The Ad Club CMO Breakfast: Velcro

November 1, 2015
November 1, 2015 Amy Weber

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of attending the Ad Club CMO Breakfast featuring Julie Barry, Global Director of Brand and Marketing for Velcro Companies. It was fascinating to hear about the history of a brand that I use daily, yet think about rarely.

And why don’t I think about Velcro? Because it is essentially a (mostly) silent ingredient in other brands. They do have some great partnerships that allow them to co-brand certain aspects of packaging and product (for example, on my cat food bag!), but at the end of the day, consumers are typically purchasing a separate product that contains Velcro.

You are probably wondering where Velcro even came from. As many of life’s greatest innovations are, the hook and loop system was based on a discovery in nature. The burdock burr is a tiny seed covered in hundreds of hooks. In 1941, Swiss engineer George de Mestral, and his dog discovered that these hooks naturally catch onto the microscopic loops that cover fur, hair and clothing. While originally envisioned for clothing, today it is used across a variety of industries, including healthcare, the military, and more.

So how does Velcro build their brand? We learned that most of their efforts are in the B2B space when it comes to marketing and getting their technology on more products. Given that, it would be easy to dismiss social media in their very targeted, specific marketing plan. But – Julie has helped the Velcro team to realize how important social media really is. In fact, 72% of B2B buyers use social media to research purchase decisions. While many members of her sales team were hesitant to leverage this social revolution as a part of their sales tactics, having stats like that allowed her to convince them to try something new. She coached them to initially listen to conversations, and then ultimately leverage it as a way to maintain their leadership position in the space.

So what’s next for Velcro? Well, they are working hard on their own line of products that are very much consumer facing. So it is very likely that us consumers will all start thinking about the Velcro brand in a whole new way. They are also thinking about innovative ways to continue to incorporate their technology into the latest product developments for healthcare, research, consumer products, and more. In both cases, they already have a strong social presence to help lead the way – and we can’t wait to see where they end up next.

What was clear to us coming out of this session is the importance of thinking strategically about your communications plan, and especially not discounting a medium just because it isn’t the norm for your product or category. As long as there is a relevant purpose to a channel for your consumers, channeling convention can be a very good thing. After all, how else are you supposed to stand out competitively?

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