Marketing products you haven’t made

Investing £9 million in a new company, world class factory, innovative products and a top team with a two-year time plan is a challenge. It’s an added challenge when you need to start marketing a year before launch and can’t show or describe the products until then. By Garnalex.

Few will have missed Garnalex’s high-profile marketing campaign or the marketing of its residential Sheerline aluminium window and door systems. That’s remarkable because very few fabricators have seen the Sheerline systems, and the marketing had to stick to concepts and not reveal details before patents were granted and the products were tested.

Roger Hartshorn, founder and CEO of Garnalex, said: “Aluminium is one of the most recycled and recyclable materials. Nearly 75% of all the aluminium ever produced still being in use today. But aluminium has seen a lot less innovation and development compared to timber and PVC windows and doors, which have been transformed over the last 20 years.

“Apart from thermal performance, aluminium windows and doors are much the same as they were decades ago; made and installed in the same way. Service is also due a fundamental makeover.

“I couldn’t stop thinking what residential aluminium windows and doors could be. We aim to add all the improvements and innovations you’d have expected to see over the last 30 years to make aluminium windows and doors easier, faster and better to fabricate and install, with less waste and fewer errors.

“We didn’t want our world class aluminium facility sitting idle in 2020, or people twiddling their thumbs while we started to raise awareness and look for customers. So, a year ago I talked to Mike Rigby of MRA Marketing and asked him to create a strategic marketing plan and kickstart our marketing while we recruited an inhouse marketing resource (now head of marketing Dave Wigley).”

Mike said: “Garnalex was an outsider, a complete unknown that planned to disrupt the market. It had a raft of product and service innovations that solved many previously ignored fabricator and installer problems and the capacity to take a large share of the market. But why would anyone pay attention? Why would they switch to Sheerline?

“We had three main marketing challenges: one, how do you grab centre stage and establish credibility, so people listen and think about what you say?; two, how do you launch a product you can’t talk about in detail or show until the patents have been granted?; and three, how do you market a new product that genuinely has the power to transform the market when many companies claim to be ground-breaking, next generation, innovative, outstanding or revolutionary when they’re not?

“When marketers sprinkle superlatives on standard products to grab attention, it makes buyers cynical.”

“The marketing was crucial in building awareness, credibility, authority and trust, and in raising the desire for Sheerline.

“Therefore, we talked about Roger, the founder of Eurocell and Liniar, and the sheer technical excellence and experience of the technical team he assembled to create Sheerline.

“We revealed the results of their analysis, the serious problems that fabricators and installers took for granted: the lack of investment in aluminium systems and the consequences, such as wasted materials, wasted time, errors and quality problems.

“We then revealed the scale and quality of investment in outstanding facilities with quality and a fast, reliable service advantage built in.

“We explained that Sheerline’s many innovative design solutions will make it faster and easier to make, install and sell. We focused on the benefits rather than the specific features.”

Mike said that PR and social media demonstrated followed the Garnalex journey as the factory, team and product came together. A series of videos told the story, episode by episode, from the building of the factory and assembling of the technical team, to visitors being shown around, and the first glimpses of the new window.

The new website has a countdown to launch on the home page (, and the industry-wide direct mail and email campaign invites fabricators to learn about Sheerline at Ambassador Workshops.

“The campaign has generated the most amazing response I’ve seen in the industry,” Mike said. “The first eight workshops are full, and some big names are ready to start fabricating at scale.”