Podcasting: Another Effective Tool to Reach Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect Podcasts are a very popular medium today and rightfully so. Podcasts can add another dimension to your audience as they can hear the voice behind the words. Alisa Meredith wrote a piece on HubSpot on why marketers should be using podcasting and shows you that getting started is relatively painless. Jay Baer, in an episode on Social Media Examiner, said, “There’s something about bringing somebody inside your head through your ear holes that ties you to that person in a way that reading a blog post or reading a book or anything else just doesn’t.”   Using podcasts is a way of building brand awareness as well as loyalty. Podcasting gives busy contractors another way to get information (let’s face it, we all only have so much time to read), and with the auto industry’s smart dashboards, it is making it easier to listen to. You can also upload your podcasts onto iTunes, which can give you access to more potential customers who are searching for info on key subjects by key words or phrases. Don’t be obsessed with the number of people who listen to your podcast, but instead, be more concerned on the quality of them.     There are several ways that you can use podcasts to get to the professional tradesmen. Here are a few to consider: You initiate them. You can talk about issues affecting the tradesmen and possible solutions they could consider. You can interview industry experts or association leaders that can talk about everything from legislative issues that might relate to your business in the future, or talk about things you can do now to improve your business. Be a guest on someone else’s podcast. There are bloggers out there that target the same types of audiences you do. Follow them for a while, and…read more >

New Study Finds What You Already Knew

by Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent As members of the manufacturing community, we all have abundant anecdotal evidence of the Skills Gap. But as people involved in precision and “measure twice, cut once” careers, we also understand that when you measure something, you can work on it. That’s why this new study from Deloitte is so welcome. They have taken a good, long, hard look at the industry in general, and applied solid numbers and reasoning to the looming crisis. Additionally, they have partnered with The Manufacturing Institute to work on filling the gap. For the Executive Summary and links to the complete study, click here: https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/industry/manufacturing/manufacturing-skills-gap-study.html  read more >

The Scary Side of Public Relations

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, Public Relations Foreman It's that spooky time of the year -- so it seems like a good time to rehash some of the aspects of public relations that can be the scariest to clients. We find the realm of public relations to be fun, exciting and consistently fresh, but some areas of our field can be scary to our clients. Here are the top five fears people have about public relations, and why you shouldn’t be spooked by them. 1. You can’t control what the media does with a story once you’ve given it to them. “Earned media” is highly credible because readers know that you didn’t purchase the space to promote your company. Public relations and media relations professionals cultivate positive relationships with media, we work with these folks on behalf of multiple clients most of the time so we’ve built the foundation for positive coverage before they even get your story. In B2T public relations, we’re working with trade publications primarily and their goal is to be a source of helpful information for their readers. It can be scary not to see the actual article before it’s published, but with long lead times of trade media, it can be a sweet surprise to see your words in print.   2. Negative comments on blogs and social media.  Your responses to negative comments offer an excellent opportunity to show off your wonderful customer service. Negative comments happen, and if they happen on your social media, you can control the outcome with your response and the community response from your other fans. It’s actually scarier to hide your head in the sand or cover your ears when it comes to social media. 14043read more >

Are You Attending STAFDA In Phoenix This Week?

Are you in Phoenix attending this month's STAFDA trade show? If so, check out our exclusive Insider’s Guide to Phoenix and use this guide to help you get around the Valley of the Sun during your free time. – Want to know where the locals like to eat and drink? We have the insider information from our friends in Phoenix. – Need tips on nightlife and sightseeing? We made a list of shouldn’t-miss recommendations. – Have you ever driven in Phoenix? We have you covered with taxi and limo services. See you at the Phoenix Convention Center…or at one of the great places in the guide!read more >

Manufacturing Day: Open Doors, Open Minds

by Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent Inspiring the next generation of manufacturers. We were going to do a big wrap-up of all the Manufacturing Day 2018 events our clients, partners and friends hosted, but this video from the National Association of Manufacturers does a better job than we could.     Please make sure you share. And start prepping now for Manufacturing Day 2019!  read more >

Why You Use Relationship Marketing When Trying to Reach Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect   I’ve always been a big believer in relationship selling. After all, we usually buy stuff from people we know, like and trust. Agree? So why not take that to another step in the selling process by using the same principles to your marketing efforts? This is especially true now that content and content marketing is such a big part of everyone’s overall strategy. We all have heard the saying that "Content is King and Community is its Kingdom," but what brings them together? It’s building solid relationships with contractors and tradesmen using relationship marketing.  I read a post by Wade Harman, Why relationship marketing is the key to your content, where he outlines a strong case for using this type of tactic. He points out that we need to know and understand what our target wants and needs. Contractors want solutions, not necessarily a sales pitch. You need to make yourself available in conversations with them... He also points out that we should collaborate with others that share the same passion. For an example, say your target is professional plumbers. You want to focus on products that will help them do their install better. You’re not interested (nor capable) in helping them market their plumbing business locally. Why not team up with someone who’s focus is just that, like Plumbers SEO.net or Darren Slaughter who specializes in contractor marketing. This blog focuses on helping manufacturers better communicate with contractors and professional tradesmen. We have three challenges: 1) identify our audience, 2) give them meaningful content, and 3) keep them coming back. One of the most important things I try to communicate is that to be successful, you must be able to engage and have a genuine relationship with your reader. Here are some steps to build those relationships: 13995read more >

An Idea Worth Stealing

by Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent   Lowbrow Customs is a Cleveland-based maker of custom motorcycles and parts. They’ve made some innovative accessories and amazing builds, garnering a reputation that’s worldwide. But it’s what they’re doing in our hometown of Cleveland that has us stoked.   On their website and YouTube channel, they’ve recently announced a scholarship program through the Tri-C Advanced Technology Training Center (which Sonnhalter is also proud to support). The two $2,500 scholarships will help at-need students pursue careers in manufacturing. The goal? To show people that there’s more to higher education than a four-year degree. That they can find an exciting and rewarding career, and that they can join a long tradition of high-quality, American manufacturing. And that by doing this, as my Grandfather always said, “A rising tide will lift all boats.” We couldn’t agree more.read more >

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

CLEVELAND – September 2018 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for a ninth year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $31,000 worth of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected more than $250,000 in donations. Organizations, businesses and residents were encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as building materials, furniture and appliances, to Sonnhalter to help benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing and homelessness. “Cleveland Habitat for Humanity eagerly awaits Sonnhalter’s annual Tool Drive,” said John Habat, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “It replenishes our inventory and generates revenues to support our affordable homeownership program. Sonnhalter has been doing this for several years, demonstrating again and again its commitment to affordable housing in Cleveland. Sonnhalter is a treasured partner.” 14005read more >

Today is National Tradesmen Day!

Where would we be without them? The unsung heroes of American Industry. At Sonnhalter, we know tradesmen well. They are the customers of the clients we serve. They’re construction workers and maintenance professionals. Electricians and plumbers. On the third Friday in September, National Tradesmen Day honors the men and women whose skills and hard work build America and keep it running strong. National Tradesmen Day is dedicated to the professionals who maintain the complex infrastructure of our roads, cities, water systems and power grids. While these professionals work day in and out maintaining skills unique to their trade, our nation continues to operate smoothly without pause. The skills and knowledge of those in the trades keep business, homes and entire nations running. Whether walls go up or come down, roads cross rivers or the water flows, electricians, plumbers, masons, mechanics, carpenters and everyone in between ensures the job gets done. With their hands, their skills and their tools, they keep America running smoothly.   Please join us by thanking the men and women in the trades. It’s truly a day to celebrate.read more >

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

by Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent As anyone concerned with problem-solving can attest, sometimes a different perspective can make a world of difference. That’s what makes this project from David Bohrer so amazing. A former White House photographer, he set out from Washington to Milwaukee on behalf of National Association of Manufacturers to document the state of manufacturing in advance of Manufacturing Day. What he found was opportunity, innovation and dedication. Read more, and see some great photography in his post.    read more >

Attending IMTS in Chicago this week?

Are you in Chicago attending this month's IMTS trade show? If so, check out our exclusive Insider’s Guide to Chicago and use this guide to help you get around town during your free time. – Want to know where the locals like to eat and drink? We have the insider information from our friends in Chicago. – Need tips on nightlife and sightseeing? We made a list of shouldn’t-miss recommendations. – Have you ever driven in Chicago? We have you covered with taxi and limo services. See you at McCormick Place…or at one of the great places in the guide!read more >

Is Selling to Professional Tradesmen Getting Easier?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman   I don’t know if it’s getting easier, but it sure is different from years ago. Twenty to 30 years ago, salesmen needed to make cold calls, and the only way to communicate was through land lines, faxes, letters and direct mail. The selling cycle certainly took longer back then! Now, with the internet, cell phones, email and social media, much of the upfront work is already done for sales. YouTube videos, application data sheets and competitive comparisons are just a few of the resources available. The key is not to try to sell something; instead, your main objective is to help solve a problem or issue. Here are a few key takeaways when selling to professional tradesmen: - If possible, actually show you have a solution by demoing your product on an actual job site. - Sell your value proposition on why using your product will be the reason to choose you over the competition. - Give them names of other contractors who have similar problems/issues that you helped solve. - Respect their time; show them your solution and ask when you should follow up. Here are some tips: Deliver outstanding quality – from a great quality product to courteous customer service and user-friendly info – and then let them have the option on how they want to receive it. Understand what your customers want – don’t assume to know what they want – ask them. Connect with them – direct relationships are the most important and the most challenging. Always think WIIFT (What’s In It For Them). Be sincere and upfront with them. When communicating with them, don’t always be selling. Try to help solve a problem even though it might not, in the short term, result in a sale. Under promise and over deliver – exceed your customers’…read more >

Old or New: School is Back in Session

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent There are still some hot days to get through, but Labor Day is fast approaching and most schools are back in session. So make sure you stop for busses, keep an eye out for kids and stop worrying about chasing the latest marketing craze. Wait, what? This is the perfect time of year to reassess what school your marketing efforts are going to. Are you “Old School,” still utilizing print, convinced social media is just a craze and missing printed catalogs? Or are you “New School,” only marketing to mobile, boiling your message down to 140 characters and laughing at the dinosaurs amongst you? Guess what: it doesn’t matter. Because in the end, what will make any and all of those marketing tactics succeed or fail is what you bring to it – a personal touch. Old School Personal Touches Print Ads – Make sure your advertising isn’t just a product catalog and includes a call to action, such as a dedicated phone number or website. This will be your best way to gauge ROI and allow you to make a personal connection with people who respond to your ad. Catalogs – Be smart with distribution. Don’t just dump them in a distributor's office or on a table at a trade show. Offer them on your website and free upon request. Just make sure you have a plan to follow up and utilize the customer info you get in return. 13934read more >

Making the Most of a Trade Show Visit

The Precision Machined Products Association has a growing membership of machine shops, technical members and others involved in the precision manufacturing sector. One of the more innovative ways they communicate with current and potential members is through a regular insert in the trade publication Production Machining. The insert is a win-win for both the PMPA and the magazine. PMPA gains an additional way to communicate to their membership, and Production Machining gets valuable content. A perfect example? This recent article on the upcoming IMTS show in Chicago. If you’re heading to this show, or any trade show in the near future, this is a great read. The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2018 is set to take over Chicago’s McCormick Place from Sept. 10-15. The pure numbers of the show are pretty staggering, with more than 115,000 people expected to attend from more than 110 countries and more than 2,000 exhibitors with 1.37 million square feet of exhibit space divided into 10 pavilions, four co-located shows and more than 60 conference sessions. So, like any big task, the secret to success at IMTS, or at any trade show, is to create a number of smaller goals and plan, plan, plan, all while leaving enough wiggle room for last-minute opportunities or challenges. Here are some basic guidelines for planning to make the most of any trade show visit. Pre-Show Book Early – Make sure to take advantage of any early bird specials for registration, not only to save money, but also so vendors have an idea of how many people are attending. It’s also best to book travel, transport and hotel as soon as possible. Stay in the Show Hotel – Sure, it may be more expensive, but it will be close to the show, probably have free transportation opportunities and offer lots of…read more >

8 Tips for Making Customer Service a Priority in your Marketing

Think customer service isn’t an integral part of your marketing? Ask yourself the following questions: What part of your company do existing customers deal with the most? Have you ever avoided a business because of a negative remark a friend made? If the answer to both is yes, you’ve just seen how an effective customer service program is also your best marketing strategy.     Need more proof? In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out eight tips for making customer service a priority in your marketing efforts, and as always, it’s geared toward manufacturers, distributors and others in the B2T marketplace. You can sign up to download it for free here. Let us know what challenges you’ve had with customer service and check out our other tip sheets here.read more >

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

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Remember about 10 years ago? The Lord of the Ring movies had raked in awards (and millions of dollars), San Diego ComicCon became something you heard about, E3 became the trade show you wished you got to go to and The Big Bang Theory debuted, soon to become TV’s #1 show. Suddenly “nerd culture” was all the rage. Writers were penning think pieces about how this was the ultimate victory for the kid that got picked on in high school. TV commentators discussed at length how this was a “cultural shift” and heralded a new age.  Add to that the continued dominance of the Marvel superhero movies, and the last decade has definitely belonged to the kid that read comic books at lunch. Well, I predict that the next decade will be the “Age of the Maker and Manufacturer.”   13871read more >

Updated Electrical Market Overview Now Available

Information on electrical market trends, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.   At Sonnhalter we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well. To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the Electrical Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.      Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Electrical Market Overview here: http://www.sonnhalter.com/tradesman-insights/market-overviews/electrical/read more >

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

Help eliminate substandard housing during the month of August by donating extra inventory, demo models, tools and building materials that are no longer needed. CLEVELAND – July 2018 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, is partnering with Habitat for Humanity again for the ninth annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, during the entire month of August. Organizations, businesses and manufacturers are encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as cabinets, sinks, building materials and appliances, to the Sonnhalter Tool Drive between Wednesday, August 1 and Friday, August 31, to benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing. 13815read more >

Getting the Most out of Your Company’s Instagram Account

By Andrew Poulsen, PR Technician In less than 10 years, social media has evolved from a fun distraction to keep in touch with college friends and distant relatives, to an essential tool needed by any brand looking to engage with its customers or maintain relevance amongst its competitors. Regardless of how millennials feel about the Baconator® or Moons Over My Hammy®, brands like Wendy’s and Denny’s are winning over young people more and more every day with their funny and relatable social media presence. While not every company needs to adopt to the latest meme or pop culture phenomenon to have a healthy online presence, social media has opened the door for brands to be transparent and relatable in new and exciting ways. By now, companies from international brands to local muffler shops are utilizing Facebook and Twitter to engage and share company news, updates, sales, etc. But over the past few years, we’ve seen more brands incorporating Instagram into their social media plan. What was once considered a platform exclusive to tech-savvy young people with smartphones, Instagram is now just ubiquitous across all demographics as Facebook and Twitter. And businesses across all industries are starting to take notice. That’s because, if used correctly, the app’s photo and video features allow a new way for brands to give their audience a peek behind the curtain. Here are five ways your company can take advantage of the unique features Instagram has to offer. Give Your Audience Something Different Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all bring something different to table, otherwise we wouldn’t need to be on so many different social media platforms. While this seems obvious, companies often make the mistake of letting their social media content be too similar across all platforms. Instead, companies should reward their audience for following all…read more >

Making the Most of YouTube

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent YouTube has become the prime research tool on the web. With a staggering breadth of content and connected communities for almost every niche, it’s definitely earned a place in your marketing efforts. If you don’t have a video program yet, check out articles here, here and here  on how to incorporate video. In the meantime, if video is already a part of your efforts, here are a few simple guidelines to making the most of the content you post: No Channel is an Island You can’t make your channel a one-sided affair. Make sure you get into as many “networks” as possible by subscribing to other channels, i.e. trade organizations, publications, online reviewers, people already using your products, etc. Engage Frequently Don’t be a passive subscriber. Like videos and comment, even if it’s just “great video.”  The more you put your channel out there, the more likely people are to find it. Forget Who You Are When it comes to video tags and descriptions, think like a potential customer, rather than as a salesperson. Don’t use product numbers or use common terms, instead, put yourself in the shoes of someone just starting a search, with no prior brand loyalty or knowledge of the industry, and then tag accordingly. 13777read more >

PMPA Addresses Skills Gap With Member Outreach

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

6 Ways to Make Sure You’re Using Multimedia Effectively

Multimedia can seem like another of those “marketing buzzwords.” But when it comes right down to it, the key is to effectively use images to tell your product’s or brand’s story, and it can be incredibly successful and easy. In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 6 tips for integrating multimedia into your marketing efforts, and as always, it’s geared toward manufacturers, distributors and others in the B2T marketplace. You can sign up to download it for free here. Let us know what challenges you’ve had with integrating multimedia and check out our other tip sheets here.   SaveSaveread more >

Using the Gender Gap to Close the Skills Gap

As the focus on the skills gap has grown, so have efforts to draw women into these well-paying, career-path jobs. Along with technology and training advancements, so are the opportunities and accessibility to these previously “men only” careers. It’s taken root in elementary schools, where “Girls in STEM” efforts have seen expanded class offerings. No longer is it “Girls in Home Ec, Boys in Shop” as even local media have noted. (https://www.wkyc.com/article/tech/science/girls-in-stem/girls-in-stem-betsy-kling-explores-welding-so-much-more-than-heat-and-metal/95-550149660 ). Manufacturers have taken note too, with Lincoln Electric launching a line of women’s welding gear with Jessie Combs. Increasingly, training centers themselves are targeting women, as this recently developed infographic called "Breaking the Status Quo," from RSI, The Refrigeration School shows: https://www.refrigerationschool.com/wp-content/uploads/women-in-hvac-career-guide.jpg (click image to enlarge)    read more >

Updated HVAC Market Overview Now Available

Information on HVAC market trends, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.    At Sonnhalter we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well. To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the HVAC Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us. Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter HVAC Market Overview here: http://www.sonnhalter.com/tradesman-insights/market-overviews/hvac/ SaveSave SaveSaveread more >

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

Public relations should be a part of any size company’s marketing plan. Effective communication with your current and prospective customers, industry trade publications, electronic media and the general public is not only essential to your company’s success, but a cost effective way to get your brand and products exposure. In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 9 strategies for making sure you’re integrating PR into your marketing efforts and how to re-use the content you produce. You can sign up to download it here. Interested in setting up a PR program? Give us a call or email. And check out our other Tip Sheets here. SaveSaveSaveSaveread more >

Updated Plumbing Market Overview Available

Information on plumbing market trends, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  At Sonnhalter we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well. To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the Plumbing Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us. Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Plumbing Market Overview here: http://www.sonnhalter.com/tradesman-insights/market-overviews/plumbing/ SaveSave SaveSaveread more >

Industry Trade Association Addresses the Skills Gap Issue

Today’s guest blog post comes from Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA). More and more industry trade groups are organizing to address the skills gap, and PMPA has certainly been in the lead of that effort. Just last year they launched MFG, an online one-year certification and job training course for its members that allows companies big and small to have a consistent, accredited training program. Here is the post, which also appeared in Production Machining. Training the Next Generation: The Need for Professional Development Establish a training program that identifies the necessary requirements to be fulfilled. Professional development and staff training are important to the success of every shop. Professional development ensures employees maintain appropriate certifications, knowledge, safety and ethics in the professional environment. The goal of professional development is to have a qualified staff. Qualified employees have the skills needed to deliver the highest quality of service to our customers. This can be accomplished by establishing training programs, workshops and ongoing educational opportunities. This benefits the company as a whole by improving productivity, culture and customer loyalty while helping employees achieve their highest and best performance. Establish a Training Program Establish a training program that identifies the necessary requirements to be fulfilled. Safety training, technical competency and performance techniques are all possible deliverables. By providing this kind of training, the company can feel comfortable knowing they have improved staff knowledge leading to improved performance from their employees. Better performance means improved safety, quality and customer satisfaction. Training improves competency, so it improves performance and trust. Improved trust improves teamwork. Everybody wins. Why would you choose not to establish a training program? Administer the Training Program Identifying training needs is the first step. Administering a program to provide the training, testing that it has been effectively learned, and tracking training…read more >

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

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Hi Sports Blog Fans, time for the annual Sonnhalter Super Bowl, er I mean “Big Game” ad review. As with past years, it’s not on time or really about the ads, but rather the marketing lessons manufacturers can take from all the hoopla. This year, let’s look at the three main types of ads, and the pros and cons of each. 1) The Big Build Up This is the type of ad campaign where there’s a buildup, or teasers dropped across different channels that all build up to a big “event” ad during the game. This year’s best example is the Crocodile Dundee movie campaign that wasn’t. Instead it was all just a build up to a new campaign for Australian Tourism. Pros – Gives your entire message a framework and direction. Sets the tone and content for everything to come for a good long while. Cons – It works if you’re a country or a well-defined brand. If you don’t have a clear, concise message (or lots of beaches that aren’t going anywhere) and the intestinal fortitude to stick with it past the fourth quarter, you’re throwing away money. 2) The Big Splash This is the type of ad that seeks to surprise, jar your expectations, or thumb its nose at traditions. It also only typically works during the game. It’s there to cause a splash and get attention right then and there. For this example, let’s look at what I think was the worst example. For me that would be the Chris Pratt Michelob Ultra commercial. Sure, the setup is kind of funny, the famous actor thinks he’s landed the role of a lifetime in a beer commercial, only to find out he’s an extra. That part is fine, but the second…read more >

Content is All About Repurposing

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Everyone (and especially marketing communications firms) creates an aura that content marketing is some huge, time consuming mystery. But the real secret is that it’s all about having a clear, consistent message and then placing the right part of that message into the right format. To demonstrate that, we’ve created the following infographic that shows how we repurposed the content from a single, 45-minute interview with our client’s product engineer, into numerous pieces of content across multiple platforms, where the messaging received thousands of views. Check out our infographic, “A White Paper Life Cycle.”     How are you repurposing content?   SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSaveread more >

Meet the Craze Halfway

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter  A decade ago, you couldn’t change the channel without finding a new motorcycle build show. Five years ago, it was extreme eating challenges and local legendary greasy spoons. And today it seems like you can’t touch the remote without seeing a show about tiny houses. It seems millennials are rejecting “more is more” McMansions and opting for small, portable and innovative living spaces that reflect their personality. Believe it or not, this could be the best thing that ever happened to the Skills Gap. 13554read more >

Happy Holidays!

The Sonnhalter team will be taking some time off over the holidays. We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and time with your family and friends! We'll see you in the New Year!read more >

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

Guest post from Lisa Murton Beets, Research Director, Content Marketing Institute Are you delivering valuable, relevant, consistent content to your audience? If not, prepare to be ignored. There is just too much information available today, and only so much time in a day for your target audience to consume it. This is especially true for tradesmen, who spend most of their time in the field. That said, you should be delivering valuable content consistently (hopefully, to a subscribed audience via vehicles such as email newsletters), so when your prospect does need a product or service, your company is top of mind. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines content marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 13515read more >

LinkedIn: Not what you think it is

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter LinkedIn gets a bad rap. Some describe it as “Facebook for Job Hunters” or worse. And part of that problem is real. Since its purchase by Microsoft, the platform has struggled with its identity and purpose. Is it a Professional Social meeting place? A job-hunter's paradise? A tally of how “connected” you are? Yes, No, Maybe and... All Of The Above The simple truth is that like any other tool, it’s exactly what you use it for. And with some different thinking, it can probably be a whole lot more than you’re using it for: 13481read more >

Customer Service for Customer Retention & Value

Today we have a guest post from Russ Hill, Founder of Ultimate Lead Systems. I recently lunched with some long-time friends and sales and marketing professionals. The topic turned to the importance of Customer Service in the face of the plethora of CRM and Marketing Automation software available today. The conversation raised more questions than it answered. We agreed on the following definitions for the purpose of the discussion: Customer Service – The interaction with a customer or prospect that traditionally revolves around resolving a problem and producing a positive outcome. This could be in person or via phone or email. CRM – It’s not software but a strategic process designed to cultivate and enhance the relationship with customers. The goal is to maximize retention rates and capitalize on the life-time value of the customer. Something else we agreed upon was that companies seem to be racing to dramatically reduce their costs of engaging customers. Those costs are typically associated with people on payroll, and management too often views automated systems as a means of delivering customer engagement AND customer service at reduced cost. We also agreed that Customer Service is all about NOW and all other engagements are about future opportunities. We’ve all experienced agonizingly long waits in Customer Service phone queues that assure us our “call is important” only to get transferred to a voicemail box that is full and not taking messages. Programs like Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua and Exact Target can help deliver content that may be of value to customers they already know. What about new customer and prospects? Websites without phone numbers that force the customer to do all of the work to find solutions to their own needs do not make it easy for customers to buy or remain customers. How many take their business elsewhere because Customer Service is self-serve or…read more >

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

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter The mainstream media continues to wake up to the skills gap in the trades, as this recent report from CBS Sunday Morning proves. The report was spurred by the lack of skilled tradespeople specifically surrounding hurricane clean up, however it continued to shed light on the issue. A large part of increased recognition is the result of two people featured in the piece: Norm Abram of This Old House and Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. Both, as individuals and as part of their shows, these two have been “fighting the good fight" on the skills gap. Fighting against media bias, educational neglect and pop culture stereotypes of the trades. Make sure to check out the last part of the video though, as the progress Lehigh Career & Technical Institute has made acts as an inspiring end to the continuing story. Want to get involved? Keep reading.read more >

Mapping Your Plan

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter It's that time of year again... the 2017 calendar is looking thin and we've turned our attention to next year. If you haven't already started planning your marketing communications for 2018, now is the time. To have a successful year, it’s important to do more than just set goals. You don’t just jump in the car to go to a new location for the first time, you look at how to get there, how long the trip will take or at least put the destination into your GPS. That’s planning. Planning is crucial no matter the size of the organization or depth of the project. Whether you’re initiating a rebranding campaign or creating a 30-second video, you have to plan. To map out your journey, you need to determine: 12944read more >

Have you considered your brand experience?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter Last year, I wrote a blog about Generation Z being the true digital native generation and urged organizations to look ahead. Perhaps you heeded that urging and have been looking forward, perhaps you're still trying to figure out the whole Millennial thing. By this point in time, the oldest Millennials are approaching 40. We've been working for/with you, buying from you or avoiding you for years now. Most of the business world seems to have made the jump into adapting to Millennial behaviors... even if some were pushed. It's time to move on. There's a whole generation approaching adulthood - Generation Z. Generation Z is the next group that needs to be reached, specifically for attracting them to the trades. They will be your next audience, so it's a good idea to start considering them in your communication efforts. You might be more prepared to handle GenZ than you think you are... 12938read more >

Why Marketing and Sales Need to Work Together

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter For some reason there’s always been a disconnect between sales and marketing, and for the life of me I can’t understand why they can’t play nice. After all isn’t the objective of both is to increase sales? I recently read an article in Duct Tape Marketing, Counseling the Marriage Between Marketing and Sales to Generate Revenue that got me thinking of why they should work together towards the same goal. Most of the journey your contractors take is already over by the time they speak with a salesperson. That’s a tremendous opportunity for marketing to influence the sales process and dovetail together in creating a seamless experience. Here’s an interesting  statistic: 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer talks to sales, according to Gartner. Prospects know more about you than you know about them. Mutual Expectations 12896read more >

Warehouse Your Marketing Too

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter My grandfather always said the best way to learn is to put it into terms you already know. With that being the case, think of your Digital Marketing Assets as products. Now think about how you would warehouse them: Would you just throw products on any shelf, with no system of arranging them? Would you let whoever was in charge of the warehouse set up their own system, and not tell anyone how it was organized? Would you let them also install the lock, and have the only key? Could any employee or contractor take any product they wanted? Would you keep discontinued product on the shelves? Would you let people put the products together in any way they wanted? Would you leave your products outside in the rain and snow while you figured out the right type of warehouse to build? I’m guessing the answer to every one of those questions is a giant NO. 12891read more >

5 ways to engage professional tradesmen using content marketing

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter Content marketing should be a vital part of your strategy to reach and engage contractors and professional tradesmen and move them through the sales funnel. Manufacturers are always focused on leads and will use things like traditional e-books and white papers. Not all activity will result in conversions. We should consider building brand awareness. Here are five tactics to consider: Blog posts.You may already be doing a blog and if you’re not you should consider it. It helps set you up as an industry expert and helps move prospects through the know like and trust phase of the journey. Include a strong call to action that will hopefully engage the reader to go somewhere or do something.  12883read more >

Diversity Initiatives in Electrical Engineering and Contracting Sectors

Today we have a guest blog from Carl Babb of Relectric on the important topic of diversity. Electrical engineering is at the core of industrial growth and energy sustainability in the USA. With the innovative products, designs and concepts, electrical engineers and contractors must keep pace with changes in the profession. Diversity in disciplines like engineering is necessary to address the current and future needs of our nation's economy. Engaging people from all segments of our society in the electrical engineering profession is essential to this fast-paced and growing field. Access to opportunities must be enhanced to help meet industry needs and find solutions to society’s energy challenges. While there has been an increase in the involvement of women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in engineering in recent decades, there is still room for improvement. There are several initiatives by engineering schools and universities, engineering groups and societies, and even many large industries, to increase the diversity in electrical engineering. Like most businesses and companies everywhere, organizations associated with electrical engineering are becoming directly involved in actions targeting bias against underrepresented groups. 12860read 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?” 12847read more >

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter 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 12844read more >

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter 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 12842read 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: 12788read 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 12830read 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... 12817read 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 12797read 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 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. 12785read 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. 12775read more >

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!read more >

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. 12641read 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,”  12635read 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 12621read 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: 12616read 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: 12614read more >

Apple Throws a Rock in the Pond … Be a Ripple

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter 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. 12607read more >

The Skills Gap and the Future of Manufacturing

Join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute and learn about how the current skills gap affects the future of manufacturing and how Sonnhalter and other organizations are getting involved to help. To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there's a B2T marketing topic you'd like us to cover.read 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 12535read 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, 12528read 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. 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 12519read 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 12459read more >

Branding or Branded?

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Pepsi 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? 12441read 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.read more >

Have You Hugged a Plumber Today?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter 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... 12240read 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. 12223read 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: 12218read more >

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.” 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. 12136read 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. 12161read 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. 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,…read more >

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 12155read more >

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: 11981read 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. 12090read 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.  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? 12127read 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. 12124read more >

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. 12095read 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: 12088read more >

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 12075read more >

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. 12049read 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. 12051read 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. 11991read more >

Distributors Gain from Streamlining

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter For their January/February issue, Industrial Supply Magazine asked Spencer Maheu, Director at Osborn Industries what advice he had for industrial distributors in the New Year. His answer? Streamline your product selection to reward end users, your organization and your bottom line. Here’s the article: Streamlining is the Word of 2017 12012read 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: 11983read more >

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. 11997read 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? 11937read 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.  read more >

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.read more >

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? 11944read 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 .read more >

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 11927read 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. 11802read 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: 11865read 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 businessread more >

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.read more >