Looks like the hot home improvement marketplace isn’t going away. How can marketers capitalize?

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

Looks like the hot home improvement marketplace isn’t going away. How can marketers capitalize?

The home improvement market has been on fire for more than a year, and it doesn’t appear to be cooling down.   

Retailers reported big jumps in sales for the first quarter of this year. Home Depot® saw a 31% jump in sales over the previous year and Lowe’s® was not far behind with a 24.4% increase compared to Q1 2020. Consumer spending is 20% higher today that it was in 2019 according to Bank of America’s CEO, and the future looks bright. For example, Snap-On Tool CEO predicted that the economic boom will continue and with an ongoing positive impact on home improvement-related companies associated with DIY products.

So it seems like there’s more good times ahead, but how can marketers ensure that our companies and clients are included?  

Surveys by leading research firms such as Kantar have shown that consumers have the highest level of trust in information about a brand when it comes from their friends and family, review sites, and news and information websites. Consumers place trust in these and other third-party, credible sources.

Based on this information and our experience in supporting tool brands and the advanced DIY market, here are a few recommendations we tell our clients.

Influencer Marketing

We are not an ‘Influencer’ agency, but we often work with influencers as part of our service to our clients. While an influencer may not have the same impact on a consumer’s decision as family member or friend, the influencer is a third-party who may be approachable and willing to work with you.

There are a lot complicated ways to get involved in Influencer marketing, but if you aren’t working with a network of influencers now, try testing it. The approach we found effective is working with clients to identify the ‘up and comers’ in their industries. You don’t need a celebrity or one with a huge following. Find those that are passionate about his/her trade and who are already posting on social media sites. Then reach out to them. If it makes sense to start a relationship, decide what content your audience is wanting, and then match it to the influencer. Send the influencer a few products and ask them to create videos or take photos using the product. We don’t ask them to endorse our products, we just request honest reviews. According to a recent Marketing Charts article, consumers trust reviews more than influencer endorsements and value them highly in their buying process.  

Review Sites

There are many great online articles about review sites. Some of the better known review sites include Amazon Customer Reviews, Qura and Trustpilot. A widely used site for product reviews is YouTube, especially for tools and equipment. YouTube’s search capabilities makes it easy for consumers to find product reviews when making a purchasing decision. We post product review videos in our clients’ channels and ask the influencers to post them on their sites. The review videos typically receive more views than product promotional videos, and they generate user response and conversations. So make it easy for your customers and upload those product reviews from your influencers and create a playlist for any other review videos found on YouTube.

And speaking of YouTube – it’s a not a one-way street. Tradesman and consumers aren’t watching your videos to be entertained, they want knowledge so monitor the chatter. As we manage our clients’ sites, we respond quickly to questions and comments that our videos receive. (This is also a “win” for all parties when done properly. We have had several viewers who have written back thanking us for our answers and report that they have bought the products.)  

Public Relations

According to the Kantar survey, news and information websites are the 3rd most trusted source of information for consumers after product reviews. Trade publications are a natural fit for your efforts, but you should also consider ways to attract consumer media. There are many simple activities that can generate press mentions and also benefit others. Perhaps donate products to a community organization or trade school, or schedule training sessions with trade schools. These types of stories might be of interest to the local consumer media and could help expand your PR outreach.

Social Media

You use social media, but with a good influencer program in place, a well-organized PR program and development of video, you have everything you need to feed the social media machine.  

Channel Marketing

Wholesalers, distributors, and retailers all need support and like most companies, are always searching for information to pass along to their customer. Have a discussion with your channel partners to determine the content your brand could provide. The retail and wholesale space for tools is crowded and competitive, so helping channel partners with content that serves their customers is a win-win proposition.

With the economy moving in an upward direction, you have an opportunity to connect with huge numbers of contractors and DIYers who are doing improvement projects and are in need of your products and services. If you are looking for ways to make that connection, let’s talk. We have experience in developing marketing communications to support your sales efforts.

3 Ways Tool Manufacturers Can Grow the Skilled Labor Workforce

Shawn Maher

3 Ways Tool Manufacturers Can Grow the Skilled Labor Workforce

Over the recent months, we have read a lot about how the labor market is in an unprecedented state of transition. While many jobs that were eliminated have returned, we have also seen many jobs, often those with poor pay and minimal benefits, remained unfilled. At the same time, skilled labor is seeing much of its workforce head to retirement as the Baby Boomer generation reaches their golden years. With that in mind, now is the perfect time for skilled labor fields like welding, machining, HVAC/R, construction, roofing and plumbing to take advantage of disillusioned service industry workers who wish to begin a real career with a brighter future. 

How can tool manufacturers help with the skilled labor shortage? 

Throughout these skilled labor industries, employers would like to see these jobs filled immediately. There’s no doubt that this is important since there is always important work that needs to get done. However, now is the perfect time to resort to more creative measures. Sure, finding experienced workers is ideal. But there is a great opportunity for contractors to fill the help they need, including non-skilled workers, while still maintaining the quality craftsmanship that their customers demand. 

Of course, tool manufacturers depend on these contractors, as well. Without workers, there is nobody to use their tools! So, let’s discuss three ways that these tool manufacturers could do to help grow the workforce in these industries that they support. 

Make tools easier to use 

In a recent article entitled Tools Tackle the Labor Shortage, Supply House Times provides several examples of manufacturers developing tools that have a lower barrier to entry for use by making them more intuitive for a less-skilled laborer. In this article, DEWALT Product Manager Daniel Heiney-Gonzalez explains, “This has provided an opportunity for innovation to come in and make these workers who are working more efficient.” 

Marketers can support these efforts by gaining an in-depth understanding of customers and keeping an open dialogue with sales teams, who spend so much time with customers that they gain a wealth of knowledge of their needs and pain points. This was the case when Geile/Leon helped Parker Hannifin launch a new product that reduced the time that HVAC/R contractors spent joining pipes by simplifying the process. Brazing pipe is a learned skill that can take many, many hours to master. But with ZoomLock, employees with minimal experience in the field can confidently join pipes together, and the skilled workers could do it faster than they ever could before. 

Curious as to how we did it? Then check out our case study here: https://geileon.com/work/sporlan-zoomlock/

Support trade school education

Thanks to the efforts of Mike Rowe, along with many companies and individuals in a variety of industries, in promoting skilled trades as a logical alternative to a four-year college degree, trade schools are steadily gaining in popularity. This is a very promising trend for companies who wish to see a larger pool of skilled labor, but there is even more potential for growth. 

Manufacturers should support these schools and take advantage of this momentum. There are many groups that help collectivize and maximize these efforts, like SkillsUSA. In addition, they could donate tools and funds to these schools. Not only will it lead to a future with a wealth of skilled employees, it will also foster brand loyalty from day one as these future employees will enjoy hands-on instruction with your products and come to recognize them as a trusted industry standard. 

Our client, Harris Products Group, is one of those future-focused companies who supports high school trade classes. In fact, they had their efforts recognized recently in a news story. We’d highly encourage you to check out this inspirational story and see how they have brightened the future of Grayson County students who are learning brazing and soldering skill training. 

Work to diversify your industry’s workforce

The Associated General Contractors of America’s Culture of Care program launched last year and is doing great work in attracting a large pool of skilled tradespeople. With an expected 10-million-person labor shortage by 2023, according to the nonprofit Bridging America’s Gap, now is a perfect time to seize an opportunity to invest in recruiting and training people of all backgrounds. Not only will this provide an opportunity those in marginalized populations who have an immense amount of talent, but it will also create a workforce that is stronger due to its inclusive nature. 

We think another really great example can be found right here from our client, Clayco, a St. Louis- and Chicago-based commercial construction firm. You can see how we helped them to brand and promote their Clayco Rising diversity and inclusion program, breaking through barriers of income, race, sexual orientation and gender. The tagline, “Clayco Rising, People Above All Else,” is a clear indication of their dedication to leading the industry to bring positive change from top to bottom, not only internally but also in their contractors and strategic partnership. 

Actions speak louder than words

Manufacturers and the industry groups that they belong to can be the catalyst that ends the current labor shortage, but that means thinking beyond traditional methodologies and recruitment strategies. When we invite everyone to participate, we not only help those who deserve an opportunity, we help our companies by unlocking potential that could have remained untapped and by creating an inclusive company culture that is a boost to morale across the board. Opportunities don’t just appear out of thin air. Those who create them are the visionaries who rise to the top of their industry. 

Ideas require action, however, and a strategic marketing partner can help you maximize these campaigns. We have a great deal of experience and success in finding unique and inclusive solutions for employee recruitment. Let’s talk about what we can do for you. Get in touch now and let’s get started!

Freezing the summer melt in higher education

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Freezing the summer melt in higher education

We know you’re tired of hearing about it – that irritating and frustrating phenomenon when prospective college students lose their motivation to attend college and “melt” away during the summer after their senior year. Every year, an estimated 10-40% of high school students don’t make it to campus in the fall. 

They’ve applied, been accepted by, and have actually made a deposit to a college or university, but they fail to follow through. What a phenomenon!

What causes them not to act?

Throughout the summer, too many students overlook emails or letters in the mail from universities requiring action on the student’s part – whether it be to complete their application, fill out financial aid information, submit health forms, finish class registration or sign up for orientation. This enrollment drop-off is informally referred to as “summer melt,” and it results in the university removing a student from their records.

For the incoming class of 2021, summer melt interventions are needed immediately. New data shows that 2020 low-income high school enrollment numbers were down 13 times from last year and high-minority high schools saw enrollment numbers drop more than tenfold.

But don’t “sweat” it. There’s something that you can do about it. Here are five ways you can help prevent summer melt and provide support to the low-income students that are affected the most.

#1 – Stay in touch.

Just because a student is accepted and confirms the offer, it doesn’t mean the recruitment process should end. Use social media like Facebook Live, Snapchat or Instagram campaigns to congratulate students, help them through the enrollment process, and allow them to ask any questions. You could also email them about things going on around campus, clubs they might be interested in, or resources available on campus. Also, videos are a great tool to personally welcome students to campus. Effective videos provide students with tips on what to bring when they arrive, show them around campus and much more. Weekly reminders to check their email or send in appropriate health records or financial aid documents can give those students that push to get things done and out of the way. There are available texting programs that make it easy and less time-consuming for counselors to implement this type of communications.

#2 – Simplify the process.

Have you ever looked at the process from the student’s eyes? Assess your enrollment and onboarding process and get a good perspective of what a student has to go through to finalize their enrollment. If you feel overwhelmed or confused, I guarantee your students are too.

#3 – Create a community of support.

This generation of incoming students value peer opinion over most other influencers. Creating an organic support system for incoming students will help remove barriers by allowing incoming students the opportunity to talk to each other and ask questions to others going through the same process. This will help decrease the stress of the entire process—especially for first-generation students.

At home, parents have been advised to meet with the graduating student for 20 minutes each week to discuss plans for college. The education department believes these meetings should continue in the summertime, and should focus on reviewing mail or forms the college has sent to the student.

#4 – Partner with government-funded programs.

Several programs across the country, like Gear Up Iowa, are working to increase the number of minority and low-income students that enter and succeed in their higher education journey. These programs are like “supporting families” that help plan, prepare and pay for postsecondary education.

#5 – Early college awareness groups.

These awareness programs can be really helpful in helping high school graduates with their enrollment. Many high school seniors rely on counselors to help them prepare. But one in five high schools in the country have no counselors. And the ones that do say they spend just 22 minutes with a student over their 4 years of high school. Some lower-income or first-generation students can have major issues navigating the enrollment process, and not having a counselor will cause the process to become overwhelming. 

At Geile/Leon, we understand Summer Melt and what it means to both the admissions and enrollment departments. A university client recently came to us wanting to help solve their summer melt problems. They needed support to help reach those accepted prospects and encourage them to complete the enrollment process. G/L developed a direct digital/social campaign to support the “final push” and create a sense of urgency in all materials. 

Through Geile/Leon’s five-step marketing approach, 25% of those targeted students completed their enrollment process. Assuming each of those students attend the university for four years, this will equate to over $5 million dollars in tuition. If you’re experiencing summer melt frustrations, give us a call. We can help.

References: National College Attainment Network Blog – “Stopping Summer Melt Starts in the Spring”, April 5, 2021
Comevo Blog – “How to Prevent Summer Melt”
Encoura Student Survey – “Enrolling Gen Z: What the Prospective Student Survey™ Tells Us About Pivoting to Serve the Next Generation”