In today’s AMN Executive Interview, we talk to Sean Lyon, director of marketing and product management for Permatex. In the interview, he shares with us what kinds of insights the brand gleans through social media, and the latest efforts in the company’s longtime consumer education initiative.
Permatex recently created new packaging for its portfolio of branded products. What are the essential elements that go into solid packaging design? How do you make your product stand out on the shelf?
Our marketing team has rallied around the term ‘shopability,’ and we use it as the driving force for our packaging strategy. To make this work, we focus on the basics such as easy readability, message clarity, visual appeal and strong branding. The easier we can make it for customers to understand how our solution addresses their problem, the easier it will be for them to make the purchase.
The typical automotive retail environment has a lot of facings, so making any product stand out on the shelf is always a challenge. We make sure that the overall look of our packaging is consistent and that our design is up to date. We use background colors that will attract attention and add impact to our branding. We also add a ‘product category tab’ on the right side of the package, so it stands out and is easily recognizable.
We also make sure that our packaging helps our customers to easily identify the performance level of the product they are buying, so they can select the one that best fits their needs and budget. For some of our products, we have different formulations that offer a choice of good, better or best performance. This is especially important in our gasketing lines where we still offer our original field proven sealant composition but have added two more levels of advanced technology.
Education has always been an important value set for Permatex. Bring us up to speed on your latest education initiatives.
This year, we added more short videos to our educational and promotional programs. The videos enable us to showcase the capabilities of our products and also give our customers an idea of how easy our products are to use. Good examples of this are our new Self-Fusing Silicone Tape and PowerBead can. In the videos, we are able to clearly show our point of difference and how effectively our designs work.
We also used this approach with our new Ultra Series Gasket Makers, which we’ve introduced with new tube technology. The videos enable us to not only show off our new package design, but also the innovative materials we are using to make application easier and more efficient. We’re now working to develop an extensive library of quick how-to videos to help increase user confidence in our other products.
Aside from the seminars our trainers conduct at technical schools around the country, we have also made a significant outreach to both professional and consumer media. Earlier this year, we launched a public relations campaign built around a series of education modules that targeted the proper application and usage of service chemical technology. These modules featured topics such as threadlocking, gasketing, brake service and hand care.
They were designed to provide the editorial community with ready-to-use resources that could be used to help educate the readers. We also have been able to use that same information to create content for feature articles, tech tips, blogs and social media posts.
You’ve focused on consumer education for so long. Tell us, what works and what doesn’t, in your opinion?
We’ve found several approaches to be very effective. Hands-on demos, however, are at the top the list. Nothing beats showing the potential user how it works. It’s not uncommon for a consumer to be somewhat apprehensive about working with chemicals. So a good demo can help to tone down any misgivings and increase the customer’s confidence level. We also work directly with consumers and carefully listen to their needs, as well as any pros/cons they may have about our products.
We also make sure that our information is easily communicated and accessible, especially online, where most of our customers do their homework. It is also important to make sure that our sales force, trainers, website and grassroots efforts work in a unified voice to make sure they deliver a succinct message.
What doesn’t work? Not being accessible to consumers and not reaching out to consumers in an effort to learn more from their experiences.
What other ways do you keep customers/consumers informed about Permatex?
We have a complete marketing communications campaign in place that targets all of our distribution channels, from our retail partners to our professional and DIY customers. We are using a multi-media approach to increase awareness and keep customers up to date. This includes a high impact online and print ad campaign, an aggressive public relations program, closely monitored and managed social media and an interactive website that we are constantly tuning to keep it viable and responsive to our customers needs.
How has social media changed the way you promote the Permatex brand?
Well for starters, it gives us an immediate firsthand contact with the consumer. It helps us to develop a conversation with our customers so we can quickly get to know what they think about our products and how they are using them. There’s no guesswork about whether our promotions or the information we are sharing is hitting the mark. The feedback is immediate, so it is easy to make adjustments. We can also keep an eye on what competitors are doing and see how we can do it better.
Any new products that you are excited to talk about?
Yes. We just pulled the wraps off some really neat new products in the adhesives, sealants and hand care categories. These include four new epoxy sticks that are specially formulated for use in specific applications and a very innovative self-sealing silicone tape, which can be used in a countless variety of applications.
Our performance-proven Fast Orange Hand Cleaner line will debut a new rocker cap bottle, which is the first of its kind for automotive retail. It allows one-hand use and helps keep the package free of grease. We will have it in both ‘smooth’ and ‘pumice’ formulas.
We have also just launched our new Ultra Series Gasket Makers, featuring advanced tube technology that makes application easier and more consistent and extends product shelf life. Our retail partners will especially like the new design because it eliminates the need for a blister card, makes a smaller display footprint and can hang directly on the planogram.
Will Permatex be exhibiting at AAPEX this year? If so, what do you have planned for this year’s show?
Yes, we will be at both AAPEX (Booth No. 3418) and SEMA (Booth No. 61138 Silver Lot). We have a new booth exhibit that we are excited to share with our sister ITW brands – Slime, Rain X, Black Magic, Gumout, Blue Coral, Fix a Flat, and Slick 50. Our SEMA exhibit, in the Silver Lot, will feature our Permatex Follow A Dream Race Team along with their NHRA Funny Car, as well as a lot of fun giveaways and product demos!