A Strategic Compass for Stanley Bostitch

November 17th, 2008

Better Branding Decisions in a Tough Economy

In a bad economy or times of uncertainty, a strategic compass doesn’t just help. It can save you millions.

“In the last several months, the economy has dramatically impacted our industry and our business,” said Todd Langston, Director of Marketing at Stanley-Bostitch. “We now see many of our competitors making short term decisions, reacting to things they shouldn’t, and making strategic mistakes.”

Stanley-Bostitch isn’t one of them. Having completed a Brand Research project with Chadwick Martin Bailey, the company is well-positioned for the current economic turmoil and beyond.

“Because of this research, we have a much clearer view of the competitive landscape,” said Langston. “Had we not done this project, we may have followed them, costing us tens of millions of dollars. Having done this project, we now have a compass, we are better equipped to do well during a recession. We know what to do, what not to do, and that puts us way ahead of our competitors.”

Langston started the Brand Research project with another vendor, and when it started heading south, he knew the firm he had hired was clearly the wrong choice. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Or worse, you get even less. “We chose the lowest bidder,” said Langston. “Even though our RFP (Request for Proposal) clearly spelled out exactly what we wanted and expected, the agency simply did not have the expertise or project management skills to see it through. I realized that the project was going nowhere.” It was upon this grim realization that Langston reached out to Chadwick Martin Bailey.

As soon as CMB began work on the project, Langston knew he had made the right decision. “With CMB, we had a true partner from day one.” The first discussions were focused on clearly identifying the decisions to be made, not just what Stanley-Bostitch needed in terms of research, but what its business leaders were going to do with that research, and how it would be most useful. CMB then began working on creative and effective approaches to the problem at hand. Stanley-Bostitch needed to better understand its brand position so its business leaders could fine-tune their strategy, negotiate with retailers, and make sound investment decisions moving forward. Stanley-Bostitch needed to leverage the brand’s strengths better, and attack the weaknesses of competitors. Langston expressed his faith early on. “We had confidence in CMB, that their analysis would be objective and useful, that would help us effectively market our construction tools and fasteners to professionals and do-it-yourselfers.”

The results were, and continue to be, huge assets for Stanley-Bostitch. The initial findings included a major insight into the professional contractor market, that 75% of respondents knew which brand they wanted before they walked into the store, and 73% of them would walk out of the store if they did not find the brand they wanted. That meant that more focus needed to be placed on what happens before they purchase.

Understanding the Web

The website and trade publications suddenly revealed themselves as extremely powerful branding tools that were previously underestimated. About 25% of all professionals have visited the Stanley-Bostitch website, more than other brands’ sites. With professional users, service was viewed as the most important factor when it came to purchase decisions. CMB’s research found that many website visitors were downloading documents of complex diagrams; a tactic used by distributors to increase sales of parts. As a direct result of these findings, Stanley-Bostitch has made its website a top priority for 2009.

Product Clarification

The company’s business leaders got a much clearer view of the competitive landscape. This helped them make crucial decisions on product development and pricing that are still paying dividends. Stanley-Bostitch was able to stay ahead of competitors, position itself better, and take advantage of customer preferences and market conditions very effectively. All of which have directly impacted the bottom line.

Channel Power

Stanley-Bostitch knew that it was a market leader; however, it had no way to quantify or use this information with retailers. Not only did the research prove Stanley-Bostitch’s theory, but it gave the brand incredible leverage in negotiations for shelf space.

“Every single page of that final research report went to our key business leaders, and was used in the goal deployment process,” said Langston. The report facilitated discussions on how to best utilize all of the findings to make better business decisions.

Langston said the report comprised a large portion of the team’s 3-year strategic plan. Other divisions have since hired CMB to do similar studies. It’s become a best practice within parent company The Stanley Works. Langston says that business leaders at Stanley-Bostitch regularly carry the report around as they go into strategic meetings, using it as a reference to make day-to-day decisions. “It has been extremely impactful in all areas of the company, from product management and sales to engineering, operations, and even finance,” he said.

“The research changed the company’s brand philosophy, galvanized our strategy, and has become a compass for all business decisions moving forward,” Langston said. “This was a big investment for us. The intelligent business decisions we are now able to make as a result of this research, there’s no question that is has been well worth it.”