When he took over his father's business in 2002, Grip On Tools President Elias Amash decided to radically change focus.
In the past, the company had sold pretty good imported tools at pretty cheap prices to mom-and-pop hardware and crafting stores. Now, Amash aimed his sights upward -- why not offer very high-quality tools to big national retail chains such as Bass Pro and Ace Hardware, as well as ecommerce sites like Overstock?
His sales reps gamely phoned and emailed the appropriate retail buyers.
But, as Sales Executive Mary Feutz explains, it wasn't easy getting a response, let alone a meeting appointment. Many of these buying execs had never heard of Grip on Tools before, and sometimes doubted that imported tools were high-enough quality.
"We needed more credibility as a vendor," Feutz says.CAMPAIGN
Like most small business owners, Amash has very little time to spend in his email in-box. "He deletes half of it. It goes in the trash as soon as he checks it," says Feutz.
However, one afternoon instead of deleting an email from a vendor pitching office coffee services, Amash sat down to view the email carefully. Then he required every member of his management and sales team to evaluate it as well.
Why? Well, it wasn't because he wanted a new coffee service. Instead, he was entranced by the hotlink to a Flash video sales pitch for the coffee service. The price for creating such a video was roughly $10,000. Would the investment be worth it?
"At the time I didn't know if it would work for us," admits Feutz. "The only thing that impressed me is that it got him to stop and pay attention. He's the kind of busy person whose attention I'm trying to get. So if this worked in an email targeting him, it must be effective."
Feutz, tasked with creating a similar video took four steps:
#1. Hire the right vendor
A zillion corporate video and Web development firms can create a video for online promotions. Feutz set a series of hoops the winner would have to jump through:
- Stem-to-stern production, including copy and hosting. She was too busy selling to help them with marketing.
- Ability to change out images and graphics within the video easily without having to re-shoot or re-do an entire video. (Important if your product line, contact numbers or other info points change.)
- Was the team who'd do the work (not just the sales rep) friendly and easy to communicate with?
- Would past clients consider doing a second video with the same firm?
- Did the presentation and quality of sample videos seem like it would meet Grip On Tools' expectations?
#2. Give the creative team every possible piece of background
After selecting a vendor, Feutz sent them a huge package of information including everything she could imagine, such as brochures, catalogs, shots of the staff, aerial photos of the warehouse, product samples and a company history.
She also carefully detailed the reasons (lack of credibility or brand-name recognition, quality assumptions) why she felt prospects didn't want to take her calls currently. This list was everything the video would have to rebut.
#3. Set up a tracking mechanism
Feutz asked the video team to insert a lead generation contact form on the very last screen of the video (link to sample below) just in case a viewer who clicked on the link from the company Web site wanted to reach out.
However, the site didn't get much traffic, especially from retail buyers who were trying to avoid sales reps' calls. So Feutz figured that most traffic would come from clicks to individual emails she was planning to send to key prospects.
She upgraded her email system to enable tracking. Each outbound email would include a special link so the system knew precisely which prospect was clicking on the video link. The reporting system then would ping Feutz to let her know the video was being viewed.
#4. Start emailing the hotlink
Depending on her relationship with the prospect, Feutz told them about the video by phone -- "I've got a new video, can I email it to you?" -- or by simple, personal email -- "Here's our new video, thought you might like to take a look at it."
She also added the video link to her email SIG so everything she sent out from then on would have a reminder about the video automatically.
"People who would never give us the time of day before are now setting appointments!" Feutz enthuses. Key prospects such as Fingerhut, Michaels, Overstock and, yes, even Ace Hardware's national headquarters all agreed to take meetings.
"I was trying to get an appointment to meet with Duluth Trading Company for four years. The buyer wasn't replying to any of my emails. I didn't even know she was female. Then all of the sudden she watched the video and agreed to meet. I was floored."
Since then, "there's not one person I've sent the video hotlink to who has not at least clicked on it," says Feutz.
In fact, the program's gone unexpectedly viral. "I'll get the email saying so-and-so is watching the video now. Then I get emails saying he's watching again, five or six times." Which is why although Feutz has only emailed 552 prospects the link over two years, more than 2,000 people have clicked to view it.
The resulting sales boost has been tremendous. "We're over 200,000 square feet now. It's awesome."
Amash himself was impressed enough by results to schedule two more video projects. Plus, he paid for one of Grip On Tools' key customers to develop their own. He figured if the marketing worked there, too, it would be more business all around.Useful links related to this article:
Creative samples from Grip On Tool's video campaign:
AngelVision Technologies -- the service that scripted, created and hosts the video for Grip On Tools
Grip On Tools ' Video itself
Grip On Tools