Are You Using Landing Pages?

No matter what kind of promotion you’re doing, when going after the professional tradesmen, the bottom line is you want them to ask for more info and ultimately make a sale. You can’t do that in an ad (print or digital) by itself. You need those that are interested in whatever it is you’re selling to go somewhere to get more info. Effective landing pages make it clear what the visitor is going to get by visiting the site. A landing page is ideal for a next step in the lead process. A good landing page will target a particular audience using a unique page that allows visitors to download the appropriate content (you wouldn’t have the same offer for say a tradesman and for a design engineer). They also help you track and monitor activity by offers so you know what works and what doesn’t. Landing pages help segment markets, capture leads and make it possible to monitor advertising effectiveness. By directing them to a specific page with an offer and the appropriate form to fill out, it makes it more likely that they will complete the form and convert to a lead. If your visitors decide to download your offer, why not invite them to share your content? Lead nurturing is a very important part of the process. 50% of those who respond aren’t ready to buy just yet. 78% of sales that start with a web inquiry get won by the first company that responds. By sending a follow-up thank you to those that downloaded material, you have the opportunity to offer them additional info and downloads, as well as asking them to share it with others via social media. If you like this post, you might want to read: Are You Using Landing Pages to Help Qualify Leads? Tips on Making Your…read more >

Are You Using Automation Tools to Help in Social Media?

We’re all trying to do more with less. When it comes to social media, it’s no different. We should be focused on content and use automated tools to help spread the word on social platforms. Every industry is different but following are some automation tools you should consider and an infographic on the best times to post. Here’s a list of tools that will help you schedule and post your content at the best time:  SocialOomph – Provides scheduled social posting services for individuals and teams. Has been around since 2008. HootSuite – Allows you to manage up to 50 social media profiles, schedule your content and report your analytics. Sendible – Allows you to efficiently craft tailored posts for each social media platform and collaborate with your clients and teams. AgoraPulse – An easy-to use-social media management software that allows you to drive engagement and build authentic relationships on one platform. Buffer – Helps you manage multiple social media accounts at once and easily schedule content. ManageFlitter – Tools that help to optimize your Twitter account and identify your Twitter accounts’ prime time. Facebook Insights – Provides information about your Facebook audience and how they are interacting with your page. Later – Founded as the first-to-market Instagram scheduler in 2014, Later (formerly Latergramme) has grown from a simple Instagram tool to the number one visual marketing platform for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The following infographic by Zenesys will give you a ballpark of the best and worst times to post on various social media platforms.  read more >

B-to-B Video is on the Rise: Are You Taking Advantage?

Does your company have a presence on YouTube? If not, consider these stats: 2 billion monthly active YouTube users 30 million daily active YouTube users 5 billion videos watched each day 500 hours of new videos are uploaded every minute 500 billion videos shared to date We’re a visual society and everyone loves to watch videos. Of B-to-B companies who are using videos, 80% of them reported positive results. From a manufacturing perspective, this should be a no-brainer. The key is to have a strategy and create compelling content. How-to videos, troubleshooting, new product launches are just a few that come to mind. Some of the biggest challenges many B-to-B firms face are lack of manpower and budgets, followed by creating compelling content. Videos don’t have to be long or be made into a Hollywood production. There are inexpensive cameras (including a recent iPhone) and simple editing software that enable most videos to be created in-house. The key is content. You must provide the viewer something he or she can use. Keep the message clear, to the point and short. Here’s an example of one of our Marketing Minutes:   According to a recent study by Demand Metric, the most important objectives of videos are: Certainly, these top three objectives fit into your marketing strategy. So, what are you doing about capitalizing videos to enhance your marketing efforts? If you like this post, you might want to read: Why Should You Use Short Videos to Attract Professional Tradesmen? 12 Tips for Effective Tradesman Videosread more >

SEO Checklist for 2020

Today we have a guest post from Pete Kever, president of K6 Digital Marketing, who has been leading the SEO, search marketing, website development and digital marketing for its clients. He’s been at it since before Google. The World Wide Web has reached its “thirtysomething” birthday and is the base of the world’s digital information infrastructure. Today, according to websitehostingrating.com, there are over 1.74 billion websites containing many trillions of documents. With so many websites clamoring to deliver information to their target audience, search engine optimization (SEO) is as important as ever. SEO is the art and science of attempting to gain a listing of website content on page one of Google, the world’s most popular search engine. If your content is not on page one, your competitors are getting their messages in front of your potential customers instead of you. SEO helps businesses put their messages in front of people right at the moment they are searching for it. SEO is Important to Every Business Trades marketers and manufacturers need to care about their search engine rank. According to a recent Google study:   71 percent of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search On average, B2B researchers do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site 89 percent of B2B researchers use the internet during the B2B research process Nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials B2B researchers who are not in the C-suite influence purchase decisions 70 percent of B2B buyers and researchers are watching videos throughout their path to purchase While there are a number of marketing strategies and services available to get the attention of online viewers, such as social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing and digital banner ads, SEO still offers the most long-term value. We have developed…read more >

Marketing Minute: Trade Show Pre-Show Activities

We're in the midst of trade show season, and admittedly, trade shows can be overwhelming.  Sonnhalter is here to help. In the first installment of our series of Marketing Minute videos on trade show best practices, Matt Sonnhalter reviews some of the pre-show activities that you can take advantage of to help make your next trade show a success. From reminding your contacts through e-blasts, e-newsletters and social media and sending postcards to the preregistered  attendee list, to leveraging the editorial contacts in attendance, trade shows are great marketing opportunities when properly taken advantage of.   To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here.   Let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover.read more >

Manufacturers: How Are You Getting Closer to Professional Tradesmen?

By John Sonnhalter, Founder, Sonnhalter Beyond the normal marketing tactics you do, what are you doing to get closer to your contractors and LISTEN to what their issues are? May I suggest a tradesmen council? You all have brand advocates out there, why not get them together a few times a year? By doing so, you can get a better sense of what’s happening in their world and what keeps them up at night. It's also an opportunity to run new product ideas by them before putting them into production. If you make the meetings about them and not you, the outcome will be more positive. You know these guys talk to each other either through social media and forums or at trade events. Meetings can be planned around major trade shows or association meetings. You’d simply invite them to come in a day ahead of time for a half-day meeting. I’d also suggest that some of the meetings be held at your location (at your expense) so they get to meet other members of your team. Keep these meetings on track with an agenda that includes issues they want to talk about as well. There also should be action items coming out of each meeting where they can see that you actually did listen and are taking some action. Note that all action items don’t have to have a positive resolution, but the council needs to know that you at least took it under consideration. Other than the ultimate end user, do you sell through independent reps and or distributors? These should be on your radar screen to get closer to as well. Rep and distributor councils can also reap great results. Reps are in the trenches daily and can give you valuable insights not only on the end…read more >

The State of SEO In Industrial Marketing

Today, most industrial marketers understand that their company’s website entails more than a nice-looking, professional site that is informative and responsive. SEO is an important component to generate traffic to your site and shouldn’t be neglected. SEO is a constantly growing and evolving marketing tactic. Industrial marketers must optimize pages for key words and build links, and today, more than ever, make high-quality content available for improving search engine rankings. Search engines are continually changing and upgrading their algorithms, creating almost a mystique about when it comes to the best tactics to employ. GlobalSpec recently set out to find out how industrial marketers feel about SEO. It conducted a survey examining the challenges, spending and content production processes. According to the survey results of industrial marketers: 72% actively produce content for SEO purposes in their organizations 57% do not have any employees dedicated to SEO 45% expect their spending on SEO to increase over the next 12 months 19% are unsure of which SEO strategies work A summary of the results is illustrated by GlobalSpec’s “The State of SEO in Industrial Marketing” infographic. The in-depth survey is available for download here. Want more info about SEO in industrial marketing? Read blog post SEO Checklist or listen to podcast SEO in Manufacturing: 3 Things You Need To Be Doing.read more >

How to Use Content to Reach Contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Founder and Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter We all want to get our message in front of contractors. In order to get more mileage out of your content, you need to tie it to your strategy. We need to help contractors with solutions to their problems, a better technique or tool for the job. A different process that will save time and money. Online training for their workers. We’re all so concerned on getting our message out that we sometimes miss other opportunities to use the same content (message) and deliver it differently. I recently read a post by John Jantsch, 10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content, that brings this into perspective. Contractors get their info in several formats. Have you tried any other ways of delivering your message? Here are some highlights from John’s post: Turn your content into a series of videos that the sales team can send out on an individual basis Do a webinar and feature it on your website Develop an infographic and send it out in an e-blast Testimonials. Locate contractors who are already happy customers to give you testimonials, either written or on video. You don’t need more content – you need the right content in the right context. Want to read more about content for contractors? How To Repurpose Content for Contractors 5 Ways to Engage Professional Tradesmen Using Content Marketing  read more >

Marketing Minute: Trade Show Leads and Inquiries

When you return from a trade show, do you have a plan in place for handling the leads and inquiries that your company received? Join Matt Sonnhalter for the latest Marketing Minute. Learn several helpful strategies for handling all the leads you may have received while attending a trade show. Matt addresses prioritizing leads, following up with the press and evaluating your presence with your team. To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover. https://youtu.be/iUmQ1c-w5gE  read more >

10 Tips for Trade Show Marketing

Trade shows provide incredible opportunities for connecting with customers, developing relationships with the media and generating brand awareness for your company. The key to trade show marketing success is organization, proactive planning and comprehensive follow up.   In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 10 strategies for making sure you’re taking full advantage of all the marketing opportunities associated with trade shows. Follow these tips, and you will be sure to maximize your company's trade show presence. You can sign up to download it here. Need help with your trade show marketing? Give us a call or email. And check out our other Tip Sheets here.read more >

Why Should You Use Social Media in New Business Development?

In the traditional sales model, we identify our prospects and then use several tactics to get in front of them, qualify them and ultimately sell them. But, what about all the other potential users of your product or service that you don’t know about? Yes, some of them may find you through a referral or make their way to your website, but there are many more that may not ever know that you exist. In most cases, especially for manufacturers who are selling more complicated products, there is a sales funnel you need to take prospects through before they are ready to buy. That’s great, but that only works if you’ve identified the potential sale. Think of social media as your silent salesman. It’s out there bird dogging for you and taking a potential customer through some of the initial stages of the selling cycle. Social media is a great way to connect with prospective buyers because they will find you based on what they are searching for (what kind of problem they are looking for a solution for) on the web. It allows you not only to connect, but to start a conversation. It allows them to get a better feeling for the company and how you go about helping people. In other words, you start building the “know, like and trust” model that comes with any sale, especially to new potentials. Social media is a great way to educate prospective buyers because of all the tools you have available: Blogs, Forums, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. All are platforms for you to add value to the conversations by giving them great content, and it starts establishing you as an expert they can count on. Social media is a great way to collaborate with potential buyers because of…read more >

How to Repurpose Content for Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter For those of you who might be looking for ways to generate more awareness and conversations, generating new content may not be your only option. It makes sense to use other social media outlets as a way to get your existing messages out. To achieve higher reader engagement you need to know your audience, their habits and pain points. Different social media outlets reach people differently. So whether you’re looking to repurpose existing data or convert outdated info, consider delivering them in smaller bite size pieces using alternative avenues. Looking for ideas on how to do this? This article in Social Media Examiner, “19 Tools to Create Social Media Content,” shows you ways to repackage existing material and use other social media outlets to get the message out. They outline several ways and give examples of tools to use. Here are some highlights that I think manufacturers could use in reaching the professional tradesman: Present your business via video. Tell your story, not the corporate one, but the one that talks about ways to come up with solutions to help contractors do their jobs better. Use infographics. They are 30 times more likely to be read than pure text. People like visuals and are more likely to share them. Convert long form content into slides. Use existing presentations and break them up into smaller groups. You can use them as PowerPoint presentations or there are programs that will easily allow you to incorporate animation. Use podcasts to share your voice. Podcasts are one of the fastest growing mediums for social media and it comes as no surprise. Interview contractors and talk about the newest technologies. I’m sure you can come up with a multitude of topics to cover.  read more >

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect Are you trying to increase your exposure, traffic and leads? Are you trying to provide insights to contractors and generate leads? If so, social media should be part of your overall marketing program. Social media is a targeted way of getting your message out and letting prospective customers find you. Social media benefits are: Reach – get your message distributed to a broader audience. Influence – both existing contractors as well as new prospects. Conversions – marketing insights lead to engagement that leads to sales. Here are some tips to maximize your social media efforts to the contractor market. Reach – Use several different social media platforms, i.e. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to reach contractors. Make sure what you do share is relevant, as you don’t want to waste contractors time. They want quality content, not quantity. Repurpose existing content that they may not have been aware of. Influence – You may not have to impress your existing customers, but you do for potential customers. Here’s where you have to become a thought leader. Don’t push your company or brand, but communicate a solution to a potential problem. Develop thought leaders within your company (no need for marketing to bear all the responsibility). Tap seasoned customer service reps, your engineering department and sales force. They are the ones on the front lines that deal with problems and arrive at solutions. Conversion – This is a hard metric if you want to tie it directly to sales. In many cases where products are either specified or sold through distribution channels, it’s nearly impossible to track sales results. You can, though, create landing pages with offers for white papers or other items that would help the contractor in their day-to-day operations. Be patient, and as you…read more >

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

By Angela Ruland, Design Engineer   Your website is a lot like your car. For example: Sure, it’s your car. But let’s face it; one of the reasons you bought it, is for what it says to other people about you. »A website is very often your first chance to tell someone who your company is, and it should always be geared towards them and their experience. And sure, you can buy a car from your sister’s brother-in-law’s cousin. But if you want one that’s reliable, safe and not going to break down on you in the middle of a long trip, it’s best to buy from a reputable place. »When you go to build a new website, ALWAYS use a professional web designer, but make sure they fundamentally understand your business and customers. Of course, you can (and should) do some of the regular maintenance yourself, but for the major tune-ups and preventative stuff, it’s best to find a mechanic that knows what they’re doing and how you use the car. »And that’s what we’d like to examine today. Your website should never be something that you set up and take for granted until someone decides it’s time for a revamp. Just like your car, your website is being used daily, for short trips, long trips and in all kinds of traffic. Occasionally it may wind up in a sketchy neighborhood, or have someone try and break in. So, just like you work on your car, or have someone do maintenance, you need to check on your website regularly. Here are a few ways to accomplish that: 14413read 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 >

Getting the Most out of Your Company’s Instagram Account (Part 1)

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 the 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…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 >

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 >

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 >

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 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 >

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 >

Case Studies Should Be Part of Your Content Mix

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, Public Relations Foreman, 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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

Why Interactive Content Matters when Reaching the Professional Tradesman

Interactive content will help you accomplish these goals. Contractors love to watch videos (both instructional and entertaining), they are always available to give you their opinions (polls) and they want to show you how smart they are (quizzes). Now not all your content has to be interactive, but I think you'll find that the content that will get the best play (read and shared) will revolve around interactive content.read more >

Are You Using Brand Advocacy in Reaching Contractors ?

Let’s face it, in an ideal world we’d all want our customers to love us! We all know that’s not going to happen, but I’ll bet you might have more advocates for your brand than you think. Why are brand advocates important? Studies show that people rely on peer recommendations and reviews before purchasing goods. Contractors are no different, especially if you’re introducing a new product or application they haven’t used or seen before. They certainly don’t want to be the first to try something.read more >

Challenges Facing the Industrial Distributor Today

While the economy is their biggest concern,it's one they have little control over it. Truth be know I don't believe the industrial segment of the market ever got back to levels pre-2008. Sales and margins are down(Show me a business that doesn't have similar issues) and that's a natural reaction when sales drop you try to protect existing business and the easiest way of doing that is lowering prices.Distributors can sometimes be their own worst enemies, Sell value not price.read more >

Contractor Email List – Do You Have One?

Let’s face it, we’re all in this for the same reason. To talk with people who share the same interest. We must always be tweaking and improving what we deliver. So in order to get them to give up their email, we better come up with some interesting and helpful stuff that will make them want to read our emails for future gems. It’s not only what you have to say, but how you say it.read more >

8 Tips on How to Connect with Contractors

Building relationships with contractors is no different. It can't be a one-way street when everything you talk about is trying to sell them something. You'd get a lot farther if you were looking out for their best interest and helping them solve problems or do things better so they can make more money.read more >

Contractors: Do You Know How to Connect With Them and Stay Connected?

Manufacturers who focus on contractors and professional tradesmen need to understand who they are and what makes them tick. They need to spend less time selling and more time solving the contractors problems .Contractors buy stories before they buy stuff. If you're trying to establish a long-term relationship, the contractor needs to know, like and trust you first. It's like any friendship; it develops over time and the relationship is mutually beneficial to both sides.read more >

Why Content Marketing Can Work for You

Guest post by Amanda Subler, Public Relations & Media Manager for Content Marketing Institute (CMI) Last year I traveled the U.S and Europe producing a documentary about content marketing for my company Content Marketing Institute. We visited Moline, Illinois the home of John Deere. We traveled to Washington D.C., to visit Marriott’s Global Headquarters. We went to Salt Lake City to visit Blendtec, the home of one of the largest blender manufacturers in the world. (Ever heard of Will it Blend? YouTube videos?) We even flew all the way to Denmark, to see how one of the country’s largest banks is transforming financial television. But one of my favorite trips was to Warsaw, Virginia, where a little fiberglass pool seller used content marketing to not only save their business, but gain international fame and even go from selling to manufacturing their own pools. Marcus Sheridan and his partners at River Pools and Spas were in big trouble when the recession hit in 2008. Suddenly, (no big surprise) no one wanted to buy pools anymore. For three straight months, they were overdrawn on their bank account. As Marcus says, he didn’t know what they were going to do. “Every consultant I talked to told me to close our business.” That’s when Marcus discovered “content marketing.” The first thing he did was write down every single question he and his partners had ever gotten from a prospect or customer. Then they committed to answering every single question in blog format consistently on their website. He even answered the one question every single pool sales person is afraid to answer until they are sitting face-to-face in your living room: How much does a fiberglass pool actually cost? That single blog post has received well over 2 million views. By consistently answering every single…read more >

Banner Ads: Less is More

By Scott Bessell, Idea Builder, Sonnhalter It must have been a “data jockey” who allocated the minimal, odd-ball spaces on websites for what are known as banner ads. Message purveyors have the challenge then to effectively communicate messaging within the confines of 320x50 pixels or the endearing long and thin 120 x 600. It’s as if they (the space allocators) didn’t want ads on the site to begin with! Clearly a necessary evil. Well, hail capitalism! Banner ads are what make the web (afford) to go around! So, the challenge is what do you say and show in such cramped spaces? Looking keenly at what is being done lately, I’ve taken some cues from the retail side of the creative craft. I’ve noticed that, for the most part, when consumer product is being presented they usually offer up only ONE saleable feature. This soap gets you cleaner, this car is faster, this food makes you healthier, this candidate will solve this problem. You get the picture. Serve me up your best. If I’m interested I’ll follow through and get the details. Those examples offer ONE thing they want you to digest and act upon. I am asked too many times to try and get as much information into these tiny limited spaces as possible—even when it’s not possible. If I may, how many times are you drawn to the blabber mouth at a party? Tune them out right? Same thing! As with all other mediums, banner ads must be created with their limits in mind. Whether the ad is static or animated, it’s crucial to minimize content since you’re dealing with minimal space. You may have heard the saying about fitting so many pounds of something into a much smaller capacity container. Gallery images via moat.comread more >

How to Get the Most Accurate Estimate

By Robin Heike, Production Foreman, Sonnhalter Estimates are crucial in planning your budget, they are a statement of the approximate charge for work to be done, submitted by a business firm ready to undertake the work. In order to get a more accurate approximate estimate, you’ll need to provide the following: A detailed list of what the end “product” is expected to be or what you want to accomplish. This lets us know what you want and helps us stay on the same page. Any and all support info at the time of the estimate. It can be difficult to build changes into an estimate, so providing everything you can when the estimate is requested helps you get the most accurate estimate. A timeline that provides for adequate time to complete the work. Estimates are calculations of what time/monies will be needed to fill a blank page. Just like filling this blank page it is not always that easy!read more >

Go Hands-On for Quality Trade Show Interactions

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter One of the most underutilized components implemented by exhibitors at trade shows is the “hands-on” demonstration of their product/solution. Professional tradespeople make their living working with their hands, so it should not be a surprise “hands-on” product demonstrations are a favorite for this audience. Typically trade shows like to talk about the quantitative stats…number of attendees, number of exhibitors and number of speakers. But instead of focusing on the number of people walking up and down the aisles and attending these shows, maybe we should be focusing more on the quality of the interactions between trade show attendees and the exhibitors. One of the more effective quality interactions would be the “hands-on” product demonstrations and skills competitions at trade shows. In general, booths that have some sort of demonstration or activity for their product tend to have more traffic and activity. The first quarter of the year tends to be a busy time for trade shows targeting the professional tradesperson. I recently attended the World of Concrete Show and was amazed at the number of hands-on areas. The parking lots of the Las Vegas Convention Center were packed with manufacturer tents highlighting “hands-on” demos with everything from cutting and drilling, to polishing and breaking up concrete. In another parking lot across from the convention center, there were as many as 4,000 spectators in attendance to watch a number of masonry skills contests, including the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500, SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER, MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge and the MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block. It was amazing to see the passion, enthusiasm and support shown by the attendees watching these tradespeople showcase their skills. All of these areas outside the convention center consistently had more active traffic compared to the normal booths inside the exhibition hall.…read more >

Manufacturers – What is your Biggest Concern?

I guess it would be getting new customers and keeping existing ones. An effective customer experience starts with understanding your customer and then delivering good, meaningful content to them. The more positive the experience, the better the sales or so it would seem. This could be a challenge in today's market where sales have turned from relationship-based to transactional-type sales.read more >

What’s the Future of the Independent Distributor?

I've addressed this issue in the past and as time goes on but I'm afraid the independent distributor may be following the way of the corner hardware store. Distributors need to step it up a notch!Long before Grainger, Fastenal, Home Depot and the thing they call the Internet, the local industrial distributor was the backbone to local manufacturers and businessesread more >

Don’t Miss the Marketing Summit for Building Material Manufacturers

I'll be one of the guest speakers at the Whizard Summit in Boulder, Colorado in April. Mark Mitchell, CEO of Wizard Strategy, has put together a jam-packed 2-day conference for manufacturers of building materials on ways they can address issues with architects, builders and contractors. Here is a taste of what you’ll learn step-by-step in this two-day event packed with insights and strategies you can use immediately to generate sales.read more >

5 Ways to Boost Audience Engagement in the Digital Age

In 2015, it’s anything but a surprise that social media has completely revolutionized how companies, agencies and organizations connect with their audiences. Many companies utilize these services to build transparency, inform customers of new products and to keep their audiences in the loop on any day-to-day updates and promotions. While we’ve all seen organizations curate pages on Facebook and Twitter, here’s a look at some newer ways companies are maximizing visibility and profitability through social media.read more >

Seven Mistakes to Avoid in your Content Strategy

Every construction company with an online presence feels the pressure to create consistent, high-quality content. When done properly, it represents a great way to generate site traffic, build brand awareness and demonstrate your expertise to the world. Every blog post, article and other piece of content you generate is an opportunity to plant seeds that could eventually blossom into a steady stream of viable leads. Are you doing it right? Here are the seven mistakes to avoid in your content strategy.read more >

Think Outside (Your) Box

Ask yourself and a few other people in your organization to name your top-selling product. If anyone answers with a product number, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t think like your catalog or even your current customers. Think like the customer you don’t have yet.read more >

Reaching Professional Tradesman: Why Content Marketing Works When Advertising Might Not

Contractors and professional tradesman often don't have time to read the latest trade publication or look at the magazines' website on a regular basis and might miss your message. Chances are, unless you only make one product, their interest at any given time may be on another product.read more >

Be the Resource

“Content Marketing” has been a buzzword for a few years now, and quite frankly, it can be a confusing term to translate to your everyday marketing strategy. But for manufacturers, it all boils down to one simple sentence: Be a resource.read more >

What is a QR Code?

Quick Response (QR) codes seem to be everywhere. They can be a great tool in mobile marketing if you use them correctly. In the latest video in Sonnhalter's Marketing Minute series, Matt shares some ways to use QR codes effectively to reach a mobile audience.read more >