Audra Krell

On Purpose

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Brand Marketing 101 with WD-40

Marketing genius John S. Barry of WD-40 has passed away at the age of 84. When the product was created in the 50's, Mr. Barry marketed WD-40 and made it into a timeless product that no one could do without. Here is an excerpt of some of his best practices, taken from a New York Times article by Douglas Martin.

"Mr. Barry brought marketing coherence and discipline to the company. He spruced up the packaging and increased the advertising budget, but most of all he pushed for distribution. He emphasized free samples, including the 10,000 the company sent every month to soldiers in the Vietnam War to keep their weapons dry.

Within a little more than a decade, Mr. Barry was selling to 14,000 wholesalers, up from 1,200 when he started.

MORE FROM NYTIMES.COM

He kept tight control of the product. When Sears wanted to package WD-40 under its own label, Mr. Barry said no. When another big chain wanted the sort of price concessions to which it was accustomed, he refused.

He pushed to get WD-40 into supermarkets, where people buy on impulse. He also began an aggressive effort to sell WD-40 in foreign countries.

“We may appear to be a manufacturing company,” Mr. Barry said to Forbes, “but in fact we are a marketing company.”

 7 tips to best market your book or your brand from Mr. Barry's innovative marketing of WD-40.

  •  Bring coherence and discipline to your company, even if you represent the sum total of employees
  •  Make your packaging sizzle 
  •  Take dollars from somewhere else to increase marketing budget
  • Make distribution your top priority
  • Give thousands of free samples of your product (Book excerpts, e-books)
  • Keep tight control of your product. Writers, this doesn't mean self-publishing. It means thoroughly reading and negotiating your contracts with editors, agents and publishers.
  • Aggressively place your product in stores where people make impulse buys. Work hard to get your product into International markets.
  • Realize that you may "appear" to be manufacturing something, but at the end of the day you are a marketing company.

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