Top Content Marketing Ideas for Manufacturing Companies

For many digital marketers, the ongoing pandemic acted as an accelerant for digitization. Most famously embraced by the World Economic Forum, this view holds that it didn’t disrupt per se; it pushed forward. Content marketers across industries, seeing increasingly fragmented customer journeys, agreed – and ones in the manufacturing industry corroborated it. As customers exhibited online event fatigue, they too needed to face this change along with the industry’s inherent ones. However, content marketing ideas for manufacturing companies don’t come easily in such a demanding market, let alone effective ones. Content marketing challenges for manufacturing companies As an introductory note, here we may first highlight said challenges. The manufacturing industry does face distinct ones of its own, which inexperienced or broader-scope content marketers may miss or underestimate. In turn, it becomes nigh impossible to produce effective content for it, let alone beat the competition with it. To consolidate them, the primary ones include: Offer complexity. A manufacturing company typically does not sell simple products accessible to a wide market. Framing such specialized offers properly for their niche audiences requires considerable industry expertise. Decision-makers’ scrutiny. Moreover, manufacturing content marketers need to entice decision-makers who seek expertise and offer tangible value. As with B2C marketing, eliciting emotional responses will very rarely bear results with this audience. A less visually exciting industry. Finally, the manufacturing industry offers comparatively fewer thrills for compelling visual content to thrive on. This has been changing in recent years, however. In addition, the typical customer’s purchase decision process spans a much longer journey. Strategyn breaks down the individual steps into 6; need, research, design, evaluation, shortlist, and purchase. A chart of the industrial buyer’s buying process by Strategyn. Source: https://blog.thomasnet.com/hs-fs/hubfs/1MARCOMM/Blog/2018/February/workflow2.png?width=808&name=workflow2.png Evidently, then, content marketers cannot afford to overlook this unique set of factors. The industrial buyer is cautious…read more >

What Are B2B Salespeople Doing Well – and Badly – When Selling Virtually?

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect When it comes to selling it’s important to keep your buyer in mind. Although it can be hard to please your buyer, sellers need to approach buyers, differentiate themselves from the competition, and demonstrate their value. In their 2021 Buyer Preference Study, Korn Ferry answers these questions and more. Here are some of the key findings that I found interesting: 1) Seller performance continues to decline – with the key to this decline being that buyers have continued to change faster than sellers, and sales organizations haven’t kept up. 2) Only 33% of salespeople are effective at selling in a “virtual” environment – the challenges of selling virtually, combined with longer buying cycles and changes in the buying process, mean that sellers have a more difficult path than ever to making the sale. 3) Buyers don’t view sellers as a valuable resource – respondents ranked sellers next to last out of 10 preferred resources used to solve business problems. Buyers are finding more value in using their past experiences with vendors, social networks and trade media or colleagues. 4) Buyers continue to engage sellers later and later in the sales process – over 79% wait until after they have full defined needs; over half (57%) identify solutions first. The earlier that sellers can be involved with the buyers then they have more time to influence the buyer’s decisions. 5) Factors influencing large purchase decisions – Features/Benefits, Ease of Use and Solution Value are listed as the Top 3, while “pricing” is seen as a secondary issue. Decision-making has many factors and depends on the buyer and for 27% they use analytical thinking and facts to make their decisions. How has your sales team performed selling virtually?read more >

How to Make Complex Ideas Simple

In marketing, we must take complex ideas and simplify them for our audiences. Sometimes it can be difficult in the midst of the chaos. Following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.” Following is their guest post.  Your organization may be complex, with a wide variety of products and services, and you have a lot you want to say. However, too often in our excitement to tell the world about how awesome we are, we tend to say too much and only end up confusing people. Finding a way to simplify your message and distill what your company has to offer is important. THE FOREST THROUGH THE TREES Why it’s important to simplify varies based on what you are trying to do. If you are advertising or posting on social media, you only have a few words or seconds to get your message across. Just look at any billboard. Most are an awful mess. They attempt to say too much - often, the font is too small and there are confusing images, and the result is a message that gets lost in the medium. Or you may have a complex service with many offerings and need to find a way to summarize what you do and how it’s done, otherwise people will get overwhelmed. They won’t understand what sets you apart from your competition and why they should buy your product or service. Have you ever read through a website or a brochure and even after a few paragraphs, you still aren’t sure what they do or the simple thing you think should be easy to find is…read more >

Here’s What Types of B2B Content Works at Each Stage of the Funnel…

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect  After 2020, we can see a change in what types of content are most effective. In a recent report from Activate Marketing Services, they surveyed 72% of B2B tech marketers and demand gen decision-makers for a report on effective content. In this blog, we will look at each tunnel tier and each type of content. Top of the Funnel: At the top of the funnel, we have blog posts that are considered most effective. Whereas next we have 66% of people who consider infographics the most effective. Lastly, at the top of the funnel we have videos. Blogs, infographics and videos are great sources of content as buyers are engaging with more digital content especially after the pandemic. When crafting content for your company, keep your audience in mind to optimize business. Mid-Funnel: In the mid-funnel, we can see virtual events and webcasts were most effective. Last year, we saw an increase of virtual events and webinars due to COVID-19 and the cancellation of in-person events. Online events are great to expand your audience and let anyone listen from anywhere. Bottom of the Funnel: In our final tier, we have data-driven content. For example, this type of content consists of white papers, e-books and case studies, with white papers at 41% effective, e-books at 9% and case studies at 16%. And while this study focused on B2B tech marketers, these content pieces would work for the general B2B marketers. What’s been your most effective content type at each stage of the funnel?read more >

How to Build a Manufacturer Representative Business Plan That Really Works

by Doug Walker, guest blogger Having a business plan is important for the success of any business. A business plan will help you to evaluate your goals and determine how you will set about achieving them. It will help you recognize where things are not going according to plan and help you take corrective action. A good business plan can also help you to attract much-needed funding.  Setting up in business as a manufacturer representative is no exception, and a well-constructed business plan can mean the difference between failure and success. Here we take a look at how you can create a business plan that really works for a manufacturer representative. Nature of Your Business — One of the first things you should do is define what the nature of your business is. This is partly for the benefit of any potential investors who might be considering making an investment in your company. Before they are willing to part with any money, they will first need to know what your company is all about and how it will make a profit. Defining the nature of your business is also beneficial to you when it comes to running your company. It can be all too easy otherwise for somebody to get side-tracked and lose focus on their objectives. Capital Requirements — How much money do you need to get started? How much will it cost to register your company? What do you need to pay to get business premises of your own? What about utilities, IT, desks, and other furniture and equipment? All of these things will need to be taken into consideration to make sure you have what you need; otherwise, you will struggle to function. It is also a good idea to try and account for unexpected expenses. If…read more >

How to Improve Your Company’s Blog

’by Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician In the manufacturing arena where competition is fierce, some companies have turned to blogs as a way to increase brand awareness, become a thought leader in their space, increase their web traffic and generate leads. In a recent post from ThomasNet called, “16 Ways to Improve Your Manufacturing Blog,” it helps businesses to recognize ways to improve within blog platforms. Here are the key highlights: Write With Your Buyer Personas In Mind - When creating blog content, remember who your audience is. By establishing your audience, you can make customized content towards them. Use Images & Visual Elements - Enhance your story by using pictures to help break up text and keep readers engaged. Images can play an important part in increasing the reading time on your blog. Link To External Sources, And Your Own Content! - Help your readers through the story by providing credibility. This helps with your brand’s trust and can drive readers to conversion pages, which can boost SEO. Establish A Frequency To Posting Your Blogs - Make sure you’re committing to the blog by frequently posting. One way to keep up with posting is to create a content calendar and lay out all the blogs you’re doing in a month. Ensure Your Blogs Have A Strong Word Count - Posts under 300 words are not recommended for SEO, and when your SEO isn’t strong, consumers can’t find you online. At the same time, don’t post a blog with 2,500 words of “awful” as people will not read it. Blogs can help to achieve your business goals and build trust between you and the consumer. Follow the rules above and check out the rest in their article to learn how to improve your blog. How will you improve your blog posts?read more >

How Public Relations Can Benefit Your Business

by Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician Are you looking for new customers or want to increase business? Well-developed public relations can be an effective tool to boost your business and help reach your desired audience. You will be able to establish an emotional connection to your audience through your brand's marketing. There are many ways that public relations can benefit you, but today we will be focusing on four methods. Michelle Garrett analyzed these four methods in a post she wrote for Thomas, “Why Public Relations Matters to Manufacturers.” Educates – Public relations helps to teach your audience about who you are and why your company should matter to them. It also provides the information to your market about your products and services. Image and Reputation – Public relations can aid in building trust and to establish your brand in the industry. By creating a strong reputation, it can lead to credibility and provide you with lifelong customers. If your customers know what your brand stands for, they will be more likely to engage with your business. Awareness and Visibility – Potential customers will know that your brand exists, and campaigns can spread awareness of the work that your company is doing. With awareness efforts, you can change public opinions and promote your brand's value. Interest – From awareness we can create interest for your brand and products. Interest helps to pull customers in and make them want to learn more about your brand or be involved. No matter how big or small a story is, it can help to elevate your brand and increase business. Let’s take some notes by looking at some examples of past public relations stories that have created visibility. Associated General Contractors Associated General Contractors of California partnered up with BuildOUT California, the world’s first…read more >

Marketing Minute: Preparing for a 2021 Without In-Person Events

While we wait for the return of trade shows and other in-person events, join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute to learn about some of the ways your company can utilize the latest digital technology to effectively reach your customers, distributors and employees in 2021. He outlines three tactics to consider--social media, virtual training and webinars--and offers some tips for success when using virtual platforms.   To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover.  read more >

Marketing Minute: Why Your Company Needs an Instagram Account

Over the past decade, we've watched Instagram transform from the "app with all the cool filters" to an essential marketing tool for companies marketing to the professional tradesman. Its video capabilities, poll/Q&A functions and other interactive features have become extremely useful for companies to showcase new products, spread the word at trade shows and connect with customers in ways that were not previously possible.   Join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute to learn more about the exciting potential of incorporating Instagram into your social media plan!   To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover.  read more >

10 Tips for Trade Show Marketing

Trade shows provide incredible opportunities for connecting with customers, developing relationships with the media and generating brand awareness for your company. The key to trade show marketing success is organization, proactive planning and comprehensive follow up.   In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 10 strategies for making sure you’re taking full advantage of all the marketing opportunities associated with trade shows. Follow these tips, and you will be sure to maximize your company's trade show presence. You can sign up to download it here. Need help with your trade show marketing? Give us a call or email. And check out our other Tip Sheets here.read more >

Should Your Company Start a Blog?

Join Matt Sonnhalter for a "Marketing Minute" and learn the pros and cons of starting a blog as part of your company's marketing strategy.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhlFipdzA6w To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there's a B2T marketing topic you'd like us to cover.read more >

8 Tips for Making Customer Service a Priority in your Marketing

Think customer service isn’t an integral part of your marketing? Ask yourself the following questions: What part of your company do existing customers deal with the most? Have you ever avoided a business because of a negative remark a friend made? If the answer to both is yes, you’ve just seen how an effective customer service program is also your best marketing strategy.     Need more proof? In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out eight tips for making customer service a priority in 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 customer service and check out our other tip sheets here.read more >

Making the Most of YouTube

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent YouTube has become the prime research tool on the web. With a staggering breadth of content and connected communities for almost every niche, it’s definitely earned a place in your marketing efforts. If you don’t have a video program yet, check out articles here, here and here  on how to incorporate video. In the meantime, if video is already a part of your efforts, here are a few simple guidelines to making the most of the content you post: No Channel is an Island You can’t make your channel a one-sided affair. Make sure you get into as many “networks” as possible by subscribing to other channels, i.e. trade organizations, publications, online reviewers, people already using your products, etc. Engage Frequently Don’t be a passive subscriber. Like videos and comment, even if it’s just “great video.”  The more you put your channel out there, the more likely people are to find it. Forget Who You Are When it comes to video tags and descriptions, think like a potential customer, rather than as a salesperson. Don’t use product numbers or use common terms, instead, put yourself in the shoes of someone just starting a search, with no prior brand loyalty or knowledge of the industry, and then tag accordingly. 13777read more >

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 >

3 Post-Show Activities to Make Your Trade Show a Success

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter I don’t know about you, but it seems like every time I get back from a trade show I’m exhausted and ready for a vacation. Unfortunately, there is still work to do after the trade show. In this Part 3 of our 3-part series on successful trade shows, we’ll look at the 3 post-show activities you should be doing after every trade show to make sure it is a success. 1. Leads/Inquiries “How many leads did we get?” This seems to be the number one question everyone asks after every trade show. And while this is an important question, I think the better question to ask is “What’s the plan for handling these leads?” 12847read more >

5 During-Show Activities To Make Your Trade Show A Success

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter So, you’ve planned for the show, booked the space, developed the booth graphics and made the travel arrangements. Now it’s show time…how do you ensure the actual trade show days are a success? In this Part 2 of a 3-part series on successful trade shows, we’ll look at the 5 during-show activities you should be doing to make your next trade show a success. 1. Booth personnel meeting 12844read more >

5 Pre-Show Activities To Make Your Trade Show A Success

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter For most companies, trade shows are still a key component to the marketing mix. But these shows can be a significant investment, between the booth space, the booth itself, graphics, collateral, travel costs and the personnel to man the actual booth. So it’s critical to maximize the return and success of your trade show. In this Part 1 of a 3-part series on trade shows, we’ll look at the 5  pre-show activities you should be doing to make your next trade show a success. 1. Remind people you are attending the trade show 12842read more >

Branding or Branded?

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Pepsi recently had a severe digital flogging for a tone-deaf ad featuring Kendall Jenner and the evidently crisis-averting powers of their soda. From late night hosts and live shows in New York to TV pundits and seemingly everyone with a social media account, the multi-national corporation has been the punchline of many a joke. Obviously there are a lot of lessons to be learned and cautionary tales aplenty. But for me, the main lesson in all of this comes down to: Don’t try to be your brand. Have your brand be who you are. What’s that mean? 12441read 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 >

Sonnhalter Announces Marketing Minute Video Series

Video series offers quick, easy-to-understand marketing advice on a variety of industry topics. CLEVELAND – November 2016 – Sonnhalter, a marketing communications firm to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announced the release of its “Marketing Minute” video series. Hosted by Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter, the Marketing Minute video series offers short and concise pieces of marketing and business tips for organizations trying to reach professional tradesmen. Some of the topics covered in the video series include: “What is a USP?” “What is a Creative Brief?” “What is a QR Code?” “Is Print Dead?” “The Modern Press Release” “For many of us, the daily workload doesn’t leave much time in our busy schedules to learn about new trends happening within our industry,” said Matt Sonnhalter. “With the Marketing Minute series, our goal is to educate professionals on some of the latest industry happenings in a way that is fun, informative and concise.” To watch the Marketing Minute video series on YouTube, please visit this link. About Sonnhalter Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. #    #    #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 >

6 Ways to Maximize Your Agency Relationship

Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect at Sonnhalter, is posting today on how to maximize your relationship with your agency. One of the most important questions that marketing communication clients should ask themselves is, “Are we making the most out of our relationship and interactions with our agency?” Merely talking about how to maximize synergies and rapport between client and agency versus actually implementing such strategies is an entirely different story. Here are a few way to get the most out of you client-agency relationships: Be on the same page. Fostering shared meaning and mutual understanding is a vital aspect of successful client-agency relationships. It is important to be on the same page. Setting clear expectations with one another enables clients and agencies to better communicate and forecast unexpected issues or changes. Establishing processes and responsibilities early on with an agency will decrease stress from time-crunching deadlines. Also, be sure to clearly define success with one another and develop a measurable method for evaluation. Understanding how agencies function and subsequently knowing how to utilize them can reduce the likelihood of miscommunication. Be clear. Efficiency is all about clear communication. To reduce confusion, frustrations and delay, have one main contact for the agency. Likewise, an agency should make sure its client knows with whom to communicate. There is nothing more frustrating than having too many cooks in the kitchen. Facilitating consistent, effective communication will aid in strengthening the bond between the client and agency. Companies are more likely to meet project goals by providing their agency with a concise point-of-view. Be accessible. Make sure to invest time in the agency. Frequently engage in face-to-face communication by arranging regular meetings to review and discuss active projects – take a necessary break from the computer and telephone. Being available will create a well-oiled working relationship…read more >