can go a long way.

5. Be bold and behold

keep-calm-and-be-boldB2B doesn’t mean your marketing has to be like watching paint dry. Differentiate your company and your offer by being bold and taking some chances. Stand out in the crowd. Use your communications to get noticed and get your message to cut through in a crowded marketplace.

Many marketers assume that they have to be emotionless, or they won’t be taken seriously. Nonsense. Most B2B marketing requires communicating with senior management. Don’t underestimate them. They’re educated, sophisticated and well-traveled. They get humor and subtle messaging. They appreciate the unexpected. They look for out-of-the-box thinking. Show all of that in your communications.

Use your communications to stand out in the crowd, and you’ll get your message across. The safe road isn’t always the one leading to prosperity.

Good Selling!

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