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Sep 30, 2009
How To

Research-Driven Message Conveys Product Advantage: 5 Tactics to Lift Sales more than 10%

SUMMARY: If you want a marketing message that convinces customers your product is superior to competitorsí, few things can communicate more clearly than a simple statistic.

See how a kitchen appliance manufacturer promoted research proving their productís effectiveness. The campaign lifted sales and website traffic more than 10%.
Brian J. Maynard, Director, Brand Marketing, Jenn-Air and KitchenAid, wanted to develop a marketing message that highlighted the performance of KitchenAidís new dishwasher. But he wasnít certain how its results qualitatively compared with competitorsí dishwashers, and whether consumers knew about its performance.

"Consumers tell us that what they care about are the results -- ultimately how well the product cleans," he says.

The team set out to prove that their dishwasher had better results and to communicate that message to consumers. They conducted research in late 2008 that found their machine provided "25% better results than the competition." Then, they polished their message and heavily promoted the performance statistic during the first quarter of 2009.

The result: Sales of the dishwasher climbed by double digits in the teamís target channels, compared to the previous quarter, and traffic to their website increased by double digits "above historical norms," Maynard says.

Hereís how Maynard and his team gathered, polished and promoted the research:

Tactic #1. Conduct research according to high standards

First, the team conducted research to prove that its dishwasher outperformed the competition's.

They were lucky to have a set of industry testing standards and guidelines to follow -- which helped make their methodology less open to criticism. (The product-testing standards came from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.)

They followed those procedures to measure their machineís washing and drying performance against the leading premium brandís highest MSRP models.

Tactic #2. Communicate results in a consumer-friendly way

Giving consumers a bunch of jargon-heavy diswasher data is likely to bore them, rather than excite them.

Instead, the team had to simplify the results to make them clearly communicable. Also, they had to make sure what they were saying was 100% accurate and legal.

- Create one metric

They worked with a statistician to combine the results of their washing and drying tests into a single metric called "results." The statisticianís expertise ensured that this metric would be an accurate reflection of the data -- not a fudged estimate.

Ultimately, they arrived at a claim of 25% better results than the competition.

"You canít well say that you provide 25% better results than the competition and not have that accurate," Maynard says.

- Develop legally safe phrasing

The team intended to promote this metric far and wide in what Maynard calls a "fighter message" -- one that directly compares the product to its competition. They could be certain that the claims would be picked over for weaknesses that could be used against them.

"We spent quite a bit of time with our legal department working through various wordings and scenarios that we could and could not say, and what the fine print was going to say," Maynard says.

- Balance legal concerns with marketing needs

The team also had to balance their marketing objectives with their legal requirements. A dry, legal-sounding statement might not attract lawsuits, but wouldnít attract many sales, either.

"One of the most challenging pieces was to determine how we would say it in strong enough words that meant something, but also be factual at the same time."

The team decided on phrasing such as:
o "25% better results vs. the competition"
o "Results that are 25% better than the competition"

Tactic #3. Integrate results with brand message

KitchenAidís brand is tied to family, entertaining, and connecting people through dining and cooking, Maynard says. The team wanted to use their new research to suggest that their dishwasher could enrich these experiences.

- A television ad showed families in the kitchen, and emphasized that the dishwasher provides 25% better results than the competition so customers can focus on what really matters -- their families.

- The left side of a print advertisement featured pictures of children and half-eaten kidsí breakfasts. The right side showed a picture of the washer and mentioned "results are 25% better than the competition* and 97% better than your kids," which connected the washer with consumersí families.

- Not all advertisements were family oriented. Some were strictly results-based, showing a picture of dishes being cleaned in a washer next to the 25% results tagline.

Tactic #4. Promote statistic in multiple channels

The 25% tagline was a strong message that the team wanted to put in front of consumers who were shopping for a new dishwasher.

Here are the channels in which they promoted the tagline:

- Television

As mentioned above, the team created a 30-second ad that emphasized family in the kitchen and at the dinner table. The end of the ad mentioned the 25% tagline.

- Search PPC

The team also bid on keywords on Google, Yahoo! and Bing (formerly MSN). The keywords were related to dishwashers, and the advertisements sent visitors to one of two places:

#1. A KitchenAid landing page that mentioned offers available in stores, and also mentioned the 25% tagline. Consumers could not purchase the dishwasher through KitchenAid.

#2. A retailerís website, where consumers could learn more about the dishwasher, see the tagline, and make a purchase.

- Online display ads

The team also ran a number of display ads on websites related to home and interior design, cooking and gardening. There were about eight different types of online display ads used. Two examples:

#1. A rich media ad that expanded when rolled-over to show an animation of dirty dishes being cleaned. Visitors could click through ďto find out what it meant to be KitchenAid clean with 25% better results.Ē

#2. A static banner ad that mentioned the 25% tagline, and when clicked took visitors to a page describing KitchenAid offers.

Some results from the teamís display advertising efforts:
o 47,283,995 impressions
o 19,424 clicks
o 0.04% CTR

- Print advertising

The team also ran print advertising in Food and Wine magazine. The ad, mentioned above, featured pictures of children, their half-eaten breakfasts and the 25% tagline.

Tactic #5. Mention results at point-of-sale

The team also wanted to reach consumers who were shopping for dishwashers in retail stores. They primarily did this in three ways:

- Message on machines

The team attached a flyer to in-store dishwashers. The approximately 6-inch by 3-inch piece of paper showed an image of dishes being cleaned in a washer under the large red text "25% better results vs. the competition."

- Point-of-sale banners

KitchenAidís 90th anniversary coincided with the campaign. The team combined an anniversary message with the 25% message on banners and hung them in retail partnersí stores. The color scheme of this banner matched that of the message adhered to the machines.

- Sales training

KitchenAid is involved in training the on-floor sales staff of its retail partners. They added the 25% message to the staffís training materials, and encouraged current staff to reinforce the statistic when selling.

Useful links related to this article:

Creative Samples from KitchenAidís performance-research campaign

Association for Home Appliance Manufacturers

Food and Wine Magazine

See Also:

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