Ridge Tool Co. was set to introduce a line of 35 new handheld bench-top and stationary tools under the RIDGID brand name.To do this successfully, the tool company needed to get its name and product out to the professionals who use power tools. Research shows that members of this audience are extremely meticulous and loyal when it comes to their tools, thus third-party credibility would be vital to the success of the brand and its sales.
Imre Communications was commissioned to create a clever campaign that would introduce the new line and demonstrate RIDGID's high performance and durability to potential consumers.
Imre did extensive primary and secondary research to detail the market and gauge the potential demand for Ridge's new line of power tools. Interviews with more than 10,000 consumers and 2,000 professionals were conducted to identify the buyers' unmet needs and assess existing brands' features. Imre also studied the media coverage of other brands to determine where launch efforts should be focused for events and beyond.
While Ridge did advertise the new line, the company knew that the best way to sway potential customers would be to get them to try the product.
"We felt consumers aren't believers in advertising," says Dave Imre, founder of Imre. "They need to get their hands on the product to be convinced."
The agency also set sales and media relations objectives that would provide results to all stakeholders involved. With these goals in place, Imre also partnered with The Home Depot PR team to help build both trust and respect for the RIDGID brand.
Imre kicked off the campaign with a launch event on August 8, 2003, that preceded the International Hardware Show in Chicago. The launch event took place at the 100-year-old Finkl Steel Mill in Chicago. The date of the event coincided with the International Hardware Show because the event brought in various media outlets eager to report on new advancements in the tool industry.
"We used a lot of techniques that aren't traditional; the most important [being] the launch event," says Imre. The reporters that attended were given the opportunity to get hands-on time with the new tools, as well as time to interview product development managers and engineers. "Once we let the [reporters] get their hands on the product, the tools sold themselves," Imre says.
Imre also held an abridged version of the launch event in New York City in October to reach out to editors unable to attend the Chicago launch.
After both events, Imre contacted the attendees to emphasize key messages and offer tools for testing. Any feedback given was channeled to product development and taken into consideration. RIDGID created a buzz among industry insiders and tool experts alike, with articles appearing in some of the industry's biggest publications, such
as Popular Science and Wood magazine.
RIDGID exceeded its fourth quarter sales objectives and is on pace to exceed sales goals for this year. Eighty percent of target publications have published stories, causing brand awareness to go up from 38% to 53%.
"PR was the most important element in our sales results," says Jay Gatz, product manager of Ridge Tools. "We set our sales goals conservatively, and we surpassed any goal we could have possibly set."
Ridge Tools and Imre plan to work together on more efforts in the future. "We are currently working together on a second wave of new tools," says Imre.
PR team: Ridge Tool Co. (Elyria, OH) and Imre Communications (Baltimore)
Campaign: "RIDGID introduces largest power tool line in history"
Time frame: August to December 2003