By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
Beyond the normal marketing things you do, what are you doing to get closer to your customers and LISTEN to what their issues are?
May I suggest a contractor council? You all have brand advocates out there, why not get them together a few times a year and get a better sense of what’s happening in their world and what keeps them up at night. You could even pass by new product ideas before putting them into production. If you make the meetings about them and not you, the outcome will be more positive.
You know these guys talk to each other, either through social media like forums or at association and trade meetings. Meetings could be planned around major trade shows or meetings, and you’d ask them to come in a day ahead of time for say a half-day meeting.
I’d also suggest that some of the meetings could be held at your location (at your expense) so they get to meet other members of your team. Keep these meetings on track with an agenda that should include issues they want to talk about as well. There also should be action items coming out of each meeting where they can see that you actually did listen and are taking some action. Note that all action items don’t have to have a positive resolution, but the council needs to know that you at least took it under consideration.
Other than the ultimate end user, do you sell through independent reps and or distributors? These should be on your radar screen to get closer to as well. Rep and Distributor councils can also reap great results.
- Reps are in the trenches daily and can give you valuable insights not only on the end-user level, but also what’s happening at the distributor level.
- Distributors can give you insights on not only current avenues of business, but might be able to point out new possible areas of growth.
Bottom line is, I’ve seen firsthand what a well planned council can bring to a company. It’s a great long-term strategy that will help you set your brand apart.