K-Seal celebrates six-cess Stateside

K-Seal celebrates six-cess Stateside

In 2009, Mike Schlup, MD of Kalimex made the bold decision to launch its flagship product – the K-Seal permanent coolant leak repair – in America. He was undaunted by the fact that America is the world’s number one motoring market and that hundreds of coolant leak repair products are available; dominated by a handful of heavily marketed, bestselling brands.

Was it a move that has paid off?

Mike shares how the first order of K-Seal was from Beach Side Auto Parts in Daytona – for just 6 bottles. Fast forward to today and US sales have topped the 1,000,000 bottle mark. Over 10,000 stockists now sell “the miracle in the little blue bottle.”

“We knew from the start this was a bold move not to mention a big financial commitment and an equally big investment of our time,” says Mike. “But, we were confident K-Seal would be a success provided we applied the same principles that have guided it to the top of the bestsellers in the UK and of course, that we kept our nerve.”

Mike decided at the outset he didn’t want to appoint a distributor because, “we’d have less control over our message.” He created a joint-venture with a US partner solely committed to launching, distributing and developing sales of K-Seal.

Back to basics with market research

“We resisted the urge to knock on stockists’ doors in our first year,” says Mike. “Instead, we spent our time on belt and braces market research. If the second year was all about sales, the first was about research. We had to understand the market and how it was structured; the competitors in this category and their marketing tactics. The stop leak segment in America is huge so we had to get it right first time. We’re a small family business. Our marketing budget was nowhere near the budgets of the big brands. In this period we also began identifying suitable agents, reps and distributors for the first phase of targeting.”

Strong similarities with the UK market

In this research phase Mike discovered that although the American market is huge, the key influencers in the buying chain are pretty much the same as they are in the UK. Ensuring professional motor factors and professional motor mechanics were aware of K-Seal was crucial. “In America, mechanics are technicians and, motor factors counter men,” says Mike. “We simply replicated what we’ve done in the UK to target these important groups and it paid off handsomely. We allocated a budget for advertising and editorial in the magazines that are read by the counter men and the technicians. This generated a huge amount of initial enquiries and, it’s been so successful, that five years later we still feature heavily in these publications.”


The same marketing messages worked too

“We knew from our advertising and PR campaigns in Professional Motor Factor Magazine and Professional Motor Mechanic Magazine that conveying hard and indisputable facts about K-Seal was more important than an empty sales rhetoric,” says Mike. “So the messages that we developed in the UK about K-Seal were used in America. In particular, we emphasised the importance of the independent ASTM  D3147 testing that had been undertaken by Brighton University engineering division. This reassured everyone. It told them this “new product” was a safe pair of hands; they didn’t just have to take our word for it. Here was test data that showed K-Seal was not only effective at stopping leaks, it was also safe to use.”

From 6 sales to 1,000,000+

In the early months of launching K-Seal Stateside, sales were slow with Mike conceding, “it was frustrating at times trying to break into a crowded albeit popular market. We knocked on many doors with limited success. Despite making sustained contact with all the big national chains, we did not make a single sale. In their eyes this was ‘just another stop leak product’. That’s why the initial sale of six bottles was so important. It felt as though we’d achieved a huge victory on that day and, he’s still a stockist. What’s more every national chain that said ‘no’ is now stocking K-Seal today.”

So, with K-Seal firmly established in the US and sales on the up, what has Mike learned from this ongoing American adventure? “You must be persistent. Don’t take no for an answer,” he says. “We knew K-Seal was a winner because it’s been such a hit in the UK. This kept us going in the early years when it was a challenge to say the least to convince the big stockists. It’s so important to believe in your product. Don’t climb down at the first setback.”

Log on to www.kseal.com to find out more

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