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Different by Design

1 May, 2008 By: Response Contributor Response

The latest DRTV campaign from Professional Tool Manufacturing highlights its new Work Sharp product. But the company also continues to break ground in the branded long-form DRTV environment.


Looking Back to the Beginning


This ability to stretch the rules and walk a fine line for ProTool's campaigns goes back to the very beginning of the partnership with Garnett and Atomic Direct. ProTool's initial decision to work with Atomic came about because the agency had no reluctance in doing things differently.

The initial campaign for Drill Doctor debuted seven years ago. The key to the campaign was to convert viewers to the complicated Drill Doctor through the detailed explanations and demonstrations only possible in a long-form message. They reasoned if they could "show-and-sell" through a half-hour program, the small company might be able to afford TV advertising.

"The luxury of covering so many different applications in 28 minutes opened a large, national market for us," says ProTool's Crawford. "Hot buttons can be different for each buyer. You never know which application will trigger a purchase."

With an analytical background gained from degrees in applied mathematics and a career in aerospace, Garnett relied heavily on data to determine how to proceed. Using a focus group approach, Atomic Direct divided the product's features into separate components of communication, testing them one-at-a-time in a sales presentation given to groups of eight to 10 people.

"We look for the strongest trends and themes to determine whether it makes sense to proceed and, if so, the final direction of the sales pitch," says Garnett. "Our industry has been remiss in appreciating the power of research." Elements such as the best type of presenter, environment, demonstrations, interviews and testimonials all emerged from the trials.

ProTool s Web site for Drill Doctor,, builds off of the DRTV campaign to boost sales both directly and at retail.
ProTool s Web site for Drill Doctor,, builds off of the DRTV campaign to boost sales both directly and at retail.


In 2001, the campaign launched on national cable. Outdoor, Speed and National Geographic — channels that appeal to active men — were used, as well as special interest channels Discovery, Sci-Fi, History and USA.

Interestingly, while it might be assumed that Home & Garden Television (HGTV) would offer a good medium for tool workers interested in home repairs, redecorating and remodeling, Garnett has not found that to be so. He explains that, much as cookware campaigns often do poorly on the Food Network, viewers seem to watch more for entertainment value than for a direct interest in participating in similar activities.

Early morning time slots from 5-9 a.m. proved best. "During the week, we get them when they're shaving, or during mid-morning weekends when they're drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper," says Garnett. "Plus we target weekend afternoons when they're done mowing the lawn and come in to relax."

Blodgett further defines his target market as heavy tool-use homeowners. Nearly half of all Drill Doctor users also own arc welders. For product kick-offs, Professional Tool Manufacturing has often used radio in connection with DRTV. "In particular, we've chosen Paul Harvey on ABC radio for his credibility and appeal to one of our targets, the 50-plus year-old consumer," he notes.


Agency Partners Provide Boost


Atomic Direct manages all of ProTool's direct sales channel, coordinating it with the print advertising handled by Motivational Design, a Portland, Ore.-based graphic design firm. And while Atomic is ultimately responsible for media purchases, they rely on Zephyr Media to handle the actual buys. "Atomic is more of a strategic operation," says Garnett. "We guide clients by bringing together all of the right resources."

Los Angeles-based Medallion Fulfillment and Logistics reports to Atomic and is responsible for the customer service, order processing and shipping of DRTV and Web site orders. Both media are fully integrated, with the same pricing offered for Internet and television sales. DRTV discounts can be substantial, with a possible MSRP for the Drill Doctor of $112.95 promotion priced at $59.97. Calls to ProTool's sales, customer service or technical support teams are seamlessly passed to Medallion for fulfillment.

Still the drive to retail remains paramount. "Because we have models that appeal to anyone from the home hobbyist to the professional tradesman, we typically promote the brand more than a specific tool," says Blodgett. "We definitely experience a spike in retail sales after an infomercial. And while our DRTV doesn't pay for itself, it does help to offset our advertising costs."

Today, Drill Doctors sell at major hardware retailers such as Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's, True Value, Do it Best, Menards, Ace, and through automotive after-market suppliers, industrial tool suppliers and distributors in 25 countries.

Garnett recommends that his retail clients eschew the "As Seen On TV" verbiage. "To most consumers that red logo appears gimmicky," he says. "Drill Doctor is an excellent tool that you'd expect to see in any good retail store. We don't want to cheapen it."

Such is the experience of ProTool, a small manufacturing firm in a tiny town tucked into Oregon's Siskiyou Mountains — a company that prides itself on its quality of life as much as its quality products and quality advertisements. Plaques line company walls from: "Top 50 Small Company Employers," per Oregon Business Magazine; and "Families in Good Company" to "Best New Product," Handyman Club of America; "Retailers Choice Award," National Hardware Show; and "Top 100 New Products," Do-It-Yourself Retailing magazine.

For the folks at Professional Tool Manufacturing, different is definitely good.

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