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One Power Tool Company Drills Down Into the Brand Experience While its Competitor Sputters

Unique Web visitors:
approx. 200,000
Registered dealers: 31

Bosch Power Tools
Unique Web visitors:
approx. 40,000
Registered dealers: 33

It’s never a good sign if a potential customer can’t even find a brand’s website—or its social channels. Such is the case with Bosch Power Tools, a subsidiary of global German-based engineering firm Robert Bosch GmbH, and it’s a fact that doesn’t cut the mustard with Russ Meyer, global strategy director at Siegel+Gale, especially when compared to Bosch’s top U.S. competitor DeWALT.

While DeWALT’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages all have intuitive names and handles, with social sharing options clearly embedded on the company website, Bosch has a few squeaky hinges when it comes to its social sharing strategies. Not only are the sharing icons buried on the Bosch site, its social channels have three different names: Facebook is /boschpowertool; Twitter is /BoschTools; and YouTube can be found at /bluecrew4.

“People have varying degrees of digital sophistication and the easier you make it for folks to find you and connect the dots, the better off you’re going to be,” Meyer says. “Why force people to try and find three different names? It’s asking them to work too hard.”

At its core, the problem is mostly a branding issue, says Optimus Publishing‘s CEO Al DiGuido.

“DeWALT smokes Bosch in a number of areas, branding being number one,” DiGuido says. “Overall, the look and feel of Bosch is very steely, very B2B and sterile, and its website almost looks like someone created it to mirror a product catalog exactly, without doing any retouching or making any effort to make Bosch into a consumer-facing brand.”

The DeWALT site, on the other hand, is engaging, attractive, and provides visitors with a strong brand experience, a quality DiGuido says carries over in the brand’s social marketing.

“DeWALT’s website is strong, the product photography is great, and the whole navigation of the site draws the audience in,” he says. “And on social, DeWALT has more give and take versus Bosch, which is pretty one-dimensional.”

An avid do-it-yourselfer, Meyer owns both Bosch and DeWALT tools, which he says are of equal quality. But quality is almost a moot point if a tool manufacturing brand doesn’t have an effective marketing strategy.

“DeWALT is clear on who it’s talking to and what it stands for: Tough tools for tough people,” Meyer says. “Bosch feels corporate.”

The DeWALT Facebook page is regularly updated with “relevant and fresh” content rather than a constant barrage—or semi-barrage as Bosch posts infrequently—of product-centric promotional information, says Meyer, who notes that the DeWALT Twitter feed is also centered on engagement with the brand, consistently providing tips, answering questions, and sharing interesting links.

“DeWALT also had some shout-outs to vets on Veterans Day, which I thought was really smart because there’s probably a high degree of overlap between contractors and people in the military or people with military in the family,” Meyer says.

In terms of social reach, DeWALT decimates Bosch, with roughly 10 times the number of Facebook fans and a little more than three times the number of Twitter followers and YouTube views—but it’s not a case of quantity over quality, says DiGuido, who was particularly impressed with DeWALT’s reaction to Hurricane Sandy, which he calls “brilliant.”

“They posted pictures on Facebook of a tractor trailer rolling out with donated DeWALT equipment people could use for repairs,” DiGuido says. “DeWALT is using social media on a real-time basis, whereas I think Bosch is using it more like a billboard rather than a place to give people an interactive experience.”

Though in agreement on DeWALT’s social domination of Bosch, Meyer and DiGuido differ on the success of the brands’ use of video. While DiGuido sides with DeWALT’s YouTube content because it “shows you everything you need to know about DeWALT products,” Meyer argues that Bosch has “a whole channel full of great videos—but too bad it’s so hard to find.”

“The DeWALT YouTube page feels more like a commercial channel, which is a perfectly legitimate use of YouTube, but I’d probably spend more time with the Bosch stuff, if I could find it,” Meyer explains. “It’d be great to see more ‘how-Tube’ videos from DeWALT, but overall DeWALT does seem to have a better content strategy and at least they’re doing the basics,” he adds.

While neither brand has full e-commerce functionality—both maintain partnerships with home improvement retail stores and sites that distribute for them—it’s possible to buy spare parts online. DeWALT differentiates itself there by allowing contractors to set up automatic reorders of specific items they know they might run out of.

“It’s clever and it’s another example of the stickiness of the DeWALT site,” Meyer says. “DeWALT is intuitively thinking the way contractors think and trying to make it easy for them.”

Another example of DeWALT’s consumer-centric outlook is its recent Hispanic marketing promotion, in which the brand partnered with Lowe’s to run a national campaign targeted at Hispanic contractors and builders, giving them the chance to win, among other prizes, a trip to Los Angeles.

“Someone at DeWALT said, ‘Let’s think about our target in a rich, full way; let’s think about our contractors as people who have lives,” Meyer says. “It’s a really simple insight, but it’s brilliant.”

Email, however, is one channel DeWALT and Bosch seem to utterly ignore. Though Meyer and DiGuido both signed up to receive email communications from the brands, neither received so much as an email confirmation.

“From a marketing standpoint these folks are missing an opportunity if they don’t at least send a reminder to the people who were actually committed enough to sign up, and it surprises me because DeWALT usually has its stuff together,” Meyer says. “Maybe they know so much about their consumers they both know email isn’t an effective channel for their target consumer—it’s either a purposeful, deep insight or the exact opposite of that.”

Despite the email misstep, DiGuido gives DeWALT a pass because of the tone of its sign-up process in which visitors are asked to become a member of the “DeWALT family” and are encouraged to participate in product research and provide feedback.

“Bosch no doubt produces a quality product, but they don’t do a great job marketing it,” DiGuido says. “DeWALT does a masterful job in terms of building relationship, presenting their products, and having a brand strategy.”

Brand Champion

In the words of Meyer, it’s almost “not a fair fight.” Though DeWALT neglected to send an email confirmation—an almost inexplicable oversight considering it can be automated—it’s a consumer-aware brand that knows how to relate to its target. While DeWALT faces consumers with confidence, Bosch turns a cold shoulder. Bosch isn’t doing anything wrong, but there’s so much more it could be doing right.

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