Pricing in a Volatile Market

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com. We are in unchartered waters of a global pandemic and macroeconomic uncertainty. In this environment, how should businesses adjust their strategies to best address the unpredictable market?  Are price cuts – or price increases – warranted to protect growth and margins? Pricing in a volatile market is challenging. Dramatic pricing decisions can have a lasting effect on the profitability profile of a business long after a downturn. Conversely, best-in-class businesses use market volatility to their advantage by identifying opportunities to maintain, and even expand margins and reset their profitability. Now is not the time to overreact. Rather it’s a time when data analytics can help considerably to make informed decisions. With the right strategy, tools and approach, businesses can turn what appears to be a poor market situation into greater profitability and improved market positioning in the long-term. What To Do Resist the urge to immediately lower pricing. Impulsive decisions often have unanticipated consequences. If competitors respond with their own price reductions, it could start a price war that will decrease industry profitability across the board and reset the competitive dynamics in the market for years to come. A lower price in the downturn becomes a new normal in the minds of customers and sets new reference price and margin expectations for the business. And when the market rebounds, there’s no guarantee that price increases can recoup lost profitability. In the same vein, don’t mirror competitor behaviors without a data-driven strategic review. These actions may trigger a race to the bottom all market participants want to avoid. Try to balance the need to stay competitive against implementing a policy that will reduce industry profitability. 15854read 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 >

Are You Using Landing Pages?

No matter what kind of promotion you’re doing, when going after the professional tradesmen, the bottom line is you want them to ask for more info and ultimately make a sale. You can’t do that in an ad (print or digital) by itself. You need those that are interested in whatever it is you’re selling to go somewhere to get more info. Effective landing pages make it clear what the visitor is going to get by visiting the site. A landing page is ideal for a next step in the lead process. A good landing page will target a particular audience using a unique page that allows visitors to download the appropriate content (you wouldn’t have the same offer for say a tradesman and for a design engineer). They also help you track and monitor activity by offers so you know what works and what doesn’t. Landing pages help segment markets, capture leads and make it possible to monitor advertising effectiveness. By directing them to a specific page with an offer and the appropriate form to fill out, it makes it more likely that they will complete the form and convert to a lead. If your visitors decide to download your offer, why not invite them to share your content? Lead nurturing is a very important part of the process. 50% of those who respond aren’t ready to buy just yet. 78% of sales that start with a web inquiry get won by the first company that responds. By sending a follow-up thank you to those that downloaded material, you have the opportunity to offer them additional info and downloads, as well as asking them to share it with others via social media. If you like this post, you might want to read: Are You Using Landing Pages to Help Qualify Leads? Tips on Making Your…read more >

Manufacturers: Help Your Contractors Have Online Success

Many contractors have trouble navigating the digital scene. Here are tips that you can share with them to help them get noticed and sell more of your stuff!   Contractor's Online Success Strategy: Get Listed on These Four Websites For service-providing businesses, like contracting companies, greater online visibility can almost immediately bring more business. People’s primary way of finding somebody to do a job for them is by doing quick online research. In order to increase your chance of being found online, one of the simplest things you can do is get listed on websites for contractor services. Here are some websites worth considering. HomeAdvisor HomeAdvisor.com With over 487,000 likes on Facebook, 26,200 followers on Instagram and more than 40,400 followers on Twitter, HomeAdvisor is one of the most popular websites for home service professionals. HomeAdvisor’s web platform is extremely user-friendly. There is a very wide array of home improvement categories to choose from. Homeowners pick one, describe their needs and they get matched with up to four professionals. They can also read reviews of a particular contractor’s services. HomeAdvisor offers contractors a robust, user-friendly system that lets you categorize and organize your leads, keep track of communications, and connect with prospects via phone or email with the touch of a button. Its mobile app lets you take these tools on the road to help you stay on top of your pipeline. CraftJack CraftJack.com CraftJack is a very versatile web tool which allows you to do a lot more than just get listed in a search directory. CraftJack works much like a social network but one geared exclusively towards contractors. Each contractor has a unique profile page, which they can use to promote their business. You can use it to showcase your finished work by posting photos and videos. Plus, the page…read more >

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 Offers COVID-19 Information Resource for Business-to-Tradesman (B2T) Industry

As a marketing communications firm dedicated to the business-to-tradesmen (B2T) industry, we quickly realized the tremendous impact COVID-19 would have on all facets of our business. We set out to develop resources to help businesses during the pandemic, and also educate ourselves by hearing from all types of industry voices on the effects of the pandemic. Through extensive research and interviews with a number of key industry stakeholders, we began creating this content at the start of the pandemic and continued throughout the ensuing months to examine the effects and compare them to effects that were initially predicted for the future of the industry.   In our “COVID-19 Tip Sheet,” you’ll discover how manufacturers, media, distributors and influencers adjusted to the challenges of this new normal. The coverage of the topic includes a five-part series with several editors, publishers and key personnel from the trade media industry, a three-part series of interviews with industry influencers, advice for COVID-19 internal and external communications and content and interviews from the distributor’s perspective. You can sign up to download this comprehensive resource guide full of information regarding COVID-19 and its effects on the niche that Sonnhalter serves, here. Need help with navigating your marketing strategies through this difficult time? Contact us. And check out our other Tip Sheets here.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 >

Are You Using Automation Tools to Help in Social Media?

We’re all trying to do more with less. When it comes to social media, it’s no different. We should be focused on content and use automated tools to help spread the word on social platforms. Every industry is different but following are some automation tools you should consider and an infographic on the best times to post. Here’s a list of tools that will help you schedule and post your content at the best time:  SocialOomph – Provides scheduled social posting services for individuals and teams. Has been around since 2008. HootSuite – Allows you to manage up to 50 social media profiles, schedule your content and report your analytics. Sendible – Allows you to efficiently craft tailored posts for each social media platform and collaborate with your clients and teams. AgoraPulse – An easy-to use-social media management software that allows you to drive engagement and build authentic relationships on one platform. Buffer – Helps you manage multiple social media accounts at once and easily schedule content. ManageFlitter – Tools that help to optimize your Twitter account and identify your Twitter accounts’ prime time. Facebook Insights – Provides information about your Facebook audience and how they are interacting with your page. Later – Founded as the first-to-market Instagram scheduler in 2014, Later (formerly Latergramme) has grown from a simple Instagram tool to the number one visual marketing platform for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The following infographic by Zenesys will give you a ballpark of the best and worst times to post on various social media platforms.  read more >

Digital Transformation in Construction Businesses: Common Challenges and Solutions

by Lisa Michaels, guest columnist The construction industry is slowly embracing digital transformation and using it in its design, project estimation, and safety perspectives. However, some of the players are still hesitant about the new technological changes, making it hard to develop strategies aimed at streamlining the whole process. Digital transformation is vital in construction. It helps to simplify complex processes such as resource traceability, communication, on-time project completion, productivity, and employee safety. These are all major hindrances to profitability and customer satisfaction. Introducing digital solutions is a good move that allows construction experts to face and tackle the challenges faced during project management. What Digital Transformation Means in Construction Transforming the construction industry is not just about bringing in the latest technologies and incorporating them into the processes. It means addressing all old challenges using new technology. This includes assessing the business and project needs, strategizing, and mapping the journey to ensure all future work is based on improved interrelated processes. Digitization is a fundamental shift in business operations to ensure growth, efficiency, and profitability. By adopting data-enabled field software and hardware and other vital digital tools, you'll be able to sustain growth for your firm. For instance, if you use drones or other UAVs for aerial photography, you'll expedite the land survey using the best imaging techniques, data analytics, and topographic mapping software for informing the building strategy. These tools can also help inspect sites for structural issues or safety hazards, helping to secure the sites. When used alongside 3D printing, progress reporting, and automated equipment tracking, these techniques can reduce the time, cost, and effort exerted in the entire construction process. Common Challenges Related to Digital Transformation in Construction Many new technologies are available to help construction businesses become more efficient and productive. While you may be…read more >

Virtual Happy Hours, Makeshift Offices and a Million Zoom Calls: Team Sonnhalter Checks in from Home

by Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer It has been more than five months since the Sonnhalter office transitioned to an indefinite work-from-home (WFH) policy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. And like thousands of companies and millions of employees all over the world, we have both struggled and thrived as we learn to live with this massive paradigm shift. While our stories may not be unique, we thought it would be a fun exercise to have a team roundtable and let everyone reflect and share the ways they’ve adjusted to life in quarantine and learned to thrive as best as they can in the “New Normal.” When Sonnhalter initially started working from home, what were some of the initial adjustments you had to make to your daily routine in order to be productive? Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman: I was fairly used to WFH from my time independent contracting for a few years. So, although I stopped getting up quite as early as I used to (5:45 a.m.), I still got up early every morning and took a shower and got out of my PJs. I tried to step away from my computer at lunch time and take a walk after lunch to break and refresh myself. It is proven that taking a walk can reduce stress, and studies have shown that going for walks can not only improve your ability to focus, but it can actually boost our creative problem-solving skills! Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter: I had to get used to both my wife and I working in a two-bedroom apartment, which was not designed for having two people work remotely! Other adjustments include keeping in daily contact with my fellow employees (when I was in the office it was easy to just walk around the office and say “hi” and catch…read more >

COVID-19’s Effects on B2T (Business-to-Trades) Industry Distributors

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect As all aspects of the B2T (business-to-trades) industry are challenged with navigating their businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we had the opportunity to gain some insights on this “New Normal” as it relates to the distributor sector of our industry. We gained insights by speaking to a couple of industry experts and learned how they saw the distributor sector adapting to this new environment. Open for Business When the pandemic first occurred, several major industrial distributors outlined COVID-19 safety precautions that they soon enacted in their facilities, including closing branches to the public except for curbside pickup, temperature screenings for all employees upon entry, staggered shifts and frequent deep cleanings. Smaller, local distributors followed suit, issuing statements on their protocols and not wanting their customers to wonder if they were still open.  “The distributors that we work with were open, but the vast majority of them locked their doors,” said Beck Oberholtzer, regional and marketing manager, at CSV Marketing, Inc., a manufacturers’ representative agency offering a diverse array of high-quality, industrial products. “If the distributor had a showroom, there was no walk-in business and they were doing touchless delivery.” “Most of the smaller distributors were not able to send their employees home,” added Oberholtzer.  “They still had employees working the phones and pulling orders, which were delivered or set outside. Some of these smaller, older-style businesses’ systems just aren’t set up to operate through the cloud. They have servers onsite and need people in the building to conduct business.” According to Natalie Forster, editor of Supply House Times, a BNP Media brand reaching wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers’ representatives of plumbing, bath and kitchen, industrial PVF, radiant and hydronics, and HVAC products, as well as the official publication of the American Supply Association, “The biggest impact…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 >

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for Eleventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive

Donate extra inventory, demo models, tools and building materials that are no longer needed during the month of August to support Habitat for Humanity. CLEVELAND – July 2020 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, is partnering with Habitat for Humanity again for its Eleventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive. In the past decade, Sonnhalter has raised more than $280,000 worth in donations for the organization. From Saturday, August 1 to Monday, August 31, organizations, businesses and manufacturers are encouraged to donate extra inventory, demo models, tools and building materials to the Sonnhalter Tool Drive to benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause and its efforts of eliminating substandard housing. “When we held our first annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive ten years ago, we never dreamed that we would be entering a second decade of working on this endeavor with such a great partner as the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity!” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We really count on the generosity of businesses to clean out their extra inventory, overstocked materials and demo models, and donate to this very worthy cause. In our eleventh year, we’re looking forward to exceeding the generous donations of years past.” Affiliates of Habitat for Humanity individually work with participants to sponsor fundraising activities such as tool drives. The Sonnhalter Tool Drive strives to engage businesses and organizations to look through warehouses for extra inventory and overstocked tools or items, as well as the community to look through their workbenches, storage lockers, basements and garages for duplicated or no-longer-needed tools and items to donate. Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity has completed more than 250 homes since 1987 and today, engages over 3,000 volunteers, who provide more than 93,000 hours of service per year to Cleveland’s most…read more >

How the Trade Media is Adjusting to the “New Normal” of COVID-19: A Conversation with SGC Horizon 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 four of our five-part series. SGC Horizon is a leading diversified media, content, marketing, data and events company serving the residential and commercial design and construction markets. The company has a collection of leading publication brands, including ProBuilder, Pro Remodeler, Building Design+Construction, Products, ProTradeCraft and Construction Equipment.   We spoke with Jeff Elliott, SGC Horizon Regional Sales Director and Principal. Since 2018, one of SGC Horizon’s key initiatives is ProCONNECT, a series of events that bring leading building industry professionals together with top building product manufacturers for a day-and-a-half of confidential one-on-one meetings to discuss upcoming projects and explore solutions. ProCONNECT is not just another trade show. ProCONNECT’s unique, one-on-one format and manageable size of up to 100 attendees and sponsors creates just the right environment for truly effective problem solving, high-level networking, and efficient use of attendees’ valuable time. “ProCONNECT is kind of like ‘speed dating’ between key target audiences of builders and building product manufacturers,” said Elliott. “Since we launched ProCONNECT, our 12 events have produced more than 5,000 one-on-one meetings.” Connecting Pros Virtually “When COVID-19 hit, we were in the midst of holding an in-person ProCONNECT event for the multifamily market,” said Elliott. “It was held right when the pandemic was starting, and only three people canceled. We received positive reactions with productive meetings and great leads.” Once the country started closing down and live events became impossible, SGC Horizon quickly responded…read more >

Let’s Improve Your Demonstration Skills

Each month, Alan Sipe, a contributing editor for Professional Distributor magazine, writes a sales skill article targeted to the independent business people who own and operate the various branded tool trucks you see parked at automotive repair shops  everywhere. Although this article is written for the automotive repair industry, the sales skills are applicable to everyone. Practice feature, advantage, benefit selling … and create some videos. All the cool stuff you ordered at your recent major jobber show or from your recent promotions is in and your mobile store is filled to the top. Your credit line is stretched to, or even past, its limit. Adding to this situation is the fact that COVID-19 is giving everyone good reason to keep their distance and be conservative with their purchases. Additionally, since most of us are not driving our vehicles very much, our cars are not breaking down and the rate of collisions has decreased. If you are still making your calls, each one must be more productive than ever. And if you are working from home, getting those sales is more difficult than ever. So, what’s a mobile jobber to do? The answer is to demonstrate your products better than ever. Remember: a presentation without demonstration is a wasted conversation. As a wagon jobber, you offer the technicians several benefits that other merchants can’t or won’t. Things like on-the-spot sales/service, repair or replacement of broken products, specialty products that are very hard to find elsewhere, a wide variety of products, excellent credit terms, and the knowledge to present the right tool for the job to be done. What you cannot do is compete on price. Therefore, you must be a better salesperson than any online picture or description, and significantly better than the next mobile jobber coming through the door.…read more >

Even During a Pandemic, Influencers in the Trades Build On: Part Three

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter With the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic constantly looming, finding silver linings throughout this situation isn’t always easy. But with millions stuck at home with their phones acting as their main source of entertainment and social interaction, influencers and content creators in the trades have been able to use this time as an opportunity to expand their audiences, connect and engage with their online communities and use their platforms to spread messages of positivity and encouragement. One of these content creators is Dustin Henson, owner of Rustic Customs Woodshop. Based out of Texas, Dustin primarily makes custom wood projects for customers, such as barn doors, dining room tables and built-in shelving units. On Instagram, Dustin is a very active voice in the woodworking and DIY communities, where he shares his projects and woodworking tips to his more than 13,000 Instagram followers. Sonnhalter spoke with Dustin to learn more about how the pandemic has affected his personal and professional life, the nature of the content he creates and some of the positives he has experienced while staying home with his wife and kids. Sonnhalter: What were some of the initial changes you noticed in your personal and professional life when the pandemic started? Dustin Henson: In my personal life, I think it’s obvious. It’s been nice spending time with the family, but I think being stuck in the house has us ready to strangle each other. [laughs] Professionally, I was already booked two or three months ahead of time, so it hadn’t slowed down my business yet. I just don’t have as many new projects coming in. Probably about 90% of my stuff is barn doors or custom-built furniture for houses, where I have to go out and visit the homes to measure…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 >

SEO Checklist for 2020

Today we have a guest post from Pete Kever, president of K6 Digital Marketing, who has been leading the SEO, search marketing, website development and digital marketing for its clients. He’s been at it since before Google. The World Wide Web has reached its “thirtysomething” birthday and is the base of the world’s digital information infrastructure. Today, according to websitehostingrating.com, there are over 1.74 billion websites containing many trillions of documents. With so many websites clamoring to deliver information to their target audience, search engine optimization (SEO) is as important as ever. SEO is the art and science of attempting to gain a listing of website content on page one of Google, the world’s most popular search engine. If your content is not on page one, your competitors are getting their messages in front of your potential customers instead of you. SEO helps businesses put their messages in front of people right at the moment they are searching for it. SEO is Important to Every Business Trades marketers and manufacturers need to care about their search engine rank. According to a recent Google study:   71 percent of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search On average, B2B researchers do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site 89 percent of B2B researchers use the internet during the B2B research process Nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials B2B researchers who are not in the C-suite influence purchase decisions 70 percent of B2B buyers and researchers are watching videos throughout their path to purchase While there are a number of marketing strategies and services available to get the attention of online viewers, such as social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing and digital banner ads, SEO still offers the most long-term value. We have developed…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 >

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 >

Crisis Communications: If a Crisis Hits, Do You Have a Plan?

The recent coronavirus pandemic reminds us that at any given time, organizations, communities, states and even countries can be faced with a crisis that requires effective communications with a strategic plan. Today seemed like a good time to dust off a past guest blog post from Nancy Valent of NMV Strategies on crisis communication.   Your phone rings. It's a CNN reporter wanting to know why your facility had an explosion, which injured five of your employees. What is your response? Probably the first reaction you have is to say: "No comment." It seems harmless and a good safety net to buy you some time. In reality, your "no comment" starts a snowball reaction of assumptions that you are trying to hide something or go on the defensive. Spokespeople who use this phrase are subliminally communicating that they are not being proactive or stepping out to really tell the truth. This type of response drives both consumers and business clients away and starts to degrade your brand and corporate identity faster than just saying in a very truthful tone: "I will get back to you in an hour with the facts and information, which I can confirm." Too many large, medium and even small manufacturing businesses operate under the philosophy that a company crisis will never happen to them. But, if it does it won't get media attention and somehow they will ultimately handle it. If you research any of the past company crises that get national attention and talk to the manufacturing operations people who have lived through it, they will tell you everyone should be prepared for the sudden and the smoldering crisis...it can happen to you. 15344read more >

Content Marketing Research for Manufacturing

A recent study published by The Content Marketing Institute identifies issues that manufacturing content marketers are facing. The B-to-B sector has always been known to be slightly behind the curve when compared to consumer goods, but the manufacturing side is even farther behind. The good news is that this sector is willing to try things, and this study shows that they are now identifying things that work and are focusing on improving them. One thing that definitely needs improving: too many manufacturing organizations are still talking about themselves instead of prioritizing their audience’s informational needs. While 51% of manufacturers regularly prioritize audience information needs, this number is quite a bit lower than the 73% of B2B North America content marketers who do. So, how can manufacturing marketers reverse this? 15314read more >

3 Areas To Tackle Now For Bottom Line Impact

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com. Several years ago, an Ohio-based specialty metal business made the decision not to charge for freight costs, even though their products were extremely heavy. The rationale? None of their competitors were charging, so they couldn’t either. In reality, this company was No. 1 in the industry, so all those competitors were actually just following their lead. When the company realized what was going on, it had the opportunity to change the policy for its entire industry. And so it did—collecting more than $1 million in additional revenues. Smart companies know pricing strategy isn’t just about the price on the invoice. To have an immediate impact on your bottom line without formally raising prices, here are three areas to tackle first. 1. Freight Costs If you’ve been operating for decades, your freight policies have probably been in place just as long. Maybe you don’t charge for freight at all, or fees are the same across all territories—or you charge the same as you did 50 years ago even though shipping rates have risen dramatically. To start, ask yourself: 15251read 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 >

Benefits and Challenges of Unpaid Influencer Partnerships

by Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter Lately, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of influencers in the trades. In fact, it has grown so much so that Sonnhalter clients are forming partnerships and relationships with these influencers much in the same way we would with traditional media. What defines an influencer can sometimes be broad, so there are categories like “micro-influencer” and “nano-influencer” that distinguish these social media content creators by the size of their audience. Many influencers make a full-time living by working with brands to make sponsored content that involves financial compensation. However, there are plenty of influencers who are slightly less established and are looking to start a relationship with a brand and are willing to make content in exchange for free product and cross promotional opportunities. Since the company is only sending product samples, unpaid influencer partnerships are great for increasing brand awareness and social media numbers when you have a limited marketing budget. Below is a real-world example that outlines some of the pros and cons of unpaid influencer partnerships. The Origin of the Campaign One of our clients had a strong reputation overseas as one of the leading manufacturers of spirit levels, laser levels, and layout tools, marking and measuring tools, but had yet to make a major splash in the U.S. We had experienced a decent amount of success in getting this client featured in many key trade publications, but with the rise of influencer marketing in the woodworking, construction and DIY markets, we thought we could gain more traction with our time by exploring this new, grassroots approach. We wanted a better method for conveying the client’s product ingenuity in a way that was more interactive and visual. We figured that the quickest way to grab the attention and build…read more >

Manufacturers: How Are You Getting Closer to Professional Tradesmen?

By John Sonnhalter, Founder, Sonnhalter Beyond the normal marketing tactics you do, what are you doing to get closer to your contractors and LISTEN to what their issues are? May I suggest a tradesmen council? You all have brand advocates out there, why not get them together a few times a year? By doing so, you can get a better sense of what’s happening in their world and what keeps them up at night. It's also an opportunity to run new product ideas by them before putting them into production. If you make the meetings about them and not you, the outcome will be more positive. You know these guys talk to each other either through social media and forums or at trade events. Meetings can be planned around major trade shows or association meetings. You’d simply invite them to come in a day ahead of time for a half-day meeting. I’d also suggest that some of the meetings be held at your location (at your expense) so they get to meet other members of your team. Keep these meetings on track with an agenda that includes issues they want to talk about as well. There also should be action items coming out of each meeting where they can see that you actually did listen and are taking some action. Note that all action items don’t have to have a positive resolution, but the council needs to know that you at least took it under consideration. Other than the ultimate end user, do you sell through independent reps and or distributors? These should be on your radar screen to get closer to as well. Rep and distributor councils can also reap great results. Reps are in the trenches daily and can give you valuable insights not only on the end…read more >

The State of SEO In Industrial Marketing

Today, most industrial marketers understand that their company’s website entails more than a nice-looking, professional site that is informative and responsive. SEO is an important component to generate traffic to your site and shouldn’t be neglected. SEO is a constantly growing and evolving marketing tactic. Industrial marketers must optimize pages for key words and build links, and today, more than ever, make high-quality content available for improving search engine rankings. Search engines are continually changing and upgrading their algorithms, creating almost a mystique about when it comes to the best tactics to employ. GlobalSpec recently set out to find out how industrial marketers feel about SEO. It conducted a survey examining the challenges, spending and content production processes. According to the survey results of industrial marketers: 72% actively produce content for SEO purposes in their organizations 57% do not have any employees dedicated to SEO 45% expect their spending on SEO to increase over the next 12 months 19% are unsure of which SEO strategies work A summary of the results is illustrated by GlobalSpec’s “The State of SEO in Industrial Marketing” infographic. The in-depth survey is available for download here. Want more info about SEO in industrial marketing? Read blog post SEO Checklist or listen to podcast SEO in Manufacturing: 3 Things You Need To Be Doing.read more >

How to Use Content to Reach Contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Founder and Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter We all want to get our message in front of contractors. In order to get more mileage out of your content, you need to tie it to your strategy. We need to help contractors with solutions to their problems, a better technique or tool for the job. A different process that will save time and money. Online training for their workers. We’re all so concerned on getting our message out that we sometimes miss other opportunities to use the same content (message) and deliver it differently. I recently read a post by John Jantsch, 10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content, that brings this into perspective. Contractors get their info in several formats. Have you tried any other ways of delivering your message? Here are some highlights from John’s post: Turn your content into a series of videos that the sales team can send out on an individual basis Do a webinar and feature it on your website Develop an infographic and send it out in an e-blast Testimonials. Locate contractors who are already happy customers to give you testimonials, either written or on video. You don’t need more content – you need the right content in the right context. Want to read more about content for contractors? How To Repurpose Content for Contractors 5 Ways to Engage Professional Tradesmen Using Content Marketing  read more >

Sonnhalter Honored with Multiple PRSA Rocks Awards

Marketing firm wins gold award in “Brand and Reputation” category on behalf of Kapro Tools and bronze award in “Media Relations: Trade” category on behalf of Weldcote. CLEVELAND – December 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, received a gold award in the “Brand and Reputation” category and bronze award in the “Media Relations: Trade” category at the 17th Annual Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Cleveland Rocks Awards competition. Sonnhalter received the gold award in “Brand and Reputation Management” for the U.S. influencer program it launched for Kapro Tools, a manufacturer of spirit levels, laser levels, and layout tools, marking and measuring tools. Sonnhalter worked strategically in finding and pitching woodworking, DIY and contractor influencers in the U.S. and Canada who would be willing to use Kapro products on upcoming builds and give honest opinions on the product’s features. Sonnhalter drafted personalized letters to accompany each package of Kapro product samples. Within the first year of Sonnhalter fully implementing Kapro’s influencer program, the number of Kapro’s Instagram followers has more than tripled. Without ever paying more than the costs of shipping free products, Kapro has greatly increased its presence and credibility across many crucial online communities. Sonnhalter received the bronze award in the “Media Relations: Trade” for its trade industry media presentation at FABTECH 2018 for Weldcote, a welding products manufacturer. Weldcote was exhibiting for the first time at FABTECH, a large, industry trade show, so Sonnhalter developed a plan four months before FABTECH 2018, identifying the tactics, messaging and budget and presented it to Weldcote. Sonnhalter invited trade media attending the show that cover the welding/fabricating industry to a media event arranged at Weldcote’s booth after show hours. Weldcote received immediate product coverage in industry trade publications…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 >

Are You Attending STAFDA in Nashville This Week?

Are you attending the STAFDA Show in Nashville this week? If so, check out our exclusive Insider’s Guide to Nashville and use this guide to help you get around the "Music City"  during your free time. • Want to know where the locals like to eat barbecue and hot chicken? We have the insider information from our friends in Nashville. • Need tips on nightlife and sightseeing? It's not just honkey-tonk and saloons. It's a great place to check out one of the countless live music venues. We made a list of shouldn’t-miss recommendations. • Have you ever driven in Nashville? We have you covered with taxi and limo services. See you downtown at the Music City Center…or at one of the great places in our guide!read more >

Getting the Most Out of Your Company’s Instagram Account (Part 2)

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter Last summer, we published a blog that outlined some of the best practices for running an Instagram account for your company. Since then, Instagram has grown to be arguably the most useful social media tool for the trades. If you’re still new to Instagram, we encourage you to go back and read the blog and some of the basics for getting your account started. Say you’ve set everything up, posted some cool product shots, gained a respectable number of followers and have a pretty good understanding for how the app functions. The next step is to take advantage of some of Instagram’s more advanced features and strategies that can improve your ROI, grow your number of followers and increase your brand’s visibility. Here are a few things to consider incorporating into your Instagram strategy moving forward. Influencer Marketing One of the fastest-growing marketing strategies on social media, particularly Instagram, is what’s known as “influencer marketing.” Influencer marketing is when brands collaborate with opinion leaders in an online community, known as “influencers,” to create content that endorses a product. This collaboration is typically done for a monetary fee, free products or a combination of both. What that content looks like varies between influencers and is usually negotiable. Content can range from a static shot of the product with a written review, to photos or videos of the product being used in the field or for building something in a workshop. Finding the right influencers in your target audience can build credibility by using a trusted source in the community and, thus, increase sales. Like the online forums of the past, professional tradesmen use Instagram to be a part of a bigger community within their trade, and these influencers are often considered leaders within these communities…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 >

Updated Sonnhalter Electrical Market Overview Now Available

Information on electrical market codes, standards and certifications, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.   At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen, industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well. To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the electrical market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us. Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Electrical Market Overview here.    read more >

Manufacturers: Avoid These Three Frequent Failures of a Product Launch

Today we have a guest post from MAGNET (The Manufacturing and Growth Advocacy Network) organization that has a mission for helping manufacturers grow and compete in Northeast Ohio, especially the 98% of startup to medium-sized manufacturers that drive our economy. MAGNET rolls up its sleeves to provide hands-on support ranging from new product design to operations and brings education and business together to create tomorrow's manufacturers.  Did you know 70% of all new product launches fail? While manufacturers may feel a sense of urgency to introduce a new product or service to market, testing thoroughly before launch can mean the difference between success and failure. After all, simply launching a new product will not guarantee its success. So whether you’re in the ideation phase of a new innovation, or zeroing in on your promotion plan, you’ll want to take into consideration these frequent failures of a product launch. Lack of Market Understanding Why do so many products fail? The answer is simple: failure to understand the market. Misunderstanding the market is equal to destroying a product before launching it. We’ve all heard the old adage “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, why do it at all?” Instead of rushing to get several products to market with incomplete research, sales support, or inventory, manufacturers should consider planning for a few, well-thought out products in a given time period for higher profit margins and faster growth. Read more.read 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 >

Updated Sonnhalter HVAC Market Overview Now Available

Information on HVAC market codes, standards and certifications, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.   At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen, industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well. To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the HVAC Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us. Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter HVAC Market Overview here.read more >

Best Practices for Dealing with Negative Feedback on Social Media

By Andrew Poulsen, Public Relations Technician, Sonnhalter When social media was in its dinosaur days, the technology’s potential seemingly capped out at reconnecting with old friends who live abroad, or more commonly, sharing with your peers that you were having a taco salad for lunch. Few would’ve predicted that social media would become not just a helpful, but an essential tool for companies to connect with customers in ways that are faster, easier, cheaper and more personal than almost any other asset within a marketing strategy. Social media allows companies to speak with customers directly and display trust and accountability in ways that did not exist 20 years ago. However, for companies new to these platforms or unfamiliar with the volatile nature of Internet commenters, seeing countless strangers saying hurtful and profane things about your products or services in real time can be jarring, if not infuriating. Uncomfortable as it may be, these kinds of comments are inevitable. Even the most beloved brands in the world have comment sections filled with negativity from disgruntled commenters and trolls. The reality is that there is no way to avoid negative comments and reviews, but by internalizing some of these best practices, you can learn how to maintain an even keel and turn some of these upset commenters into lifelong customers. Be quick to respond, even if you don’t have an immediate answer Customers who leave negative feedback are often coming from a place of disappointment or unmet expectations. The last thing you want to do is make them feel like you are avoiding them or as if their opinion doesn’t matter. If someone comments on an issue they have with your business, publicly reply to the comment immediately, even if it is just to say, “Can you please email or message us…read more >

Why Should You Use Social Media in New Business Development?

In the traditional sales model, we identify our prospects and then use several tactics to get in front of them, qualify them and ultimately sell them. But, what about all the other potential users of your product or service that you don’t know about? Yes, some of them may find you through a referral or make their way to your website, but there are many more that may not ever know that you exist. In most cases, especially for manufacturers who are selling more complicated products, there is a sales funnel you need to take prospects through before they are ready to buy. That’s great, but that only works if you’ve identified the potential sale. Think of social media as your silent salesman. It’s out there bird dogging for you and taking a potential customer through some of the initial stages of the selling cycle. Social media is a great way to connect with prospective buyers because they will find you based on what they are searching for (what kind of problem they are looking for a solution for) on the web. It allows you not only to connect, but to start a conversation. It allows them to get a better feeling for the company and how you go about helping people. In other words, you start building the “know, like and trust” model that comes with any sale, especially to new potentials. Social media is a great way to educate prospective buyers because of all the tools you have available: Blogs, Forums, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. All are platforms for you to add value to the conversations by giving them great content, and it starts establishing you as an expert they can count on. Social media is a great way to collaborate with potential buyers because of…read more >

Pricing Challenge: Price Leaks

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com Welcome to INSIGHT2PROFIT’s 2019 Pricing Challenge! Each month we’ll discuss a common pricing challenge faced by businesses and provide some tips to help improve your profitability. First up, let’s talk about price leaks. You’ve set your product pricing, but after considerations like discounts, freight costs, program allowances, rebates and payment terms, how much of that price actually reaches your bottom line? Today we’ll look at how just one factor – expedited orders – can dip into your profit margin and how you can quickly address that challenge.   Has this ever happened to you? Your customer calls and says they need their product in three days instead of the usual two weeks. You jump through hoops to make it happen – interrupt your production cycle, delay other customers’ orders, pay extra for freight, pay overtime – and you do it for free to keep your customer happy. You just offered your customer tremendous value; you should be getting paid for it. How might you go about making that happen? First of all, ensure your customers have a clear understanding of what your standard lead time is. If they ask about expediting, and your production team says it’s feasible, let your customer know there will be an associated surcharge. Based on our historical tracking of expedited order requests, one of two things will happen: You’ll save money. When faced with a fee, about half of your customers will decide they don’t actually need the order that quickly and can deal with the regular lead time. You neither disrupted production nor incurred additional expenses to meet a need that wasn’t real. You’ll make money. The other half of your customers will appreciate that you offer the option to expedite orders and will gladly pay the surcharge,…read more >

The Eighth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Starts Now!

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter Today is August 1st, at Sonnhalter it's basically a holiday because it's the start of our annual tool drive to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity does fantastic work building and rehabbing homes for those who need them in an effort to eliminate homelessness and substandard housing. I'm amazed year after year at the work this fantastic organization does and the support that we receive for this tool drive from our clients, vendors, partners, community and even strangers! Our Tool Drive was born in 2010 12830read more >