Will Tradesmen Be Safe From the Rise of Automation?

by Relena Jane, guest columnist Article exclusively written for Tradesmen Insights The rise of machinery and automation has been a constant thorn in the side of engineers, machine operatives and even farmers for many years. As far back as the 1700s workers were revolting against the onset of technology. English textile workers rallied against the development and implementation of new machinery. They were known as the Luddites, a term that became synonymous with people who opposed technological advances. It might have taken a couple of centuries, but increased understanding of technology is leading to more automation and AI involvement in our working processes than ever before. Slowly, but surely, machines have taken over from human beings. Think about your supermarket experience and the self-service checkout, or booking cinema tickets using your computer, collecting them from a machine on arrival. Nowadays, algorithms are being used to mark essays in certain parts of the world, something that seemed impossible a decade or two ago. People are being used less and less in all forms of business, customer service and engineering. Will our dependable tradesmen, the plumbers and joiners of this world, be safe from the rise of automation? To answer we have to understand how quickly technology is advancing. Manufacturing is one industry that has been hugely affected. Operatives have become scarcer on production lines, even when dealing with intricate assembly and manufacture of parts such as computer chips. Soon enough, AI will start disrupting this industry for the better, making processes much more efficient and quicker. The complexity of circuit board parts to create new machinery will be no more, and will lead to completely eradicating the need for human intervention. Thus, some areas will always need reactive operatives, but in far fewer numbers than before. 15368read 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 >

Blogs and Forums for the Professional Tradesman

There are around 505 million blogs in the world today and not all are created equal. So, how do you identify and communicate with the right blogs and forums to get in front of professional tradesmen? The first question to ask yourself is: are your products or services applicable to your end users using social media? If the answer is “yes,” then your goal should be to do comprehensive research to identify the right communities, monitor them and jump in and get involved in the conversations. As you get involved in these conversations on social media, keep this in mind: Your brand can be affected positively or negatively. You don’t control the message. Your brand depends on the “loyalists” who are passionate about your brand. Key blogs or social media sites are authored by thought leaders from your industry. Social media demands transparency, so be honest in your engagement.   Here are a few sites that may be of interest to brands attempting to reach and interact with the professional tradesman: 14451read more >

Manufacturers May Be the New Nerds? (In a GREAT Way)

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Remember about 10 years ago? The Lord of the Ring movies had raked in awards (and millions of dollars), San Diego ComicCon became something you heard about, E3 became the trade show you wished you got to go to and The Big Bang Theory debuted, soon to become TV’s #1 show. Suddenly “nerd culture” was all the rage. Writers were penning think pieces about how this was the ultimate victory for the kid that got picked on in high school. TV commentators discussed at length how this was a “cultural shift” and heralded a new age.  Add to that the continued dominance of the Marvel superhero movies, and the last decade has definitely belonged to the kid that read comic books at lunch. Well, I predict that the next decade will be the “Age of the Maker and Manufacturer.”   13871read more >

Creativity is the Key

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter It took creativity to start your business, and it takes creativity to keep it running every day. So why not apply that same creativity to the greatest challenge facing the manufacturing industry: the lack of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen? The time to act is now. Waiting for someone else to plug the hole simply won’t work. Schools’ budgets are squeezed too tight. Government agencies are interested in quick fixes, not long-term solutions. You need to find the next generation of workers. You have two huge advantages: as a manufacturer you’re used to seeing a problem from all angles and creating a solution. And your jobs are actually cool. They allow people looking for a challenge to use their minds and hands together to build something. So how do you reach future workers? Show off what you do! Take this example from Birmingham Georgia. A normal company would just see this as another contract. Another job. But BL Harbert saw an opportunity. The Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum is one of the most innovative museums in the world. Why not use it as a draw to show how their skills and abilities help make it that way? Partnering with Go Build Alabama, they arranged for 120 students to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of its museum expansion. Now, we can’t all be working on projects at cool museums, but believe me, much of what you do looks really cool to an outsider, especially when placed into the larger context of what it’s helping to create. I wish I could have seen a CNC machine in action when I was 16 or even a welder or PEX pipe. When you see what a little creativity can do to make the world a better place, or just to improve on…read more >

Sonnhalter Releases Tradesmen Podcasts

Business-to-Tradesmen marketing communications firm creates podcasts sharing contractor perspectives on the contractor-manufacturer relationship. BEREA, Ohio – June 2014 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, releases two new podcasts interviewing professional tradesmen on their interaction with manufacturers. The first podcast, released May 7, features a conversation with Glen Ailport, owner of BSB Plumbing. Ailport has more than 30 years of plumbing experience and shared his thoughts on what would make relationships between contractors and manufacturers better, touching on the topics of supporting contractors, product training and how to connect with plumbing contractors. The second podcast, released June 3, features a conversation with Angelo Ferrante Jr., owner of A&F Home Improvements. Ferrante has nearly 40 years of home improvement experience and shared his opinions on improving manufacturer’s relationships with contractors, including the field support he’d like to see, application training and how manufacturers can better connect with home improvement contractors. “One of the best ways to know what your audience wants is to actually talk with them,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “The point of these two new podcasts is to hear from contractors about their own interactions with manufacturers.”The podcasts are available at: http://sonnhalter.com/tradesman-insights/podcasts/ About Sonnhalter Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the…read more >

Happy Plumber’s Day

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter April 25th is set aside each year to honor plumbers. At Sonnhalter, we have a great appreciation for plumbers and the work that they do. We salute the ones who keep everything flowing, and not overflowing. We’re thankful for the dedicated plumbers who answer the call and don’t recount the tales of what they’ve pulled out of pipes. In honor of National Plumber's Day tomorrow, we thought you'd enjoy checking out some plumbing history, compiled by Roto-Rooter.read more >

Flush With Gratitude!

The can, John, latrine, porcelain throne, commode, potty… No matter what you call it, the toilet is an important part of daily life. Today is World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day was started to bring awareness to the global sanitation challenge. Here are just a few facts about the global sanitation challenge: 2.5 billion people do not have a clean toilet Sanitation is a human right Safe toilet facilities keep girls in school Sanitation is a good economic investment You can read more information about World Toilet Day and the facts above here. We have the pleasure of working with companies serving the tradesmen that keep our toilets in excellent flushing order and help maintain the sanitation systems that we rely on. Their jobs are not considered glamorous, but they are so important. Today, and every day, we are flush with gratitude toward them for everything they do!read more >

Happy Plumber’s Day

April 25th is set aside each year to honor plumbers. At Sonnhalter, we have a great appreciation for plumbers and the work that they do. Today, Sonnhalter's PR Engineer Rachel Kerstetter will be sharing with you about plumbing. Often plumbers don’t receive the credit and fame that they deserve unless they’re Mario and Luigi and trying to save a princess. The Super Mario Brothers are the most famous plumbers, and they live in a Nintendo game. The reality is that without plumbers, our world would be far from sanitary or pleasant. As part of our team's commitment to getting our hands dirty in our clients' work, we've had the opportunity to see plumbers at work, we’ve used their tools and we’ve heard their stories; we know that they deserve to be honored today. Plumbers do much more than unclog drains and fix leaky faucets -  it’s plumbers who install the miles of piping that make hot, cold and process water and gas utilities possible. Using a little research combined with our knowledge of the profession, we've put together a list of things you may not know about plumbing: The word "plumber" goes back to the Roman Empire and the Latin word "plumbum" for lead. It's because of a plumber that the Chicago River is dyed green every St. Patrick's Day. The river was first turned green in 1962 using plumbing dye for detecting leaks. (more of that story here) The ancient Egyptians had plumbing systems. Archeologists have found lavatories inside tombs as well. (more on that here) Since 1963, more than 28 billion feet, or about 5.3 million miles, of copper tubing has been installed in U.S. buildings. In 2004, there were more than 91,000 miles of water distribution piping in the U.S. 78% of that pipe is made of…read more >

How Do You Approach Tradesmen in the Early Stages of the Buying Process?

When we get a lead in we all assume that they're ready to buy and in most cases that's not true especially when it's an expensive or major initiative. If a contractor is contemplating a major new piece of equipment for his crews or a new piece of software to help him run the company it's going to take some time and investigating first. read more >

Use Twitter to Talk Up Your Brand to Tradesmen

If you don't talk up your brand on Twitter and other social sites you're missing the boat. This according to a recent post on eMarketer.com from ROI Research.A study in April of 2010 found that at least once a week 33% of active Twitter users shared opinions about companies or products ,while 32% make recommendations and 30% ask for them.read more >

10 Ways to Engage Tradesmen

When we communicate with our target audiences, whether it's through traditional methods or the use of social media, we want to inform and hopefully engage them. It's through the engagement process that we start a dialog with them which hopefully will turn into something more (hopefullya sale). I've enclosed some tips on how we successfully engage tradesmen:read more >

Use Online Training to Educate Tradesmen – Part 1

Training - both product and safety, are important to professional tradesmen. That's why several years ago we formed a strategic alliance with BlueVolt to help educate and inform our client's customers (the professional tradesman). BlueVolt creates online marketing and learning platforms that are focused on the professional tradesmen. They have delivered over 535,000 courses to 50,000-plus registered users. We have the privilege of having Lisa Bordeaux, director of sales and partner development, here to share with you a two-part series on the benefits of online training. Enjoy her insights!read more >

What’s Your Grade on Twitter?

Social media is trying to be taken seriously, and in late 2008 came out with several tools to measure the effectiveness of Twitter. Two of the more popular tools are Twitter Grader and Twinfluence. How much credibility do you put into these type tools? I use them as a guide post to make sure I keep on track. read more >

4 Tips to Target Tradesmen Online Using Key Word Research

Keywords and SEO have long been associated with web sites. But blogs are actually more SEO friendly and much easier to update from information from your analytics. Twitter isn't there yet it's only a matter of time and search will be one its most important elements. Consistently using keywords that your target audience would use to find your company will generate significant online traffic. read more >

How to Keep Tradesmen Coming Back to Your Blog

Tradesmen have specific issues relating to their business and are looking for ways to improve and stay on top of their game. As a blogger who is targeting this market one my objectives is for them to return often to my blog as a source of information they can use.read more >

Six Ways to Make Your Marketing to Tradesmen More Effective

The economic downturn can actually be a blessing in disguise. Marketing departments now have a chance to shine by showing how to work more effectively as well as to measure and account for their marketing decisions. You don’t need a rocket scientist to tell you business is soft. The question is, given your resources and budget, how are you going to make your marketing work more effectively? If we’re all truthful with ourselves, we’d have to admit that over the past 5 to 7 years, marketing budgets haven’t been scrutinized as much as they should have been. In today’s economy, those marketing budgets are in the crosshairs. Moving forward with the same-old, same-old is not an option. Below are six ways you can make your marketing to tradesmen more effective: 1. Focus On What You Can Control You can’t control what’s going on in Washington, the economy or most other market factors. However, you do have control over your marketing. Recognize where the demand is and go after it. Don’t be afraid to try something new. 2. Re-Evaluate Your Marketing Goals Based on what’s happening with the economy, are your company’s marketing goals achievable? It may be time to re-state and re-prioritize your goals. 3. You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure Take a hard look at the performance of your marketing plan. I know something like ad awareness is costly and hard to measure. But things like trade show leads, direct mail and online programs are measurable. Look hard and, if needed, reallocate and optimize your budget. You can’t afford underperforming programs. 4. Fish Where The Fish Are You know who your customers and potential customers are. Make the most of your marketing investment and increase your visibility through targeted vehicles where your prospects will see your message and…read more >