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 >

Eleventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $27,000 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

CLEVELAND –  September 2020 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for an eleventh year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $27,000 worth of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected $310,000 in donations. Organizations, businesses and residents were encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as building materials, furniture and appliances, to Sonnhalter to help benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing and homelessness. “This year, the Sonnhalter team had the unique challenge of putting together our Tool Drive in a way that could be safe and effective amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “While we anticipated a potential drop in community participation, we were pleasantly surprised and grateful to announce that our donations this year were as strong as years past.” “Cleveland Habitat for Humanity eagerly awaits Sonnhalter’s annual Tool Drive,” said John Habat, president/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “It replenishes our inventory and generates revenues to support our affordable homeownership program. Sonnhalter has been doing this for more than ten years, demonstrating again and again its commitment to affordable housing in Cleveland. Sonnhalter is a treasured partner.” Community participants in the Eleventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included the Berea Recreation Center, Fear’s Confections, Frangos Group, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, Skidmark Garage, The Wine Spot and many individuals living in the community. Trade industry participants in the Eleventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Airmaster, Beta Tools, Buyers Products, General Pipe Cleaners, Jergens, Inc., Kapro, KNIPEX Tools, Mortar Net Solutions, Samsel Supply, Sutton Industrial, Viega LLC, Winter Equipment, Wolff Bros. Supply and Woodhill…read more >

How the Trade Media is Adjusting to the “New Normal” of COVID-19: A Conversation with CFE Media

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “New Normal.” We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were adapting to this new environment. The following is part five of our five-part series. CFE Media and Technology has provided engineers in manufacturing, commercial and industrial buildings and manufacturing control systems with the knowledge they need to improve their operational efficiency for the past 10 years. The company’s publishing brands include Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering and Oil and Gas Engineering. We spoke with Matt Waddell, vice president of sales at CFE Media and Technology, who oversees the entire sales organization and ensures CFE provides its marketing partners with direct access to targeted engineers, market intelligence and best practices to accomplish their marketing goals. When the COVID-19 pandemic initially hit, CFE immediately realized that its subscribers were, for the most part, working from home. Reaching multiple engineer marketplaces—plant engineering and manufacturing, control engineering, oil and gas engineering and consulting specifying engineering—its subscribers had an easier transition than many other industry segments. “They either travel a lot and are used to working remotely, or they’ve been able to transfer computer capabilities and bandwidth to a home office,” said Waddell. “Other engineers within our subscriber base are considered essential workers that are represented by key markets like food and beverage-, pharma- and healthcare-related markets.” Lend a Helping Hand “We know that our engineering audience will remember those that have helped them during this difficult time, whether it was creating education or providing a free service,” said Waddell. “And, when companies find a way to help…read more >

How the Trade Media is Adjusting to the “New Normal” of COVID-19: A Conversation with Mechanical-Hub

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “New Normal.” We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were adapting to this new environment. The following is part three of our five-part series. Mechanical-Hub is an online industry resource for today's plumbing, heating and mechanical contractors. Founded in 2012, its mission is to provide updated industry news and information to the trade contractor and to partner with industry leaders in media, contracting and manufacturing. We spoke with John Mesenbrink, president of Mechanical-Hub, who oversees its one-of-a-kind website and digital ecosystem. Today’s busy contractors looking for information to help them perform their jobs more efficiently turn to the site for highlights of the latest industry news, originally written features, videos, new products and tools, weekly guest blogs and contractor resources. The “Hub” also features social media engagement on its social channels and is a cornucopia of unique and original information for contractors and a great place to connect with other professionals in the industry. “We started almost 10 years ago as a digital-only resource,” said Mesenbrink. “In these unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic, we feel that we are in a good position to be flexible and to help our clients and their companies get their messages out. We can be the vehicle to help promote a brand.” Online After-Hours Training Many of Mechanical-Hub sponsors rely heavily on in-person training and trade shows to educate their customers. With these types of events canceled because of COVID-19, Mechanical-Hub felt that it had an opportunity to help companies by facilitating casual online training sessions. A few companies…read more >

How the Trade Media is Adjusting to the “New Normal” of COVID-19: A Conversation with Babcox Media

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “new normal.” We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were adapting to this new environment. Following is part two of our five-part series. Babcox Media is a business-to-business media and information services company serving the auto dealer, auto care, tire, performance, commercial trucking, powersports and enthusiast markets. Its 100-year heritage is built upon its commitment to connecting audiences with quality content and providing clients with results-oriented campaigns. It delivers content through various assets across all channels and platforms to engage its audience. We spoke with Sean Donohue, group publisher/vice president of sales at Babcox Media, where he oversees several brands, including AutoSuccess, Dealer Service, Motorcycle and Powersports News, BodyShop Business, Engine Builder, TechShop and Professional Car Washing and Detailing. Betting on Video … Even Before COVID-19 “Over the last 18 months, we’ve been making big bets on video, which is proving to be a good strategy,” said Donohue. “Eighty percent of content viewed online is video in today’s world.” As tools get more complicated—and cars get more intricate, technicians are using video as a key training resource to conduct their jobs. Video allows technicians to learn a lot more, a lot quicker. Since COVID-19, the demand for video has not slowed down at all, and, in fact, the video segment of its business has actually increased for Babcox Media. “Everybody’s at home and there is a desire to want more content, to learn, to see what’s new, to see what’s next, and to be able to do that quickly in a video format,” added…read more >

How the Trade Media is Adjusting to the “New Normal” of COVID-19: A Conversation with BNP Media

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “new normal.” We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were changing their tactics to adapt to this new environment. Following is part one of our five-part series. As print readership has been declining over the past several years, many publications have been gradually making the move to offering digital issue options for readers who would prefer to receive their industry news on their laptop, tablet or smartphone. One publisher doing exactly that is BNP Media. In business for more than 90 years, BNP Media is one of the largest B2B publishers, publishing nearly 60 titles that serve the architecture, engineering & construction, food, beverage & packaging, gaming & hospitality, manufacturing, mechanical systems (including plumbing), security and services markets. We spoke with Dan Ashenden, group publisher of the Mechanical/Plumbing Group at BNP Media, on his organization’s reaction. The Mechanical/Plumbing Group publications include Plumbing & Mechanical, which targets contractors, Supply House Times, which targets wholesale distributors and PM Engineer which targets plumbing/mechanical engineers. Digital-First Format “Moving to an all-digital platform was part of BNP’s long-term strategy, said Ashenden. “The unfortunate pandemic we find ourselves in was simply a happenstance and motivation for BNP to say, ‘Why go slow with this plan?’ We’d already done the groundwork—we had been getting all our users registered and had started creating products that were trackable. And, our customers were demanding more digital options.” On March 31, 2020, BNP co-CEO Taggert Henderson made an official video announcement that beginning with the April 2020 issues, BNP controlled subscription publications were moving to…read more >

Throughout COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, Professional Tradesmen are Essential as Ever

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter Over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented set of challenges to not only our country’s workforce, but nearly all facets of our daily lives. While millions of Americans are being advised to work remotely or self-quarantine, our professional tradesmen are still reporting for work each day to keep the lights on and the water running. While this pandemic has brought on stress and uncertainty for many, Sonnhalter wanted to shine a light on some of the ways that those working in the trades continue to persevere, with some even finding new opportunities to succeed during this crisis. Toilet Woes Still Require Plumbing Pros With the well-documented toilet paper shortages across the country, people have resorted to using toilet paper alternatives that can wreak havoc on your plumbing, from napkins to shredded t-shirts. While those at home see these incidents as misfortunes, the recent increase of flushing improper items has provided an unexpected increase in business for some plumbers, like Michael Williams of Just Drains LLC in Philadelphia. “This is going to turn out fantastically for the drain cleaning industry,” he asserts. “People are flushing lots of things down the drain that should not go there – wipes, tissues, paper towels.” Utility Company Workers are Redefining “Work from Home” With hospitals filling up, people filing to the supermarkets to stock up and many telecommuting from their homes, it is unthinkable how much worse the crisis would be without power or natural gas. But in order to maintain operations, utility companies in New York and Florida have taken a new approach to both keep utilities running and abide social distancing guidelines by sequestering employees in offices, power stations and control rooms. According to the article, employees for these utility companies…read more >

5 Tips for Communications During the Coronavirus Crisis

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter As we’ve learned from the fallout regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), this is a very unsettling time for businesses, and it has created many challenges for manufacturers, as well as their team members and customers. It’s important during times of crisis, such as we are experiencing, to maintain a calm, collected brand voice and keep the channels of communication open with customers, team members and stakeholders. Here are five tips for effective communications during the COVID-19 crisis: Form a Communications Leadership Team Have representatives from every aspect of your business—C-suite, Marketing, HR, Operations, Sales, Legal, etc. so that you receive input on the different perspectives of how the crisis is affecting the individual departments and their functions. This team can vary in size based on the size of your company and should include a chain of command. From this team, appoint one or two official spokespersons that will be the only ones providing information on behalf of the organization. 15353read more >

International Builders’ Show (IBS/KBIS) 2020 Show Recap

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter This year’s NAHB International Builders’ Show was as robust as ever, with more than 90,000 attendees and 1,400 exhibitors packed into the massive, 60,000-square-foot Las Vegas Convention Center. The show has always been a special and important time for builders, remodelers, design professionals, architects and specialty contractors to learn and share their new ideas. Strong Educational Focus The show offered more than 150 education sessions in seven different tracks and dozens of hands-on demonstration opportunities. Examples were the “Tech Bytes” sessions, which featured two stages delivered via headphones and attendees could choose the program they wished to follow by using a switch on the headset. The topics for these programs focused on technologies that are changing the home-buying experience and how attendees can better plan their projects and business operations. Other key highlights from the educational portion of the show included the “Game Changer” keynotes which addressed critical issues in the housing industry and the “High Performance Building Zone” which offered practical demonstrations on topics like blower-door testing and rainscreen-sliding details. The Future of “Smart” Homes From a tech standpoint, one of the greater themes from this year’s show continues to be “smart” technology and digital assistants and how attendees could incorporate them into their future home building projects. The CEDIA® Technology Pavilion gave attendees the chance to familiarize themselves with hundreds of products and ideas that they could apply to their kitchen, bath, energy efficiency and other construction and remodeling projects. Another showcase for the latest in smart tech came from The New American Home® and The New American Remodel® model homes which featured some of the industry’s smartest and most energy-efficient products on the market. Some of the highlights from these models included motorized window shades, climate control solutions and in-wall touch…read more >

Marketing Minute: Trade Show Pre-Show Activities

We're in the midst of trade show season, and admittedly, trade shows can be overwhelming.  Sonnhalter is here to help. In the first installment of our series of Marketing Minute videos on trade show best practices, Matt Sonnhalter reviews some of the pre-show activities that you can take advantage of to help make your next trade show a success. From reminding your contacts through e-blasts, e-newsletters and social media and sending postcards to the preregistered  attendee list, to leveraging the editorial contacts in attendance, trade shows are great marketing opportunities when properly taken advantage of.   To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here.   Let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover.read more >

Marketing Minute: Trade Show Leads and Inquiries

When you return from a trade show, do you have a plan in place for handling the leads and inquiries that your company received? Join Matt Sonnhalter for the latest Marketing Minute. Learn several helpful strategies for handling all the leads you may have received while attending a trade show. Matt addresses prioritizing leads, following up with the press and evaluating your presence with your team. 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. https://youtu.be/iUmQ1c-w5gE  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 >

Tenth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $28,000 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

CLEVELAND – September 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for a tenth year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $28,000 worth of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected nearly $280,000 in donations. Organizations, businesses and residents were encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as building materials, furniture and appliances, to Sonnhalter to help benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing and homelessness.       “Cleveland Habitat for Humanity eagerly awaits Sonnhalter’s annual Tool Drive,” said John Habat, president/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “It replenishes our inventory and generates revenues to support our affordable homeownership program. Sonnhalter has been doing this for ten years, demonstrating again and again its commitment to affordable housing in Cleveland. Sonnhalter is a treasured partner.” 14889read more >

Manufacturers: Why Customer Service Is So Important In Serving the Tradesman

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter We’ve talked much over the years about customer service and how important it is to resolve issues. And, we’ve also addressed the issue that customer service is everyone’s responsibility, from sales through tech support. Customer service is really all about your customers’ total experience. This is true in our relationships with distributors as well as contractors. Manufacturers need to be careful, especially when business is on the uptick and attention to detail may come in second to short-term sales increases. Don’t take your distributor and tradesman for granted. There’s always someone out there that can identify contractor’s needs and deliver—and it won’t necessarily be based on price or delivery—but on the total customer experience. This article in HVACR Business by Jim Baston stressed, once again, how important customer service is in the big picture. Jim’s article is focused on the HVACR service business, but his points can be transferred to the manufacturing sector as well. Jim breaks it down into five dimensions of service: Reliability: Your ability to dependably and accurately deliver as promised. Assurance: Your ability to convey trust and confidence. Tangibles: Your personal presentation and the condition of the physical facilities and equipment. Empathy: Your ability to demonstrate a high degree of caring and individual attention. Responsiveness: Your willingness to promptly and courteously respond to customers’ needs. As manufacturers, you need to understand your customers’ (distributors and contractors) needs. Remember that everyone in your company is in customer service. If you haven’t asked your customers what their needs are recently, maybe you should. Things change and their priorities might have too. Focus on what matters to them. If you like this post you may want read: Manufacturers: Are you keeping up with your customers expectations? Customer Service: What Are You Doing to Retain Customers?read more >

Sonnhalter and Viega Honored with PRSA Rocks Award

Marketing communications firm wins silver award in the “feature article” category for its article on the subject of water quality. CLEVELAND – May 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, received a silver award in the “feature article” category at the 16th Annual Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Cleveland Rocks Awards competition. The feature article, “Go with the Flow: Best Practices for Maintaining Water Movement in Plumbing Systems,” was written in collaboration with Viega, a leading manufacturer of pipe fitting installation technology. In 2018, Sonnhalter targeted and reached out to a top trade publication in the plumbing industry and pitched a feature article on the subject of water quality. Once accepted, Sonnhalter interviewed and collaborated with Viega personnel to develop an article that focused on how to reduce the spreading of water system-related illnesses. The winning feature article outlined a number of best practices for maintaining water flow and temperature with the intention of informing plumbing system designers and installers of some of the new ways to combat the risk of waterborne diseases. 14605read more >

Marketing Minute: Using an Integrated Marketing Campaign

Running a successful marketing campaign requires a number of different tactics, not just one "silver bullet." Join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute and learn how your company can get the most results out of your marketing efforts by using an integrated campaign.   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 >

How to Repurpose Content for Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, 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. Looking for ideas on how to do this? This article in Social Media Examiner, “19 Tools to Create Social Media Content,” shows you ways to repackage existing material and use other social media outlets to get the message out. They outline several ways and give examples of tools to use. Here are some highlights that I think manufacturers could use in reaching the professional tradesman: Present your business via video. Tell your story, not the corporate one, but the one that talks about ways to come up with solutions to help contractors do their jobs better. Use infographics. They are 30 times more likely to be read than pure text. People like visuals and are more likely to share them. Convert long form content into slides. Use existing presentations and break them up into smaller groups. You can use them as PowerPoint presentations or there are programs that will easily allow you to incorporate animation. Use podcasts to share your voice. Podcasts are one of the fastest growing mediums for social media and it comes as no surprise. Interview contractors and talk about the newest technologies. I’m sure you can come up with a multitude of topics to cover.  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 >

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 >

Sonnhalter Adds Weldcote as New Client

CLEVELAND – January  2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announces Weldcote as one of its newest clients.  Weldcote was founded in 2006 by Bill Roland and John Pandorf, two industry veterans with more than 65 years of experience. Weldcote manufactures and distributes high-quality welding supplies, including abrasives, consumables, production alloys, auto-darkening welding helmets and various tools and accessories. With its recent acquisition by Zika, new product offerings are continually being added. “Our vision as a company is not to compete with the ‘titans’ of our industry, but rather supplement and expand the offerings that are not being provided by those larger firms,” said Joe O’Mera, CEO of Weldcote. “We believe having a niche-minded agency like Sonnhalter will help us leverage our innovative product offerings by using the best possible channels.” Sonnhalter assists Weldcote in a number of public relations objectives, including developing press releases, organizing media events, drafting and placing feature articles in key trade publications, providing trade show support and maintaining media relations on a daily basis. “Weldcote is a company that has recently experienced a lot of success, and we look forward to utilizing our industry expertise to put them in the best position possible in getting the word out on all the exciting things to come in the near future,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are pleased to be working with Weldcote and to increase visibility for its innovative line of products.” 14441read more >

Podcasting: Another Effective Tool to Reach Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect Podcasts are a very popular medium today and rightfully so. Podcasts can add another dimension to your audience as they can hear the voice behind the words. Alisa Meredith wrote a piece on HubSpot on why marketers should be using podcasting and shows you that getting started is relatively painless. Jay Baer, in an episode on Social Media Examiner, said, “There’s something about bringing somebody inside your head through your ear holes that ties you to that person in a way that reading a blog post or reading a book or anything else just doesn’t.”   Using podcasts is a way of building brand awareness as well as loyalty. Podcasting gives busy contractors another way to get information (let’s face it, we all only have so much time to read), and with the auto industry’s smart dashboards, it is making it easier to listen to. You can also upload your podcasts onto iTunes, which can give you access to more potential customers who are searching for info on key subjects by key words or phrases. Don’t be obsessed with the number of people who listen to your podcast, but instead, be more concerned on the quality of them.     There are several ways that you can use podcasts to get to the professional tradesmen. Here are a few to consider: You initiate them. You can talk about issues affecting the tradesmen and possible solutions they could consider. You can interview industry experts or association leaders that can talk about everything from legislative issues that might relate to your business in the future, or talk about things you can do now to improve your business. Be a guest on someone else’s podcast. There are bloggers out there that target the same types of audiences you do. Follow them for a while, and…read 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 >

The Skills Gap and the Future of Manufacturing

Join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute and learn about how the current skills gap affects the future of manufacturing and how Sonnhalter and other organizations are getting involved to help. 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 >

7 Key Findings from Plant Engineering’s 2016 Maintenance Study

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter Every year Plant Engineering conducts their Maintenance Study. The objective of this research is to better understand maintenance practices and strategies currently in place in North American manufacturing facilities and the effects of maintenance on productivity and profitability. The 2016 study identified seven important high-level findings impacting the manufacturing industry: Maintenance Strategies – facilities utilize multiple maintenance strategies on the plant floor, with preventive maintenance (76%), “run-to-failure” (61%) and computerized maintenance management system (60%) being the top three Shutdown Schedule – on average, all systems are shutdown three times each year Maintenance Support – 6 in 10 facilities dedicate a significant amount of maintenance support to their rotating equipment Unscheduled Downtime – aging equipment (50%) and operator errors (15%) remain the leading causes Training – more than half of respondents’ maintenance personnel receives training in safety; basic mechanical skills; basic electrical skills; motors, gearboxes, bearings; and lubrication Technologies – 62% of respondents’ facilities use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) Outsourcing – the average facility outsources 22% of their maintenance operations, up from 17% in 2015 Diving deeper into the research findings, I was surprised at some of antiquated and simplistic practices still used for maintenance, especially given this age of technology and the Industrial-Internet-of-Things (IIoT). For example the second highest maintenance strategy was Reactive Maintenance also known as “run-to-failure.” And the leading cause for unscheduled downtime is Aging Equipment at 50%, while Lack of Time to Perform Maintenance or Lack of Maintenance make up 25%. And even though 83% of maintenance personnel receive training in safety, only 3 in 5 respondents indicate that their maintenance teams receive basic mechanical and electrical skills. How can we expect these people to maintain equipment if they are not properly trained? And the ultimate technology dichotomy, “clipboards…read more >

Go Hands-On for Quality Trade Show Interactions

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter One of the most underutilized components implemented by exhibitors at trade shows is the “hands-on” demonstration of their product/solution. Professional tradespeople make their living working with their hands, so it should not be a surprise “hands-on” product demonstrations are a favorite for this audience. Typically trade shows like to talk about the quantitative stats…number of attendees, number of exhibitors and number of speakers. But instead of focusing on the number of people walking up and down the aisles and attending these shows, maybe we should be focusing more on the quality of the interactions between trade show attendees and the exhibitors. One of the more effective quality interactions would be the “hands-on” product demonstrations and skills competitions at trade shows. In general, booths that have some sort of demonstration or activity for their product tend to have more traffic and activity. The first quarter of the year tends to be a busy time for trade shows targeting the professional tradesperson. I recently attended the World of Concrete Show and was amazed at the number of hands-on areas. The parking lots of the Las Vegas Convention Center were packed with manufacturer tents highlighting “hands-on” demos with everything from cutting and drilling, to polishing and breaking up concrete. In another parking lot across from the convention center, there were as many as 4,000 spectators in attendance to watch a number of masonry skills contests, including the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500, SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER, MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge and the MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block. It was amazing to see the passion, enthusiasm and support shown by the attendees watching these tradespeople showcase their skills. All of these areas outside the convention center consistently had more active traffic compared to the normal booths inside the exhibition hall.…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 >

What is a creative brief?

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

What is a USP?

Do you have a USP? Do you know what a USP is? USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition and it is an important part of developing a marketing program. In the first video of Sonnhalter's Marketing Minute series, Matt explains how to develop a good USP for your next marketing program.read more >

Big Data, Mobile and Social Media Dominate the Conversations at the 2014 BMA Global Conference

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect I recently attended the Business Marketing Association (BMA) global conference which was held in Chicago May 28-30, 2014. The largest B2B marketing conference in the world, BMA14 was attended by a record 950 B2B marketers from 450 firms, 33 states and 12 nations. The 2014 BMA conference also deployed two digital platforms—Livecube and ISEBOX—to enable speakers to take polls and attendees to ask questions, follow tweets, share photos and access conference content. If you are in charge of planning live events/conferences, I would suggest checking out these two resources. The 3-day conference was jam packed with content – featuring 79 speakers and presenters leading 41 sessions—three pre-conference programs, nine panels, 12 keynotes and 17 firestarters. These sessions covered a wide array of topics and trends of critical interest and importance to B2B marketers today. Someone at the conference referenced the amount of information presented was like drinking from a fire hydrant! Here are a few themes I saw throughout the entire conference: Big Data It’s becoming more and more difficult for marketers in today’s environment and I thought one illustration that did a great job of representing our challenge was the Marketing Technology Landscape graphic by ChiefMartec.com. We are surrounded by data, but starved for insights; that is, data does not automatically equal insight. Today’s marketers need to solve both analytical and creative issues as we continue to trend toward extreme personalization…segments of one. Mobile Since mobile devices are the predominant way people globally access the web and information, mobile is a critical factor when planning future marketing efforts. Here are a few stats from the conference that help reinforce the importance of mobile: Mobile data usage doubled in 2013 In the US, 1 of every 5 minutes spent on mobile are on either Facebook…read more >

2014 Report on B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing in North America

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs recently released their fourth annual report on the content marketing practices of business-to-business (B2B) marketers working in the manufacturing industry. In this report you’ll find answers to questions such as: What percentage of manufacturing marketers have adopted content marketing? What tactics are they using? How does their approach to content marketing differ from that taken by other B2B marketers? This report also looks at how manufacturing marketers approach content marketing when compared with a wider group of B2B North American marketers representing a range of industry segments. Here are some key highlights from this most recent study on manufacturing marketers and their content marketing efforts: 86% have adopted content marketing Only 30% say they are effective at content marketing Use the same number of tactics (13) as other B2B marketers 81% use YouTube to distribute content and rate it as the most effective social media platform Cite different goals for content marketing when compared with other B2B marketers Top challenges faced for their content marketing programs: 1. Lack of time, 2. Producing the kind of content that engages and 3. Producing enough content 46% plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months Click here to read more details and download the full report.read more >

3 Reasons Why The 2014 International Builders’ Show Was A Success

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter I attended the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas (February 4-6, 2014). This was the first time that IBS and NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry (KBIS) were colocated under the Design & Construction Week umbrella. With over 1,700 exhibitors combined, covering more than 650,000 square feet of floor space, these shows delivered more than 75,000 residential construction and design professionals. Here are three reasons why I thought this year’s show was a success compared to recent years: IBS/KBIS Combination – Since both of these shows had been struggling in recent years, it was a no brainer to combine these two shows under the same roof. The synergy of this marriage helped drive renewed energy for both of these shows. Exhibitors benefited from attendees they wouldn’t normally see; that is, KBIS attendees that normally would not have attended IBS and vice versa. It is much easier to walk down to a separate hall than to plan a trip for a separate show. Each show had its own dedicated app to help navigate the vast array of booths, educational sessions and speakers. Although I wished you could search exhibitors for both shows within each respective app. Stronger 2014 Outlook – The 2014 forecast for the residential new construction market is the strongest it has been since the 2008/2009 housing collapse. This helped drive overall attendance from the number of exhibitors to the building and design professionals crowding the aisles. Las Vegas – Like it or not, Vega is still one of the best places to have industry trade shows of this magnitude.  Especially this year, given the terribly cold Midwest/Northeast winter and Polar Vortexes, everyone was more than happy rushing to the sunny and warm desert! Was IBS a success for you?read more >

Five Observations From The 2014 AHR Expo

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter I attended the 66th International Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Exposition in New York City (January 21-23, 2014). For those not familiar with this trade show, it is the largest HVACR show in the United States, endorsed by 33 leading HVACR industry associations and co-sponsored by ASHRAE  and AHRI. This year’s attendance was once again very strong, with more than 61,000 people attending and more than 1,800 exhibitor booths. Here are five of my observations from the show: Strong 2014 Outlook – in addition to the positive sentiment of almost everyone I spoke with at the show, the recent ASHRAE/AHR Expo survey forecasts a pretty good year for the HVACR business. Of the 1,000 HVACR manufacturers worldwide surveyed, 79% of the respondents said their prospects for business were either “excellent” (19%) or “good” (60%) for the coming year, 90% of the HVACR manufacturers believe sales will increase and hospitals/healthcare, light commercial and data/telecom centers were the top three market segments identified to be the most promising for 2014. Trade Publications Are Not Dead – 35+ publications had a presence at the this year’s show, each with their army of sales people combing the aisles for new and potential advertisers; there also seemed to be an increase of international publications covering both Latin/South America as well as Asia. Technology Continues To Play Strong Role – it seems every year at this show more and more technology is introduced to the products and services showcased, whether it is the software driving these products or the tablets used to control and monitor them. Again this year, there was a dedicated AHR Expo app for the show which not only helped you find your favorite booth, but also had valuable information about the speakers, educational sessions, transportation and local…read more >

Marketing 101 for Manufacturers

I recently had the privilege of co-presenting a “Marketing 101 for Manufacturers” seminar for MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network) with a colleague of mine, Sage Lewis, president of SageRock. You can see the full presentation here, but I want to focus on one of the closing slides of this presentation, “10 Key Factors for Successful Marketing Programs.”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 >

Importance of In-Person Training for Manufacturers

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 customers.read more >

Webcast: Mobile Marketing

Our vision architect, Matt Sonnhalter, will be presenting on CFE Media’s webcast, “Mobile Marketing: What Impression Are You Making and How Will You Measure It?” Matt, along with Kim Dushinski author of The Mobile Marketing Handbook, will discuss how B2B marketers can make a good mobile impression. Whether you’re ready for mobile, or not, it’s here. If you have a website, you’re already being viewed on mobile devices. Join Matt on Tuesday, June 19 at 2 PM EST for this free, informative presentation. You can register here.read more >

Manufacturing Pros Look to Generate Leads

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to most, but most Industrial Marketing budgets have been cut this year. It's also no surprise that Mar/Com departments are still charged with bringing in leads. But what I want to warn everyone about is don't be focused on just the number of leads (yeah, I'm assuming that they are qualified in some manner). Shoppers are getting ready to buy and these are the ones that need to be identified and passed on to the sales department.read more >