How Total Tools are Mastering the Trade of Customer Loyalty – LIVE | #350

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Darren talks Tradies, hyper-personalisation and a fail fast mentality

Darren is a passionate, driven and successful marketing professional who thrives on success and enjoys infecting others with his passion and energy. He has over 20 years of professional marketing experience, specialising in hospitality and retailing in a franchised environment. Whilst he prides himself on his strategic thinking, his strength lies in the ability to drive a business by being hands on and leading by example.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Darren Gunton, GM of Marketing & Ecommerce at Total Tools

Coming to you today from another live event…we’re on a bit of a roll and are loving bringing our conversations into a packed room. Much funner than being the lone ranger in my studio. This time, we are in Melbourne at the Emarsys Power to the Marketer event. Power to the Marketer is a global event and this year’s theme was Elevating the Art & Science of Marketing.  My guest is Darren Gunton, GM of Marketing at Total Tools, Australia’s largest independent professional tools retailer with 81 franchise stores and doing over $1b in revenue.  In this chat, Darren channels his customer, the tradie (swear words and all – just a heads up on that if you’ve got any kids with you!) He shares how he is pushing the boundaries of hyper personalisation with a loyalty programme that services the 1.9m tradies Total Tools has on its database (Total Tools is one of Emarsys’ long standing and proudest customers). He also shares how a fail fast mentality is his mode of choice, why sometimes a website can be just too pretty and how he goes face to face with his customers – sometimes with some shitty results. It will all make sense in the chat I promise!   Again, there’s some fruity language in here (fair warning) but also a tonne load of loyalty tips and passion for making sure customers have a great experience. We’re going to kick off with our chat with Darren and then close out with some takeaways with Emarsys Will Wilson who is the Regional Vice President of Sales for Asia Pacific and Japan and was the host with the most on the day. 

“91% of transactions are through our loyalty customers…and that means that we know everything about them and can target them one on one like never before”

Darren Gunton


“When I first came on board, we changed the loyalty proposition. So, the proposition was terrible and we needed to make it fit with our consumer. And our tradies are kind of simple guys, they’re pretty down to earth and you need to have a program that focuses on leveraging them to come back. There wasn’t the proper methodologies, there wasn’t the proper KPIs of frequency to get them back in, there was none of that and we had to change the whole fundamentals of the program so it worked to be able to leverage them to get them back. 

And then we also had to engage the stores, we’re franchise based. So we had to win the hearts and minds of all the individual store managers, franchisees, those people to sell the sizzle and build the sausage as well.

We now have about 91% of transactions through our loyalty customers, 100% online, but 91% overall. And that means that we know exactly who they are, everything about them and can target them one-on-one like never before, whether it’s on the website or through email marketing or through SMS or any of the other channels.”

Customer feedback is critical

“After every single transaction, we ask them about why they shopped, what was the reason for their purchase. We ask them what channel influenced their purchase, so we know exactly with every promo, everything we’ve done, everything they bought, what’s influencing that. 

Every single decision we make is based on customer feedback. So, you know, we do the most amazing stuff all the time and ask them the most ridiculous questions on the drop of a hat. We also can use them to predict what the market’s going to do in the future. 

So, you know, in a downturn period that generally Australia is probably in right now, we’ve gone out to them and said, well, what do you think is going to happen in the next six months? How’s your quotes coming along? What’s happening for you? And that’s a really good barometer for us to work out what’s going to happen for us in six months’ time.”

The time to strike

“I think whilst I would say the market may be interesting for retail in general over the next 12 months, this is the time to go out and strike. This is the time to be aggressive and to win market share. And so the harder you can go, the better. 

So from our point of view, it’s really pushing the boundaries in hyper-personalization. So how can we really bring all that we know about the customer, personalize as hard as we can to the next level that no one else is, and delivering those products to the customer in an omni-channel fashion. So we’re looking at everything we can and putting all guns blazing at that now and a number of other initiatives to try and really push the envelope. Now’s the time to do it.”

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