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

(more…)

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

(more…)

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

(more…)

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

(more…)

The Culture Threat

Today we have a post from Andrea Olsen. Andrea started her career in the tech start-up world, and 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.

The Culture Threat

“I want you to find a bold and innovative way to do everything exactly the same way it’s been done for 25 years.”

Organizational culture is an amorphous thing. It is incredibly hard to define, and virtually impossible to measure. Leaders try to influence and shape organizational culture through a variety of tactics, from incentives and perks, to team building activities. Yet, more often than not, the “culture” seems to remain the same. The most frequently asked questions are “why” and “how do we fix it”?

The traditional definition of organizational culture is “a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations”. These assumptions, values, and beliefs don’t arise simply because they are outlined in a mission statement, or reiterated ad nauseum during company meetings. Culture is shaped by behaviors – particularly of organizational leaders – which don’t singularly exist within one’s title.

Manufacturers have voiced their concerns with organizational culture. Many we have surveyed have complained about lack of employee drive, proactive innovation, problem-solving abilities, and communication. (more…)

Don’t overlook internal communication

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

If you can’t communicate internally to get everyone on the same page, you can’t effectively communicate with anyone else.

When reviewing your audience segments, do you include your employees as a segment? Your employees are arguably the most important audience, and advocates, that your company has.

Think about communication from their perspectives. Would you want to hear news about your company from an outside source? Probably not.

Internal communication is often overlooked because it’s incredibly simple and many leaders assume that people within the organization already talk to each other. Sure, people talk to each other regularly, but not always in the way you expect.

Clue your employees in and let them know what your organization is doing. (more…)

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for the Eighth 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 2017 – 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 eighth 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 Tuesday, August 1 and Thursday, August 31, to benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause 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 very excited by the community’s response in donating more than $20,000 worth of tools, building materials, appliances and other items, bringing the total to $196,000 donated since our efforts began in 2010,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “This year, with the help of our generous community, we’re looking forward to increasing that total, and we encourage businesses to clean out their extra inventory, overstocked materials and demo models, and donate to this very worthy cause.”

Sonnhalter partners with the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for its annual Tool Drive. The Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity has completed more than 200 homes since 1988 and today, engages 2,000 volunteers, who provide more than 71,000 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 Rachel Kerstetter from Sonnhalter at 216.242.0420 x130 or rkerstetter@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 Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 800,000 homes worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 6.8 million people. For more information, visit Habitat.org.

Independence Day

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect

Our team, like many others, is taking today off. The Fourth of July is more than fireworks, parades, cookouts and a day off. It’s a day that we celebrate our country’s independence.

All of the red, white and blue that comes out for Independence Day brings U.S. manufacturing to mind.

Did you know…

  • Each dollar spent in manufacturing contributes $1.40 to the economy?
  • The majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S. are small? 
  • Manufacturing supports 18.4 million U.S. jobs?
  • In 2014, the average manufacturing employee made $79,533?
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 9th largest world economy?

These stats came from NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers). You can find these and other facts about U.S. manufacturing on their website.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Change Your Definition, Change Your Business. Learn From Other Industries How to Manage Change

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

A recent Industry Week article by Becky Morgan showcases how a changing industry can adapt and thrive or fixate and die, and has some great advice for being on the right side of that divide.

Her first point is to draw parallels between the state of manufacturing today and that of agriculture at the turn of the last century. Rocked by disruptive innovations, a changing marketplace and demographic shifts. And yet agriculture is still around. It’s fundamentally changed, but in a way that’s of benefit to consumers: more productive, larger scale, but with a core of, to use an overused term, “artisanal” craftspeople ready to cater to niche markets.

She sees manufacturing developing in much the same way. (more…)

Understanding and Adjusting to Email Habits

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

How many email accounts do you have?

I have three. I’m not unlike others in my generation (the Millennial Generation) who maintain multiple email accounts. Each email address has a specific purpose and is used strategically.

  • Work. My work email address is just that, work. It’s the @sonnhalter.com email that colleagues, clients, media and partners reach me on. I check this email religiously on my phone and have it open during the work day on my computer. I only give this email address out for professional purposes.
  • Personal. This email address is the one I give to friends, family and anyone I do personal business with. I protect this email and am careful to whom I give the address. I check it most often on my phone and occasionally log into it from my personal laptop.
  • Other. This “other” email address is the one that we’ll dig into today. Most millennials have one of these and many in other generations have also adopted an “Other” email policy. Sometimes we call it our “junk email” or “promotions.” I give this email address out like candy on Halloween. If you ask me for an email address, this is the one I give you. This is the inbox that I check, but don’t regularly search. I almost never send emails from this address and only check it from my phone. This is the inbox where I subscribe to e-newsletters and promotional offers.

I was reading an article from Media Post titled “Millennials Love Email, But on Their Dual Inbox Terms,”  (more…)

Using Content to Market Your Business

Today we have a guest post by Colin Cieloha of Skilled.co.

Content marketing is changing the way that businesses promote their products and brands. More and more companies are choosing this option due to both its affordability and effectiveness combined. The problem that these businesses are having however, is how to choose which method of content marketing is best for them as a company. Some of the most common types are listed below:

E-books

(more…)

4 Clever Marketing Tips for Targeting Contractors Online

Today we have a post contributed by M.Pierce, Founder of MyBootprint and ShoeMatters – two websites that strive to help people choose the right footwear for their job.

As with nearly any profession around the world, more building contractors are turning to the internet to do their research and interact with their distributors, purchase materials and find and contact new clients. Research found that a third of the building product distributors asked claimed that 50% of their sales were online.

Another survey from 2015 found that more than half of contractors use the internet for their research for work.

So with the increasing digitalization, if you want to attract contractors online, you must make sure that your brand is well established digitally and take up a more proactive approach on the various digital channels preferred by the contractors. A good balance of high-quality and efficient SEO, effective social media marketing and digital advertising should help grab the interest of potential customers for your products.

With the advancement of technology and the websites, mobile apps and other hardware and software, it is no surprise that people are becoming more demanding and their expectations for the services and products provided is growing. The same goes for building contractors. There are certain tips which you can follow in order to do that more successfully. Here are the four main ones which will help you reach to and win over more building contractors: (more…)

Manufacturers: Is your social media participation developing new business leads?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

If not, it’s important to know WHY.

Most manufacturers finally got on board with social media back in 2010. They created their company blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram accounts and jumped in.

70% of marketers reported that social media marketing delivers poor or average return on investment.

Many manufacturers thought that by merely having a social media presence, it would give them social media credibility. But they’re learning it takes more than a social media presence to produce new business opportunities.

I recently saw a post from my mentor on the social media scene, Michael Gass. Here are some things you need to review and possibly revisit your social media strategy and implementation:

Here are 11 reasons why social media doesn’t lead to new business:

(more…)

Apple Throws a Rock in the Pond … Be a Ripple

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Image via Scott Cresswell

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, gets it. None of the gadgets his company is built on (and none of the other multi-billion dollar companies that seem built on ideas more than products) can survive without one key element in the economy:

Advanced Manufacturing

And to show it, he announced the creation of a 1 billion-dollar fund to create or bring back those jobs to the U.S. (more…)

Sonnhalter and Mortar Net Solutions Honored with Silver Davey Award for Integrated Campaign

Marketing communications firm wins award for integrated campaign highlighting unique moisture management solution in masonry walls.

CLEVELAND – May 2017 – Sonnhalter, the leading B2T (business-to-tradesmen) marketing communications firm, received a Silver Davey Award in the 12th Annual International Davey Awards competition. Sonnhalter accepted the award in the integrated campaign category for the “H2Oh!” print ad, landing page and e-blast it developed with Mortar Net Solutions.

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.

For more than two decades, Mortar Net Solutions has provided a full line of trusted moisture management solutions that are field proven and help deliver structural integrity for years to come. The H2Oh! campaign was developed to convey the message that Mortar Net Solutions’ moisture management solutions stop moisture damage before it starts, so customers avoid the unpleasant discovery of finding cracks, corrosion and mold from water damage in their walls.

“We’re excited to receive this award for a campaign that brought attention to Mortar Net Solutions’ dedication and leadership in preventing masonry wall moisture damage,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We really wanted to emphasize how no other company is this focused on correct moisture management for masonry and provides a solution that brings customers peace of mind in ways unique to any of its competitors.” (more…)

7 Things You Should Know When you Start Email Marketing

Today we have a guest post from Vincent Hill on email marketing.

Marketing is business activities that are highly associated with the buying and selling of a product or service. This includes activities that help acquire customers and maintain a good relationship with them. To achieve the goal, use several marketing tools. The marketing tools should be effective  to easily communicate with potential customers and existing supporters.

With the fast pacing technological innovations, digital marketing was introduced to further enhance the advertising, selling and delivering the products and services to people. One of the best and easiest approaches to digital marketing is the use of emails. Email marketing greatly helps in expanding and building the network. This approach allows one to share stories and start blogging to be able to enhance promotions and increase product awareness. Using this kind of approach may be challenging at first. But with proper guidance and correct knowledge on the things involve in email marketing, this marketing tool is a whole lot easier and exciting.

1. Choose type of campaigns you want to send

(more…)

Case Studies Should Be Part of Your Content Mix

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

The terms “case study” and “testimonial” are sometimes used interchangeably, however case studies are not exactly testimonials. Although one piece of content can pull double duty, a simple testimonial can’t provide the value for your organization that a case study can.

In marketing, a testimonial is essentially a statement by a customer providing an endorsement of a product or service. A case study is a more in-depth, valuable piece of content. Spinach content if you will. Case studies explore a user’s journey, not just with your organization, but through their entire problem and solution. Ideally, (more…)

How to Score Big This Manufacturing Day

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

It may seem like Manufacturing Day (first Friday of October) is still far off on the horizon, but the time to plan is now. With schools getting ready to take their summer breaks, you should contact them now in order to make sure your company is ready to highlight the great careers available in modern manufacturing and the trades.

And while the official Manufacturing Day site has great tools to help you plan and promote your event, a panicked phone call I got on Friday gave me another idea to share.

Image via RCB Flickr

Fortunately the panicked call wasn’t from a client, and wasn’t an actual “emergency.” Nope, it was my introduction to the latest craze sweeping schools across the country: Fidget Spinners (more…)

Are you a storyteller?

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Brand/Content Marketing and all the other buzzwords are irrelevant.

I just finished reading a great article from the Virgin website.

But first an apology on behalf of the entire marketing industry…

We’re sorry for all the buzzwords. Really.

For years you’ve heard “content marketing” and “be your brand” and many other latest fads bandied about in meetings. In fact, at one previous employer, we had bingo sheets we’d take into the conference room to see how quickly we could achieve “product/end user integration,” “ROI” or anything else “at the end of the day.”

But really, all those words boil down to what the article highlights: Be a Storyteller (more…)

Branding or Branded?

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Have your brand be who you arePepsi recently had a severe digital flogging for a tone-deaf ad featuring Kendall Jenner and the evidently crisis-averting powers of their soda. From late night hosts and live shows in New York to TV pundits and seemingly everyone with a social media account, the multi-national corporation has been the punchline of many a joke.

Obviously there are a lot of lessons to be learned and cautionary tales aplenty. But for me, the main lesson in all of this comes down to:

Don’t try to be your brand. Have your brand be who you are.

What’s that mean? (more…)

Reaching Contractors with Social Media

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

You probably set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account a few years ago when social media was the new shiny object for marketers. But now, your social media is anything but new and exciting … and it doesn’t help you reach contractors. You might be wondering if you’re wasting your time on these channels or if you’re better served by switching to the newest social trend.

As a longtime leader in Business-to-Tradesman marketing, we’ve developed 12 helpful tips that will help you use social media to effectively reach contractors.

In “12 Tips for Reaching Contractors with Social Media,” you’ll learn how to evaluate the social media you’re already using and pick the right avenues for connecting with contractors. The tip sheet shares best practices for social media in this niche space using content and integrating it into your overall marketing programs.

Download 12 Tips for Reaching Contractors with Social Media by signing up here.

Have You Hugged a Plumber Today?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

eMail_Header_Plumber

Did you know that today is Hug a Plumber Day? (Sometimes called Plumber’s Day.) Often plumbers don’t receive the credit and fame that they deserve, unless they’re Mario and Luigi and trying to save a princess. The Super Mario Brothers are the most famous plumbers, and they live in a Nintendo game.

The reality is that without plumbers, our world would be far from sanitary or pleasant. As part of our team’s commitment to getting our hands dirty in our clients’ work, we’ve had the opportunity to see plumbers at work, we’ve used their tools and we’ve heard their stories; we know that they deserve to be honored, not just hugged, today.

Plumbers do so much more than unclog drains and fix leaky faucets. It’s plumbers who install the miles of piping that make hot, cold and process water and gas utilities possible.

Did you know…

(more…)

Mind the Gap: Making kids aware of manufacturing jobs

 

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

One of the things that always struck me about manufacturers is they generally don’t realize how cool their jobs really are. And I get why. You’ve been doing this your whole life, it pays the bills and it has its disappointments, headaches and setbacks.

But manufacturing made the modern world we live in possible. And the stuff you see as routine, through anyone else’s eyes is really, really cool.

Don’t believe me? Ask a bunch of middle school kids in Pennsylvania. (more…)

Manufacturers: Focus Content on Contractors, Not Your Brand

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

I think we all can agree that content marketing is playing a vital role in everyone’s overall marketing plans. Everyone wants lead generation and engagement, and to get both, you have to provide good content!

Many manufacturers focus more on their brand than trying to help solve their customers’ problems. Don’t focus on selling. Focus on solving. And more is not better. Give them good content not a lot of content.

According to recent article in Content marketing institute: (more…)

Sonnhalter Named a Chief Marketer 2017 B2B Top Shop

Sonnhalter joins the ranks as one of the country’s top business-to-business marketing agencies.

CLEVELAND – April 2017 – Sonnhalter, the leading B2T (business-to-tradesmen) marketing communications firm, was selected as one of Chief Marketer’s 2017 B2B Top Shops, a listing of the top B2B marketing agencies in the United States.

The agencies in B2B Top Shops are chosen by the editors of Chief Marketer, a leading publication focused on measurable marketing tactics published by Access Intelligence. In choosing agencies for inclusion, editors consider each shop’s depth of client work, creative acumen, analytical expertise and numerous other factors.

“It is an honor for Sonnhalter to be recognized by Chief Marketer for our work in leveraging some of the top brands within our business-to-trade niche,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. ”As an agency, we strive to remain steadfast in our efforts serving companies that target the professional tradesmen while incorporating new and creative tactics to be on the industry’s cutting edge.”

B2B Top Shops is an online searchable directory highlighting each agency’s core services and contact information, offering users a behind-the-scenes look at each shop’s culture and client work. B2B brands, vendors and marketers viewed this easy-to-use resource on ChiefMarketer.com almost 73,000 times in 2016.

About Chief Marketer

Chief Marketer, published by Access Intelligence, charts the customer journey from acquisition and engagement through conversion and retention. Via ChiefMarketer.com, print products, live events, awards programs and more, Chief Marketer offers data-driven intelligence, actionable insights, inspiring case studies and the latest technology trends to help marketers improve their campaigns and increase return on investment.

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.

Why aren’t sales leads followed up?

Today we have a guest post from Russ Hill, Founder of Ultimate Lead Systems.
How often have you heard sales people say leads generated by marketing are just “literature collectors, college professors, students, lookers or tire kickers?” Or, “I don’t have time for sales lead follow-up.” Or the sales manager who says, “I know my sales people are following up. They just don’t have time to provide feedback.”
Lead Follow-Up

All carrot no stick

I’ve worked with many companies over the years that made lead follow-up an imperative with their sales forces. In every case where it was required it yielded significant and profitable results reporting hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in sales.

There is much discussion in internet groups about “aligning marketing and sales” and lead follow-up is a critical part of this discussion. (more…)

Contractors: How do you deal with Millennials and Boomers ?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Contractors (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical) have some serious challenges moving forward.

The Average contractor is 50+, most aren’t tech savvy, and they’ve been doing things the same way forever (chasing paper work orders). As Boomers leave the workforce at a rate of 1 every 8 seconds, a shortage of middle management will become apparent. Boomers dominate technical jobs, with the exception of IT.

I learned a long time ago if you got into business, among your priorities were: grow your business, make a profit and have an exit strategy.

To grow your business, you need to hire and train good people. And who’s going to train the millennials? The boomers! The boomers have the intellectual capital (work experience) that needs to be transferred to the younger generations. Your pool of talent will come from the 18-34 age group and they look at things a bit differently than their older counterparts.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 1.14.56 PM

(more…)

The Needle Begins to Move on the Skilled Trades Gap

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Wait, Did You Feel That?

The needle began to move on the skilled trades gap.

Don’t look now, but the problem you’ve known about for a generation, the lack of people coming into the skilled trades, is finally going mainstream.

It’s subtle, but change is beginning to show.

Source: This Old House

First there are the local advocates, who have been talking about the problem for years. You know them, they’re in your local Union Hall, Welding School, or in the rapidly dwindling number of High School Vo-Tech programs. Or they’re part of the increasingly aging workforce itself, all too aware that there are more of them retiring than entering the workforce, and hanging around looking for someone to step up.

And there are now countless local efforts. Here in Northeast Ohio, the Cuyahoga Community College launched a mobile workforce training center. Tri-C customizes it with virtual welders, CNC machines or other demos as the employer or school needs. Also in the Cleveland area, Lincoln Electric, whose Carl Peters is an advocate for training program development, recently capped off the framing of their new, $30 million welding technology center project.

Nationally the news is just as encouraging. Mike Rowe, who has capitalized on his TV fame to promote the trades through his foundation, is getting ready to take applications for 2017 scholarships. He’s also a great social media follow, and recently testified before congress.

Even more promising, This Old House, the venerable PBS show, launched Generation Next a partnership with MikeRoweWORKS designed to highlight the jobs available in the skilled trades and destigmatize these jobs for today’s youth.

NPR’s excellent Marketplace program recently had several in-depth features on training skilled workers, produced by senior education correspondent Amy Scott.

Plus, there are the national groups dedicated to the trades, Skills USA, Manufacturing Day and more.

So what are you doing? What plan does your company have, and how effectively is it implemented? A few places to get started/re-energized:

  • Find national and local training programs with Sonnhalter’s list
  • Approach local schools and investigate opportunities to show off the work you do by participating in Manufacturing Day
  • Don’t let everyone leave early at your next trade show’s student day. Instead, find out what schools are coming and be proactive
  • Work with your Trade Organization or Union, volunteer to be a part of their training efforts

There have never been more resources and creative thinking addressing this looming crisis. Is it enough? Probably not, but the needle has moved, and it’s in your company’s best interest to do what you can to help build momentum.

Marketing to Tradesmen: How do you measure effectiveness?

By John Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

B-to-B marketers are always facing the challenges from the C suite and CFO to measure ROI. According to an article by Debbie Pierce, B2B marketing ROI calculations your CFO will love, 93% of CMOs are under more pressure to deliver measurable results, and only 5% feel they are doing a good job.

Ironically, the C suite and CFOs use the same measuring tools that the marketing departments are using. They’re not concerned about follows or leads, what they want to know is for dollars spent what are the incremental sales resulting from each marketing activity. They are obviously looking for the best bang for the buck(a novel approach).

Ideally they want to come up with some formula like this one from Nitromojo.

Accurate ROI Calculation – Simple Version

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The Working Man’s Holiday

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter
As any salesman, engineer or manufacturer will tell you: marketing has it rough.

Done laughing? Well, here at Sonnhalter, we added a new twist to our vacation plan. Our team members now get one extra day of vacation, no matter their time with the company.

The catch? You have to take it on a B2T (Business-to-Trade) holiday. What’s that? As you’ve probably noticed from your social media feed, almost every day has some “official” holiday designation. National Left-Hander’s Day (August 13), National Look Up at the Sky Day (April 14), Cookie Cutter Week (December 1-7).

But what you might not know is there are an abundance of days dedicated to the skilled trades, like: (more…)

Why is the human aspect of selling making a comeback with tradesmen?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

No matter what you’re selling, it’s a relatively simple process. You have something that I want, we get together and make a deal. I’ve been in business for over 40 years and the selling process/cycle has apparently changed, or has it?

We used to call on contractors, see what they needed, and hopefully was able to help them out by selling them something. All of this was done on a Human Level. We interacted with them, got to know their families and what they liked to do when they weren’t working. Instead of trying to sell them something, we listened. I called it belly button to belly button selling.

(more…)

Proper care and feeding of your mobile jobber

As part of my (Rachel) own training, I spent the day riding along with a MAC jobber. It was an interesting and eye-opening experience, and I learned more about sales in that one day than ever before. Mobile jobbers are a unique distribution channel that marketers in the B2T space need to better understand.

Today we have a guest post from Alan Sipe that provides insight into the world of Mobile Jobbers. Alan is President of Toolbox Sales and Consulting and has more than 40 years of experience including Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for Klein Tools and President of KNIPEX Tools. His insights in selling through various distribution channels and professional contractors are invaluable. 

via MAC Tools

Every Tuesday at about 10 a.m. or Wednesday at 3 p.m. here comes the Cornwell, MAC, Matco, Snap-on or independent mobile jobber representative into your shop.

If they are good at their job, with each visit he or she will be demonstrating the latest and greatest tools for you to purchase. They will also be taking care of your broken tools and delivering your previous orders.

But, how much do you really know about this visitor? What’s their business story? It sure looks easy, walking around showing a bunch of tool nuts (mechanics) cool tools, doesn’t it?

Well, good mobile jobbers make it look easy. But, not surprisingly, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

DAILY ROUTINE

So, what’s a typical mobile jobber’s day like? (more…)

LinkedIn Groups: Your Blog Away From Blog

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

According to a recent survey from The Content Marketing Institute 89% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn as a way to distribute content.

But if a potential customer isn’t already following you, all you’re doing by posting it to your company page is having a closed conversation with friends. While that’s good for strengthening relationships, it’s not an effective strategy for growing business, brand or thought leadership in your industry.

So, short of requiring all employees to share everything you post, what’s a marketer to do?

Join Groups.

If you’re not familiar with them, LinkedIn Groups are smaller “communities within the larger LinkedIn community where people and companies can connect by shared interest rather than work or personal connections.”

The advantage here is that instead of waiting for people to find you or your company, you can use your industry, process or other qualities to go out and find them.

How do you find the right group, and what do you do once you’ve found them? A lot of things you’re already doing. (more…)

Sonnhalter Adds Airmaster as New Client

Cleveland – March 2017 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announces Airmaster as one of its newest clients.

Located in Clarklake, Mich., Airmaster is a leading manufacturer of air circulation, ventilation and heating solutions since 1886. Airmaster exports throughout the world and offers the largest line of air moving equipment in North America. Airmaster services the end user markets in the industrial, electrical and HVAC segments. Previously referred to as Airmaster Fan, the company has a full fabrication and tool and die facility, which offers a complete engineering and technical staff.

“Airmaster began its relationship with Sonnhalter during a crucial time in which the company was in the midst of creating a new brand structure, as well as relocating to a new headquarters,” said Benjamin Braitsch, president and CEO of Airmaster. “Sonnhalter helped us develop a new brand that was fresh, streamlined and communicated that we are more than just fans.”

In 2016, with the help of Sonnhalter, Airmaster unveiled a new brand identity with the introduction of a new logo. Sonnhalter provides a full range of marketing communications services for Airmaster that will span across multiple departments which will guide Airmaster creative messaging on both print and electronic platforms, as well as managing its public relations and media relations.

“Sonnhalter is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of rebranding this new era in Airmaster’s long history,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “As Airmaster continues to improve and streamline their processes for delivering air circulation and ventilation solutions, we look forward to building a brand that reflects their commitment to being on the industry’s cutting edge.”

About Airmaster:

Airmaster, based in Clarklake, Mich., manufactures heaters, air circulation and ventilation fan solutions for industrial and commercial use. Founded in 1886 as the Diehl Fan Company, today Airmaster manufactures the industry’s largest selection of air circulation and ventilation products to keep people, plants and processes cool. In 2013, Airmaster was purchased by the Maico group, a family business from Germany. The Maico group is a globally recognized leader in ventilation products and is known for product quality and reliability. Airmaster also maintains stocking warehouses across the U.S. For more information, visit airmasterfan.com.

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.

Has your sales process evolved toward contractors?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Buyers have taken more control over the sales process. According to Hubspot, 57% of salesmen acknowledge a shift in buyer behavior in becoming less dependent on sales from a year ago. This is true when speaking to contractors and tradesmen.

(more…)

Why Have Marketing in Manufacturing?

Today we have a guest post from Andrea Olson.

Industrial organizations rely heavily on a direct, distribution or dealer sales force for growth. Many of these companies have built themselves from the ground-up through street smarts, sweat, and hustle. With many sales build upon long-term relationships, why does a manufacturer need marketing? Aside from creating the brochures, maintaining the website and coordinating trade shows, how can marketing help grow the business? It’s a frequent misconception that many manufacturing leaders have a hard time getting their minds around.

The function of marketing has degraded in recent years, with the advent of “do-it-yourself” tools, allowing the tactical nuts-and-bolts of marketing implementation to be done by more junior staff. In addition, many mid-market manufacturers really never had the need to utilize marketing 50, 60 or 70 years ago – having built the business on a unique invention (at the time), penetrating an under-served market, or establishing a contract with a few large OEMs.

The problem today is that things have changed. Most notably: (more…)

Sonnhalter Supports Cuyahoga Community College With Annual Scholarship For School’s Construction Program

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

CLEVELAND –March 2017 – Sonnhalter, a marketing communications firm to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, continued its support of Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) “Construction Program Scholarship” with a $2,500 donation. This is the third 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 generous support,” said Megan O’Bryan, vice president, development and 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 8,000 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.

“Each year, Sonnhalter is pleased to further 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. ”It is also a unique and exciting opportunity to support a program that educates individuals in our own community who will hopefully make great strides in the Cleveland workforce.”

Last year, Sonnhalter released 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.

Thousands of vocational programs, many ways to connect

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

More than a year ago, we released an extensive database of thousands of vocational education programs across the country. We recently updated that list, adding 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.

Why would a marketing communications firm make such a resource? We hope the tool will bridge the gap between manufacturers and educational programs. The database serves as a helpful tool for companies looking to implement more grassroots campaigns to recruit the next generation of professional tradesmen.

There are a myriad of ways to take advantage of a tool like our database. I’d love to name a thousand ways to use it (given enough time and coffee I probably could too!) but I’ll leave you with a few suggestions of how to make our work, work for you.

Fill the Talent Pipeline
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They Really Are Worth a Thousand Words

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Use images on your website to de-clutter, increase SEO and tell a better story.

One of the biggest pitfalls in manufacturers’ websites (and trade shows, and product literature and more) is the overriding desire to SAY TOO MUCH.

And it’s easy to see why. Most manufacturing companies are led by Engineering or Sales. Both of these disciplines are highly verbal. You want to talk about how great a new process or product is in order to show the leap you’ve made in innovation. You want to make sure the customer has all the information in order to close the deal.

The problem becomes that marketing, and effective electronic communications, are becoming increasingly visual. Part of it is screen size. More than half of all internet use is by devices other than computers, the vast majority of which have screens smaller than a laptop. And some of it is just the pace and speed at which web browsers now expect information to be presented to them in the instant search era we live in.

So, it’s imperative to get your value proposition across in less time than it will take someone to hit the back button and open the next search result. (more…)

Feeding the Content Beast: Types of Blog Content

By Rachel Kerstetter, Public Relations Architect, Sonnhalter

If your content marketing program includes a blog, you’ve felt the pressure to produce a lot of content. Blogs are hungry little monsters that need a steady stream of new information to be effective.

But never fear! It is possible to feed the content beast and not lose a finger in the process.

(more…)

Why customer service is so important to manufacturers serving the tradesman

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

I’ve talked a lot about customer service and how important it is to resolve issues. But 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 increase.

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

Hands-on Marketing or Boring Booth. You Decide.

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

We’re in the thick of trade show season, and that brings up the age-old argument: Are they worth going to?

The ROI of a trade show can be the trickiest equation to manage. Very few feature direct sales, and how do you prove that a sale 6 months from now had anything to do with a 10 by 20 booth?

The short answer? You can’t. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, just that you should make the most of your customer’s experience.

I just finished reading a great article from Greg Zehe, from GES. It’s his review of a couple of standout booths at this year’s CES and how they succeeded through “hands-on marketing.” And it reminded me of some of the other key strategies to ensure your booth is a stand-out: (more…)

Sonnhalter Updates Comprehensive List of Nation’s Vocational Education Programs

Agency adds nearly 1,000 programs and other new features to list of more than 20,000 technical programs across the country.

CLEVELAND – February 2017 – Sonnhalter, a marketing communications firm to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, updated its extensive database of vocational education and technical programs in the United States with new features, including the addition of nearly 1,000 programs.

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. In addition to its new programs, each state in the database is now listed separately, and there is also an updated page for national programs and resources. Other features include more concise and easier to sort course titles.

The database serves as a tool for companies looking to implement more grassroots campaigns to recruit the next generation of professional tradesmen. The convenient and easy-to-use database is available for download and is designed to be sortable and searchable for a variety of fields, including program type, location, degree type and other important information.

“When Sonnhalter launched the database of vocational and technical programs, we wanted to provide a simple resource that would make it easy for companies to reach out to students interested in becoming professional tradesmen,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “As we grow and improve our database, we continue to do our part in narrowing the gap between manufacturers and educational programs.”

To download Sonnhalter’s updated, comprehensive list of vocational programs in the U.S., visit sonnhalter.com/vocational.

Spread the Buzz, Spoil the Game

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Another Super Bowl, er, I mean Big Game is in the books, and like last year, we want to take a look at the ads through the lens of B2T. Are there any lessons? Probably, let’s go to the tape!

You Can Protect Your Brand Too Much

The NFL is notorious for protecting the brand name “Super Bowl.” In fact, I should probably trademark that last sentence, add a disclaimer about how it’s the property of the NFL and let you know that any rebroadcast without the express written consent of the NFL will have lawyers flying at you like DB’s at the QB.

(more…)

Not Real, But Reality

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

By now, if you have a presence on social media, and are involved in sales or marketing, you’ve seen this:

Well, bad news.

  • “Fourth” isn’t spelled that way
  • The National Sales Executive Association doesn’t exist
  • There’s no study to be found that supports any of these statistics

There’s a great blog here that goes in to more detail. But I’d rather focus on something else:

Why do we want this to be real?

(more…)

11 Tips on How to Market to Contractors

Marketing to contractors is different than general marketing. Instead of pitching products, talk about solving problems. Contractors are busy and looking for solutions on how they can do their jobs better and make more money.

Our new tip sheet gives you 11 ways to help you get in front of contractors, promote your value proposition and become a trusted authority in the contractor’s mind.

Sign up to receive 11 Tips on How to Market to Contractors here.

 

AHR Expo Heats up Vegas (and probably cools it down)

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

The AHR Expo, the preeminent trade show for the HVAC industry is right around the corner. The show runs from January 30th to February 1st at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

AHR just released an optimistic 2017 forecast, based on interviews with more than 1,400 HVACR manufacturers. Because of that, this year’s show promises to be an exciting and educational affair.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Over 2,000 exhibitors in 764 product categories
  • More than 60,000 people expected to attend
  • 200+ education seminars and product demonstrations
  • ASHRAE Learning Institute Courses and Certification exams
  • An innovative mobile app complete with agenda maker, interactive floor plan and more features

Of course Las Vegas has no end of off-the-show-floor options. If you need help finding best in dining, nightlife and sightseeing, check out the recently updated Sonnhalter Insider’s Guide to Las Vegas.

Should you jump on the bandwagon?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

“It seems like a lot of companies are doing _________. Should we be doing it too?”

Fill in the blank with any new digital tool: Virtual Reality, Facebook Live, Snapchat, Augmented Reality, etc.

Marketers are asked to consult on new communication mediums and trends on a daily basis. When they aren’t asked to consult, they’re being directed to jump in.

Once upon a time marketers were asked about email, then social media and apps. We’ve come a long way in technology trends. But the basic question is: Should we jump on the bandwagon? (more…)

Important Steps in the Sales Cycle

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Sales are always trying to short circuit the system and take the low hanging fruit. Trouble is, there’s only so much low hanging fruit. This graphic from Anna Vital should be a constant reminder to all of us that sales are a long term commitment.

Interesting infographic compliments of Brendan P. Farell, Executive VP of FIS .

Making a Thought Leader

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

“Free advertising,” who doesn’t want that? One of the best side effects of the boom in content marketing is the growth of brand-neutral trade magazine articles. Pay-for-play has been relegated to the back burner as more and more publications see the benefit of offering knowledge-based problem solving articles.

That’s also an offshoot of the lack of skilled workers, as more and more knowledge retires, there’s an increased need to transfer that knowledge. With less opportunity for direct, apprentice-based, transfer, white papers, problem solving articles and general knowledge pieces gain added importance.

So, how can your company benefit? Create thought leaders. A bragging title most people would reject, it can still help you promote your business and create a knowledge warehouse.

How to Create Thought Leaders (more…)

What Affect Will Donald Trump Have on You and Your Business in 2017?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Now that the election is over and Donald Trump will become our new leader, I’m curious to see if you’re as optimistic as I am on where the country is headed, or could be headed, if the world crosses don’t get in the way.

Trump’s business-friendly attitude and the mantra of “there will be no business as usual” is somewhat refreshing. The rollback of regulations alone should be a game changer for manufacturing. The cutting of corporate taxes wouldn’t hurt either.

(more…)

Design and Construction Week is On in Orlando

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

After four year in Vegas, the NAHB International Builder’s Show and the HKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show move to central Florida for Design & Construction Week .

A must-attend event for the industry, these co-located shows continue to be at the forefront of innovation, with more than 2,000 exhibitors and hundreds of education sessions. Here are a few highlights: (more…)

Podcast: Issues affecting contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Listen to insights from John Mesenbrink from Mechanical-Hub.com as we discuss industry issues that include:

  • Updates to their website and what contractors are looking for
  • What’s new on integrating the latest technology and products in actual installations
  • The skilled labor shortage
  • How the election might affect business

Outside-the-Box Solutions for Workforce Development

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

“Train your people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.”

-Richard Branson

A column I just read brought that quote to mind. Jack Schron, the President of Jergens recently wrote “Grey Matters Matter” for Production Machining magazine. It’s a great piece, and I highly recommend reading the full text.

Mr. Schron focuses on the fact that without a skilled workforce, all the advanced machining, Internet of Things (iOT) and new advances in precision machining are worthless. And the best way to achieve that skilled workforce is through good old experiential rather than textbook learning. And with the advances and costs, that type of training can’t be achieved by just manufacturers, or just trade schools, or any one affected segment. It requires all of them, working together to create state of the art Technical Centers. And that additionally, it required companies, vendors and partners willing to think outside the box and re-examine processes.


Find out one way Jergens has accomplished this by checking out their Fastforward™ Machining Center.

Sonnhalter’s Rachel Kerstetter Awarded “Rising Star Award” by Greater Cleveland Public Relations Society of America Chapter

CLEVELAND – December 2016 – Rachel Kerstetter, public relations architect at Sonnhalter, was honored with the inaugural “Rising Star Award” at this year’s annual Cleveland Rocks Awards, presented by the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Greater Cleveland Chapter.

This year marked the 14th year in which the PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter honored the area’s best in marketing and communications with more than 50 awards across more than 30 categories. The first recipient of the Rising Star Award, Kerstetter was recognized as an outstanding public relations professional with seven or fewer years of experience. At the ceremony, Kerstetter was honored for her high level of professionalism, proven abilities in aligning PR strategy and execution with client goals.

“In a short amount of time, Rachel has become an invaluable asset to not only the PR objectives of our clients, but also to the many inner workings necessary to make our agency thrive in our respective niche,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Sonnhalter is proud to see a well-deserving candidate such as Rachel be the first to receive this award. With a long career ahead of her, we look forward to watching her grow as an accomplished young professional and seeing how it will move our public relations efforts forward.”

Kerstetter joined Sonnhalter in 2011 and served as public relations engineer prior to her promotion to public relations architect in 2015. Kerstetter is an active member of the PRSA, serving on the board of directors, and is vice president of membership of the Greater Cleveland chapter. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Mount Union, located in Alliance, Ohio.

About the PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter
The PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter is the professional organization that brings together public relations, communications and marketing practitioners throughout Northeast Ohio. The chapter includes professionals from the Greater Cleveland area and is an active organization in helping members address local issues and trends with local and national resources.

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.

Take the Interview

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

It’s time when we start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Which means we’re making plans to improve ourselves over the coming year, as well as improve our marketing efforts.

Here’s a PR resolution for your organization this year: Take Every Interview.

Every time you have an interview request from your local media or trade outlets, take it.

One of the biggest frustrations for a public relations practitioner is turning down editorial opportunities. An editor of a trade publication that we work with regularly at Sonnhalter told me this week that one of his biggest struggles is getting companies to take advantage of editorial opportunities with the magazine. (more…)

Avoiding Scams in Distribution

With 28 years of distribution industry experience, Frank Hurttle has seen more than a few fads and trends come and go. As a consultant with River Heights Consulting, he works with various distributor channels with a lot of different needs and challenges. But he’s seen one new threat that’s effecting all types of distributors: online scams. Read the blog he wrote about identifying and avoiding these here.

Scammers in DistributorLand

Internet scamming has become an industry in itself, with some estimates putting the cost at $12.7 billion in 2014. I have received some pretty bizarre scam messages. Most are pretty easy to spot. (more…)

Ohio State center will help regional manufacturing companies grow

At The Ohio State University, a coalition of Federal, State, local and private interests are investing in the future of manufacturing. The new Center for Design and Manufacturing will bring together educators, innovators and manufacturers to identify and execute growth strategies.

Find out more about this program in this excellent article from Nate Ames, the Engineering Manager for The Ohio State University.

Ohio State center will help regional manufacturing companies grow

osu-engineering

The Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) will receive up to $8.6 million in federal, state and industry funding over the next five years to lead a program facilitating growth of small- and mid-sized manufacturing companies in the 15 county central Ohio region. The program is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, with matching funds provided by the Ohio Development Services Agency, which administers operations through seven regional affiliates. (more…)

3 Insights to Make Your Manufacturing CRM More Effective

This is a guest post from Russ Hill, Founder of Ultimate Lead Systems.

CRM programs come with big promise. The value proposition reminds me of the film the “Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy sets out with her allies to meet “the Great and Powerful” Wizard, who will surely deliver fulfillment of their greatest wishes. They approach the Wizard with fear and trepidation. When they finally see him behind the curtain, they discover their wizard furiously spinning wheels and pulling switches to bring the Great and Powerful wizard image to life. It is a good metaphor for what companies encounter when implementing CRM and sales lead management programs. Like the Wizard, the promise is great, but have no illusions. Understanding what is required behind the curtain is critical to CRM success.

CRM Behind the Curtain

(more…)

Podcast: Tips on How to be a More Effective Salesperson

Today we’re talking with Alan Sipe to get some insights about selling in the Industrial/Commercial fields, especially to distributors and the big box chains.

Alan is President of Toolbox Sales and Consulting and has over 40 years of experience including Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for Klein Tools and President of KNIPEX Tools. His insights in selling through various distribution channels and professional contractors are invaluable.

Visit, Toolbox Sales and Consulting for more information and to contact Alan. Enjoy.

Thankful for You

As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, we’d like to say thanks to you. We have had the good fortune over the years to work with so many great friends and clients. You enrich our lives and make our work enjoyable.

We’re running in several different directions all the time, and this time of year we need to slow down a bit to appreciate the things around us.

So this weekend, don’t take your briefcase home, and your emails will still be there Monday morning when you get back in the office. Recharge your batteries this weekend. Play with your kids or grandkids, visit an old friend or watch some football and of course enjoy a great meal. We take a lot of things for granted sometimes – our Families and Friends.

Enjoy the weekend. We can get back to the grind next week.

Make Sure Your B2B Communication is Still Human

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

481_3818326When it comes to B2B communication, sometimes we get a little too caught up in the 2 Bs (business and business) that we forget about the Hs, Humans. Your organization is made up of human beings and the businesses that make up your target audience are also made up of human beings.

When you recognize that your audience is made up of humans, you’re already one step toward more effective communications. Communicating with humans means you need to take into account emotions as well as logic and make an effort to connect on a personal level.

Be Human

Mike McDougall gave a presentation at the PRSA International Conference on using the HUMAN method to connect with B2B audiences. Here’s the model: (more…)

Sonnhalter Announces Marketing Minute Video Series

Video series offers quick, easy-to-understand marketing advice on a variety of industry topics.

CLEVELAND – November 2016 – Sonnhalter, a marketing communications firm to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announced the release of its “Marketing Minute” video series.

Hosted by Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter, the Marketing Minute video series offers short and concise pieces of marketing and business tips for organizations trying to reach professional tradesmen. Some of the topics covered in the video series include:

  • “What is a USP?”
  • “What is a Creative Brief?”
  • “What is a QR Code?”
  • “Is Print Dead?”
  • “The Modern Press Release”

“For many of us, the daily workload doesn’t leave much time in our busy schedules to learn about new trends happening within our industry,” said Matt Sonnhalter. “With the Marketing Minute series, our goal is to educate professionals on some of the latest industry happenings in a way that is fun, informative and concise.”

To watch the Marketing Minute video series on YouTube, please visit this link.

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.

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Tips on Developing Effective Marketing Programs to Reach Contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

When trying to gain new contractors, “the ready, fire, aim” mentality doesn’t work. Neither does “a wing and prayer” method.

Developing new customers is entirely different from trying to sell more stuff to your existing ones. Marketing needs to work closely with sales in not only developing a message, but a plan on delivering it. You also need to take into consideration that a lot of new contractors won’t identify themselves until they’ve done some homework on your company.

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Podcast: “What Makes a Qualified Lead a Qualified Lead?”

Today we’re talking with Russ Hill, Founder and CEO of Ultimate Lead Systems. Russ has 3 decades of experience helping companies with their B2B sales lead management and CRM programs.

Sales leads are the lifeblood of new business development. As important as leads are, it is still common to hear reps complain that “the leads I get are unqualified.” People have different views on the subject of lead handling, qualification and follow-up. Listen to what Russ has to say.

Are You Maximizing Your B-to-B Blog?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

If you’re a manufacturer and you don’t have a blog, you should. Why? Because 4 out of 5 B-to-B marketers use blogs. B-to-B blogs aren’t new, but manufacturers are finding out that they are a good way of setting themselves apart from the competition, and according to the Content Marketing Institute, over 50% of marketers expect blogs to be critical in 2017.

Challenges of B-to-B Blogs

Even though marketers expect blogs to be critical in the coming year, most B-to-B bloggers have some challenges … here are 3 of them: (more…)

How to Repurpose Content for Contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, 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.

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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.

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Social Media: More than an Excuse to Employ a Millennial

1284_5052019By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

How to Keep and Generate Business with Social Media

So, you’ve got a social media presence. Congrats, but if you’re just looking for likes, and pushing out press releases, all you’re doing is pushing out.

How do you also use Social Media to pull in potential customers? Utilize a two prong strategy.

Part One – Tell us How We Messed Up (more…)

Do you have Relevant Content to Support Your Sales Team?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Sales and marketing need to work closer together make the selling process better. Marketing departments that create great content but don’t share it with the sales force are missing opportunities. Yes, it’s important to get it out on the blog and other social media avenues but your sales force doesn’t always have access to or are aware of what’s up there.

Sales is looking for support in the selling cycle no matter how simple or complicated the sales funnel is. This chart from emarketer.com illustrates that point.

Well-produced and -managed marketing content sets up awareness, creates demand and enables sales. Here are some key takeaways on how marketing departments can use content for sales support: (more…)

Run Social Media The Way Your Grandfather Ran His Business

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect

social media business winHow should you run your social media? 

To answer that question, perhaps you should ask instead, “How would my grandfather have run his business?” Or at least that’s the question Mark Schaefer asked. Mark is a globally-recognized speaker, educator, business consultant, and author, he blogs at one of the top marketing blogs of the world.

One of his recent videos, “Social media marketing lessons from my grandfather, the plumber,” dug into the attributes that made his grandfather successful in the plumbing business and how they can be applied to social media. For those of us marketing to the trades, his example is even more important.

How did Mark’s grandfather, a plumber from Pittsburgh, grow a successful business? (more…)

Brand – maybe even more important than you think

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

I’m addicted to TEDTalks. If you don’t know what they are, here’s a primer from their website.

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

Part of this initiative is a weekly radio program that takes a look at a theme through insights from several TEDTalks, called the TED Radio Hour.

452_5472026They recently had an episode dedicated to Value, Brand and how our brains process the “worth” of something. Turns out, it’s all way more subjective that you may think.

Every day you assign value to a thousand things without ever thinking about it. How? What biases come into play, and what can nudge those biases so much that you notice that you’re being manipulated? And can you even use that realization to your benefit?

And that’s the line great content marketing should straddle. Yes, at the end of the day you are trying to push the customer towards your product, and a consumer should realize that as well. But if the content itself still provides useful information, or is packaged in a way that acknowledges that transaction, it can still be beneficial.

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Why You Should Have a Trade/Vocational School Marketing Plan

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
vocational-schools
With the shortage of skilled workers today, the trade/vocational schools are making a comeback and there’s a great opportunity for you to do some grass-roots marketing to future tradesmen.
Many leading brands come to mind (Ridgid and Klein Tools) that have been built by using these schools as a starting point to get their tools in the hands of future users.

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Managing Price Overrides: 4-Step Process

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com

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While common, price overrides can be dangerous. They train your sales team and customers that price is negotiable and interferes with one of your primary goals: sticking to your pricing strategy.

If that doesn’t worry you, consider this: companies that grant high numbers of ad hoc price exceptions are more likely to experience price erosion across all customers.

An effective and mature pricing strategy includes a policy for establishing price overrides. But what would such a policy look like?

From experience, we know that managing override activity is a multi-layered process. It requires adapting your internal systems, developing new guidelines, and transforming your culture. But at the end of the day, your goal is to establish a framework to monitor and manage potentially dangerous price overrides. When we help our clients with the same goal, we use the following four-step process.

Step 1: Grow Your Awareness: Understand what pricing overrides are happening and why

Step 2: Determine Market Relevance: Set appropriate prices for specific customer and product segments

Step 3: Set Policy: Establish guidelines and controls around pricing authority

Step 4: Encourage Training: Empower the sales organizations with the tools they need to handle pricing conversations with clients

Let’s dig deeper into each of the four steps.

Step 1: Grow Your Awareness: What is Happening and Why?

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Email Delivers Strong ROI to B-to-B Marketers

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Recent studies have shown that email audiences are growing, are more engaged and are increasingly mobile. I recently read an article in eMarketer saying that not only is email the preferred method of communicating with potentials, but the ROI is 122%, more than four times higher than other marketing formats.

 

Median ROI for Select Channels/Formats According to US Marketers, June 2016

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Turn Email Prospects Into Loyal Customers

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
We’ve talked a lot in this blog on how important a good email list is and how to develop one. By nurturing the email subscribers, you take them through your sales funnel. You need to start building a good trustworthy relationship and it should start soon after the contact comes into your database.

It’s not only what you have to say, but how you say it. Beyond being potential customers, these contractors can be your best friend by sharing it with their peer group. Remember, contractors need to know, like and trust you before any meaningful dialog will start.

Here are some tips to building a better list of contractors and tradesmen: (more…)

How the Manufacturing Sales Process Changed Over 40 Years

I think we all can agree that the manufacturing sales function has had its challenges and has changed over the past several decades.

Alan SipeToday we have a guest post from Alan Sipe, President of Toolbox Sales and Consulting. Alan has over 40 years of experience including Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for Klein Tools and President of KNIPEX Tools. His insights in selling through various distribution channels and professional contractors are invaluable. Alan can be reached at alansipe@gmail.com.

I am possibly the oldest living American who in 40+ years of manufacturing selling has pretty much sold just pliers for 35 of those years! Twenty four with Klein Tools, eleven with KNIPEX plus the four with Stanley and one with Waterloo fill in the rest of the 40. This successful career longevity gives me a pretty long view of what it takes to have sales success. (more…)

Get Your Message Across in an Ad-Blocked World

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

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A recent report shared that 32% of global page views are impacted by the use of ad block and mobile sees three times the rate of ad block use than desktop.

Did you know that even some people who work in advertising block ads? Let’s face it, website ads are mostly annoying. If you’ve ever opened a webpage and had an ad start talking to you that you couldn’t turn off, you know what I mean. Although digital advertising has a solid place in integrated marketing programs, accompanying it with other tactics can get your message to audiences that wouldn’t be reached otherwise – those who use ad blockers.

How do you get your marketing messages past ad blockers?

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Are you Trying to Sell or Connect Emotionally with Contractors?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

There’s a time and place to sell and you need to know when that is. Social media is one of those times when selling shouldn’t be your prime objective; connecting with your target audience should be.

This should be no surprise, but Google surveyed 3,000 B-to-B buyers and one of the main outcomes of the study was that brands that connect with buyers on a personal and emotional level are twice as likely to convert than brands that only try to sell stuff.

When trying to reach contractors you need to find out the emotions that are most important and address them accordingly on a regular basis.

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.

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Time (and Advertising) Stops for No One

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

a-man-who-stops-advertising-to-save-money-is-like-a-man-who-stops-a-clock-to-save-time

That’s one of my favorite quotes. Not because I’m in marketing and advertising, but because it dispels one of the biggest myths about manufacturers. That is:

All manufacturers are engineering and sales driven, and advertising is an afterthought, or a “necessary evil.”

Henry Ford wasn’t just any old manufacturer. He transformed not only American manufacturing, but revolutionized manufacturing processes. He changed the way we live. His streamlined assembly line could churn out a Model T every 24 seconds. As summer winds down, it’s worth noting that he’s partially responsible for all the grilling you did as well.

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How to Create Distributor Plans that Incent Growth [FREE TEMPLATE]

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com

distributor-plans-that-incent-growth

Many manufacturers treat their distributors equally. They offer everyone the same discounts, the same promotions, and the same training programs.

However—not all distributors work equally hard for your business.

In this article, we’ll look at how the right distributor plan can help you get the most benefit from your distributor relationships and drive the business objectives you want to achieve.

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3 Tips for Improving New Product Rollouts

Today we have a guest post from Alan Sipe, President of Toolbox sales and consulting. Alan has over 40 years of experience including Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for Klein Tools and President of Knipex Tools. His insights in selling through various distribution channels and professional contractors are invaluable. Alan can be reached at alansipe@gmail.com.

So, why isn’t your new Super-Duper Widget selling?

Your Research Department talked to your users and found a need. Product Development and Design took that information and developed the world’s best Super-Duper Widget. Marketing put together literature and an excellent introduction display and sales package. Sales developed a forecast and Production has plenty of Super-Duper Widgets in stock. Literature, samples, promotional material and quotas went out to your Manufacturer’s Representatives … right on time.

Now you only have one little problem … your fabulous new Super-Duper Widgets are not selling into distribution at anywhere near projections.

You did everything right … Right?

There is a mistaken opinion that as soon as you give someone the title salesperson they immediately are professional Super-Duper Widget salespeople … you couldn’t be more wrong!

Whether your sales staff is your own or if you use independent reps. Here are some things to consider:

The first thing to consider (no matter what they tell you)is that as a Manufacturer’s Representative they represent many lines and no one can intuitively be an expert in all things.

Mary may be an excellent salesperson and has great relationships with all her customers and gets good repeat orders but doesn’t do well with new products. (more…)

Seventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $20,000 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

dsc01389-copySonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for a seventh year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $20,000 worth of tools and building materials again this year. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected nearly $200,000 in donations.

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

“Your efforts help Cleveland Habitat continue its neighborhood revitalization efforts,” said John Habat, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “Your steadfast support provides some of the ‘tools’ to making our work possible.”

Community participants in the Seventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included the Berea Recreation Center, Cuyahoga County Public Library – Berea Branch, Dave’s Precision Automotive, Fear’s Confections, Frangos Group, Lakeside Supply, Lamar, offices of Dr. Brian Britt and Dr. Kent Nicklas, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, Samsel Supply, St. Mary of the Falls, Sutton Industrial Hardware, The Wine Spot, Wolff Bros. Supply, Woodhill Supply and many community members.

Trades industry participants in the Seventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Council Tool Company, Gerber Plumbing Fixtures, Jergens and KNIPEX Tools.

“The Sonnhalter Tool Drive is a rewarding and exciting experience for our team each year,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are very humbled by the generosity of our clients, partners and the community who made it possible for us to give nearly $200,000 in donations over the past seven years to this great organization.”

All of the donations that Sonnhalter collected benefited the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStores, recycled building materials and home furnishings stores. Proceeds from the ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 350,000 homes worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

Are You Ready to Talk to the Media?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

1218_5360518We’re officially in trade show season, which means planning booths, putting together promotions, connecting with customers and preparing your staff for the show. One often overlooked aspect of trade show participation is the media.

When you exhibit at a trade show, you can trust in the quality and relevancy of the attendees as potential customers. You can also trust that the media that is most important to your ideal customer will be at the show, so make sure you prepare to talk with them as well.

I once supported a company at their biggest industry show. I’d set up meetings with media at the show and spent a lot of time in their booth. During a lull when I didn’t have anything scheduled, I decided to go eat lunch. When I returned, the sales rep in the booth handed me an editor’s card and told me he’d stopped to see you. I asked about the interaction with the editors, what had been shown to him and so on, just to find out that they had given him my card and sent him on his way. Throughout the show, the booth staff was so laser focused on getting leads that every time they encountered the media, they said two words, “See her” and pointed them to me.

It’s important to treat the media personnel at a show as if they are just as important as a customer … if not more. Trade media have a huge audience of hundreds or thousands of the people who you want to reach.

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Contractors are the Most Important Customer in Building Materials

Today we have a guest post from Mark Mitchel of Whizard Strategy.

3Icons-Salesexecution2-120x120Building materials companies frequently only see the customer who is directly in front of their nose. They are laser focused on selling a builder, an architect, a facilities manager or even a homeowner.

In every one of these cases there is someone standing right behind them that you may not see. That person is the contractor. More specifically, it is the installing contractor.

Time and time again, I see building materials companies, with a great product, think they have a made a sale to their primary customer, only to lose the sale because of a contractor.

It’s easy to assume that contractors are working for your primary customer so they will do what the customer wants. That is frequently not the case.

Here’s Why Contractors Resist Change

  • There is a shortage of labor so any good contractor is in demand and may turn work down or charge more, if it involves something new or different.
  • Contractors see new ideas and products as change and change represents risk. It usually does not represent opportunity to them.
  • Contractors can be very stubborn in their resistance to change. They and maybe even their Daddy has always used the same product and installed it the same way for years. Many of them also believe that buildings and homes are not built as well as they were in the past. To them, modern day construction practices and products are not necessarily better.
  • New products mean the contractor will lose money. The contractor looks at a new product as having many places where they are going to lose money, for example:
  1. They aren’t sure how to estimate the project so they can underestimate it and lose money or they can over estimate it and lose the job.
  2. Their installers will have to be trained and the cost of that training will fall on them.
  3. Installers will take a longer time on the first few jobs, reducing the contractor’s income.
  4. There is a higher likelihood of a callback on the first few jobs, once again costing the contractor.
  5. Dealing with a new supplier is also time consuming, when he probably isn’t having a problem with his current supplier. (more…)

How to Create Distributor Plans that Incent Growth [FREE TEMPLATE]

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com

distributor-plans-that-incent-growth

Many manufacturers treat their distributors equally. They offer everyone the same discounts, the same promotions, and the same training programs.

However—not all distributors work equally hard for your business.

In this article, we’ll look at how the right distributor plan can help you get the most benefit from your distributor relationships and drive the business objectives you want to achieve. (more…)

Call Reports & Sales People…the Reality!

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

OK, let’s get real about sales people for a minute. Sales people want to make sales calls. They want toCall Report make calls on qualified leads and on profitable customers who can generate sales and compensation. They are like gunslingers interested in the “quick kill.” You hire them to sell and that’s where you want them to spend their time.

But they are also given business plans and projections to write and update. They also have prospecting and travel to schedule.  And they are frequently required to spend time on software training…you know the CRM program, Excel, quote building software, the ERP system and the other third-party programs and resources that are pushed out to them, so they can be “more productive.”

The days of sales people making sales calls and writing up “simple” call reports (primarily for their own benefit) are long gone. Besides making calls, today’s sales people need to master and manage a variety of tasks and complex software. The need for the fundamental call report stills exists and management would be wise to keep that in mind. That means that one of the most important things management can do to help their sales people be more productive is to reduce the sales person’s administrative and non-sales related tasks.

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3 Tips on Maintaining Good Relationships with Contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

The cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to five times greater than keeping an existing one.tradesmen-300x167

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 folks 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. These guys 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 keep relationships with professional tradesmen strong:

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

  • A call from their local sales rep to say hi with no particular sales pitch may lead to opportunities if they (your sales guys) just listen.
  • Make them feel like they’re special by giving them a first look at new products as they are being developed.
  • They also could be the ideal source for field testing prior to launch. Also think about doing a webinar for customers only on a new product or application.

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Manufacturers: When’s the last time you looked at your Value Proposition?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Have you given contractors clarity and conviction as to who you are? Sometimes manufacturers focus all their efforts on products and not enough time on developing their value proposition. Others take for granted that everyone knows who we are and what we do.

I recently read an article by James O’Gara from On Message about creating clarity and conviction in the minds of your customers that got me thinking about a possible disconnect on messaging through the buying process. James points out that the message has to be consistent before, during and after the sale. Customers or potential customers can’t have one message when they are investigating a solution, only to find out once they start the buying process, the culture and messaging has changed.

Your story needs to capture not only your purpose and vision but your positioning statement, the value you deliver and what sets you apart from the competition. The bottom line is, your story can’t change from one phase to another. You need to be consistent and authentic!

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Improve Your Communication with Calls to Action

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

When you think about a Call to Action (CTA), what comes to mind? Perhaps a print or banner ad that says “Click Here”? Or a TV commercial urging you to “Call Now”?

CTAs are often thought of only in relation to sales messages. But incorporating CTAs in each aspect of communication can significantly improve your results. This goes for all external communication, but also for internal and interpersonal communication.

For example, think about the last email you sent (to a colleague, customer, friend, whomever). Did you clearly communicate the response you hoped for or did you just send a message that might leave them wondering how to respond? Even adding a simple, “Let me know your thoughts” to a message can signal that person to act and engage with your communication.

Each piece of communication you use could benefit from a call to action; once you incorporate CTAs into your messages, you’ll likely see better results.

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Manufacturers: Is Social Media Working for you in Reaching Contractors?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

social media iconsSocial media has been around long enough that by now you should have an idea of whether or not it’s working for you. Is it? Do you really know? Do you really care?

I guess the first question we should ask ourselves is why are we doing it? Hopefully it’s not because everyone else is. The next question would be which of the many social media options out there are you focusing on?

Let’s explore the first question – Why are you doing it?

  • Are you really sold on it?
  • How much of your promotional budget is set aside for social?
  • Do you have a written strategy for social?
  • Do you have some way of defining and measuring success?

If you’re really sold on it, you’d have a written plan and a dedicated person responsible for its implementation and success.

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Sustainable Pricing Starts with Your Sales Force

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com

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Achieving significant pricing gains can feel like a long, hard-fought battle. This makes it all the more satisfying when the numbers start to roll in, validating your efforts and proving without a doubt that profitability is attainable.

The thought of losing those gains may keep you up at night. What safeguards can you put in place to protect the gains you’ve achieved and prevent your company from sliding back into past poor pricing habits?

It all starts with building a confident sales force.

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