48,034 Attendees, 1,875 Exhibitors and My First AHR Expo

48,034 Attendees, 1,875 Exhibitors and My First AHR Expo

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

When I attended PHCC Connect back in October, I thought it was a crowded show, but how I was proven wrong at AHR Expo. AHR Expo brings together manufacturers and suppliers of all sizes and specialties to share ideas and showcase the future of HVACR technology. This year was my first time attending the show, so I had no idea of what I was getting myself into when I arrived at the convention center.

The show took place in the “windy city” of Chicago this year, and it was my first time traveling on a plane for work! I was very excited if you couldn’t tell. I was shocked at the amount of people in Chicago, from the traffic leaving the airport, to when we arrived at the expo where we waited over an hour to get our badges! This show was very well attended, and the attendees had a great time visiting.

Some key things I noticed around the show were the interactive elements that booths were promoting. Here are a few that stood out:

  • Booths handing out beer and flavored water
  • Plinko to win “swag” items
  • A chance to win an E-bike if you gathered stamps from specific booths
  • And more!

Over the last few years, we’ve seen booths utilizing engaging designs to drive traffic and promote brand awareness. Companies continue to make the most out of their booths and get creative to drive traffic.

The podcast pavilion was just as popular as last year with 20 podcasters covering the latest topics in the industry. We can’t wait to see all the upcoming podcasts from the show, and we know they will continue to grow in popularity.

Outside of the show, we had a wonderful time hanging out with our clients Franklin Electric and NIBCO. Franklin Electric threw a customer appreciation party at Roots Pizza where they served beer, wine and lots of food options for its guests. Not to mention, the restaurant was decked out in blue lights, and they were raffling off some great prizes for attendees!

As for NIBCO, we had a wonderful surf and turf experience at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. We got to experience stone crab and a selection of pies including the restaurant’s famous (and amazing) key lime pie.

For this being my first AHR Expo, I would call the show a success! It’s exciting to see everything that’s happening within our industry up close and in person.

Until next year–at AHR in Orlando!

Check out our recap video here:

Market Intelligence: Data-Driven Profit Growth

Market Intelligence: Data-Driven Profit Growth

By: Insight2Profit

It should come as no surprise that data enables us to minimize risk and make more effective business decisions. Where does that data come from, though, and how is it interpreted? Market intelligence, the process of collecting, analyzing, and leveraging data on markets, competitors, and customers to maximize profit opportunities and reduce threats, is a major factor empowering companies to respond to changing conditions and succeed in today’s fluctuating market environment.

There are several different methodologies within market intelligence—qualitative interviews, quantitative surveys, secondary research—and all of them reveal unique actionable insights. This data can be used to answer critical business questions like willingness to pay, key purchasing criteria, and price perceptions relative to competitors.

We sat down with Andy Banyas, Director of Market Intelligence, to discuss the ways collecting market intelligence can enable strategic decision-making. Over his career, Andy has led more than 200 market intelligence consulting engagements, supporting some of the largest companies globally in gaining value-added insights to guide their business. He has experience across a wide range of industries, including various industrial markets, business services, and consumer products.

How Can Market Intelligence Drive Profit Growth?

Andy: Obtaining a clear understanding of how customers perceive a specific business and its offerings allows for formulation of a go-to-market strategy that leverages client strengths and exploits market opportunities and competitor vulnerabilities. Understanding the key elements customers consider when choosing a supplier provides the insight necessary to build a compelling market positioning and messaging strategy that leverages these key drivers, and the ability to price based on value to the customer to extract the full return from each sale.

Knowing how customers evaluate their purchases, what is most important to them, and how they perceive competitor offerings helps build the foundation for making sound and confident decisions on product, pricing, marketing, and channel strategies, all built on the knowledge of what is most important and compelling to customers, allowing the client to move forward with confidence.

What Are Some Examples of Key Questions Businesses Have About Customer, Competitor, and Supplier Behavior That Market Intelligence Can Help Answer?

Andy: While each situation is unique, there are several broad categories of inquiry that market intelligence can address, including:

  • What are the key drivers of a purchase decision – including the importance of product/service performance; price; availability; ease of use; and channel options?
  • How is the business and its offerings perceived in the market? Are they seen as a commodity, a low-price offering, or a high quality but high-priced provider? How is the business perceived across key criteria compared to leading competitors?
  • What is the role of price in the buying decision? Is it the most important consideration or are there other factors at play? And what is the level of willingness to pay more across each key market segment if specific additional value is provided?
  • Where are the key leverage points in the value chain? What role and level of importance does each node in the chain fulfill, and what is the impact of the value chain on customer behavior and the business?
  • How are competitors perceived in the market? What value do they bring; what is their key point of differentiation; where are their weak spots that can be exploited?

How Can Market Intelligence Help Solve Price Increase Uncertainty?

Andy: The best way to explain how market intelligence can help solve price increase uncertainty is with an example:

Problem: One of INSIGHT’s clients was considering a price increase but was concerned about the reaction in the market and potential loss of volume. They were also unsure as to the reaction among their key distributors to a price increase, so they wanted to gather data to better understand the role of price in the purchase decision as well as distributor perceptions.

Approach: INSIGHT designed a custom data-collection approach that included one-on-one interviews of end users conducted across two different market segments, and interviews with various large distributors serving those segments.

Result: End-users indicated that price played a minimal role in the purchase decision, and the product/provider chosen was based primarily on the strong performance of the product; a history with the product and provider; ease of use; and strong support from the provider sales rep.

Additionally, distributors reinforced this information regarding end users and also indicated that they didn’t see a price increase as affecting the market, and in fact were questioning why increases had not already occurred.

The takeaway here is that the client could increase prices significantly (10-15%) across key market segments with no risk of losing unit sales volume, while still maintaining a strong presence in the market and relationships with key distributors.

What Research Methods Does INSIGHT Use to Help Businesses Gather Market Intelligence on Topics Like Willingness-To-Pay, Purchasing Criteria, And Demand/Market Trends?

Andy: The methods employed differ by project and are customized for each specific need. Generally, though, there are two methods for gathering information:

  • Primary research, which involves collecting insights directly from people in the market, such as customers or competitors. Primary research may take two forms:

a. In-depth interviews, consisting of one-on-one conversations with key constituents in the market that obtains more qualitative data than surveys.

b. Surveys, with an appropriate sample size to ensure appropriate confidence levels that obtain more quantitative data than interviews.

  • Secondary research, which is focused on searching information already in the public domain for insights on industry trends, emerging technologies, government regulations, key competitor data, and macro-economic factors.

In addition, research will often include interviews with key stakeholders and SME’s within the client organization to gain their perspectives and insights on key topics.

Once Information Is Collected Through Interviews, Surveys, And Secondary Research, How Does INSIGHT Analyze and Interpret That Data?

Andy: All the information gathered is analyzed in its entirety to build a complete understanding of the key topic areas. For the interviews, INSIGHT will look for commonality of answers to build a consensus on certain key topics, as well as divergence in answers to reveal any confusion in the market or differences by segment or customer type.

For the survey analysis there are multiple analysis methods available including the comparison of numerous cross tabs of the results to compare responses across different criteria. In addition, tools such as Gabor-Granger may be used to determine the price elasticity of products and services.

Van Westendorp analysis can be used to understand the ranges of prices offered that allow a determination of an optimized price point(s). Also, conjoint analysis can be done to help determine how people value different attributes that make up an individual product or service. The specific analysis tool INSIGHT chooses is dependent on the problem being addressed and the goal of the research.

Regardless of the tools used, the outcome is a detailed summary of the information obtained and the impact this market intelligence has on the client business, as well as clear recommendations on how the client should proceed considering the intelligence gathered.

What Are Some Examples of Market Intelligence in Action? How Have INSIGHT’s Findings Directly Contributed to A Business’s Strategy Going Forward?

Andy:

Example #1: Market intelligence on end users and competitive offerings allowed for the development of competitor profiles that sales reps could utilize to counter competitor positioning and offerings. This same market intelligence helped guide the development of customer profiles that segmented the market on key variables associated with perceptions of value and usage. Such prospects/customers could be prioritized based on opportunity, and specific messaging and sales outreach strategies could be developed for each profile.

Example #2: Market intelligence on distributor pricing of client products indicated a price position well below many leading competitors, providing the client the opportunity to increase prices on multiple products while still maintaining a competitive price advantage. Research methodologies were developed and introduced to the client so that they could regularly monitor distributor pricing to be alerted to any competitive price changes and/or changes in distributor pricing of both the client and competitor products.

Example #3: Primary interviews revealed a customer beginning the process of retooling their operations and in turn evaluating the potential purchase of all new equipment. Client sales team was alerted to the opportunity and were successful in beginning the conversation on selling equipment to this customer.

Example #4: Client was provided overwhelming evidence that end user customers had limited awareness of or sensitivity to product pricing, allowing the client to immediately increase prices with little risk of volume loss, and increased margins on sales to existing customers.

The Basics of UTM Codes

The Basics of UTM Codes

By Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

The future of digital marketing is here, and it goes by UTM Codes. UTM codes, or Urchin Tracking Module, are snippets of code attached to the end of a URL and are used to pinpoint specific source of traffic to a website. Using these codes is essential to understand how effective your marketing is.

Five UTM Parameters

There are five parameters to every UTM code that are necessary to track different aspects of your marketing campaign.

  1. Campaign Source – the source of your traffic such as website name, search engine or social network.
    1. UTM Parameter example: &utm_source=facebook
  2. Campaign Medium – tracks what type of traffic the visitor came from such as email, social media

or cost per click.

  • UTM Parameter example: &utm_medium=email
  • Campaign Name – enables you to track the performance of a specific campaign, such as differentiating traffic between different Facebook Ad campaigns.
    • UTM Parameter example: &utm_campaign=summer-clearance
  • Campaign Term – tracks relevant ad-based keywords to help identify which keywords resulted in a site visit.
    • UTM Parameter example: &utm_term=sports-equipment
  • Campaign Content – distinguishes between ads pointing to the same URL to determine what someone clicked on to get to your site.
    • UTM Parameter example: &utm_content=navlink

The Whens and Whys of UTM Tracking

Use UTM codes to better evaluate promotional campaigns. Tag every advertisement of your campaign with these UTM codes to see what type of content best resonates with your target audience. By using UTM parameters, you will be able to see what ads drive more traffic to your website and evaluate what will be appealing to potential customers. By using UTM codes, you will be able to refine your entire marketing strategy and create even better ads that bring more traffic to your website.

UTM codes allow you to track where traffic is coming from and find the right channel for your audiences to help properly measure each campaign’s ROI. In order to understand if your marketing is successful or not, UTM tracking is a must.

UTM Tracking Tips and Tricks

Creating your own UTM parameters can be tedious and overwhelming. Follow these tips and tricks to make sure you’re not making life harder for yourself or your team.

  • Use a pre-determined naming system

Long lines of code can be bafling at the best of times. Come up with an agreed-upon format for each of the five parameters and ensure that your team comprehends what they mean.

  • Use simple language

Use language that is easy to understand and doesn’t go deep into company jargon. Remember that your audience will see the codes you use and they will need to understand what it means as well.

  • Remember that UTM parameters are case-sensitive

It is recommended to use all lowercase to make things easiest for you and your company. One accidentally capitalized letter could mean all the difference when trying to track information for your campaign.

Why You Should Use Sponsored Campaigns

Why You Should Use Sponsored Campaigns

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

It’s important to understand the competitive landscape that’s on social media and how every brand is competing against each other. This battle can make it difficult to reach your target audience and to drive sales or brand awareness from organic marketing. Currently online, 4.59 billion people use social media like Facebook and Instagram. So, what’s one way you can advertise to your audience? By using Meta advertising. In this blog, I will tell you more about Meta advertising and its benefits that it could provide to your company.

What is Meta Advertising?

Meta advertising is a form of advertising that uses Facebook and Instagram to create and target ads to specific audiences. Companies can create campaigns where they can select the type of ad to run, their audience and the budget they want to spend. Meta then will use Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms to deliver this ad to users who would be interested in it.

Measurement and Reporting

One benefit of sponsored campaigns is the ability to monitor your ads regularly. Meta’s measurement tools allow you to check stats like reach, landing page views, click-through rates and more! By using the measurement tools, it can give you insight into what’s working on your campaigns, what you should try differently and what your customers are interested in.

Cost

Although Meta advertising isn’t free, it is the second cheapest platform (Twitter) to advertise on. One of the benefits of it is being able to set how much you’re spending on a campaign or per day. But keep in mind that you want to spend an efficient amount of money to hit the “sweet spot” of advertising. If you spend too little or too much money, then your ad won’t perform well among your audience. This cost-effective advertising can generate traffic to your website and can be just as effective as banner ads.

Brand Awareness

Meta is perfect to build brand awareness while driving direct sales for your company. By increasing your visibility and exposure you are opening your business to potential customers and having users become more familiar with your brand.

Conclusion

In today’s digital environment, it’s important to reach your target audience, increase visibility and drive more traffic to your company’s website. Using Meta advertising can be a cost-effective way to advertise online, while providing measurable results and achieving your marketing goals.

Check out our other blog post on why content marketing may work better than traditional advertising.

20+ Industrial Maintenance Training Resources

20+ Industrial Maintenance Training Resources

With the ongoing concern about our nation’s skills gap, the option for choosing an education to pursue a vocational career is certainly an attractive one. With plentiful skilled labor jobs to fill, trade jobs pay very well (sometimes better than four-year college degrees) and don’t saddle students with hefty student loans.

In an article from SJVC, a private career college, they discuss more than 20 resources for maintenance training. With a variety of resources, you can expand your knowledge about the industrial market and explore your career options.

General Resources and Publications

Sometimes the best place to learn more is by reading more about it. By reading publications that correspond with the industrial market, you can learn more about what’s happening in the industry and about tips and tricks.

Video Series

Watching videos is a great way to do online training and gives insights on the daily work a maintenance worker might be doing. You may also expand your knowledge by watching training videos that can allow you to get an overview of the job and the tools you would be using.

Podcasts

Podcasts offer crucial information from someone who works in the career firsthand. Putting on a podcast is a great way to hear day-in-the-life reporting and an easy way to listen to tips.

Social Media

Social media is a valuable place to get recommendations, learn industry news and see insight into the career you want to enter. Social media can also help you look at a specific company and show you what they do in a day.

Check out the article from SJVC to see further in depth about each of these training resources.

Your Most Important Brand Asset

Your Most Important Brand Asset

Following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.” Following is their guest post. 

Your Employees Are Your Best Secret Weapon

When it comes to promoting or managing your brand, your most important asset is your employees. It doesn’t matter if you are a B2C or a B2B company – we are all in a B2P world – business to people. It’s your people who interact with every customer, prospect, donor, recruit, or media person. There are few other channels you have that can achieve the reach and personal touch as your employees.  

Fundamental to marketing is knowing your audience, crafting the right message, and delivering it through the best medium. We all know that cutting through the clutter is increasingly difficult. Additionally, your target audience is also becoming increasingly wary of interacting with brands that are not authentic. Applying your brand so your employees understand it and deliver on its promise, not only alleviates both challenges, but is also your secret weapon to elevate your brand and build more loyalty. But how? Here are three things to begin with:

1.     Make sure every employee understands your brand. They should be clear about your mission, vision, and values. Any employee will know how to make the ‘right’ decision when they are guided by your values. They shouldn’t have to go to an employee handbook or run to their manager every time a new situation arises to know what to do. Living your brand through your values is the foundation of your culture. If your values are just lofty words that no one pays any attention to, then it’s time to revisit them and work with your employees on how to bring them to life.

2.     Give your employees the tools to be great brand ambassadors. One of the best ways to start is through social media. The combined reach of your employee’s social media presence probably surpasses that of your company social media channels; leverage that. Begin with developing a social media policy. Provide them with information on how to properly represent your company when they decide to do so through their various social media platforms. Give them examples of what is appropriate and what is not, and where to go if they have questions. If you are not comfortable enough to open this up for all your employees, then select a group as your dedicated social media brand ambassadors. Make sure they come from a wide variety of areas within your organization and represent a diversity of positions and tenure. Customers love to hear employee stories and see what goes on behind the scenes and it also adds an incredible amount of authenticity that no amount of advertising is going to get you.

3.     Encourage employees to find ways to bring your brand to life. Although your brand platform is not something that changes often, how its expressed and activated can constantly evolve. Your employees will have the best ideas on how to do that. It can range from potential new products to how to provide better customer service or how to improve the recruiting process. As an added benefit, it’s also a way to increase employee engagement because it demonstrates that the company genuinely values employees’ opinions and contributions.

It doesn’t matter what type or what size organization you have; your brand is one of your most important assets, and your employees are your secret weapon. By empowering them, they can elevate and promote your brand. We know this from experience. Telling our stories and being present on social media has been a key to our growth over the years – it’s a good as time as any to help make it one of yours as well.

Why Have Social Media Policies?

Why Have Social Media Policies?

By Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

The prominence of social media and the presence of a cellphone in everyone’s pockets means many things, two of which being that nothing is private, and your company needs a strong social media policy.

There are eight components to a firm social media policy:

Purpose

Your company needs to understand why the policy is being created to govern social media, and what it will means for your company’s social media going forward.

Definition

Clearly define what your company will classify as social media, the specific platforms, and how the company will use the platforms. Your HR department will also include a clearly defined cellphone use policy, as many companies prohibit the personal use of social media during company time.

Users

Establish who in the company will be authorized to contribute, engage with and respond to social media, and who will be monitoring their activities. Appoint a company photographer to oversee taking photos to post.

Ownership

Decide who is in charge of creating and selecting content with guidelines and schedules for posting. This person, or people, will handle any photo or video release forms.

Content

Plainly define the type of information that can and cannot be shared.

Employee Conduct

Create a code of conduct for employees to adhere to in order to prevent them from accidentally commenting about the company or a situation without the company’s knowledge, control and explicit consent.

Communication Risks

Establish guidelines, both general and specific, and best practices for the use of different social media platforms. Make sure to touch on copyright material, any trademarks, imagery guidelines and a list of topics that should never be posted.

Negative Comments Protocol

Make sure there is a well-defined protocol on how to handle a customer’s negative posts or comments, such as when to acknowledge them, when to delete them and how to handle potential threatening posts or comments. Marketing and human resources both must be involved and have a plan of action to minimize the impact of negative posts and comments. The more likes, shares, tags and attention the post gets, the more the narrative spins out of control.

Strong social media policies set expectations and parameters for potential situations that could harm a company’s reputation. Company success relies on the right social media engagement, so make it easy with a good social media policy.

Rising Trends in Podcasts

Rising Trends in Podcasts

By Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

Originally thought to be a flight of fancy during the COVID-19 pandemic, podcasts have shocked the world by becoming a major part of content creation. Their ability to offer entertainment, information and education without distracting listeners from everyday tasks has skyrocketed their popularity. 64% of podcasters believe podcasts will be even more popular in two years.

67% of Americans between the ages of 18 to 30 listened to a podcast in the last year, and PR pros have pitched podcasts 20% more in Q1 of 2023 than in Q4 of 2022 and have gotten over five times the response rate.


A Closer Look at Podcasts
Almost 50% of podcasters look to current events for inspiration for podcast content, meaning that podcasts are an easy way to stay up to date with the world around you. Podcasts have become increasingly popular due to the mobile lifestyles of listeners and the convenience of listening.


On average, a podcast episode will last from 20 to 40 minutes, and more than half of all podcasters release new episodes once a week or more. More than half of podcasters will also record videos of the show, offering a visual experience as well as the default auditory one.


In a drastic up tick from last year, 81% of podcasts feature guests. It has been found that the op􀆟mal podcast has one guest and one host, and podcasters will prioritize organic guests over paid ones.
More and more podcasters offer premium content so their subscribers can access extra content that is exclusive to them.


70% of podcasters rely on social media to promote their podcasts, meaning that cross-posting clips across their platforms have become increasingly common. Most podcasters use three or more channels to cross-post on, the top four being Facebook, Instagram, their blog or website and Twitter. It is also the best practice for guests appearing on the show to promote it on their channels as well. Twitter is the best place to promote the show, as almost 30% of podcasts hosts have the largest following there.


More than half of podcasters believe there are too many podcasts, but the audience for them continues to grow. Find your niche because there are listeners waiting for you!

Are Hashtags Still Relevant in 2024?

Are Hashtags Still Relevant in 2024?

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

The first ever hashtag was used in 2007, almost 17 years ago and since then hashtags have become a crucial part of social media. But with hashtags being 17 years old, are they still relevant to use? In this blog post, we will discuss whether your company should use hashtags and their importance.

The short answer is yes, hashtags are still relevant to use, but it’s vital to understand the benefits they possess.

Graphic of cartoon man with laptop sitting atop a hashtag with social media flags

Reaching potential customers

Hashtags allow for your target audience to find your brand by searching for appropriate hashtags. Searching and following specific hashtags allow for users to find your posts, which can help to grow your following and get potential new business. When using hashtags, make sure you’re using hashtags that are specific to your brand. This means that the people searching for these hashtags will be a more interested and engaged audience.

Social listening

Custom hashtags help to create a more well-rounded marketing strategy. By making something unique and specific to you and your brand, you can generate user-generated content when your customers use that hashtag. Hashtags also can give insight to customer behavior and help brands understand your audience better. Social listening tools can help you track hashtags related to your brand or products to identify the positive and negative conversations from your customers.

By social listening, you can also track relevant influencers within your niche that you could send products to.

Increasing organic reach

Using hashtags can increase your organic reach on social media platforms. As previously mentioned, hashtags help your content be seen from potential customers. Social media algorithms can also work to your advantage when using hashtags. The algorithm looks at every piece of content posted to the platform in order to prioritize the content to its users based on if it’s appealing or interesting. This includes looking at hashtags, the engagement of the post, caption and if it’s a photo or video.

If you still are not using hashtags to your advantage, then now is the time! You don’t want to miss out on potential customers that are easy to reach. Using hashtags correctly can play a key role in your marketing strategy and social media content. We don’t see hashtags going anywhere anytime soon, so make sure to incorporate them into your plan.

Happy Holidays from Sonnhalter!

Happy Holidays from Sonnhalter!

Season’s greetings, from the Sonnhalter team! We are grateful for another successful year, and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful clients, business partners and friends like you. The Sonnhalter team will be taking some time off over the holidays from December 25th to January 1st. We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and time with your family and friends! We’ll see you in 2024! Sonnhalter, your B2T partner – let’s build something together.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Guest Blogger, Alan Sipe

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. 

A few weeks ago, my friend Rick sent me the following email which shocked the heck out of me.

Hi Alan,

I started using the new Microsoft Edge browser which has the ChatGPT AI built into it. It has a “compose” section where you put in what you are interested in and have it write a paragraph or two on the topic. So, I entered “teach people how to sell tools” and here is the output after about 10 seconds:

Do you want to learn how to sell tools like a pro? Do you want to boost your sales and earn more money? Do you want to impress your customers and make them loyal to your brand? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this is the guide for you!

Selling tools is not just about showing the features and benefits of your products. It’s also about understanding the needs and wants of your customers, building rapport and trust with them, and creating a memorable experience that makes them come back for more.

In this guide, you will learn how to:

  • Identify your target market and their pain points
  • Research and select the best tools for your niche
  • Craft a compelling sales pitch that highlights the value of your tools
  • Demonstrate your tools in action and overcome objections
  • Close the deal and follow up with your customers

By following these steps, you will be able to sell tools like a pro in no time. You will also enjoy your work more and have fun along the way. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your tools and start selling!

For those of you who read this column, this ChatGPT output sounds exactly like the point of all the columns I have written over the last 4-5 years. Let’s break down this guide step-by-step and really dive into how to make that sale because, at the end of the day, you can ask AI for as much help as you want, but if you’re not putting in the hard work with your customers, it won’t matter.  

Identify your target market and their pain points

Pay attention to your customers. Find out what the hard parts or time-consuming tasks of their job are and show them solutions.

For example: “I am told that reaching the fasteners way down deep in a BMW steering column is difficult. I think our 24” Torx screwdriver will help you get down in there quickly and easily.”

Research and select the best tools for your niche

This sounds like simple logic, but just because a tool is on promotion this month is no reason to show a bodywork dolly to an alignment specialist.

Craft a compelling sales pitch that highlights the value of your tools

Feature, advantage, benefit selling is the way a professional salesperson ensures success.

A sales presentation that includes only the features and the advantages is only half a professional presentation and in reality, not the important half. The personal benefit to this individual is why they buy and the key to closing the deal.

An example of only feature and advantage presenting: “The protective steel in these work shoes not only protects your toes but unlike many other protective shoes on the market the steel in these shoes comes way up and protects most of your arch.” 

An example of feature, advantage, and benefit presenting: “This means that when something very heavy falls on your foot these shoes protect your arch as well as your toes, so your chance of a serious foot injury disability is reduced significantly.”

The last bit is the benefit. This is what gets the prospect turned on about your shoes.

Demonstrate your tools in action and overcome objections

Give a complete demonstration showing the features, advantages, and benefits in logical order. A logical order helps you remember where you are in your demonstration when interruptions in your presentation occur. Also, if you present the most important features first you will run out of things to say pretty quickly.

Be prepared for all the likely objections which will probably come up. Build them into your presentation so you are in control.

For example: “There are grinders available with both slower and faster speeds than mine. Our world-famous engineering people researched these grinders and developed a product that will do your job and also give you excellent disk life which I’m sure is what you’re looking for, isn’t it?”

Close the deal and follow up with your customers

I recently was asked to give a “sales skills” seminar in Dallas for an automotive aftermarket distributor with a team of seasoned professional salespeople. Although this team doesn’t drive around in a mobile store like you, they are out there every day calling on customers. Here’s what I told them about my experience as a salesperson and closing the deal: 

I was fortunate that my first real sales job was selling office copiers back when most companies didn’t own a copier. (Yea, yea, I’m old!) Every morning, five days a week, before we hit the road to make our 20 cold calls, we would give a training product demonstration to the entire local sales team. These guys were brutal. The slightest product mistake or, god forbid, a missed closing opportunity brought howls and boos from the others. Believe me, you learn to ask for the order in that environment.

Closing the deal should be the easiest part of your selling day. If you give a great demonstration — feature, advantage, benefit — with lots of trial closing, asking for the actual order should be soft, smooth, and effective.

Now, circling back to the title of this article. It comes from the 1964 Bob Dylan hit, “The Times They Are A-Changing.”

You better believe that your selling world is changing. If my accountant friend can produce this good sales presentation in a few seconds just think of what one of your online or local competitors can whip up with a little technical Chat GPT training.

You need to make your calls, demo greatly, sell hard, close hard, thank your customers for their business every day, and then do it again tomorrow!

Now go sell something. 

Effective Marketing Tactics

Effective Marketing Tactics

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

Social media is an effective marketing tool for businesses to use to target their customers.

It’s not surprising that in a recent study from Wpromote in partnership with Ascend2, six in 10 respondents surveyed ranked social media as the most effective digital marketing channel at driving revenue. This is up from 50 percent last year and 57 percent the year before.

Social is the top revenue-driving channel and contributes the most to achieving top-of-funnel goals. Social is becoming a true full-funnel powerhouse for B2B marketers; in the past, marketers were more likely to use social platforms to drive brand awareness in the upper funnel, but this year, it topped the list of most effective bottom funnel channels for the first time. This is driven by the digital transformation that accelerated through the pandemic.

Brand awareness strategies are at the top of the funnel and are a critical focus for B2B brands. Next up was content marketing (49 percent), followed by email (45 percent), display advertising (36 percent) and paid search (32 percent).

Since the pandemic, social media has digitally transformed and continues to keep B2B buyers in mind by prioritizing their experience across different apps.

Social media is poised for budget growth: 56 percent say their social media budgets will increase this year, making this the area with the most consensus around budget growth. It’s followed by content marketing (52 percent), with fewer (34 percent) expecting to spend more on streaming TV.

To get the most out of budgets, whether you’re increasing by a lot, a little, or not at all, make sure to monitor your performance and move dollars between channels to follow demand.

Download the study here.

Influencers on the Rise

Influencers on the Rise

By Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

In a world where fashion and lifestyle influencers are in abundance, trade influencers are not to be discounted. One of the most popular trade influencers on TikTok, a pool cleaner with the handle @thep00lguy, makes over $14,000 per post and almost $1.3 million a year with sponsorship deals. TikTok influencers are gaining traction and making money, with the possibility of making up to one million dollars a year, and here is why:

Influencers are a very enticing marketing prospect for big brands and companies. Sponsorship opportunities are endless between influencer and brands, shown by @thep00lguy who has capitalized on his niche content to get deals with multiple brands. These sponsorship deals are a chance to get brands noticed and content creators some extra money. Companies can partner with influencers on TikTok to promote their brand by giving them free products to use and advertise for their followers.

TikTok sees many tradesmen influencers. The most popular are automotive and plumbing. One of the most popular trade influencers, with 1.5 million followers, is Sydney Sweeney from the hit TV show Euphoria. Sweeney collects and restores rare vintage cars and documents her progress on TikTok, amassing hundreds of thousands of likes.

The reason influencers on TikTok see more success on this app as opposed to ones like Instagram or Twitter is because of TikTok’s algorithm. It is organic and based on user-generated content, not follower based, meaning that it collects information on what you enjoy and commonly watch and promotes more videos like that on your feed. Instagram and Twitter are more focused on follower content, so if you are not following people who routinely post about the trades, you are not likely to see that content.

Viewers liked being entertained and taught, something that is easy to do when you have a passion, be it your job or a hobby, which is uncommon as some of the trades are. People with no connection to the trades will see videos from trade influencers and, since it is not something they see in their daily life, they will want to learn more.

The Internet is also a place for DIY hacks and learning how to fix things yourself. Trade influencers is how you learn. As long as people have cars that get old and houses that need repairs, trade influencers will be in demand. A big part of social media strategies for influencers are tutorials and how-tos for this exact reason. When things go wrong, people go to the Internet for answers and solutions.

Another factor for the traction that tradesmen influencers have found could originate in part due to the COVID pandemic. During the nation-wide quarantine in 2020, the emergence of niche interests became important just as a way to stay sane. People picked up hobbies, some of them in the trade sector, to keep busy in a time when they could not go about their daily life as usual.

The rise of trade influencers has been a steady, yet undeniable incline. Whether their purpose is entertainment, education or to inform, tradesmen have found a way for their message to be shared by social media and an audience to listen to it. For as long as there are buildings and roads and electricity and more, there will be trade influencers to teach us about them.

To learn more about user-generated content, check out this blog post and see why you should take advantage of it. 

Not All Demonstrations are Created Equal

Not All Demonstrations are Created Equal

By: Alan Sipe, Guest Blogger

I’ve been so very lucky in my selling career to have been associated with some of the greatest tool companies. Klein Tools, Witte Tools, Stanley, KNIPEX, Ajax Tools, and BETA Tools. At all these terrific companies I had many executive duties but none of these duties were more important than my sales responsibilities. Selling and sales team development skills are why they hired me.

This is no different than being a mobile jobber. Yes, you have finance, inventory, truck maintenance, insurance, and probably a bunch more responsibilities that I am not aware of, but none of these are more important than getting out there every day selling your stuff.

Since you have all those non-fun duties to take care of, you had better make the most of the selling time you do have by giving great demonstrations and closing every day, all day.

A “selling benefits” attitude

Giving great demonstrations all day, every day is a frame of thought. Whether you’re presenting a single 4” Phillips screwdriver or a $15,000 tool storage system. A benefit-driven frame of mind will provide you with demonstrations that sell.

However, there is a world of difference between the demonstration of a screwdriver and the demonstration of a huge tool storage system. There are demonstrations, and there are demonstrations. Developing a “selling benefits” attitude will help you be successful with both.

A selling benefits frame of mind comes easily to some people and not so easily to others, but it is available to anyone who sets their mind on sales success.

Simply said, work on getting your mind set on following every feature/detail you present to a customer with why that feature is a benefit to them personally.

  • Feature: This is a 75,000 BTU furnace.
  • Advantage: This furnace is reliable and works well.
  • Benefit: It keeps you and your family warm and comfy on cold winter nights.

The feature is simply what it is—it is a Streamlight Switchblade Worklight. The advantage is what the feature does—it provides precise lighting or illuminates large areas. The benefit is what the features and advantages mean to the user you are speaking to—you will be able to see better to safely work harder, faster, and longer, or you’ll be able to find those small nuts and bolts you drop while you’re working.

Sure, the advantage is important. Having a well-lit work area is essential but all good quality lights will light your work area. This light, however, will allow you to work safer, longer, and harder which is a benefit to that individual customer.

  • Feature: The screwdriver blade has a forged-in wide end that is injection molded into the handle.
  • Advantage: The blade will never twist in the handle, pound through, or pull out.
  • Benefit: This screwdriver will be stronger and last you a lifetime.

If you go into every situation with a “benefit selling” frame of mind it will soon become second nature.

What’s in it for your customer?

As you hand out your company’s monthly brochure don’t just say, “Here is the brochure of all our current specials.” Say something like, “Here is our current brochure of specials which contains some of our most interesting and new products. Purchasing these this month will help you save money, which is always a good thing, isn’t it?”

It is almost never a good idea to tell a customer that buying this will help you win some contest or qualify for some increased benefit. They may like you, but their primary care is what’s in it for them.

It is unfortunately easy to slip into “advantage” selling and neglect “benefit” selling. As in the example below.

  • Feature: This is our cool, red dead blow hammer.
  • Advantage: When you hit something the beads inside will slam forward to force the impact on your target and absorb the impact so the hammer will never bounce off what you are hitting.

So, in this example, you might make the sale with just the feature and the advantage, but the benefit will assuredly close the deal as the benefit shows your customers what’s in it for them.

  • Benefit: In addition to not damaging anything around what you are hitting, this dead blow hammer will not bounce off your target and injure you.

Demonstrations vs. demonstrations

Now, back to the difference between demonstrations and demonstrations.

With the quick demo of a simple product, like our dead blow hammer, there are probably three or four features/benefits to hit on that will close the deal. If your customer needs to replace their hammer, then your dead blow hammer will almost sell itself. Just be sure to follow those three to four features with the benefit those features have for that individual.

However, the demonstration of the massive tool storage system needs to be thought through in advance—planned, staged, and professionally executed.

Set the stage by inviting the prospect onto your truck where you can close the door to create a quiet environment allowing both you and the prospect to focus 100 percent on this potential sale. If you have a cup of coffee or a soda available be sure to offer it to your prospect. The objective is to get the individual relaxed and focused on you.

Present your tool storage system in logical order. Maybe start at the bottom (wheels) and work up. Wheels, slides, drawer sizes, the material, etc. Do not begin with your best and most important features. You want the prospect to get comfortable with your feature, advantage, benefit, and trial close pattern. You want them to get in the habit of agreeing with your trial closes that these benefits are good for them. Your objective is to get the prospect in the habit of saying yes. If you hit them with the best and most important benefits first, you will run out of things to talk about pretty quickly.

Never ever hand the prospect a piece of literature or a catalog until the end of your presentation or at least only when you have something you must show them in the literature. And once you’ve shown that feature, take the literature back from them until the end of your presentation.

It is a sales skills fact that as soon as you hand the prospect some literature, they go deaf, start looking at the literature, and quit listening to you.

Be prepared for the normal questions and objections. Build them into your presentation so you answer them before the customer has a chance to ask them. This way you control the question and can shape the answer to your product’s benefit.

  • Feature: Our storage unit side is made of XX-gauge steel.
  • Advantage: We’ve been manufacturing high-end storage systems for 50 years and our engineers design our products to have the perfect strength and weight steel to fit a professional’s needs.
  • Benefit: I imagine you agree that is the best way to manufacture a great system, don’t you?

The above is a lot better than having the prospect say, “The other system I’m looking at uses XXX-gauge steel, why don’t you?

In the end, the more you can impress your prospect that this product is going to benefit them personally the easier it will be to close the sale.

Now, go sell something!

Author Bio

ALAN W. SIPE has spent the last 42 years in the basic hand tool industry including positions as president of KNIPEX Tools North America, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Klein Tools, manager of special markets at Stanley Tools, and sales manager at toolbox manufacturer Waterloo Industries. Currently, Sipe is the owner of Toolbox Sales and Consulting, a company specializing in sales strategy, structure, development, and training.

National Apprenticeship Week

National Apprenticeship Week

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

This week is “National Apprenticeship Week”! This nationwide celebration honors apprenticeships as they are vital in building success when it comes to a job in the trades. Being in an apprentice program provides structured training, mentorship and opportunities out in the field while you learn and get paid.

In the trades, young professionals will join apprenticeship programs or attend vocational schools. What’s the difference? Apprenticeships are hands-on work opportunities, while vocational schools are a classroom environment. Let’s discuss two reasons why apprenticeships are important and matter in the trades.

Hands-on Training

By joining an apprenticeship program in your specific trade, you can develop a specialized skill set for your career. Not only do you get to learn while on the job, but getting hands-on experience can allow you to learn best practices for your field.

Job Opportunities

An apprenticeship program can assist in a young professional’s career. Some mentorship programs may allow you to stay on the team permanently after your program is done. Also, they might be able to help you find a job from their connections and could recommend you for a position.

These are just two reasons why an apprenticeship is important, but there’s a lot of reasons why you might want to consider joining one. Apprenticeships play a key role in the trades, and they help to build the next workforce for success. Happy National Apprenticeship Week!

Plumbing, Piping and PHCC Connect

Plumbing, Piping and PHCC Connect

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

The plumbing and piping business is huge, and I was reminded of that as I attended PHCC Connect for the first time. PHCC Connect is an immersive expo event that brings industry leaders and professionals in plumbing, heating, cooling and ventilation together. This experience provided opportunities for attendees, educational sessions and showcased products from across the industry under one roof.

This year, PHCC Connect took place on our home turf of Cleveland, Ohio! This allowed us to showcase some hotspots to our clients and friends attending. Plus, PHCC Connect promoted Sonnhalter’s Cleveland Insider’s Guide on the app and handed out cards, which highlights restaurants and nightlife around town!

Throughout the show they continually had panel discussions taking place. Popular sessions included conversations on Chat GPT, economic trends, myths about the trades, safety and productivity through effective training practices and more!

I also loved that they had a plumbing and HVAC apprentice contest happening on the floor! The HVAC apprentice contestants had to demonstrate their knowledge with a written test, plus brazing, pressure testing, refrigerant recovery and diagnosing and repairing a package unit system. The plumbing apprentice contestants had to rough-in a bathroom – including the drain, waste and vent lines, a toilet, a sink and shower.

Pretty neat to watch tradesmen in the field demonstrate their knowledge!

One panel discussion that I attended that was full of people and full of valuable information was the “Women in Industry” luncheon. This event included an interactive panel discussion featuring women who work in the plumbing and HVAC industry. The panel shared their personal stories of being women in the industry, challenges they have faced and how the trades can be more inclusive and welcoming for young professionals.

This luncheon event really highlighted that we need to go to schools at a young age and expose to kids that there are options outside of college. Setting these standards young is vital for us to grow the trades. We also received the “The House That She Built” children’s book that educates young readers about the people and skills that go into building a home, telling the true story of a home built by all female tradespeople.

PHCC Connect was an awesome show to attend and we can’t wait to see what next year entails. The next plumbing/HVAC tradeshow we will be attending will be AHR Expo in Chicago!

To watch a behind-the-scenes look from PHCC Connect visit,

AI Developments in Marketing

AI Developments in Marketing

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer a thing of fantasy. It is real and, while it isn’t going to take over the world any time soon (at least I hope not), your brand can have added value by using AI.

AI’s biggest benefit is in gathering information. It takes into consideration customer preferences and can allow your brand to offer a more personalized shopping experience. This, in turn, will help you reach your target audience. What does this person like? Who else would like this product? These are the questions that AI will help your brand answer.

Businesses also use artificial intelligence to increase productivity and operational efficiencies while avoiding mistakes and human error. A customer experience agency called Servion predicts artificial intelligence will power 95% of customer interactions before 2026.

The future of marketing in a world with AI is endless. You can use artificial intelligence for social listening, or identifying how the world is talking about your brand, which could in turn help you to change your brand strategy. With the use of AI for things like data collection, targeted advertising and analyzing customer behavior, you can devote more of your time to the more personable side of business.

Despite artificial intelligence being a great boon to business, there are times when human beings just cannot be beat. Artificial intelligence is just that: artificial. No amount of technology can compete with the insight and individuality that comes with real people. Brands should be warm and inviting, and when customers want to speak to someone about a complaint or a question about a product, they should be met with an authentic human interaction.

This is where you can use artificial intelligence to your advantage. With AI collecting data, creating graphics and analyzing how the public views your brand, you can dedicate your time to ensuring an authentic human connection with your customers. Whether it is by doing community outreach or just spending a little more time talking with a potential customer, you can establish a relationship that will make your brand a more appealing option compared to those that have traded human connection for the ease of AI.

An even balance between artificial intelligence and real, human interaction is key to bringing value to your brand. Work smarter and not harder but remember to utilize genuine human connection when the need arises.

How to Identify The Right Price Point in B2B Markets

How to Identify The Right Price Point in B2B Markets

By: ISURUS, guest blogger 

One of the questions in B2B go-to-market strategies is: What is the right price point for our offer? This post provides a high-level overview of standard pricing research techniques that can identify the market’s willingness to pay for your solution.

For most vendors, internal and secondary data set the foundation for pricing strategy. This includes building cost models and looking at competitor pricing. In some cases, these data are sufficient to inform price point decisions. In many cases, product marketers want feedback from the marketplace to avoid common pricing mistakes, such as: their pricing does not leave money on the table; priced too high for important buyer segment; or lead to significant competitive disadvantage.

Conducting pricing research provides insights to help product marketers further refine pricing strategies and find the right price point. Isurus recommends looking at pricing through three lenses: What the market pays today; a pricing exercise called the Gabor Granger method which explores willingness to pay, and a pricing analysis called the Van Westendorp pricing sensitivity meter which helps identify the optimal price point.

What the market pays today

What companies pay today for their existing solution provides an important reference point for understanding how much the market is willing to invest in solutions like yours. It reflects the relative importance of the job-to-be done in the solution category and indicates the market’s relative perception of the ROI of the solutions they use.

When B2B buyers evaluate new vendors/product, they use their current cost to anchor judgments about how affordable or expensive are the alternative solutions. The “right” price point is subjective. Knowing this starting point helps put your solution in context – will it be perceived a premium product, a good deal, in line with everyone else. It also helps inform other components of the go-to-market plan. For example, a product priced higher than the average current solution will need marketing and sales messages that show value for the extra investment.

In addition, in some B2B sectors competitor pricing is opaque. Price lists aren’t published, or list prices are negotiated in the sales process. Asking B2B buyers what they currently pay may be the only meaningful source of competitive pricing data available.

One important guideline to keep in mind: When asking B2B buyers what they pay, don’t apply an artificial level of precision to the data. B2B buyers are human and people often understate what they pay. They think about the main license costs but omit fees for enhancements and add-ons. Their data are accurate when treated as a scope-of-magnitude estimate, and you should then use judgement and inference to refine it from there.

The next step to identify the right price point is to collect direct feedback on your pricing. There are some advanced trade-off modeling techniques such as conjoint that can help refine costs. However, for most B2B offerings, two standard and straightforward pricing research methodologies provide the insights needed.

Willingness to Pay: Gabor Granger Method

The Gabor Granger method is a common approach to identifying the market’s price tolerance. In the simplest design the first step is to identify three price points for your solution/service: The lowest you can realistically price your offer at and still make a profit, the price-point you think is a realistic price, and a stretch price point, the most you feel you could charge for your offer.

Once these three price points are selected, ask the market to rate its willingness to pay for an offer like yours at each price point, starting with your stretch price point. Those unlikely to purchase at your highest price point are presented your realistic price and again asked their willingness to pay. Those still unwilling to invest at that price point are asked about their willingness to pay at the lowest price point. Adding additional price points along the continuum (e.g., asking about four or five price points instead of three) helps identify nuances along the continuum.

The results are used to plot demand curves and calculate price elasticity.

Demand curves and price elasticity calculations are needed to identify the right price point.

The analysis provides two insights into the marketplace’s willingness to pay. The first is an estimate of the percent of the market that would be willing to invest at any given price point. The second is where pricing elasticity is flat – an increase or decrease in price has minimal influence on willingness to pay. In the example above, moving from $1,000 to $1,250 has minimal impact on the percent of the market willing to pay for the solution. The vendor would be leaving money on the table if they priced the solution at $1,000.

Optimal Price Point: Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter

The second standard pricing methodology Isurus uses is the Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM) which focuses on price expectations and acceptability rather than willingness to pay. In the context of a specific offer, the PSM explores the price point in four scenarios: When it is a bargain, getting expensive, so cheap it raises quality concerns, and prohibitively expensive.

The resulting data are plotted to calculate the optimal price range in terms of acceptance to the broadest percentage of the market. Prices above this price range will be acceptable to an increasingly narrow slice of prospects.

PSM explores price point in four scenarios to identify the right price point.

Isurus typically combines the Gabor Granger method and Van Westendorp in a study to mitigate the challenges associated with accurately measuring price elasticity. It is also important to note that both approaches assume that the audience is familiar enough with the products or product category to make reasonably informed judgements on the value of the solution and their company’s willingness to pay.

Insights and Use Cases

The data provided by types of questions will inform your pricing and go-to-market strategies by identifying:

  • How your pricing compares to competitors and the market’s expectations
  • Which market segments to avoid and which segments are most likely to find your pricing acceptable
  • Potential ways to optimize your price point to gain market share or skim the market
  • The sales and market challenge you face: Will you need to educate your buyers to help them justify the cost?

The framework outlined above can be explored qualitatively or quantitatively and managed internally or with the help of an external research firm. The Product Marketing Alliance also has some good recommendations for how to create an effective pricing strategy.

The Evolution of Social Media

The Evolution of Social Media

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have been social animals. What first manifested as a basic shared language has since evolved into subcultures on a multitude of social media platforms. The human impulse to know and be known has driven social media into the awe-inspiring network it is today.

When the first social media site was launched in 1997, it was nowhere near the expansive behemoth we know it to be. Six Degrees, credited as the first social media platform, was meant as a way of direct electronic communication. It wasn’t until we started getting to the 2000s that sites began to fill out their own separate niches.

In 2002, LinkedIn came into existence to fulfill a professional niche with a purpose of connecting users with businesses and potential employers. LinkedIn is still the seventh most popular social media site among adults in the USA.

In the decades since, social media has evolved into a source of entertainment and news, a new form of marketing and a retail platform. Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok rose in popularity and have stayed there since their conception. TikTok is even the most downloaded app in the US.

The creation of mobile phones has only added to the popularity of social media. In fact, 90% of the US population actively uses social media as of 2023 according to Pew Research. In case you aren’t someone who likes percentages, that’s 302.35 million social media users.

Brands, universities, sports teams and just about everyone else in between are using social media as a creative outlet to tell consumers what their organization is about.

Social media has changed the game in every way possible. No one could have predicted the way social media has evolved since its creation, nor will we be able to predict how it will continue to evolve.

Video Marketing Ideas for B2B Companies

Video Marketing Ideas for B2B Companies

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

Video marketing is a trend that must be taken advantage of. The third ranked social commerce platform is the app TikTok, which reached one billion users only four years after its creation – for reference, it took Facebook twice that amount of time to reach that many followers, and Facebook is the top social commerce platform.

But social media can be intimidating, especially when there are already so many brands that get thousands of likes on every video. Here are five video ideas to boost engagement.

#1: Tutorial videos

Short, helpful tutorials are an effective way to release educational content about your product. TikTok has video length options up to 10 minutes in length if you want to give a more in-depth tutorial but remember that most users’ attention spans don’t last that long.

Use tutorials to highlight your product in a non-judgmental way for users who didn’t know how to use it and add in tools and tricks that users may not have known about.

Get creative with your tutorials as well! Don’t be afraid to get silly with your video – you want it to stand out against the rest!

EZ Home, a TikTok influencer who posts DIY and tool reviews, has many videos like this one giving tutorials on how to fix sinks, locks, lights and more.

#2: Partner with influencers and content creators

There are thousands of influencers across social media platforms that want to pair with brands just like yours. Reach out first and ask if an influencer would be interested in receiving a free product to display in one of their videos. You can repost those videos on your own channels.

RIDGID Tools partnered with the influencer Plumbing Sk8er on TikTok and was featured in his recent video when they sent him a new SeeSnake Mini Pro Camera

#3: Show your product being used

Show off your product! Grab viewers’ interest and make it irresistible to them. Find fun and creative ways to show off your product to entice people to buy it. Two popular ways that brands are doing this are by creating videos of them testing their products in comparison to competitors and sharing before-and-after videos.

RRBuildings, a construction influencer, posts videos on TikTok for his 1.7 million followers. Many of his videos, such as this one, show him using a product and demonstrating how it helps make his job as easy as possible.

#4: Participate in trends and challenges

Pay attention to what is trending across platforms and find a way to jump on it. Brands that participate in trends that regular accounts are doing come across as relatable and have a better chance of resonating with their audience.

A popular trend across all forms of social media are compilation videos of satisfying actions. One account on YouTube, Technical Mamaji, posts videos of construction workers doing their job in satisfying ways, amassing 16,000 views.

#5: Share educational content

Use your platform to teach your audience about something related to your brand or products. You can make your educational content humorous still and, while you shouldn’t strictly stick to educational videos, they are a clever way to vary your videos to increase engagement.

See this video by She’s a Tiny Plumber on TikTok. She uses the duet feature to react to a leak repair, and she explains each step in a comprehensible way while keeping it light and humorous.

Feeling inspired yet? Start making your own video content to get the most out of your brand!

Celebrate National Manufacturing Day

Celebrate National Manufacturing Day

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

Implemented by the Manufacturing Institute, National Manufacturing Day takes place on the first Friday of every October and this year it’s October 6th. Manufacturing Day is part of the Manufacturing Institute’s initiative to inspire the next generation, diversify the workforce and positively shift perceptions about the manufacturing industry.

In celebration, thousands of manufacturers across the U.S. host events to showcase the realities of modern manufacturing and address labor shortages in the industry that are open to students, parents and/or educators.

Manufacturing Day is a chance for manufacturers to emphasize their work and their workers and to inspire a future generation of skilled workers.

What will you be doing this Manufacturing Day?

What’s Your Online Reputation?

What’s Your Online Reputation?

In marketing, there’s a lot of different forms of marketing as it keeps evolving. However, traditional marketing is not going away.

The following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.” Following is their guest post. 

The reputation you have with your customers is critical.

That should not come as new news to anyone running a business. How your customers perceive your products and services has a direct impact on future sales and it directly affects prospects consideration. The online community can be both a huge boost as well as a land-mine. Anyone with access to the internet, so basically everyone, can impact how you are perceived. So, what to do?

If you have read any of our articles, there is often one common theme in there, have a plan. It’s better to proactively manage your reputation than to let the social media world run it for you and be in a reactionary mode, especially if there are negative comments.

Assess where you are now

Start with an assessment of where you are today by taking a fresh look at your social media accounts. Understand where your customers are and that’s where you want to be. Depending on the size of your company and the resources you have, you may not need to be everywhere. For example, in our company, and given our target audience, we don’t need to be on TikTok. Then take the time to read the comments and the level of engagement your audience has with your posts. Get a good sense of what people are generally saying and how much is positive, negative, or just neutral.

Engage and boost

This is where the heavier lifting comes into play. It’s increasingly important to engage with your target audience online and this applies to B2B as much as it does in B2C companies. Are you posting regularly? How often you need to varies by the type of company and the channel. For some it might be a few times per week and for others at least once every two weeks. Your marketing team or agency can help determine the proper cadence.

Stay on top of the questions or comments

Try to respond to customer questions within 24 hours if possible. If someone states something incorrectly, it is appropriate to provide the correct answer. If someone says something negative, don’t react until you can assess the validity of the statement and provide a professional response. And given that anyone can say anything, not all comments necessitate a response. Ensure you have a trusted person responsible to answer questions with clear guidelines to help them understand when to escalate or bring in specific expertise.

Content matters

Finally, review what you are posting. Don’t always make it a sales push, but look to educate, inform, and at times, entertain – just be sure to keep it in your brand voice. Be sensitive to the medium you are using. With LinkedIn for example, keep it primarily business oriented. It’s fine to let your personal or company brand personality come through, but it’s probably best to avoid touchy societal topics

Take the time to assess where you are, continuously engage with your target audience and never stop generating content that matters to your target audience. Your brand reputation is critical to maintain, and as Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

14th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises Over $100,000

14th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises Over $100,000

CLEVELAND –September 2023 – 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 14th year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected over $100,000 worth of donations of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected $517,000 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.

“Every year we are amazed at the amount of donations we receive from our clients and community to support Habitat for Humanity,” said Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect at Sonnhalter. “This year, we collected more than $100,000, making it our biggest donation since we started our tool drive initiative.”

“Helping our community is extremely important to us and with the Sonnhalter Tool Drive it allows us to provide tools to work on our houses, in our tool shop and be sold to the general public,” said John Litten, president/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity.

Community participants in the 14th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Berea Recreation Center, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Berea Branch, Frangos Group, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, Skidmark Garage, St. Mary of the Falls, The Wine Spot and many individuals living in the community.

Trade industry participants in the 14th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Babcox Media, Buyers Products, General Pipe Cleaners, Jergens, Inc., Kapro, Lakeside Supply, NIBCO, Samsel Supply, Shop Supply & Tool Company, Sutton Industrial, Woodhill Supply and Wright.

All donations that Sonnhalter collected benefited Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStores, recycled building materials and home furnishings stores. Proceeds from the ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all backgrounds to eliminate substandard housing. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. Since then, Cleveland Habitat has brought together community members, volunteers and sponsor groups to help more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. For more information on Great Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, visit: https://www.clevelandhabitat.org/.

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Honor the Trades on National Tradesmen Day

Honor the Trades on National Tradesmen Day

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

This September 15th, join Sonnhalter in celebrating National Tradesmen Day. Taking place on the third Friday of September, National Tradesmen Day honors the men and women who helped build America with their hard work and unique skillset. These skillsets and hard work are what set tradesmen apart – whether there is a bridge to be built or a power grid to be set up, there is a tradesman to see it done.

The demand for skilled workers is only growing. Skilled trades are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the job market and are a major influence on the economy. Training is offered in almost every type of skilled trade in the job market.

Tradespeople are the heart of our nation. They’ve built our homes, roads, hospitals and schools, and without them our way of life would be lost, so join us in saying “thanks” to a tradesman.

What is De-Influencing?

What is De-Influencing?

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

I think we can all agree that influencers are good at… well, influencing. Sometimes it’s like I can’t go more than two days without buying something that a stranger on the internet told me I just couldn’t live without. But is the Goliath of influencer marketing about to meet its David?

Meet “de-influencing.” – the anti-thesis of influencer marketing in which a content creator tells their followers what not to buy or what “life hacks” not to try. As of this blog post, there have been over 700 million videos tagged with #deinfluencing on TikTok. This new trend of debunking trends has more to it than meets the eye, however.

Here is one example of de-influencing in action. This TikTok content creator posts multiple videos where he does a voiceover on top of a compilation of “life hacks” and explains why you shouldn’t do them. This is just one type of de-influencing, where the content creator tells you flat out not to fall into something just because it is trendy.

Another way of de-influencing that is becoming more popular is alternative influencing, or “don’t buy that trendy product that you’ve seen a thousand times, buy this less trendy product that will actually help you.”

So, why is de-influencing becoming popular? One reason might be because consumers are moving further and further away from the mass consumerism that has been creeping its way into our culture since the pandemic, when the only thing left to do with your day was online shop.

Another reason behind de-influencing is because content creators want to be as transparent with their followers as possible. Transparency and reputation are on the front of content creators’ minds. Can you really believe someone who is getting paid to support a brand who may not have your best interests in mind? Consumers are beginning to question the authenticity of influencers’ suggestions – are they truly helpful products, or is this influencer just trying to make a buck?

So, what does this mean for you and your company? First, it means that you will have to choose your influencers wisely. If you wish to do an influencer program, make sure you choose one that will accurately review your product and not one known to post de-influencing videos.

Make sure you are also being as transparent as possible with your product. If viewers appreciate honesty with influencers, they will also appreciate it with brands. Accurately promote what your product can do and how it will help, and this will ensure that your product will not get a negative review for not being worth it.

On the flip-side, it also means you have an opportunity to get your product out there if you believe it is a more efficient alternative to more trendy products. One benefit to de-influencing is that it can appeal to more niche audiences and help push your products towards an audience that would otherwise never know it existed.

De-influencing can be an opportunity for your brand, but only if you let it. How will your company join the trend of anti-trends?

Why Planning is Vital for Your Business

Why Planning is Vital for Your Business

By Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Rome also wasn’t built without a plan. Planning is essential to almost every human activity. Do you need to go to the grocery store? Okay, first write your list, then grab your keys, then get in the car, and so on. Are you going to start a new project around the house? Not without a plan you’re not.

Planning is not only meant for general ideas, but also for every aspect of your company. Planning is important for marketing, social media, video content and more. For instance, companies research tirelessly to analyze their consumers and find out how to best appeal to them. Once they have their research, they formulate a plan to attract potential buyers and tailor a marketing campaign around that plan.

Here are five reasons why planning is one of the most important things you can do.

#1) Plans help you set appropriate goals

The whole point in doing anything is to accomplish a goal. Creating a plan helps you determine if your goal is realistic or not. After you develop your plan, you may discover that you have to refine your goal a little bit to make it more achievable.

Use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. – Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound – to decide whether or not your goals are achievable and adjust as needed.

#2) Plans help you reveal strengths and weaknesses

In order to develop a plan, you have to look at it from every possible angle. This is where you will notice the strengths and weaknesses of your plan and, while no one likes to see a weakness in their idea, this is essential to planning. Without dissecting your plan’s weaknesses, you may end up steamrolling ahead and sabotaging yourself. Notice your weaknesses and adjust accordingly.

#3) Plans increase your efficiency, confidence and credibility

Efficiency is the goal in everything you do. Plans will help you manage time, talent and money. A project may not entirely fail with poor planning, but it will use more resources than necessary to complete. Along with increasing efficiency, planning will increase your confidence. Well thought out plans boost your confidence, and boosted confidence means an increase in certainty. Creating plans, especially when working in a group, is a great way to earn credibility. A strong plan will establish your credibility among your team and push you into a place of leadership.

#4) Plans reduce risk

You’ll never be able to predict the future, but you can prepare for it. A good plan prepares for risk and uncertainty so that, if you come across a roadblock, you are ready to deal with it and continue on the path towards your goal.

#5) Plans encourage peace of mind

Perhaps most importantly, plans relieve stress. Planning alleviates a lot of uncertainty in the future and lends to your confidence. You will feel much better knowing that you have thought through every possible scenario and have discussed the pros and cons. Stress will be present, but never overwhelming with a strong plan.

Not planning or poor planning can lead to poor management of time, money and other resources that could have been allotted elsewhere. Beyond affecting yourself with your lack of planning, you can impact those around you and the brand you represent. You could hurt not only your reputation, but the reputation of your company as a whole.

The planning process is vital to any project you will take on, whether it is personal or for your company. Take it seriously and don’t cut corners, because the last thing I’d want to say is “I told you so.” Remember these five tips for planning, and your next project will be a breeze.  

Manufacturing 101: Seven 3D Printing Processes for Different Applications

Manufacturing 101: Seven 3D Printing Processes for Different Applications

Every couple of months we feature a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org.

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, 3D printing has emerged as a game-changing manufacturing process. A common additive manufacturing process, 3D printing enables the creation of three-dimensional objects by building them layer by layer. Here we explore seven different types of 3D printing technologies and delve into their unique characteristics and applications.

Material Extrusion

Material Extrusion, also known fused deposition modeling (FDM), is one of the most widely used 3D printing technologies. In this process, a thermoplastic filament is fed through a heated nozzle. The nozzle melts the material, which is then extruded layer by layer to create the desired object. Material extrusion is known for its affordability, ease of use and compatibility with a wide range of thermoplastics. This 3D printing method is used for prototyping, product development and low-volume production.

Vat Polymerization

Vat Polymerization utilizes a liquid photopolymer resin that is selectively cured by a light source, typically an ultraviolet UV laser or a digital light processing (DLP) projector. The resin hardens layer by layer as the light source selectively exposes it to light. This technology produces highly detailed and precise parts with smooth surface finishes, making it ideal for applications in jewelry, dental and medical industries.

Powder Bed Fusion

Powder Bed Fusion comprises two main techniques: selective laser sintering (SLS) and selective laser melting (SLM). In SLS, a high-powered laser selectively sinters powdered material, usually polymers or metals, to fuse it into a solid structure. SLM, on the other hand, involves completely melting the powdered material to achieve a fully dense metal part. Powder Bed Fusion offers excellent geometric freedom, material versatility and is often used in industries such as aerospace, automotive and medical for manufacturing complex and high-strength components.

Material Jetting

Material Jetting, also known as inkjet printing, operates similarly to traditional 2D inkjet printers. Instead of ink, it uses a print head to jet liquid photopolymer materials onto the build platform. These materials are then cured using ultraviolet light. Material jetting enables the simultaneous printing of multiple materials, making it suitable for creating multi-color, multi-material and highly detailed models. Its applications range from product design and architectural modeling to medical and dental applications.

Binder Jetting

Binder jetting is a process that selectively deposits a liquid binding agent onto a powdered material bed. The binder connects the particles to form a solid structure. This technique allows for the production of parts in a range of materials, such as metals, ceramics and composites. Binder jetting is known for its speed and cost-effectiveness, making it suitable for both prototyping and low-volume production.

Directed Energy Deposition

Directed Energy Deposition (DED) involves the precise deposition of material, usually metal, through a nozzle or laser onto a substrate. DED can be used to build large-scale objects, repair existing parts or add features to an existing component. It offers the advantage of high deposition rates and the ability to use a wide range of materials, including metal alloys. DED is commonly used in aerospace, automotive, and marine industries.

Sheet Lamination

Sheet Lamination is a unique 3D printing process that involves bonding together layers of material, typically paper or metal foils, using adhesive or heat. The layers are then cut or shaped using a laser or blade. Sheet lamination offers cost-effective prototyping and is often used for creating full-color architectural models, packaging prototypes, and educational models.

The world of 3D printing offers endless possibilities, thanks to the ever-expanding list of technologies available. Understanding and harnessing the potential of these technologies allows us to embrace innovation and drive efficiency.

Recapping my Internship

Recapping my Internship

By Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

My internship at Sonnhalter has been such a big opportunity for me. Not only have I gained experience in my chosen field, but I also got to hold a wrench that was nearly as big as me, so I guess it’s up to you which is more important.

One of the first things I was given to work on here was a press release on something I knew absolutely nothing about. It was definitely a challenge and far from the fake scenarios I used to write press releases for in my Intro to PR class, but I liked knowing that what I wrote was going to reach people and be used.

My favorite part of the internship has been writing blog posts, like this one. I enjoyed researching any given topic and putting it into my own words, as well as inputting my own personality into the blog posts. Writing these blog posts has also given me the opportunity to gain experience more about a variety of topics, such as the connection between toilet plungers and CPR.  

I got the chance to experiment with graphics and creating videos, something that I didn’t have much experience with beforehand. I was even able to contribute a donation location to the annual tool drive, something I am particularly proud of.

Even though I am going to miss most of the Tool Drive since I move back to my college house at the beginning of August, I really liked knowing that I was working towards helping people in need. I enjoyed seeing things that I created go towards a greater goal of partnering with Habitat for Humanity.

With the experience and knowledge that I have gained from this internship, I feel confident in my capabilities going forward and I know that I will only learn more with every opportunity I get. I know that wherever I end up, I will have Sonnhalter to thank for starting me on my path.

How to Leverage Your Company’s Blog

How to Leverage Your Company’s Blog

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

It’s no secret that blog posts are a vital piece of marketing. In 2022, 90% of businesses used blog posts as a part of their marketing strategy. But how can you make sure your blog posts are reaching their full potential? Here are five ways to leverage your blogs.

Have a strong headline and break up your content (just like this)

The most important thing is to make sure your blog posts are both reader and search friendly. Blog posts that utilize headings and proper spacing are both pleasing to the eye and helpful in boosting your search engine optimization (SEO).

A good, strong headline that draws readers in is also essential. Your headline should tell readers they will gain something from reading your blog post – whether it is informational, educational or for entertainment, your readers must get something out of reading your blog post.

Include strong meta descriptions to also help attract customers to your blog. This also doubles for optimizing your SEO.

Develop your voice through your writing

Show readers a more personal side of your brand that they can relate to. No one wants to read blogs that are bland with zero unique personality. When your blog is friendly and personable, customers feel more comfortable interacting with your brand and purchasing from it.

Traditional marketing methods, like print ads or brochures, certainly have their merits, but blogging allows customers to see the people behind the brand and what the brand is meant to represent. Think of how the fast-food franchise Wendy’s became iconic for the humorous and sarcastic responses across their social media and how their engagement and sales increased.

Find your voice and work it through your blog posts. Don’t shy away from being clever and witty, or sincere and heartfelt if that is what your brand is. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be yourself!

Build trust with your customers

Blogs are meant to be relatable and relaxed. The informal nature of blogs is meant to encourage customers to engage so that you can understand each other better. Establishing a relationship between business and customer is essential to building trust.

Customers trust blogs that know what they’re talking about. Share your expertise to lend to your credibility. Include topics like industry insights or tutorials that highlight your expertise. Blog posts with success stories add value to the relationship between you and your customers.

Make your website a destination

Other ways to build trust include engaging in conversation by asking and answering questions. Customers want to interact with brands, but only if they value their customers engagement and respond to it. Keep an upbeat, light-hearted tone throughout your interactions to encourage customers to continue interacting.

Repeat traffic is the lifeblood of websites. A HubSpot study reported that companies with a blog receive 97% more links to their website. Your blog will give people a reason to revisit your website. This is why it is important to have a personality in your blog so that it is more appealing and readable.

Really go the extra mile by providing free resources on your blog – reliable industry tips, free downloads and guides will keep customers visiting your sites. It is also a good idea to include links to other places on your website in your new blog posts to keep things such as older blog posts in circulation.

Be Passionate!

Enjoy what you’re writing! Things that you are enthusiastic to write about are exciting to read about and will inspire more action from your readers. Write about things you care about and skip the things that bore you, because customers will be able to tell. Blog posts aren’t meant to be something checked off a to-do list; they should be fun, upbeat and engaging.

Blog posts with clear passion and good energy will exemplify the care you have for your industry, which will influence your readers to have that same energy when they interact with your brand.

Booth Ideas at Trade Shows to Draw Attention

Booth Ideas at Trade Shows to Draw Attention

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

As trade show season approaches, your company might be wondering what can you do to drive traffic to your booth. In the past, we’ve seen some creative ideas like puppies, arcade games and more! In this blog post, we will discuss different ideas of how you can draw attention to your booth.

Games

When it comes to attendees you will need to be engaging with your booth design. Having something fun and interactive to attract and retain attention is important. One example of this is to have games set up at your booth – whether it’s cornhole, spin the wheel or plinko. This will allow attendees some entertainment and a chance for you to giveaway some “swag” to those who participate.

Photo Booth

Photo opportunities are an easy way to have people gather at the booth while utilizing branded elements from your company. Having branded filters can help increase your engagement and promote brand awareness for your company. It can also encourage those who take a photo at the booth to post it on social media with a branded hashtag.

Virtual Reality

Having virtual reality (VR) keeps visitors glued to your booth and can keep the attention of the crowd. VR at your booth can be used to showcase your products and show how they work.  Also, users can see, hear and interact with their surroundings.

Hosting a Contest

This is one of the most effective ways to get people to stop by your booth, but in order to get a decent crowd you will need to promote it pre-show. Not only should you talk about it on social media, but you can advertise the contest online or media outlet. By hosting a contest and collecting user contact information, you can collect qualified leads that you can use in the future.

Conclusion

These are just some examples of how you can attract guests to your booth at a trade show, and there’s plenty of more ways to entice people. Make the most of your booth by exploring these ideas and feel free to get creative at your next trade show.

Check out our other blog posts that cover trade shows.

Trade Show Tips – https://www.sonnhalter.com/2019/07/11/10-tips-for-trade-show-marketing/

Taking Advantage of Trade Show Opportunities – https://www.sonnhalter.com/2014/07/17/trade-shows-are-you-taking-advantage-of-the-media-opportunities/

Why You Should Use Email Marketing and Why it’s Still Important

Why You Should Use Email Marketing and Why it’s Still Important

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

When your company is focusing on a variety of marketing materials to advocate your brand and products, you might not think it’s necessary to add email marketing to the mix. But email marketing can be a part of your overall success and tie into your other promotional materials like social media, blogs and the latest news.

In this blog post, we will highlight the benefits of using email marketing and how it can improve your business.

Personalizing Content

Email marketing allows you to target content specifically toward your audience. For example, you could focus email marketing on specific products if the user expressed interest, for first time customers or based on location. By using a variety of different email subjects or different images, you can increase your engagement and/or sales.

Collecting Important Data

Not only can you collect leads to know your customers’ contact information, but you can utilize email marketing to send out surveys or receive feedback. By obtaining customer feedback, you can learn what products to promote, what your audience is interested in or how you can share tips, tricks and education.

Like previously mentioned, email marketing can help gather leads and keep track of who is engaging in your emails by opening or clicking on a link.

This information can help improve your customer experience and better understand who your audience is.

Generating Website Traffic

Email marketing allows you to drive your audience to your website to engage with your brand or products, as well as improve your SEO. Email marketing is a great way to provide your users with content, like blogs, videos and important updates, that link back to your site.

Conclusion

Email marketing is flexible and allows companies to complete their marketing goals depending on their needs. Using email marketing as part of your overall mix gives you the ability to grow and see your marketing impact.

Traditional Marketing Is Not Dead

In marketing, there’s a lot of different forms of marketing as it keeps evolving. However, traditional marketing is not going away.

Following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.” Following is their guest post. 

Traditional marketing is not dead. Take for instance something a bit old-school such as a plane pulling a banner through the sky. If you are ever in Cleveland over the summer, you will more than likely spot one flying over Progressive Field during a Guardians game. This past summer it was Geico.

Given the shot-gun approach of aerial advertising, we may not have been the target audience, but some definitely were. According to ESPN, the average estimated crowd size during an Indians (at that time) home game in 2019 was about 21,000 (that’s a bit sad in itself). 77% of auto insurance customers were either actively shopping or experienced an adverse event that triggered shopping (e.g., poor service or a rate increase) in 2020 according to . J.D. Power. It’s a good assumption then that Geico is reaching at least 6,300 people that may be their target at each game, plus the much larger number in the city that will also see the sign.

IT’S NOT THE MEDIUM – IT’S THE OBJECTIVE THAT MATTERS

Prior to World War II, aviation pioneer Arnold Sidney Butler, the owner and operator of Daniel Webster Airport in New Hampshire, created banner towing. That was then, and in our digital world today, it almost seems quaint and somehow out of place. However, in this example, the medium is a smart decision for Geico if their objective was to increase brand awareness and potential consideration. Plus, they didn’t have to pay for the naming rights to the stadium like their competitor. In the increasing world of digital marketing, it’s important not to decide on your tactic (your medium) before you first define your objective and understand your target audience.

KNOW HOW YOUR AUDIENCE CONSUMES CONTENT & WHAT’S RELEVANT

As digital continues to grow and in some cases dominates access to certain target audiences, it has also created an equal need to better understand your target audience. It’s more imperative than ever to know how they consume content and to deliver an authentic, on brand message that is relevant. Surprisingly, not many companies do a good enough job at understanding who their target audience is or their purchase decision journey (why they buy from you). It’s not just about demographics (see our other amazing article on this topic, Demographics Are Outdated).

DO YOUR RESEARCH!

If you don’t have the internal resources to conduct your own research, then find a reputable agency that has a clear and solid process to conduct the research first and not just sell you a solution. Don’t let them sway you with just secondary data either. It’s a good start, but those are often generalities of a market or segment. Conduct your own primary research that is tailored to your company. Think of it as an investment that will provide you better returns down the road through improved campaign performance.

So, don’t just settle for a tactic, traditional or digital unless you do your homework first. Remember it’s not the medium or the platform, it’s your objective that comes first. Understand who is buying from you, why, and what matters to them. Who knows, maybe you will be flying a banner behind a plane in addition to that digital banner across the screen.

Day in the Life as an Intern at Sonnhalter

Day in the Life as an Intern at Sonnhalter

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

My days as an intern at Sonnhalter are not what I expected them to be. For one, there’s way less grabbing coffee for everyone than popular media would lead you to believe. For another, they gave me a huge desk with a window view. The view is a cemetery, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I help ghostwrite blog posts for the Sonnhalter website than I can add to my portfolio, draft up press releases for tools I now know more about than I ever thought I would, conduct research and create social media content. I also sit in on meetings with clients and go to in-person open houses to get a better sense of what I am writing about.

One thing I enjoy about interning at Sonnhalter is that no two days are the same. Some days are more writing intensive, while others are more research focused, and I can switch between projects if I want to write more than research.

I have been learning a lot during my time at Sonnhalter and I am excited to take it with me into my future career.

Why You Should Utilize User-Generated Content

Why You Should Utilize User-Generated Content

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

What is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content (UGC) is content that was created through images, videos and podcasts. Types of user-generated content could be product reviews, testimonials and educational material. User-generated content can come from your customers, influencers or your employees, and can be an added benefit to your brand.

Why is it important?

UGC can be beneficial in the buyer’s journey to add credibility as well as increase social media engagement and overall conversions.

Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands, so utilizing this strategy is important.

UGC can help build brand loyalty and can help grow a tight knit community for your brand. Often, businesses will create influencer programs so they can send out their products for influencers to post about. This allows the company to gain content that they can post across their social media channels.

Sharing audience content also works to develop and deepen audience and business relationships, driving more brand loyalty.

Cost-Effective

Instead of creating a campaign around one of your least popular items and having to spend money on a photoshoot, you can save money by sprinkling in UGC. When starting to use UGC, check your analytics across other posts. You should find that the UGC receives higher engagement and obviously didn’t cost an arm and a leg to create. UGC is a cost-effective way to introduce an innovative marketing strategy to the mix.

Conclusion

Utilizing UGC content can help benefit your brand, but understanding how using UGC can align with your goals is important. Sit down and review your marketing strategy and see how UGC can fit into your marketing mix, so you can use it to your full potential.

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for 14th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for 14th 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 – June 2023 – 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 14th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive. Since the tool drive’s inception, Sonnhalter has raised more than $415,000 worth in donations for the organization. 

From Tuesday, August 1 to Thursday, 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 Cleveland Habitat’s mission of building homes and empowering families through safe and affordable home ownership. 

“It is hard to believe this is our 14th year,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Thanks to the generosity of the community, clients and friends of the agency, we have been able to donate more than $415,000 to this great cause. Last year’s Tool Drive was a historic year for us, and we are hoping to be able to match that this year.”

The Sonnhalter Tool Drive encourages businesses and organizations to look through warehouses for extra inventory and overstocked tools or items.

Cleveland Habitat has helped more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at the organization’s ReStore, discount home improvement stores with two locations in Cuyahoga County. Proceeds from ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

To watch the Sonnhalter Annual Tool Drive video: https://youtu.be/PY1HTXyd5RQ

Tools and materials can be shipped to Attn: Tool Drive, Sonnhalter, 1320 Sumner Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio 44115. For information on how you can participate in the Sonnhalter Tool Drive, or to coordinate larger shipments, i.e., pallet size, please contact Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard from Sonnhalter at 216.242.0420 x130 or rascherl@sonnhalter.com. To make a monetary donation, please make checks payable to “Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity” and mail to Sonnhalter, 1320 Sumner Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

For more information on the Tool Drive, visit: www.Sonnhalter.com/tooldrive.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all faiths to eliminate substandard housing. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. Since then, Cleveland Habitat has brought together community members, volunteers and sponsor groups to help more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. For more information on Great Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, visit: https://www.clevelandhabitat.org/.

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Amazon Business #1 US Channel Where B2B Product Buyers Search for Items

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

It’s probably not surprising that 4 of the Top 5 channels are online/digital according to a recent report from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, but I bet you the #2 channel is: In-store/at a vendor’s warehouse.

However, while US B2B buyers are searching on Amazon Business and the site commands an estimated 15% of their buying budgets, it’s not necessarily where buyers are starting their purchasing journey.

The largest share of US respondents say they most often start their journey in-store or at a vendor’s warehouse (26%), while fewer start on Amazon Business (16%).

The pandemic played a role in people purchasing online more but spending online is likely to decrease post-pandemic.

Here are some additional nuggets from the report:

  • Nearly all US respondents have switched suppliers for all (55%) or some (41%) business purchases during the pandemic
  • Almost half (49%) of all B2B purchases are made online
  • 62% of buyers would like to have dedicated smartphone apps through which they can make B2B purchases
  • 89% of B2B buyers in the UK and US find buying online more complicated than offline
  • Promotions and marketing are the #1 influencing factor in B2B purchasing

With a high percentage of B2B buying happening online, it’s important to have your suppliers get their online portals right. Online portals can change a customer’s shopping experience and leave them with a positive attitude.

How to Write a Blog Post for Your Manufacturing Business

How to Write a Blog Post for Your Manufacturing Business

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org.

Remember the feeling of being assigned an essay in school, when you knew what you needed to write about, but didn’t know where to start or couldn’t find the right words to string together? Blog writing can elicit those same feelings, with the added pressure of having to work within the confines of SEO, brand and purpose. Ya, blog writing can be intimidating.

But, great blogs can lend huge credibility to your business and areas of expertise. Further, blogging is a low-cost way to connect with existing, new and potential customers; offers a quick, valuable source of social media content; and builds your brand. Ultimately, your blogs can share how much you know about your manufacturing field and put you ahead of a competitor who’s not blogging.

Recently, someone who is not a marketer asked me how to write a blog and if I could document the process. I immediately realized that anyone in business could benefit from understanding the full process. Subject matter experts in manufacturing need to position themselves as industry leaders and provide educational, thought-leadership content to their current and potential customers. 

Here is the process I use when I write blogs for myself, my organization or clients.

  1. Brainstorm a list of potential topics.
  2. Organize those topics by top of funnel (awareness/educational), middle of funnel (consideration) or bottom of funnel (conversion/sales) content. This will help you create a balance of content to nurture leads along the buyer process, which will then keep them loyal and become your advocates.
  3. Identify keywords that you or your company want to rank for in a Google search and include those in the blog (optimizing it for SEO). These keywords are best identified by using a tool that can tell you what the most popular searches are for your industry or what keywords your competitors are ranking for.
  4. Make sure the topic you select is relevant for your audience.
  5. I do some online research to see what’s already out there; sometimes, that helps me focus my topic further.
  6. Some people do an outline, though I don’t. I just do a rough draft and then move things around. Back to the idea of a college essay, it has an intro, body and conclusion or a beginning, middle and end.
  7. Make the language conversational and engaging. Show “personality.”
  8. Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
  9. Often, I interview someone for the blog by either emailing them questions. Sometimes we’ll have a phone or zoom chat, and I’ll taking notes if they are the subject matter expert or can provide a quote for my blog that will lend it credibility.
  10. Create a headline that makes people want to read it. Often that is things like 10 tips, 5 ways, 3 things you can do.
  11. If the blog is longer than a paragraph or two, I usually write subheads to break it up into digestible bites and so people can scan and see an outline of what’s covered. You also can make phrases that are important bold, so it is easily scannable.
  12. People love lists; so, I usually use a bulleted or numbered list (see: this blog). That also makes it scannable and user friendly.
  13. As for length, search engines like long form copy, which is about 1,500-2,000 words. But minimum wordcount should be 400 to 500; otherwise, Google actually penalizes you for thin content.
  14. Check grammar!
  15. Use an engaging image that catches attention and use video when you can.
  16. Cite sources if you use outside info.
  17. Put a call to action at the end. What do you want them to do? How do you capture them?
  18. Promote it on social media.

Click here to read the original post.

Sonnhalter Welcomes Kaylee Lauriel as New Intern

Sonnhalter Welcomes Kaylee Lauriel as New Intern

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

Sonnhalter announced the recent appointment of Kaylee Lauriel to public relations intern. In this role she will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience including writing press releases and blog posts, conducting research and creating social media content.

Lauriel attends Pennwest Edinboro University, where she majors in Strategic Communications and plays on the women’s soccer team. Along with being a student athlete, Lauriel is a member of multiple on-campus groups such as the Honors College and the Applied Communicators of Edinboro.

During her time at Pennwest Edinboro, Lauriel has taken introduction to PR classes, as well as courses on event planning and organizational business that have prepared her for taking on this internship. By the end of her internship, Lauriel hopes to have a greater understanding of her future career path, along with gaining some real-world portfolio content.

When she isn’t working or on the soccer field, Lauriel enjoys spending time with her dog or reading books.

What ‘Omnichannel’ Actually Means for Distributors

What ‘Omnichannel’ Actually Means for Distributors

In a recent article from Industrial Distribution, the term “omnichannel” and what it means for distributors was discussed. Omnichannel means the connection of all systems, platforms, departments and sales channels. With omnichannel capabilities, distributors can provide customers with a consistent experience across all touch points.

Why are omnichannels important to B2B customers?

Omnichannels allow users to have a fluid shopping experience and give them options when they shop. Over time the number of channels that customers can engage with has grown and will continue to grow. In a study from McKinsey & Company, they found that modern B2B buyers want to engage with distributors across 10 or more channels and move between channels seamlessly. 

With more channels for buyers to access this leads to more sales.

What Is Omnichannel?

An omnichannel model gives you a holistic view of the customer experience and buying journey. When you understand your buyers’ buying patterns then you will know what products they are in the market for and how to better your business.

By having multiple channels, it allows users more opportunities for buying and makes it easier to buy from you.

How many channels do you offer your customers today? If it’s anything less than 10, it’s possible you’re not reaching all your potential customers.

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Original post by Industrial Distribution: https://www.inddist.com/logistics/blog/22631373/what-omnichannel-actually-means-for-distributors

How to Measure the ROI of Your Manufacturing Marketing Efforts

How to Measure the ROI of Your Manufacturing Marketing Efforts

A person measuring ROI using a tablet.

By Michael James, Guest Blogger

If you’re a manufacturer that markets products and services to the construction, industrial, or manufacturing markets, you must know how much your marketing efforts are paying off. That being said, measuring the return on investment (ROI) for each individual effort can be difficult. However, with the right approach, it’s possible. In this article, we’ll discuss how to measure the ROI of your manufacturing marketing efforts to help you make better decisions about your marketing spending and strategies. More accurately, we’ll cover creative ways to measure different types of engagement. This will help you ensure that every penny counts towards achieving the best outcomes possible.

1 Understand the Basics of Return on Investment (ROI)

A return on investment is anything that brings you a return after an initial investment. More often than not, this is a monetary return, but not always. That being said, one of the most important things for any business is figuring out the ROI. If you know what you are investing into and why, you can maximize efficiency and bottom line. When it comes to manufacturing marketing efforts, as with all marketing efforts, your goal should be to maximize returns while minimizing expenditures. Using metrics like time spent or money saved will help you gauge whether you are on the right track to success or failure. As a result, you’ll be able to make decisions quickly and efficiently.

2 Identify Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Identifying key performance indicators is essential to measure the ROI of your manufacturing marketing efforts accurately. Your KPIs can help you set goals and measure progress. They can also help you prioritize tasks, increase productivity, and improve customer satisfaction. It can be challenging to figure out which KPIs are relevant for your type of business. This can be especially difficult for manufacturing marketing efforts since it requires specific marketing. However, no matter the type of business, the same principles hold. You need to establish processes that incorporate feedback systems when meeting particular objectives. This will ensure that you accomplish all your tasks thoroughly and efficiently. Additionally, with the data you gather, you will have all the information necessary to make informed decisions that yield results.

3 Analyze the ROI of Different Types of Manufacturing Marketing Efforts

When it comes to marketing efforts in the manufacturing industry, many different options are available. It can be challenging to determine which ones will yield the best ROI. This is where analyzing different types of ROI becomes essential. Understanding how each strategy affects your bottom line lets you decide which methods make sense for you. This is the best course of action if you wish to figure out how to allocate resources accordingly. Doing this is going to allow you to get a complete understanding of the efficacy of your marketing initiatives.

4 Make Use of Software Solutions to Track Your Campaigns

Automation and software solutions make the process of tracking campaigns easier and faster. Not only that, but they free up valuable time to focus on other business processes. By taking advantage of automation, companies in the construction, industrial, and manufacturing markets can get real-time information to track the effectiveness of their campaigns. This data help with making more informed decisions on optimizing their efforts to maximize ROI. Additionally, automation can help identify growth opportunities.

Furthermore, it can show areas where campaigns need tweaking or improvement. Keeping an eye on the performance of your campaigns using software will even give you a competitive edge in your market. That being said, CRM is the best software to use for this purpose. If you can make the most of your CRM, you won’t have issues staying on top of your ROIs.

5 Utilize Data Analytics to Identify Areas for Improvement

By utilizing data analytics, manufacturers can gain greater insight into their customers. Furthermore, they can identify areas in need of improvement. Data analytics allow a manufacturer to compare customer feedback over time. This, in turn, makes it possible for them to detect any changes that may warrant attention. Combing data analysis with target research will also help you recognize customer trends. This is important because staying on top of the changes in your industry will help you adapt quickly and accurately. This assessment of customer preferences allows companies to remain agile and respond to customer demand in a timely manner. As a result, this is going to increase customer satisfaction.

Additionally, harnessing the power of data-driven decision-making can significantly improve multiple aspects of the business. For instance, by leveraging advanced analytics tools and techniques, you can better understand your whole operation and figure out how to improve them.

6 Develop Strategies to Maximize Your ROI

Maximizing your company’s ROI is the key to sustainable growth and profitability. However, you need to understand how to structure your investments across different advertising platforms to achieve this. And, for this to work, you need to create a strategy. When creating a strategy, you must be careful because what’s on paper may not be so cut and dry when you put it into practice. For this reason, you must regularly monitor metrics such as sales volume and cost efficiency to ensure they work in practice. If you don’t do this, there is no way to ensure success.

Conclusion

In order to effectively measure the ROI of your manufacturing marketing efforts, first and foremost, it’s important to understand your ROI. In addition, identifying KPIs can help to ensure accuracy when it comes to the data you collect. Furthermore, software solutions like CRM can help streamline the process. So, following these steps will increase the likelihood that you will hit the right targets with your next marketing effort. Not only that, but you will also be able to accurately measure the ROI and make any improvements if at all necessary.

About the Author

Michael James is a seasoned marketing professional with years of experience in the manufacturing industry. He has developed a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities of marketing products. In his free time, Michael loves spending time hiking and surfing.

Why Collecting First-Party Data is More Critical Now More Than Ever…

Why Collecting First-Party Data is More Critical Now More Than Ever…

By: Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician

Let’s face it, third-party cookies and Ad IDs have been a crutch for advertisers over the past decade.

Well now as data restrictions tighten and tech companies (i.e., Google and Apple) make it harder for advertisers to track users, everyone is scrambling to find alternatives to using cookies.

One alternative is using your first-party data which is the data you collect on your audience based on their activity within your website, app, email services or social media.

A new study from LiveIntent and Advertiser Perceptions lists the top ways advertisers plan to grow or enhance first-party data, with the Top 3 areas being:

1) Growing email lists via newsletters

Nine in 10 advertisers see newsletters as valuable in understanding your audience. The use of growing your email list will help businesses to activate their data and fully understand their audience. Newsletters will also allow businesses to personalize their communication efforts and see who they should be targeting. Lastly, they will also help to provide first-party data and show you relevant content that businesses can use to build a connection with consumers.

2) Site/app visitation behavior

Website and app visitation can provide important behavior that can be used to track their data. When users connect to your website, the website can collect your audience details. From websites or apps, you can gain users email address, name, mobile number, location based on shipping information and behavioral data. With all this data you can easily see what audience persona or following you have and market directly towards them.

3) Social media

Social media is a vital tool in collecting your audience’s data. Your audience will most likely be using social media way more than just typical Google. Especially in this day and age, people are constantly on a social media platform throughout the day. With social media, you can directly see who your audience is and can even focus on paid media to target and get more insights. With knowing your audience, you can also look for ways to improve on social media to try and expand your first-party data.

Data is very important in knowing who your audience is and seeing who you should be marketing towards.

What’s your company doing to increase their first-party data?

Sonnhalter Adds NIBCO as New Client

Sonnhalter Adds NIBCO as New Client

CLEVELAND – April 2023 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announces NIBCO as one of its newest clients.

Founded in 1904, NIBCO is a leading provider of valves, fittings and flow control products for commercial, industrial and institutional construction, marine markets, as well as residential and irrigation markets. Headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana, NIBCO offers more than 56,000 SKUs to the plumbing industry.

“As NIBCO continues to grow and expand, Sonnhalter’s knowledge of the industry will help NIBCO to increase our brand awareness,” said Sally Boyer, marketing communications manager at NIBCO. “At NIBCO, we have a manufacturing history spanning over a century of producing high quality products, and with Sonnhalter we can continue to push boundaries.”

Sonnhalter will be assisting NIBCO in managing its earned media, social media, paid media and overall marcom strategy.

“NIBCO is a company with a rich history and expansive list of valves, fittings and flow control products,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We look forward to working together to enhance NIBCO’s brand leadership in the industry.”

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About NIBCO INC.

Founded in 1904, NIBCO INC. is a leading provider of valves, fittings, and flow control products for commercial, industrial and institutional construction, Navy marine markets, as well as residential and irrigation markets. NIBCO is headquartered in Elkhart, Ind., and has 13 manufacturing plants located throughout the United States and globally. Visit NIBCO.com for information on the complete line of NIBCO products.

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Trade Show #7 – My Battery Was on Empty…

Trade Show #7 – My Battery Was on Empty…

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

By the time I reached Indianapolis for the NTEA Work Truck Week, my seventh trade show in just over 52 days, my battery/energy level was running close to empty! Luckily for me there were plenty of batteries and charging stations since electric vehicles were once again the hot topic of the show. You couldn’t walk 10-feet down any aisle without tripping over something EV-related.

As the industry’s transition to electric power accelerates, much of the news coming out of Work Truck Week was related to electric vehicles, including the launch of eight commercial EVs, as well as associated auxiliary power solutions, bodies and equipment.

The Green Truck Summit, NTEA’s full-day advanced fuels and vehicle technology conference, was also sold out for the second year in a row, with nearly 1,000 attendees.

And the overall attendance of the show returned to pre-pandemic levels with 14,885 industry professionals, setting a new record with a 17% increase over the 2022 event.

Here are just a few of the commercial electric vehicles which were unveiled at the show:

-Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and Hino Trucks both chose Work Truck Week 2023 to announce their first all-electric trucks, Isuzu’s N-Series EV and Hino’s M5e and L6e.

-Mack Trucks unveiled its first electric vehicle in the medium-duty segment, the Mack® MD Electric.

-Shyft Group revealed the new Blue Arc Class 5 All Electric Crew Cab, while Ideanomics and VIA Motors introduced the VTRUX® electric work truck.

-Workhorse Group pulled the silk from its new W56 zero-emission step van.

-JB Poindexter & Co business units announced several new products and developments, including Project ZEVX, an EAVX, Reading Truck and ZEVX electric concept, and an all-electric C250 postal truck demonstration vehicle developed by Morgan Olson for Canada Post.

-Ram Commercial showcased its new Ram 1500 Battery-electric Vehicle Concept, and Bollinger Motors provided updates on its new B4 all-electric fleet truck. Meanwhile, Ford Pro marked the one-year anniversary of the Ford E-Transit all-electric van.

And while the commercial EVs dominated the headlines at the show, there was one booth that caught my eye as I was walking the last day of the show. Loop Energy, an industry-leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of hydrogen fuel cell systems for vehicle OEMs and power generation system manufacturers. They were showcasing their newest commercial vehicle solution. Who knows…maybe hydrogen could be the next alternative fuel/power source in the decades to come. I guess maybe we are not that far away from flying vehicles:)

Well, that’s a wrap for the 1Q 2023 trade show season, time to rest up for the Fall trade show circuit!

Wishin, Hopin, and Prayin Don’t Pay the Bills….More Sales Will

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. 

As a mobile jobber for a major brand, you either have a set number of technicians on your route or a set geographic boundary controlling your selling efforts. Being an independent mobile jobber, your efficiency, selling time, and logic determine the ground you can successfully cover. Major or independent, there are limits on the number of customer opportunities and realistic hours in the day you can sell. 

It’s always easy to think that you only need a bigger territory or access to larger dealerships to be a Top 100 dealer (but this is probably not going to happen). You could wish for lower prices, higher margins, and fewer backorders (I guarantee that this is not going to happen). And finally, you can hope that one of your competitors drops out of the business since he is a price-cutting pain in your wallet! 

So, if wishing, hoping, and praying are not going to help, there is only one thing remaining. You are going to have to accept the cards (aka, technicians) you’ve been dealt and make the most of it. 

This month we’re looking at ways for you to look at your customer and prospect base and build your revenues with the opportunities you have. 

I imagine you have a good idea of who are all the absolute Tool Nuts, Good Customers, Sporadic Customers, non-customer prospects, and Dead Beats (cash only) that work in your area. I’m guessing that you have some document/spreadsheet/program with all the names of the technicians and shop owners in your area. 

Let’s start with the Dead Beats (cash only) in your area.  No matter how bad at bill paying these technicians are, they still need tools to do their jobs. Granted they are probably buying many of their tools at Harbor Freight or some other discount location, but there are still some specialty products they can only get from a true automotive jobber — like you. Don’t ignore these people. You never know if their financial missteps are over or they are now somehow currently flush with cash.  Talk to them, show them your new cool tools, and discuss a way for them to potentially get in your good credit graces.  Maybe give them a plan that if they buy x amount from you for cash, you will start them out with a small credit line. Talk openly but discretely with them about their issues, it’s often surprising what a little open communication can accomplish. Think of it this way, anything you sell them is 100% plus business, and additionally, you will probably sell to these people at full-boat list price. 

Your next target group should be the people who are buying from someone but not from you. These are your prospects. Continue dropping off your promotional brochures and eye-to-eye thank them for looking at it and while you at it mention that you would appreciate a shot at their business. I’m sure in some cases these non-customers are mad at you, your predecessor, or the brand that is on your truck, and these issues are what you need to get past.  Sometimes a simple request like “how can I earn your business back” may crack the ice and open a conversation. This conversation may not be all peaches and cream at first. 

When they regurgitate whatever the previous sin (in their eyes) was, honor their statement with “I’m sorry that happened, and I’ll do my best to meet your needs as we move forward.”  Sure, the prospect may be a knucklehead and never forgive you for not taking back the broken lugnut socket that he had welded to a pry bar for busting loose frozen wheel nuts. Just keep asking.  If this guy is that odd, he will sooner or later become unhappy with his current supplier and come back to you. The successful action in this instance is to keep talking to them and asking for their business. Again, anything you sell them is 100% plus business. 

The hardest nut to crack is the sporadic buyer.  Are they maxing out their credit with every mobile who calls on them? Are they trying to spread the wealth and keep everybody happy? Are you their primary, secondary, or almost-nothing supplier? 

Firstly, try your best to figure out where you stand with this sporadic buyer.  Are you number 1,2,3, or four on their purchase scheme?  You can mention to them that if they were to consolidate their purchases with you, you could give them something in return. Better terms, cumulative discount, the first shot of what’s new and exclusive. Something to make them feel special.  Setting them up on a try before you buy it, one-week loaner program is a good way to get someone’s interest.  There is no need to give away the store, just make them feel wanted and special. 

The” tool nuts” of which I am one, will buy almost anything new that hits the market.  The challenge here is that except when a tool is new and exclusive to your brand it is probably new and available from you and all your competitors too.  In this case, it is often true that the first mobile in the door with this cool new tool gets the business. 

A great idea for your Tool Nuts is to develop an email or text group list of these technicians and the day you learn of or get your hands on a new tool communicate with this group immediately letting them know about the product and that you will be bringing it to them shortly.  You can even give the recipients of this communique the option of hitting reply and pre-ordering this product from you.  Anything you can do to get them committed to you is the objective. 

And finally, there are your Good Customers.  The acronym KDWYD (keep doing what you’re doing) is your first line of defense.  Keep treating them like gold, telling them every week that you appreciate their business, and always, always ask if there’s anything else you can do for them. As corny as it sounds the motivational phrase “you’re best kept rose will soon wither and die if left unattended” fits your good customers perfectly. 

Now, go sell something. 

Booth Ideas at Trade Shows to Draw Attention

Trade Show #4 Down the Drain – WWETT Show

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

There’s a ton of money to be made in the s!@t business…at least that’s what I reminded every year I attend the WWETT Show.

This show does a great job on their education sessions…and this year was no different, with over 100 sessions running over the four days. And I loved their “Button Wall” which was just outside the main entrance of the exhibit hall…the “straight outta toilet paper” and “septic” (which was orange, so obviously had to grab) were the two buttons I picked up.

The exhibit hall was packed (I believe there’s still a waiting list for companies that wish to exhibit at the show). Pipe re-lining and repair was a “hot topic” for this year’s show. It’s been at past shows, but I feel this year it was much more prevalent across the entire show.

One thing I took advantage of this year, which I hadn’t in the past, were the facility tours on the last day of the show. I signed up for the Belmont Wastewater Treatment Plant, Indianapolis’ largest wastewater treatment plant. And this was the first time I had toured a wastewater plant.

It was fascinating and the highlight of the show for me…here are just a couple of nuggets of wisdom I learned on the tour:

-the plant is owned and operated by Citizens Energy Group

-the entire facility sits on over 100 acres

-they have a max daily capacity of running 330 million of gallons through the system (normally daily amount is 120M gallons)

-it only takes 12 hours for the untreated water to go through the entire system and when it is released into the water it’s actually cleaner than the actual water running in the river

-to help deal with surges and overflows from strong storms, they are currently building (scheduled for completion the end of 2025) the DigIndy Tunnel System that’s a 28-miles-long network of 18-foot diameter deep rock tunnels, 250 feet beneath the city, with a main trunk and five fingers which has a 250 million gallon capacity

-I think the gigantic ten screw pumps were my favorite part, followed by the UV light treatment

Typically this shows runs Monday-Thursday and tends to be in the mid/end of February, but the show organizers are shaking things up for 2023, which will now be happening at the end of January (January 24-27) and running Wednesday-Saturday. This 2023 show will also run up against AHR Expo in Chicago and coincide with the World of Concrete Show out in Vegas, so it will be interesting to see how this affects attendance.

Link to Belmont plant: https://info.citizensenergygroup.com/digindy/treatment-plants/belmont

Sonnhalter Adds Plumbing, HVAC and Electrical Contracting Services

Sonnhalter Adds Plumbing, HVAC and Electrical Contracting Services

CLEVELAND – April 1, 2023 – Sonnhalter, a leading B2T communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, has made the strategic decision to supplement its marketing offerings with plumbing, HVAC and electrical  contracting services due to industry need and demand.

“After careful consideration we’ve made the decision to add plumbing, HVAC and electrical contracting services to our current  business offerings, since there is a growing demand and potential for exponential growth,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect, Sonnhalter Contracting.

“Our philosophy as a marketing firm was always ‘that we are not afraid to get our hands dirty,” explained Sonnhalter. “With more and more tradesmen retiring, the skills gap has become a more urgent crisis in the contracting arena. We feel Sonnhalter can do its part to address this need.”

Every day, the shortage in the skilled trades becomes more acute. Industry experts say the trades lost nearly a million skilled workers during the recession that have yet to be replaced, and as older workers retire, the crunch will get even tighter.

For more information on Sonnhalter’s contracting services, including plumbing, mechanical contracting, general contracting and electrical contracting, please contact: Matt Sonnhalter at msonnhalter@sonnhalter.com.

Just kidding… APRIL FOOLS!!!

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

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The Future of Social Media Marketing for 2023

The Future of Social Media Marketing for 2023

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

In 2023, companies are taking the time and effort to access their opportunities and think about long-term impact, and short-term actions. This is inspiring marketers to be more strategic on platforms while working with the ever-changing algorithms.

Hootsuite released their 2023 Social Trends report and in this blog, we will discuss the future of social media marketing.

Influencers

“With the recession, with COVID, and just being more financially pinched… marketing dollars always
get cut. When we’re strapped for resources, creators become a very appealing tool for marketers,” said Leah Gritton, director of integration strategy, Energy BBDO.

When working with influencers it’s important to do your research as you can discover a variety of influencers across different platforms. Understanding relevant influencers and their audience will help identify potential influencers to work with. Don’t be shy to work with influencers who have fewer followers as it’s essential to find a creator that can make content applicable to your product or service.

Return on Investment

Last year, 83% of marketers in Hootsuite’s social media trends survey reported having some level of confidence in the return on investment (ROI) of social media, up from 68% the year before. This year, they asked how confident marketers were that social media was useful for marketing to or engaging with their audience. A whopping 96% of marketers reported some level of confidence on how useful social media is.

All social media metrics can tell you something about whether you’re achieving objectives and meeting your goals. But tracking the right metrics is the key to understanding your social ROI. Run monthly, quarterly and yearly reports to understand how social is performing and what can be done differently.

As leaderships evaluate budgets and have deeper conversations about goals, make sure everyone is on the same page. Social media is a valuable channel for your audience and efforts should be maximized.

Social Media Platforms

More than 84% of TikTok users are also on Facebook and almost 88% of Twitter users are also on Instagram. People don’t only get different types of value from different networks, they explicitly use different social networks for different purposes.

As social media platforms introduce new features, make sure to reflect on your business goals. Focus on creating content that is well suited to the platform and your company, instead of trying to keep up with every new feature.

Some recommendations we have are conducting a social media audit to evaluate what audiences are on what platforms and how does your social media presence compare to your competitors. We also recommend making your content fit each platform. Having your social content reflect the platform it’s getting posted on allows you to more easily target your audience and build a stronger strategy.

Building a brand and connecting with your audience can be difficult, but developing goals, taking a deeper dive into your social strategy and creating an online presence, makes it easier! We hope with the look inside the top social media trends of 2023 that this helps to give you insight and ideas of what you should be striving for.

How Well Do You Know Your Target Audience?

How Well Do You Know Your Target Audience?

YOU ARE MOST LIKELY NOT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.

Following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.” Following is their guest post. 

Sure, some people are lucky enough to work with a product or service that they consume or want to consume, but most of us spend our days working on products or services where we are not part of the target audience. And, that’s okay. You don’t have to be the target audience to be able to market to them. However, you do have to recognize who they are and keep them top of mind when making marketing and product decisions.

It seems so obvious, but it’s not. For example, a team member may know that their target audience is a 45-64-year-old woman, yet they choose to put a 20-something model in their print ad. Sure, she looks good, but that isn’t the right choice to resonate with the target audience, and in fact, may actually turn off that audience. That is a simple example, but you get the idea. If those marketers were thinking about their target audience, the young model wouldn’t have been a consideration.

Getting into the minds of your audience may take some time and extra thought, but it’s worth it. You need to know them and also know what they say about your brand or product. If your audience says a product is practical, it’s practical. It doesn’t matter that you want it to be chic.

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF WAYS TO GET TO KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.

 See them in action. I spent a large portion of my career in marketing research, so I’ve had the pleasure of watching consumers interact with a variety of products from greeting cards to bank teller lines to welding equipment. There is no replacement for seeing them in action. Get out of your office. Trust me, you will learn something every single time. You can watch them and just observe, or better yet, ask them some questions. Why did you choose that? How did you decide to pick that up first? Was this something on your list or an impulse purchase today? Then listen to what they say and ask follow-up questions. People are more than willing to share their experiences. One thing to remember is that you’re only talking to a small number of folks. Yes, it’s helpful, but don’t make decisions based on what we like to say is “a focus group of one.” Combine this with other learnings.

Conduct primary research with them. There are many methodologies out there from quantitative to qualitative. Match the method to the objective. You’ll want quantitative (e.g., survey) if you want to measure something. An example here is finding the preferred marketing message. To choose a winner, a large sample size is needed which means quantitative. Qualitative (e.g., focus group) is used when you want to explore something. The example here is understanding what the target audience likes and dislikes about a selection of marketing messages.

Dig into secondary research. There is data available on many target audiences – especially if your audience is a common one (e.g., Moms 25 – 54). Understand that this information won’t be specific to your brand or product, but you can still learn a lot about various audiences this way. Try to look at secondary research first, because it can help inform what you want to know from your specific audience.

Knowing your audience is a key step in presenting your brand or product in a way that resonates with them. Take that step – it’s worth it.

Happy World Plumbing Day!

Happy World Plumbing Day!

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

March 11th is set aside each year to spread awareness of the importance of plumbing and plumbers. At Sonnhalter, we have a great appreciation for plumbers and the work that they do. Today, Sonnhalter’s PR Technician, Kylie Stanley will be sharing with you some information about the holiday and plumbing.

Often plumbers don’t receive the credit and fame that they deserve even though plumbing is part of our everyday lives.

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.

Did you Know That Plumbing Improves the World

  • Over 1 billion of people gained access to piped water supplies between 2000 and 2015
  • The global population of people who used safely managed sanitation services increased from 28% in 2000 to 39% in 2015
  • A 4-minute shower can now use as little as 24 liters of water
  • The dual system toilet flush, created in a small town in Australia in 1980, now uses as little as 4.5 liters of water

Today we salute the ones who keep everything flowing, and not overflowing. Thank you to the dedicated plumbers who answer the call and don’t recount the tales of what they’ve pulled out of pipes.

Crowds and Influencers and Podcasts, Oh My! – Trade Show #3 AHR Expo

Crowds and Influencers and Podcasts, Oh My! – Trade Show #3 AHR Expo

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Next up was AHR in Atlanta. Now I got a whopping 12 hours at home after Vegas to do some laundry, repack and sleep before heading back to the airport! Anyhow no rest for the weary, as we had 30+ editor/influencer appointments over the course of the show for our clients Franklin Electric & NIBCO. So needless to say it was a jam-packed show!

And the busy schedule didn’t stop at the end of each show day…I had plenty of client dinners every night (we ate very well as you could see by the snippets in the video recap) and customer appreciation parties…highlighted by Franklin Electric’s party at the SkyLounge on top of The Glenn Hotel (spectacular views of downtown and the sunset).

Rooftop AHR Expo

I was also amazed at this show as far as the social media presence and the sheer number of influencers…from the AHR Podcast Pavilion and social media sessions, to the swarms of influencers walking the aisles. The podcast pavilion has grown exponentially in just three years. And the influencers far outnumbered the traditional trade media editors!

That’s it for now for tradeshows #2 & #3 of the 2023 season. Next up…another back-to-back show stint with ARA (https://arashow.org/ ) in Orlando and WWETT (https://www.wwettshow.com/en/home.html) in Indy.

70,000 of My Closest Friends – Trade Show #2 IBS

70,000 of My Closest Friends – Trade Show #2 IBS

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

The NAHB’s International Builders Show (IBS) which has coincided with KBIS since 2014…and this year, the National Hardware Show (https://www.nationalhardwareshow.com/ ) joined the party. This was a great move for them as the last two years of this show have had dismal attendance. Although for some reason NHS is going back to having their own separate show in 2024, and from the exhibitors I spoke with, this seems like a huge mistake.

The IBS/KBIS show attendance and exhibitors were back to pre-pandemic levels, covering all four of the Las Vegas convention center halls, including the new West Hall which is absolutely beautiful. Also, a telltale sign of the trade show attendance level is the “stuffing” like sardines into the Vegas monorail at the end of the day:) And with the NFL Pro Bowl in town that weekend, it added to the buzz and traffic around The Strip.

As usual, ProBuilder’s Show Village was the centerpiece and must-see of the outside exhibits. Highlighting some of the latest innovations and product designs for today’s homes. Five homes on display this year, including a one-bedroom foldable (yes, foldable!) home built with high-tech materials. And as always, they have a happy hour with live entertainment, including some new live competitions/contests the first two days of the show.

Drink at IBS Trade Show

As far as the new products there weren’t any “head turners” like the Owens Corning Pinkbar+  I saw earlier in the month at the World of Concrete show see link below for my LinkedIn post about this revolutionary product…but plenty of stuff to see and hands-on demos.

Link to Owens Corning Pinkbar+ post: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/matt-sonnhalter-1290145_sonnhalterb2t-woc2023-activity-7023765042986717184-2VI3?

Why You Should Be on TikTok

Why You Should Be on TikTok

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

Over time, we have seen many social media platforms rise and gain in popularity. TikTok has risen to be the third-largest social media platform out of the big five worldwide (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter). TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share short videos on any topic. Many tradespeople have turned to TikTok to connect with existing and new customers to talk about their specific trade.

TikTok first launched in 2016 and started to grow rapidly in 2020, mostly due to the Covid-19 pandemic as people were stuck at home and needed entertainment. Over the past couple of years, not only has TikTok continued to grow, but we can see a variety of content on the platform. On TikTok, we see videos about plumbing, tools, construction, automotive and much more! With TikTok still on the rise, it’s important for the trades to be highlighted and for companies to be promoting their products. In this blog post, we will discuss why you should be on TikTok and the pros and cons of doing so.

Cellphone charging with TikTok on the screen

Cons:

Content Limitations

Like every social media platform, you do have some limitations when it comes to posting and the type of content you can post. TikTok is video platform that utilizes videos from 15-seconds to a minute. Since TikTok only allows videos to be posted and not static photos then you can’t use the platform like other social media sites. Because of this, you will need to reuse or produce videos, which your company might not have the budget for.

Labor and Quality of Videos

Short form videos are easier to produce than long form videos. When producing videos, you will need to think of everything this entails from potential scripts, shooting the video, editing and publishing it. Your videos are a form of storytelling, which means they need to be high-quality videos that are engaging with your audience. If you’re worried about shooting videos then check out our other blog post where we discuss five tips for video. Although TikTok has content limitations, it allows users to be creative in their content. The way TikTok has transformed over time, it provides a great way to experiment with your videos.

Third-Party Ownership

One con for some businesses might be the China ownership of the TikTok app. With ByteDancebeing the parent company of the app, they are able to access the basic information on each user. Although nothing has happened between the parent company and the US, this is definitely one piece of information to keep in mind.

Pros:

Increase Your Audience

On social media, one of your goals should be to increase your followers so you have more people viewing your content and engaging with it. TikTok mainly targets a younger audience so you can increase your brand awareness with younger people in the trades. TikTok content also feels more organic. It’s an effective way to increase brand awareness without feeling salesy.

Increasing Sales

Because we can closely connect with our audience, it’s easier to get your content in front of people who are interested in it. As a company, you can freely post any appropriate video which means you can have endless possibilities to promote your products or services. In fact, 49% of TikTok users have purchased something because they saw it on the app.

Less Competition

While TikTok has grown and a lot of businesses have joined the app, you still have less competition than Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Other popular social media apps have been around for a while and have become supersaturated with other brands. Because of this, it’s much harder to grow organically on these platforms. Due to TikTok’s algorithm, it’s much easier to target your audience and grow your business.

Although you want to be careful before jumping on the latest marketing trends, TikTok is definitely a platform you will want to consider. Sit down with your company and review the pros and cons and see if TikTok is something you are willing to invest in. Sonnhalter believes now is the time for manufacturing companies who target the trades to join TikTok to grow your brand and marketing strategy.

Be the Best

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. 

Grew up in a rural area outside a small steel town in Latrobe, Pa. For a small town, we had some pretty famous residents: The golfer, Arnold Palmer, and Fred Rodgers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

We brewed Rolling Rock Beer. Latrobe is the preseason training camp home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And most importantly, David Strickler, a 23-year old druggist apprentice at Tassell Pharmacy in Latrobe, invented the banana split ice cream treat in the summer of 1904.

As kids, we would watch Palmer practice his golf shots for hours on end, and even though he was the best golfer of his time, he practiced every day. Palmer was one of those people that when he talked to you, for that moment in time, you were the only person on earth. No distractions; just you. He made you feel special. Additionally, during his prime, Tiger Woods, probably the best golfer of all time, was known to play 18 holes in a tournament, and then practice for four or five hours into the evening to fine tune his game for the next day.

We would also go to Saint Vincent College to watch the Steelers training camp as they prepared for the season ahead. Again, here was, at that time, the best football team on earth, practicing the basics, over and over again. Heck, even my dad, who was a real-life Marcus Welby country doctor making house calls every day, took the time to study the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) each month.

The point of this bit of Latrobe history is that to be the best at whatever your chosen field is, in addition to the daily work routine, it requires continuous learning, practice, and perseverance.

So, how about you?

Selling is a profession that no matter how long you’ve been at it, and how successful you are, you could always do better — and better increases your revenue and paycheck.

I typed “selling skills books” into Google and got 175,000,000 hits in 1.4 seconds. I typed “selling skills videos” into Google and received a whopping 304,000,000 hits. There is no lack of sales skills training material available to you and much of it is free.

Invest some time and effort in your career, pick up a few new closing skills, learn and develop your social media presence, or just figure out how to make one extra profitable stop per day.

Remember though, unlike many types of skill training, sales skills learning is similar to putting money in your personal savings account — you will probably not use your new skill all the time. It will sit in your mind percolating until just the right selling situation comes up, and you bring it out it to make the sale.

Here’s some ideas:

  • Boost buyer engagement by bringing your existing product presentations to life. Develop your presentation skills in a way to get your prospect involved from the very start. Asking specific questions about product applications usually works to perk their attention and interest in your product: “Do you find it annoying when your greasy hand slips when you’re turning a screwdriver?”, or “Does it cut into your productive time when you have to wait to use the company scope since you don’t have your own?”
  • Learn the “puppy dog close.” Just like taking your kids to the animal shelter and saying, “Ok, we will not take the first puppy you see.” Yet, the fist puppy your kids play with is it, and off you go with your new dog. It’s the same with tools. If at all possible, allow a squeamish buyer the opportunity to keep and use that new tool for a week, and it’s a sale.
  • A high percentage of the readers of Professional Distributor magazine carry one of the major brand’s logos on their trucks. All the major brands are deep into using a broad-based social media program. What I mean is that the weekly email I receive from the major brands is the same email thousands of others receive at the same time. This is good marketing, but you individually, have the opportunity to take it one financial step farther. Start your own simple weekly email to your customers. Show pictures of your customers standing by their new tool storage unit or using their new grinder. Mention something about you or your family to help bond your personal relationship, and adding something about a customer like a birth or wedding also adds a personal touch. End with a picture of something you are promoting or maybe even a used tool you have for sale. An hour a week invested will reap significant long-term results.
  • Learn the “now or never” close. Normally, the promotional periods for the major mobile jobbers last four to six weeks. If it is getting near the end of a promotional period, and you have a buyer on the fence, a simple sentence like, “I know you’re still deciding on this new tool, and I’m not here to push you, but the promotion is over, and I don’t want you to be upset when the price goes back up. Should we go ahead a get this deal done?”
  • Finally, set a personal goal to read at least one sales skills book every two months to keep up with the latest selling skills and increase your income.

Now, go sell something!

Seven Trade Shows in 52 Days – Trade Show #1 WOC

Seven Trade Shows in 52 Days – Trade Show #1 WOC

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

The first quarter is always a busy time for trade shows and events for the trades and 2023 is no exception. Although I feel this might be the busiest one of my career, with me hitting seven shows over the course of 52 days.

First up this year was World of Concrete and three words would sum up this year’s show…Back To Normal! Yes, finally feels like we are back to pre-pandemic levels…. strong attendance and traffic all three days.

Saw a lot of the same familiar stuff I’ve seen every year at the show:

  1. Masonry skills competition filled Wednesday morning capped off by the BrickLayer500. Always amazed to see these masonry contractors in action.
WOC Bricklayers

2. Outside Silver Lot loaded with product demos. 

3. Big ass concrete machinery

WOC Concrete Machinery

But the most interesting thing I ran across at the WOC show was PINKBAR+, a new fiberglas rebar from Owens Corning. I’ve seen a lot of “new product launches” at these shows, but this product really was a “head turner.” 

2x stronger and up to 7x lighter than steel rebar, plus it’s rustproof! Even though they have the broader code approvals, the local state and city adoption is going to take time…but this will be a game-changer in the market.

Here’s a quick video of some of the highlights I saw at the show (plus I might have snuck in a few meal images:))

That’s it for now for tradeshow #1 of the 2023 season. Next up…back-to-back shows with IBS in Vegas and AHR in Atlanta.

Five Tips/Tricks for Shooting Videos

Five Tips/Tricks for Shooting Videos

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

Videos are one piece of marketing content that is not going anywhere anytime soon. With TikTok and other social media platforms promoting the use of videos, it’s important to understand how to produce the best video. The advances in technology have made it easy to whip out your phone and shoot a video for your own business without relying on professional gear. Obviously, having a clean, professional looking video is great sometimes, but authentic phone videos can help to make the video feel organic. In this blog post, we will cover the five best tips and tricks for shooting videos that you can use for your phone or camera.

  1. Plan for Your Video

Occasionally, some videos might be filmed on quick notice, but if you know that you’re filming well ahead of time, make sure to plan. When creating a video, you’re not just pressing record, but many other factors come into play like location, script, objectives and video type.

Before filming, ask yourself what the goal of the video is going to be. Are you making an educational video, behind-the-scenes or testimonial? Knowing the type of video you’re making ensures that you know what kind of videos and b-roll you’re shooting, what questions need to be answered and who needs to be filmed. Also, know where this video is primarily going to be used as that will dictate if you’re filming vertically or horizontally.

2. Lighting

Lighting is essential for your video quality when producing a high or low budget video. When it comes to lighting, there are two different kinds that you can use.

  • Natural lighting
  • Professional lighting

Natural lighting is a great cost-effective option for users—but make certain you know the risks. If you don’t have enough natural light, then your video may look dark and grainy, making it hard to see what’s happening in the video. Too much light will lead to harsh lighting on your subject or cause the video to be “blown” out, making the video not usable. When using natural light, work with the sun and overhead lights to make your video look the best.

Professional lighting is something you can invest in to help boost the quality of your video. Using a lighting kit can help to light your subject and make your phone video look like it was taken on a professional camera. When using a lighting kit, ensure you use the three-point lighting system to illuminate the scene. Three-point lighting is when you’re using light sources from three distinct positions. The three types of lights are key light, fill light and backlight.

Key light is the primary and brightest light source in the three-point lighting setup.

Fill light literally fills in the shadows that the key light creates on a subject, bringing out details in the darkness.

Backlight is the third source in this lighting technique; the backlight shines on a subject from behind, completing the light setup.

Closeup of video camera and audio equipment

3. Audio

Audio can make or break your video. If the audio isn’t usable and it’s necessary for the video, then the video is going into the trash. The best and ideal way to capture audio from your subject is to use any microphone other than your camera’s built-in mic. No matter how good your camera’s built-in mic is, it’s still not enough to replace a dedicated external audio recorder. Although, remember to listen to the noise around you before filming to guarantee you get a good quality video. Are you in a loud area? Is there a noisy HVAC system? Are there overhead announcements every five minutes? Take notice the noise around you as that audio, whether you have a microphone or not, will be picked up in the video. If you’re in a loud environment, and it’s possible, move to a quiet or secluded area to film your video.

4. Avoid Shaky Footage

Shaky footage can strain the eyes of your viewership and may cause them to stop watching. We suggest either purchasing a tripod or using the built-in stabilization on your camera to see if you’re holding the phone at an angle. Tripods obviously only work if the subject is still, so looking into external stabilizers might be the best option if you have a shaky hand.

Video camera

Many video editing software programs also have a built-in feature to stabilize shaky footage, but the results may not be perfect each time.

5. Video Composition

Video composition is how you frame your subject in your video. The ideal way to frame your subject is to follow the “rule of thirds,” which divides the frame into a three-by-three grid, creating intersections that are areas to place your focus.

The rule of thirds is where you mentally divide the frame or screen of your camera/phone into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. This grid overlaying on your screen will help you to place your key subject where the lines intersect. This means that placing your subject into the center of the screen will create a less interesting composition.

One important thing to keep in mind when filming is where the head of your subject is. Make sure they have ample head space, but not too much, as this causes negative space. Also, don’t provide too little head space as you may cut the person’s head out of frame. Framing is an important component of video production that helps tell the story of your video.

Conclusion

Filming videos can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! By following these tips, you can increase your video production quality and know the basics when it comes to shooting. Remember, whipping your phone out to film is easy and shouldn’t be stressful. So, what are you waiting for? Get out and start filming your videos!

Changes for B2B Planned Budgets for 2023

Changes for B2B Planned Budgets for 2023

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician 

As we enter 2023, marketers are wrapping up their budgets for 2023. In 2022, many marketing budgets had been cut or remained flat. In a recent study from Integrate and Demand Metric, they took a look at the broader marketing community positions on budgets and resources for 2023 as companies aim for growth.

In 2023, marketers are being more optimistic about their budgets with 33% saying their budget will be slightly higher than 2022. Still, only 1 in 4 expect their 2023 budgets to be lower than 2022 budgets, which is an improvement from the situation in 2022, when one-third said it was lower than in 2021.

This year, only 1 in 3 respondents say they have more resources overall to work with than they did last year. Despite that, half of respondents say that they are expected to achieve more this year than they did in 2021.

When looking at budgets for the future, companies are looking at what areas of investments they want to commit to and what will be the best bang for their buck.

It’s no surprise that 54% anticipate an increase in budget for content creation, strategy and digital with social media platforms and influencers continuing to rise.

On the other hand, 47% expect an increase in spending on marketing operations/technology, compared to 35% who envision a decrease in spending in this area. The 47% of respondents expect to increase their budget for demand generation.

The area of investment that the largest number of study participants (53%) plan to decrease spending is on account-based marketing (ABM).

Overall, a slim majority (52%) of B2B marketers are optimistic about their marketing team and its performance compared to a year ago, and most (56%) believe it likely that their marketing team will meet or exceed the goals set for it this year.

Over the past few years, several factors such as the pandemic, supply chain and inflation have affected businesses worldwide leading to companies to evaluate their budgets. Although the economy has been impacted, marketers still remain hopeful about 2023. With these impacts, it’s likely that marketers are used to the constant changes and are trying to push past them.

Original post by marketing charts: https://www.marketingcharts.com/business-of-marketing/marketing-budgets-227620

Link to download the full report: https://resources.integrate.com/all-resources/the-state-of-marketing-budgets

Sonnhalter Adds Wright as New Client

Sonnhalter Adds Wright as New Client

CLEVELAND – January 2023 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announces Wright as one of its newest clients.

Founded in 1927, Wright manufactures a complete line of more than 4,000 professional-grade hand tools for the industrial, contractor and MRO markets. Headquartered in Barberton, Ohio, Wright forges tools that create maximum strength and are designed to provide superior performance.

“With Sonnhalter’s knowledge and expertise of the trades and working closely with our key verticals, we know we can leverage our innovative tools and increase our visibility in the industry,” said Tom Futey, president and co-owner, Wright.

Sonnhalter will be assisting Wright in developing and managing their marketing needs including, but not limited to, public relations and social media efforts, paid trade media programs, key messaging development and overall marcom strategy.

“Wright is one of the last U.S. hand tool manufacturers in the industry. They’re prideful of their history and expansive product offerings,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are excited to be working with Wright again and to help them further its presence as an industry leader.”

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Wright

Wright manufactures a complete line of more than 4,000 professional-grade hand tools for the industrial, contractor and MRO markets. For almost 100 years, the company has been innovating, engineering and forging tools that exceed industry expectations. Nearly all Wright-branded products are U.S. made and carry lifetime guarantees against defects in workmanship. For more information on Wright and its products, visit: www.wrighttool.com or call 800-321-2902.

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Sonnhalter Wins PRSA Rocks Award

Sonnhalter Wins PRSA Rocks Award

Sonnhalter wins a gold award in “Trade Media Relations” category on behalf of Franklin Electric.

CLEVELAND – January 2023 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, received a gold award in the “Trade Media Relations” category at the 20th Annual Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Cleveland Rocks Awards competition recognizing excellent communications programs and tactics.

Sonnhalter received the gold award in “Trade Media Relations” for Franklin Electric’s proactive media program that maximized its effort to increase knowledge of its products among end users, distributors and media.

Sonnhalter worked to develop a proactive, strategic media relations program to leverage the knowledge and expertise within Franklin Electric and take advantage of key opportunities to spread awareness about the company, its products and technologies, and its expert sources.

The Sonnhalter program included an editorial audit that identified and outlined potential editorial opportunities,

a consistent press release program, ongoing media pitches to place bylined feature articles, technical articles, and case histories, pitching Franklin Electric experts as sources for trade editors’ round-up articles covering industry trends, issues and products and arranging one-on-one media meetings at key trade shows

“We are honored to see our work get recognized by other public relations professionals around Cleveland,” said Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect at Sonnhalter. “We are proud to have a collaborative effort between Sonnhalter and Franklin Electric to expand their media relations program, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

Annually, the PRSA-Cleveland Rocks Awards acknowledge Northeast Ohio’s outstanding communications programs, which incorporate research, planning, execution and evaluation. PRSA Cleveland Rocks Award winners demonstrate leadership in public relations and contribute to advancing the profession locally.

About Franklin Electric

Franklin Electric is a global leader in the production and marketing of systems and components for the movement of water and fuel. Recognized as a technical leader in its products and services, Franklin Electric serves customers around the world in residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial, municipal, and fueling applications. Franklin Electric is proud to be named in Newsweek’s lists of America’s Most Responsible Companies and Most Trusted Companies for 2022

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About PRSA

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the world’s largest organization for public relations professionals with nearly 32,000 professional and student members, and more than 100 Chapters nationwide. Serving nearly 300 members, the PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter brings together public relations, communications and marketing practitioners throughout Northeast Ohio. Among the Chapter’s most important activities and duties is coordinating networking events and activities, developing and hosting professional development activities for members, serving as a resource for public relations students and providing recognition of excellence and best practices in all facets of the field of public relations. www.prsacleveland.org

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Happy Holidays from the Sonnhalter Team!

Season’s greetings, from the Sonnhalter team! We are grateful for another successful year, and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful clients, business partners and friends like you. The Sonnhalter team will be taking some time off over the holidays from December 24th to January 2nd. We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and time with your family and friends! We’ll see you in 2023! Sonnhalter, your B2T partner – let’s build something together.

The Manufacturing Skills Gap: What Is It and How to Solve It?

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician 

Certainly, you are aware that we are in the midst of a manufacturing skills gap. Currently within the industry, manufacturing jobs remain empty and companies are unable to find workers who have the knowledge.

Not to mention, the pandemic also contributed to manufacturing jobs vanishing, and now the manufacturing field will be set back decades from the loss.

Propel developed an article and a resource tool to give some insight into the issue and how we can solve it.

The top four causes of the manufacturing gap include:

  • The false job perception
  • Lack of technology skill sets
  • Retiring baby boomers
  • Blue collar work avoidance

When it comes to manufacturing, many people have varying perceptions of what it entails. With these perceptions, people have an idea of what a manufacturing job looks like, but it’s not always accurate. Perceptions of the job can lead to young people not wanting to work in the manufacturing field.

After the perception comes the lack of technology skills. In today’s job market, companies are wanting workers who have several skills to bring to the table. In most cases, workers who are already in the manufacturing field can’t afford to learn additional skills.

A lot of baby boomers are starting to retire, which leads to jobs being empty, and it doesn’t help that younger people don’t want to work in blue collar jobs. Today, there is a stigma surrounding blue collar jobs and most people view it as people who are less educated, however, that’s far from the truth.

Check out the complete article from Propel to learn more about the manufacturing gap and tools to help.

Want to read more about the skills gap?

Matt Sonnhalter Offers Advice on Motivating Plumbers of Tomorrow in Southern PHC’s “Work Force Training.”
Skills Gap Awareness: Are We Making Progress?
Skills Gap: We’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place
SEO Tips for Industrial Companies in 2022

SEO Tips for Industrial Companies in 2022

By Stella Russel, guest blogger

Does the industry affect SEO? This is a fundamental question to answer because it may seem like SEO is universal, no matter what your website is about. While that is correct to some extent, there are also substantial SEO differences from one industry to another. This is mainly because the essential ranking component of SEO is content. Since content will depend on the nature of your business, it becomes clear that industry does play an important role. With that in mind, we want to talk about SEO tips for industrial companies in 2022 and how they can help you reshape your business!

Machine gears symbolizing SEO tips for industrial companies in 2022.

Define Your Targeted Audience

As a B2B company, your targeted audience is not the same as for B2C businesses. The entire business model is entirely different, and you need to consider that when doing SEO.

One of the best ways to approach this process is to try to imagine your perfect customer. Ask yourself, what would you like to see in a client?

This is a good starting point, but it is not the only step. Once you have outlined your ideal client, try to look at your business from a client’s perspective. What would you, as a client, want from an industrial company? Many businesses fail to present their offers properly, which is one of the top deal killers for B2B buyers.

Once you understand the needs of the business and the needs of the customer, you can develop a specific customer profile that you need to target with SEO.

How to Define the Right Keywords

The industrial industry has its own set of important keywords. Once you define your targeted audience, determining the keywords will be much easier because you already know what the clients want.

Although, there is a word of caution here. We need to explain the definition of “knowing what the client wants”. Your client may want a few different things when it comes to a B2B industrial business. That is why you will need to define a range of their interests.

Let us say you are selling some machinery. For example, your clients might want to:

  • purchase a machine;
  • inquire about the use of a machine;
  • differentiate various types of machines;
  • learn how to maintain machines;
  • find repair services;
  • maybe even resale machines;

This is your range of customer needs and the base for creating keywords. Each of these points may be a different targeted group of customers.

When it comes to actual keywords, you need to create both short-tail and long-tail keywords.

Short-tail keywords are very useful but also harder to come up with. This is mainly because other companies in the industry use the same keywords.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords that usually consist of three to five words are more precise. You can specifically formulate the way clients search for a specific product.

Furthermore, long-tail keywords can also include the location and specific intent of the client.

Here are some SEO tips for industrial companies when coming up with keywords:

  • An example of a short-tail keyword might be industrial machinery.
  • And an example of a long-tail keyword might be industrial machinery for sale Cleveland.

In the second example, you are clearly defining the product (industrial machines), the type of service (purchase), and the location (Cleveland).

Use Videos to Boost Your SEO Efforts

Search engine optimization is just one step in creating a perfect buyer’s journey. This is how a client will discover your business. Since we all know how important first impression is, you want to ensure that it impacts the customer.

One way to do this is through the power of video. It is no secret that people watch video instructions much more than read them. Furthermore, a video does not require 100% attention, meaning the user can listen to it while doing other stuff. Another huge benefit, especially for industrial companies, is that a video perfectly explains how machines work, the maintenance process, and so on.

You can improve the buyer’s journey and boost your SEO efforts by implementing videos. Google simply loves the use of videos. Just remember to include your keywords in the video titles.

Do Not Forget About Meta Descriptions

Metadata is a crucial element of SEO. When a user does a search query, they get a link to a page and a short description of that same page. That is a meta description. It is a brief summary of what users can expect when they click the link.

A meta description should be punctual, concise, and engaging. It should directly tell the customer what to expect. The best tip is to keep it short and sweet, so you inform your clients and, at the same time, intrigue them. The meta description should help them decide to click on the link.

Make Sure That Your Website is Technical Without Errors

Even though SEO and digital marketing play a crucial role in advertising, it is equally important that your website is up and running without any issues. Slow loading speed or 404 errors are the quickest way to lose clients.

Also, websites that load fast rank much higher on Google. That is because the backend code is written correctly, and all the elements are optimized to improve the loading speed.

You Must Have a Mobile Version of Your Website

This should go without saying, but you need a mobile website version. This is the first thing that Google checks, and mobile websites rank higher than desktop versions.

Furthermore, clients use smartphones more often and need a mobile version.

SEO Tips for Industrial Companies in 2022 Made Simple

And there you have it. There are many ways to improve your SEO efforts, but these SEO tips for industrial companies in 2022 will make your life easier. Understand that SEO is a process that requires constant audits and maintenance. With that in mind, take your time to do it the right way!

 

Stella Russel is an experienced blogger and copywriter. For the last six years, she’s been writing articles for various clients, mostly in the field of online business development, SEO and digital marketing. In her free time, she likes to travel and experience new cultures.

 

Sonnhalter Receives Largest Donation in 13 years for Its Habitat for Humanity Initiative

CLEVELAND – November 2022 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, received more than $40,000 worth of donations from Supply Smart to benefit the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity.

Supply Smart is a nationwide distributor of residential plumbing and HVAC products for the professional. The donation consisted of more than 25 pallets of faucets, sinks, bath, drain and plumbing supplies.

“Even though our tool drive was officially over, we received a generous donation–the largest single donation we’ve received since we started our annual tool drives–from Supply Smart that traveled from Texas all the way to Cleveland,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are thankful for Supply Smart’s donation of plumbing and HVAC products, and we know that they will go to great use for Habitat for Humanity.”

“Supply Smart and Sonnhalter came together for a great cause to benefit the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity,” said Rafael De La Cruz, marketing strategy & content manager. “We were more than happy to donate more than 25 pallets of supplies and we’re already looking forward to next year.”

The items donated will benefit Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity and be used on Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStores.

For more information on Sonnhalter’s Tool Drive to support Habitat for Humanity, visit: Sonnhalter.com/tooldrive and to view the donation, visit: https://youtu.be/Tih2_C_RXcI

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all faiths to eliminate substandard housing. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. Since then, Cleveland Habitat has brought together community members, volunteers and sponsor groups to help more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. For more information on Great Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, visit: https://www.clevelandhabitat.org/.

About Supply Smart

With five strategically located warehouses, Supply Smart is a nationwide distributor of residential plumbing and HVAC products for the professional. When the business was originally founded, it was their goal to deliver essential plumbing supplies to the contractor’s doorstep, as quickly as possible. Over 18 years later, its mission is still the same, visit: https://www.supplysmart.com/.

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Connect with Sonnhalter:

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5 Ways Manufacturers Can Ramp up Marketing

by MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network) MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. Maybe you already have and execute a marketing plan for your brand and products. Maybe you want to improve it. Maybe you have no marketing at all. However mature your company’s marketing plan is, successful efforts will always stem from a strong foundation. Refresh your knowledge or kickstart your marketing with these helpful tips.
  1. Realize the importance of marketing and create a dedicated budget for it.
The same way you invest in people, capital equipment, new technology and building improvements, you need to invest in your brand. A good rule of thumb is to dedicate six percent of annual revenue to your marketing plan. Not only will your campaigns maintain a connection with current contacts, it will build new ones–generate leads. If you aren’t sure how people can or are finding you, how your site ranks in a Google search or if you’re staying top of your customers’ minds with relevant, useful information (or doing any of these things intentionally), you’re likely falling behind to businesses that are. To the inverse, coordinated campaigns that focus on these goals are also ones you can measure and grow. Marketing is oftentimes the first budget cut during an economic downturn, albeit counterintuitive because this is when you need to do MORE marketing. When recovery happens, everything will be ready and working for you. Did you know that it takes about six to nine months for Google to rank and index you for a search? Then, you need to maintain that, and if you don’t, your ranking dips quickly. Your marketer will be back to square one when the economy ticks back upward. The same way you don’t waste time on rework on your plant floor, don’t unnecessarily rework marketing. (more…)

How to Discover Personal and Emotional Drivers for a B2B Audience

by ISURUS, guest blogger

“The best thing about doing this is that I got to have coffee with my Dad in the barn every morning until he passed. Now I have that cup of coffee with my son and will as long as he stays involved.”

This statement paints a clear and vibrant picture of a small business owner’s emotional drivers. It surfaced in a series of qualitative in-depth interviews and encapsulates an emotional theme that ran through the interviews. It speaks to one of this audience’s core values and influences even their most rational decisions. B2B marketers hunger for these types of insights as they look for ways to bring a human element to their messaging and positioning.

The resonance of the theme and its usefulness for developing customer personas and journeys stems from the methodology that uncovered it – qualitative in-depth interviews. B2B marketers and their agency partners often face resistance from internal stakeholders who doubt the value of insights that aren’t expressed as a statistical projection of the market. But in-depth interviews provide the time and format that enable an individual to make the journey from superficial reactions to overly rational answers, and finally to what it means to them personally. As a full disclosure, it’s not always as clear or powerful as connecting with a father who has passed on but relative to surveys, big data and social listening – it gets you closer to the human side of the B2B buyer.

This is not a criticism of surveys, VOC programs, and other more quantitative methodologies. We routinely use those approaches because they provide robust insights needed for branding, market sizing, pricing, and bundling strategies. But when you want to understand the human side of a B2B buyer, qualitative in-depth interviews are one of the best tools in the research tool box.

But having a tool in your tool box isn’t enough. You need to use the tool correctly. The most common mistake B2B marketers make when using qualitative in-depth interviews is to treat it like a survey and create a list of 50 specific questions. You also cannot simply ask, “How does xyz make you feelHow does it connect to you as a person?”.

So, what should you ask? (more…)

Importance of Digital Marketing in the Construction Industry

by Emma Jones, guest blogger

Discover the sheer value of digital marketing in the construction industry, from leveraging automation to enhancing branding and more.

While digital marketing holds different values for different industries, there are arguably no industries that don’t benefit from it. It’s rightly a staple of the digital age, helping modernize and augment traditional marketing strategies. In many cases, it can also specifically cater to the unique, inherent, or persistent challenges of select sectors or industries. Such is the case for the construction industry in B2B and market-focused B2T settings. To illustrate this, let us explore the demonstrable value of digital marketing in the construction industry.

Construction industry challenges

Given the global pandemic, the construction industry does face immense challenges – as Deloitte notes. Our audiences are likely well aware of them, so here we may briefly outline the three main ones:

  • Supply chain disruptions. In the second half of 2020, supply chain vulnerabilities started appearing. While some stabilization has come, there has been no full recovery to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Sourcing challenges. In turn, supply shortages persist, accompanied by price inflations and delivery delays. In combination, “supply chain disruptions and volatility are expected to be among the biggest challenges in 2022.”
  • Labor shortages. Finally, like other industries, construction struggles with labor shortages and a lack of qualified candidates.

Still, InEight’s Global Capital Projects Outlook finds general, if cautious, optimism among North American capital project and construction professionals:

An infographic on construction professionals’ optimism about their organization’s prospects for growth.

Source: https://www.forconstructionpros.com/business/news/22340234/ineight-study-shows-widespread-construction-optimism-need-for-digitalization#&gid=1&pid=1

Digital transformation does seem to drive much of this optimism, as Construction Dive reports. Most (95%) of surveyed professionals are willing to embrace digital tools and digitization. And yet, despite the intent, the groundwork for it is scarce:

“Despite the hunger for digital transformation, construction lags behind other industries. Only 15% of respondents have implemented a digital transformation strategy, and 38% of respondents said that they haven’t built out a strategy or that it’s not a priority[.]”

Marketing challenges

In this context, digital marketing could unveil new opportunities and reinvigorate the industry. Yet, as we’ve covered before, digital marketing in the construction industry faces distinct challenges of its own. A lack of in-house talent, given little skillset overlap, lagging applications of automation, and other factors are persistently present.

In addition, the industry does not generally lend itself to content marketing to the degree others do. The complexity of its offers, coupled with less exciting visuals to elevate marketing, necessarily hold it back. The scrutiny of B2B decision-makers also leaves little room for emotionally-driven, bombastic marketing, which would perform in B2C settings.

The value of digital marketing in the construction industry

Nonetheless, digital marketing does begin to see considerable use in the construction industry. It can’t directly help overcome hands-on challenges like supply chain disruptions, of course, but it can offer sustainability through operation optimizations, enhanced marketing reach, and so on. It can do so in many ways by ultimately driving revenue, but four specific applications deserve due note.

#1 Leveraging automation and increasing traffic

Perhaps most notably, digital marketing entails considerable marketing automation. This comes with an array of inherent benefits, including the universal boon of effectively growing one’s customer base. In fact, among the four key benefits of marketing automation Pedalix identifies, three directly address this need – allowing construction marketers to boost efficiency with this asset in hand:

An infographic on the main benefits of marketing automation.

Source: https://startupbonsai.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Marketing-Automation-Statistics-16-18.png

Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 marketers are using marketing automation tools to their fullest. This is due to a few different barriers, including lack of training and resources, lack of budget, and slow onboarding. Still, the sheer benefit as regards time efficiency and valuable lead generation alone should make automation a worthy goal.

These aside, marketing automation lends itself perfectly to optimizing email marketing, social media management, and paid ads, making for a broader holistic improvement to marketing reach. Although most B2B marketers will rightly rely more on targeted marketing, as we’ll cover below, few would solely rely on it – if any. Indeed, they will rightly find less value in marketing to broader audiences, but there’s value in it nonetheless. SEO and content marketing will at all times help generate and acquire leads, which no marketer should overlook.

#2 Augmenting traditional marketing

For that matter, there is ample room for digital marketing in the construction industry as regards expanding marketing channels. It’s very common for the industry to rely more on hands-on, traditional marketing, and outbound marketing tactics. This will, of course, vary, but a degree of need for digitalization seems evident in the research above.

In this regard, construction marketers can combine traditional and digital, instead of needlessly leaning on one excessively. They can, for example, continue to attend networking events and offer business cards, but they can also incorporate business information into email signatures. They can maintain outbound marketing spendings, such as billboards and print ads, but also invest in inbound marketing like SEO and PPC to give audiences agency and entice them visually. The power of video is well-established, even in the industry’s uniquely demanding B2B marketing settings.

#3 Solidifying and humanizing a brand

As a product of the above and a standalone benefit, digital marketing also helps construction marketers’ branding efforts. Branding is not a B2C endeavor, as it directly enhances customer trust – which B2B self-evidently thrives on.

In this regard, digital marketing offers a wealth of platforms, channels, and content forms for marketers to solidify branding truly. It directly enhances some of the most substantive brand image factors and signals, as Oberlo identifies them:

  • Authenticity
  • Recognition
  • First impressions
  • Transparency
  • Values alignment

Among them, brand consistency is particularly notable, as they also find it directly enhances revenue:

An infographic on the importance of brand consistency and its effect on revenue.

Source: https://www.oberlo.com/media/1652687609-branding-statistics-graphic5.png?fm=webp&w=1824&fit=max

It’s no exaggeration to say that brand consistency is among the most crucial trust signals in B2B settings. Construction marketers can use digital marketing to stand out among their peers and build trust with key prospects. How they choose to do so will naturally vary, but brand consistency should be a staple quality in their efforts.

#4 Targeted B2B marketing

Finally, where the above might find universal appeal, targeted B2B marketing is likely uniquely appealing to the industry. Construction marketers typically target specific decision-makers as marketing prospects, which traditional marketing can only achieve with limited efficiency. It’s in this regard that digital marketing can truly shine, especially through its social media subset.

Indeed, social media platforms are undeniably effective B2B marketing tools. As we’ve covered in the past, LinkedIn has become a B2B juggernaut, in no small part due to its built-in targeting tools. It allows marketers to focus on specific audiences, including ones in key companies and positions, crafting ideal, information-rich customer journeys. Facebook does so as well, cementing the value of digital marketing in the construction industry, as the two platforms, in combination, can drastically expand one’s potential audience.

Conclusion

In closing, there is demonstrable value in digital marketing in the construction industry. It is not a panacea for all of the industry’s persisting challenges, nor is it effortless. It is, however, an invaluable asset in times of “cautious optimism.” Combining the above advantages, it can help marketers tap into vast new audiences, solidify branding, and attract valuable B2B prospects. And with enormous, ever-expanding applications for automation, it can do so with notable convenience – a welcome perk for an industry that embraces it somewhat slowly and reservedly.

National Manufacturing Day Encourages the Next Generation

by Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

Manufacturing Day takes place on the first Friday of every October and this year it’s October 7th. National Manufacturing Day helps show the reality of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders.

To celebrate, some manufacturers host in-person events in order to address labor shortages in the industry and inspire a new generation.

Currently, manufacturers are seeking to fill 4 million jobs over the next decade.

Manufacturing Day helps to bring manufacturers together and shine a spotlight on manufacturing careers.

How will you be celebrating Manufacturing Day? 

 

13th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $41,500 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

CLEVELAND –September 2022 – 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 13th year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $41,500 worth of donations of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected $378,000 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.

“Our 13th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive proved to be very lucky, as we raised $41,500 for the Habitat for Humanity cause—the most we’ve raised to date,” said Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect at Sonnhalter. “We continue to be inspired and humbled by the generosity of our clients, partners and community members for their continued support in helping Sonnhalter raise nearly $378,000 for this great cause.”

“Every year, we look forward to the arrival of the donations that have resulted from the Sonnhalter Tool Drive,” said John Habat, president/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “Sonnhalter’s Tool Drive helps to bring awareness to areas we have no access to and provides us tools to work on our houses, in our tool shop, and to be sold to the general public.”

Community participants in the 13th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Berea Recreation Center, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Berea Branch, Fear’s Confections, Frangos Group, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, St. Mary of the Falls, Skidmark Garage, The Wine Spot and many individuals living in the community.

Trade industry participants in the 13th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Buyers Products, Bill Boyadjis (Endeavor Business Media), General Pipe Cleaners, Jergens, Inc., Kapro, Lakeside Supply, Ledlenser USA, Mortar Net Solutions, NIBCO, Samsel Supply, Sutton Industrial, Winter Equipment, Wolff Bros. Supply, Woodhill Supply and Wright.

All of the donations that Sonnhalter collected benefited Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStores, recycled building materials and home furnishings stores. Proceeds from the ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all faiths to eliminate substandard housing. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. Since then, Cleveland Habitat has brought together community members, volunteers and sponsor groups to help more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. For more information on Great Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, visit: https://www.clevelandhabitat.org/.

#     #     #

Connect with Sonnhalter:

Facebook  ▪ Twitter  ▪ LinkedIn  ▪ YouTubeInstagram

 

Map Your Competitive Differentiation: What Can You Own?

by ISURUS, guest blogger

Differentiating your product or brand boils down to two simple questions. 1) What are your customer’s needs and buying criteria? And, 2) which of these can your product/brand own?

Most marketers and strategists do a good job on Step 1: They generally know their customer’s needs and buying criteria—the set of capabilities, brand traits, and outcomes that drive purchase decisions. This is the right first step. It identifies many key factors that influence vendor selection. But that initial list can be misleading and lack actionability. Here’s why.

  1. Competitors hold an advantage on some of the dimensions important to customers and it will be challenging and costly to compete on those criteria.
  2. Some of the customer’s most important buying criteria are threshold conditions and you cannot differentiate on table-stakes requirements.

Consider these examples. (more…)

The Power of Video In The B2B Buyer’s Journey

by Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician

According to recent research from Brightcove and Ascend2, 88% of B2B buyers have watched videos to learn about a company’s products or services in the last three months.

Over the last couple of years, video content has become increasingly popular and it’s very easy to see why. B2B buyers can see information quickly and with people’s short attention spans, videos are perfect for businesses. 70% of B2B buyers say that video beats other content formats in creating awareness of business-related problems compared to research reports, webinars, infographics, blog posts, e-books and white papers.

You might be thinking, “why is video so important to my customers”? Well 40% of people find video helpful to learn how to solve a problem, 36% of people use videos to hear other people’s opinions on products and 32% use it to learn more about the organization.

When looking at videos to solve a problem or learn, more users will look for reviews, demos, brand story videos, customer testimonials and more. Video enables buyers to visually connect a product or service offering to their needs in an easily digestible and efficient way.

For building trust among your customers, you want to create meaningful relationships while delivering a personalized experience. Videos are a great way to build that trust with your audience and allow them to learn more information about your business. Keep in mind that video quality matters to your audience, 44% of buyers say that video quality matters as they navigate through their buying journey. So, if you have a video with low quality, buyers can easily make assumptions about your brand and products.

B2B buyers find video to helpful in sharing information to others who may be interested.

How is your company using video in its marketing efforts?

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for 13th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for 13th 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 2022 – 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 Thirteenth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive. In the past decade, Sonnhalter has raised more than $336,000 worth in donations for the organization.

From Monday, August 1 to Wednesday, 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 Cleveland Habitat’s mission of building homes and empowering families through safe and affordable home ownership.

“We never imagined when we started the Tool Drive in 2010, that we would be heading into our thirteenth year of partnership with the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are once again counting on the generosity of our clients and business colleagues, as well as businesses, to clean out their extra inventory, overstocked materials and demo models, and donate to this very worthy cause. We’re hoping our thirteenth year is the luckiest yet, as we attempt to exceed the donations of past years.”

The Sonnhalter Tool Drive strives to engage businesses and organizations to look through warehouses for extra inventory and overstocked tools or items.

Cleveland Habitat has helped more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at the organization’s ReStore, discount home improvement stores with two locations in Cuyahoga County. Proceeds from ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

To watch the Sonnhalter Annual Tool Drive video: https://youtu.be/iYHkd7a0ax4

Tools and materials can be shipped to Attn: Tool Drive, Sonnhalter, 1320 Sumner Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio 44115. For information on how you can participate in the Sonnhalter Tool Drive, or to coordinate larger shipments, i.e., pallet size, please contact Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard from Sonnhalter at 216.242.0420 x130 or rascherl@sonnhalter.com. To make a monetary donation, please make checks payable to “Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity” and mail to Sonnhalter, 1320 Sumner Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

For more information on the Tool Drive, visit: www.Sonnhalter.com/tooldrive.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all faiths to eliminate substandard housing. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. Since then, Cleveland Habitat has brought together community members, volunteers and sponsor groups to help more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. For more information on Great Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, visit: https://www.clevelandhabitat.org/.

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Common Industrial Marketing Challenges

by Emma Jones, guest blogger

From populating email lists to leveraging automation, discover the most common industrial marketing challenges and how to overcome them.

As the pandemic slowly recedes and the marketing world takes a breath of relief, the manufacturing industry remains cautious. Perhaps rightly so; B2B salespeople have not been performing according to expectations, all things considered. In fact, just two days before this article was written, Deloitte released its 2022 manufacturing industry outlook corroborating this. It outlined surprising growth but found “optimism around revenue growth is held in check by caution from ongoing risks.” For this reason, risk mitigation and “business agility” will substantially inform the industry’s future, one could safely argue. So, to help you do so, let us explore the most common industrial marketing challenges that may lie ahead.

#1 Populating email lists

Starting with the lead generation phase, email lists remain notoriously hard to populate. It’s increasingly hard to populate them with meaningful, engaged leads. There are ample reasons for this, including diminishing audience trust, fragmented customer journeys, outdated business websites, etc. Simultaneously, the gradual eclipse of third-party cookies weighs on marketers of all industries, hampering audience data acquisition further.

The manufacturing industry is no exception to this, and in many ways, it may have it worse. As some manufacturers remain resistant to digitization and the Industry 4.0 movement calls for its own attention from those who embrace it, the lead acquisition may suffer in turn.

Solutions

As a mainstay among industrial marketing challenges, there are a few different measures against this issue. Here, let us outline the three most substantive ones for text economy:

  • Avoid purchased lists at all costs. Such lists rarely perform or pay off at all, as your email recipients have not opted into them. In addition, using such lists carries serious risks with email carriers and may even come with legal ramifications.
  • Engage in Landing Page Optimization (LPO). Instead, you may polish your landing pages via LPO to craft enticing signup forms. For B2B specifically, you may frame them with phase-appropriate offerings like case studies and industry reports to encourage signups.
  • Constantly cleanse your lists. As you do, remember to discard leads that needlessly bloat your email lists. You should, of course, follow up with valuable leads manifold beforehand, but cleansing your lists will ensure they perform better.

For a visual example of phase-appropriate offerings, we may cite the following graph by HubSpot:

Alt. tag: An illustration of the three customer journey stages by HubSpot.

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/hs-fs/hubfs/b2b-marketing-buyers-journey-hubspot.png?width=600&name=b2b-marketing-buyers-journey-hubspot.png

#2 Taking up SEO

Similarly, still in the early lead generation phase but also beyond it, come industrial marketing challenges with adopting Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This set of practices allows your website and content to be visible in search engines by adhering to Google’s criteria. Needless to say, any marketer of any industry can reap tremendous benefits from higher Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) rankings. Time and time again, research has shown that the top results get the vast majority of all clicks, and the same applies to its now-prominent local SEO subset. Ensuring such visibility can help your brand grow by raising brand awareness more effectively and expanding your reach.

What’s more, contrary to the belief of some, SEO is far from a B2C mainstay alone. To cite HubSpot again, consider the following findings on B2B campaign goals:

Alt. tag: A graph on B2B marketers’ primary campaign goals by HubSpot.

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/hs-fs/hubfs/what%20is%20a%20b2b%20marketers%20primary%20goal%20in%202022.png?width=1104&name=what%20is%20a%20b2b%20marketers%20primary%20goal%20in%202022.png

Not only is brand awareness the primary goal, but engagement, advertising, and lead generation all benefit from SEO as well. And yet, the manufacturing industry struggles to embrace SEO long-term. Some find its 200+ ranking factors too expansive, and others quit soon after seeing poor short-term results. Finally, some understandably lack the resources for it and choose to engage minimally, if at all.

Solutions

Such industrial marketing challenges are not easy to overcome, unfortunately. They often stem from deep-seated resistance to SEO, a lack of resources, and other understandable circumstances. Still, as initial steps, you may consider the following:

  • Prioritize SEO subtypes. First, you may examine which SEO subtypes make the most sense for you, among on-page, off-page, technical, and local SEO. They all serve their purposes, and ideally, you should neglect none of them – but some prioritization may help ease the strain on your budget.
  • Prioritize ranking factors. Similarly, Google’s 200+ ranking factors do not welcome SEO newcomers much. Again, you may best neglect none of them, especially not core ones like website speed and content optimizations. Still, starting with small and calculated steps may offer an easier route and a smoother learning curve.
  • Adjust your expectations. Finally, SEO is a long-term commitment and a continuous process, and this should be clear throughout your company. Expecting quick results will only set you up for disappointment and possibly sway you from it.

#3 Modernizing websites and content marketing

Next, approaching the lead acquisition and conversion phases, we may explore deeper industrial marketing challenges that overlap with SEO. Namely, website and content modernizations that digital marketing mandates. The two primary challenges with both are resistance to change and resource allocation. Some manufacturing businesses may believe their B2B focus does not warrant website optimizations and instead rely on marketing outreach alone. Established ones may also find content marketing changes unappealing when their current approach has seemingly performed well enough so far.

Thankfully, both are slowly diminishing. The industry has largely heeded Google’s warnings on bounce rates, and Content Marketing Institute finds B2B content marketing taking priority:

Alt. tag: A pie chart on B2B content marketing budget changes in 2022 by Content Marketing Institute.

Source: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/B2B_2022_Research_Budgets-600×521.jpg

Solutions

Still, the problem lies less in embracing change and more in how one can best implement change. Here, we may suggest the following fundamentals:

  • Polish your website for first impressions. Loading speeds are crucial, but only one component of your leads’ first impression. Remember to polish your web design to denote professionalism, offer valid Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) information, feature your mission statement and accreditations prominently, etc.
  • Address the entire customer journey through content marketing. Remember that your content should frame the whole customer journey, from awareness to conversion. Craft logical, hierarchical journeys through website structure and internal links and cater to each stage with informative, valuable content.
  • Always remember B2B’s focus on decision-makers. On that note, always remember you are targeting cautious decision-makers; B2C’s emotional responses won’t suffice for them. Frame your offerings with as much value as possible, and don’t shy away from moderate jargon to establish authoritativeness.

#4 Expanding marketing channels

Of course, after content marketing, we may delve into industrial marketing challenges that relate to marketing channels themselves. In this regard, too, digital marketers across all industries are slowly embracing the need for multichannel and omnichannel marketing. What many perceived as a primarily B2C-focused philosophy is now finding its way to B2B marketing, as the latter confidently expands to social media. Of course, B2B and B2C favor starkly different platforms, as research finds:

Alt. tag: A graph on popular social media channels among B2B marketers.

Source: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/4Wd4NzgCguI_p6k7oxoLcBcNtlXJ2UXhdToWO26nPVaQnsgwJM_Dlzn89NN2lNZFMNTE7tgnaK2ENqEAjgypB_tWg6bcwDo07Wn3PlDH7_lHMdaY2MFoKN9xHp26rjRjJhKpU0iZ

Thus, with marketing prioritization in mind, the manufacturing industry and B2B, on the whole, are turning to LinkedIn. With continuously flattering statistics substantiating its popularity, it’s arguably the most valuable marketing channel to begin expanding to in 2022.

Solutions

Here, the primary challenge lies more in leveraging LinkedIn effectively to secure a good Return on Investment (ROI). Here we may cover the fundamentals:

  • Carefully define your goals. As with all new marketing channels, you should begin with a robust outline of your S.M.A.R.T. goals. Determine your campaign’s purpose, metrics to monitor performance, and strict time frames.
  • Polish your company page and Showcase pages. Similarly, you may polish your company page just as you would your business website. It will inform your leads’ first impression, so it should immediately denote professionalism and inspire trust. You may also dedicate Showcase pages to specific products or services for more focused campaigns.
  • Leverage sponsored content. Finally, LinkedIn’s sponsored ads, and InMail can serve to further augment your campaigns, just like how paid marketing can enhance your organic marketing efforts.

To further explore these industrial marketing challenges, you may also consult our article on LinkedIn best practices.

#5 Managing and monitoring marketing campaigns

Finally, the core challenge with such extensions comes in plain management and monitoring. The average B2B business of any industry will have to manage each qualified lead carefully. Doing so across multiple channels while managing SEO and monitoring paid ad campaigns can naturally overwhelm even seasoned marketers. Of course, this kind of expansion can also stretch budgets, resources, and teams too thin in the process.

In this regard, the simple solution lies in marketing automation. The manufacturing industry continues to embrace it, thankfully, and this massive software industry continues to expand uninhibited – as GrandViewResearch finds:

Alt. tag: A graph on the expansion of the digital marketing software market in the US by GrandViewResearch.

Source: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/static/img/research/us-digital-marketing-software-market.png

And yet, there lies the primary challenge, too; only 1 in 5 marketers use such tools to their full potential. So the issue does not lie in finding solutions to manage and monitor campaigns but in using them effectively.

Solutions

To address this, one needs to address the exact shortcomings that inhibit automation adoption. To cover the three main ones from our aforelinked article, here we may touch on:

  • The most fundamental challenge in adopting automation software of any kind comes in poor training and insufficient educational material. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software notably suffers from this, as Nomalys’s aggregated research finds. Thus, remember to very carefully scrutinize your candidates as regards training courses and material, and keep an attentive eye on your onboarding process and continuous training alike.
  • Management resources. Similarly crucial among industrial marketing challenges is a lack of management resources. This typically manifests in poor integration options and ongoing management support from software vendors. You may best address this proactively by carefully examining what your software candidates offer.
  • Finally, strained budgets can also make automation software hard to maintain. Proactivity offers the best option here, too; conduct careful market research in advance, and don’t rule out downscaling. You may often find yourself paying for more features than you need, so opting for more compact, affordable solutions may let your budget breathe.

Conclusion

Industrial marketing challenges include both traditional mainstays and emerging ones as digitization advances. They span across all phases of the customer journey and often include internal resistance to change, budget constraints, and difficulties in adapting to new solutions and strategies. While only cursory, this article hopefully helped you pinpoint them early and adjust proactively, ensuring continued growth in 2022 despite the looming risks ahead.

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part Five

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

In this five-part series, we are taking a look at the 2022 social trends from Hootsuite. The final macro trend for 2022 is the customer care trend.

The Customer Care Trend

Social marketers rescue their brands from the customer service apocalypse

Spurred on by lockdowns and chaotic shifts in business operations, we’ve seen social marketers take on more responsibility for managing an influx of customer service inquiries.

Social has become the front line of this crisis

Consumers, fed up with waiting on hold, have discovered that service delivered via social is immediate, convenient, and effective. In a Nielsen survey commissioned by Facebook, 64% of people said they now prefer to message rather than call a business. The pressure on businesses to adapt to as many digital customer service channels as possible is sky high.

According to Gartner, 60% of all customer service requests will be managed via digital channels by 2023. Consumer expectations are mounting. Demand for integrating customer care channels is increasing—and social is where that pressure is peaking.

Most organizations are not ready to deliver customer care on social.

Despite a rise in demand, many organizations aren’t well positioned to deliver effective customer care over social media…at least not yet. Our internal data from research conducted in July 2021 tells us that 71% of organizations have either not started investing in social customer care yet, or they don’t plan to invest in it at all.

In 2022, business leaders will look to social marketers to take a greater role in customer care. Pioneering social marketers will break from their departmental silos to build deeper inroads with customer service teams and take more agency in delivering customer care.

What do you think about these five trends and where does Social Media rank in your marketing priorities for 2022?

 

Did you miss one of the first four trends?

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part One

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part Two

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part Three

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part Four

Marketing Minute: Should Your Company Consider an Influencer Program?

Influencers are becoming increasingly popular among consumer brands, but have you thought about it for B2T (business-to-trades) companies? Join Matt Sonnhalter as he discusses the questions you should ask yourself before starting an influencer program. He outlines three things to consider – social media, products that are conducive to good influencer content and an e-commerce presence.

 

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.

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part Four

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

In this five-part series, we are taking a look at the 2022 social trends from Hootsuite. The fourth macro trend for 2022 is the social commerce trend.

The Social Commerce Trend

Social becomes the heart of the post-pandemic shopping experience

Lockdowns shot ecommerce forward a decade—in three months.

That all changed overnight when consumers went into lockdown and many looked to meet basic needs by buying online.

Suddenly, 84% of consumers were shopping over the internet, according to Shopify. eMarketer reported a surge in ecommerce sales growth to 18%, the highest increase the firm had ever reported for this figure. And in what McKinsey dubbed “the quickening,” ecommerce penetration rocketed ahead more in the first 90 days of the pandemic than it had in the previous decade.

This “temporary” boom in online shopping isn’t stopping

Nearly two years since the beginning of the pandemic, this shift in consumer spending has shown no signs of slowing down. And with eMarketer projecting that double-digit annual growth will drive ecommerce sales from $792 billion in 2020 to $1.6 trillion in 2025, it’s clear that our new ecommerce habits aren’t just here to stay—they’re very much on the rise.

This growth is particularly acute when it comes to social commerce. According to Hootsuite and We Are Social’s Digital 2021 report, the global social commerce industry is currently worth more than half a trillion US dollars. Simon Kemp, founder of strategic marketing consultancy Kepios, expects that number to grow.

And it’s not just discovery that gives social commerce its business utility. Buyers are using social media to search, research and evaluate the brands they buy from, making social networks the second-most important channel for online brand research after search engines. What’s more, if we look at people aged 16 to 24, social networks actually rank even higher than search engines like Google when it comes to brand research.

While the brick-and-mortar storefront lives on post-pandemic, it’s become clear that social commerce is an opportunity businesses can’t afford to miss. Small businesses in 2022 will work to extend the experience customers have with their brands across social storefronts and real life, while global enterprises test the limits of the online shopping experience.

Younger generations now turn to social networks to research brands more than search engines.

Search engines: 51.3%
Social networks: 53.2%

Percentage of global internet users aged 16-24 who use each channel as a primary source of information when researching brands. Source: Hootsuite and We Are Social, Digital 202119

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part Three

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

In this five-part series, we are taking a look at the 2022 social trends from Hootsuite. The third macro trend for 2022 is the ROI trend.

The ROI Trend

Social quietly matures out of the marketing department

Respondents in our 2022 Social Trends survey—particularly larger businesses—indicated that they have become more confident in quantifying the return on investment (ROI) of their social media practices. The majority of marketers (83%) report that they are either somewhat, very, or extremely confident in quantifying the ROI of their social efforts, up from 68% last year.

What can you learn from marketers who said they’re “extremely confident” in measuring the ROI of social media?

1) Social media has a priming effect on the rest of your marketing. 55% say their social ads strategy is completely integrated with other marketing activities. Meaning these marketers know that social works in conjunction with other marketing efforts to drive awareness and help with brand recall.

2) Social can help you gain valuable customer insights. 48% strongly agree that social listening has increased in value for their organization. Meaning these marketers are using social to learn more about what their customers want and need so that they can deliver exactly that.

3) Social is at its most powerful when paid and organic work together. 65% have completely integrated their paid and organic social media efforts. Meaning these marketers understand how to strategically use both to attract new customers while deepening relationships with existing ones.

Bold businesses in 2022 will buff up their employee advocacy programs, get better at using social to gather consumer insights, and strive to deliver the kind of impact they’ve seen social have on their marketing elsewhere in their organizations.

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part Two

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

In this five-part series, we are taking a look at the 2022 social trends from Hootsuite. The second macro trend for 2022 is the social advertising trend.

The Social Advertising Trend

Marketers get creative as consumers wise up to social ads

But another more likely reason—and a bigger takeaway for marketers when it comes to advertising anywhere on social—is the fact that these networks encourage advertisers to make content that fits organically into the platforms.

Brands that advertise successfully on these networks understand that audience mindset is key. Simply put, no one wants their experience on any social network interrupted by ads from brands that are as boring as they are self-

Consumers, wise to the sameness of social advertising, are holding brands to a higher standard when it comes to creativity—but they’re also rewarding those that get it right. Brands that want to stand out in 2022 will have to work harder to create ads that mirror and enrich the distinct experience offered by each social network.

Despite historically low budgets, marketers are spending more on social ads

This year, marketing budgets relative to revenue are the lowest they have ever been, according to Gartner’s annual CMO Spend Survey. However, more than half (51.4%) of the marketers that we surveyed said they plan to increase their paid social spend in 2022.

Where do they plan to spend that money? Last year, most of the marketers we spoke to disproportionately pointed at Instagram. This year, investment in Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn has caught up.

The largest increases in spend relative to last year are going toward TikTok, Pinterest and Snapchat. Marketers are shifting their resources to where they can make the most impact—and, increasingly, that’s on networks that typically haven’t been a priority in the social marketing channel mix.

Top Content Marketing Ideas for Manufacturing Companies

For many digital marketers, the ongoing pandemic acted as an accelerant for digitization. Most famously embraced by the World Economic Forum, this view holds that it didn’t disrupt per se; it pushed forward. Content marketers across industries, seeing increasingly fragmented customer journeys, agreed – and ones in the manufacturing industry corroborated it. As customers exhibited online event fatigue, they too needed to face this change along with the industry’s inherent ones. However, content marketing ideas for manufacturing companies don’t come easily in such a demanding market, let alone effective ones.

Content marketing challenges for manufacturing companies

As an introductory note, here we may first highlight said challenges. The manufacturing industry does face distinct ones of its own, which inexperienced or broader-scope content marketers may miss or underestimate. In turn, it becomes nigh impossible to produce effective content for it, let alone beat the competition with it.

To consolidate them, the primary ones include:

  • Offer complexity. A manufacturing company typically does not sell simple products accessible to a wide market. Framing such specialized offers properly for their niche audiences requires considerable industry expertise.
  • Decision-makers’ scrutiny. Moreover, manufacturing content marketers need to entice decision-makers who seek expertise and offer tangible value. As with B2C marketing, eliciting emotional responses will very rarely bear results with this audience.
  • A less visually exciting industry. Finally, the manufacturing industry offers comparatively fewer thrills for compelling visual content to thrive on. This has been changing in recent years, however.

In addition, the typical customer’s purchase decision process spans a much longer journey. Strategyn breaks down the individual steps into 6; need, research, design, evaluation, shortlist, and purchase.

A chart of the industrial buyer’s buying process by Strategyn.

Source: https://blog.thomasnet.com/hs-fs/hubfs/1MARCOMM/Blog/2018/February/workflow2.png?width=808&name=workflow2.png

Evidently, then, content marketers cannot afford to overlook this unique set of factors. The industrial buyer is cautious and knowledgeable, and requires stage-specific content across the buyer journey to court effectively.

For that matter, Content Marketing Institute offers some notable insights. It finds that half (49%) of manufacturing marketers rate their company’s efforts as “moderately successful,” and only 18% rate them as more successful than that. Among what they often lack, they find, are:

  • Prioritizing optimal content delivery times
  • Crafting stage-specific content
  • Using storytelling in their content

It is these factors that content marketers may need to address, alongside picking the optimal marketing mediums and channels. (more…)

Battle of Nostalgia vs The Future

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

This year’s Super Bowl ads were dominated by “future” themed ads from the multiple crypto currency ones, the metaverse and what seemed like an electric vehicle ad during every commercial break!

But my favorite commercials brought back a little nostalgia.

Here were my top 4 commercials from the big day:

1. Chevy’s Silverado all-electric Sopranos homage was ingenious. As soon as you hear that initial beat and the “woke up this morning” music by Alabama 3, you are instantly taken back to the Sopranos series. Then of course the shots of New York skyline, the New Jersey turnpike and glimpses of a woman driving…which makes you start wondering who’s driving the truck. The entire commercial did a great job at building anticipation…with no voiceover until :50 seconds into the minute-long commercial to then payoff the tagline “whole new truck for a whole new generation”. By far, my favorite commercial of the day.

2. Rocket Homes & Rocket Mortgage Dream House with Anna Kendrick and Barbie. Such a clever way to work in finding and financing your dream house with Rocket. I loved their “competitive bid” buyer characters like Better Offer Betty, House Flipper Skipper and my favorite Ca$h Offer Carl! And then the special guest appearances by He-Man and Skeletor for the “fixer-upper” castle at the end.

3. GM Electric Vehicle line with the Austin Powers cast. How can one go wrong with Dr. Evil and his infamous pinkie finger?!?! Combined with Scott Evil, Number 2, Frau Farbissina and then a special appearance of Baby-Me instead of Mini-Me. And then having classic lines from Dr. Evil like “Help save the world first, then take over the world”!

4. Irish Spring Body Wash. As soon as you hear that Irish music you are taken back to their old commercials. And then you are peppered with witty statements such as “Were stinkiness is unwelcome” and “Smell from a nice-smelling place.” And finally the payoff, with those classic white knit sweaters after the guy appears from behind a giant bottle of Irish Spring body wash as if it were a Stonehenge-like monolith.

What was your favorite commercial?

Kick-Start Your Career with Thousands of Vocational Program Options

By Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

Sonnhalter has updated our vocational education database to connect tradespeople to thousands of programs that are available. With the ongoing concern about our nation’s skills gap, the option for choosing an education to pursue a vocational career is certainly an attractive one. With plentiful skilled labor jobs to fill, trade jobs pay very well (sometimes better than four-year college degrees) and don’t saddle students with hefty student loans.

Sonnhalter originally released our extensive vocational education database in 2015 after conducting extensive research on thousands of vo-ed programs across the country. When we updated the list in 2017, we added about 1,000 new programs, separating them out by state tabs and standardizing the descriptions to make it even easier to search, sort and use.

Today, that database has been updated again and now lists more than 1,000 schools and over 4,000 programs, offering different types of degrees or certifications. The types of programs include construction, electrician, robotics, welding, HVAC, plumbing, machine tool technology, automotive tech, among others. A separate tab for national programs and resources is also included. The list is downloadable, easy-to-navigate and designed to be sortable for a variety of fields.

The database is useful, and we hope to help bridge the gap between manufacturers and educational programs. The database serves as a useful tool for companies looking to implement more grassroots campaigns to recruit the next generation of professional tradesmen.

There are numerous ways to take advantage of a tool like our database. Here are a few suggestions of how to make our work, work for you.

Fill the Talent Pipeline

Your HR team or recruiting group is probably aware of area schools, but they may not be aware of all of them depending on how stretched they are. Take to tool, find the schools in your backyard and neighboring communities and connect with the programs. There are a variety of ways to connect with these programs, here are a few:

  • Hire their graduates
  • Provide scholarships
  • Develop a co-op or apprenticeship program
  • Invite them to career fairs
  • Participate in recruiting events

Get In Front of the Students

Making your organization known to those learning a trade is never a bad idea. Tradespeople who start using a certain brand of tool or installing a specific type of product are likely to continue using them throughout their career, so get in front of them! Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Lend your experts as speakers
  • Bring students to your facility (perhaps for National Manufacturing Day)
  • Donate materials/tools
  • Offer your facility as a lab

Further Develop Your Own Talent

Vocational programs can be a resource for your own organizational development.

  • Partner with local schools for continued training and certification programs for your own team
  • Diversify your own employees’ skills through cross training at local programs

Support the Industry

Industries can’t move forward without the support of those inside of them. You can’t count on others to advance the field you’re in, you have to be involved. Use education programs from the list to get started.

  • Help programs recruit students
  • Learn about the next generation of tradespeople through the programs so that you can better work with them when they become your employees or customers

It will take teamwork and effective communication to help close the skills gap that the industry is facing. Support for vocational training programs is crucial, and it should come from those within the industry.

To sign up and download Sonnhalter’s updated, comprehensive list of vocational programs in the U.S., visit sonnhalter.com/vocational.

Five Key Social Media Trends for 2022 – Part One

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

I think we would all agree that social media is here to stay, and this recent stat confirms it: 77% of people surveyed for a joint report by Facebook and NYU’s Governance Lab indicated that the most important group they are part of operates online (where social media plays a major part).

Hootsuite released their 2022 Social Trends report and in this five-part series, we will discuss each trend.

The Brand Strategy Trend

Brands finally get community right (with the help of creators)

In 2022, the key to unlocking online communities (no matter the size of your business) is in the hands of digital creators.

Instead of trying to build a community from the ground up, the smartest brands in 2022 will tap into existing creator communities to learn more about their customers, simplify content creation, and build brand awareness and affinity.

Stop thinking about your followers as your community

A lot of small and midsized businesses make the mistake of thinking that all they need to do when it comes to online community building is to get people to follow them. Assuming that a passive following is equal to an engaged, thriving, and loyal community does the power of social media a disservice. And it can cloud your judgment of your product’s real value.

Instead, seek out online communities that are active and engaged around interests relevant to your product category. If you make dishware, talk to home cooks. If you service cars, find auto clubs. If you manufacture welding equipment, find welders. By using creators to tap into these circles where you’re not well known and adding value there, you’ll reach new audiences, build cultural relevance, and learn more about your customers.

Support the growth of content creators in earnest

Not only should you be listening to what people are saying within the online communities you’re targeting—you should be actively supporting the content creators who are making those communities flourish. This goes beyond handing out freebies and swag (although those are nice too). Build trust by investing in your creator partners, taking the lead in distributing their content, and actively amplifying their content on your channels. If people within the community see you as an active partner in supporting the creators they admire, they’ll be more likely to trust that you have their best interests at heart too. Then it’s just up to you to deliver.

Only 1 in 5 marketers claim to be using marketing automation tools to their fullest potential…

By: Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician 

According to the latest survey from Ascend2 and its research partners, when they investigated the state of marketing automation, they learned that only 1 in 5 marketers are using automation tools to the fullest potential. But, why is that the case?

Well, marketers have different reasons for implementing marketing automation–like 35% use it for streamlining marketing and sale efforts, 34% for improving customer engagement or even 34% of improving customer experience.

Although marketing automation seems simple, marketing professionals are often faced with barriers that stop them from using marketing automation to the fullest potential.

Here are the Top 5 Barriers to full use of Marketing Automation Tools:

  1. Lack of training/resources/knowledgebase
  2. Lack of resources to manage
  3. Lack of budget to maintain
  4. Complicated setup
  5. Slow onboarding process

Not only are there barriers to marketing automation, but only 39% of automation tools are somewhat integrated. With the inability to have integrated marketing and with companies facing barriers, it presents a challenge to marketers.

These above barriers help reinforce that implementing a marketing automation tool is more than a one-time cost and needs to have an on-going commitment to resources and dollars in order to ensure success.

Within marketing there will be barriers, but look on the bright side of what marketing automation tools can do! Marketing automation is top beneficial for email marketing at 40%, social media management at 39% and paid ads at 32%. Using marketing automation tools, it allows you to be more efficient on multiple channels, strengthen your marketing and better align your marketing goals.

What have been your company’s barriers to fully maximizing your Marketing Automation platform?

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

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

When it comes to selling it’s important to keep your buyer in mind. Although it can be hard to please your buyer, sellers need to approach buyers, differentiate themselves from the competition, and demonstrate their value.

In their 2021 Buyer Preference Study, Korn Ferry answers these questions and more.

Here are some of the key findings that I found interesting:

1) Seller performance continues to decline – with the key to this decline being that buyers have continued to change faster than sellers, and sales organizations haven’t kept up.

2) Only 33% of salespeople are effective at selling in a “virtual” environment – the challenges of selling virtually, combined with longer buying cycles and changes in the buying process, mean that sellers have a more difficult path than ever to making the sale.

3) Buyers don’t view sellers as a valuable resource – respondents ranked sellers next to last out of 10 preferred resources used to solve business problems. Buyers are finding more value in using their past experiences with vendors, social networks and trade media or colleagues.

4) Buyers continue to engage sellers later and later in the sales process – over 79% wait until after they have full defined needs; over half (57%) identify solutions first. The earlier that sellers can be involved with the buyers then they have more time to influence the buyer’s decisions.

5) Factors influencing large purchase decisions – Features/Benefits, Ease of Use and Solution Value are listed as the Top 3, while “pricing” is seen as a secondary issue. Decision-making has many factors and depends on the buyer and for 27% they use analytical thinking and facts to make their decisions.

How has your sales team performed selling virtually?

Happy Holidays from the Sonnhalter Team!

Happy Holidays from the Sonnhalter team! We are grateful for another successful year, and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful clients, business partners and friends like you.

The Sonnhalter team will be taking some time off over the holidays from December 24th to January 2nd. We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and time with your family and friends!

We’ll see you in 2022!

Sonnhalter, your B2T partner – let’s build something together.

Best Practices for Using LinkedIn in B2B and Industrial Marketing

by Emma Jones, guest blogger

In just a few short years, LinkedIn has vastly outgrown its humble 2003 beginnings. From a small professional networking platform, it has evolved into a B2B marketing powerhouse with undeniable benefits toward business growth. Still, it does not suffice to approach it traditionally, especially as a manufacturer.  So let’s see what are some best practices for using LinkedIn in B2B and industrial marketing.

What is LinkedIn, and is it effective for B2B marketing?

LinkedIn launched in 2003 and has largely remained a professional networking and career development platform. Since 2016, it has become a Microsoft subsidiary, but its B2B marketing beginnings had already preceded the acquisition. Indeed, by 2015, access to its users’ information had already become the platform’s primary revenue source.

Today, it has proven itself to be an immensely powerful lead generation tool for B2B marketers, regardless of industry. Data by InsideSales outlines this in no uncertain terms; LinkedIn sits confidently among the best.

Alt. tag: A graph on the lead generation effectiveness of various social media platforms.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/1-lead-generation-over-used.png

LinkedIn marketing statistics

To illustrate this point, and LinkedIn’s value for manufacturers in particular, let us explore some data.

First, Neil Patel finds that “LinkedIn is responsible for 97% of a business’s social media leads”, a staggering statistic in itself. Hubspot confirms its subsequent appeal with B2B marketers, citing Statista and Wyzowl to assert that:

  • In 2019, “LinkedIn [was] the second-most popular social media platform used by B2B marketers, ranking only behind Facebook.”
  • “66% of video marketers in a 2019 survey said they would include LinkedIn in their 2020 video marketing strategy.”
  • “In 2019, over 87% of video marketers on LinkedIn described the platform as an effective video marketing channel.”

Best Practices for Using LinkedIn in B2B and Industrial Marketing

All that said, however, approaching LinkedIn for B2B and industrial marketing requires planning and a thorough understanding of what the platform offers. It requires careful alignment with your other marketing tactics and assets, from your website to your social media activities. Finally, it requires effort and readjustments, as most B2B marketers will attest to, and absolute transparency. Indeed, misleading information alone is the primary deal-breaker for B2B buyers.

#1 Start with SEO

First and foremost, it should be undeniable that SEO is something worth investing in regarding B2B marketing. That’s because your company page, showcase pages, and even direct outreach will inevitably funnel traffic to your website.

Naturally, search engine visibility may not directly benefit your LinkedIn marketing efforts. However, it will help acquire traffic and leads from other practices, and SEO will optimize your website in other key regards to entice LinkedIn B2B leads. Among others, consider your website’s speed and responsiveness as examples. Both speed and responsiveness are crucial factors for lead generation, regardless of type or industry. Google/SOASTA research has correlated the former with higher bounce rates, and the latter spearheads Google’s Core Web Vitals.

#2 Define your goals

Next, with SEO foundations in order, you may begin defining your LinkedIn B2B marketing goals. For industrial marketing, manufacturers will typically aim for lead generation, attracting valuable prospects. You may, however, aim for brand awareness instead, depending on your overall marketing efforts. You may even seek to enhance engagement, which LinkedIn does facilitate as well.

To do so properly, you may adhere to SMART goal definitions, as Hubspot defines them:

  • Specific – define your goals in as specific terms as possible.
  • Measurable – set clear performance indicators to measure your goals’ success.
  • Attainable – keep your goals realistic in relation to your resources and market position.
  • Relevant – set relevant goals that complement your overall strategies.
  • Time-bound – keep your goals strictly time-bound.

#3 Refine your company page

With your SEO and goals in order, you may now begin to delve into LinkedIn’s unique characteristics. The very first step should be to refine your company page, as it will often be your leads’ first contact with your brand.

A LinkedIn company page is, in many regards, similar to Google My Business (GMB) profiles. As such, many best practices for using LinkedIn in B2B and industrial marketing will follow similar steps.

  • Claim your vanity URL. This will make your LinkedIn page more recognizable and easier to share. LinkedIn offers help with this step in this article.
  • Optimize your About Us section. This will serve as your mission statement and highlight your history, achievements, and best offerings. As you do, remember to use your keywords for better visibility.
  • Choose your specialty. Similarly, you may choose up to 20 specialties that best describe your business and skillsets. Here, you may pick ones most relevant to manufacturing, such as ones adjacent to the AEC industry.
  • Add images and information fields. As with GMB, images will also work wonders toward establishing your brand’s visual identity. As you do, ensure you’ve added accurate Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) information, and any other relevant information such as hashtags that you deem appropriate.
  • Add links to your website and social media follow buttons. Finally, remember to link back to your website and social media profiles to align your marketing efforts more closely. For the latter, you may use LinkedIn’s or third-party plugins.

#4 Use Showcase pages

Showcase pages offer the next step toward effective B2B marketing. LinkedIn explains that “Showcase Pages are extensions of your LinkedIn Page, designed to spotlight individual brands, business units and initiatives. Once created, they’ll be listed under ‘Affiliated Pages’ on your main LinkedIn Page”.

For example, SalesForce’s showcase pages list looks like this:

Alt. tag: SalesForce’s showcase pages on LinkedIn.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/8-salesforce-showcase-pages.png

LinkedIn continues to note that “Showcase Pages have the same posting options and analytics as your LinkedIn Page to help meet your growth objectives”. However, they rightly suggest against showcase pages for specific areas or regions.

Thus, to effectively leverage showcase pages, you may instead carefully choose which of your branches, initiatives, and affiliates warrant one. You may create up to 25, but you will be fragmenting your audience considerably if you exceed 10. Once you do, prime them for conversions and target specific B2B audience segments through them, including through keywords of choice. Finally, remember to apply the same refinements as you would for your company page, including links to your website.

#5 Post engaging content and leverage sponsored content

Finally, using LinkedIn in B2B and industrial marketing requires impeccable content. Unlike B2C, where emotional responses are easier to trigger, B2B marketing hinges on informational depth and quality. In industrial marketing specifically, you will be targeting decision-makers who cannot afford to make poor decisions.

The primary means of enticing said decision-makers, as with SEO and all inbound marketing, is content. Organic content should primarily depend on your own keyword research and your buyer personas, enriching their customer journey to you. Analytics tools for this practice include:

  • LinkedIn’s built-in analytics tools for demographics and firmographics
  • Buyer persona and customer journey mapping software
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software

Organic, inbound content is only one option, however. LinkedIn’s arguable strength lies in its outbound content, so you may also consider sponsored content. This primarily comes in two notable, different forms:

  • Sponsored content. This includes sponsored posts, text ads, video ads, and image ads that will appear in your audiences’ feeds. For sponsored content, you may opt for Cost Per Click (CPC), paying for each click generated, or for Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM), paying for content views.
  • Sponsored InMail. In contrast, InMail lands in your audiences’ inboxes. Here, you may include extensive body copy, tailored landing pages, Calls to Action (CTAs), and more. In all cases, to avoid having your messages discarded, you should ensure to present your audiences with clear, concise offers, timing your outreach appropriately. Sponsored InMail costs on a Cost Per Send (CPS) basis, so crafting the perfect message will also benefit your allocated budget.

With these practices in mind, will you shift your marketing efforts more towards LinkedIn, or at least implement some of the techniques we mentioned?

How to Make Complex Ideas Simple

In marketing, we must take complex ideas and simplify them for our audiences. Sometimes it can be difficult in the midst of the chaos.

Following is a guest post from our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research. They like to say they “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.” Following is their guest post. 

Your organization may be complex, with a wide variety of products and services, and you have a lot you want to say. However, too often in our excitement to tell the world about how awesome we are, we tend to say too much and only end up confusing people. Finding a way to simplify your message and distill what your company has to offer is important.

THE FOREST THROUGH THE TREES

Why it’s important to simplify varies based on what you are trying to do. If you are advertising or posting on social media, you only have a few words or seconds to get your message across. Just look at any billboard. Most are an awful mess. They attempt to say too much – often, the font is too small and there are confusing images, and the result is a message that gets lost in the medium.

Or you may have a complex service with many offerings and need to find a way to summarize what you do and how it’s done, otherwise people will get overwhelmed. They won’t understand what sets you apart from your competition and why they should buy your product or service. Have you ever read through a website or a brochure and even after a few paragraphs, you still aren’t sure what they do or the simple thing you think should be easy to find is just not evident? Yeah – sad because these are just all lost opportunities.

SO HOW DO YOU MAKE THE COMPLEX SIMPLE?

There are many way to do this, though one of our favorite exercises to conduct with a client is taking them through a value attribute map or process.

  • Begin with listing out your product or service features. Write them out in a horizontal row. Keep it to the most important 5 to 7 to start with. For each feature, identify the benefit to the user, and write that above your row of features. For example, my travel mug (S’well for Sue/Yeti for Dean) is thermally insulated. That’s a feature. The benefit is it keeps my coffee or tea hot for a long time. Keep in mind, a feature can have more than one benefit.

  • The next step is the most important – keep laddering up. For each benefit, describe why you believe that benefit is important to your target audience. What value do they attribute to that benefit? You have to look at this from your target audience’s perspective – an outside-in approach. Following through from the travel mug example, the reason I value my drink staying hot for a long time is because it tastes better hot, saves me time from having to re-heat, and it’s one less thing to worry about through my crazy day.

  • Do this for every feature. You may and should find that many features end up having the same benefit and end-value. And that’s the key. It’s laddering up to what is most important to your target audience.

  • Think about those end values – your key message is in there. It won’t say everything you may want to, but it’s the perfect way to get the initial message across and break through the clutter of competing messages. You don’t have to tell them everything at once, just enough to help them understand what makes your product/service meaningful to them and unique enough that it gets them to want to learn more. And then that’s your opportunity to then tell them more.

Using a value attribute map is just one way to help bring clarity from chaos. There are other methods, and they have many things in common such as getting organized, creating hierarchies, and thinking about what is important from the perspective of your target audience. Because in the end, it’s about the audience, not about you.

U.S. B2B digital advertising grew a whopping 32.5% in 2020 year-over-year…

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Digital channels play an important role when it comes to advertising. I’m sure this is no surprise to most marketers given the pandemic the world has been facing the past 18 months.

According to Emarketer, the forecast for this year is expected to grow almost 25% and by 2023, the total B2B digital spend is forecasted to almost double to be close to the 15 billion mark.

Another stat that surprised me was that LinkedIn is forecasted to account for nearly one-third of the total B2B display ad spending in 2021. And I’m sure a majority of these ads are for job openings, but there are still plenty of promoted posts I’m seeing on LinkedIn.

On the other hand, digital ad investment accounts for 32% of total B2B digital ad spend. This is mostly due to Technology Products and Service companies. With digital channels being vital when marketing to your customers, B2B marketers are investing more in digital ads than display.

How has your company’s digital advertising grown over the past year?

Marketing Budget’s Share of Company Revenues Almost Cut in Half From 2020

Marketing Budget’s Share of Company Revenues Almost Cut in Half From 2020

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect 

Entering 2021, companies anticipated to have budget growth of more than 5% as they expected to have a swift recovery. A recent report from Gartner reveals that the share of company revenues allocated to marketing expense budgets has fallen drastically this year.

The survey of 400 marketing leaders across 5 global markets found that marketing budgets as a portion of revenue have fallen to 6.4% this year. The previous lowest year was 10.2% back in 2014. From the results we can see five trends happening.

Trend Number One:

The first trend that reflects this decrease is from the downward pressure on marketing spend induced by the pandemic. When budgets are getting cut, marketing budgets are usually the first ones to be on the chopping block.

Trend Number Two:

All nine industries analyzed had cuts in budget as a portion of revenue. Manufacturing experienced the biggest percentage-point drop in revenue allocated to marketing…12.7% in 2020, but only 5.8% for 2021! With the digital enterprise accelerating investments, spending priorities began to shift.

Trend Number Three:

With digital commerce dominating, marketing budgets started to spread across all different channels. 72.2% of investments were split between marketing channels like websites, digital ads and social channels.

Trend Number Four:

A lot of external agency capabilities are now moving to in-house strategic tactics. The three that have moved focus are brand strategy, innovation and technology and marketing strategy development.

Trend Number Five:

Lastly, with the shift to digital commerce that meant companies needed to change their spending on analytics. With having to invest in online programs to fuel digital success, this ended up taking 12.3% of the total budget.

I know manufacturers across the board are struggling with supply chain, labor shortages and other issues, but hard to believe marketing spending dropped so much in just one year.

Where is your company’s marketing budget share trending as a percentage of the company’s revenue?

Buyers’ Online Event Fatigue

Buyers’ Online Event Fatigue

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

In 2020, companies and businesses turned to online events as an alternative to in-person events due to COVID-19. With those who previously held face-to-face events, 4 in 5 or 78% of people converted to online. Although online events were successful, people are starting to feel burnt out from them.

According to Activate Marketing Services in partnership with MarketingCharts, 9 in 10 or 90% of Demand Gen marketers agree that buyers are becoming fatigued with online events.

We all had to pivot last year to replace in-person events (tradeshows, association and industry meetings) … and most of us tried to fill the gap by replacing them with some sort of online/virtual event. With buyers becoming fatigued, and that will only be growing, companies are starting to redirect their focus. Instead, high-quality lead programs have risen up the ranks when respondents were asked to choose their top 3 options. That being said, companies are starting to focus more on content and engagement with their audience.

This doesn’t mean virtual events are going away anytime soon. Although I don’t know about you, but most of the online events I attended were pretty much busts.

What does your company have planned for the remainder of the year? Any in-person events? I know I’m scheduled to attend at least half a dozen trade shows between now and the end of the year and I can’t wait to continue to see people “live” and in person!

12th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive Raises $26,500 Worth of Donations for Habitat for Humanity

CLEVELAND –September 2021 – 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 12th year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $26,500 worth of donations of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected $336,500 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.

“Every year, we at Sonnhalter are inspired and uplifted by the generosity of our great community in its efforts to help those in need with donated tools and building materials,” said Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect at Sonnhalter. “We would like to thank our clients, partners and community members for their continued support in helping Sonnhalter raise nearly $336,500 for this great cause.”

“Sonnhalter’s Tool Drive is like Christmas in August! Instead of Santa’s sleigh, they bring a large truck full of tools for us and that’s the gift that keeps on giving all year around,” said John Habat, president/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “Sonnhalter’s Tool Drive helps to bring awareness to areas we have no access to and provides us tools to work on our houses, in our tool shop and to be sold to the general public.”

Community participants in the 12th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included, Berea Recreation Center, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Berea Branch, Fear’s Confections, Frangos Group, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, St. Mary of the Falls, Skidmark Garage, The Wine Spot and many individuals living in the community.

Trade industry participants in the 12th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Buyers Products, CSV Marketing, Endeavor Business Media, General Pipe Cleaners, Jergens, Inc., Ignition, Kapro, Samsel Supply, Lakeside Supply, Ledlenser, Mortar Net Solutions, Sutton Industrial, Wolff Bros. Supply, and Woodhill Supply.

All of the donations that Sonnhalter collected benefited Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStores, recycled building materials and home furnishings stores. Proceeds from the ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all faiths to eliminate substandard housing. We create hope by building and fully rehabbing homes, strengthening neighborhoods and reweaving communities. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. Cleveland Habitat has brought together over 275 sponsor groups and 87,000 volunteers to help more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. We have provided working families who earn between 30 and 80% of the area median income (AMI) affordable homeownership opportunities in 20 different Cleveland neighborhoods. For more information on Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity visit http://www.clevelandhabitat.org/.

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Top Deal Killers for B2B Buyers

Top Deal Killers for B2B Buyers

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Virtual selling will continue to be around after COVID-19. Over the past year, there has been a shift of moving things to be done virtually or remote. In a recent report, State of Sales, LinkedIn looked at the top deal killers for B2B buyers.

When looking at the report, some of these concepts seem so obvious, but if they made the list, then they must be happening out there.

Here are the Top 3 B2B seller behavior deal killers for buyers:

  1.  Delivering misleading information about a product, its price, etc. – taking the top spot at 48%, I guess my question is why 52% of B2B buyers would buy from a vendor that gives them inaccurate info about the product and its price! Tell the truth; representing a trusted brand can make outreach more successful and gain you customers.
  2.  Not understanding my company and its needs – this seems like “Sales 101,” but it’s amazing how many salespeople are too focused on their own product/service and not the customer. A sales professional needs to be focused on the consumer’s need rather than pushing a product.
  3. Not understanding their own product or service – with the amount of information on the internet and the amount of time buyers spend researching prior to reaching out to the company, shouldn’t be a surprise they sometimes know more than the salesperson.

Sales professionals are taking note of these deal killers and trying to improve. Knowing and identifying deal killers is important when targeting your audience, so you can adjust your outreach and effectively build trust.

Looking into the future, how will you change as a sales professional?

Influencer Marketing Continues to be a Hot Category for Marketers in 2021

by Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician

Influencer marketing is one of the top forms of marketing, especially in 2021. With influencer marketing being in demand, marketers must use it to seek their target audience.

In a recent report from Linqia, “State of Influencer Marketing,” they outline some of their key findings. While this report is focused on enterprise marketers, these broader B2C influencer marketing trends eventually make their way down to the B2B market.

Here are some of the key highlights:

  • Interest in using TikTok in influencer marketing campaigns rose 325% in just one year
  • 90% of enterprise marketers wanted to work with micro-influencers
  • Marketers are working with significantly fewer influencers than three years ago
  • 86% of respondents are already using shoppable links to allow consumers to go from inspiration to purchase instantly
  • 65% of respondents indicated that measuring ROI continues to be the biggest pain point in influencer marketing

It’s no surprise that the top two platforms are TikTok and Instagram as video content is continuing to grow within influencer channels. In fact, one in three marketers said it is extremely important.

Influencers are more than just their audience; they also create compelling content across channels and this is why they’re so effective.

What changes are you making to your Influencer Marketing Program for 2021?

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

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

By: Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect 

After 2020, we can see a change in what types of content are most effective. In a recent report from Activate Marketing Services, they surveyed 72% of B2B tech marketers and demand gen decision-makers for a report on effective content.

In this blog, we will look at each tunnel tier and each type of content.

Top of the Funnel:

At the top of the funnel, we have blog posts that are considered most effective. Whereas next we have 66% of people who consider infographics the most effective. Lastly, at the top of the funnel we have videos. Blogs, infographics and videos are great sources of content as buyers are engaging with more digital content especially after the pandemic. When crafting content for your company, keep your audience in mind to optimize business.

Mid-Funnel:

In the mid-funnel, we can see virtual events and webcasts were most effective. Last year, we saw an increase of virtual events and webinars due to COVID-19 and the cancellation of in-person events. Online events are great to expand your audience and let anyone listen from anywhere.

Bottom of the Funnel:

In our final tier, we have data-driven content. For example, this type of content consists of white papers, e-books and case studies, with white papers at 41% effective, e-books at 9% and case studies at 16%.

And while this study focused on B2B tech marketers, these content pieces would work for the general B2B marketers.

What’s been your most effective content type at each stage of the funnel?

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for 12th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive

Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for 12th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive

CLEVELAND – July 2021 – 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 Twelfth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive. In the past decade, Sonnhalter has raised more than $310,000 worth in donations for the organization.

From Sunday, August 1 to Tuesday, 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.

“We never imagined how big the tool drive would become! Over a decade later, we are still working with our wonderful partners at the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Since our efforts began in 2010, we are once again counting on the generosity of our clients and business colleagues, as well as businesses to clean out their extra inventory, overstocked materials and demo models, and donate to this very worthy cause. We’re looking forward to exceeding the donations of past years.”

The Sonnhalter Tool Drive strives to engage businesses and organizations to look through warehouses for extra inventory and overstocked tools or items.

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity has completed more than 300 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 distressed neighborhoods. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStore, a recycled building materials store. Proceeds from ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

To watch the Sonnhalter Annual Tool Drive video: https://youtu.be/zueryrWScHI

Tools and materials can be shipped to Attn: Tool Drive, Sonnhalter, 1320 Sumner Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio 44115. For information on how you can participate in the Sonnhalter Tool Drive, or to coordinate larger shipments i.e., pallet size, please contact Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard from Sonnhalter at 216.242.0420 x130 or rascherl@sonnhalter.com. To make a monetary donation, please make checks payable to “Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity” and mail to Sonnhalter, 1320 Sumner Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

For more information on the Tool Drive, visit: www.Sonnhalter.com/tooldrive.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all faiths to eliminate substandard housing. We create hope by building and fully rehabbing homes, strengthening neighborhoods and reweaving communities. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. Cleveland Habitat has brought together over 275 sponsor groups and 87,000 volunteers to help more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. We have provided working families who earn between 30 and 80% of the area median income (AMI) affordable homeownership opportunities in 20 different Cleveland neighborhoods. For more information on Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity visit http://www.clevelandhabitat.org/.

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How to Build a Manufacturer Representative Business Plan That Really Works

How to Build a Manufacturer Representative Business Plan That Really Works

by Doug Walker, guest blogger

Having a business plan is important for the success of any business. A business plan will help you to evaluate your goals and determine how you will set about achieving them. It will help you recognize where things are not going according to plan and help you take corrective action. A good business plan can also help you to attract much-needed funding. 

Setting up in business as a manufacturer representative is no exception, and a well-constructed business plan can mean the difference between failure and success. Here we take a look at how you can create a business plan that really works for a manufacturer representative.

Nature of Your Business — One of the first things you should do is define what the nature of your business is. This is partly for the benefit of any potential investors who might be considering making an investment in your company. Before they are willing to part with any money, they will first need to know what your company is all about and how it will make a profit.

Defining the nature of your business is also beneficial to you when it comes to running your company. It can be all too easy otherwise for somebody to get side-tracked and lose focus on their objectives.

Capital Requirements — How much money do you need to get started? How much will it cost to register your company? What do you need to pay to get business premises of your own? What about utilities, IT, desks, and other furniture and equipment? All of these things will need to be taken into consideration to make sure you have what you need; otherwise, you will struggle to function. It is also a good idea to try and account for unexpected expenses. If financial literacy isn’t your strong suit, there are resources online that will help.

Identify Your Competitors — Who are your competitors? Which manufacturers do they represent? Who do they sell to? What advantages do they have over you, and what advantages do you have over them? How can you encourage customers to buy from you instead of the competition? 

Knowing the competition will help you understand just how competitive your field really is. If you find yourself in a fiercely competitive market, then you will need to try and work out how you can stand out from the rest, or even consider another field altogether. Identifying your competition could also help you to learn from them. If they have been in business for a long time, what have they been doing to make themselves successful?

Clients and Customers — If you’re a manufacturer representative, who are you going to represent? Do you already have a relationship with a manufacturer that you could work with? Are there others whose products you’re familiar with that you could approach? Bear in mind that if you’re going to go into business selling products for other people, you simply must have something to sell. 

Just as important as having something to sell is having somebody to sell to. Your business plan should include market research into the demand for a manufacturer’s products. Are you selling to businesses? If that’s the case, what appropriate businesses are there in your area? Will you need to travel long distances to meetings with potential customers, or can you find a cloud calling solution for virtual meetings? How much will travel cost, and accommodation if required?

Marketing — How are you going to acquire new prospects? Advertising? Door-to-door? Cold-calling? Is your method of gaining new products something you can do yourself or will you need help? Will you need to employ staff to do it for you, or outsource marketing to another business? 

Your business plan will need to take into account the cost and efforts involved with acquiring new prospects. It will help potential investors to see that there is a good business opportunity while it can also help you to identify any potential issues with your sales methodology and finding people to sell to.

Identify Potential Obstacles — Things don’t always run smoothly for businesses. Even the best laid plans are not immune to external influences that the business owner has no control over. For example, the recent global health crisis has put significant strain on the supply chain, and a recent report found that 94% of manufacturing leaders report concerns about their current supply chains. This translates to potential shipping delays for your products, which is out of your control.

While we may not be able to prevent issues from happening, however, we can make sure we are prepared to deal with them when they do arise.

Try and consider which obstacles exist or might exist at some point in the future. How are you going to overcome those obstacles? What contingency plans can you put into place? If you’re not prepared for such eventualities, then it can have a severely detrimental impact on your business; being prepared can help make them more of a minor inconvenience.

Financial Forecast — Create a realistic financial forecast. How many sales do you realistically see yourself making, and how much revenue will they generate? How much will your business cost to run? What overheads will you have? What will be your profit margin once all costs have been deducted from revenue?

It’s important you are honest when creating your financial forecast. Trying to make the forecast look better on paper will not achieve anything for you in reality, other than maybe lead you into debt. If the forecast does not look good, then you will need to re-evaluate your goals. Doing so will make it a lot more likely that you have a business that’s a success rather than one that closes down quickly.

A well-made business plan is important for numerous reasons. It can help you attract necessary investment in your company if needed, while it can also help ensure you have a viable business before you start. A business plan will also help you to keep your company headed in the right direction and identify areas that need improvement. The right business plan can make the difference between a company that fails and a company that is a huge success, so it’s well worth spending your time on creating one that really works.

Shorter is Not Always Better…At Least When it Comes to Video Lengths in 2020.

by Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician

With being stuck inside for the past year, 2020 became the year of videos, making some businesses embrace a digital approach and adopt new methods of marketing. From this, we can look at the key shifts for video that happened last year.

The latest report from Vidyard looks at 2020 video completion rates and other benchmarks.

Here are the key findings:

Vidyard Business Video Completion Rates by Length May2021

The average length of business-related videos increased from 4 minutes in 2019 to just over 6 minutes in 2020. That said, the majority (60%) of videos produced for business purposes (such as to support sales, marketing and communication efforts) are 2 minutes or less, with 37.3% being up to one minute long and another 23% being 1-2 minutes long.

Vidyard reports that with the cancellations of a majority of in-person events, videos over 20 minutes long saw an increase of 66% over 2019. It also pointed out that videos between 2 and 10 minutes have also increased, presumably “leaning on the trend of frictionless, self-service buying experiences to provide educational content to prospective customers upfront.”

With video content increasing, we need to keep in mind people’s attention spans. If you’re producing long-form videos, consider making simple cuts to keep your audience engaged or trim the video down.

Video is a powerful medium and adds value to your business.

Did video length for your company’s videos increase last year?

How to Improve Your Company’s Blog

How to Improve Your Company’s Blog

by Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician

In the manufacturing arena where competition is fierce, some companies have turned to blogs as a way to increase brand awareness, become a thought leader in their space, increase their web traffic and generate leads.

In a recent post from ThomasNet called, “13 Ways to Improve Your Manufacturing Blog,” it helps businesses to recognize ways to improve within blog platforms.

Here are the key highlights:

  • Write With Your Buyer Personas In Mind – When creating blog content, remember who your audience is. By establishing your audience, you can make customized content towards them.
  • Use Images & Visual Elements – Enhance your story by using pictures to help break up text and keep readers engaged. Images can play an important part in increasing the reading time on your blog.
  • Link To External Sources, And Your Own Content! – Help your readers through the story by providing credibility. This helps with your brand’s trust and can drive readers to conversion pages, which can boost SEO.
  • Establish A Frequency To Posting Your Blogs – Make sure you’re committing to the blog by frequently posting. One way to keep up with posting is to create a content calendar and lay out all the blogs you’re doing in a month.
  • Ensure Your Blogs Have A Strong Word Count – Posts under 300 words are not recommended for SEO, and when your SEO isn’t strong, consumers can’t find you online. At the same time, don’t post a blog with 2,500 words of “awful” as people will not read it.

Blogs can help to achieve your business goals and build trust between you and the consumer. Follow the rules above and check out the rest in their article to learn how to improve your blog.

How will you improve your blog posts?

Kylie Stanley Joins Sonnhalter as New Public Relations Technician

Kylie Stanley Joins Sonnhalter as New Public Relations Technician

CLEVELAND – June 2021 – Sonnhalter, a marketing communications firm to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, names Kylie Stanley the new public relations technician. In this role, Stanley will develop content for social media, write copy and represent Sonnhalter and its clients.

Stanley attended The University of Akron, where she studied Public Relations and Media Studies. While in school, Stanley produced the university’s web-series, “Class Cancelled,” that showcased activities students could do in the Akron area. From her video experience, she was awarded a Lower Great Lakes Emmy in the Arts and Entertainment college category.

Along with her video experience, Stanley has worked with social media and was a media relations intern at a Columbus marketing agency.

“We are excited to have Kylie join the Sonnhalter team,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Kylie is a talented young professional and we look forward to seeing her grow here.”

Stanley is currently a member of the central Ohio chapter of PRSA.

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty. For more information, visit the company website at Sonnhalter.com.

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What Are the Top Drivers of Brand Trust Among Global Consumers?

What Are the Top Drivers of Brand Trust Among Global Consumers?

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Fewer than one-quarter of consumers in the U.S. feel they are more in control of their data than they were a year ago

Today, trust can make or break a brand’s reputation. 74% of people drive their brand trust on “respects and protects customer’s data, privacy and security.” This is according to a recent survey from Morning Consult, which analyzed the important elements of brand trust.

The survey looked into 15,000 global consumers in 15 markets in March 2021 and shows us what drives trust among global consumers.

The main drivers of trust come from:

  • Functional
  • Experiential
  • Social
  • Emotional

Here are some key highlights from their survey:

Based on the survey, we can see that at the top we have emotional drivers like, “protects my personal data.” While on the other end, the other top drivers for brand trust are more product-related such as:

  • Good value for the price
  • High quality
  • Products or services that work as advertised

It’s clear that experience and customer service contribute to one’s brand trust.

How does your brand/company perform against these Top 10 drivers?

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