BestRoute Plugs Into Electrical Trade

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BestRoute.com is conducting the second part of a two-phase campaign involving direct mail, print advertising and trade show marketing to reach electricians.


BestRoute offers hard-to-find and seldom-stocked electrical items, including fuses, connectors and electricians' tools. While BestRoute knew there would be demand for such a site among electrical contractors and distributors, getting the message out to this audience would prove to be a challenge. This is why it began a marketing campaign after its launch in March.


Phase one introduced the concept of the site to the trades. It ran advertisements in industry publications, including Electrical Contractor, EC&M, and Industrial Maintenance and Plant Operation. The tag line is, "Where hard to find products and info for the trades ... come easy."


Direct mail has played heavily in the effort. BestRoute sent 70,000 four-page brochures in March to lists it acquired from industry trade magazines.


Once the site became e-commerce-ready in June, it introduced a contest that allowed one entrant to win a Corvette. Three postcard mailings went out to 100,000 people touting the contest, for which an entry was earned for registering at the site.


The site has been visible at industry trade shows, such as Electric 2000 in New York, since its launch. To generate buzz about its appearance at the National Electrical Contractors Association show on Sept. 24 in Seattle, the site unleashed another direct mailing. It sent 8,000 postcards to all registered attendees. Attendees who bring the card to the site's booth are entered to win a chest full of tools.


The efforts have drawn 9,000 registered users and 1,500 unique users each day.


Phase two of the campaign is underway. The focus of this push is to promote the site's tangible assets. For example, it is certified by the International Standards Organization.


"It audits you against the worldwide standard. It's not something that many Web sites have done," said John Hoeschele, vice president of marketing at BestRoute.com, DeWitt, NY. "There's particularly not a lot of tangible stuff in the online space. Some sites are networks of other networks. There's not a lot of substance to them."


Through ad copy in the trades, the site will boast about its ISO certification, its $50 guarantee that it will ship an order the same day it receives it, and its flat rate of $7.95 shipping for orders up to $500.


These selling points should make the site stand out on the Web, Hoeschele said. "The guys dealing in abstractions are really scrambling to attach themselves to something tangible," he said. "Our entire model is to take on inventory and $50 guarantees when no one else is doing it."


There are plans to develop a hard-copy, catalog-type listing of products. "[Electricians] are used to having a shelf with lots of catalogs," he said. The site has also been involved in a major public relations push.


BestRoute.com has been dabbling in online marketing. It is on the tail end of a keyword deal with AOL. It bought a dozen words. It will evaluate the buy and decide whether to move forward with a similar effort. It also has bought banner ads on industry-specific sites.


Encouraged by its early successes, BestRoute.com will soon add air-conditioning and refrigeration products as well as plumbing, pipes, valves and fittings products.
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