The challenge for Makita U.S.A., Inc., a global power tool and outdoor power equipment brand in over 40 countries, was to find an innovative way to showcase the world’s largest 18V lithium-ion cordless tool system, called LXT® SYSTEM, to their dealer network and end-users across America.
“With the LXT SYSTEM, Makita offers the broadest line of professional cordless power tool and outdoor power equipment in a single system”, says Ryan Lujan, Brand Manager, Marketing at Makita USA. “In addition, as lithium batteries become more powerful, we want to continue to educate users about new cordless equipment options that now include everything from battery-powered circular saws to rotary hammers to lawnmowers.”
“Because our cordless products are designed and built to deliver quality ergonomics and precision, we were looking for ways to promote the product through a national campaign that would let end users to physically hold and experience the tools,” adds Lujan.
After a successful national experiential marketing campaign more than a decade ago, the company decided to update and expand the strategy via a fleet of custom promotional vehicles. Experiential marketing also called live marketing or event marketing, is an advertising strategy that creates more customer engagement through a memorable, immersive, experience that makes a direct connection with the brand and inspires sharing the experience with others, often with social media.
With this type of marketing, customers can immerse themselves in the experience first-hand. Because this approach significantly deepens customer interaction and makes it more shareable via social media, companies can achieve dramatic success by mixing promotional marketing with events.
“Our products are built on leading innovation, engineering, quality and ergonomics – which are only really, truly felt when experiencing the tools – so our national, experiential marketing campaign was important,” says Lujan. “We wanted more visibility, more touchpoints, to be in more places at once. We wanted to support our dealer network through many different channels and to reach our end-users at their actual job sites.”
After researching the options, Makita chose to work with St. Charles, MO-based Craftsmen Industries, a rapid designer and fabricator of custom mobile vehicles and containerized units since 1982 for organizations such as Anheuser-Busch, Verizon, Dell, and dozens of other worldwide brands.
“We were looking for a company that had deep experience in experiential marketing and a strong reputation with the companies they have worked within the past, and that we felt would develop a really high-quality product,” says Lujan.
In collaboration, Makita and Craftsmen developed the Driving Innovation Tour concept that mobilizes interactive tool demonstrations, along with the ability to try out a wide variety of lithium-ion cordless tools, in custom trucks travelling nationwide. The experiential marketing campaign focuses on the company’s dealer network as well as end users in the construction, landscaping and other building trades.
“One of the important things, which may be unique for us at Makita, is we are very hands-on when we do a big project like this,” says Lujan. “When it comes to the design phase, we are not the type to sit back and wait to see what is developed. We want to be hands-on throughout the process. So, it was important that Craftsmen allowed us to be involved by giving us direct access to their engineers, audiovisual technicians, and graphic designers.”
From concept to finished product, the rapid designer and fabricator collaborate with each customer, like Makita, so they can help to quickly develop loosely defined ideas as well as execute fully rendered concepts. Because each step of the project is checked for safety and quality before fabrication, by the time branded vehicle wraps and graphic elements are added, the custom trucks are ready to promote the customer’s brand on the road and at events countrywide.
In this regard, the Makita approach provides a hands-on experience for dealers and end-users with many different cordless power tools and types of outdoor power equipment per vehicle.
“The key is that our products are built with quality, ergonomics, and precision – and those qualities are only really, truly felt physically by holding the tools and experiencing them in person,” says Lujan. “That is why it was important for us to put as many tools on these vehicles as we could.”
“With the design, we maximized the number and variety of tools available from our key product categories,” says Lujan.
“We wanted our dealers and end-users to be able to actually test them on materials,” he adds.
For projects like Makita’s requiring customized, mobile vehicles that must be ready to roll for new product launch dates or specific scheduled events, a nimble, fully integrated company like Craftsmen ensures timely turnaround, even on short notice. Because the company offers design, engineering, fabrication, and large format print and installation services under one roof, it can deliver mobile units in about half the standard turnaround time in the industry. For this project, Lujan says Craftsmen delivered the fleet of vehicles.
Makita recently re-engaged Craftsmen to do a refresh of the vehicles, which are now back on the road and promoting the LXT SYSTEM at events across the country. The company has a dedicated web page with a tour finder feature for upcoming 2021 events at www.makitatools.com/drivinginnovation.
Lujan says that the mobile marketing campaign has been successful on all levels and that the end result has helped Makita cut through the clutter to reach its core customers in the marketplace.
“Our retail space is competitive, so we appreciate how the Driving Innovation program showcases our cordless tools and helps us stand out experientially. It has strengthened our relationship with dealers, and end-users really appreciate interacting with such a wide variety of tools in a truly, hands-on basis,” says Lujan.
For more information: Call 1-800-373-3575 toll free; Visit www.craftsmenind.com;
By Del Williams
Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, California.