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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

What’s your Unique Selling Proposition to the Professional Tradesman?

I recently read an article by Mark Buckshon from Construction Marketing Ideas where he was talking about how contractors need to identify what makes them different from all the rest .It got me to thinking about farther up the food chain ( manufacturers) and how they all have hard time differentiating themselves.How many times have you heard the following:read 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 >

How Many Calls Does it Take to Make a Sale?

Why do many businesses have a problem following up with their prospective customers? Mr. Frey explained, “The problem is not that small businesses don’t have the capacity to follow up with prospects, it’s that they don’t have the systems in place to do it well.” In his recent newsletter, “Follow-Up Marketing: How To Win More Sales With Less Effort,” Mr. Frey advised, “A good follow-up marketing system should have three attributes:read more >

Emails are in for 2016

A recent study by email on acid reported that email marketing is going to remain a top priority for companies in 2016. Though we could have predicted this was the case, nearly three out of four companies (71.8 percent) say they are planning to spend more time on email production and more than four out of five (86.7 percent) report that they will increase email marketing budgets this year.read 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 >

Professional Tradesman Email Contacts: The Holy Grail of B-to-B Marketing

As manufacturers we all know how important keeping in contact with our customers is. Email is one of the easiest and most effective way to do that and unfortunately for those of you who sell through a distribution process it's hard to get the ultimate end users name no less try to start a relationship with themread more >

Top Posts of 2015

We've closed the books on 2015 and 2016 is already off to a great start. If you haven't already, now is a great time to evaluate what worked well and what didn't work for you in 2015 to calibrate your 2016 efforts.read more >

2016 Budgets: How Much are you Going to Spend on Social and Mobile Marketing?

Now that it's time for budgeting for next year the question is where are you going to allocate your dollars? There's always more opportunities than there is money to fund them.Social media- have you tried some efforts in it this past year? What were the results? What were managements expectations? Mobile marketing- Has this been on your radar screen? do you have plans to be mobile friendly in 2016? 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 >

B-to-B Marketers: Why it takes more than three calls to make a sale

We’re all focused on generating more leads these days, but I find it ironic that most companies don’t do much with them once they get them. Simply fulfilling a request is not the answer, but yet many companies do just that. According to a survey of people who have requested info suggests that 80% of all sales are made on or after the third contact.read more >

5 Ways Construction Design Will Change Within the Next 50 Years

Today, we have a guest blog from Jessica Kane of Federal Steel Supply, Inc., discussing some of the new innovations expected to shape the future of the construction industry. New angles are being used for the advancement of construction design that will most likely be widespread within the next 50 years. Designers and architects are implementing new trends that could very well be profitable in building spaces for new offices and living establishments. Here are just a few: One Stop Design One trend that is already in play is the single design model. A common practice in planning is having an architect create construction documents. They are then handed over to the contractors to be edited and executed. This entire process is now shifting to be done all in one place to save time and money. So, all the outlining, engineering and construction plans are set and submitted to be built directly afterward. Sustainable and Efficient Solutions Being energy efficient is a constant concern in construction. So when new buildings are going up, construction around the world has established new ideas on how to conserve. New facades have been used to produce energy through a solar collection and to provide a natural cooling system. For instance, a designer in Melbourne, Australia, has developed a system which includes an outer layer of a side of a building that contains solar panels that shift to collect energy from the sun and provides optimal shading. Another useful technique that has become a sustainable solution in providing energy is the innovation of utilizing the shade of building faces,  as seen in Hamburg, Germany. A residential establishment has microalgae installed within glass panels that collects solar energy and creates heat through the process of photosynthesis. The panels can also be shifted in order to provide natural…read more >

Automate and ProMat: One Badge, Two Shows

I had the opportunity to attend Automate and ProMat in Chicago on behalf of two Sonnhalter clients (one at each show). A single badge got attendees and exhibitors into both shows, and the combined efforts of the automation and materials handling groups provided for a great event that included keynote presentations from Renee Niemi (director of Android and Chrome Global Business, Google for Work), John Mackey (co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods) and Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple, founder, chairman and CEO of Wheels of Zeus).read more >

Are you Using Mobile to Share Your Content with Tradesman and Contractors?

What I find especially interesting is mobile is last on the list and social media is second. Do they think contractors are checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts during the work day to see what kind of info a manufacturer is promoting that day? I wonder if those content marketers really understand how and what might be useful to a contractor on a job site.read more >

Online Video Training Can Make Contractors Be More Productive

From a manufacturing point of view, it's in your best interest to train contractors on the best way to install your product. It eliminates call backs and helps contractors sell more of your stuff. No surprise there, but with sales forces that are stretched thin, now they can only do so much training. Where do they focus their efforts - on the distributor's sales force or on the end user?read more >

What Will our B-to-B Marketing Responsibilities Look Like in 2 Years?

Marketing's role over the last decade has been pretty simple. Focus on your brand and identify new potential sales. Granted, there have been several new tools and processes introduced to help us identify, track and communicate with potential new customers. But the ultimate end game was to differentiate your brand and help identify and create good leads for sales to follow-up on.read more >

Do you have a B-to-B Video Strategy?

Videos can be a powerful tool for any manufacturer, but they need to be done right. You need to have a video strategy before doing your first one. Don't do them because your competitor is. Do them because what you have to say is relevant, timely and well done. Yes, people would like to be entertained a bit, but what they're really looking for in our space is a solution to a problem. read more >

Manufacturers: How’s your 2014 shaping up?

If you listen to the media, we all should be fat, dumb and happy since business is just rolling in and we can't handle it. I know housing starts are at an all time high since 2008, road and bridge contracts are now being released, automotive production in this country is setting records and most industrial indicators for manufacturing are on an upward trend.read more >

B-to-B Marketing: Is There Room for Humor?

Everyone knows that B-to-B marketing is serious stuff. Maybe sometimes too serious! We need to write white papers and do microsites that talk about all the features and benefits. All good and necessary stuff, but is it memorable to a prospect looking at your brand? Now I agree that not all things may be appropriate for a humorous take, but most are and there are plenty of companies reaching out and taking the leap.read more >

Are You Having Success With the Likes of Amazon Supply?

It's been two years now that Amazon decided to get into the industrial space and compete with the traditional brick and mortar stores. Google shopping even jumped in for a while (though they recently discontinued their pilot program). I've written a few posts over the last couple of years asking you, the manufacturer, if you've jumped on the band wagon. For those that have, I'd be interested in what kind of results (sales) that you're getting from this channel? read more >

B-to-B Marketers: Are You Utilizing SlideShare?

When we think of utilizing social media in the marketing mix, SlideShare is probably the most overlooked and underutilized tool. There are over 60 million unique visitors a month to SlideShare sites with over 215 million page views. Users are not only looking for good content, but also shared insights and SlideShare give you a platform for both. Plus, you get the added bonus of using the other social media tools to promote your Power Points. read more >

Big Data, Mobile and Social Media Dominate the Conversations at the 2014 BMA Global Conference

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect I recently attended the Business Marketing Association (BMA) global conference which was held in Chicago May 28-30, 2014. The largest B2B marketing conference in the world, BMA14 was attended by a record 950 B2B marketers from 450 firms, 33 states and 12 nations. The 2014 BMA conference also deployed two digital platforms—Livecube and ISEBOX—to enable speakers to take polls and attendees to ask questions, follow tweets, share photos and access conference content. If you are in charge of planning live events/conferences, I would suggest checking out these two resources. The 3-day conference was jam packed with content – featuring 79 speakers and presenters leading 41 sessions—three pre-conference programs, nine panels, 12 keynotes and 17 firestarters. These sessions covered a wide array of topics and trends of critical interest and importance to B2B marketers today. Someone at the conference referenced the amount of information presented was like drinking from a fire hydrant! Here are a few themes I saw throughout the entire conference: Big Data It’s becoming more and more difficult for marketers in today’s environment and I thought one illustration that did a great job of representing our challenge was the Marketing Technology Landscape graphic by ChiefMartec.com. We are surrounded by data, but starved for insights; that is, data does not automatically equal insight. Today’s marketers need to solve both analytical and creative issues as we continue to trend toward extreme personalization…segments of one. Mobile Since mobile devices are the predominant way people globally access the web and information, mobile is a critical factor when planning future marketing efforts. Here are a few stats from the conference that help reinforce the importance of mobile: Mobile data usage doubled in 2013 In the US, 1 of every 5 minutes spent on mobile are on either Facebook…read more >

2014 Report on B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing in North America

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs recently released their fourth annual report on the content marketing practices of business-to-business (B2B) marketers working in the manufacturing industry. In this report you’ll find answers to questions such as: What percentage of manufacturing marketers have adopted content marketing? What tactics are they using? How does their approach to content marketing differ from that taken by other B2B marketers? This report also looks at how manufacturing marketers approach content marketing when compared with a wider group of B2B North American marketers representing a range of industry segments. Here are some key highlights from this most recent study on manufacturing marketers and their content marketing efforts: 86% have adopted content marketing Only 30% say they are effective at content marketing Use the same number of tactics (13) as other B2B marketers 81% use YouTube to distribute content and rate it as the most effective social media platform Cite different goals for content marketing when compared with other B2B marketers Top challenges faced for their content marketing programs: 1. Lack of time, 2. Producing the kind of content that engages and 3. Producing enough content 46% plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months Click here to read more details and download the full report.read more >

Manufacturers: HVACR Contractors Are Changing The Ways They Interact With You

Progressive contractors, I believe, are changing the way they are interacting with their manufacturers. When I ran across this research recently, it verified in my mind that it holds true. HVACRBusiness recently released a new research study, "HVACR Contractors: Trends in the Adoption of Products/Systems & Management Approaches," that highlights new trends on their involvement with manufacturers.read more >

Is it Time for a Marketing Check-up?

As we start planning for 2014 ask yourself this question: When was the last time you took a hard look at where your marketing budget is going? B-to-B budgets, while on the mend from the last few years, are not growing at the same rate as the tasks we are being asked to do. We all are creatures of habit and tend to go and support things that we've used in the past and have been successful. read more >

Do You Have a Mobile App? Are You Promoting It?

I think everyone realizes by now that mobile is the fastest growing segment of the business. While the biggest impact is on the retail markets, B-to-B usage continues to grow. So should you have an app? The answer to that is, will your app give value and help your targeted user with practical things? If yes, then you'd better get rolling.read more >

Content Marketing: Have a Strategy and Be Relevant

Today we have a guest blog post from Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman at Sonnhalter, discussing content marketing. Content marketing should be part of all B2B [and B2T] business’s overall marketing strategy. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous week of learning and motivation when I attended the 2013 Content Marketing World Summit at the Cleveland Convention Center.read more >

B-to-B Lead Generation: Let’s Not Forget the Basics

B-to B marketers are always trying to identify more/better qualified leads. Does it surprise anyone that social media ranked very low in this category? The traditional methods of telemarketing, event marketing, webinars, trade shows, email marketing and yes, even direct mail pull better results according to a Survey from InsideSales.com.read more >

Why Videos are Such an Important Way to Reach the Professional Tradesman

If you're not utilizing this tool to reach the contractor and professional tradesman, you're missing a great opportunity. Some recent studies show that videos are on the rise in the B-to-B world. B-to-B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budget and Trends North America found that video had the largest increase of any market content in 2012. read more >

Manufacturers: Are You Missing an Opportunity to Build Better Relationships With Your Distributors?

Most of the manufacturers we deal with sell through various distribution channels. The relationships range from true partnerships to a necessary evil. Most manufacturers have missed an opportunity to build relationships by not utilizing an old technique called a distributor council. We recently did a survey to a group of manufacturers who sell through distribution and 85% of them haven't used this marketing tool. read more >

Market Overview: Industrial/MRO Market

Sonnhalter is deeply involved with the professional tradesman. We recently completed an overview of the Industrial/MRO market. The purpose of the document is to give the reader a quick snapshot of the industry, its players and trends for 2013.read more >

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Trade Association Meetings?

Most associations are stuck doing things the way they have for years. I wonder if it's because they're afraid of change or don't know how or why to try something different. Two models that I think work well are the National Association of Electrical Distributors(NAED) and the Industrial Supply Association (ISA). They both have tried different things that seem to be working. read more >

AmazonSupply – How Has it Affected Your Business in the Industrial, Construction Markets?

With an 800 lb. gorilla like Amazon, once they come into your playground, things will certainly have to change. Big online giants are not new to this market. We're used to the Grainger, McMaster Carr and MSC's of the world. The difference in my mind is that while price is important to them, they are selling more of a convenience. The Amazon model is a bit different and price points are more critical. AmazonSupply has been up and running for about a year now. I wrote a post last summer and asked how they might be influencing your business. Back then it might have been too early to tell. (I sure would like your input now.) I assume many manufacturers are using them as another outlet for their products. The trends are indicating that the traditional distribution models are declining. I recently read an article by Scott Benfield in Industrial Supply, Trials and Tribulations of Sales Growth in an AmazonSupply World that outlined the difference and suggested ways traditional distribution can effectively deal with them. According to Scott, it comes down to the way traditional distribution goes to market. He calls it the bundle approach (full service) as opposed to a transactional model with a much lower cost base. He also recommends strategies moving forward for the "new normal." In my mind, I'd hate to see the traditional distribution model go away. There's lots of value in their expertise, but if they are not willing to change, then the future might be dim for some of them. Manufacturers, what are your thoughts on the different distribution models and where is your sales staff spending their time and efforts? Better yet, what can Associations like ISA do to help their members?read more >