High Pressure, High Flow1 May, 2014 By: Thomas Haire Response
Eric Loferski says short-form DRTV and online video have primed Briggs & Stratton’s new power washer campaign for success.
Briggs & Stratton and our retail partners — we appreciate the value direct response can bring to a new product launch,” says Eric Loferski, director of marketing, portable power & cleaning systems, for 106-year-old Briggs & Stratton Corp. in Milwaukee. “It’s a key medium to generate awareness and build brand — it tells the story of why a product is different and better. If you’re lucky or good enough to get broad retail distribution, DR is a fantastic way to put your success into overdrive.”
Loferski, who joined Briggs & Stratton six years ago, says that the company’s new foray into direct response — for its POWERflow+ line of pressure washers — is designed to do just that: push the products’ retail sales at Lowe’s stores and other retailers.
The short-form campaign, with 60- and 120-second spots, handles the tough job of explaining the new technology behind the power washers, while at the same time showing how simple it is for users and pushing them to seek more information at retail or online (www.briggsandstratton.com). “It’s a great way to communicate with our customer and then the customer can find the product at retail — where a majority of our products are purchased,” he says.
At the same time, while producing the campaign, Loferski and his agency partner — Portland, Ore.-based Atomic Direct — also spent a lot of time capturing work that is featured online only, giving the campaign a great look and feel across different media. Loferski says this online content is crucial in today’s changing consumer environment.
Facing and Understanding Consumers
Briggs & Stratton has seen the consumer environment evolve since 1908. That’s when inventor Stephen F. Briggs formed an informal partnership with investor Harold M. Stratton that began in the automotive industry and eventually led to the company making its name as one of the biggest manufacturers of small gasoline engines in the world.
For its first 92 years, Briggs & Stratton produced products that were part of other end products. It wasn’t until 2000, when it purchased Generac Portable Products and renamed it the Briggs & Stratton Portable Products Group LLC that the company entered the branded end-products market. The group today includes pressure washers, portable generators and more.
This division is home to Loferski and the new POWERflow+ products. The Milwaukee-area marketing veteran joined Briggs & Stratton in 2008 after stints with such local powerhouses as Brunswick Billiards, Milwaukee Electric Tool and Kohler Co.
During the 18 years he spent with those leaders, Loferski learned the value of the customer. “I believe in the fundamentals — and the first is that you need to know your customer before you act,” he says. “When you’re done with your product research, I think there’s always room for more consumer research: what motivated them to buy your brand — or your competitors’ brands — in the past. Before you optimize your website, begin a pay-per-click program or purchase any media, you have to know your consumer back and forth.”
Loferski says that while consumers can buy Briggs & Stratton products online, the main driver for all of its marketing is to get consumers to visit the national hardware retailers it partners with. “The E-commerce segment of our pressure washer business certainly is growing, but the majority of our customers still buy at brick-and-mortar retail stores,” he says.
The POWER of DR
How does Briggs & Stratton support that marketing concept?
“We use a mix of in-store merchandising, digital marketing, social media, public relations and direct response television,” Loferski says. “But, as the consumer changes, that mix promises to change along with it.”
On his side of the business, though, Loferski does see a challenge from carrying a name as well known as Briggs & Stratton. “It’s one of those brands — consumers just immediately associate it with outdoor power equipment,” he says. “But, besides making engines, we are also America’s leading maker of gas-powered pressure washers.”
With that said, Loferski contends the company uses direct response marketing for three reasons: to create awareness of Briggs & Stratton as a standalone pressure washer brand; to introduce its newest technology to the market; and to drive purchasers to retailers — most notably Lowe’s, which is its main partner in this new campaign.
When considering television advertising, Loferski says, “To achieve those goals, we needed more than a 30-second ad. The message needed at least 60 seconds to 120 seconds to come across. We have a story to tell, and that story needs to motivate the consumer to pick up the phone, go to the website or visit a store. That made a DR campaign a critical first step in a campaign that carries the same message everywhere you see it.”
The product story is a good one. Briggs & Stratton’s new line of POWERflow+ pressure washers — there are three: an electric-powered version; a gas-powered version; and a gas-powered version with a push-button starter — are the only pressure washers on the market that offer both a high-pressure setting (to clean the toughest stains and lift dirt) and a high-flow setting (to rinse away dirt or debris, reach high windows or clean delicate surfaces).
“The high-flow mode provides two times the water at a lower pressure — and it does so with the twist of the wrist, thanks to a seven-in-one nozzle that allows users to easily switch settings,” Loferski says. “It also includes a couple of different soaping modes on the nozzle, which means users don’t have to switch nozzles or keep going back and forth from a soapy water bucket. It just handles so many tasks and offers a lot more efficiency.”
The DRTV ads and corresponding online content consistently address the leaps in technology offered by the POWERflow+ line in easy-to-understand language and visuals for consumers. It’s slightly different from other DR campaigns the average viewer might have become used to.
“With a lot of direct response campaigns, there seems to be a formula: problem, solution, testimonial, incentive,” Loferski says. “That formula may work for some products — in fact, we used it on a different product launch. But the DR format must be flexible. With the POWERflow+, it’s all about a drive to retail or the Web to learn more.”
Loferski says focus groups prior to the campaign helped the Briggs & Stratton team confirmed that with the POWERflow+ line, the key was the product demo. “What the product does is difficult to verbalize, but it’s easy to visualize,” he contends. “The visuals have great impact. More than one consumer told us, ‘I didn’t know a power washer could do that.’”
“So we decided that we needed more of that visual content and fewer testimonials,” Loferski adds. “At the same time, we don’t incentivize. It’s more about explaining the product’s incremental benefits to encourage consumers to go to the Web or a store to learn more. It’s all lead-gen — there’s no price point, even.”
Loferski says the campaign is designed to drive most consumers to Lowe’s stores, with a smaller percentage visiting the website for more information or to find their closest Briggs & Stratton retailer.
Briggs & Stratton is also using online video as part of the DR campaign, something Loferski has experimented with in the past and understands quite well. With the sheer volume of ads online — especially the booming number of video ads — Loferski says consumers are becoming more and more conditioned to click past those ads as quickly as possible.
“We have a small YouTube campaign going, as well as some pre-roll ads,” Loferski says. “The objective is to get people to watch the entire ad, so you have to have a hook early in order to keep them from clicking away. Instead, you want them to click through to your site where they’ll learn more and get entrenched in the product.”
He says that with some prior products, he’s utilized videos of up to “three to four minutes” online, but that consumers’ attention spans generally can’t handle that. “We’ve found that 10-20 second snippets are more palatable for consumers, even on our site,” Loferski contends. “Through these smaller bits, they’ll spend more cumulative time on our site — which gets them closer to making the decision to head to their nearest retailer.”
Now, Briggs & Stratton is supporting every new product launch with these smaller video snippets — “bits and pieces,” Loferski says. The more consumers see of them, the more likely they become to sit through a longer video, as well.
Where’s all this online content coming from in the POWERflow+ campaign? “We worked with Atomic Direct, and they really helped guide us through this process,” Loferski says. “We shared our research with them, as well as our positioning statement and our belief in the messaging. They got our business and our advertising objectives immediately. And with their belief in research, they became nearly as well informed as we are.”
That relationship was crucial to creating the DRTV campaign, which debuted in a test the weekend of May 2. “We were on the same page in concept development, filming and production,” Loferski says. “Having that up-front understanding meant we were in sync on set and in post.” ■