Chart Your Online Conversations

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Brian Solis is an interesting person. Digital analyst, anthropologist, and self-described futurist. One of his key areas of focus is the effect of disruptive technology on business and society. In 2008 as a part of that research he decided to map the social media landscape in what he called the “Conversation Prism,” coming up with a few categories that neatly classified the landscape as it was when Iron Man, The Dark Night and Twilight were in theaters. Times sure have changed... 12817read more >

Manufacturers: Is your social media participation developing new business leads?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter If not, it’s important to know WHY. Most manufacturers finally got on board with social media back in 2010. They created their company blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram accounts and jumped in. 70% of marketers reported that social media marketing delivers poor or average return on investment. Many manufacturers thought that by merely having a social media presence, it would give them social media credibility. But they’re learning it takes more than a social media presence to produce new business opportunities. I recently saw a post from my mentor on the social media scene, Michael Gass. Here are some things you need to review and possibly revisit your social media strategy and implementation: Here are 11 reasons why social media doesn't lead to new business: 12614read more >

Reaching Contractors with Social Media

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter You probably set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account a few years ago when social media was the new shiny object for marketers. But now, your social media is anything but new and exciting … and it doesn't help you reach contractors. You might be wondering if you're wasting your time on these channels or if you're better served by switching to the newest social trend. As a longtime leader in Business-to-Tradesman marketing, we’ve developed 12 helpful tips that will help you use social media to effectively reach contractors. In “12 Tips for Reaching Contractors with Social Media,” you’ll learn how to evaluate the social media you’re already using and pick the right avenues for connecting with contractors. The tip sheet shares best practices for social media in this niche space using content and integrating it into your overall marketing programs. Download 12 Tips for Reaching Contractors with Social Media by signing up here.read more >

LinkedIn Groups: Your Blog Away From Blog

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter According to a recent survey from The Content Marketing Institute 89% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn as a way to distribute content. But if a potential customer isn’t already following you, all you’re doing by posting it to your company page is having a closed conversation with friends. While that’s good for strengthening relationships, it’s not an effective strategy for growing business, brand or thought leadership in your industry. So, short of requiring all employees to share everything you post, what’s a marketer to do? Join Groups. If you’re not familiar with them, LinkedIn Groups are smaller "communities within the larger LinkedIn community where people and companies can connect by shared interest rather than work or personal connections." The advantage here is that instead of waiting for people to find you or your company, you can use your industry, process or other qualities to go out and find them. How do you find the right group, and what do you do once you’ve found them? A lot of things you’re already doing. 12124read more >

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 >

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 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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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

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

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

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

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 >

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 >

When is Enough Content Enough?

As marketers, we're all trying to do more with less which begs the question, when is enough enough? Or should the question be quality vs. quantity? I'm of the opinion that good content is better than more content and that we should be focusing on where it's being targeted.read more >

Why Should You Use Short Videos to Attract Professional Tradesman?

As a manufacturer, are you capitalizing on this powerful tool to disperse your message? You don’t need a “Hollywood” production. As a matter of a fact, the ones done on a mobile phone would do just fine. We’ve done “man on the street” interviews with contractors at will-call counters and on job sites asking their opinions on tools and other products.read more >

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

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

From MAGNET: How to Use LinkedIn to Promote Your Innovative Company

Each month we be feature a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. How to Use LinkedIn to Promote Your Innovative Company If you haven’t adopted LinkedIn as a means for promoting your company, now is definitely the time to do it. As of this week, LinkedIn has modified the format of company pages and this may prove to be especially beneficial for manufacturing companies. The change LinkedIn unveiled is the removal of the “Products & Services” tab of your company page in order to make way for showcase pages. Showcase pages allow you to extend your company page presence by creating a dedicated page for your most innovative products and services. On these pages, you can share content just as you would with company page status updates. The new format helps your company build long-term relationships with LinkedIn members who want to follow specific areas of your business that interest them most. In addition, it can help you attract the hard-to-reach younger workforce by presenting your company as an innovative and lively company. As many manufacturing companies have a complex and vast array of products and services, each with different audiences, showcase pages allow you to address different markets with customized content. Whether on purpose or not, LinkedIn’s showcase pages provide the ability to segment your audience and these people can choose to subscribe to any of your pages in order to receive content that’s tailored to what they’re interested in.  Keys to Showcase Page Success  Showcase pages have a lot of potential and provide an opportunity to highlight what makes your company…read more >

What part of selling is the “Human Factor?”

I know everyone is so focused on social media and content creation, but that's only the beginning of the sales cycle. When people identify themselves, who makes the sale - the internet or a person? I'd say unless you're selling a commodity or selling on price, there needs to be interaction with a person(s) along the way. In other words, the Human Factor takes over.read more >

Jerks are going to be jerks: Do’s and Don’ts for dealing with jerks online

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter Sometimes in life you encounter people who are jerks. As children, we were often told to ignore the jerks. As adults we find ways to cope with the jerks we encounter throughout our days. It’s a little more difficult for companies to deal with the jerks on social media. Unfortunately social media also provides jerks with a megaphone for their poor attitudes. You can’t make everyone like you on social media, but you can take the high road when it comes to the social jerks who you encounter. Don’t fire back at them. If someone tweets nasty things at your company, don’t tweet nasty things back at them. It makes you look petty and like a jerk yourself. Do fix legitimate problems. People often use social media for customer service problems. If someone is having a problem that has them upset, they might come off as a jerk on social media. Publically respond that you would like to do what you can to fix their problem and ask for contact. For example, “We’re sorry to hear you’re having a delivery problem, please direct message us your email or phone number so we can find out more about your problem.” Or “We have been experiencing some issues with x, please call customer service at 800-xxx-xxx for an update.” Don’t let jerks scare you away from using social media. Often when we consult with a company who either refuses to join social media or has their channels locked down, it’s because they’re concerned about negativity on their social media channels. People will say what they want, if you let them say it on your channel you can be aware of it, try to fix it, or let your community come to your defense. Do let the rest…read more >

Are You Still Pitching or Are You Starting a Conversation?

I'm still amazed by the number of folks who are still trying to sell me something instead of trying to solve my problem. I think it's because they are struggling with their story and finding the right voice to tell it on. The old school model of glad handling and feature benefit selling has gone by the wayside for the most part.read more >

Social Media For Manufacturers

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer Awhile back, we presented a webinar on social media for industrial manufacturers. Many in our clients' industries wonder if social media is worth their time, and we typically say yes. Social media is a broad and sometimes intimidating part of marketing. To simplify it just a little, we focus on the four areas where we see manufacturers receiving the greatest value: YouTube SlideShare LinkedIn Blogs To get the scoop, you can watch the webcast on YouTube and follow along on the slides below.   Webinar: Social Media In Manufacturingread more >

What Are You Doing to Drive Opted-in Emails?

Let's face it, we're all in this for the same reason. To talk with people who share the same interest and could possibly be or refer us a new client. So in order to do it get them to give up their email we better come up with some interesting and helpful stuff that will make them want to be in our look for future gems. It's not only what you have to say but how you say it read more >

Are You Leveraging Social Media Across Your Manufacturing Business?

There are all kinds of buzz words out there integrated marketing, 360 degree marketing, etc. They all have the same goal in mind and that is to take your marketing message and share it across all methods of communication. Place you customer in the center of your efforts and then deliver your information in various ways so they can get it in the format they prefer.read more >

Do You Repurpose Your Content?

Repurposing is taking an existing piece of content and communicating your ideas in different ways using different media (i.e. SlideShare, infographic, podcasts) to deliver the same message from several different angles. Not all content should be repurposed though. You should stick to your core message that's not time sensitive. read more >

Content Marketing: What Are Your Competitors Doing?

We hear a lot today about content marketing and how we all need to start producing more meaningful content to share. I'm OK with that, but most of us have the cart before the horse. Instead of starting to develop content, we first do a content strategy. Lots of us do this by taking a look internally to see what content might already exist and identify topics and resources for future development. read more >

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

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

Why Content Curation is an Important Marketing Tool to Reach the Professional Tradesman

Why is it important to manufacturers who want to reach the Professional Tradesman? Chances are you have lots of bits and pieces of information on your products/services. They are scattered all over from catalog, tech sheets installations sheets, presentations etc. We as marketers are so focused on creating content, and in most cases, your first priority is to consolidate all relevant info on a product or service in one place. Once you see what you have, it will be easier to identify the pieces that are missing and need to be created. read more >

Are Your Sales and Marketing Departments on the Same Page?

Sales and marketing must work together to define the ideal client and determine how and what to get in front of them. Social media and the internet in general has changed the way people buy. Today, research is done online long before the potential customer identifies themselves to a prospective vendor. So what can you do to ensure that when the buyer is ready, you're on the list to talk to? This is an issue that continues to frustrate marketers and sales across the board. Both disciplines have insights to offer and neither should be working in a vacuum. I read an interesting article recently by John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing that addresses this very problem. He states: "My take is that for organizations to take full advantage of the dramatic shift in the way people and organizations buy today they must intentionally blend inbound marketing, outbound marketing and inbound selling a way that mirrors today’s customer journey." He offers some suggestions on how they can work together. Here are some highlights of shared responsibilities: Planning - When marketing is creating a plan, involve sales. They have insights that marketing doesn't. Their insights are invaluable in helping define the customer journey. Editorial - Even if sales people aren't great writers, they certainly can identify pain points along the way and possible solutions for marketing to write about. Social - Make sales aware of social opportunities, whether it's LinkedIn or participating in an industry forum that social is a good networking tool. Engagement - Have sales and marketing make calls together or write a proposal. Measurement - Forget quantity and focus on quality of lead and how you can take them down the sales funnel. Focus on creating a profitable customer. If you liked this post you might like: Are You Getting Your Sales Force Involved in…read more >

What are you doing to create demand for your content?

We all are working hard to create content in various forms but what can we do to create the demand for it? If we build it it will come philosophy won't work. In the b to b space where selling cycles can be long with numerous folks involved you need to address several different issues along the way down the sales funnel but do you know what they are? read more >

Multi-Channel and Marketing Automation for Manufacturers: Are You Using?

Today we have a guest post from Jason Schultz, Director of Marketing for Great Lakes Integrated, a strategic partner of ours, discussing multi-channel and marketing automation for manufacturers. Multi-channel marketing coupled with marketing automation is a powerful approach for manufacturing companies. Manufacturers have a unique opportunity to create interest and trust for their products by communicating with their customers and prospects through different types of media and employing automated responses to actions they take. read more >

The Secret to Going Viral

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter You’ve probably heard the word “viral” in relation to online marketing before. If you’re not quite sure what it means, here’s a very brief definition: Vi-ral: Adjective : becoming very popular by circulating from person to person, specifically on the internet. If something “goes viral” that means it has been shared a great number of times; there is no threshold number of shares to be reached before something can be considered viral, but in general you know when something has gone viral by the way it is talked about. So here’s the secret to going viral: The one aspect that every viral thing has in common is that it is a quality piece of content that resonates with your audience. Content that goes viral is often in the form of blog posts, pictures or videos. Content can resonate with your audience in many ways, most of the time viral content resonates through humor. Content that is controversial or sparks a debate, as well as timely, helpful information will also resonate. In our industry, content doesn’t often achieve viral status, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t resonated, sparked conversation or been effective. As marketers, we cannot make content become viral. Content can only be made viral by your audience(s) - they have the power. Marketers and brands do not have the power to make anything viral. If you’re disappointed that you know the secret to viral but can’t do anything about it, don’t lose heart! The goal in any marketing initiative should not be creating viral content; it should be on creating quality content. Marketers and brands have the power to create quality content that will resonate with audiences. If that content goes viral, then that is just a happy side effect.read more >

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

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

Do You Say “Thank You” For A Retweet?

If you're active on Twitter, you probably have received a "thanks for the RT." Saying "thank you" helps build brand loyalty and brings a conversational aspect to your tweets. We all struggle on what's the correct etiquette for thanking someone on Twitter. Do you always have to say thanks? Are there other ways to show your gratitude?read more >

When is Less – More?

We all get caught up with having to do more and more especially when if comes to developing content and deploying it through various media channels. We get pressure from our bosses( clients ) to be on every new thing that comes down the road. I recently read an article by Joe Pulizzi the founder of The Content Marketing Institute that addresses this actual issue- Do less ,not moreread more >