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Direct Response Marketing

Do-It-Myself? Show Me How

7 May, 2010 By: Bridget McCrea Response

Direct response gives hardware marketers a way to demonstrate their goods and sell higher-ticket items.

With future shows lined up for additional tools, Festool will release 2-minute and 30-second DRTV commercials later. “We’ve all but placed the [media] order for the smaller version to go on TV,” says Williams. The company is expecting big things from its multi-pronged video and DRTV strategies, including a 200-percent increase in tool sales during the 2- to 3-month period following its launch. “I’m going to run out of inventory very soon, and we haven’t even run the campaign yet,” says Williams. “There’s that much excitement.”

Chugging Right Along

DR’s demonstrative capabilities make it the perfect advertising mechanism for the hardware category, where everything from the $10 drill bit to the $1,200 saw can benefit from commercials that “show” the customer how to use the item. With the do-it-yourself era in full swing — and with everyone pinching pennies — hardware marketers are increasingly turning to DRTV, DR videos and direct mail to reach buyers.

“Hardware thrives in DRTV because hardware thrives with demonstration,” says Doug Garnett, president at Portland, Ore.-based Atomic Direct (and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board), which has worked with Festool, Kreg Tool and ProTool. “Manufacturers that have been driving hard on innovation for the past 10 to 15 years find DRTV to be a great way to communicate that innovation. To do that, you have to show people how it works.”

Kreg Tool Co., of Huxley, Iowa, is one of those innovators (Response, June 2009). Since 1986, the firm has been selling a line of pocket hole tools known as Kreg Jigs®, but hadn’t tested the DRTV waters until recently. “They were a tool company focused on the professional market, so they sold products mainly to small cabinet shops,” explains Garnett. “They knew their products had a broader appeal, and that the only way to garner some of that was to show people why they should care about the tools.”

To reach the consumer market, Kreg Tool turned to DR. The campaign started with an in-store video about three years ago that yielded positive results. “They got very good feedback on the video,” recalls Garnett, “so we researched Kreg’s customer buying habits — and what’s important to those customers — and produced the company’s first infomercial about 18 months ago.”

On TV, Kreg is using half-hour shows that introduce a broad audience to the art of woodworking, and utilizing the firm’s unique tools to get jobs done faster and better. Garnett says the infomercials reach customers who “would like to build stuff from wood, but who lack the training and confidence to do it.” Through DRTV, Kreg can demonstrate how its tools deftly tackle the most complicated woodworking process: joining two pieces of wood together.

To complement its DRTV and in-store videos, Kreg is also using social media to connect with users and establish itself as the vendor of choice for woodworkers. Through its own online user group, the company participates in discussions with its customers, follows trends and interacts on a variety of topics. Garnett sees such social media efforts as the perfect adjunct for marketers who know the value of connecting directly with consumers.

“Hardware marketers can bring people in with the DRTV, and then employ social media to make sure those products are being used and that the purchases are successful,” says Garnett. “This is especially critical for hobby-type, do-it-yourself products — as opposed to pots and pans — where people tend to have a lot of questions and want to learn more about how to use the items.”

Building Blocks

It’s not easy to get consumers to understand why they need a $100 product to sharpen a 25-cent drill bit, but that’s exactly what DRTV helped ProTool do over an eight-year period. During that time, Garnett says the marketer sold 8 million units via television and at retail. “It was a fairly tough sell,” he says, “and it did well.” ProTool’s follow up product, WorkSharp, had its own three-year run at retail, thanks in part to the marketer’s innovative multi-product DRTV shows.

Not many hardware marketers attempt the multi-product approach, says Garnett, but those that do often find it to be an economical way to maximize media and production dollars. “People assume that if they take 10 minutes to focus on another product, then they’ll lose one-third of the impact,” says Garnett. “In reality, you make your media a lot more efficient when you have two products in a single show.”

Another company that’s carved a deep niche for itself in the hardware category is TVGoods, a Clearwater, Fla.-based firm headed up by infomercial pioneer Kevin Harrington, who is also co-founder of Omni Reliant. According to Harrington, TVGoods developed the Omni Dual Saw, whose rollout is being handled by Omni Reliant (the “new owner of the show,” he adds).

The professional-grade saw was featured on Discovery Channel’s Pitchmen in 2009, and its infomercial starred Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan. Harrington says the $200 product is the perfect fit for DRTV, which allows the marketer to showcase and demonstrate the item in a way that a cardboard box and labels cannot. He says the 30-minute length works especially well. “I wouldn’t want to have to squeeze all of that into a 2-minute spot,” says Harrington.

The Internet has also played a large role in Dual Saw’s success. Roughly 40 percent of sales for the product take place online, according to Harrington, who sees online video as a great booster for the firm’s DRTV efforts. “We’re seeing a lot of Internet activity,” he says. “Internet video, in particular, is very good for an expensive product in the hardware category.”

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