Let’s face it, levels are boring.
Sure, they make stuff level. But it’s difficult to get too excited about a tool that takes the place of a sharp eye.
So when I received a news release recently from Mukwonago-based Empire Level Manufacturing Corp. announcing its new Contractor Connect program I hit the delete button. While cleaning out my email earlier this week, I came across the release again and took some time to read it.
Then I went to Empire’s Facebook page.
Then I decided I had to write this column.
Empire’s Contractor Connect program lets contractors kick the tires on the company’s products. Empire sends its products — levels, squares, layout tools and caution tape — to industry professionals and asks them to put the tools through the paces on job sites, at home or wherever. Empire then asks program participants to visit its Facebook page and write a review, including pictures of the tools in use.
I’ve seen my share of failed social media requests from construction companies. Many social media “gurus” have tried and failed to attract new customers. Empire, I’m sure, has fallen flat in in promoting its tools in the past.
But the numbers behind Contractor Connect don’t lie. Take one look at the Facebook page, and you can tell this type of social media marketing is above grade.
Empire’s page has a steady stream of comments, user-generated content and 19,430 “likes.” That’s up from 400 a year ago.
The company has added about 1,000 fans in the past month since the Contractor Connect program started, said Lou Tufillaro, interactive strategist with The Sales Factory, which handles social media for Empire.
“We believe the key to social media success is authenticity,” he said. “[Contractor Connect] connects directly to end users. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
The program already has 10 contractors who have used Empire’s tools and left feedback on Facebook. Empire then immediately shares that feedback with its product team as a way to improve the tools, Empire Marketing Director Ged King said.
It’s social media product reviews in the fast lane.
“We don’t have to buy a plane ticket to fly to California to talk to contractors in the field and get their feelings on one of the products,” King said. “We get high-quality feedback quickly.”
Contractors interested in signing up for the program can go to empirelevel.com/contractorconnect to apply. Once they are selected, contractors receive a set of tools for free.
A few straight answers — good or bad — are payment enough.
Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter. He has a renewed interest in levels.