6 Ways to Make Sure You’re Using Multimedia Effectively

Multimedia can seem like another of those “marketing buzzwords.” But when it comes right down to it, the key is to effectively use images to tell your product’s or brand’s story, and it can be incredibly successful and easy. In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 6 tips for integrating multimedia into your marketing efforts, and as always, it’s geared toward manufacturers, distributors and others in the B2T marketplace. You can sign up to download it for free here. Let us know what challenges you’ve had with integrating multimedia and check out our other tip sheets here.   SaveSaveread more >

It’s as Much a Goal as a Game — The Annual “Big Game” Ad Review

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Hi Sports Blog Fans, time for the annual Sonnhalter Super Bowl, er I mean “Big Game” ad review. As with past years, it’s not on time or really about the ads, but rather the marketing lessons manufacturers can take from all the hoopla. This year, let’s look at the three main types of ads, and the pros and cons of each. 1) The Big Build Up This is the type of ad campaign where there’s a buildup, or teasers dropped across different channels that all build up to a big “event” ad during the game. This year’s best example is the Crocodile Dundee movie campaign that wasn’t. Instead it was all just a build up to a new campaign for Australian Tourism. Pros – Gives your entire message a framework and direction. Sets the tone and content for everything to come for a good long while. Cons – It works if you’re a country or a well-defined brand. If you don’t have a clear, concise message (or lots of beaches that aren’t going anywhere) and the intestinal fortitude to stick with it past the fourth quarter, you’re throwing away money. 2) The Big Splash This is the type of ad that seeks to surprise, jar your expectations, or thumb its nose at traditions. It also only typically works during the game. It’s there to cause a splash and get attention right then and there. For this example, let’s look at what I think was the worst example. For me that would be the Chris Pratt Michelob Ultra commercial. Sure, the setup is kind of funny, the famous actor thinks he’s landed the role of a lifetime in a beer commercial, only to find out he’s an extra. That part is fine, but the second…read more >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

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 >

Challenges Facing the Industrial Distributor Today

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

Contractor Email List – Do You Have One?

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

How Many Calls Does it Take to Make a Sale?

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

Emails are in for 2016

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

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 >

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

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

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

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

For Your Lead Nurturing Programs – Where do you Find Good Content?

One of the biggest challenges B-to-B marketers face is developing/identifying content that can be used in e-newsletters, e-blasts or just plain emails as part of a nurturing program. I think a major stumbling block is that some think they need to produce all-original content themselves or have control of all the messaging. The whole point of a nurturing program is to engage potentials with RELEVANT and INTERESTING content.read more >

Online Video Training Can Make Contractors Be More Productive

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

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 >

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 >

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 >

How Are You Utilizing Training?

I don’t think any manufacturer out there would argue the importance of training. What manufacturer wouldn’t want to ensure their customers are trained properly on how to use their products or informed on their latest product offerings. Plus, training offers manufacturers a way to further differentiate themselves from competitors as well as continue to build their brand with their customersread more >

Manufacturers: Do You Have a Loyalty Program?

We all want to capture more business, and the best source of that is from existing customers. If you were a retailer, it would be much simpler to develop a program. But if you're a manufacturer who sells through distribution channels, your challenge is where do you put your efforts ... at the distributor or end user? You're between a rock and a hard place.read more >

What Are You Doing With All Those Email Leads You’re Getting?

We all have a list of customers' emails in some assemblage of order. What are you doing with them? Let's not assume just because someone is currently buying from you that they will continue to do so. You need to continue to reinforce why they should do business with you and it doesn't have to be a sell piece. Give them something of value that they can use in their business. A quick installation tip. A calculator link to help them figure out how much product they need. Besides the emails you already have from current, past and future customers, what are you doing with all the leads you're getting from digital sources? Digital media is a great way to build on to your existing database list and start nurturing them along your selling cycle. By using an email marketing tool, you can build silos by market or by where they are in the buying cycle so you can tailor messaging to each. Here are a few tips in developing your lists: Get their permission - send them an email that you'd like to keep them on a list to send out valuable info on a regular basis that would help them. Ask questions - when sending out the initial request, give them options of things that might interest them, i.e., markets, product or applications that they would find useful. Get them engaged - invite them to a webinar or send them a how-to video or an e-book if you have one. Stay on topic - focus on what you do. You're trying to build brand awareness and credibility. Respect their time - experts say you shouldn't send more than 2-3 emails a month. My recommendation is start with 1. Monitor who's reading them - by using an email marketing tool, you can see who opened…read more >

Is Brand Advocacy Part of Your Marketing Strategy to Reach Tradesmen?

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 >

Email Marketing – Is this the best way to reach the professional tradesman?

With all the marketing trends and new things over the last several years, email still seems to be the "workhorse" for most people's marketing efforts. Recent research from Gigaom reports that over 75% of smart phone users check their emails on their phones. What I find remarkable, if you look at the chart below, 5 years ago paid search, SEO and digital ads would have been at the top of the list. Oh, how the more things change the more they remain the same.read more >

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

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

Do B-to-B Buyers Trust Your Website?

Interesting question isn't it? I think everyone thinks because they built one, everyone will like and trust what you have up there. I recently read an article from the Content Marketing Institute written by Dianna Huff entitled -Why do 55% of potential B2B buyers might not trust your website that highlights some interesting findings. These findings were from a KoMarketing Associates usability report and are worth discussing. The key in a B to B relationship that trust and credibility be established up front. The more transparent you are the better 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 >

Tips on Making your Landing Pages Better

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. It could also be a way of losing a potential customer. Here are some tips that might help results: Keep it simple - Deliver on what you promised to get them there in the first place. It's not about you - How can you help them with a problem that got them there in the first place. This is not an ad - They're not looking for a sales pitch, but answers to specific questions. Powerful content - Keep it relevant. Don't focus on key words. Instead, make what you say useful and valuable. All too often folks want to talk about 5 different things and give them additional links. It won't work. Just ask yourself - why did they click on a call-to-action that got them here? Then deliver what you promised. If you want to learn more, you might want to read: Are you Using Landing Pages? Product Landing Pages: Tips on How to Improve Performanceread more >

Distributor Strategy: What’s Yours?

In the B-to-B world that I live in, manufacturers have to balance their time and efforts when dealing with distribution, between the big boys like Grainger ($9.4 billion), Fastenal ($3.3 billion) and MSC ($678 million), and the independently owned small local distributors. Here are a few facts about the independent distributors (ISA) that you might not have known: They collectively represent about $153 billion in sales. 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 >