A one-product company and its advertising strategy

Once upon a time there was a company named Rocket Chemical that specialized in rust-fighting products. Business was pretty good as sales hit the $1 million annual sales mark.

That was the income in 1969 when John S. Barry took over operations. He immediately decided to eliminate all but one company product, WD-40, and he renamed the company after it.

Soon after, he introduced the trademarked blue and yellow aerosol can. For the next 25 years, the company’s single product, packaging, and sales strategy remained virtually unchanged, according to the editors of INC. magazine.

Others in the company wanted to advertise WD-40 as an industrial, automotive or hardware product. But Barry wanted to keep the product in the public domain so both individuals and companies would buy it, use it and keep it on hand.

It must have been a good idea, because by 2008, sales of WD-40 hit $317 million. The product was sold through almost 70 different channels.

Barry would find out what worked and keep on doing it. And though he retired from the board in 1999, his formula still works.

When WD-40 was rolled out in China, it was with essentially the program that was introduced in 1972.

In Leigh Buchanan’s story for Inc on Barry, she notes that John Barry was a simple and humble man. If anyone asked him what he did, he would say he worked in a warehouse.

And he saved money. When he had meetings outside of the office, they were often held at Denny’s. He believed in his product and wanted everyone who worked for the company to believe in it too. When he visited the home of a man from his ad agency, he noticed a squeaky gate.

He was not happy and wondered how, if his ad people weren’t convinced they should stop squeaks, how could they know how to convince America?

The man who stopped the squeaks died in July at the age of 84.

What is your advertising strategy?

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2017-05-08T15:02:02+00:00

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Joe Kern

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