It’s That Time Again — Strategic Planning

As we enter into the final quarter of 2020, (and we think we can say with absolute certainty that we are all anxious for 2020 to be over!) we find ourselves in the midst of strategic planning for the upcoming year.  Our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research, provided some thoughts on strategic planning during this unprecedented time. Their mantra is “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.”  Following is their guest post.  We’re all a bit tired. Psychologists are calling it pandemic fatigue and even Zoom fatigue. It’s basically just getting burned out because our normal routines have changed for a prolonged period of time and we don’t have a good sense of when we’ll finally settle into our new normal (not our favorite term either). STARTING A NEW WORK INITIATIVE MAY BE HARDER THAN IN THE PAST.  But there are some basics that must continue or are now in need of a reboot, such as updating your strategic plan. If your organization doesn’t have a strategic plan for 2021 or if it was created pre-pandemic, now is the time to either create one or revise the one you had. Customer purchasing patterns, competitor strategies and other factors have dramatically changed since early this year. According to McKinsey, over 75% of U.S. consumers have tried a new shopping behavior since the outbreak of COVID-19. They have either tried new brands or shopped at a different retailer. They are also caring more about how companies take care of the safety of their employees and the company’s purpose. Companies are also pivoting in what’s being called the big reset. Leaders are modifying how they manage, technology use has increased, core processes modified, and they are…read more >

Sonnhalter Promotes Andrew Poulsen to Content Engineer

Sonnhalter promotes Poulsen from his role as public relations technician with the company. CLEVELAND – March 2020 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, promoted Andrew Poulsen from public relations technician to content engineer. In this new position, Poulsen is responsible for development and management of Sonnhalter’s public relations and creative copy for both the agency and its clients. His copy responsibilities include press releases, feature articles, blog posts, e-blasts, social media posts, print ads, digital ads and more. Additionally, Poulsen will uphold his previous duties of developing client publicity programs, conducting media and influencer relations, maintaining day-to-day contact with clients and other essential public relations functions. “Over the past five years, Andrew has shown tremendous growth in his ability to write effective and strategic copy tailored to our business-to-trade niche,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Sonnhalter is excited for Andrew to expand his role and bring his strong copywriting skills to the creative side, where he will then be an even greater asset to our agency and the clients alike.” Prior to joining Sonnhalter in 2015, Poulsen worked as a writer for various print publications. He was previously an intern for Billboard, and his work has appeared on Billboard.com and in Ohio Magazine, Cleveland Magazine, Fresh Water Cleveland and many other publications. Poulsen is currently a member of the Greater Cleveland chapter of PRSA. Poulsen earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University, located in Athens, Ohio.   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…read more >

Generic Values = Generic Culture

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." MOST COMPANIES HAVE A SET OF VALUES. MOST OF THESE STATED VALUES ARE GENERIC AND QUITE FRANKLY, MEANINGLESS. Take this test. Pull out a copy of your organization’s values – remove your company name and logo from it. Replace it with another company name. Does it work for them? Could it apply to that company? If so, then your company values are not distinct enough to have meaning and value. A company like a person needs to have unique values similar to your personal values which cannot easily be shared by anyone else. This is important because the culture of your company is a reflection of what the company values – it guides employee behavior and decision making. The more generic the values, the more difficult it is for employees to know what to do or how to represent the company that is in alignment with the culture.  For example, here are the values of a company: Communication – We have an obligation to communicate. Here, we take the time to talk with one another… and to listen. We believe that information is meant to move and that information moves people. Respect – We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment. Integrity – We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it. Excellence– We are satisfied with nothing less than the…read more >

How Can Manufacturers Get the Most Out of Their Marketing?

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter Being able to accurately show how well your efforts impacted a company’s bottom line is one of the biggest challenges marketing teams face every year. For years, the easiest indicator of a marketing team’s success was measured mostly in sales and lead generation. But with the rise of content marketing, influencer relations and social media in marketing plans, it’s sometimes difficult to accurately quantify exactly how all these tactics improve ROI. Regardless of where you stand on the value of these tactics, even the most stubborn skeptics will need to face the reality that content marketing, social media and other tactics for the digital age are here to stay. Unfortunately, most marketing budgets have yet to catch up with the financial and personnel resources necessary to successfully utilize these tactics. Many of these challenges and concerns were addressed in IEEE GlobalSpec’s “Trends in Industrial Marketing Survey,” which surveyed 326 marketing and sales professionals in the industrial sector on marketing trends within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from the survey: Breakthroughs in marketing analytics have made it easier to calculate the ROI of a company’s marketing efforts. “Marketers are under steady pressure to demonstrate ROI for their marketing programs. The need to improve ROI is one of the top challenges industrial marketers face. To meet this challenge, marketers use leads as their number one measure of success. But generating high-quality leads for sales is also one of the top marketing challenges. This may sound like a vicious cycle, and some marketers would agree, but the point is that measurement matters. Other measures of success include customer acquisition and sales attributed to marketing campaigns. Marketing automation software, which can improve tracking and measurement capabilities, is used…read more >

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect Are you trying to increase your exposure, traffic and leads? Are you trying to provide insights to contractors and generate leads? If so, social media should be part of your overall marketing program. Social media is a targeted way of getting your message out and letting prospective customers find you. Social media benefits are: Reach – get your message distributed to a broader audience. Influence – both existing contractors as well as new prospects. Conversions – marketing insights lead to engagement that leads to sales. Here are some tips to maximize your social media efforts to the contractor market. Reach – Use several different social media platforms, i.e. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to reach contractors. Make sure what you do share is relevant, as you don’t want to waste contractors time. They want quality content, not quantity. Repurpose existing content that they may not have been aware of. Influence – You may not have to impress your existing customers, but you do for potential customers. Here’s where you have to become a thought leader. Don’t push your company or brand, but communicate a solution to a potential problem. Develop thought leaders within your company (no need for marketing to bear all the responsibility). Tap seasoned customer service reps, your engineering department and sales force. They are the ones on the front lines that deal with problems and arrive at solutions. Conversion – This is a hard metric if you want to tie it directly to sales. In many cases where products are either specified or sold through distribution channels, it’s nearly impossible to track sales results. You can, though, create landing pages with offers for white papers or other items that would help the contractor in their day-to-day operations. Be patient, and as you…read more >

Old or New: School is Back in Session

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent There are still some hot days to get through, but Labor Day is fast approaching and most schools are back in session. So make sure you stop for busses, keep an eye out for kids and stop worrying about chasing the latest marketing craze. Wait, what? This is the perfect time of year to reassess what school your marketing efforts are going to. Are you “Old School,” still utilizing print, convinced social media is just a craze and missing printed catalogs? Or are you “New School,” only marketing to mobile, boiling your message down to 140 characters and laughing at the dinosaurs amongst you? Guess what: it doesn’t matter. Because in the end, what will make any and all of those marketing tactics succeed or fail is what you bring to it – a personal touch. Old School Personal Touches Print Ads – Make sure your advertising isn’t just a product catalog and includes a call to action, such as a dedicated phone number or website. This will be your best way to gauge ROI and allow you to make a personal connection with people who respond to your ad. Catalogs – Be smart with distribution. Don’t just dump them in a distributor's office or on a table at a trade show. Offer them on your website and free upon request. Just make sure you have a plan to follow up and utilize the customer info you get in return. 13934read more >

Making the Most of a Trade Show Visit

The Precision Machined Products Association has a growing membership of machine shops, technical members and others involved in the precision manufacturing sector. One of the more innovative ways they communicate with current and potential members is through a regular insert in the trade publication Production Machining. The insert is a win-win for both the PMPA and the magazine. PMPA gains an additional way to communicate to their membership, and Production Machining gets valuable content. A perfect example? This recent article on the upcoming IMTS show in Chicago. If you’re heading to this show, or any trade show in the near future, this is a great read. The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2018 is set to take over Chicago’s McCormick Place from Sept. 10-15. The pure numbers of the show are pretty staggering, with more than 115,000 people expected to attend from more than 110 countries and more than 2,000 exhibitors with 1.37 million square feet of exhibit space divided into 10 pavilions, four co-located shows and more than 60 conference sessions. So, like any big task, the secret to success at IMTS, or at any trade show, is to create a number of smaller goals and plan, plan, plan, all while leaving enough wiggle room for last-minute opportunities or challenges. Here are some basic guidelines for planning to make the most of any trade show visit. Pre-Show Book Early – Make sure to take advantage of any early bird specials for registration, not only to save money, but also so vendors have an idea of how many people are attending. It’s also best to book travel, transport and hotel as soon as possible. Stay in the Show Hotel – Sure, it may be more expensive, but it will be close to the show, probably have free transportation opportunities and offer lots of…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 >

Incorporating Awards into Your Communications Initiatives

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter It feels good to win an award. But beyond being able to bask in the glow of recognition, can awards help you reach your marketing goals? Entering for awards is one tactic we work into the public relations mix for our clients. Winning an award, or even being nominated for one, can go a long way to boosting brand recognition and can act as an endorsement for your product/service/organization. 5 Questions to Ask Before Entering 12797read more >

Change Your Definition, Change Your Business. Learn From Other Industries How to Manage Change

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter A recent Industry Week article by Becky Morgan showcases how a changing industry can adapt and thrive or fixate and die, and has some great advice for being on the right side of that divide. Her first point is to draw parallels between the state of manufacturing today and that of agriculture at the turn of the last century. Rocked by disruptive innovations, a changing marketplace and demographic shifts. And yet agriculture is still around. It’s fundamentally changed, but in a way that’s of benefit to consumers: more productive, larger scale, but with a core of, to use an overused term, “artisanal” craftspeople ready to cater to niche markets. She sees manufacturing developing in much the same way. 12641read more >

7 Things You Should Know When you Start Email Marketing

Today we have a guest post from Vincent Hill on email marketing. Marketing is business activities that are highly associated with the buying and selling of a product or service. This includes activities that help acquire customers and maintain a good relationship with them. To achieve the goal, use several marketing tools. The marketing tools should be effective  to easily communicate with potential customers and existing supporters. With the fast pacing technological innovations, digital marketing was introduced to further enhance the advertising, selling and delivering the products and services to people. One of the best and easiest approaches to digital marketing is the use of emails. Email marketing greatly helps in expanding and building the network. This approach allows one to share stories and start blogging to be able to enhance promotions and increase product awareness. Using this kind of approach may be challenging at first. But with proper guidance and correct knowledge on the things involve in email marketing, this marketing tool is a whole lot easier and exciting. 1. Choose type of campaigns you want to send 12535read more >

Run Social Media the Way Your Grandfather Ran His Business

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect How should you run your social media?  To answer that question, perhaps you should ask instead, "How would my grandfather have run his business?" Or at least that's the question Mark Schaefer asked. Mark is a globally-recognized speaker, educator, business consultant, and author, and he blogs at one of the top marketing blogs of the world. One of his recent videos, "Social media marketing lessons from my grandfather, the plumber," dug into the attributes that made his grandfather successful in the plumbing business and how they can be applied to social media. For those of us marketing to the trades, his example is even more important. How did Mark's grandfather, a plumber from Pittsburgh, grow a successful business? 10439read more >

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 >

Time (and Advertising) Stops for No One

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter That’s one of my favorite quotes. Not because I’m in marketing and advertising, but because it dispels one of the biggest myths about manufacturers. That is: All manufacturers are engineering and sales driven, and advertising is an afterthought, or a “necessary evil.” Henry Ford wasn’t just any old manufacturer. He transformed not only American manufacturing, but revolutionized manufacturing processes. He changed the way we live. His streamlined assembly line could churn out a Model T every 24 seconds. As summer winds down, it’s worth noting that he’s partially responsible for all the grilling you did as well. 10313read more >

Time for a Checkup?

Let’s check your marketing vitals. We’re offering a thorough B2T Marketing Checkup allowing for an independent examination that helps you take your marketing program’s temperature and choose the right prescription for a healthy marketing communication program that reaches the professional tradesmen in the construction, industrial and MRO markets. We all see a doctor for checkups if we want to stay healthy, and we take our cars to the mechanic to keep them running smoothly. It’s about prevention. Bring your marketing program to Sonnhalter to get independent, third-party advice, recommendations and guidance on your current marketing plan. A win win if there ever was one. To get started on your company’s B2T Marketing Checkup, contact Matt Sonnhalter at 216.242.0420 x 132 or msonnhalter@sonnhalter.com.  read more >

Are You Missing out on Mobile Marketing Opportunities to the Professional Tradesman?

We've talked many times about the importance of having a mobile strategy when wanting to reach the professional contractors. Their office is a jobsite and they need to be and stay connected. Mobile is changing the way we reach these important people.read more >

Evolution of a Press Release

Today we have a guest blog post from Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman at Sonnhalter, discussing the evolution of the press release. Yes, it still is a legitimate marketing communications tool.   Perhaps this will date me, but I remember the days when issuing a press release on behalf of one of my clients meant printing copies, stapling and affixing 4x5-inch prints or slides, folding, stuffing in envelopes and metering for postage. Whew! Eventually, many media outlets requested that the press release be faxed. The press release of today, while no longer issued on paper, still bears some similarities to press releases of yesterday. It should be well written, factual, using A.P. Style [which updates its guidelines each year]. Same as always, it shouldn’t present information in an opinionated or sale-sy style. But, today’s press release must be written with digital in mind. It will appear online first, that is, if it is properly optimized. To be effective, it should be clear and very concise. This is not the time for long-winded sentences filled with industry jargon. The headline, with proper key words for search, is key, and adding a subhead helps by adding more searchable key words near the top. It should include logos, photos, charts and videos to convey information. It should also contain two or more key links, directing readers to more information. Because of digital, the modern press release is getting to its audience faster and with even less filtering than in the past. Now, press releases are often published as-is on blogs, websites and e-newsletters. At Sonnhalter, when we issue a press release on behalf of our clients, within minutes, the press release shows up on trade publication websites. Occasionally, the debate will surface that the press release has run its course, and is no longer…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 >

How Manufacturers are Managing Content Marketing: 7 B2B Insights

Today we have a guest blog post from Lisa Murton Beets director of CMI Books, from the Content Marketing Institute. The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs recently published research on B2B and B2C Content Marketing in our 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reports. While the findings give us insight into how B2B and B2C marketers are managing content marketing, we were still curious about the state of content marketing in specific key industries, and how content efforts in vertical markets were differing from those of their peers in other industries. We decided to first look at marketers who work for B2B manufacturing organizations in North America. This group has adopted content marketing at a slightly higher rate (94 percent) than their North American B2B peers across all industries (91 percent). Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences: Manufacturing marketers have similar goals for content marketing Marketers in the manufacturing industry have the same top three objectives for content marketing as their peers across all B2B industries: brand awareness, lead generation, and customer acquisition. However, manufacturing marketers place less emphasis on thought leadership (47 percent versus 64 percent) and website traffic (47 percent versus 60 percent) as organizational goals, which indicates a disconnect, as they also cite website traffic as the primary way they measure content effectiveness. This fundamental disconnect between goals and measurement was present with B2B manufacturers when CMI surveyed them two years ago, but it has shown some improvement. Manufacturing marketers use video and print magazines more often Manufacturing marketers cite video as their top content marketing tactic (it was ranked seventh by this group two years ago). Their overall use of tactics is fairly similar to that of the overall population of marketers; however, they place far less emphasis on blogs (54 percent…read more >

Free Webinar for Manufacturers: Should a Blog Be a Part of Your Marketing Plan?

This webinar will help participants find out if a blog should be a part of their marketing plans and what all is involved in starting one.read more >

How Are You Integrating Email and Social Media?

Both social and traditional tactics have a place in your marketring plan.Inbound and outbound marketing must work together to get the most bang for your buck today. Social media or Email can't be isolated tactics but should be used together. read more >

Are You Using Content Marketing to Understand Your B2B Audience?

If you're into social media, you're doing it with a purpose in mind. You have a story to tell and you want to tell it to a certain type of person. But when you're developing you content do you ever consider at what stage your reader is at in the buying cycle? By segmenting your content to include all stages of a buying process(awareness, consideration,evaluation and purchase) you'll be sure to hit all your potentials at their stage in the buying process.read more >

Time Out – 100 Thoughts on Marketing

Sometimes in this busy world, we need to take a "time out" just like we make our kids and grandkids do to slow down and think about what we're doing. I recently read a post by Valeria Maltoni, in Conversation Agent entitled, 100 thoughts on Marketing. After reading them, I wanted to share them with you. read more >

Reach Tradesmen Using a Social Media Map

To maximize your SEO and social media, you need a plan to identify the audiences, objectives, strategy and tactics to reach your marketing goals.read more >

Industrial and B-to-B Marketers Can’t Ignore Social Media Anymore

We need to realize that social media is not a fad. The faster B-to-B manufacturers realize that social isn't just for "consumers," the better off they will be. Social media allows manufacturers to engage customers in more creative ways, build relationships and stay ahead of their competitors.read more >

If You Are Marketing To Tradesmen, Go Mobile

TRADESMEN INSIGHTS GOES MOBILE! Mobile web is huge. There are over 2.8 billion handsets in circulation. Far more mobile devices than PCs. It’s a global phenomenon.read more >
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