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 >

Are you Trying to Sell or Connect Emotionally with Contractors?

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

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

Many manufacturers treat their distributors equally. They offer everyone the same discounts, the same promotions, and the same training programs. However—not all distributors work equally hard for your business.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 >

3 Tips on Maintaining Good Relationships with Contractors

Contractors, for the most part, are loyal folks as long as your product delivers on its promises and you don’t treat them like dirt. Bottom line is, if you treat them right, they’ll be customers for life.read more >

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

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

Improve Your Communication with Calls to Action

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

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

Social media has been around long enough that by now you should have an idea of whether or not it's working for you. Is it? Do you really know? Do you really care?read more >

Sustainable Pricing Starts with Your Sales Force

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

Content Marketing Helps Drive Business Results

I think we all can agree that content marketing is playing a vital role in everyone's overall marketing plan. Everyone wants lead generation and engagement, and to get both, you have to give them good content.read more >

Another Reason to Use Emails to Reach Contractors: Acquisition and Retention

B to B trends tend to follow retail ones and here's one more. I've been a big proponent of using emails as the best way to reach the professional contractors and tradesman and here are further reasons to consider this tactic.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 >

SlideShare is Probably the Most Overlooked Social Media Tool to Reach Contractors

Close to 70 million visitors a month, five times more traffic from business owners than Twitter,Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn,Why should you consider using it? Contractors like visuals and are wanting to learn more of how or why to do things a certain way.read more >

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

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.read more >

Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Working Together to Reach the Professional Tradesman?

It may be time to reflect on ways we can do better moving forward to better identify ways to reach contractors and professional tradesman . I have found one of the biggest issues and one of the easiest ones to correct is communications between sales and marketing.read more >

Anyone Can Write a Press Release

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter Given the appropriate details, anyone can write a press release, however, not everyone should write a press release. Too often when companies try to DIY their press releases rather than have a public relations professional write it, their message gets lost. Here are the most common mistakes that we see with DIY press releases: It isn’t actually news. If you’re going to ask for the media’s attention, you need to actually give them something, that something is news. If you inundate an editor with press releases that don’t contain news, you’ll do more to damage the relationship than build it. It isn’t written in a useable format. Press releases need to be written in AP Style; it makes them incredibly simple for the media to use. It’s a sales pitch. Sales pitches are not press releases. It puts the important information last. When was the last time you actually read to the end of an article? It assumes the reader knows anything about you upfront. A press release came across my desk once that was announcing a new tool and relied so heavily on the tool’s brand name, it never actually told me what the tool is used for. Press releases are a valuable public relations program basic that when done well can earn you media coverage and help build relationships. Don’t assume that just anyone can write a release well. Press releases have changed over time, here's a quick look at the Modern Press Release. https://youtu.be/rW9rISgnt5Uread more >

5 tips on how to write effective email subject lines

I receive many marketing tip email newsletters, and recently received The Industrial Marketer, a newsletter from ThomasNet rpm.read 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 >

Manufacturers: Have you Considered a Contractor Council?

May I suggest a contractor council? You all have brand advocates out there, why not get them together a few times a year and get a better sense of what’s happening in their world and what keeps them up at night. You could even pass by new product ideas before putting them into production. If you make the meetings about them and not you, the outcome will be more positive.read more >

Stats on U.S. Manufacturing

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect The Fourth of July is more than fireworks, parades, cookouts and a day off. It’s a day that we recognize our country’s independence. All of the red, white and blue that comes out for Independence Day brings the topic of "Made in the USA" to mind. Did you know... Every $1 spent in manufacturing contributes $1.40 to the economy? This is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. The majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S. are small? Only 1.4% of firms in the manufacturing sector have more than 500 employees. Manufacturing supports 18.4 million U.S. jobs? That's about 1 in 6 private-sector jobs. In 2014, the average manufacturing employee made $79,533? That's more than $15,000 above the national average for all industries. Over the past 25 years, U.S.-manufactured goods exports more than quadrupled? 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. If you're also thinking about U.S. Manufacturing today, check out these other posts on the topic: What does “Made in America” mean to you? Made in America: It Still Matters! Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!read more >

Creativity is the Key

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter It took creativity to start your business, and it takes creativity to keep it running every day. So why not apply that same creativity to the greatest challenge facing the manufacturing industry: the lack of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen? The time to act is now. Waiting for someone else to plug the hole simply won’t work. Schools’ budgets are squeezed too tight. Government agencies are interested in quick fixes, not long-term solutions. You need to find the next generation of workers. You have two huge advantages: as a manufacturer you’re used to seeing a problem from all angles and creating a solution. And your jobs are actually cool. They allow people looking for a challenge to use their minds and hands together to build something. So how do you reach future workers? Show off what you do! Take this example from Birmingham Georgia. A normal company would just see this as another contract. Another job. But BL Harbert saw an opportunity. The Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum is one of the most innovative museums in the world. Why not use it as a draw to show how their skills and abilities help make it that way? Partnering with Go Build Alabama, they arranged for 120 students to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of its museum expansion. Now, we can’t all be working on projects at cool museums, but believe me, much of what you do looks really cool to an outsider, especially when placed into the larger context of what it’s helping to create. I wish I could have seen a CNC machine in action when I was 16 or even a welder or PEX pipe. When you see what a little creativity can do to make the world a better place, or just to improve on…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 >

6 Ways to Make Your Marketing to Contractors More Effective

Today we have so many options to reach our targeted audiences. While I’m a proponent of trying new things, we must not lose sight of who we’re trying to reach. More importantly, we need to identify the preferred way they like to be communicated with.read more >

Why Manufacturers Should Personalize Content for Professional Tradesmen

While there are plenty of reasons to use automated technology to manage leads through the sales funnel there comes a point when personalized content needs to be used to reach contractors and professional tradesmen. read more >

5 Key Metrics for Measuring Trade Shows

Most of you participate in various trade shows from time to time. If you do, you know that they can be very expensive and management is always looking for a ROI. That’s why it’s important for sales and marketing to work together to make sure they get the best bang for the buck.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 >

Why Content Marketing May Work Better Than Traditional Advertising in Reaching Contractors

Contractors and professional tradesmen 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 >

Do You Have a Company LinkedIn Page? You should.

LinkedIn is a business platform and although it's set up for individuals, companies can and should have a company page. It allows your company to have a snapshot of who you are and helps you connect with your audiences.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 >

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 >

Climbing the Steel Ladder: It’s Never Been a Better Time for Women to Enter the Trades

Today we have a guest post from Kathy Jackson on behalf of the Tulsa Welding School. It’s never been a better time to crash that glass ceiling. Increasing numbers of women are climbing the steel ladder to a successful career in the skilled trades. While many of these jobs have traditionally been viewed as mostly male oriented, employers seeking welders, construction workers, and electrical technicians have been reaching out to women. Industry Growth Jobs in many skilled trades will likely be plentiful in the coming years thanks to growth in these industries. For example, jobs for electricians are expected to increase by 14 percent through 2024. The HVAC field is also expected to expand by 14 percent, notes the below data from Tulsa Welding School. Higher Earning Potential Women who wish to switch from female-dominated fields may find their earnings significantly higher: the average annual wage in childcare is $21,710 versus an average of $40,040 for welders. Or administrative assistants average $34,500 versus HVAC technicians, who average $46,880. Faster, Less Expensive Training Women looking to enter these fields won’t need a four-year university degree either. Most jobs only require a high school diploma and training at an accredited trade school, many of which can have graduates up and running in less than a year. Additionally, the savings in tuition will add up. The difference between a trade school and a four-year degree can be as much as $94,000, and university tuition will likely not be getting any more affordable in the near future. Plus, the Department of Labor announced $1.9 million total in grants as a part of the Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations program. If you’re a woman looking to climb that steel ladder even further, you can work towards positions in management and engineering in the HVAC…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 >

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 >

Custom E-blasts…Direct Messages…touch the people you want to reach

Many of our clients use the custom e-blast, or direct message tactic, to deliver their message to their prospective customers. The definition of an e-blast (email blast) is a single sending of an electronic message to many people. The best type is the custom, targeted or direct e-blast sent to an opt-in list that you specify.read more >

Are you Considered a “Trusted Authority” in Contractors’ Minds?

We all want to be recognized as leaders in our respective fields, and in today's world, the current mantra is to be that "Trusted Authority." To be a recognized leader in your field is not an overnight sensation. It takes time and you need to deliver more than bells and whistles.read more >

How to Use Content to Reach Contractors

We need to help them 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.read more >

E-Commerce: Why is the Independent Distributor Missing a Great Opportunity?

I see that Industrial Distribution magazine is doing a webinar on this very subject on May 18th; you may want to sign up for it or suggest some of your independent distributors who are still lagging behind get in the game. Jon Eames from NH Bragg and Jack Templin from Affiliated Distributors will be contributors. 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 >

What Are You Doing to Keep Contractors Coming Back?

The biggest challenge manufacturers face today is the ability to keep contractors interested and engaged in their brands. It's much easier to keep an existing contractor than going out and trying to convert a new one.read more >

Are you ready for the true digital natives?

The Millennial generation has been a hot topic for managers and marketers for many years now; in fact you used to call us Generation Y. Not everyone agrees on the exact years for each generation, but it’s generally accepted that Millennials are those born between 1980 and sometime between 1998 and 2000. 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/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 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…read more >

Wanted: A Harvard for Skilled Jobs

Today, we have a guest post from Jeff Selingo, author of "There Is Life After College," which comes out on April 12th. Nearly 40 percent of American workers hold a bachelor’s degree. College graduates are found in virtually every profession. Some 15 percent of mail carriers have a four-year credential, as do one in five clerical and sales workers, as well as, 83,000 bartenders. Getting a bachelor’s degree is what going to college means to most Americans and is so ingrained in our culture that students who don’t march along are often admonished, questioned  and considered failures. The decades-long march to college-for-everyone at 18 has actually closed off rather than opened up options for teenagers and twentysomethings. As recently as the 1970s, a teenager had a number of options after graduating from high school: get a good-paying job right away, enlist in the military, find an apprenticeship in a trade or go to college. A teenager today really has only two of those options still available: the military or college. Less than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military, so most go to college right after high school. In the early 1970s, less than half of high school graduates in the United States went on to college the following fall. Today, nearly 66 percent do. The goal of universal college has actually done more harm than good because it banished anything that smacks of job training to second-class status. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not encouraging 18-year-olds to skip out on further education after high school. But not everyone is ready for a traditional American college experience at 18, nor does it align with the interests, skills, and mindsets of some teenagers. We need more than just one pathway to good jobs in the U.S. What we need is…read more >

Learn My Name!

There’s a woman that I know from a local professional organization. We’ve been “formally” introduced multiple times. After the first time we met, I knew her name, her face, we traded cards and connected on LinkedIn.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 >

Super Bowl 50 Commercial Review

It's not late, I promise. Yes, I know the Super Bowl was well over a month ago. So what’s the point of reviewing the commercials now? Well that’s pretty much my point.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 >

How to Help Your Sales Team Quote with Clear Guidelines

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Does this sound familiar? A new customer promised they would place a $30,000 order, but only at an average price per unit of $0.16. The sales rep ran the requested price through their internal process, and because $0.16 was above the required 20 percent margin, the sales rep approved the discount. End of consideration. But here’s where the story gets interesting. After looking at the average price points for the top 20 customers of this product, the pricing manager determined that significantly bigger customers – with purchase volumes in excess of $100,000 – were paying $0.18 to $0.22 per unit on average. In fact, the third largest customer, at $468,000 in volume, was paying a $0.22 average sale price. What was the justification for the lower price for the smaller customer – other than the fact that the customer simply asked for it? For many companies, pricing decisions are largely made in a vacuum, without regard to pricing data, market circumstances, product value or customer differentiation. The situation is usually exacerbated by a compensation structure that rewards revenue and volume over margins and profitability. The solution, therefore, typically requires a completely new mindset for the sales team and organization—one focused on margins over top-line revenue. It All Begins with Pricing Data Visibility The beauty of the role of data in pricing decisions is that it lends an important clarity to difficult choices. A sales rep is naturally inclined to want to make the customer happy. But if you are armed with the right data, you can not only rationalize why a price discount might be a poor decision, you can also provide informed alternatives the sales rep can present to the customer – providing an opportunity for the sales rep to save face, the…read more >

If Your Company Could Speak, What Would It Say?

Today, we have a guest post from Jeff Guritza on the importance of brand identity. The market wants to know: who are you and what does your business stand for? Said differently, what is your brand promise, and how is your business perceived in the marketplace?read more >

Over 21,000 Industry Recognized Skill Credentials Issued by NIMS in 2015

By Miles Free of PMPA. This post originally appeared on pmpaspeakingofprecision.com and is reposted with permission. 21,420 to be exact. This is a 20% increase in the number of credentials issued in the United States from 2014. It is a great start toward the 100,000 skilled jobs that industry will need to fill over the next decade… PMPA is an original founding partner of NIMS, and continues to support its mission to develop and certify industry recognized credentials for our workforce through consensus skill standards. NIMS has developed skills standards ranging from entry-level to master-level that cover the breadth of metalworking operations and industrial technology maintenance. NIMS certifies individuals’ skills against these national standards via credentials that companies can use to recruit, hire, place, and promote individual workers. Schools and employer training programs incorporate the credentials as performance and completion measures to deliver high quality training to industry standards. NIMS will soon add credentials in Industrial Technology Maintenance and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) to its portfolio of offerings in 2016-2017. NIMS works to ensure all individuals entering the workforce are equipped with the skills needed to be successful on the job from day one. “Executives from PMPA member shops all tell us that they would hire people with skills -even if they did not have an immediate opening,”  says Bernie Nagle, Executive Director of PMPA. “Our support of NIMS, and the RIGHT SKILLS NOW program is one way that PMPA and our members are addressing the issue of lack of skilled workforce. We congratulate NIMS, and their entire team, on the growth in credentials issued in 2015.” PMPA congratulates NIMS, all of its partner and sponsoring organizations, and the professionals doing the work that made 2015 a record year for credentials issued. This record is evidence of both the commitment  and achievement of developing a competitive workforce through…read more >

Want to Drive Traffic to Your Booth at a Trade Show?

Digital Display Advertising is one way to drive traffic to your booth at a trade show. Depending on the size and location of the trade show you’re exhibiting at, the venue may offer this option. A client of ours recently took advantage of this opportunity at the Las Vegas Convention Center.read more >

Passion Isn’t the Problem

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter I recently listened to a report on NPR about how big companies are analyzing their social media followers to make sure they’re “passionate” enough. It’s not enough for these brands anymore to just rack up followers; they need to re-tweet, blog and be engaged enough to matter. In manufacturing, the opposite could very easily be said. There’s no shortage of passion, but social media numbers and avenues continue to be a struggle. Passion side of the argument, the case is easy to make. There simply aren’t people more passionate about their work than skilled craftsmen. It’s part of what makes that jump from simply doing a job, to doing a job right so distinct. And look at the time and effort the average tradesman puts into sharing knowledge with others and the next generation, it’s unmatched in any other field. Lastly, look at the brand loyalty and rivalries that do exist in our industry. The passion generated by Ford/Chevy, Lincoln/Miller, Deere/Case IH, Snap-On/Mac/Matco and a hundred other make Coke/Pepsi look like a kindergarten sandbox dispute. So how can you use that passion to improve your social media numbers? Be on the Right Channel – Facebook can allow for a more direct line of access, but it can also be demographically wrong. Twitter allows for quick hits of info, but requires more monitoring. LinkedIn is great for professional development, but has a structure that takes some getting used to. You don’t need to have all your eggs in one basket, but you should prioritize your message and messaging. It’s Not All Rah Rah – If you’re only going on social media to talk about the latest products and re-post press releases, stop now. Be a source for more than just self-promotion. Know What Your Audience…read more >

Most Effective Ways to Reach the Right B-to-B Decision Makers

We're all looking for the best, most effective way to get in front of our prospects. According to a recent survey by eMarketer.com conferences, trade shows and webinars are the three best venues to do that.read more >

Doing the Right Thing, and Not Patting Ourselves on the Back

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter As human beings, and companies made up of human beings, sometimes it’s important to do the right thing and not talk about it. This may be a little strange coming from a PR person, but there’s a point where the “R” in “PR” (remember PR= Performance then Recognition) goes away and we simply need to perform like human beings. A good communicator recognizes that point and smart companies rely on the counsel of good communicators. In the wake of crisis situations such as natural disasters or community safety crisis like what we’re seeing with Flint Michigan, we simply need to do the right thing and not seek praise for being human and helpful. By stepping up but not shouting out, we do the right thing, no one questions our motives and the real heroes get the credit. For example in Flint, the plumbers who spent a weekend installing new faucets and water filters for residences for free deserve the credit. The organizations who donated the supplies and food for their efforts aren’t pounding their own drum and saying, “look at us, we did something good.” No, they’re working together with their competitors to directly help people who need it. If your organization’s values are in the right place and your actions align with them, there’s no need to pat yourself on the back.read more >

B-to-B Email Marketing – Still the Best for ROI

I keep harping on building your own internal customer database. One of the reasons is that if you're selling online, that list could be gold for you. 90% of the marketers surveyed by Accenture and the Blackstone Group said email marketing was what they used to promote their commerce activities.read more >

Communicating Price Increases to Your Customers Without Losing Business

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Recently, INSIGHT2PROFIT worked with a manufacturer that had not executed a price increase in nearly three years. There had been individual negotiations, but overall, pricing had remained relatively flat. While the company was a market leader, it was ignoring the pricing lever for profitability. Our team worked with theirs to determine a plan for strategic price increases, as well as a process for conditioning customers to expect those increases. Here are the steps we took, which you can utilize to ensure your own success in communicating price increases to your customers without losing business. Step 1: Start Addressing the Issue Informally First You know sales is all about building relationships, so leverage yours. Instead of waiting for a letter to be sent to everybody, which does not make anyone feel like a priority, start reaching out. Whether it is over the phone or over lunch, start the conversation: “I wanted to let you know we are looking at a pricing initiative to better reflect the value our organization is providing.” The more you can do to ensure your customers are not surprised with a price increase, the more successful you will be. Taking that a step further, developing a cadence for price increases can help guarantee pricing excellence: Communicating with your customers to an extent that they expect a price increase every year or six months (or whatever period fits your business model), the conversation shifts from “why are you raising prices?” to “what is the price increase?” Step 2: Create Supporting Documentation Given that it had been several years before the organization’s sales team had gone before a customer and said, "We’re going to raise our prices," INSIGHT2PROFIT helped to build an extensive communication package. It covered a draft of the letter that would…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 >

Why Story Telling is So Important When Dealing with Contractors

I recently read a post by John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing, People buy stories before they buy stuff, that reminded me how true that statement was, especially when talking with contractors.read more >

Seven Things to Do with a Database of U.S. Vocational Education Programs

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter We did the legwork to identify more than 20,000 vocational programs at schools all across the United States, so that you don’t have to. All you have to do is download it. But once you’ve downloaded the Excel spreadsheet, what can you do with it? Here are seven different ways you can use our database: Build your network. Locate the programs in your area, and connect with the folks that run them. You never know when having a connection in those training programs could be beneficial. Become a resource for them. Whether it’s offering to send someone from your organization to speak to a class or volunteering to host a facility tour, the next generation of tradespeople won’t be able to be trained properly without support from the industry. Hire their students. Use the programs in your area as places to recruit skilled employees, co-ops, interns or apprentices. Supply them. If you offer a product or service that’s of use in a training program, supply these programs either through donations of your products or heavily discounted equipment, students will be more likely to use the equipment they're familiar with from school once they get into the workforce. This grassroots strategy has long-term benefits; an ongoing relationship with a vo-ed program will provide exposure for you for each new class. Learn them. Get to know the next generation better. Millennials as a generation seem to frighten marketers and managers, but there’s no reason to be scared. Millennials are bright, technologically inclined and learn quickly; the sooner you engage with this young talent, the better. Get your distributors involved. Your distribution network can amplify your efforts to combat the skills gap. They can reach into areas far from your headquarters and help train the next generation.…read more >

What is the State of the Manufacturing Economy?

By Miles Free of PMPA. This post originally appears on pmpaspeakingofprecision.com and is reposted with permission. Today our growth is limited by our inability to acquire skilled workers. In the last recession, we were held back by lack of demand for our customer’s end products. Today, we cannot find the skilled people that we require to operate new high tech equipment that is needed to make the high precision parts we produce.  Our shops are tackling this issue in a number of ways. Some are setting up internal training programs, some apprenticeships.  Several of our member companies are creating on-site schools to teach skills needed. As an industry we helped to create, and are supporting initiatives like Right Skills Now. Right Skills Now uses National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentials to create the skilled workforce that manufacturers require to remain competitive in today’s global markets. Claim: The President had this to say about employment and manufacturing: “More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ’90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters. We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.” Response: We haven’t won this one yet. “…there has been a gain of 878,000 jobs since February 2010. But Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the number of manufacturing jobs is still 230,000 fewer than…in the depths of the recession — and 1.4 million fewer than when the recession began in December 2007. Indeed, the United States only gained 30,000 manufacturing jobs in…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 >

Don’t Get Lazy

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter Sonnhalter has used several services for a very long time… as in decades. I’m not sure how we started working with these services, but  I had to assume there was a reason. However when I took over the contracts with these services, no one seemed eager to provide the most important service of all… customer service. Coming into my new role, I wanted to understand our various contracts so I reached out to the most recent person assigned to us. No answer. I reached out to the company referencing our account number. No answer. I attended a conference and visited the service provider’s table, and immediately got attention because they thought I was a new customer. The sales person apologized up and down and said our rep would be in contact with me. He was able to look up answers to some of my questions. More than a week after the conference, I had no contact. When it comes to your customers, it’s crucial not to become lazy. Don’t expect your relationship to maintain itself just because you’ve been with them for years. Don’t focus all of your time and attention trying to win new business that you forget your current business. As I learned in Marketing 101 in college, it’s cheaper to maintain an existing customer relationship than to build a new one. When you ignore, forget or don’t serve your current customers the way that you should, you are in danger of losing them. At the conference I met with several competing service providers who would be happy to have me as a customer, what makes our current providers think we’ll stick with them if there’s someone else who isn’t lazy? In your personal life, if you were to call your mechanic…read more >

Social Media As a Profit Center

Today, we have guest post from Jeff Guritza, a marketing professional in the power tools accessories industry, on the incorporation of social media in a company's business plan. We’ve all heard the term “social media,” and you may have even been afraid to ask, “What the heck is that?!” Regardless of your awareness level, you shouldn’t be asking yourself if your business should be engaged in social media. You should be asking yourself how. Practically overnight, social media has become a cultural phenomenon. Simply stated, social media is defined as people going online to find, read or share content that interests them. Commonly used platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not just a personal platform that millennials use during their free time. Increasingly, people of all ages and nationalities jump online 24/7 for practically everything: researching gift ideas, sharing photos, reviewing products or getting directions Social media is not a fad that will fade in time. Like your morning cup of coffee, it’s here to stay. Social media transcends personal opinions, pastimes and hobbies. Its vast influence is felt in industries both large and small, near and far. Baby Boomers are embracing social media in droves, looking to communicate with grandkids and reconnect with friends. Whether you like it, people right now are vetting your business based upon content they find about you online. To help guide you, here’s three smart steps to follow when looking to jumpstart your company’s social media engagement. 1. Social Media Lite: First, realize in this day and age you absolutely must have a social media presence. At a bare minimum, your company should set up accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. To do so, find your most tech- savvy associate and have him or her get online with…read more >

Are Your Sales and Marketing Departments on the Same Page?

As we start 2016, it may be time to reflect on ways can do better moving forward. I have found one of the biggest issues and one of the easiest ones to correct is communications between sales and marketing. Here's a post I did last year that might give you some starting points.read more >

Mobile Marketing Continues to Grow in Workplace

According to a recent post in eMarketer.com, mobile is continuing to grow in the workplace. In 2014, the average non voice time U.S. adults spent on mobile devices surpassed that of desktops and laptops for the first time.read more >

Managing Pricing Exceptions in Sales: Employing the 80/20 Rule

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com It’s a common knee-jerk reaction for salespeople to focus on increasing volume by offering discounts on every sale – even if it means sacrificing margins. One way to mitigate the risk of excessive discounting is to establish a pricing system that balances volume incentives with well-defined boundaries that sales staff must operate within. Ideally, in an effective pricing system, the framework should provide guidance for as many as 80 percent of sales. This guidance should consider a comprehensive range of factors, including the type and size of the customer, the market and the nature of the opportunity. The direction should be clear and unequivocal, providing sales staff with “guardrails” that establish minimum and maximum prices or margins. Sales staff can bounce between these guardrails as appropriate, but they should not be allowed to go above or below the established boundaries. For the other 20 percent of sales, be prepared to manage the pricing exceptions. For these outliers, the framework allows pricing managers to enter the conversation and work with the sales staff and perhaps even the financial team to develop a strategic price appropriate for a specific situation. By limiting exceptions to no more than 20 percent of the time, you’ll be able to equalize the competing interests of volume versus margin far better than a one-size-fits-all pricing system. Sales staff will still have the flexibility to manage the majority of sales on their own, allowing them to meet the needs of specific customers as well as their own particular quota goals. But the boundaries you set will prevent those individual goals from overriding your company’s high-level goals. Every business is different, so the 80/20 framework that’s right for your organization will depend on the type of selling you do. If your business is list-price driven, your…read 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 >

Email Opens on Mobile Increasing: Are You Participating?

Desktop opens are still more than mobile, but the trend is closing the gap according to a recent post in emarketer.com. Mobile click-through rates for U.S. marketing emails sent by Yesmail clients in the later part of 2015 were up close to 14%.read more >

How to Define “PR” in 2016

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter Sometimes I get scared that others in the industry don’t know what PR actually is or stands for. The textbook definition of PR is simply put as Public Relations, the way that you communicate (relate) with your audiences (publics). For 2016, I challenge you to think of PR differently than ever before. Banish words like “spin” or “promote” and instead think about PR as Performance, then Recognition. Meaning, your organization needs to perform, do something, before seeking recognition or media coverage. The articles that practitioners like myself get for your company is called earned media, the “earned” part is very important. PR Pros can help you identify recognition-worthy aspects of your company, but we can’t create it for you out of thin air. As you go about your business this year think about the cool things your company does, such as launching a product, breaking a world record or being the first to provide a service that adds value, and recognize that these are opportunities to communicate with your audiences. PR is more than just getting headlines, it’s telling the stories of your company. Make 2016 a year of action stories for your public relations team to tell. Doing this will help you build your organization’s credibility in 2016.read more >

Happy Holidays!

We’ll be taking some time off and will be back after the first of the year. Enjoy the Holidays with your Family.read more >

4 Ways manufacturers Can Gain Better Pricing Data Visualization

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Pricing data can be dense. If no one is reviewing it, managing it, comparing it or scrutinizing it, it’s likely your organization is missing price leaks you could otherwise put a stop to. From volume discounts to price overrides, profits are lost and margins are cut, but do you know by how much? Can you identify your true pocket price for your top selling products? If not, you may have a data visualization problem. But like any problem, a solution exists, you just have to seek it out. Here are four ways to gain better visualization into your organization’s pricing data. 1. Establish Pricing Ownership: In most manufacturing businesses, pricing is a responsibility divided amongst marketing, sales, finance, product teams and other executives. But whose job is it to see the big picture? If you can’t validate hiring a pricing manager, you can develop a Pricing Ownership Matrix. In a decentralized customer environment where no pricing leader is appointed, you can define pricing area ownership. Consider catalog and list pricing, discounting, key accounts, geography and business divisions. Then ensure these “area owners” meet often to talk about the big picture of pricing. 2. Search Out Discounting Visibility: Do you know how many discounts your sales team is offering? How about your customer service team? From freight and volume discounts to rebates and “long-time customer” pricing, the hits to your margins add up. Obtaining clear visibility to your discounting structure through a Pricing Waterfall is a powerful way to determine pricing leaks and non-value added discounts. Discover how to determine your true pocket price in the this 1-minute video. 3. Determine Product Value: Your organization deserves to be paid for the value it creates. But do you know which products create the most value for your company? Most…read more >

What’s Making Your Work Day Less Productive?

We're all being pulled in too many directions at our jobs, and just when you think you've got your life under control, something else pops up to distract you.read more >

Why Building an Internal Database is so Important

I know we all know “CONTENT IS KING” and we focus on putting out good stuff. But we should be just as focused on building the list to whom we’ll be sending all this valuable info. There are so many sources for gathering data from trade shows, PR and leads from advertising.read more >

Why B2B Content Marketing is Different than B2C

I think we're all in agreement that Content Marketing is here to stay and is becoming a more integral part of overall marketing programs. Some of the reasons are that technology is broader, easier to use and more accessible. People are trying to do more in less time and are motivated to seek self-serve product information to reduce pre-purchase decisions.read more >

Industrial Reinvention

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Fabtech Expo wrapped up another great show last month in Chicago. Presented by AWS, CCAI, FMA, SME and PMA, it truly lives up to its billing as the largest metal-forming, welding and finishing event in North America. There are many great wrap ups of this show, including Fabtech’s own, but I want to share a few personal observations: Chicago is a great host city for any show, but especially this one, given its rich history of amazing architecture, manufacturing and Midwest hospitality There was an HUGE number of students and educators there, great news for the future of our industry In the North Hall, the “Big 3” welding companies each had impressive and expansive booths, each playing to their strengths, and full of new products In fact, new products ruled the day in both halls. We truly are on the verge of a 4th industrial revolution. Every booth seemed to burst with new, and most importantly, integrated products, system and solutions. The buzz on the floor and in the seminars was that to survive and thrive, manufacturing needs to embrace new technology. The common perception used to be that manufacturing wasn’t an “early adopter” and that the old ways were best. But the smart companies are now realizing that the two are not mutually exclusive. Look at products like WeldRevolution, where a little-out-of-the-box thinking has led to significant gains in productivity and quality. There are a hundred more examples from any given aisle, but the message was clear: the manufacturing floor of the future will put productivity first, and results will be seen in real-time, in the palm of your hand. Make plans to attend the 2016 Fabtech in Las Vegas, it’s sure to dazzle.read more >
Load