Hi, my name is Stuart, and I am a tool user.
I use cordless drills, impact drivers saws, vacuums, drain cleaners, leaf blowers, calipers, micrometers, height gauges, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, punches, chisels, wood planes, files, deburring tools, pencils, rulers, tape measures, fret saws, hooks, loupes, tool boxes, organizers, magnifiers, scrapers, picks, tweezers, cutters, wire strippers, multimeters, electronic test equipment, thermal imagers, wire crimpers, flashlights, soldering irons, vises, clamps, glue spreaders, riveters, and the list goes on.
ToolGuyd started off as a personal passion project when I was in the middle of grad school. A little less then 4 years later, I earned my research doctorate. That was 10 years ago: So I Finally Earned My PhD!!
I was fueled by my interest in tools and the industry, and the same continues to drive me.
What’s different about a new tool? Why? How? Is it different or special in any meaningful way that might benefit users?
Isn’t this what you want to know when making most purchases? I strive to learn this for myself, and to also share it with readers.
Can brands’ consumer marketing efforts answer these questions? Their social media announcements and newsletters?
We need to dig deeper.
As an end user, reviewer, and voice in the tool industry, I need to understand what’s new, different, or better about a product.
Will it save the user time?
Will it spare the user some effort?
Will it improve performance or end results?
Are there any design or engineering compromises, so as to achieve a lower price point?
Are we expected to find appeal in a new product just because it has a trusted brand name slapped onto it?
Sometimes that might be enough. A new utility knife is (usually) a low-cost and low-risk purchase, but the same cannot be said about $400 impact driver kits.
When a brand says their new product will “set new standards,” but they don’t elaborate, and they said the same exact thing about its nearly identical predecessor, is the wool being pulled over our eyes?
When a brand advertises that a new product “provides even more power to get the job done,” but the difference rests solely in how torque is tested differently for the more premium-priced product, what exactly are we paying more money for?
Back in 2009, New York required most drivers to pay for new license plates, under the pretense that the new plates were needed for safety reasons. But, it really came down to the state needing the money, as acknowledged by the governor in an interview (source: NYTimes).
In 2019, they required drivers buy new plates again, this time because of legibility issues with cashless tolling, red light cameras, and other devices (source: NYTimes). Or is it about money again?
What’s the difference between an innovative, competitive, and user-benefiting product, and a cash-grab devised by marketing team looking to pump up their sales figures?
Clear explanations, deeper insights, and comprehensive understanding can sort things out.
I have grown a bit spoiled over the years; thanks to my press and media relationships with competent and professional PR, communications, and marketing contacts, deeper insights and understanding have come easy to me.
I don’t know whether it’s the nature of the times, “influencer marketing,” or something else, but things are not the same today.
Traditional media relationships opened the door to answers, discussions, and interviews with engineers and product managers. All of that – everything that can be gleaned outside of a simple fact sheet or press release – has been critical towards my developing deeper insights.
Such information and insights helped keep me interested, excited, and passionate about tool developments.
If I better understand products, I can better provide readers with what they might need to make well-informed purchasing decisions.
That’s not to say that media distributions and press releases have ever provided me with deeper information or insights. They provide timely information, and helped to make deeper insights more accessible.
I’ve expressed my dissatisfaction with the direction some companies have been heading in. Now, nearly a year and a half later, the issue hasn’t gotten any better.
New or less familiar tool brands contact me on a regular basis. They want to send me tools for review purposes, often using “in exchange for review.” I ask what’s different about the brand, and rarely receive a satisfying answer.
All tool brands are looking to drive sales and earn a profit, but it is becoming increasingly apparent which brands care about end users, and which don’t.
I understand that some questions cannot be answered in detail in order to protect proprietary information.
But when tool brands are incapable of answering fair questions that would help me better understand a product for ToolGuyd purposes or as an end-user myself, that usually means one of two things – the person I’m communicating with is inept or inexperienced at media relations, or the information is withheld because it makes the brand look bad.
Is lying by omission ever better than honest transparency?
I don’t know what’s worse, when marketers cannot answer questions about their products, or when they won’t.
Either way, this is not how things have been, and it’s not how things should be.
I asked one particular brand if they remedied a product quality issue that ToolGuyd readers had brought to my attention. Instead of answering the question, they pointed me towards an influencer’s “wow this is awesome” social media postings about the product.
How am I supposed to treat tool brand equally in my news and review coverage when this is how some of my questions are answered?
I can adapt to “influencer marketing” practices if needed, but not without a fair amount of kicking and screaming.