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Executive Interview With Sean Lyon, Director Of Marketing And Product Management, Permatex

Sean Lyon is director of marketing and product management at Permatex. He joined the company in mid-2012 as the director of product management and took on the additional role of director of marketing later that year. Lyon has an extensive background in the automotive aftermarket with more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience working for leading automotive suppliers such as Honeywell, Allied Signal, Prestone Products and First Brands Corp. In this aftermarketNews.com Executive Interview, Lyon discusses Permatex’s passion for education and the importance of packaging, and also will give us a sneak preview of what to expect from the brand’s new marketing campaign.

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Sean Lyon is director of marketing and product management at Permatex. He joined the company in mid-2012 as the director of product management and took on the additional role of director of marketing later that year. Lyon has an extensive background in the automotive aftermarket with more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience working for leading automotive suppliers such as Honeywell, Allied Signal, Prestone Products and First Brands Corp. In today’s interview, Lyon discusses Permatex’s passion for education and the importance of packaging, and also will give us a sneak preview of what to expect from the brand’s new marketing campaign.
 
Many Permatex products, while accessible to both DIYers and professionals, require some level of "how-to-use" knowledge. With the pace at which Permatex introduces new products, how do you maintain a consistent education and training strategy for both the consumer and professional markets?
 
We typically employ a variety of methods using our sales team, website and social media outlets as conduits. Over the past few years, we’ve also relied on demo videos to preview some of our new products and repair kits, so customers could see how easily the products worked and gain the confidence to use them.
 
Along the way, we realized that some of our bread and butter technologies such as gasketing and threadlocking needed some “back-to-basics” training and education to build more user confidence and maintain ongoing acceptance.
 
As our gasketing and threadlocking technologies were introduced over the past couple of decades, Permatex complemented their launches with aggressive training programs and media outreach to get the knowledge out there. However, as these core technologies matured over time, this support did not continue at the same level of intensity. As a result, new generations of professional and DIY users have been coming into the market without the benefit of a full understanding of the uses, capabilities and benefits of Permatex products.
 
So, in order to maintain and grow our customer base at the professional and consumer levels, Permatex is making sure that both current customers and potential new customers know the purpose of each product and how to properly use it. To accomplish this, we have made a major commitment to educating and training Permatex users. We are developing and will shortly launch a series of education modules, which will encompass comprehensive body of knowledge on key product and application topics such as threadlocking, gasketing, brake service and hand care.
 
This initiative will be built around ‘how-to’ content modules and promoted through a broad range of outreach activities, targeting end-users as well as media reaching the distributors, retailers, professional users and do-it-yourselfers.
 
In each module, we will address both the basics and the specifics, and will provide pertinent information relating to each product category, such as problem/solution scenarios, product capabilities and performance as well as parts applications, usage and application techniques. We also are developing a new packaging scheme for our product lines and are applying key elements of this how-to content to our packaging to help further reinforce our educational initiatives directly at the user level.
 
What are some of the key elements you feel are important to reinforce when educating your customer base (perhaps areas where you feel product users aren’t getting the most out of the product)?
 
The two most important points have to be product selection and proper application. As the automotive technology has advanced over the years, so has its complexity, and Permatex has kept pace. Today, as an example, we offer more than 31 different gasketing and gasket sealing formulations as well as 16 different threadlockers, along with a wide variety of dispensers. Each one of these formulations meets a particular specification and is designed for a specific purpose. So, criteria such as curing time, sensor compatibility, temperature range, material tolerance and fluid resistance need to be clearly understood before the product is even purchased. Our customers have to know which product to use and how best to use it, in order to do the job right, the first time.
 
Great packaging is always important. However, with the flood of car care/chemical products on the market today, standing out on the crowded retail shelves can make or break a product in this category. What is Permatex’s philosophy on packaging?
 
Our philosophy today can be summed up with three basic rules: keep it simple, keep it relevant and most of all, make it “shopable.” This is the best way to offset the shelf crowding and make it easier for the customer to buy the right product.
 
That’s why we have embarked on a major new packaging initiative. We took a long, hard look at our current packaging and studied the results of tests and feedback from our sales force and all of our channels. The analysis indicated that our current packaging could be impeding our brand awareness and adding to the ever-present challenges that retailers typically face at the point of purchase. We needed to create consistency, freshen up the look, replace dated designs and eliminate the clutter and confusion fostered by too many messages and claims.
 
In developing a communication hierarchy for our packaging, we realized that you have to be led by what is right for the end-user, and make the messaging as clear as possible, because the customer cannot afford to make the wrong purchase. A bad product choice that results in a do-over for the do-it-yourselfer or a comeback for the professional is simply unacceptable.
 
I am delighted to report that we have developed some great designs for our new packaging and are currently testing them at the consumer level. We will be debuting the new packaging at both our 2013 AAPEX (booth No. 3418) and SEMA (booth No. 11355) exhibits in Las Vegas this November.
 
Last year, the company unveiled a new marketing campaign and brand slogan. Will you continue with this same campaign, or is something new in the works?
 
We will continue with our brand slogan, “Always right for the job,” but are working on a “spherical branding” process to develop a clear and compelling brand promise for our customer. We signed on with a new ad agency that will help us to implement it across all of our marketing communications activities in 2014.
 
This spherical branding promise is built around four key points: brand vision, positioning, personality and affiliation. Our brand vision is not just a mission statement; it defines our aspirations as a company. We want to give our customers the confidence to say, “It’s as good as new.”
 
We will use our brand positioning to send a clear message to our target customers that, for those who can’t afford to do the job twice, Permatex is the brand of automotive reassembly products that is consistently reliable in the toughest applications. Our brand personality will reinforce our traditional roots and more than 100 years of experience we have in delivering proven and consistent results, as well as our committed focus of staying relevant through innovation.
 
Finally, we have our brand affiliation, which can be best described as the “club” people join when they choose to affiliate with Permatex. Simply put, our club members are exacting car guys. They have an in-depth knowledge of cars and are less willing to compromise. They want reliable products that work.
 
Industry Week is just around the corner. You mentioned earlier that you will be exhibiting at both AAPEX and SEMA. What big plans do you have for this year’s Industry Week?
 
Yes, we will be at AAPEX and SEMA. As I mentioned earlier, we will have exhibits at both events, and we will have plenty to show and talk about. In addition to giving buyers a preview our new packaging, we will also be launching several new and interesting products as well as product demonstrations and Permatex-branded giveaways.
 
Jay Blake and driver, Todd Veney, will be on-hand to represent our Top 10 NHRA Permatex/Follow A Dream Race Team, and will be featured at our SEMA booth for hero card signings and photographs. The team’s Permatex/Follow A Dream 2008 Chevrolet Impala SS Top Alcohol Funny Car will be display at SEMA, as well.
 
 
 

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