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 >

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. 11729read 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. 11709read 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 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. 11203read 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. 11168read more >

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.read more >

Make Sure Your B2B Communication is Still Human

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter When 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: 11132read more >

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. 10847read more >

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.read more >

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: 10890read 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. 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. 10852read more >

Social Media: More than an Excuse to Employ a Millennial

By 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 10713read 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: 10571read more >

Run Social Media The Way Your Grandfather Ran His Business

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect How 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? 10439read 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. They 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. 10315read more >

Why You Should Have a Trade/Vocational School Marketing Plan

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter 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. 10410read more >

Managing Price Overrides: 4-Step Process

While common, 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.read more >

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.   10412read more >

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: 10414read 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. 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. 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. 10421read more >

Get Your Message Across in an Ad-Blocked World

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter 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? 10247read more >

Time (and Advertising) Stops for No One

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter 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. 10313read more >

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. 10312read more >

Contractors are the Most Important Customer in Building Materials

Today we have a guest post from Mark Mitchel of Whizard Strategy. Building 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: They aren’t sure how to estimate the project so they can underestimate it and lose money or they can over estimate it and…read more >

Call Reports & Sales People…the Reality!

OK, let’s get real about sales people for a minute. Sales people want to make sales calls. They want to 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.read more >

6 CRM Best Practices

Today we have a guest post from Russ Hill, Founder and CEO of Ultimate Lead Systems. With a couple of decades of experience helping companies with their B2B sales lead management and CRM programs, 6 Best Practices have revealed themselves that I would like to share. I’ve witnessed companies succeed and increase sales by diligently applying these practices. I’ve also seen organizations waste thousands of marketing dollars and lose thousands of dollars in sales opportunities by ignoring these practices. If you are serious about improving your sales and marketing ROI, these practices will lead you to some big wins. 1. Get your sales and marketing teams on the same page First of all, Sales and Marketing need to re-think how they fundamentally interact. They frequently operate in their own “silos.” They need to learn how to support each other to release their inherent synergy to increase sales. Customers are rarely ready to sign a purchase order when reps first call. And reps are usually not present when the purchasing decision is made. Thus, today’s marketing programs need to nurture buyers throughout their buying process and notify the rep when a buyer is ready to engage. Marketers must send the right messages out at the right time that appeal to all of the buying influences. And the sales person must make multiple calls on the right people to further cultivate the relationship. It is a team selling approach. Everyone has a role and responsibility. Industry research shows that buyers are 60% into their buying process before they engage your company or sales person, so it’s crucial to have sales and marketing working together. 10106read more >

It’s Tool Drive Time!

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect at Sonnhalter It's August! At Sonnhalter, August means Tool Drive! We've just kicked off the Seventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive which benefits the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. If you don't already know, Habitat for Humanity does great work for communities, helping improve the lives of individuals and their communities. We've been doing this Tool Drive since 2010 and each year the generosity of our clients, partners, community and friends is absolutely overwhelming. Last year, we were able to collect more than $35,000 worth of donations, which brought the total we've collected since our efforts began back in 2010 to more than $176,000. Hosting an annual tool drive just made sense for us since we work with companies who make products for tradesmen. Everything donated is put to use either building homes or sold at a ReStore location. Everything sold at Habitat's ReStores supports building and rehabilitating homes for people who need them. Be a part of this year's Tool Drive! To find out how to get involved, visit visit Sonnhalter.com/tooldrive or contact me at rkerstetter@sonnhalter.com or 216.242.0420 ext 130.read more >