Help Impact the Future of Manufacturing: 2020 Ohio Manufacturing Survey

Today we have a guest post from MAGNET (The Manufacturing and Growth Advocacy Network) organization that has a mission for helping manufacturers grow and compete in Northeast Ohio, especially the 98% of startup to medium-sized manufacturers that drive our economy. MAGNET rolls up its sleeves to provide hands-on support ranging from new product design to operations and brings education and business together to create tomorrow’s manufacturers. 

MAGNET needs your help. By taking 20 minutes to complete its survey before the end of the year, you can help impact future legislative decisions, offerings and services, as well as use the survey results to help your own organization.

At MAGNET, we’re inspired to drive regional impact by supporting small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies in areas of product design and development, process innovation and automation, operational excellence and engagement, and more. 

But for us to supply you with the right services at MAGNET, it’s imperative that we gain insight into the current Northeast Ohio manufacturing landscape. That’s where the survey comes in.

About the Ohio Manufacturing Survey

This year’s survey is your opportunity to impact how key stakeholders across manufacturing make decisions for our industry’s future. By giving us 20 minutes of your time, you can:

  • Impact how legislators and key stakeholders make future decisions
  • Shape the offerings and services of manufacturing support organizations
  • Use the results to benchmark how you compare to other Ohio manufacturers

And as a thank you for your time and responses, you’ll get the following upon submission:

  • Your choice of any one of 12 different business books
  • FREE admission to one of our report rollout events—Cleveland, Akron, or Canton in February 2020
  • $5 to Harvest for Hunger donation made by our sponsors for every response

The survey deadline is December 31, 2019. This survey is limited to businesses that produce physical goods, with production locations in Ohio.

Make Your Manufacturing Voice Heard

Every response creates a more powerful view of the state of manufacturing in Ohio. Submit your responses to the 2020 Ohio Manufacturing Survey.

Want to read another guest post from MAGNET?

Manufacturers: Avoid These Three Frequent Failures of a Product Launch

 

Skills Gap Awareness: Are We Making Progress?

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

It’s been a while since we talked about one of our hot buttons: the ongoing skills gap in manufacturing and the trades. It’s good to see that the topic is very much alive and getting continual, positive coverage in the media. Are we slowly experiencing a shift to bring young people back into skilled traded positions? Is the stigma for blue collar positions slowly lifting?

Plenty of industry leaders are doing their part to help bring awareness.

Lincoln Electric recognizes this issue and is leading the challenge to change the perception of manufacturing jobs, which as CEO Christopher Mapes points out, “When people think about welding, they typically don’t think high-tech. Instead, they picture workers with their heads enveloped in welding helmets. That’s not what welding is today…Welding is robotics. It’s metallurgy. It’s software engineering.” Read more about Lincoln’s initiatives for tackling the skill gap here.

Skilled trade’s biggest proponent, Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe, who recently published, “The Way I Heard It,” believes, “The skills gap today, in my opinion, is a result of the removal of shop class and the repeated message that the best path for most people happens to be the most expensive path.”

 

While 40 years ago we needed more people to get into higher education, the pendulum swung so far in the direction of promoting higher education, that it has alienated an entire section of the workforce, skilled trades. With 7.3 million skilled jobs unfilled in our country (and 1.6 trillion in debt from higher education), we desperately need the pendulum to swing back.

It seems the messaging is starting to get through.

This recent article articulates how trade schools are now touting how blue-collar professionals such as plumbers, electricians and mechanics make more money than workers whose roles require a college degree.

Perhaps the trend against four-year-college degrees has begun. Many of the fastest-growing professions do not require a bachelor’s degree, and some do not even require a high-school diploma. Could the new six-figure job be trade work?

Let’s hope that more and more of our young people (or people considering a career change) look at skilled trade positions as a viable option for their career path.

If you found this post interesting, check out these additional posts on the topic:

Skills Gap: We’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Using the Gender Gap to Close the Skills Gap

 

 

Marketing Minute: Trade Show Leads and Inquiries

When you return from a trade show, do you have a plan in place for handling the leads and inquiries that your company received? Join Matt Sonnhalter for the latest Marketing Minute. Learn several helpful strategies for handling all the leads you may have received while attending a trade show. Matt addresses prioritizing leads, following up with the press and evaluating your presence with your team.

To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover.

 

Are You Attending STAFDA in Nashville This Week?

Are you attending the STAFDA Show in Nashville this week? If so, check out our exclusive

Insider’s Guide to Nashville and use this guide to help you get around the “Music City”  during your free time.

• Want to know where the locals like to eat barbecue and hot chicken? We have the insider information from our friends in Nashville.

• Need tips on nightlife and sightseeing? It’s not just honkey-tonk and saloons. It’s a great place to check out one of the countless live music venues. We made a list of shouldn’t-miss recommendations.

• Have you ever driven in Nashville? We have you covered with taxi and limo services.

See you downtown at the Music City Center…or at one of the great places in our guide!

Getting the Most Out of Your Company’s Instagram Account (Part 2)

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

Last summer, we published a blog that outlined some of the best practices for running an Instagram account for your company. Since then, Instagram has grown to be arguably the most useful social media tool for the trades. If you’re still new to Instagram, we encourage you to go back and read the blog and some of the basics for getting your account started. Say you’ve set everything up, posted some cool product shots, gained a respectable amount of followers and have a pretty good understanding for how the app functions. The next step is to take advantage of some of Instagram’s more advanced features and strategies that can improve your ROI, grow your number of followers and increase your brand’s visibility. Here are a few things to consider incorporating into your Instagram strategy moving forward.

Influencer Marketing

One of the fastest-growing marketing strategies on social media, particularly Instagram, is what’s known as “influencer marketing.” Influencer marketing is when brands collaborate with opinion leaders in an online community, known as “influencers,” to create content that endorses a product. This collaboration is typically done for a monetary fee, free products or a combination of both. What that content looks like varies between influencers and is usually negotiable. Content can range from a static shot of the product with a written review, to photos or videos of the product being used in the field or for building something in a workshop.

Finding the right influencers in your target audience can build credibility by using a trusted source in the community and, thus, increase sales. Like the online forums of the past, professional tradesmen use Instagram to be a part of a bigger community within their trade, and these influencers are often considered leaders within these communities whose word matters. Ingratiating yourselves with these influencers can go a long way in terms of improving brand recognition within these targeted groups. (more…)

Generic Values = Generic Culture

Following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.”

MOST COMPANIES HAVE A SET OF VALUES. MOST OF THESE STATED VALUES ARE GENERIC AND QUITE FRANKLY, MEANINGLESS.

Take this test. Pull out a copy of your organization’s values – remove your company name and logo from it. Replace it with another company name. Does it work for them? Could it apply to that company? If so, then your company values are not distinct enough to have meaning and value. A company like a person needs to have unique values similar to your personal values which cannot easily be shared by anyone else. This is important because the culture of your company is a reflection of what the company values – it guides employee behavior and decision making. The more generic the values, the more difficult it is for employees to know what to do or how to represent the company that is in alignment with the culture. 

For example, here are the values of a company:

Communication – We have an obligation to communicate. Here, we take the time to talk with one another… and to listen. We believe that information is meant to move and that information moves people.

Respect – We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment.

Integrity – We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it.

Excellence– We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do. We will continue to raise the bar for everyone. The great fun here will be for all of us to discover just how good we can really be. (more…)

How Can Manufacturers Get the Most Out of Their Marketing?

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

Being able to accurately show how well your efforts impacted a company’s bottom line is one of the biggest challenges marketing teams face every year. For years, the easiest indicator of a marketing team’s success was measured mostly in sales and lead generation. But with the rise of content marketing, influencer relations and social media in marketing plans, it’s sometimes difficult to accurately quantify exactly how all these tactics improve ROI. Regardless of where you stand on the value of these tactics, even the most stubborn skeptics will need to face the reality that content marketing, social media and other tactics for the digital age are here to stay. Unfortunately, most marketing budgets have yet to catch up with the financial and personnel resources necessary to successfully utilize these tactics.

Many of these challenges and concerns were addressed in IEEE GlobalSpec’s “Trends in Industrial Marketing Survey,” which surveyed 326 marketing and sales professionals in the industrial sector on marketing trends within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from the survey:

  1. Breakthroughs in marketing analytics have made it easier to calculate the ROI of a company’s marketing efforts.

“Marketers are under steady pressure to demonstrate ROI for their marketing programs. The need to improve ROI is one of the top challenges industrial marketers face. To meet this challenge, marketers use leads as their number one measure of success. But generating high-quality leads for sales is also one of the top marketing challenges. This may sound like a vicious cycle, and some marketers would agree, but the point is that measurement matters. Other measures of success include customer acquisition and sales attributed to marketing campaigns. Marketing automation software, which can improve tracking and measurement capabilities, is used by only 37 percent of industrial marketers.” (more…)

Influencer Relations: Is It Right for Your Brand?

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

Recently, you’ve been hearing a lot about “Influencer Marketing” or “Influencer Relations.” But what exactly is it, how does it work and is it right for your company’s marketing strategy?

Sometimes referred to as the “new media,” a comprehensive marketing communications strategy often will include influencer relations as a tactic for expanding a brand’s awareness.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is someone that has a large social media following and actively engages with its audience to “influence” them on his or her opinions. While “influencer” might conjure up ideas of Kim Kardashian touting the latest waterproof eyeliner or designer handbag, there are also influencers in the industrial, manufacturing and contractor space, as well. While some of these influencers might not boast the same Instagram audience numbers as Kardashian’s 149+ million followers, their audiences can be very significant for the market they are in.

A large social media following can be relative. Nano influencers, with 1K to 10K followers, have small, niche and highly engaged audiences. Micro influencers, the next tier up, with 10K to 50K followers, are often the most informed opinion leaders in their niches and typically have a very engaged community of followers who rely on (and trust) their content.

If you are a nano/micro influencer in a niche market such as woodworking, developing relationships with companies that are promoting the tools or supplies you use can be mutually beneficial for both parties. For the influencer, it provides the opportunity to be the first to experience innovative products and share their experiences and opinions with their followers, providing appealing content that keeps their followers enthralled and looking for more. For the brand marketing products, it provides an authentic, engaging opportunity to get your products or services endorsed by an opinion leader and visibility in front of your target audience. Plus, repurposing influencer content is a great way to showcase the influencer and also add credibility to the brand.

According to research, consumers are much more likely to trust peer recommendations than advertisements. By finding the right influencers in your target audience, brands can build credibility by using a trusted source in the community and, thus, increasing sales. Even for the B2B niche, influencer marketing is about partnering with industry experts to add credibility, distribution and engagement to great brand content.

Questions to answer before launching an influencer program

Before jumping into an influencer relations program, evaluate your company and its offerings and decide if it is a good fit for a program. Does your brand have an e-commerce presence? The idea is for influencers to drive awareness (and ultimately sales), so if there is not an easy, online process in place to purchase your products, now might not be the time to launch such a program.

Do you have an active presence on social media? If not, your effort will be wasted or certainly not amplified to the level that would move the needle for your brand.

Finally, are your products or services ready and ample? No point in engaging an influencer who creates intense interest amongst his or her followers, only to frustrate the followers when the product is unavailable or on back order.

Once you’ve decided that an influencer program is a fit for your brand, you’ll want to develop a strategy and set some goals and objectives and create a process. You’ll also want to track and measure your results.

Influencer relations vs. media relations

Influencer relations, as mentioned earlier, have been likened to media relations. Build and nurture relationships with influencers in a similar fashion as you do with the media. Influencers are interested in trying products they care about and many are looking for the next big thing to show their followers, in the same way a trade media editor may be looking to write about the next industry trend. But they are different, too. People tend to engage more with influencers than they do with traditional media. While someone may read a story and not necessarily share it online, they would be more inclined to share a post or image from an influencer.

Another difference is that the collaboration between brand and influencer is typically done for a monetary fee, free products or a combination of both. If your product doesn’t lend itself to being sent out to influencers, consider planning an influencer event where you bring influencers together at a trade show or industry event to experience your products and engage with their peers, as well as the brand.

Getting started with influencer relations

You may want to consider a trial run program, especially if upper management is skeptical, to see what type of success you can expect. Remember, like anything, curb expectations and allow the program to grow and gain momentum naturally.

Influencer marketing is here to stay and is growing to be an increasingly popular tactic for reaching target audiences and gaining market share. Getting influencers to persuade your audience can drastically work in your favor when executed properly.

Have questions about whether an influencer relations program is right for your brand? Or need help strategizing or implementing your influencer program? Contact rascherl@sonnhalter.com.

Stay tuned for our next post on influencer marketing, “Tips for Implementing a Successful Influencer Relations Program.”

 

 

 

 

Updated Sonnhalter Electrical Market Overview Now Available

Information on electrical market codes, standards and certifications, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  

At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen, industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the electrical market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Electrical Market Overview here.

 

 

Tenth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $28,000 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

CLEVELAND – September 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for a tenth year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $28,000 worth of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected nearly $280,000 in donations.

Organizations, businesses and residents were encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as building materials, furniture and appliances, to Sonnhalter to help benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing and homelessness.

 

 

 

“Cleveland Habitat for Humanity eagerly awaits Sonnhalter’s annual Tool Drive,” said John Habat, president/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “It replenishes our inventory and generates revenues to support our affordable homeownership program. Sonnhalter has been doing this for ten years, demonstrating again and again its commitment to affordable housing in Cleveland. Sonnhalter is a treasured partner.” (more…)

Honoring the Trades, Building the Future

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman, Sonnhalter

It seems especially appropriate to address the subject of “skills gap” today, the third Friday in September, which is also “National Tradesmen Day.” National Tradesmen Day is a day where we honor the men and women dedicated to maintaining the complex infrastructure of our roads, cities, water systems and power grids. The skills and knowledge of those in the trades–electricians, plumbers, masons, mechanics, carpenters and everyone in between–ensure the jobs get done and businesses, homes and entire nations keep running.

While these professionals work day in and out to maintain their skills unique to their trade, the grim reality is that every day qualified workers retire, and the demand for skilled workers grows. In fact, as the country grows, the skilled trades are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the job market today. Their skills and jobs are so valuable, in fact, that training is available in nearly every sector of the skilled trade job market.

The problem is there are fewer and fewer students pursuing an education in the trades. Instead, they have been led to believe that it’s necessary to attend a four-year college in order to get a high-paying, satisfying job. It isn’t. There are other paths to a good career.

Build Your Future, an organization that aims to be the catalyst for recruiting the next generation of craft professionals, elaborates on the advantages of a career in the skilled trades in this guest post.

By 2023, there will be 1.5 million construction jobs that need to be filled. This shortage could be detrimental to the infrastructure and construction projects in America.

As the skills gap worsens, those with a lot of knowledge and experience in the crafts will be highly sought out with high-paying opportunities. Following the idea of supply and demand, this shortage has led to stable, high-paying careers for construction professionals.

With so much opportunity in the skilled crafts arena, it makes sense to explore the many options—and become part of the much-needed team of professionals that keep our nation running smoothly with their hands, their skills, their tools and their training.

Want to read more on the subject? Check out this post:

“Using the Gender Gap to Close the Skills Gap”

Are You Considered a “Trusted Authority” in Contractors’ Minds?

By John Sonnhalter, Founder, Sonnhalter

We all want to be recognized as leaders in our respective fields and in today’s world the current mantra is to be that “Trusted Authority.” To be a recognized leader in your field is not an overnight sensation. It takes time and you need to deliver more than just bells and whistles.

Mark Buckshon from Construction Marketing Ideas discusses this very topic. He uses the example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s role in leading architecture to a new level in his day. Wright truly was considered a trusted authority, and if you wanted a second opinion, you’d just have to ask him. Not everyone agreed with him, but they respected him.

 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

 

Time is one thing we have little of, yet it’s what it takes to position yourself and your company as the industry expert. Wisdom comes from experience and experience is gained over time. Much of your credentialing may come from the school of hard knocks. But that’s OK. We should learn from our failures and missteps.

Learn to share your expertise and solve problems instead of trying to sell contractors stuff. With social media, we no longer control the message or where or when it will be delivered. You need to learn to share your experiences via storytelling as opposed to a sales pitch. Show your expertise by telling contractors how you helped others solve a problem or gave them a better way of doing a job that resulted in them making more money.

To become a true authority, you need to deliver results beyond the ordinary. If you do this, you’ll be able to grow your business through referrals and repeat business. Contractors are very loyal, and they talk among themselves, so let’s make sure what they are saying about your company is good.

It’s a never-ending battle. You need to keep being ahead of the curve and continue to wow contractors. Remember, everything you do at the contractor level should answer this one simple question, “What’s in it for me?”

If you liked this post, read, “11 Tips on Marketing to Contractors.”

Manufacturers: Avoid These Three Frequent Failures of a Product Launch

Today we have a guest post from MAGNET (The Manufacturing and Growth Advocacy Network) organization that has a mission for helping manufacturers grow and compete in Northeast Ohio, especially the 98% of startup to medium-sized manufacturers that drive our economy. MAGNET rolls up its sleeves to provide hands-on support ranging from new product design to operations and brings education and business together to create tomorrow’s manufacturers. 

Did you know 70% of all new product launches fail?

While manufacturers may feel a sense of urgency to introduce a new product or service to market, testing thoroughly before launch can mean the difference between success and failure. After all, simply launching a new product will not guarantee its success.

So whether you’re in the ideation phase of a new innovation, or zeroing in on your promotion plan, you’ll want to take into consideration these frequent failures of a product launch.

Lack of Market Understanding

Why do so many products fail? The answer is simple: failure to understand the market. Misunderstanding the market is equal to destroying a product before launching it.

We’ve all heard the old adage “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, why do it at all?” Instead of rushing to get several products to market with incomplete research, sales support, or inventory, manufacturers should consider planning for a few, well-thought out products in a given time period for higher profit margins and faster growth.

Read more.

Sonnhalter Adds Cleaning Technologies Group as New Client

CLEVELAND – August  2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announces Cleaning Technologies Group (CTG) as one of its newest clients.

Founded more than a century ago, Cleaning Technologies Group is the industry leader in parts cleaning equipment and ultrasonic cleaning equipment for a vast number of applications. CTG provides parts cleaning equipment of various designs, including rotary basket and conveyor machines, benchtop cleaning systems, ultrasonic cleaning components and robotic cleaning systems as both pre-engineered platform products and custom designed systems. The company is comprised of three divisions, Blackstone-NEY Ultrasonics, Ransohoff and CTG Asia.

“We at CTG proudly stand behind our expertise and processes, but we wanted to partner with an agency that could work with us to revamp our brand to increase our visibility in the industry,” said Dave Melton, marketing manager at Cleaning Technologies Group. “Sonnhalter possessed the industry experience to develop key marketing initiatives that will leverage our leadership and innovation in a way that’s both modern and cohesive.”

Together, Sonnhalter and Cleaning Technologies Group look to create an open-ended plan for marketing support that will cover a variety of services, including creative messaging, media planning and public relations.

“Cleaning Technologies Group is a company with a storied history, an expansive list of cutting-edge technologies and a footprint in nearly every industrial market,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with them to further its presence as an industry leader and utilize new marketing tactics that are as up-to-date as the solutions it makes.”

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Cleaning Technologies Group, LLC

Cleaning Technologies Group is a global supplier of the most innovative industrial and precision cleaning technologies available today. The company is comprised of three divisions, Blackstone-NEY Ultrasonics, Ransohoff, and CTG Asia. Serving the medical, semiconductor, electronics, aerospace, automotive, off-road, and many other industrial markets, its team has process knowledge and capability to meet the specific needs and the experience required to help make an educated cleaning equipment purchase.

 

 

How Effective is Your Social Media Strategy in Reaching the Professional Tradesman?

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

Social media has been an essential cog in every consumer brand’s marketing machine for more than a decade, but manufacturers in the trade industries have been slow to embrace the many marketing advantages that come with social media. I believe this comes from the perception that social media had originally only targeted the younger generations, and with the average age of the professional tradesmen skewing higher and higher, these manufacturers felt more comfortable using more traditional methods with their marketing dollars.

However, with Facebook and Twitter both grossing hundreds of millions of users, it quickly became clear that almost any brand had customers and prospective customers on these platforms. While many companies in the trades have adapted and are actively using Facebook and Twitter to connect and engage with its audience, there are plenty of other digital and social platforms whose features can be useful to companies in these industries. And with only so much time, effort and money available, brands should examine all of these platforms and their potential and effectiveness in reaching the professional tradesman.

Here is a rundown of some of the most popular social and digital tools out there, how they help reach the professional tradesman and how well they do it.

Facebook

Despite its well-documented PR hiccups, Facebook still casts a wider net than any other social media network…for now. Facebook has more than two billion users, and there are more than 65 million businesses using Facebook Pages. Because of the sheer volume of users, every company should be on Facebook to regularly promote new products, announce trade show appearances, share positive media coverage and company news, etc. (more…)

Thousands of vocational programs, many ways to connect

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman, Sonnhalter

We’re in the midst of back-to-school season–which prompted us to update our vocational education database. And with the ongoing concern about our nation’s skills gap, the option for choosing an education to pursue a vocational career is certainly an attractive one. With plentiful skilled labor jobs to fill, trade jobs pay very well (sometimes better than four-year college degrees) and don’t saddle students with hefty student loans.

We originally released our extensive vocational education database in 2015 after conducting extensive research on thousands of vo-ed programs across the country. When we updated the list in 2017, we added about 1,000 new programs, separating them out by state tabs and standardizing the descriptions to make it even easier to search, sort and use.

Our most recent update features nearly 980 schools across the country, not including satellite or branch locations of each. There are almost 4,700 programs, offering different types of degrees or certifications. The types of programs include construction, electrician, robotics, welding, HVAC, plumbing, machine tool technology, among others. A separate tab for national programs and resources is also included.

Why would a marketing communications firm take the time to create and update such a resource? We hope our tool helps to bridge the gap between manufacturers and educational programs. The database serves as a useful tool for companies looking to implement more grassroots campaigns to recruit the next generation of professional tradesmen.

There are numerous ways to take advantage of a tool like our database. Here are a few suggestions of how to make our work, work for you. (more…)

Skills Gap: We’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

By John Sonnhalter, founder and rainmaker journeyman, Sonnhalter

Our workforce is aging faster than we can replace them, especially in the skilled labor category.

High schools used to push college as the only viable alternative to higher education. These graduates, with their liberal arts education, come into the workforce with no vocational skills. And individuals who lack the right skills or credentials, land in careers with little or no chance for meaningful advancement.

We’ve talked for years, now, about how many of our youth are missing opportunities in the workforce because they were thinking that they had to go to college. Let’s face it, college is not for everyone and for many who go to college, they end up in jobs that have nothing to do with their major.

In recent years, the media and the rest of the world have now started to pay attention to the lack of skilled labor to fill loads of trade jobs that, by the way, pay very well (sometimes better than four-year college degrees) and don’t have big student loans to pay back! And electrician, plumber or carpenters jobs can’t be outsourced overseas!

Here’s what Mike Rowe has to say about it:

(more…)

Sonnhalter Partners With Habitat for Humanity for Tenth Annual Tool Drive

Donate extra inventory, demo models, tools and building materials that are no longer needed during the month of August to support Habitat for Humanity.

CLEVELAND – August 1, 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, is partnering with Habitat for Humanity again for its Tenth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive.

From Thursday, August 1 to Saturday, August 31, organizations, businesses and manufacturers are encouraged to donate extra inventory, demo models, tools and building materials to the Sonnhalter Tool Drive to benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause and its efforts of eliminating substandard housing.

Affiliates of Habitat for Humanity individually work with participants to sponsor fundraising activities such as tool drives. The Sonnhalter Tool Drive strives to engage businesses and organizations to look through warehouses for extra inventory and overstocked tools or items, as well as the community to look through their workbenches, storage lockers, basements and garages for duplicated or no-longer-needed tools and items to donate.

 

“At last year’s Tool Drive, we were excited by the community’s response in donating more than $31,000 worth of tools, building materials, appliances and other items, bringing the total to more than $250,000 donated since our efforts began in 2010,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “In our tenth year, we’re looking forward to exceeding last year’s total. We are once again counting on the generosity of our community as well as businesses to clean out their extra inventory, overstocked materials and demo models, and donate to this very worthy cause.”

Sonnhalter partners with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for its annual Tool Drive. Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity has completed more than 250 homes since 1987 and today, engages over 3,000 volunteers, who provide more than 93,000 hours of service per year to Cleveland’s most distressed neighborhoods. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStore, a recycled building materials store. Proceeds from ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

Tools and materials can be shipped to Attn: Tool Drive, Sonnhalter, 1320 Sumner Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio 44115. For information on how you can participate in the Sonnhalter Tool Drive, please contact Rosemarie Ascherl from Sonnhalter at 216.242.0420 x130 or rascherl@sonnhalter.com. To make a monetary donation, please make checks payable to “Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity” and mail to Sonnhalter, 1320 Sumner Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

For more information on the Tool Drive, visit: www.Sonnhalter.com/tooldrive

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all faiths to eliminate substandard housing. The organization creates hope by building and fully rehabbing homes, strengthening neighborhoods and reweaving communities. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. During the last 32 years, Cleveland Habitat has brought together over 325 sponsor groups and 90,000 volunteers to help more than 275 Habitat homeowners, including more than 900 children, have a safe and decent place to live. Cleveland Habitat has provided working families who earn between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) affordable homeownership opportunities in 20 different Cleveland neighborhoods. For more information, visit: www.clevelandhabitat.org.

3 Tips on Maintaining Good Relationships with Contractors

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

The cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to five times greater than keeping an existing one.

 

Unless you have a unique product that no one else has, you have to compete with someone for the business, and part of that process is building good customer relationships.

Contractors, for the most part, are loyal as long as your product delivers on its promises and you don’t treat them like dirt. Bottom line is, if you treat them right, they’ll be customers for life.

Not only will they continue to be a customer, but they will become an advocate for your brand. Contractors talk to each other and believe me, if your product doesn’t deliver on its promises, word will spread fast.

Here are three ways to cultivate strong relationships with professional tradesmen:

  1. Stay in touch. E-mail is probably the best and most cost-effective way to this. Make them feel important, even if it’s a quick e-mail to say “thanks for your business” or a follow-up note from customer service after they helped out with a problem. It will pay off long term.

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Pricing Challenge: Actual Versus Plan

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com.

Welcome back to INSIGHT2PROFIT’s 2019 Pricing Challenge! Each article covers a common pricing challenge faced by businesses and provide some tips to help improve your profitability.

 

Now that we’re about halfway through 2019, let’s talk about the plan you set for the year. How have you performed thus far relative to your plan?

If your performance hasn’t matched your financial projections for this first part of the year, what happened?  Maybe you’ve looked at your financial reports, and you see that your customer or product mix isn’t what you were expecting, or that you have been impacted by tariffs, and your profitability has suffered because of it.

That’s a start – having a rough idea of the shortfall – but you need to get to the root causes. Has a shift in your mix driven down margin rates? Are you falling short of plan due to a volume slowdown, or are pricing shortfalls eroding your revenue growth? How does that vary by market segment or by salesperson?

Analyzing the gap down to the customer-SKU level can yield clear, actionable intelligence about your problem. Well-run businesses have a strategy, and the budget is the road map to execute it. Planning at the same level of granularity as your sales allows for a healthier understanding of what’s happening within your business, why, and how to act. By having a detailed budget, you are creating a source of accountability for your team and a path for success for your business.

Accurate revenue planning and measurement is tough to do, but it’s one of our specialties. Every engagement includes strategy, a client-specific model, a detailed plan and road map to execute it, and measurement to achieve the set goals. All while leveraging our DRIVE technology platform.

To learn more about how your company can improve results for the remainder of 2019, schedule a time to talk to one of our profit experts today.

What’s your pricing challenge? Talking about pricing challenge, with tariffs ever present in the news, you may want to download our 3 Steps to Navigating Tariffs Guide.

10 Tips for Trade Show Marketing

Trade shows provide incredible opportunities for connecting with customers, developing relationships with the media and generating brand awareness for your company. The key to trade show marketing success is organization, proactive planning and comprehensive follow up.

 

In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 10 strategies for making sure you’re taking full advantage of all the marketing opportunities associated with trade shows. Follow these tips, and you will be sure to maximize your company’s trade show presence.

You can sign up to download it here.

Need help with your trade show marketing? Give us a call or email. And check out our other Tip Sheets here.

Manufacturers: Why Customer Service Is So Important In Serving the Tradesman

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

We’ve talked much over the years about customer service and how important it is to resolve issues. And, we’ve also addressed the issue that customer service is everyone’s responsibility, from sales through tech support. Customer service is really all about your customers’ total experience.

This is true in our relationships with distributors as well as contractors. Manufacturers need to be careful, especially when business is on the uptick and attention to detail may come in second to short-term sales increases.

Don’t take your distributor and tradesman for granted. There’s always someone out there that can identify contractor’s needs and deliver—and it won’t necessarily be based on price or delivery—but on the total customer experience.

This article in HVACR Business by Jim Baston stressed, once again, how important customer service is in the big picture. Jim’s article is focused on the HVACR service business, but his points can be transferred to the manufacturing sector as well.

Jim breaks it down into five dimensions of service:

  • Reliability: Your ability to dependably and accurately deliver as promised.
  • Assurance: Your ability to convey trust and confidence.
  • Tangibles: Your personal presentation and the condition of the physical facilities and equipment.
  • Empathy: Your ability to demonstrate a high degree of caring and individual attention.
  • Responsiveness: Your willingness to promptly and courteously respond to customers’ needs.

As manufacturers, you need to understand your customers’ (distributors and contractors) needs. Remember that everyone in your company is in customer service. If you haven’t asked your customers what their needs are recently, maybe you should. Things change and their priorities might have too. Focus on what matters to them.

If you like this post you may want read:

Manufacturers: Are you keeping up with your customers expectations?

Customer Service: What Are You Doing to Retain Customers?

Updated Sonnhalter HVAC Market Overview Now Available

Information on HVAC market codes, standards and certifications, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  

At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen, industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the HVAC Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter HVAC Market Overview here.

Best Practices for Dealing with Negative Feedback on Social Media

By Andrew Poulsen, Public Relations Technician, Sonnhalter

When social media was in its dinosaur days, the technology’s potential seemingly capped out at reconnecting with old friends who live abroad, or more commonly, sharing with your peers that you were having a taco salad for lunch. Few would’ve predicted that social media would become not just a helpful, but an essential tool for companies to connect with customers in ways that are faster, easier, cheaper and more personal than almost any other asset within a marketing strategy.

Social media allows companies to speak with customers directly and display trust and accountability in ways that did not exist 20 years ago. However, for companies new to these platforms or unfamiliar with the volatile nature of Internet commenters, seeing countless strangers saying hurtful and profane things about your products or services in real time can be jarring, if not infuriating. Uncomfortable as it may be, these kinds of comments are inevitable. Even the most beloved brands in the world have comment sections filled with negativity from disgruntled commenters and trolls. The reality is that there is no way to avoid negative comments and reviews, but by internalizing some of these best practices, you can learn how to maintain an even keel and turn some of these upset commenters into lifelong customers.

Be quick to respond, even if you don’t have an immediate answer

Customers who leave negative feedback are often coming from a place of disappointment or unmet expectations. The last thing you want to do is make them feel like you are avoiding them or as if their opinion doesn’t matter. If someone comments on an issue they have with your business, publicly reply to the comment immediately, even if it is just to say, “Can you please email or message us with more details (more…)

3 Technology Trends Transforming Manufacturing

Today we have a guest post from MAGNET (The Manufacturing and Growth Advocacy Network) organization that has a mission for helping manufacturers grow and compete in Northeast Ohio, especially the 98% of startup to medium-sized manufacturers that drive our economy. MAGNET rolls up its sleeves to provide hands-on support ranging from new product design to operations and brings education and business together to create tomorrow’s manufacturers.

The widespread adoption of technology is indisputably transforming manufacturing operations. But before manufacturers jump right in and fight for technology implementation and adoption, it’s important to understand how certain techs can work, how they’re used, and what benefits they may reap.

MAGNET details three common technology trends that are impacting manufacturing processes:

1. Expansion of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

2. More Emphasis on Cybersecurity

3. Continued Push for 3-D Printing

To read the entire post and download MAGNET’s 2019 State of Northeast Ohio Manufacturing Report, click here.

Why Should You Use Social Media in New Business Development?

In the traditional sales model, we identify our prospects and then use several tactics to get in front of them, qualify them and ultimately sell them. But, what about all the other potential users of your product or service that you don’t know about? Yes, some of them may find you through a referral or make their way to your website, but there are many more that may not ever know that you exist.

In most cases, especially for manufacturers who are selling more complicated products, there is a sales funnel you need to take prospects through before they are ready to buy. That’s great, but that only works if you’ve identified the potential sale.

Think of social media as your silent salesman. It’s out there bird dogging for you and taking a potential customer through some of the initial stages of the selling cycle.

Social media is a great way to connect with prospective buyers because they will find you based on what they are searching for (what kind of problem they are looking for a solution for) on the web. It allows you not only to connect, but to start a conversation. It allows them to get a better feeling for the company and how you go about helping people. In other words, you start building the “know, like and trust” model that comes with any sale, especially to new potentials.

Social media is a great way to educate prospective buyers because of all the tools you have available: Blogs, Forums, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. All are platforms for you to add value to the conversations by giving them great content, and it starts establishing you as an expert they can count on.

Social media is a great way to collaborate with potential buyers because of the tools like GoToMeeting, WebEx, Zoom and join.me or other technologies that allow you to connect almost immediately to help answer a question or show how to fix a problem. There are even listening platforms, like HooteSuite, Sprout Social and others that will help you monitor conversations around the areas you want to be in, and you can contribute at the appropriate time.

So, don’t just fall into business as usual. Think outside the box and give social media a try in your new business development efforts. You might be surprised as you may eventually identify a potential new customer that was never on your radar screen.

 

Sonnhalter and Viega Honored with PRSA Rocks Award

Marketing communications firm wins silver award in the “feature article” category for its article on the subject of water quality.

CLEVELAND – May 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, received a silver award in the “feature article” category at the 16th Annual Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Cleveland Rocks Awards competition.

Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR foreman, Andrew Poulsen, PR technician, and Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect, of Sonnhalter accept the  silver award for feature article category at the PRSA Rock Awards.

The feature article, “Go with the Flow: Best Practices for Maintaining Water Movement in Plumbing Systems,” was written in collaboration with Viega, a leading manufacturer of pipe fitting installation technology. In 2018, Sonnhalter targeted and reached out to a top trade publication in the plumbing industry and pitched a feature article on the subject of water quality. Once accepted, Sonnhalter interviewed and collaborated with Viega personnel to develop an article that focused on how to reduce the spreading of water system-related illnesses. The winning feature article outlined a number of best practices for maintaining water flow and temperature with the intention of informing plumbing system designers and installers of some of the new ways to combat the risk of waterborne diseases. (more…)

Updated Sonnhalter Plumbing Market Overview Now Available

Information on plumbing market codes, standards and certifications, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  

At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen, industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the Plumbing Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Plumbing Market Overview here.

Marketing Minute: Using an Integrated Marketing Campaign

Running a successful marketing campaign requires a number of different tactics, not just one “silver bullet.” Join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute and learn how your company can get the most results out of your marketing efforts by using an integrated campaign.

 

To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover.

How to Repurpose Content for Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

For those of you who might be looking for ways to generate more awareness and conversations, generating new content may not be your only option. It makes sense to use other social media outlets as a way to get your existing messages out.

To achieve higher reader engagement you need to know your audience, their habits and pain points. Different social media outlets reach people differently. So whether you’re looking to repurpose existing data or convert outdated info, consider delivering them in smaller bite size pieces using alternative avenues.

Looking for ideas on how to do this? This article in Social Media Examiner, “19 Tools to Create Social Media Content,” shows you ways to repackage existing material and use other social media outlets to get the message out. They outline several ways and give examples of tools to use.

Here are some highlights that I think manufacturers could use in reaching the professional tradesman:

Present your business via video. Tell your story, not the corporate one, but the one that talks about ways to come up with solutions to help contractors do their jobs better.

Use infographics. They are 30 times more likely to be read than pure text. People like visuals and are more likely to share them.

Convert long form content into slides. Use existing presentations and break them up into smaller groups. You can use them as PowerPoint presentations or there are programs that will easily allow you to incorporate animation.

Use podcasts to share your voice. Podcasts are one of the fastest growing mediums for social media and it comes as no surprise. Interview contractors and talk about the newest technologies. I’m sure you can come up with a multitude of topics to cover.

 

Sonnhalter Continues Support of Cuyahoga Community College With Annual Scholarship for School’s Construction Program

Agency’s fifth annual scholarship donation toward construction program adds to its longstanding relationship with trade professionals.

CLEVELAND – April 2019 – Sonnhalter, a marketing communications firm to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, continues its support of Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) “Construction Program Scholarship” with a $2,500 donation. This marks the fifth year in a row Sonnhalter donated to the program.

With more than 5,000 students enrolled, the construction apprenticeship program at Tri-C is one of the largest of its kind and helps students learn a valuable trade within the construction industry through quality assurance, drawings, project management, scheduling, problem solving and communication.

“On behalf of Cuyahoga Community College, we are very grateful for Sonnhalter’s continued generous support,” said Megan O’Bryan, vice president, development and president, Tri-C Foundation. “This gift helps students realize a dream that otherwise may not have been possible by providing scholarships which are an essential tool in ensuring access to the education and training our students will need to work in the construction industry. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of Tri-C students.”

Students receive up to 250 hours of classroom instruction, as well as up to 1,600 hours of on-the-job training. During their apprenticeship, students have the opportunity to earn wages and learn from experienced union workers and vocational instructors. Students who complete certification in the program will have the skills to take on careers that include cost/quantity estimating, project scheduling and CAD technician work.

“With the construction scholarship, I was able to improve my skills and enter into the Carpenters Apprenticeship Program,” said Brian, a 2019 pre-apprenticeship training graduate at Cuyahoga Community College.

“Each year, Sonnhalter is pleased to extend our support for this program and all the work it does to shape the minds of future hardworking professionals in the construction industry,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. ”These types of programs at Tri-C are especially critical as the industry faces a tremendous skills gap. We are pleased that we can help encourage students in our community by helping to provide career opportunities that they might not have considered.”

Sonnhalter developed an extensive database of vocational education and technical programs in the United States similar to Tri-C’s construction apprenticeship program. The database, which includes more than 20,000 programs, contains useful and easy-to-read information about each program, including addresses, phone numbers, websites and more. To download Sonnhalter’s updated, comprehensive list of vocational programs in the U.S., visit sonnhalter.com/vocational.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

 

Pricing Challenge: Price Leaks

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com

Welcome to INSIGHT2PROFIT’s 2019 Pricing Challenge! Each month we’ll discuss a common pricing challenge faced by businesses and provide some tips to help improve your profitability.

First up, let’s talk about price leaks. You’ve set your product pricing, but after considerations like discounts, freight costs, program allowances, rebates and payment terms, how much of that price actually reaches your bottom line? Today we’ll look at how just one factor – expedited orders – can dip into your profit margin and how you can quickly address that challenge.

 

Has this ever happened to you? Your customer calls and says they need their product in three days instead of the usual two weeks. You jump through hoops to make it happen – interrupt your production cycle, delay other customers’ orders, pay extra for freight, pay overtime – and you do it for free to keep your customer happy. You just offered your customer tremendous value; you should be getting paid for it. How might you go about making that happen?

First of all, ensure your customers have a clear understanding of what your standard lead time is. If they ask about expediting, and your production team says it’s feasible, let your customer know there will be an associated surcharge.

Based on our historical tracking of expedited order requests, one of two things will happen:

  1. You’ll save money. When faced with a fee, about half of your customers will decide they don’t actually need the order that quickly and can deal with the regular lead time. You neither disrupted production nor incurred additional expenses to meet a need that wasn’t real.
  2. You’ll make money. The other half of your customers will appreciate that you offer the option to expedite orders and will gladly pay the surcharge, because it’s a small price to pay for being able to meet their critical need.

What practices could you adjust to stop price leaks and have an immediate impact on your company’s profitability? Download our 50+ Most Common Price Leaks Infographic to identify other areas in which you might be leaving money on the table instead of putting it in your pocket.

What’s your pricing challenge? 

 

 

Spring Clean Your Social Media

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

Since the social media scene developed years ago, it’s become cluttered. There are accounts on all social platforms that sit, gathering dust for years. Do any of those accounts belong to you or your company?

Thanks to Marie Kondo’s recent popularity, we’ve become obsessed with decluttering and organizing, so we thought it might be a good time of the year for a little spring cleaning of your social media.

By now, most companies have several social media accounts that have been running for quite some time and even a few accounts that have shut down (Google+) or become less relevant as a social media platform (Flikr). It doesn’t take much time to conduct a quick audit of your social media platforms and get back on track, if you know what to do. Here are a few pointers to get you started. (more…)

Updated Alternative Energy Market Overview Now Available

Information on the alternative energy market, from key trade shows and industry associations, to training providers, codes and standards, industry publications, online resources and more. 

At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well. To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them.

Many of our clients know they need to get into the “green” arena but do not know how to approach it or how to bring value to the “green” market. Our updated, 28-page overview of the alternative energy industry (focusing on certain segments within the larger context) can be used as a means of educating and planning for the types of products and services needed in the future.

The overview covers the following segments of the Alternative Energy market:

• BioMass/BioFuels/BioProducts

• Geothermal

• Hydropower

• Solar

• Wind

Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us. Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Alternative Energy Market Overview here.

Social Media: Does it Affect Marketing to the Professional Tradesman?

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Are you trying to increase your exposure, traffic and leads? Are you trying to provide insights to contractors and generate leads? If so, social media should be part of your overall marketing program.

Social media is a targeted way of getting your message out and letting prospective customers find you.

Social media benefits are:

  • Reach – get your message distributed to a broader audience.
  • Influence – both existing contractors as well as new prospects.
  • Conversions – marketing insights leads to engagement that leads to sales.

Here are some tips to maximize your social media efforts to the contractor market.

Reach – Use several different social media platforms, i.e. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to reach contractors. Make sure what you do share is relevant, as you don’t want to waste contractors time. They want quality content, not quantity. Repurpose existing content that they may not have been aware of.

Influence – You may not have to impress your existing customers, but you do for potential customers. Here’s where you have to become a thought leader. Don’t push your company or brand, but communicate a solution to a potential problem. Develop thought leaders within your company (no need for marketing to bear all the responsibility). Tap seasoned customer service reps, your engineering department and sales force. They are the ones on the front lines that deal with problems and arrive at solutions.

Conversion – This is a hard metric if you want to tie it directly to sales. In many cases where products are either specified or sold through distribution channels, it’s nearly impossible to track sales results. You can, though, create landing pages with offers for white papers or other items that would help the contractor in their day-to-day operations. Be patient, and as you engage these contractors on social media, work at taking them offline and start a traditional relationship with them.

Blogs and Forums for the Professional Tradesman

There are around 505 million blogs in the world today and not all are created equal.

So, how do you identify and communicate with the right blogs and forums to get in front of professional tradesmen? The first question to ask yourself is: are your products or services applicable to your end users using social media? If the answer is “yes,” then your goal should be to do comprehensive research to identify the right communities, monitor them and jump in and get involved in the conversations. As you get involved in these conversations on social media, keep this in mind:

  • Your brand can be affected positively or negatively. You don’t control the message.
  • Your brand depends on the “loyalists” who are passionate about your brand.
  • Key blogs or social media sites are authored by thought leaders from your industry.
  • Social media demands transparency, so be honest in your engagement.

 

Here are a few sites that may be of interest to brands attempting to reach and interact with the professional tradesman:

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Sonnhalter and One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning Honored with Silver Davey Award for Integrated Campaign

Marketing communications firm and One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning received a Silver Davey Award in the business-to-business integrated campaign category.

CLEVELAND – March 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, received a Silver Davey Award in the 14th Annual International Davey Awards competition. Sonnhalter accepted the award in the business-to-business integrated campaign category for the “Shouldn’t We Be Talking?” personalized road trip campaign it developed with One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.

Sonnhalter worked with One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning to create a personalized, integrated campaign to connect with business owners to discuss the potential benefits that they would gain from joining the One Hour franchise. With the objectives of gaining interest among prospects and softening the idea of becoming a franchisee, Sonnhalter used the simple concept of sitting down over a cup of coffee to broach a difficult topic with the theme, “Shouldn’t We Be Talking?” The theme was intertwined throughout all the touch points of the campaign and culminated in the salesperson bringing a thermos of hot coffee to the meeting.

The campaign consisted of several touch points that were personalized to communicate local market knowledge and insights and secure an in-person meeting. Communication tactics for the campaign included phone calls, emails, postcards, 3D mailings of coffee mugs and social media.

“Converting a business into a franchise of a national brand can be a hard and stressful decision, so the campaign’s goal was to make that experience feel more honest and conversational,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Both Sonnhalter and One Hour are very pleased with the rise in opportunities that stemmed from this campaign and are honored to be awarded for our efforts.”

The Davey Awards honor the finest creative work from small firms, agencies and companies worldwide. The Davey Awards are named after King David who defeated the giant Goliath with a big idea and a little rock. The story resembles what small firms do each year by deriving strength from big ideas instead of big budgets.

Are Independent Industrial Distributors Helping Amazon to Succeed?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman

I read a recent survey in Industrial Distribution magazine that stated distributors’ biggest concern now is dealing with Amazon. Distributors and wholesalers overwhelmingly regard Amazon Business as their biggest threat, dwarfing other concerns. That’s one of the findings Unilog released recently, after surveying 244 manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers.

Surprisingly, 52 percent of those same survey respondents admit they don’t have a strategy for competing with Amazon Business. And, 43 percent of manufacturers surveyed said they sell direct on Amazon Business, often bypassing their traditional distribution channel.

I wrote a post in 2015 regarding this subject on another survey from Industrial Distribution magazine. Back then, Amazon was convincing distributors to join their third party selling agreement and many jumped on board.

Today it’s hard to compete toe-to-toe with Amazon on product purchases. But distributors sell themselves short. Distributors have the brick-and-mortar stores right in their customers’ backyards. They have the relationships with the customers. Distributors have the technical knowledge to help their customers work through application issues.

Here’s a link to the 2015 post:

http://www.sonnhalter.com/2015/02/24/are-independent-industrial-distributors-helping-amazon-to-succeed/

 

Sonnhalter Adds Weldcote as New Client

CLEVELAND – January  2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announces Weldcote as one of its newest clients. 

Weldcote was founded in 2006 by Bill Roland and John Pandorf, two industry veterans with more than 65 years of experience. Weldcote manufactures and distributes high-quality welding supplies, including abrasives, consumables, production alloys, auto-darkening welding helmets and various tools and accessories. With its recent acquisition by Zika, new product offerings are continually being added.

“Our vision as a company is not to compete with the ‘titans’ of our industry, but rather supplement and expand the offerings that are not being provided by those larger firms,” said Joe O’Mera, CEO of Weldcote. “We believe having a niche-minded agency like Sonnhalter will help us leverage our innovative product offerings by using the best possible channels.”

Sonnhalter assists Weldcote in a number of public relations objectives, including developing press releases, organizing media events, drafting and placing feature articles in key trade publications, providing trade show support and maintaining media relations on a daily basis.

“Weldcote is a company that has recently experienced a lot of success, and we look forward to utilizing our industry expertise to put them in the best position possible in getting the word out on all the exciting things to come in the near future,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are pleased to be working with Weldcote and to increase visibility for its innovative line of products.”

(more…)

Is It Time for a Website Tune-Up? Make Sure You Use the Right Mechanic.

By Angela Ruland, Design Engineer

 

Your website is a lot like your car.

For example:

Sure, it’s your car. But let’s face it; one of the reasons you bought it, is for what it says to other people about you.

»A website is very often your first chance to tell someone who your company is, and it should always be geared towards them and their experience.

And sure, you can buy a car from your sister’s brother-in-law’s cousin. But if you want one that’s reliable, safe and not going to break down on you in the middle of a long trip, it’s best to buy from a reputable place.

»When you go to build a new website, ALWAYS use a professional web designer, but make sure they fundamentally understand your business and customers.

Of course, you can (and should) do some of the regular maintenance yourself, but for the major tune-ups and preventative stuff, it’s best to find a mechanic that knows what they’re doing and how you use the car.

»And that’s what we’d like to examine today.

Your website should never be something that you set up and take for granted until someone decides it’s time for a revamp. Just like your car, your website is being used daily, for short trips, long trips and in all kinds of traffic. Occasionally it may wind up in a sketchy neighborhood, or have someone try and break in. So, just like you work on your car, or have someone do maintenance, you need to check on your website regularly. Here are a few ways to accomplish that:

(more…)

Updated Construction Market Overview Now Available

Information on construction market trends, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  

At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the Construction Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

 

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Construction Market Overview here.

 

New Year’s Resolution: Review Your Content Marketing Efforts

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

It’s a new year, and a perfect time to take a quick review of the past year. Before we start doing the same old thing, we should take a minute to make sure what we’re doing is getting us the results we want. We’re cleaning, purging and issuing new challenges in our personal lives, why not do it for our marketing lives? Makes sense, doesn’t it?

As we are making these evaluations, it doesn’t hurt to check on industry predictions that can help us adjust our strategies to respond and align with recent discoveries.

Heidi Cohen’s blog post makes 10 predictions for content marketing success in 2019 that we find valuable as we navigate the shifting landscape. Here are a few highlights:

  • Content saturation continues to increase, which is raising the cost of content marketing necessary to break through and get acted upon. Instead of creating new content, improve and transform pre-vetted content and use content audits to keep content relevant and increase traffic.
  • Customers expect more personalized content experiences. Segment your email and other communications to deliver targeted messages.
  • Post sales experience increases in importance. While customers may buy from you once, if you don’t gain their trust, they won’t stay customers.
  • Content formats continue to diversify. Due to the use of more devices and screens tailored to personal and environmentally relevant needs, content consumption patterns continue to change.
  • Influencers including brands remain relevant for content creation and distribution. Work with micro-influencers who have deeper connections with their followers.

Heidi has more predictions and recommendations, but the idea is to take the time to evaluate what you did last year, so that you can improve on it this upcoming year.

Happy New Year! Let’s make 2019 a successful one.

Happy Holidays!

 

The Sonnhalter team will be taking some time off over the holidays. We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and time with your family and friends!

We’ll see you in 2019!

 

Podcasting: Another Effective Tool to Reach Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Podcasts are a very popular medium today and rightfully so. Podcasts can add another dimension to your audience as they can hear the voice behind the words.

Alisa Meredith wrote a piece on HubSpot on why marketers should be using podcasting and shows you that getting started is relatively painless.

Jay Baer, in an episode on Social Media Examiner, said, “There’s something about bringing somebody inside your head through your ear holes that ties you to that person in a way that reading a blog post or reading a book or anything else just doesn’t.”

 

Using podcasts is a way of building brand awareness as well as loyalty. Podcasting gives busy contractors another way to get information (let’s face it, we all only have so much time to read), and with the auto industry’s smart dashboards, it is making it easier to listen to.

You can also upload your podcasts onto iTunes, which can give you access to more potential customers who are searching for info on key subjects by key words or phrases. Don’t be obsessed with the number of people who listen to your podcast, but instead, be more concerned on the quality of them.

 

 

There are several ways that you can use podcasts to get to the professional tradesmen. Here are a few to consider:

  • You initiate them. You can talk about issues affecting the tradesmen and possible solutions they could consider.
  • You can interview industry experts or association leaders that can talk about everything from legislative issues that might relate to your business in the future, or talk about things you can do now to improve your business.
  • Be a guest on someone else’s podcast. There are bloggers out there that target the same types of audiences you do. Follow them for a while, and if you determine it would be a good fit, contact the blogger and ask if they would consider doing a podcast with you. You’ll need to lay out the reasons why you think you can contribute to their audience and propose several topics for discussions.Don’t know any bloggers? Go to iTunes and type in under podcasts some of the key words that you are associated with. You’d be surprised at the number of podcasts that already exist. Listen to a few and contact the originator.

Podcasts help set you apart and allow you to be known as not only an industry leader, but if you do your own podcasts and get guests to interview, it will also show that you are wired to the right people who can give a different view or experience that will help your listener. It’s a win-win for everyone.

 

 

 

New Study Finds What You Already Knew

by Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent

As members of the manufacturing community, we all have abundant anecdotal evidence of the Skills Gap. But as people involved in precision and “measure twice, cut once” careers, we also understand that when you measure something, you can work on it.

That’s why this new study from Deloitte is so welcome. They have taken a good, long, hard look at the industry in general, and applied solid numbers and reasoning to the looming crisis. Additionally, they have partnered with The Manufacturing Institute to work on filling the gap.

For the Executive Summary and links to the complete study, click here.

The Scary Side of Public Relations

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, Public Relations Foreman

It’s that spooky time of the year — so it seems like a good time to rehash some of the aspects of public relations that can be the scariest to clients.

We find the realm of public relations to be fun, exciting and consistently fresh, but some areas of our field can be scary to our clients. Here are the top five fears people have about public relations, and why you shouldn’t be spooked by them.

1. You can’t control what the media does with a story once you’ve given it to them.

“Earned media” is highly credible because readers know that you didn’t purchase the space to promote your company. Public relations and media relations professionals cultivate positive relationships with media, we work with these folks on behalf of multiple clients most of the time so we’ve built the foundation for positive coverage before they even get your story. In B2T public relations, we’re working with trade publications primarily and their goal is to be a source of helpful information for their readers.

It can be scary not to see the actual article before it’s published, but with long lead times of trade media, it can be a sweet surprise to see your words in print.  

2. Negative comments on blogs and social media. 

Your responses to negative comments offer an excellent opportunity to show off your wonderful customer service. Negative comments happen, and if they happen on your social media, you can control the outcome with your response and the community response from your other fans. It’s actually scarier to hide your head in the sand or cover your ears when it comes to social media.

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Are You Attending STAFDA In Phoenix This Week?


Are you in Phoenix attending this month’s STAFDA trade show? If so, check out our exclusive Insider’s Guide to Phoenix and use this guide to help you get around the Valley of the Sun during your free time.

– Want to know where the locals like to eat and drink? We have the insider information from our friends in Phoenix.

– Need tips on nightlife and sightseeing? We made a list of shouldn’t-miss recommendations.

– Have you ever driven in Phoenix? We have you covered with taxi and limo services.

See you at the Phoenix Convention Center…or at one of the great places in the guide!

Why You Use Relationship Marketing When Trying to Reach Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

 

I’ve always been a big believer in relationship selling. After all, we usually buy stuff from people we know, like and trust. Agree? So why not take that to another step in the selling process by using the same principles to your marketing efforts?

This is especially true now that content and content marketing is such a big part of everyone’s overall strategy.

We all have heard the saying that “Content is King and Community is its Kingdom,” but what brings them together? It’s building solid relationships with contractors and tradesmen using relationship marketing. 

I read a post by Wade HarmanWhy relationship marketing is the key to your content, where he outlines a strong case for using this type of tactic.

He points out that we need to know and understand what our target wants and needs. Contractors want solutions, not necessarily a sales pitch. You need to make yourself available in conversations with them…

He also points out that we should collaborate with others that share the same passion. For an example, say your target is professional plumbers. You want to focus on products that will help them do their install better. You’re not interested (nor capable) in helping them market their plumbing business locally.

Why not team up with someone who’s focus is just that, like Plumbers SEO.net or Darren Slaughter who specializes in contractor marketing.

This blog focuses on helping manufacturers better communicate with contractors and professional tradesmen. We have three challenges: 1) identify our audience, 2) give them meaningful content, and 3) keep them coming back. One of the most important things I try to communicate is that to be successful, you must be able to engage and have a genuine relationship with your reader.

Here are some steps to build those relationships:

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An Idea Worth Stealing

by Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent

 

Lowbrow Customs is a Cleveland-based maker of custom motorcycles and parts. They’ve made some innovative accessories and amazing builds, garnering a reputation that’s worldwide.

But it’s what they’re doing in our hometown of Cleveland that has us stoked.

 

On their website and YouTube channel, they’ve recently announced a scholarship program through the Tri-C Advanced Technology Training Center (which Sonnhalter is also proud to support). The two $2,500 scholarships will help at-need students pursue careers in manufacturing. The goal? To show people that there’s more to higher education than a four-year degree. That they can find an exciting and rewarding career, and that they can join a long tradition of high-quality, American manufacturing. And that by doing this, as my Grandfather always said, “A rising tide will lift all boats.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Ninth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $31,000 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

CLEVELAND – September 2018 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for a ninth year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $31,000 worth of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected more than $250,000 in donations.

Organizations, businesses and residents were encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as building materials, furniture and appliances, to Sonnhalter to help benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing and homelessness.

“Cleveland Habitat for Humanity eagerly awaits Sonnhalter’s annual Tool Drive,” said John Habat, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “It replenishes our inventory and generates revenues to support our affordable homeownership program. Sonnhalter has been doing this for several years, demonstrating again and again its commitment to affordable housing in Cleveland. Sonnhalter is a treasured partner.” (more…)

Today is National Tradesmen Day!

Where would we be without them? The unsung heroes of American Industry.

At Sonnhalter, we know tradesmen well. They are the customers of the clients we serve. They’re construction workers and maintenance professionals. Electricians and plumbers.

On the third Friday in September, National Tradesmen Day honors the men and women whose skills and hard work build America and keep it running strong. National Tradesmen Day is dedicated to the professionals who maintain the complex infrastructure of our roads, cities, water systems and power grids.
While these professionals work day in and out maintaining skills unique to their trade, our nation continues to operate smoothly without pause. The skills and knowledge of those in the trades keep business, homes and entire nations running. Whether walls go up or come down, roads cross rivers or the water flows, electricians, plumbers, masons, mechanics, carpenters and everyone in between ensures the job gets done.
With their hands, their skills and their tools, they keep America running smoothly.

 

Please join us by thanking the men and women in the trades. It’s truly a day to celebrate.

I Rode My Motorcycle Across the United States to Visit America’s Manufacturers. Here’s What I Learned.

by Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent

As anyone concerned with problem-solving can attest, sometimes a different perspective can make a world of difference. That’s what makes this project from David Bohrer so amazing. A former White House photographer, he set out from Washington to Milwaukee on behalf of National Association of Manufacturers to document the state of manufacturing in advance of Manufacturing Day.

What he found was opportunity, innovation and dedication. Read more, and see some great photography in his post.

 

 

Attending IMTS in Chicago this week?

Are you in Chicago attending this month’s IMTS trade show? If so, check out our exclusive Insider’s Guide to Chicago and use this guide to help you get around town during your free time.

– Want to know where the locals like to eat and drink? We have the insider information from our friends in Chicago.

– Need tips on nightlife and sightseeing? We made a list of shouldn’t-miss recommendations.

– Have you ever driven in Chicago? We have you covered with taxi and limo services.

See you at McCormick Place…or at one of the great places in the guide!

Chicago Insider's Guide

Is Selling to Professional Tradesmen Getting Easier?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman

 

I don’t know if it’s getting easier, but it sure is different from years ago. Twenty to 30 years ago, salesmen needed to make cold calls, and the only way to communicate was through land lines, faxes, letters and direct mail. The selling cycle certainly took longer back then!

Now, with the internet, cell phones, email and social media, much of the upfront work is already done for sales. YouTube videos, application data sheets and competitive comparisons are just a few of the resources available.

The key is not to try to sell something; instead, your main objective is to help solve a problem or issue. Here are a few key takeaways when selling to professional tradesmen:

– If possible, actually show you have a solution by demoing your product on an actual job site.

– Sell your value proposition on why using your product will be the reason to choose you over the competition.

– Give them names of other contractors who have similar problems/issues that you helped solve.

– Respect their time; show them your solution and ask when you should follow up.

Here are some tips:

  • Deliver outstanding quality – from a great quality product to courteous customer service and user-friendly info – and then let them have the option on how they want to receive it.
  • Understand what your customers want – don’t assume to know what they want – ask them.
  • Connect with them – direct relationships are the most important and the most challenging. Always think WIIFT (What’s In It For Them). Be sincere and upfront with them. When communicating with them, don’t always be selling. Try to help solve a problem even though it might not, in the short term, result in a sale.
  • Under promise and over deliver – exceed your customers’ expectations, then do it again.
  • Don’t sit on your laurels – yes, you have real neat products, but instead of sitting there and just doing the same old, same old, innovate. If you don’t, someone else will.

 

Old or New: School is Back in Session

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent

There are still some hot days to get through, but Labor Day is fast approaching and most schools are back in session. So make sure you stop for busses, keep an eye out for kids and stop worrying about chasing the latest marketing craze.

Wait, what?

This is the perfect time of year to reassess what school your marketing efforts are going to. Are you “Old School,” still utilizing print, convinced social media is just a craze and missing printed catalogs? Or are you “New School,” only marketing to mobile, boiling your message down to 140 characters and laughing at the dinosaurs amongst you?

Guess what: it doesn’t matter.

Because in the end, what will make any and all of those marketing tactics succeed or fail is what you bring to it – a personal touch.

Old School Personal Touches

Print Ads – Make sure your advertising isn’t just a product catalog and includes a call to action, such as a dedicated phone number or website. This will be your best way to gauge ROI and allow you to make a personal connection with people who respond to your ad.

Catalogs – Be smart with distribution. Don’t just dump them in a distributor’s office or on a table at a trade show. Offer them on your website and free upon request. Just make sure you have a plan to follow up and utilize the customer info you get in return.

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Making the Most of a Trade Show Visit

The Precision Machined Products Association has a growing membership of machine shops, technical members and others involved in the precision manufacturing sector. One of the more innovative ways they communicate with current and potential members is through a regular insert in the trade publication Production Machining.

The insert is a win-win for both the PMPA and the magazine. PMPA gains an additional way to communicate to their membership, and Production Machining gets valuable content.

A perfect example? This recent article on the upcoming IMTS show in Chicago. If you’re heading to this show, or any trade show in the near future, this is a great read.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2018 is set to take over Chicago’s McCormick Place from Sept. 10-15. The pure numbers of the show are pretty staggering, with more than 115,000 people expected to attend from more than 110 countries and more than 2,000 exhibitors with 1.37 million square feet of exhibit space divided into 10 pavilions, four co-located shows and more than 60 conference sessions.

So, like any big task, the secret to success at IMTS, or at any trade show, is to create a number of smaller goals and plan, plan, plan, all while leaving enough wiggle room for last-minute opportunities or challenges.

Here are some basic guidelines for planning to make the most of any trade show visit.

Pre-Show

  • Book Early – Make sure to take advantage of any early bird specials for registration, not only to save money, but also so vendors have an idea of how many people are attending. It’s also best to book travel, transport and hotel as soon as possible.
  • Stay in the Show Hotel – Sure, it may be more expensive, but it will be close to the show, probably have free transportation opportunities and offer lots of networking possibilities.
  • Have a Plan – Make a list of goals and company needs. This way it is easier to know what to accomplish and determine whether a show was a success.
  • Make a Map – Use the show planner or a printed map to physically see the locations of the booths, which will help immensely when it comes to scheduling.
  • Look for Opportunity – Avoid visiting the same vendors. Their competitors will be there as well, as will potential customers.
  • Have a List – Is it a selling show? Then make sure to know the company’s inventory and budget. This way, it is easy to take advantage of any show specials and ordering opportunities.
  • Set Up Appointments Before You Leave – Call ahead and set up a meeting time. A few of these will not only allow visitors to ensure they get to see the right people, but act as a framework around which to build the rest of an itinerary.
  • Bring Someone – Bring someone else not just to “divide and conquer” a larger show, but also to bounce ideas off of and serve as a mentoring opportunity.
  • Travel Light – When packing, bring only the essentials. Visitors will be inside the majority of the time, so dressing for the weather can be minimal, and it is recommended to leave open space for the trinkets and other items. Make sure to bring at least two pairs of shoes.

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8 Tips for Making Customer Service a Priority in your Marketing

Think customer service isn’t an integral part of your marketing? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What part of your company do existing customers deal with the most?
  • Have you ever avoided a business because of a negative remark a friend made?

If the answer to both is yes, you’ve just seen how an effective customer service program is also your best marketing strategy.

 

 

Need more proof? In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out eight tips for making customer service a priority in your marketing efforts, and as always, it’s geared toward manufacturers, distributors and others in the B2T marketplace. You can sign up to download it for free here.

Let us know what challenges you’ve had with customer service and check out our other tip sheets here.

Manufacturers May Be the New Nerds? (In a GREAT Way)

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Remember about 10 years ago? The Lord of the Ring movies had raked in awards (and millions of dollars), San Diego ComicCon became something you heard about, E3 became the trade show you wished you got to go to and The Big Bang Theory debuted, soon to become TV’s #1 show.

Suddenly “nerd culture” was all the rage. Writers were penning think pieces about how this was the ultimate victory for the kid that got picked on in high school. TV commentators discussed at length how this was a “cultural shift” and heralded a new age. 

Add to that the continued dominance of the Marvel superhero movies, and the last decade has definitely belonged to the kid that read comic books at lunch.

Well, I predict that the next decade will be the “Age of the Maker and Manufacturer.”

 

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Updated Electrical Market Overview Now Available

Information on electrical market trends, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  

At Sonnhalter we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the Electrical Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us. 

 

 

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Electrical Market Overview here:

http://www.sonnhalter.com/tradesman-insights/market-overviews/electrical/

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for the Ninth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive

Help eliminate substandard housing during the month of August by donating extra inventory, demo models, tools and building materials that are no longer needed.

CLEVELAND – July 2018 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, is partnering with Habitat for Humanity again for the ninth annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, during the entire month of August.

Organizations, businesses and manufacturers are encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as cabinets, sinks, building materials and appliances, to the Sonnhalter Tool Drive between Wednesday, August 1 and Friday, August 31, to benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing.

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Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard Rejoins Sonnhalter as Public Relations Foreman

CLEVELAND – June 2018 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, recently announced Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard is rejoining the firm as public relations foreman.

In the role of public relations foreman, Ascherl-Lenhard will oversee developing clients’ public relations strategies, as well as planning and implementing B2T (business-to-tradesmen) public relations programs and initiatives for the Sonnhalter client base.

Prior to rejoining Sonnhalter, Ascherl-Lenhard was senior communications strategist at NMV Strategies. Ascherl-Lenhard previously held the position of public relations foreman from 1998 to 2015 at Sonnhalter. In the past she also held public relations positions at Magic American Corporation and Saifman Richards Communications. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio.

“We are excited to have Rosemarie rejoin our team. Her background and experience in our niche of marketing to the professional tradesmen will be an asset to our clients,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter.

“I am extremely thrilled to be back at Sonnhalter, serving clients in an industry segment I’m especially passionate and knowledgeable about,” added Ascherl-Lenhard.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

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Connect with Sonnhalter:

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Getting the Most out of Your Company’s Instagram Account

By Andrew Poulsen, PR Technician

In less than 10 years, social media has evolved from a fun distraction to keep in touch with college friends and distant relatives, to an essential tool needed by any brand looking to engage with its customers or maintain relevance amongst its competitors. Regardless of how millennials feel about the Baconator® or Moons Over My Hammy®, brands like Wendy’s and Denny’s are winning over young people more and more every day with their funny and relatable social media presence. While not every company needs to adopt to the latest meme or pop culture phenomenon to have a healthy online presence, social media has opened the door for brands to be transparent and relatable in new and exciting ways.

By now, companies from international brands to local muffler shops are utilizing Facebook and Twitter to engage and share company news, updates, sales, etc. But over the past few years, we’ve seen more brands incorporating Instagram into their social media plan. What was once considered a platform exclusive to tech-savvy young people with smartphones, Instagram is now just ubiquitous across all demographics as Facebook and Twitter. And businesses across all industries are starting to take notice. That’s because, if used correctly, the app’s photo and video features allow a new way for brands to give their audience a peek behind the curtain. Here are five ways your company can take advantage of the unique features Instagram has to offer.

Give Your Audience Something Different

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all bring something different to table, otherwise we wouldn’t need to be on so many different social media platforms. While this seems obvious, companies often make the mistake of letting their social media content be too similar across all platforms. Instead, companies should reward their audience for following all their pages by giving them content exclusive from the other platforms. For Instagram, this can be a fun look behind the scenes of your office, documenting a company picnic, making a short how-to video or hosting some sort of fan-generated photo contest. Just make sure it is unique to the platform in some way.

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Making the Most of YouTube

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent

YouTube has become the prime research tool on the web. With a staggering breadth of content and connected communities for almost every niche, it’s definitely earned a place in your marketing efforts. If you don’t have a video program yet, check out articles herehere and here  on how to incorporate video. In the meantime, if video is already a part of your efforts, here are a few simple guidelines to making the most of the content you post:

No Channel is an Island

  • You can’t make your channel a one-sided affair. Make sure you get into as many “networks” as possible by subscribing to other channels, i.e. trade organizations, publications, online reviewers, people already using your products, etc.

Engage Frequently

  • Don’t be a passive subscriber. Like videos and comment, even if it’s just “great video.”  The more you put your channel out there, the more likely people are to find it.

Forget Who You Are

  • When it comes to video tags and descriptions, think like a potential customer, rather than as a salesperson. Don’t use product numbers or use common terms, instead, put yourself in the shoes of someone just starting a search, with no prior brand loyalty or knowledge of the industry, and then tag accordingly.

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PMPA Addresses Skills Gap With Member Outreach

The precision machining industry is facing one of the largest skills gap with large numbers of experienced workers retiring, and few younger workers even knowing that the careers exist. The trade organization, Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA), is facing this crisis for its members head on with outreach, online certification curriculum and a Next Gen group dedicated to peer-to-peer outreach.

Watch, like and share the video below to help their mission.

6 Ways to Make Sure You’re Using Multimedia Effectively

Multimedia can seem like another of those “marketing buzzwords.” But when it comes right down to it, the key is to effectively use images to tell your product’s or brand’s story, and it can be incredibly successful and easy.

In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 6 tips for integrating multimedia into your marketing efforts, and as always, it’s geared toward manufacturers, distributors and others in the B2T marketplace. You can sign up to download it for free here.

Let us know what challenges you’ve had with integrating multimedia and check out our other tip sheets here.

 

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Using the Gender Gap to Close the Skills Gap

As the focus on the skills gap has grown, so have efforts to draw women into these well-paying, career-path jobs. Along with technology and training advancements, so are the opportunities and accessibility to these previously “men only” careers.

It’s taken root in elementary schools, where “Girls in STEM” efforts have seen expanded class offerings. No longer is it “Girls in Home Ec, Boys in Shop” as even local media have noted. (https://www.wkyc.com/article/tech/science/girls-in-stem/girls-in-stem-betsy-kling-explores-welding-so-much-more-than-heat-and-metal/95-550149660 ).

Manufacturers have taken note too, with Lincoln Electric launching a line of women’s welding gear with Jessie Combs.

Increasingly, training centers themselves are targeting women, as this recently developed infographic called “Breaking the Status Quo,” from RSI, The Refrigeration School shows:

https://www.refrigerationschool.com/wp-content/uploads/women-in-hvac-career-guide.jpg (click image to enlarge)

 

 

Updated HVAC Market Overview Now Available

Information on HVAC market trends, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more. 

 

At Sonnhalter we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the HVAC Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter HVAC Market Overview here:

http://www.sonnhalter.com/tradesman-insights/market-overviews/hvac/

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3 Ways PR Can Contribute to Your SEO Strategy

By Andrew Poulsen, PR Technician, Sonnhalter

You can have the most beautiful website to ever exist, or have a smooth e-commerce system that buyers will love, but if they don’t find you, is it worth it?

First and foremost, make sure you’ve got your site setup with SEO in mind. Create the appropriate tags and optimize your other settings… especially make sure your site is turned ON for search engine indexing.

After that, strengthen your SEO with content and PR. At Sonnhalter, PR encompasses traditional public relations and media relations, as well as social media and content strategy and development. Generally speaking, PR elevates your brand. When your brand is elevated, your search engine rankings benefit.

Here are just three ways that PR can contribute to your SEO strategy: (more…)

9 Tips for Using Public Relations to Further Your Message and Marketing

Public relations should be a part of any size company’s marketing plan. Effective communication with your current and prospective customers, industry trade publications, electronic media and the general public is not only essential to your company’s success, but a cost effective way to get your brand and products exposure.

In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 9 strategies for making sure you’re integrating PR into your marketing efforts and how to re-use the content you produce. You can sign up to download it here.

Interested in setting up a PR program? Give us a call or email. And check out our other Tip Sheets here.

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Updated Plumbing Market Overview Available

Information on plumbing market trends, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more. 

At Sonnhalter we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the Plumbing Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Plumbing Market Overview here:

http://www.sonnhalter.com/tradesman-insights/market-overviews/plumbing/

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Industry Trade Association Addresses the Skills Gap Issue

Today’s guest blog post comes from Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA). More and more industry trade groups are organizing to address the skills gap, and PMPA has certainly been in the lead of that effort. Just last year they launched MFG, an online one-year certification and job training course for its members that allows companies big and small to have a consistent, accredited training program.

Here is the post, which also appeared in Production Machining.

Training the Next Generation: The Need for Professional Development

Establish a training program that identifies the necessary requirements to be fulfilled.

Professional development and staff training are important to the success of every shop. Professional development ensures employees maintain appropriate certifications, knowledge, safety and ethics in the professional environment. The goal of professional development is to have a qualified staff. Qualified employees have the skills needed to deliver the highest quality of service to our customers. This can be accomplished by establishing training programs, workshops and ongoing educational opportunities. This benefits the company as a whole by improving productivity, culture and customer loyalty while helping employees achieve their highest and best performance.

Establish a Training Program

Establish a training program that identifies the necessary requirements to be fulfilled. Safety training, technical competency and performance techniques are all possible deliverables. By providing this kind of training, the company can feel comfortable knowing they have improved staff knowledge leading to improved performance from their employees. Better performance means improved safety, quality and customer satisfaction. Training improves competency, so it improves performance and trust. Improved trust improves teamwork. Everybody wins. Why would you choose not to establish a training program?

Administer the Training Program

Identifying training needs is the first step. Administering a program to provide the training, testing that it has been effectively learned, and tracking training accomplishments are the next steps. Any course materials should be accredited to recognized national standards such as National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), of which PMPA is a founding member, or the Department of Labor Apprenticeship. Implement the training through your people, or rely on a provider of training that can assure the accreditation of the material and also monitor the completion of each training course by each learner. Training can be provided by a face-to-face demonstration of skills on the job by mentors in the shop, while other materials can be provided via an online forum. The online materials and the students’ progress are tracked through the online portal.

Evaluate the Effectiveness of Training

In order to ensure that the training is helping the trainees and the organizations reach their goals, a means to evaluate its effectiveness needs to take place. This can be done by managers or by a professional development committee. Feedback from trainees, their team leads and data from the online portal can help the team further refine their training offerings and methodology. Assessing trainee performance is just as important as identifying passing scores on quizzes and tests. Most employees will pass the coursework, but feedback will help the company refine the training to clarify materials that seem unclear or difficult to master, as well as develop a plan to ensure that each employee has multiple opportunities to meet the requirements of the standard.

Evaluate the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Program

It is not enough to evaluate the training. It is just as important to evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness and impact that the training provided had on the employees and its impact on the company’s overall performance. Less downtime? Shorter setup times? More independent decision making on the shop floor? Better team-work as trained employees become more trusted employees? What do these mean in terms of uptime, operational fulfillment and bottom line profitability?

What is the Cost of Training?

Better yet, what is the cost of not training? What is the benefit of having qualified personnel, a qualified program and a qualified and aligned team? What is the value of having a standard work of best practices in your shop? How can you get to standard work and best practices without some training means to create that knowledge throughout your shop? Which of your performers could not benefit from some additional training?

How important is funding? Funding is what it takes to bridge the gap between your company’s current performance and your aspiration to be the highest performing shop serving your customers. Appropriate funding is necessary to ensure that training is effective, authoritative and appropriate. Without funding, inappropriate training or lack of training may result in misinformation, some staff remaining uninformed and possibly working dangerously because they have not been trained to recognize unsafe practices.

Overcoming Our Shared Challenges

The challenges we share revolve around the ability to remain consistent in the approach to training and developing personnel. They can be overcome by establishing, administering and evaluating the training that we provide, as well as our program that provides it. Planning, persistence and teamwork are keys to getting this done. When an individual is trained, they feel comfortable with information and guidelines, and thus, become successful as they positively impact those with whom they work.

There is no doubt that all our companies need and can benefit from professional development. There are many resources that will help an individual to grow and develop both professionally and personally. All companies claim to have the ability to communicate, document and provide instruction on the skill sets needed. If we are to achieve our desired professional development outcomes, we must be a savvy shopper and keep our eye on the goal.

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It’s as Much a Goal as a Game — The Annual “Big Game” Ad Review

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Hi Sports Blog Fans, time for the annual Sonnhalter Super Bowl, er I mean “Big Game” ad review. As with past years, it’s not on time or really about the ads, but rather the marketing lessons manufacturers can take from all the hoopla.

This year, let’s look at the three main types of ads, and the pros and cons of each.

1) The Big Build Up

This is the type of ad campaign where there’s a buildup, or teasers dropped across different channels that all build up to a big “event” ad during the game. This year’s best example is the Crocodile Dundee movie campaign that wasn’t. Instead it was all just a build up to a new campaign for Australian Tourism.

Pros – Gives your entire message a framework and direction. Sets the tone and content for everything to come for a good long while.

Cons – It works if you’re a country or a well-defined brand. If you don’t have a clear, concise message (or lots of beaches that aren’t going anywhere) and the intestinal fortitude to stick with it past the fourth quarter, you’re throwing away money.

2) The Big Splash

This is the type of ad that seeks to surprise, jar your expectations, or thumb its nose at traditions. It also only typically works during the game. It’s there to cause a splash and get attention right then and there.

For this example, let’s look at what I think was the worst example. For me that would be the Chris Pratt Michelob Ultra commercial. Sure, the setup is kind of funny, the famous actor thinks he’s landed the role of a lifetime in a beer commercial, only to find out he’s an extra. That part is fine, but the second set of ads, with him in the background, only works then and there. It’s a waste of time and money, kind of like telling the same joke twice.

Pros – If done right (like just about any movie ad, but especially The Cloverfield Paradox), it not only works to create buzz, but builds a cascade effect with retweets, shares and mentions.

Cons – If done wrong (I’m looking at you PuppyBabyMonkey), it just leaves people scratching their heads, and makes you look like you were trying too hard.

3) The Big Launch

Similar to #2, this ad type sets a new direction for a brand. This is a big giant “reset” button that seeks to make a splash, redefine who you are as a company and set the stage moving forward. In my opinion, the best example of this was the “It’s a Tide Ad” series. It’s funny, it’s interruptive, it’s designed to make people laugh. But it also serves to show the brand’s strength. By pointing out that in every other iconic commercial, the actors all wear spotlessly clean clothes, they show the importance of their product.

For a bad example, the less said about the tone-deaf Ram Truck commercial, the better. One other ad I found to be a lesson in not what to do was the Kia campaign. Bad CGI, poor use of a celebrity, and overreaching your brand identity don’t make for an effective ad, and now they’re stuck with an expensive launch that was largely overshadowed, if not outright ridiculed.

Pros – Sets up your brand message for years to come. Serves as a flag in the ground (or hammer in the screen).

Cons – Sets up your brand message for years to come. Serves as a flag in the ground (or a Platinum stake in the heart).

The Big Lesson for Manufacturers

Think of the Super Bowl as your biggest industry tradeshow. Each of these campaign styles is also an effective (or ineffective) trade show strategy.

  • The Big Build Up – Use preshow emails to preregister booth visits; just make sure you have a cohesive message.
  • The Big Splash – Host a preshow breakfast or a press event; but make sure to prequalify who’s there, have a concise presentation and follow up.
  • The Big Launch – Build a new booth and launch new products; but make sure the booth supports your message, the products serve a customer need and that those customers are there.

 

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Content is All About Repurposing

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Everyone (and especially marketing communications firms) creates an aura that content marketing is some huge, time consuming mystery. But the real secret is that it’s all about having a clear, consistent message and then placing the right part of that message into the right format. To demonstrate that, we’ve created the following infographic that shows how we repurposed the content from a single, 45-minute interview with our client’s product engineer, into numerous pieces of content across multiple platforms, where the messaging received thousands of views.

Check out our infographic, “A White Paper Life Cycle.”

 

 

How are you repurposing content?

 

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Meet the Craze Halfway

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter 

Source: Viega LLC

A decade ago, you couldn’t change the channel without finding a new motorcycle build show. Five years ago, it was extreme eating challenges and local legendary greasy spoons.

And today it seems like you can’t touch the remote without seeing a show about tiny houses. It seems millennials are rejecting “more is more” McMansions and opting for small, portable and innovative living spaces that reflect their personality.

Believe it or not, this could be the best thing that ever happened to the Skills Gap. (more…)

Happy Holidays!

The Sonnhalter team will be taking some time off over the holidays. We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and time with your family and friends!

We’ll see you in the New Year!

New Research Shows How Manufacturers are Using Content Marketing to Build Audiences

Guest post from Lisa Murton Beets, Research Director, Content Marketing Institute

Are you delivering valuable, relevant, consistent content to your audience? If not, prepare to be ignored. There is just too much information available today, and only so much time in a day for your target audience to consume it. This is especially true for tradesmen, who spend most of their time in the field.

That said, you should be delivering valuable content consistently (hopefully, to a subscribed audience via vehicles such as email newsletters), so when your prospect does need a product or service, your company is top of mind.

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines content marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (more…)

LinkedIn: Not what you think it is

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

LinkedIn gets a bad rap. Some describe it as “Facebook for Job Hunters” or worse. And part of that problem is real. Since its purchase by Microsoft, the platform has struggled with its identity and purpose. Is it a Professional Social meeting place? A job-hunter’s paradise? A tally of how “connected” you are?

Yes, No, Maybe and… All Of The Above

The simple truth is that like any other tool, it’s exactly what you use it for. And with some different thinking, it can probably be a whole lot more than you’re using it for: (more…)

Customer Service for Customer Retention & Value

Today we have a guest post from Russ Hill, Founder of Ultimate Lead Systems.

Customer Service

I recently lunched with some long-time friends and sales and marketing professionals. The topic turned to the importance of Customer Service in the face of the plethora of CRM and Marketing Automation software available today. The conversation raised more questions than it answered.

We agreed on the following definitions for the purpose of the discussion:

Customer Service – The interaction with a customer or prospect that traditionally revolves around resolving a problem and producing a positive outcome. This could be in person or via phone or email.

CRM – It’s not software but a strategic process designed to cultivate and enhance the relationship with customers. The goal is to maximize retention rates and capitalize on the life-time value of the customer.

Something else we agreed upon was that companies seem to be racing to dramatically reduce their costs of engaging customers. Those costs are typically associated with people on payroll, and management too often views automated systems as a means of delivering customer engagement AND customer service at reduced cost. We also agreed that Customer Service is all about NOW and all other engagements are about future opportunities.

We’ve all experienced agonizingly long waits in Customer Service phone queues that assure us our “call is important” only to get transferred to a voicemail box that is full and not taking messages. Programs like Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua and Exact Target can help deliver content that may be of value to customers they already know. What about new customer and prospects? Websites without phone numbers that force the customer to do all of the work to find solutions to their own needs do not make it easy for customers to buy or remain customers. How many take their business elsewhere because Customer Service is self-serve or non-existent…and the vendor neither knows nor cares?

Dimensional Research found that Customer Service was the #1 factor impacting vendor trust, and:

  • 62% of B2B customers purchase more after a good Customer Service experience.
  • 66% of B2B customers stopped buying after a BAD Customer Service experience.
  • 88% of B2B customers were influenced by online customer service reviews when making purchasing decisions.

Customer Service clearly can be the difference between winning, keeping and losing business, and that can mean significant lifetime value won or lost. As for me, we experienced business service from AT&T that has been nothing but a nightmare. I’ll spare you the details, but we will never do business with them again. Does AT&T care? They don’t appear to.We have other vendors who do stellar jobs that we couldn’t live without. I’ll bet you do too.

In the end, we were all able to agree that people have relationships with people, that customers have “experiences” with companies, and that people do business with people they know, like and trust. It begged the question, do your customers have a relationship with you, or just have an “experience” with your company? It makes a difference.

This post originally appeared on the Ultimate Lead blog and is reposted with permission. 

The Crisis Isn’t Looming Anymore… It’s Here.

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

The mainstream media continues to wake up to the skills gap in the trades, as this recent report from CBS Sunday Morning proves. The report was spurred by the lack of skilled tradespeople specifically surrounding hurricane clean up, however it continued to shed light on the issue. A large part of increased recognition is the result of two people featured in the piece: Norm Abram of This Old House and Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs.

Both, as individuals and as part of their shows, these two have been “fighting the good fight” on the skills gap. Fighting against media bias, educational neglect and pop culture stereotypes of the trades.

Make sure to check out the last part of the video though, as the progress Lehigh Career & Technical Institute has made acts as an inspiring end to the continuing story.

Want to get involved? Keep reading.

Mapping Your Plan

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

It’s that time of year again… the 2017 calendar is looking thin and we’ve turned our attention to next year. If you haven’t already started planning your marketing communications for 2018, now is the time.

To have a successful year, it’s important to do more than just set goals. You don’t just jump in the car to go to a new location for the first time, you look at how to get there, how long the trip will take or at least put the destination into your GPS. That’s planning.

Planning is crucial no matter the size of the organization or depth of the project. Whether you’re initiating a rebranding campaign or creating a 30-second video, you have to plan.

To map out your journey, you need to determine: (more…)

Have you considered your brand experience?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

Last year, I wrote a blog about Generation Z being the true digital native generation and urged organizations to look ahead. Perhaps you heeded that urging and have been looking forward, perhaps you’re still trying to figure out the whole Millennial thing. By this point in time, the oldest Millennials are approaching 40. We’ve been working for/with you, buying from you or avoiding you for years now. Most of the business world seems to have made the jump into adapting to Millennial behaviors… even if some were pushed.

It’s time to move on. There’s a whole generation approaching adulthood – Generation Z. Generation Z is the next group that needs to be reached, specifically for attracting them to the trades. They will be your next audience, so it’s a good idea to start considering them in your communication efforts. You might be more prepared to handle GenZ than you think you are… (more…)

Eighth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $30,000 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

Sonnhalter team members after loading donations for the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity

CLEVELAND – September 2017 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for an eighth year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $30,000 worth of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected more than $220,000 in donations.

 

Organizations, businesses and residents were encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as building materials, furniture and appliances, to Sonnhalter to help benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing and homelessness.

“Cleveland Habitat for Humanity eagerly awaits Sonnhalter’s annual Tool Drive,” said John Habat, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. (more…)

Why Marketing and Sales Need to Work Together

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

For some reason there’s always been a disconnect between sales and marketing, and for the life of me I can’t understand why they can’t play nice. After all isn’t the objective of both is to increase sales?

I recently read an article in Duct Tape Marketing, Counseling the Marriage Between Marketing and Sales to Generate Revenue that got me thinking of why they should work together towards the same goal.

Most of the journey your contractors take is already over by the time they speak with a salesperson. That’s a tremendous opportunity for marketing to influence the sales process and dovetail together in creating a seamless experience.

Here’s an interesting  statistic: 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer talks to sales, according to Gartner. Prospects know more about you than you know about them.

Mutual Expectations

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Warehouse Your Marketing Too

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

My grandfather always said the best way to learn is to put it into terms you already know. With that being the case, think of your Digital Marketing Assets as products. Now think about how you would warehouse them:

  • Would you just throw products on any shelf, with no system of arranging them?
  • Would you let whoever was in charge of the warehouse set up their own system, and not tell anyone how it was organized?
  • Would you let them also install the lock, and have the only key?
  • Could any employee or contractor take any product they wanted?
  • Would you keep discontinued product on the shelves?
  • Would you let people put the products together in any way they wanted?
  • Would you leave your products outside in the rain and snow while you figured out the right type of warehouse to build?

I’m guessing the answer to every one of those questions is a giant NO. (more…)

5 ways to engage professional tradesmen using content marketing

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Content marketing should be a vital part of your strategy to reach and engage contractors and professional tradesmen and move them through the sales funnel. Manufacturers are always focused on leads and will use things like traditional e-books and white papers. Not all activity will result in conversions. We should consider building brand awareness.

Here are five tactics to consider:

  1. Blog posts.You may already be doing a blog and if you’re not you should consider it. It helps set you up as an industry expert and helps move prospects through the know like and trust phase of the journey. Include a strong call to action that will hopefully engage the reader to go somewhere or do something.  (more…)

Diversity Initiatives in Electrical Engineering and Contracting Sectors

Today we have a guest blog from Carl Babb of Relectric on the important topic of diversity.

Electrical engineering is at the core of industrial growth and energy sustainability in the USA. With the innovative products, designs and concepts, electrical engineers and contractors must keep pace with changes in the profession.

Diversity in disciplines like engineering is necessary to address the current and future needs of our nation’s economy. Engaging people from all segments of our society in the electrical engineering profession is essential to this fast-paced and growing field.

Access to opportunities must be enhanced to help meet industry needs and find solutions to society’s energy challenges.

While there has been an increase in the involvement of women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in engineering in recent decades, there is still room for improvement.

There are several initiatives by engineering schools and universities, engineering groups and societies, and even many large industries, to increase the diversity in electrical engineering. Like most businesses and companies everywhere, organizations associated with electrical engineering are becoming directly involved in actions targeting bias against underrepresented groups. (more…)

3 Post-Show Activities to Make Your Trade Show a Success

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

I don’t know about you, but it seems like every time I get back from a trade show I’m exhausted and ready for a vacation. Unfortunately, there is still work to do after the trade show. In this Part 3 of our 3-part series on successful trade shows, we’ll look at the 3 post-show activities you should be doing after every trade show to make sure it is a success.

1. Leads/Inquiries

“How many leads did we get?” This seems to be the number one question everyone asks after every trade show. And while this is an important question, I think the better question to ask is “What’s the plan for handling these leads?” (more…)

5 During-Show Activities To Make Your Trade Show A Success

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

Denso drew people into their Automate booth with a cookie making robot

So, you’ve planned for the show, booked the space, developed the booth graphics and made the travel arrangements. Now it’s show time…how do you ensure the actual trade show days are a success? In this Part 2 of a 3-part series on successful trade shows, we’ll look at the 5 during-show activities you should be doing to make your next trade show a success.

1. Booth personnel meeting

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5 Pre-Show Activities To Make Your Trade Show A Success

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

Submit for speaking opportunities well in advance

For most companies, trade shows are still a key component to the marketing mix. But these shows can be a significant investment, between the booth space, the booth itself, graphics, collateral, travel costs and the personnel to man the actual booth. So it’s critical to maximize the return and success of your trade show. In this Part 1 of a 3-part series on trade shows, we’ll look at the 5  pre-show activities you should be doing to make your next trade show a success.

1. Remind people you are attending the trade show

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What’s Holding US Manufacturing Back?

Today we have a post from Andrea Olsen. Andrea started her career in the tech start-up world, and has brought much of that innovative thinking to her work as the CEO of Prag’madik, an operational strategy consultancy, specializing in the industrial and manufacturing markets.

What’s Holding US Manufacturing Back?

There has been an ongoing national conversation about bringing manufacturing back to the United States. The government, states, educators, and organizations have been pushing a resurgence through, addressing many of the roadblocks facing these organizations, including: lack of skilled labor, decreased sales, advancing lean manufacturing, integrating additive manufacturing, robotics, IoT and Big Data.

The middle-market manufacturers – primarily in the Midwest, in the range of $50-$500m in revenues, employing 10-800 people – face a unique set of challenges. While the advancement of things like 3D printing and robotics will undoubtedly change the manufacturing landscape, these manufacturers face much more basic challenges to compete – and more accurately – survive the next 3-5 years.

This isn’t about the “skills gap,” or “robots taking jobs,” or “offshoring” or even “regulation burdens.” Those challenges are further downstream for these manufacturers. Today’s issues are much more fundamental. The advancements in digital technologies, communications platforms, and simply the Internet, have dramatically impacted business operations and overall competitiveness. The “blocking-and-tackling” of things like: embracing change, utilizing technology platforms, digitizing information and fostering an innovative culture, are the true essentials for US middle-manufacturing growth. Here’s a short list of those essentials: (more…)

The Eighth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Starts Now!

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

Today is August 1st, at Sonnhalter it’s basically a holiday because it’s the start of our annual tool drive to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity does fantastic work building and rehabbing homes for those who need them in an effort to eliminate homelessness and substandard housing. I’m amazed year after year at the work this fantastic organization does and the support that we receive for this tool drive from our clients, vendors, partners, community and even strangers!

Our Tool Drive was born in 2010 (more…)

Chart Your Online Conversations

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Brian Solis is an interesting person. Digital analyst, anthropologist, and self-described futurist. One of his key areas of focus is the effect of disruptive technology on business and society. In 2008 as a part of that research he decided to map the social media landscape in what he called the “Conversation Prism,” coming up with a few categories that neatly classified the landscape as it was when Iron Man, The Dark Night and Twilight were in theaters.

Times sure have changed…

2008

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Incorporating Awards into Your Communications Initiatives

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

It feels good to win an award. But beyond being able to bask in the glow of recognition, can awards help you reach your marketing goals?

Entering for awards is one tactic we work into the public relations mix for our clients. Winning an award, or even being nominated for one, can go a long way to boosting brand recognition and can act as an endorsement for your product/service/organization.

5 Questions to Ask Before Entering

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