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 >

The Modern Press Release

Join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute and learn about the modern press release and how key elements make it a strong, effective communication tool.read more >

What type of Content Works Better in each Sales Funnel Stage?

One of our biggest challenges is to make sure we have the right message for buyers as they go through the buying process. Another challenge is to deliver it in a way that they want to receive it.read more >

Happy Thanksgiving!

As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, we’d like to say thanks to the many friends and clients we’ve had the good fortune to come in contact with over the years. We’re all 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. We take a lot of things for granted sometimes – our Families and Friends. Enjoy the weekend. We can get back to the rat race next week.read more >

Content Marketing: More is Not Necessarily Better

Your potential audience doesn't want quantity, they want quality. So if you're trying to generate more content quicker just for the sake of having it, don't waste your time. You need to accelerate demand, not noise.read more >

3 Pricing Adjustments Manufacturers & Distributors Should Make Now

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Years ago, an Ohio-based specialty metal business made the decision not to charge for freight costs, even though their products were extremely heavy. The rationale? None of their competitors were charging, so they couldn’t either. In reality, this company was  No. 1 in the industry, so all those competitors were actually just following their lead. When the company realized what was going on, it had the opportunity to change the policy for its entire industry. And so it did—collecting more than $1 million in additional revenues. Smart companies know pricing strategy isn’t just about the price on the invoice. To have an immediate impact on your bottom line without formally raising prices, here are three areas to tackle first. 1. Freight Costs If you’ve been operating for decades, your freight policies have probably been in place just as long. Maybe you don’t charge for freight at all, or fees are the same across all territories—or you charge the same as you did 50 years ago even though shipping rates have risen dramatically. To start, ask yourself: When was the last time our freight terms were updated? What is our justification for our freight policy? What are our competitors doing in this space? This line of questioning can help internal stakeholders determine if there’s opportunity for improvement without much effort, as the aforementioned specialty metal business discovered. 2. Rush Orders When you place an order on Amazon.com and you want 2-day shipping, you understand you’ll have to pay premium pricing—in this case, $99 for a year of Amazon Prime. Your customers realize this, too. Yet many manufacturers and distributors don’t charge extra for rush orders. If your lead time is two weeks, but your buyer needs his order in three days, are you charging extra? In order to get that order…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 >

10 Reasons to Incorporate a Consistent Press Release Program in Your Marketing Plan

The press release is possibly the most basic element of public relations and is still the most effective method of getting your organization’s news out. However, the concept of consistency is often overlooked when considering press releases.read more >

Are You Using Videos to Connect with the Professional Tradesman?

Short videos are ideal for social media and for you to gain reach and shares. But in order to take full advantage of video, you need to have a strategy. Don't make a video for the sake of a video. Make it a part of a bigger picture. Are they for branding or product focused? A series of how-to videos or instructional ones. read more >

Is Print Dead?

We've been hearing for years that print is "dead" and digital media reigns. However for B2T, print is still and important medium.read more >

Are You Winning at Customer Service?

So what does all this mean to the Manufacturing sector? Well the bar isn't raised too high and we certainly don't have to reinvent the wheel. read more >

Are Industrial Distributors Missing Opportunities by Not Participating in E-commerce?

I've said in the past that for smaller industrial distributors to survive they need to use the internet. They can't count on the business model of contractors coming in at 7 in the morning or around lunch time to pick up what they need. Time is money, especially for them.read more >

Eliminate the Silo and Become a Change Agent

Today we have a guest blog post from Jeff Naymik, Marketing Director at Nook Industries. This post originally appeared on Nook's blog Making Motion Work and is reposted with permission. Read the original blog here. We live in a world of instant communication and yet, we are sometimes not good communicators. Poor communication is usually the root problem for creating silos in many technology-driven companies. Development secrets are usually held tightly and limited to only those in the organization who “need to know.” When you start limiting the flow of information in your organization, divides begin among associates, departments and divisions. Many mature brands struggle with the problem of departmental silos, while some start-ups introduce products at lightning speed. How can this happen? The reason is communication is their lifeline to survival and success. Look around your organization for signs of silos. You’ll find: Special projects in every department no one has heard of. Too few meetings to inform senior staff of progress. Poor communication from the top illustrating how your efforts fit into the big plan. Many companies recognize this problem but most don’t know how to address it. The senior staff needs to appoint a cross-functional team of people committed to change, “Change Agents” if you will. With the backing of the senior staff, this team has the authority to break down barriers of communication throughout the organization. A process needs to be put in place and everyone needs to take ownership. Change will come through the commitment of proven leaders in the organization as they drive the change process.read more >

5 Ways to Boost Audience Engagement in the Digital Age

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

Comprehensive List of Nation’s Vocational Education Programs now Available

One issue that concerns all of us who are selling to the professional tradesman is that there is and will be a shortage of qualified tradesman in the future as the 50 plus segment of the market is on the verge of retirement.read more >

Seven Mistakes to Avoid in your Content Strategy

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

Think Outside (Your) Box

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

Does Your Lead Nurturing Deliver Strong Results?

Over 50% of U.S. B-to-B marketers said nurturing programs outperformed their counterparts from 10-30%. These leads outperformed others in moving through the sales funnel, and respondents reported a 10-30% increase in sales opportunities.read more >

Does Your Company Have the Patience for Content Marketing?

We live in a society that expects immediate gratification. This spills over into our business lives, and companies expect an immediate ROI on almost everything today - Content Marketing is no exception.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 >

How to Get More out of your B-to-B Strategies to Reach the Professional Tradesman

When developing content manufacturers may be concentrating on the wrong types making the results less that desirable. Many focus on product brochures and slide presentations as they are easily available. read more >

5 Best Practices for Testimonials

I have found that there’s no better way to position yourself as a credible source than by having a third party sing your praises. Most companies, if pleased with what you did or supplied, would be happy to not only give you a recommendation, but in some cases, a testimonial.read more >

Online News and the Press Release

I’ve been reading the book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator,” by Ryan Holiday at the recommendation of a colleague. It’s full of interesting, and damning, tidbits of information about today’s online publishing world.read more >

Be the Resource

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

What is a QR Code?

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

Is Your Company Giving Back?

Being socially responsibility goes beyond individuals. Companies, no matter what size, should support communities where they draw its workforce from. read more >

Tips on How to Build an Effective Landing Page to Reach Contractors

Landing pages are a great way to both monitor and capture information. The key to successful landing pages are to focus on the one message that got them to that page and deliver.read more >

Which Works Better for Reaching Contractors – E-blasts or Direct Mail?

I have this running conversation with clients about which is better, a traditional direct mail program or an e-blast. It’s a tough question to answer and I’m not too sure there is only one answer.read more >

12 Tips for Contractor Testimonials

Testimonials are one of the best ways to validate your products/services, especially if it's from a contractor. Don't be afraid to ask as most are more than willing to participate. Once you get them make sure to repurpose them in several areas.read more >

Fresh Ideas for Staffing Your Hard-to-Fill Skilled Trade Jobs

Today, we have a guest blog from Area Temps on new ways to staff hard-to-fill positions in the skilled trade industry. The job market is tight, and you have several unfilled openings for hard-to-find candidates, causing your company to lose production unless you pay overtime to your current staff. 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 >

4 Tips for B2B Social Media Success

It’s no secret that social media has become the major player in marketing, but with all the hype, there are still companies not ready to step up to the plate. In the beginning, business-to-consumer companies were reaping all the benefits of social media. Consumers were attracted to the informality of engaging with their favorite brands one on one. However, recently business-to-business companies have started to pay attention to the benefits of using social media.read more >

Interview with Habitat for Humanity ReStore Manager, Kevin Kelly

Right now we’re in the middle of our annual Tool Drive supporting the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. Since our efforts started in 2010, we’ve found amazing support from our clients, partners, friends and community members. We talked with Kevin Kelly with the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore location to find out more about him, Habitat for Humanity and their Restores. Here’s the conversation: Q. What is your position at Habitat for Humanity? A. Store Manager at our new Eastside location (4601 Northfield Rd, North Randall). Q. What is the Habitat for Humanity Restore? A. Habitat for Humanity Restores are non-profit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used appliances, furniture, building materials and house ware items. We sell to the public at a lower cost than retail. Q. How long have you been with Habitat for Humanity? A. More than three years. I first started as a volunteer for Habitat. Q. What are your responsibilities at the Eastside Restore? A. I manage all aspects of the store including personnel, donations, pricing and sales. Q. Most memorable moment working for Habitat for Humanity? A. The most memorable moment was  a home dedication. Actually seeing a family get their home for the first time that I helped build. Also working with the many volunteers and companies. Q. What's the most unusual donation you've receives? A. The most unusual donation was an X-ray of someone’s broken leg. Q. Most common donations? A. The most common donations are household items, appliances, furniture, knickknacks and  building materials. Q. What’s on the Restore donation wish list? A. Anything and everything. Q. What’s best about working for Habitat for Humanity? A. Being able to affect the community in a positive manner. Q. The Sonnhalter tagline is “Not Afraid to Get Our Hands Dirty." What is your favorite…read more >

Why use Video as Part of your Marketing Mix to Reach the Professional Tradesman

Although there's no specific research for the B-to-B sector, I think it would be safe to assume that B-to-B folks like to watch them as well. By using testimonials and showing how a product is used, videos also help move prospects through the sales process.read more >

Save the Date! Oct 2 is National Manufacturing Day

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect at Sonnhalter National Manufacturing Day, or MFG Day, is October 2nd, which may feel like a long way off from right now, but you should start planning today. If you’re a manufacturer, you should plan an event. Not sure what type of an event to plan? There are a variety of options for hosting an event, ranging from full day tours and sessions to half day learning seminars, or even 1-hour presentations. If you’re not a manufacturer, you should attend an event. You can find Manufacturing Day events in your area using this interactive map. If you’re planning to host an event for MFG Day in October, here are a few tips to make it successful: Set goals for your event. Do you want to improve your company’s image in the community? Do you need to recruit new talent? Do you want to contribute to changing the image of manufacturing? Figure out what you want to accomplish with your event and then create your plan. Identify your target audience(s). Based on the needs of your organization, some potential audiences to invite include local technical school and high school administration, faculty and students; local and regional politicians; local and trade media; family and friends of your employees and/or the local community as a whole. Put together a simple agenda. Include time to introduce your company and tailor your event to the audience that you’re inviting. Plan informative and interactive activities. Facility tours, brief presentations on different roles and Q&A sessions are easy to arrange and are effective. Promote your event. Be sure to list your event with mfgday.com, use your network to promote, and personally invite your target audience and promote your event through your existing channels including on your website and social media. Not available on…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 >

8 Practical Uses for Livestreaming

Periscope, Meerkat, Hangouts, YouTube Live, etc. are all names that are appearing more and more in social media marketing news. Many in the B2T (and B2B) space may not even be familiar with those names, or have heard them and wonder what they are.read more >

5 Tips for Ordering Promotional Items

By Robin Heike, Production Foreman at Sonnhalter Promotional items can serve a variety of purposes such as adding the “rattle factor” to a direct mail marketing campaign or being a keepsake to commemorate an award. From sourcing small items such as logoed sunglasses, to larger items like commemorative beer steins, here are a few tips to keep in mind next time you need to order a promotional item: Get quotes from 3-4 sources. Not only does this help you find the best price, but it gives you extra options if the first supplier or product falls through. Get a sample, even if you have to pay for it, prior to ordering. This will ensure you found the right source for the right item. No one wants to trash an order of 100, 1,000 or 10,000 promo items that arrive and are not what you expected. Get custom packaging if you’re shipping out a promotional mailing with breakables. No one wants to receive a broken item. Build in time for damaged or lost shipments. If possible, order extras. This is very important if you’re ordering from an overseas location. Probably the most important tip: Give yourself as much extra time as possible to account for any delays.read more >

Why a Blog Can Help in Generating New Business

Your Blog is a repository of helpful content that can effectively attract a large number of prospective customers. Here are 5 simple steps and suggestions to improve your company’s blog as a major tool for fueling new business leads: read more >

Manufacturers: Are you Looking to Build your Social Media Presence? Use LinkedIn.

The 2015 Social media industry report from Social Media Examiner said 88% of B to B companies use LinkedIn and 41% cite it was their most important platform.read more >

Are You Using Landing Pages to Help Qualify Leads?

Hopefully, as part of your strategy to move prospects along the selling cycle, you are using landing pages in order to deliver on what you promised. It’s also a great way to track responses and gather contact info. It could also be a way of losing a potential customer.read more >

San Diego

San Diego Insider's Guide Welcome to San Diego— also known as America’s Finest City! Here you’ll find the finest weather...the finest beaches...and the finest whatever else you’re looking for. We asked some of our San Diego friends for their recommendations on where to sample some of the local cuisine—and not just the Mexican dishes you’d expect in a border town. Here, there’s everything from steakhouses to seafood places to the best Asian food this side of the Pacific.   We put together a list of those secret locales that only the locals know about. After all, at Sonnhalter, we not only like to get our hands dirty...we like to get them sticky and salty too! When you’re not convening at the Convention Center, make sure you get out and about to see the city’s many sights—from the old mission to the historic Gaslamp Quarter. See why they call San Diego America’s Finest City!  read more >

San Antonio

San Antonio Insiders Guide The city of San Antoni—Remember the Alamo! But don’t forget about everything else there is to see and do in San Antonio. The old mission/fortress in the center of town is the most visited site in Texas, but it’s not the only destination here. From the towering Tower of the Americas to the city’s famed River Walk, you’ll find plenty of entertainment options in tony San Antone.   For the upcoming trade show, we’ve put together the Sonnhalter Insider’s Guide to San Antonio. It’s our way of helping you cut through the clutter to find the city’s best restaurants, shows and sights. We asked some of our friends in the Lone Star state for their recommendations on the best places to sample some of the city’s cuisine—and not just its delicioso Tex-Mex. We wanted those secret locales that only the locals know about. Because at Sonnhalter, we not only like to get our hands dirty...we also like to get them greasy. So, when you’re not convening at the convention center during the show, make sure you get out and get a real taste of San Antonio.  read more >

Phoenix

Phoenix Insider's Guide The city of Phoenix—cultural center of the Valley of the Sun and well known for its “dry” heat. Incorporated as a city in 1881 when a few chuck wagons could still be found, today, food has taken a more permanent role. Phoenix has plenty to offer in terms of great restaurants—none of which are on wheels anymore. So, where does one begin? That’s where the Sonnhalter Insider’s Guide to Phoenix comes in. It’s our way of helping you find the city’s best restaurants, nightlife, the sights and of course, places to cool off.   We asked some of our Phoenix friends for their recommendations on the best places to sample some of the local cuisine—and not just the rattlesnake steak. We wanted those secret locales that only the locals know about. Because at Sonnhalter, we not only like to get our hands dirty...we like to get them greasy! When you’re not convening at the convention center, make sure you have a little fun in the Valley of the Sun.  read more >

New York City

New York City Insider's Guide Welcome to New York, New York (the city so nice they named it twice). Here in the Big Apple, you’ll find the biggest and best of everything. The catch is, there’s so much of everything, where do you start? Well, your friends at Sonnhalter are here to help. We’ve put together this Insider’s Guide to New York. We’ve cut through the clutter to let you know about where to go for a night on the town in the city that never sleeps.   We asked some of our Gotham friends for their recommendations on places native New Yorkers prefer. Those secret locales where the locals like to hang. Here, you’ll find everything from fine dining to fine deli. You see, at Sonnhalter, we not only like to get our hands dirty...we like to get them good and greasy too! You’ve made it here. So make sure you get out and enjoy the sights and sounds of Uptown, Downtown, all around the town. See why more than 50 million people visit New York, New York every year!  read more >

San Francisco

San Francisco Insider's Guide Welcome to San Francisco—the City by the Bay! S.F.O., cable cars, hilly streets and beautiful vistas—a great place to live— an even greater place to live it up. To help you find some of the city’s finest in dining and entertainment, we’ve put this guide together and cut through the clutter to let you know about the best places to eat, drink and then eat some more.   We asked our Bay Area friends for their recommendations on where to sample the local cuisine. The result is a list of those secret locales only the locals know about. After all, at Sonnhalter, we not only like to get our hands dirty...we like to get them gooey too! When you’re not busy with business, be sure to head up—or down—the street to sample some of the many hangouts and hideaways. And make it a point to check out the famous landmarks, but most of all, enjoy...there’s no place like San Francisco!  read more >

Manufacturers: Are you Using Marketing Automation Tools?

We all know nurturing improves lead quality and moves them through the famous sales funnel. The problem is, most sales funnels aren't simple straight lines.read more >

Manufacturers: Are you Keeping up with Your Customers’ Expectations?

Are we living up to our customers expectations? As consumers, we know that through the improvements in technology that most of us want fast, cost-effective and personalized levels of experience. And most are getting it but at what cost?read more >

What is a creative brief?

Do you use a creative brief to guide your marketing plan? In the most recent Marketing Minute video from Sonnhalter, Matt explains what this useful marketing tool is and the 11 elements that Sonnhalter's creative briefs include. To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here.read more >

Customer Service: How Are You Handling Unhappy People?

Customer service departments are usually the place where traditional issues are handled. But when it comes to social media, most don't know how to find complaints and have a process of responding in a timely manner.read more >

Is Trust Part of Your Long-Term Marketing Strategy?

In today's world, trust is a more important marketing asset than the product or service you're trying to sell. Think about that for a minute. Would you buy something off of someone you don't trust? Chances are, the answer is no.read more >

Do you Participate in LinkedIn Groups? Why not?

LinkedIn certainly is the most popular social site for professionals with over 347 million people participating. Certainly there must be someone in that mix you'd like to talk to. It's a great resource for product and industry knowledge, especially if you identify, join and participate in groups that share your same interests.read more >

Why Distribution Needs to Charge for Their Expertise

Distributors in general are their own worst enemies when it comes to the value they bring to the table and charging customers for it. As their customers are asking for more and are willing to pay less, the distributor's margins are being reduced and they don't know how to change the momentum.read more >

How Many Ways Are You Using Content to Reach Tradesmen?

We all want to get our message in front of contractors. In order to get more out of your content, you need to tie it to your strategy.read more >

Do Less, But Do It Better

I don't know why folks think that more is better. Better than what? Why do you have to focus on the latest and greatest new thing that comes out? From a marketing perspective, I think we'd be better off if we focus on some key initiatives and do them extremely well.read more >

Are You Making the Most of Your Content Curation?

One of the biggest challenges we all face is getting more out of our marketing budgets. Most of us, when thinking of developing content, think of it as a new task that we have to start with a clean sheet of paper.read more >

Lead Nurturing: What Industrial Marketers Need to Know

Industrial marketers who are targeting design engineers need to practice the virtue of patience when communicating with them. I know Sales wants low hanging fruit to sell now, and the C suite is looking for results sooner than later.read more >

What are you doing to keep good employees?

We're in a service business, and I always say our assets walk up and down the stairs every day. The key to any good company is great people. This is especially true in smaller companies where every "body "needs to be the right person.read more >

What’s the Future of Small Independent Industrial Distributors?

Long before Grainger, Fastenal, Home Depot and the thing they call the Internet, the local industrial distributor was the backbone to local manufacturers and businesses. My, how things have changed over the past several decades.read more >

5 Reasons to Consider a Trade

This guest blog from Julian Groneberg of AEG Power Tools will be discussing some of the top benefits of entering the trade business. Working as a tradesman has more than its fair share of perks. From being your own boss, to having valued skill sets that will always be in demand, there are many reasons why people turn towards the blue collar trades for a rewarding career.read more >

Are Your Print Ads Effective? Here’s How You Can Find Out.

If your company currently has a print advertising program in the trade publications, did you know that many of these publications offer ad readership studies at no additional cost to the advertiser? These studies are usually completed once or twice a year, on ads half-page or larger in size.read more >

Content Marketing: Who has the Advantage – Big Brands or Small Ones?

I always like stories of the little guys who take on the 800-lb. gorilla and win the battle. One of the benefits of social media and content marketing is you don’t have to be an 800-lb. gorilla to succeed. read more >

Big Data – Is it Really Worth the Effort for B-to-B?

I understand the concept of what Big Data is, but truthfully I'm having a hard time getting my arms around whether it's worth the time, money and effort to track everyone's movement. read more >

The Challenges of Being Seen, Heard and Read

Everyone is getting better at resisting all the interruption-driven ads and promotions. Your customers are taking control of what they want to read or look at.read more >

4 Trades That Are Crucial to the Construction Industry

Whether you live in a small town or a large city, you rely on the construction industry to provide infrastructure. From large corporations to modest family households, the construction industry is responsible for creating buildings that shelter you. But while we may depend on this industry for many things, the industry itself relies on several specialized trades. Here are four of the trades that are vital to the field of construction.read more >

Is Your Brand Humanized?

If you're using social media, your objective is to connect with your target audience. In order to do that, you need to talk in non-business terms instead of connecting on a human level.read more >

Do You Use Relationship Marketing When Trying to Reach Contractors?

I've always been a big believer in relationship selling. After all, we usually buy stuff from people we know, like and trust. Agree? So why not take that to another step in the selling process by using the same principles to your marketing efforts?read more >

Why Forecasting and Budgeting are Vital to Success

Today, we have a guest blog from Emily Hunter on the importance of forecasting and budgeting when making smart financial and HR decisions in planning a successful business model.read more >

Did Your Website Survive Mobilegeddon?

On April 21st, Google changed its search results algorithm. Sounds boring, right? Well the results of that change may impact your business more than you think.read more >

Listen…Please

Think about the people you care about and like both in your personal life as well as your professional one. I bet one of the reasons you like them is because they take the time to listen.read more >

Positioning: Have You Found Your Focus?

Last fall, Sonnhalter was recognized by HubSpot as an agency that "gets" positioning and has found its focus. It's no secret that we're known for our B2T marketing communication niche and that we really dig in and get our hands dirty. But the question we often get is: "Does B2T limit you?"read more >

Are Your Employees Brand Ambassadors? Why Not?

Do your employees know where your products are used? Do they know the applications the parts they make make possible? Are they aware of the history and critical nature of your company? There are many simple, cost effective ways to increase productivity and morale by implementing a program that lets them know.read more >

ISH 2015: The Biggest Tradeshow I’ve Ever Attended

I recently attended the ISH Show, a biennial show, which took place in Frankfurt, Germany in March. This was the first time I was able to attend this show and it sure did not disappoint. I guess the one word I would use to describe this show would be overwhelming!read more >

Podcasting – Another Effective Way to Get to Contractors

Podcasts are a very popular medium today and rightfully so. Podcasts can add another dimension to your audience as they can hear the voice behind the words.read more >

Tips on Building a Good Contractor Email List

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.read more >

12 Tips for Effective Tradesman Videos

Well tradesmen are the same way, so don’t expect them to actively seek out a 5-minute commercial on YouTube. All the search terms in the world won’t make people sit through a video that does nothing more than pat yourself on the back for making such a great product.read more >

New Project Meetings – Tips on How to Make the Most of Them

Project meetings are so important for all who will be working on them, so let's make sure we make the most out of them. We usually start out with a creative brief initiated by the lead person for the project. This sets the tone and objectives for the project, so when the team does get together, they have a clearer picture of what needs to be done. 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 >

Stop and Smell the Roses

Last week I was reminded of how fragile life really is.I lost a friend who was only 57 and appeared to be in great health and they found him at work in his car. One really doesn't know when your time is up.read more >
Load