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/.

#     #     #

Connect with Sonnhalter:

Facebook  ▪ Twitter  ▪ LinkedIn  ▪ YouTubeInstagram

 

 

 

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

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/.

 

#     #     #

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

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

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/.

#     #     #

Connect with Sonnhalter:

Facebook  ▪ Twitter  ▪ LinkedIn  ▪ YouTubeInstagram

 

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…

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

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/.

#     #     #

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

’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

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.

#    #    #

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?

How Public Relations Can Benefit Your Business

by Kylie Stanley, Public Relations Technician

Are you looking for new customers or want to increase business?

Well-developed public relations can be an effective tool to boost your business and help reach your desired audience. You will be able to establish an emotional connection to your audience through your brand’s marketing.

There are many ways that public relations can benefit you, but today we will be focusing on four methods. Michelle Garrett analyzed these four methods in a post she wrote for Thomas, “Why Public Relations Matters to Manufacturers.”

Educates – Public relations helps to teach your audience about who you are and why your company should matter to them. It also provides the information to your market about your products and services.

Image and Reputation – Public relations can aid in building trust and to establish your brand in the industry. By creating a strong reputation, it can lead to credibility and provide you with lifelong customers. If your customers know what your brand stands for, they will be more likely to engage with your business.

Awareness and Visibility – Potential customers will know that your brand exists, and campaigns can spread awareness of the work that your company is doing. With awareness efforts, you can change public opinions and promote your brand’s value.

Interest – From awareness we can create interest for your brand and products. Interest helps to pull customers in and make them want to learn more about your brand or be involved.

No matter how big or small a story is, it can help to elevate your brand and increase business. Let’s take some notes by looking at some examples of past public relations stories that have created visibility.

Associated General Contractors

Associated General Contractors of California partnered up with BuildOUT California, the world’s first industry association for sustainable growth of LGBTQ+ owned and certified business. This partnership is impactful for their audience and shows that the company cares about diversity and inclusion.

Partnerships can be rewarding and can help your business stand out against your competitors.

Mergers & Acquisitions

HEPACO is a leader in environmental and emergency response services that acquired Summit Field Services from Summit Environmental Services, LLC. This expansion helps to boost business development and to add value to your brand.

In the News

RMH Systems, a turn-key automation packaging and material handling integrator, announced Ryan Howard as their new president. With newsworthy information, your customers will want to hear about any changes happening within the company.

When using all these public relations efforts, we can create powerful results and assist in your brand’s marketing.

Need help with utilizing public relations? Contact us and check out our website for more tips.

America’s Bridges Are Falling Apart

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

1 in 3 U.S. Bridges Needs Repair or Replacement

This infographic from Statista shows the Top 7 U.S. states by the number of structurally deficient bridges in 2020.

 

Who knew Iowa had so many bridges? I always thought of rows and rows of corn fields for them. 🙂

The full 2021 Bridge Conditions Report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is alarming. Here are some key highlights and figures:

  • 220,000 of U.S. bridges—36 percent—need repair work

 

  • 79,500 of U. S. bridges need replacement 

 

  • At the current pace, it would take nearly 40 years to repair the current backlog of “structurally deficient” (SD) bridges

 

  • Motorists drive across structurally deficient bridges 171.5 million times daily

 

  • A structurally deficient bridge, on average, is nearly 68 years old, compared to 32 years for a bridge in good condition and 54 years for a bridge in fair condition.

 

Bridge inspections generally occur once every 24 months. Bridge ratings are updated as inspections are completed—each year some bridges are classified as poor or structurally deficient and others are removed from that category as they undergo repair, rehabilitation or replacement.

How are the bridges and infrastructure in your hometown?

 

 

 

 

 

Is it an objection or a question?

Each month, Alan Sipe, a contributing editor for Professional Distributor magazine, writes a sales skill article targeted to the independent business people who own and operate the various branded tool trucks you see parked at automotive repair shops everywhere. Although this article is written for the automotive repair industry, the sales skills are applicable to everyone.

Is it an objection or a question?

Your response will make a world of difference to your wallet.

You’re right in the middle of a product presentation on a new Jenny electric 7.5hp stationary air compressor when the prospect interrupts and growls, “How much is this compressor?”

Is it a question? Is it an objection? Is the product too expensive? The prospect used a negative tone, so they must be unhappy with my presentation, right? I’m not done with the presentation and he’s getting antsy, so he’s trying to rush me, isn’t he?

First things first. Let’s understand what’s meant by the question, “How much is this compressor?”

If you think about it, the prospect probably had a compressor that was working just fine. Now the thing just died or is on its last legs and they must get a new one. The prospect isn’t happy with needing a new compressor, so they most likely won’t be thrilled with any price other than free.

In this case, even though the prospect interrupted you with a question, it’s simply that, a question. How you respond can move your potential customer in the direction of saying “yes” to the compressor purchase, or it can blow up in your face.

A simple, straightforward response is always the best. Try being relaxed, and say something like, “It will be between $X and $Y depending on which accessories you choose. Let’s take a look at the accessories and see what you decide.” (more…)

Considering a Digital Asset Management (DAM) Solution for Your Company?

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Businesses can no longer manage their expanding content libraries with siloed repositories or simple tools like spreadsheets. So, if you’re exploring a DAM technology for your company, this report from Forrester is a must read.  Forrester covers the 14 DAM providers that matter most and how they stack up against each other.

Vendors are evaluated against 28 criteria, which are grouped into three high-level categories:

Current Offering

  • Library services
  • Work-in-progress assets
  • Video and emerging content support
  • Marketing support
  • Usability and user interface
  • Enterprise platform integrations

Strategy

  • Product vision
  • Past performance
  • Market approach
  • Supporting product and services
  • Delivery model

Market Presence

  • Product revenue
  • Average deal size

 

If you are already using a DAM, I’m curious which one do you use and what has your experience been?

For more commentary on DAM, read:

Warehouse Your Marketing Too

 

5 Types of Video to Add to Your Social Media Marketing

by Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

By now most everyone knows that video is where it’s at. If you want to grab attention on social media, in your e-newsletter or in a press release–make sure it contains a video!

Video is a powerful communication tool that provides a more personal feel to your message. You will be far more likely to connect on an emotional level with your audience if you use video versus another content type. And, when it comes to social media marketing, video is a great way to engage with your audience.

But there are different types of video, some more appropriate and effective than others depending on what your  marketing goals are. Joe Forte recently broke down the types of video in his recent post for Content Marketing Institute, “5 Types of Video to Add to Your Social Media Marketing.

Live Video – Best for when your brand has a significant following, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and other streaming services make it easy to connect with your audience. Livestreaming allows you to talk with your followers and are most effective for announcements, behind-the-scenes looks, and product information videos.

Tutorial Videos – Among the most frequently shared on social media, tutorial videos have mass appeal by relating to your products and services. Or, they can be broader topics that relate to your audience and industry. Tutorial videos need to be clear, educational and entertaining. They need to be long enough to show every step and short enough to be engaging.

Informational Videos – Informational videos can cover any topic. Build your content archive with videos on a variety of relevant topics. Make them unique, clever or insightful. When adding video to your social media, concentrate on content likely to be shared, something valuable to make it worth the viewer’s time.

Behind-the-Scenes Video – Behind-the-scenes videos are a great way to make your company and your team more personable by highlighting day-to-day operations, your offices, your manufacturing processes, and more. Designed to build trust and brand identity, this type of video really gives the opportunity to dig down into what makes a brand exceptional.

User-Generated Video – UGC is quickly becoming a fantastic and easier way to engage an audience. You can encourage your followers to create videos and ask them to incorporate your hashtags into the upload. User-generated content is a brilliant way to grow an audience because users are more inclined to share content they create. Viewing the user-generated content also is an excellent way to get a feel for your audience’s personalities and what they’re interested in.

Which type works the best for your brand? It’s a great idea to experiment with these and see which generates the most interest and  engagement. Read the complete post for more information, examples and tips on producing each of these valuable types of video content.

Read more on the importance of video in marketing:

B2B Video is on the Rise: Are You Taking Advantage?

Are You Using Videos to Connect with the Professional Tradesman?

Making the Most of Your Upcoming Webinar

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

As more companies are utilizing webinars as part of their overall marketing strategy, there are some critical steps to help maximize success. ON24 has some great resources on their website, including their step-by-step webinar best practices guide.

Here are some key highlights from their five steps

1) Planning and Strategy: This includes setting your goals and identifying your audience, developing your team and creating killer content.

2) Driving Registration: It’s important to plan ahead. Email is essential. While other marketing tools help widen your reach, 80% of webinar registration is generated by email promotions. Don’t forget to simplify the registration form. Only ask for the basics and don’t scare registrants off by asking for too many details.

3) Before Your Webinar: Design a presentation that resonates. Keep slides clean with no more than three bullet points per slide. Make sure your team is equipped with the appropriate audio and video technology.

4) During Your Webinar: Your presenter should be well-rehearsed, energetic and engaging. Also, invite your audience to get involved by using polls and surveys and take advantage of feedback during a Q&A.

5) After Your Webinar: Having the right “on-demand” strategy will ensure your webinar lives on. But, also make sure you follow up with the attendees and have an effective post-webinar strategy in place.

There are a lot of moving parts that go into putting together a great webinar. It takes planning, people and technology, all working together to create the perfect event. What are some of your webinar best practices?

Want more content on the topic of webinars? Visit these blog posts.

Marketing Minute: Preparing for a 2021 Without In-Person Events

10 Tips to Ensure a Successful Webinar Targeted at the Professional Tradesmen

Webinars are an Option for Continued Learning

Towering Helix Marks the Spot for Amazon’s Proposed Corporate Headquarters in Virginia

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

Have you seen the renderings for Amazon’s headquarters in Virginia?

I recently ran across an article on Building Design & Construction Magazine’s website from John Caulfield which outlined some of the key features of this new campus. Amazon’s proposed design for the second phase of its corporate headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, includes a $2.5 billion investment that will encompass five office buildings for 25,000 employees. 

Here are some of the key highlights:

  • The Phase 2 site, called PenPlace, will be anchored by The Helix, a 370,000-square-foot, spiral-shaped building

 

  • 2.8-million-square-foot campus with three, 22-story buildings that target LEED Platinum certification

 

  • PenPlace’s sustainable features include an onsite water reclamation system for reducing cooling, irrigation, and flushing demand by 50%

 

  • 2.5-plus acres of public open space and connected walkways, a dog run, a 250-seat amphitheater, woodlands, and art installations

 

  • Over 950 onsite bike spaces, including 180 for visitors; there will be one-quarter mile of new protected bike lanes

 

  • All-electric central heating and cooling system that runs on 100% renewable energy from a solar farm in southern Virginia

What other cool building renderings have you seen recently?

Considerations When Marketing Disruptive Technologies in Construction and Manufacturing

by Michelle Laurey, guest blogger

The construction and manufacturing industries are enormous engines driving any economy.

For instance, in the U.S., the construction industry employs more than 7 million individuals and generates more than $1.3 trillion.

On the other hand, manufacturers in the U.S. are responsible for 11.39% of the economy’s total output. They employ 8.51% of the total available workforce, and their overall output exceeds $2.3 trillion.

As a result, any changes that occur in those two major industries have far-reaching consequences on the economy as a whole.

Therefore, there are certain things you need to consider when you market disruptive technologies in those fields.

The Evolution of These Industries

Any industry changes in one of four ways:

  1. Progressive change
  2. Intermediating change
  3. Creative change
  4. Radical change, which is also known as disruptive change.

The change you aim to bring about falls into the final category, but it helps to be aware of how your target industries have evolved in all four of the above categories.

The Evolution of the Construction Industry 

The construction industry is relatively new to disruptive change.

Over the past few centuries, it has mostly witnessed minor progressive changes. Engineers in the early twentieth century were relatively similar to those from the preceding centuries.

They drew plans by hand, used analog surveying equipment, and planned out projects using physical files and dossiers.

It was only over the past two decades that radical changes have occurred.

Today, engineers use advanced programs like AutoCAD and Revit to produce computer-aided designs, and almost every construction company worth its salt uses construction management software.

What’s more, the construction industry is on the cusp of even more disruption.

For instance, BIM software is changing the game, providing engineers with clear 3D models.

Modular manufacturing and prefabrication construction enable engineers to build structures in a fraction of the time it normally took, while also reducing waste.

The Evolution of the Manufacturing Industry

Unlike the construction industry, the manufacturing industry is no stranger to radical change.

Manufacturing has its origins in artisanal work. From blacksmiths and coppersmiths to shoemakers, laboring for hours and days over the final product used to be the norm.

However, this all changed with the industrial revolution.

For one thing, when Adam Smith introduced the concept of the division of labor, artisanal workers had a much more difficult time competing with large-scale organizations.

It wasn’t long before machines took over the manufacturing process, introducing mass production and rendering people who work with their hands all but obsolete.

Ford’s assembly line then took efficiency to a whole new level — and this isn’t even the end of the story.

Over the past fifty years, computerization has disrupted the manufacturing industry.

It has allowed automation, which has been buoyed recently by the introduction of AI.

Additionally, the collection of data has given us the field of analytics.

Needless to say, it is impossible to imagine what other disruptions the future holds for manufacturers all over the world.

The Problem With Disruptive Technology

Whether we’re talking about a relatively stable industry like construction, or a fast-moving one like manufacturing, most companies are slow to adopt innovative technology.

In his seminal book “Crossing the Chasm,” Geoffrey Moore has explored why many disruptive entrepreneurs have a hard time reaching the mainstream market.

He realized that adopting new technologies involves a high degree of risk, especially when the technology in question is so novel that there is little data to make an informed decision.

The problem is not only that these technologies are unproven: there is also a lack of supporting infrastructure to justify the switch.

It is often difficult to distinguish between something that will radically change an industry from something that will prove to be nothing more than a passing fad.

With this in mind, he broke down companies into different categories:

  1. Innovators and early adopters: They are the people so enamored with technology that they are willing to try anything new and take the risk so long as it may give them a leg up over the competition. You will also find visionaries in this category.
  2. The mainstream market: This category can be broken down into an early and late majority. These groups entail pragmatists and people who appreciate the benefit of sticking with the herd.
  3. Laggards: Those are companies and individuals so conservative that they might not adopt new technology even when the entire market has already turned to it.

Your marketing efforts will have to take all four categories into account.

How to Market to the Construction and Manufacturing Industries

We have already seen the inherent difficulties in marketing disruptive tech, with the construction and the manufacturing industries representing extreme ends on a spectrum of change.

In spite of their differences, both these industries are facing radical change. How can marketers smoothen the transition?

For starters, any marketing message consists of three components:

  1. The message.
  2. The target of the message.
  3. The proof that verifies the message.

Let’s look at each element separately.

The Message

When it comes to the message, your main goal is to communicate the value of your offer.

To make your offer acceptable to wary prospects, draw comparisons between the disruptive elements and things that might be familiar to the audience. Also, make sure you address their concerns. Here’s how.

Highlight Value

To begin with, you want to show your audience what they have to gain by adopting new, disruptive technology.

In fact, you need to offer such a compelling value proposition that it entices your customers to adopt it.

After all, change is hard, and adapting to a new piece of technology often takes effort.

However, if the value exceeds the costs of change, your customers will be happy to take the leap.

Additionally, you should shed light on the possible consequences of being too late to the party.

Show that failing to adopt these new technologies promptly puts the company at a disadvantage to its competitors.

For example, when it comes to the construction industry, you can point out how drones can save money in surveying or how 3D printing will finish a task that used to take days or even weeks in mere hours.

You can do this through webinars, case studies, or any other form of educational content.

Explain Through Analogies

One of the most efficient ways to market new products is through analogies.

This comes in handy when the customer struggles to see the potential value of the new technology.

Analogies help demonstrate how things will improve once the new technology has been adopted.

They also show how the new technology relates to older technologies, which makes people feel safer.

For example, if you are trying to convince a manufacturer of the value of using AR and VR technology in their factories, this is what your spiel might look like:

 “Investing in AR and VR will cost you X amount of dollars, which is about twice the amount you invest annually to train your workers.

 However, while a trainer’s fee is recurring every year, AR and VR will only require an initial investment, and the maintenance fees will be a fraction of your training costs.

 In essence, it will be like having a trainer on your factory floor 24/7, increasing productivity and keeping your workers safe, and you only have to pay once.”

 Analogies offer reference points, enabling customers to make better-informed decisions.

Address Fears

When marketing disruptive technologies, many potential customers will express skepticism and even fear of jumping into uncharted waters.

It’s the marketer’s job to address these concerns and assuage them.

Start with listening to your customers and learn how to respond to each individual objection.

For instance, one common concern that is bound to pop up time and again is that these new technologies aren’t widespread yet and that the switching costs may be too high to justify the shift.

You can reply by pointing out that this is always the case with innovation.

Show that while there may be switching costs, there are even higher costs to delaying the inevitable.

You can go one step further and explain that there are several innovative technologies already being adopted by visionaries, thanks in part to the rise of industry 4.0.

For instance, there are construction companies that use IoT to keep their workers safe, and there are manufacturers relying on AI-based analytics tools to give them an edge in the marketplace.

Your prospects can get that same competitive edge with a little audacity.

The Target of the Message

Apart from the message itself, you have to be mindful of who you’re communicating with.

If you choose the right target audience, you increase your chances of success.

Start With Innovators and Early Adopters

Remember the classification of buyers with regard to adopting disruptive technology?

Well, you want to begin with targeting the innovators and early adopters. These are the companies that will be most receptive to trying out new technologies.

After all, you will have a miserable time selling innovation to people who are frightened by change.

To identify these visionaries, seek out companies that have already begun digitally transforming their outfit.

You can also look for companies with a history of adopting new technology and embracing change rather than running away from it.

For instance, you might have a better chance of finding your target market if you reach out to young professionals unafraid to challenge the status quo.

Talk to the C-Suite

If you are going to create educational content, you should direct it to the decision-makers — the C-level executives.

They are the ones who will give the final go or no-go decision, and they will do so according to their perception of the disruptive technology’s value.

Conversely, directors and their underlings tend to make purchase decisions based on the features of the technologies, the functions offered, and the price.

Ergo, they don’t necessarily look at the larger picture and the associated value, which is why it is best to sell them commodities instead of disruptive tech.

The Proof That Verifies the Message

One of the strongest tools in any marketer’s arsenal is social proof, so the main issue with new and disruptive technologies is the lack of it.

Therefore, to spark interest and reach a wider audience, you might want to consider collaborating with influencers and thought-leaders in your field.

Their endorsement will give weight to your message and attract mainstream audiences.

For example, working with a construction influencer, such as Kim Bates or Jay Bowman, can help you explore how companies can benefit from the abundance of data in the construction industry.

Other decision-makers in your targeted fields will be more open to giving you a chance if you’re backed by thought leaders they trust.

Putting It All Together

At the end of the day, marketing is all about crafting the right message, targeting the right people, and providing the right evidence.

When it comes to disruptive technology, things can be a bit trickier due to people’s natural hesitancy to embrace change.

Nevertheless, with a little creativity and plenty of perseverance, you will not only capture the early adopters and innovators, but also find different ways to reach the mainstream market.

It might require building the right partnerships and offering the right value propositions, but with a little grit, anything is possible!

About our guest blogger: Michelle Laurey works as a VA for small businesses. She loves talking business, and productivity, and share her experience with others. Outside her keyboard, she spends time with her Kindle library or binge-watching Billions. Her superpower? Vinyasa flow! Talk to her on Twitter @michelle_laurey.

2021 Trade Shows — Virtual or Hybrid?

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

Virtual or Hybrid? It’s the question all the industry trade shows targeting the professional tradesman are facing for 2021.

2020 was a rough year for industry trade shows, with a good chunk of them cancelling or postponing their events. And for shows that tried the “virtual” route, they were met with pretty poor results.

Typically, my first quarter is packed with various industry shows, but given the pandemic, here’s how three of these shows are handling their 2021 events.

International Builders Shows (IBS)

  • Co-located with KBIS, the International Builders Show typically draws anywhere from 50k-75k people
  • For this year’s show they’ve decided to go 100% virtual
  • I’m skeptical on the attendance and engagement for the builders and contractors for an event that’s 100% online

World of Concrete (WOC)

  • World of Concrete (WOC) is taking a “hybrid” approach, with a “virtual” education portion and then a “live” in-person event
  • I attended some of the live educational sessions (total of 18), which are now on-demand through the end of March
  • I think the in-person event, scheduled for early June, has a chance of happening, but a lot will depend on the vaccine rollout

WWETT Show

  • The WWETT Show is also taking a “hybrid” approach with “virtual” educational sessions late February and the “live” event the end of June
  • The education sessions have always been a key part of this show in the past, so I would imagine the “virtual” sessions should have some success

If you’ve attended these shows in the past, I’m curious your plan for 2021 and how are you going to participate?

If you’d like more info about trade shows in 2021, visit:

Marketing Minute: Preparing for a 2021 without In-Person Events

Ways to Make Up for Cancelled Trade Shows and Missed Opportunities

2021 State of Marketing to Engineers …Top 5 Key Findings

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

GlobalSpec recently released their latest annual “State of Marketing to Engineers” Report. In addition to measuring the usage and success of various marketing tactics, this year’s report also includes specific questions about the pandemic and its effect on engineers as well as emerging trends of virtual events.

Here are the Top 5 key findings I found interesting after reading the report.

1) Supplier/vendor websites #1 source for new trends and products

With trade shows cancelled for most of 2020, it’s no surprise engineers turned directly to suppliers/vendors for relevant and timely information.

2) Engineers find value from virtual events, but even more so from webinars

In general, our manufacturer clients did not see a lot of value, from an exhibitor standpoint, with 2020 virtual events targeting the “contractor” audience, but it’s nice to hear some positive news from virtual events targeting “engineers.”

3) Online content supports over 50% of the buyer’s journey

This percentage continues to increase every year, so having a well-thought out and planned content strategy is never more important for marketers trying to reach the engineering audience.

4) Videos and podcasts grow in adoption

Videos continue to be a key marketing tactic for engineers; this was the first year podcasts were measured and over half listen to them on a regular basis…will be interesting to see where this number goes in future reports.

5) Be wary of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Professional networks and LinkedIn are by far the preferred social media channels for engineers.

What marketing tactics are you finding successful for the engineering audience?

Link to full report: https://www2.globalspec.com/2021_report_stateofmarketingtoengineers

 

 

5 Business Growth Strategies Used By Top U.S. Companies …

by Jeff Pugel, CEO and founder, Ignition 

…And How You Can Use Them To Grow Your Business

No matter what your company’s specific goals are, the ultimate aim is always to achieve sustainable growth.

Whether you want to increase your total number of customers, annual revenue, lead generation or overall market presence, you need an effective marketing strategy to grow your business.

You can get by on referrals and passive client acquisition techniques for a while but, eventually, the industry will pass your company by if it is not growing.

So, the question is, how do you achieve sustainable growth? Is there a competitive strategy being used by top U.S. companies that you can use yourself? How do you position your company so it is no longer at the mercy of fickle customer relationships and fluctuations in the market? How can you increase your market share while stimulating organic growth?

The best approach is to come up with a marketing plan that incorporates a proven go-to-market strategy that top companies use to generate new leads and sales. Below are five of the best business growth strategies used by top U.S. companies to gain a competitive advantage.

  1. Define Your Company’s Ideal Buyer Profile

Stop chasing unproductive leads. It is a time consuming and unprofitable use of your resources.

Top U.S. companies in every industry do not waste time on leads that don’t translate to sales. There are some audiences that, no matter how skillfully you nurture them, will never be a viable option.

This is why you should create a reliable profile for the type of customer that is not only likely to become a sale but also the type of customer that is a good fit for your company’s services.

Stop concerning yourself with how you can attract the highest number of leads. Narrow your approach and focus on the most productive ones.

Which audiences have you worked well with in the past? Which characteristics set those audiences apart from your other customers? Answering these questions helps you narrow down the type of your ideal buyer.

Remember, top companies are extremely efficient. They do not waste time chasing down pointless leads. Neither should you.

  1. Know When a Lead is Engaging With Your Company

The top companies know when to strike. They know when a prospect is showing genuine interest and how to take the next step.

You have to separate the people who are looking at you out of curiosity from high engagement leads that are indicating legitimate interest.

Again, the goal here is to make the best use of your time and resources. Don’t chase down leads that won’t make a purchase. Define the threshold where someone becomes a qualified lead that is worth pursuing.

Once a lead is determined to have shown genuine interest in your products and services, actively pursue their business and move towards the next part of the sales process.

  1. Provide Your Leads With a Solution to Their Unique Problems

Top companies sell their products or services as needs rather than wants. They don’t say, “Here’s why you might like us.” They say, “Here’s why you can’t afford to be without us.”

There is no way around it, people these days have short attention spans. You need to stand out if you want any chance of securing new business.

The top U.S. companies find a way to make their products and services appear as a solution to a problem. To do this, you have to identify the problem first then show how you can provide the solution.

Identify a problem your ideal lead has then tailor your marketing content around a specific solution to it. What can you do for your prospect that the competition cannot do? Make your offerings appear valuable. This helps you transition them from a potential customer to a successful sale.

  1. Separate Yourself From the Competition

Top companies know that to grow, they need to stand out in their industry.

Entering a crowded marketplace is difficult. You need to demonstrate your competitive advantage over others. Why should your leads choose you instead of someone else?

Growth depends on conversion. To convert leads into sales, discover what you do differently from everyone else in your industry. Find your niche and narrow in on it.

If the competition is doing one thing, do something different. Make sure your leads know that you offer an alternative to what the competition is offering.

  1. Modernize Your Marketing Techniques

The top companies are not where they are by accident. They adopted the latest technologies and data capturing techniques to secure the biggest share of the market they could.

We are now firmly in the digital age. You need a strong online presence without question. Without one, you will not just fail to grow, but your company will become irrelevant. All of the top companies are taking a professional approach to managing their digital, online, and social media presences.

Go where the best leads are. If the leads you want are using a specific social media platform, have a presence there. Are you trying to target a younger client? Chances are advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will resonate with them.

Do not overlook the effectiveness of LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to connect directly with the decision-makers at the businesses you’re trying to land as clients.

Do not neglect email marketing. Most people use email for the majority of their business conversations. You need to make your agency a part of those conversations.

Learn From the Best

In this day and age, there is no excuse for ignoring what the leaders in your industry are doing. Successful companies plan for growth and work for it.

Be like the top companies and do what it takes to secure the business that allows your company to grow.

These strategies are designed to help your company, but your efforts should not stop there. Study the top companies in your industry and keep evolving.

 

About Jeff Pugel:

Jeff’s goal is straightforward… to help serious business owners generate more clients, close more sales and increase their overall revenue and profits… quickly and inexpensively.

Jeff specializes in sales and marketing for small business owners. Over the years, he’s developed a keen understanding of the complex issues facing small business owners in the type of volatile economy we have today and foreseeable future.

A 20+ years career in marketing working with top marketers including AT&T Wireless, Intel, Advil, American Express, and Esurance prior to becoming a marketing coach has helped Jeff develop the skills to quickly and effectively teach small business owners how to successfully apply the right strategies in the right order that allows them to grow their business to its maximum capacity.

 

A Picture Is Now Worth Far More Than A Thousand Words

by Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

Images make everything better.

It’s no secret that we are immersed in the “Age of Visual” culture, with cameras in everyone’s back pocket and with more than 2.5 billion camera phones in use, photos are becoming the “universal language.” If you’ve been paying attention to marketing and social media trends over the past several years, you know that the entire internet is becoming more visual. In fact, a picture might be worth far more than a thousand words now.

Shifts in the social media world are putting bigger emphasis on using high-quality photos in content. It should also be no surprise that the fastest growing social media networks are Instagram and Facebook.

Adding images to your content could be a lot more important than you might think. According to Jeff Bullas’ blog post 6 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Include Images in Your Marketing, images encourage people to engage with your content.

Thinking about your own news browsing habits, you have to admit that you are more likely to click on an article that has an intriguing image.

Jeff shared some interesting stats, including:

  • Articles with images get 94% more total views
  • Including photos or videos with press releases increases views by more than 45%
  • Facebook engagement rates for photos are 37% higher than plain text
  • In an ecommerce site, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing a product
  • In an online store, customers think that the quality of a product’s image is more important than product-specific information (63%), a long description (54%) and ratings and reviews (53%)

Read the rest of his blog post for some tips on integrating photos into your content.

Marketing Minute: Preparing for a 2021 Without In-Person Events

While we wait for the return of trade shows and other in-person events, join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute to learn about some of the ways your company can utilize the latest digital technology to effectively reach your customers, distributors and employees in 2021. He outlines three tactics to consider–social media, virtual training and webinars–and offers some tips for success when using virtual platforms.

 

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.

 

Happy Holidays from the Sonnhalter Team

Whether in Cleveland, or on the North Pole, 2020 was the year the world recognized just how much we need our professional tradespeople to keep the lights on, the water running and the reindeer fed. We’ve all experienced major changes to our way of life, but Sonnhalter would like to extend our appreciation to all essential workers for whom the job never stopped.

We are also grateful for another constant in a most unpredictable year: the support we receive from our wonderful clients, business partners and friends like you. We thank you for another successful year, and we hope you and your family have a safe, wonderful holiday season.

Sonnhalter, your B2T partner – let’s build something together.

Ways to Make up for Cancelled Trade Shows and Missed Opportunities

by Lisa Michaels, guest columnist

If your company has recently missed an opportunity due to a trade show cancellation or the postponement of another event, it can have a significant effect on your bottom line.

This is especially true for manufacturers who market products and services to construction, industrial or similar markets.

Trade shows are a huge opportunity to promote your company, connect with potential clients, do demonstrations and network for referral opportunities. Therefore, if you miss one, you need a way to make up for the loss of revenue and business benefits.

In this article, we will discuss several ways to do damage control for these missed opportunities. With these strategies, you can turn a bad situation into something that helps your company grow instead.

Without further ado, let’s get started:

Deploy Your Sales Reps

When a business event gets cancelled, many potential clients that you were going to meet are now disengaged.

You should get your sales reps to reconnect with these companies and attempt to maintain the relationship and gain new sales deals. Here are some ways you can do that: (more…)

Sonnhalter Wins Multiple Silver Davey Awards

Sonnhalter wins Silver Davey Awards in the Print Campaign-B2B for Design/Print and Social Features-Best Community Building & Engagement for Social categories.

 CLEVELAND – December 2020 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, won two Silver Davey Awards with its clients, General Pipe Cleaners and Kapro Tools. Sonnhalter won a Silver Davey with General Pipe Cleaners in the Print Campaign-B2B for Design/Print for General Pipe Cleaners’ new “Duotone Look and Feel” creative. Sonnhalter also won a Silver Davey with Kapro Tools in the “Social Features-Best Community Building & Engagement for Social” for the launch of Kapro’s influencer program.

For the award it received in the category of Print Campaign-B2B for Design/Print, Sonnhalter wanted to give General Pipe Cleaners’ print and digital creative a completely new look and feel that felt more contemporary to today’s audience. By using a duotone, high-contrast effect, Sonnhalter was able to develop creative that felt very modern and allowed the products in their distinct orange color to pop.

For the award it received in the category of Social Features-Best Community Building & Engagement for Social, Sonnhalter worked strategically in finding and pitching woodworking, DIY and contractor influencers in the U.S. and Canada who would be willing to use Kapro Tools’ products on upcoming builds and give honest opinions on the product’s features. Sonnhalter drafted personalized letters to accompany each package of Kapro product samples. Since the launch of the program in 2019, Kapro Tools’ number of Instagram followers has grown more than ten times its original number of followers, and the company has greatly increased its presence and credibility across many crucial online communities.

With nearly 2,000 entries from across the U.S. and from around the world, the Davey Awards honors the finest creative work from the best small shops, firms, and companies worldwide. The Davey Awards are judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA). The AIVA is an invitation-only member-based organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media.

“These awards are a testament both to the collaborative relationship Sonnhalter has with our clients and our ability to incorporate the latest trends in order to help them resonate with a modern audience,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Sonnhalter is very pleased to be recognized for our efforts by these industry experts, and we extend our appreciation to them, as well as General Pipe Cleaners and Kapro Tools, who made winning these awards possible.”

About the Davey Awards

The Davey Awards exclusively honor the “Davids” of creativity, the finest small shops, firms, agencies, and companies worldwide. David defeated the giant Goliath with a big idea and a little rock – the sort of thing small agencies do each year. The annual International Davey Awards honors the achievements of the “Creative Davids,” who derive their strength from big ideas rather than big budgets. The Davey Awards is the leading awards competition specifically for smaller agencies as they compete with their peers to win the recognition they deserve. Please visit www.daveyawards.com for more information.

 

 

Pricing in a Volatile Market

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com.

We are in unchartered waters of a global pandemic and macroeconomic uncertainty. In this environment, how should businesses adjust their strategies to best address the unpredictable market?  Are price cuts – or price increases – warranted to protect growth and margins?

Pricing in a volatile market is challenging. Dramatic pricing decisions can have a lasting effect on the profitability profile of a business long after a downturn. Conversely, best-in-class businesses use market volatility to their advantage by identifying opportunities to maintain, and even expand margins and reset their profitability. Now is not the time to overreact. Rather it’s a time when data analytics can help considerably to make informed decisions. With the right strategy, tools and approach, businesses can turn what appears to be a poor market situation into greater profitability and improved market positioning in the long-term.

What To Do

Resist the urge to immediately lower pricing. Impulsive decisions often have unanticipated consequences. If competitors respond with their own price reductions, it could start a price war that will decrease industry profitability across the board and reset the competitive dynamics in the market for years to come. A lower price in the downturn becomes a new normal in the minds of customers and sets new reference price and margin expectations for the business. And when the market rebounds, there’s no guarantee that price increases can recoup lost profitability.

In the same vein, don’t mirror competitor behaviors without a data-driven strategic review. These actions may trigger a race to the bottom all market participants want to avoid. Try to balance the need to stay competitive against implementing a policy that will reduce industry profitability. (more…)

Marketing Minute: Why Your Company Needs an Instagram Account

Over the past decade, we’ve watched Instagram transform from the “app with all the cool filters” to an essential marketing tool for companies marketing to the professional tradesman. Its video capabilities, poll/Q&A functions and other interactive features have become extremely useful for companies to showcase new products, spread the word at trade shows and connect with customers in ways that were not previously possible.

 

Join Matt Sonnhalter for a Marketing Minute to learn more about the exciting potential of incorporating Instagram into your social media plan!

 

To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover.

 

Are You Using Landing Pages?

No matter what kind of promotion you’re doing, when going after the professional tradesmen, the bottom line is you want them to ask for more info and ultimately make a sale. You can’t do that in an ad (print or digital) by itself. You need those that are interested in whatever it is you’re selling to go somewhere to get more info. Effective landing pages make it clear what the visitor is going to get by visiting the site.

A landing page is ideal for a next step in the lead process. good landing page will target a particular audience using a unique page that allows visitors to download the appropriate content (you wouldn’t have the same offer for say a tradesman and for a design engineer). They also help you track and monitor activity by offers so you know what works and what doesn’t.

Landing pages help segment markets, capture leads and make it possible to monitor advertising effectiveness.

  • By directing them to a specific page with an offer and the appropriate form to fill out, it makes it more likely that they will complete the form and convert to a lead.
  • If your visitors decide to download your offer, why not invite them to share your content?
  • Lead nurturing is a very important part of the process. 50% of those who respond aren’t ready to buy just yet.
  • 78% of sales that start with a web inquiry get won by the first company that responds.
  • By sending a follow-up thank you to those that downloaded material, you have the opportunity to offer them additional info and downloads, as well as asking them to share it with others via social media.

If you like this post, you might want to read:

Are You Using Landing Pages to Help Qualify Leads?

Tips on Making Your Landing Pages Better

 

 

Manufacturers: Help Your Contractors Have Online Success

Many contractors have trouble navigating the digital scene. Here are tips that you can share with them to help them get noticed and sell more of your stuff!

 

Contractor’s Online Success Strategy: Get Listed on These Four Websites

For service-providing businesses, like contracting companies, greater online visibility can almost immediately bring more business. People’s primary way of finding somebody to do a job for them is by doing quick online research. In order to increase your chance of being found online, one of the simplest things you can do is get listed on websites for contractor services. Here are some websites worth considering.

HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor.com

HomeAdvisor.com

With over 487,000 likes on Facebook, 26,200 followers on Instagram and more than 40,400 followers on Twitter, HomeAdvisor is one of the most popular websites for home service professionals.

HomeAdvisor’s web platform is extremely user-friendly. There is a very wide array of home improvement categories to choose from. Homeowners pick one, describe their needs and they get matched with up to four professionals. They can also read reviews of a particular contractor’s services.

HomeAdvisor offers contractors a robust, user-friendly system that lets you categorize and organize your leads, keep track of communications, and connect with prospects via phone or email with the touch of a button. Its mobile app lets you take these tools on the road to help you stay on top of your pipeline.

CraftJack

CraftJack.com

CraftJack.com

CraftJack is a very versatile web tool which allows you to do a lot more than just get listed in a search directory.

CraftJack works much like a social network but one geared exclusively towards contractors. Each contractor has a unique profile page, which they can use to promote their business. You can use it to showcase your finished work by posting photos and videos. Plus, the page will display your overall customer rating.

The CraftJack Pro app allows contractors to connect with homeowners, receive job alerts, schedule work, and request reviews right from their mobile device. CraftJack comes with a feature called Lead Manager, which can help you get more leads and referrals. You can even get discounts on the leads you win (e.g. by contacting a lead within 30 minutes of receiving the notification).

ACCA

Acca.org

Acca.org

ACCA stands for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. But that doesn’t mean that only HVAC contractors can get listed. The website also works for contractors in refrigeration, plumbing, home and building performance, etc.

The way the website works is very simple. There is a search engine which homeowners, builders or building owners can use to find a contractor based on a variety of criteria, such as proximity, the kind of work they perform and the market segment in which they operate – commercial, residential or government. Site visitors can also find instructions on how to choose the most suitable contractor and see a list of questions they may want to ask the contractor before the work begins.

While you can get listed even if you are not a member, becoming one will grant you some extra benefits, such as opportunities to network during ACCA events or discounts on accreditation programs.

Angi’s List

Angi’s is for contractors who work in the areas of home and yard improvement, as well as auto and health services. The website claims to be used by more than 6 million US households.

There are two ways your business can get listed in Angi’s List’s search directory. The first one is if a customer that is really pleased with your services adds you there and recommends you as a professional. The second one is if you create your own free profile where you can list your areas of expertise, follow your ratings and respond to customer feedback.

If you receive a negative review, Angi’s List will give you the opportunity to talk to the reviewer and hopefully have the review removed. Bear in mind that you should have a valid license, because Angi’s List gives homeowners the option to check if you are licensed and bonded.

Some Additional Advice

These four websites will give your business great visibility and increase your chances of getting more business. But there are two other things you should also do. First, get listed on Google My Business, so your business can appear in the “sponsored ads” column of Google search results. Second, try to get listed in the .gov website of your state, as this will give you some extra credibility.

What steps are you taking to advertise your business and make sure you are visible online?

 

National MFG Day Opens Doors to Entire Month of Awareness

by Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

Today, October 2, is National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) and like everything in 2020, it didn’t present the same opportunities as it has in past years.

MFG Day is a team effort to change the perception of the industry, in order to give manufacturing a facelift, as well as address the labor shortages in the industry by connecting with a new generation. The day helps reveal the reality of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging U.S. companies and educational institutions to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders.

While this year’s global pandemic drastically reduced the opportunity for manufacturers to open their doors to open houses, manufacturers were encouraged to hold virtual events and partner with organizations to showcase their unique opportunities.

Although the first Friday in October is designated as MFG Day, it takes more than just one day. The Manufacturing Institute is encouraging manufacturers across the country to use the day to kick off an entire month of awareness as we are reminded of the important role that modern manufacturing plays in each of our lives.

Use this powerful opportunity to bring awareness to the high-paying, rewarding and meaningful career opportunities in the industry and to open minds to what’s possible with a career in modern manufacturing.

Here’s a quick look at manufacturing:

 

 

Sonnhalter would like to thank all the organizations, manufacturers and educators who help make this important initiative possible every year!

For more on MFG Day, read: Host a Successful Manufacturing Day Event

It’s That Time Again — Strategic Planning

As we enter into the final quarter of 2020, (and we think we can say with absolute certainty that we are all anxious for 2020 to be over!) we find ourselves in the midst of strategic planning for the upcoming year. 

Our friends over at Long & Short of It, masters of ideation, customer insights and market research, provided some thoughts on strategic planning during this unprecedented time. Their mantra is “dig and find lots of data and then turn it into actionable insights.”  Following is their guest post. 

We’re all a bit tired. Psychologists are calling it pandemic fatigue and even Zoom fatigue. It’s basically just getting burned out because our normal routines have changed for a prolonged period of time and we don’t have a good sense of when we’ll finally settle into our new normal (not our favorite term either).

STARTING A NEW WORK INITIATIVE MAY BE HARDER THAN IN THE PAST. 

But there are some basics that must continue or are now in need of a reboot, such as updating your strategic plan. If your organization doesn’t have a strategic plan for 2021 or if it was created pre-pandemic, now is the time to either create one or revise the one you had. Customer purchasing patterns, competitor strategies and other factors have dramatically changed since early this year.

According to McKinsey, over 75% of U.S. consumers have tried a new shopping behavior since the outbreak of COVID-19. They have either tried new brands or shopped at a different retailer. They are also caring more about how companies take care of the safety of their employees and the company’s purpose.

Companies are also pivoting in what’s being called the big reset. Leaders are modifying how they manage, technology use has increased, core processes modified, and they are finding new ways to innovate. It’s very likely your organization has been doing a lot of these same things. If so, your strategic plan needs to reflect these changes.

A GOOD STRATEGIC PLAN IS GROUNDED BY YOUR MISSION AND BUSINESS OBJECTIVES.   

Once those are established,

  • Update the insights you have on your customers, competition, financial performance/drivers, and other areas as needed (legislation or political landscape, technology developments, employee engagement, etc.).

  • Review and validate if your vision for where you want to be in the next 3 to 5 years is still what you want to achieve.

  • Review or develop the strategies and supporting tactics to achieve your vision.

  • Finally, ensure metrics are in place to measure your progress along with how the plan will be managed.

A PLANNING SESSION CAN HAPPEN VIRTUALLY.   

With many teams working somewhat remotely, this can be done virtually. We’ve done it this way and can help you with it. Let’s chat and learn how to effectively run a strategic planning process virtually. It can be surprisingly fun and more productive than some in-person sessions. It’s important to do this now and not hope that your original map is good enough since the road to your destination is very different.

Here’s another guest post from Long & Short Of It: “Generic Values=Generic Culture”

 

 

 

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

As a marketing communications firm dedicated to the business-to-tradesmen (B2T) industry, we quickly realized the tremendous impact COVID-19 would have on all facets of our business. We set out to develop resources to help businesses during the pandemic, and also educate ourselves by hearing from all types of industry voices on the effects of the pandemic.

Through extensive research and interviews with a number of key industry stakeholders, we began creating this content at the start of the pandemic and continued throughout the ensuing months to examine the effects and compare them to effects that were initially predicted for the future of the industry.

 

In our “COVID-19 Tip Sheet,” you’ll discover how manufacturers, media, distributors and influencers adjusted to the challenges of this new normal. The coverage of the topic includes a five-part series with several editors, publishers and key personnel from the trade media industry, a three-part series of interviews with industry influencers, advice for COVID-19 internal and external communications and content and interviews from the distributor’s perspective.

You can sign up to download this comprehensive resource guide full of information regarding COVID-19 and its effects on the niche that Sonnhalter serves, here.

Need help with navigating your marketing strategies through this difficult time? Contact us. And check out our other Tip Sheets here.

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

CLEVELAND –  September 2020 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for an eleventh year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $27,000 worth of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected $310,000 in donations.

Sonnhalter team members Matt Sonnhalter and Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard load donations for the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity.

Organizations, businesses and residents were encouraged to donate new and gently used tools, as well as building materials, furniture and appliances, to Sonnhalter to help benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause of eliminating substandard housing and homelessness.

“This year, the Sonnhalter team had the unique challenge of putting together our Tool Drive in a way that could be safe and effective amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “While we anticipated a potential drop in community participation, we were pleasantly surprised and grateful to announce that our donations this year were as strong as years past.”

“Cleveland Habitat for Humanity eagerly awaits Sonnhalter’s annual Tool Drive,” said John Habat, president/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. “It replenishes our inventory and generates revenues to support our affordable homeownership program. Sonnhalter has been doing this for more than ten years, demonstrating again and again its commitment to affordable housing in Cleveland. Sonnhalter is a treasured partner.”

Community participants in the Eleventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included the Berea Recreation Center, Fear’s Confections, Frangos Group, Rising Star Coffee Roasters, Skidmark Garage, The Wine Spot and many individuals living in the community.

Trade industry participants in the Eleventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive included Airmaster, Beta Tools, Buyers Products, General Pipe Cleaners, Jergens, Inc., Kapro, KNIPEX Tools, Mortar Net Solutions, Samsel Supply, Sutton Industrial, Viega LLC, Winter Equipment, Wolff Bros. Supply and Woodhill Supply.

“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,” added Sonnhalter. “As we move into our second decade of this endeavor, we would like to thank our clients, partners and community members for their continued support in helping Sonnhalter raise nearly $310,000 for this great cause.”

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. The organization creates 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. During the last 32 years, Cleveland Habitat has brought together over 325 sponsor groups and 90,000 volunteers to help more than 275 Habitat homeowners, including more than 900 children, have a safe and decent place to live. Cleveland Habitat has provided working families who earn between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) affordable homeownership opportunities in 20 different Cleveland neighborhoods. For more information, visit: www.clevelandhabitat.org.

#     #     #

Are You Using Automation Tools to Help in Social Media?

We’re all trying to do more with less. When it comes to social media, it’s no different. We should be focused on content and use automated tools to help spread the word on social platforms. Every industry is different but following are some automation tools you should consider and an infographic on the best times to post.

Here’s a list of tools that will help you schedule and post your content at the best time: 

  • SocialOomph – Provides scheduled social posting services for individuals and teams. Has been around since 2008.
  • HootSuite – Allows you to manage up to 50 social media profiles, schedule your content and report your analytics.
  • Sendible – Allows you to efficiently craft tailored posts for each social media platform and collaborate with your clients and teams.
  • AgoraPulse – An easy-to use-social media management software that allows you to drive engagement and build authentic relationships on one platform.
  • Buffer – Helps you manage multiple social media accounts at once and easily schedule content.
  • ManageFlitter – Tools that help to optimize your Twitter account and identify your Twitter accounts’ prime time.
  • Facebook Insights – Provides information about your Facebook audience and how they are interacting with your page.
  • Later – Founded as the first-to-market Instagram scheduler in 2014, Later (formerly Latergramme) has grown from a simple Instagram tool to the number one visual marketing platform for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The following infographic by Zenesys will give you a ballpark of the best and worst times to post on various social media platforms.

 

Digital Transformation in Construction Businesses: Common Challenges and Solutions

by Lisa Michaels, guest columnist

The construction industry is slowly embracing digital transformation and using it in its design, project estimation, and safety perspectives.

However, some of the players are still hesitant about the new technological changes, making it hard to develop strategies aimed at streamlining the whole process.

Digital transformation is vital in construction. It helps to simplify complex processes such as resource traceability, communication, on-time project completion, productivity, and employee safety. These are all major hindrances to profitability and customer satisfaction.

Introducing digital solutions is a good move that allows construction experts to face and tackle the challenges faced during project management.

What Digital Transformation Means in Construction

Transforming the construction industry is not just about bringing in the latest technologies and incorporating them into the processes. It means addressing all old challenges using new technology.

This includes assessing the business and project needs, strategizing, and mapping the journey to ensure all future work is based on improved interrelated processes.

Digitization is a fundamental shift in business operations to ensure growth, efficiency, and profitability.

By adopting data-enabled field software and hardware and other vital digital tools, you’ll be able to sustain growth for your firm.

For instance, if you use drones or other UAVs for aerial photography, you’ll expedite the land survey using the best imaging techniques, data analytics, and topographic mapping software for informing the building strategy.

These tools can also help inspect sites for structural issues or safety hazards, helping to secure the sites. When used alongside 3D printing, progress reporting, and automated equipment tracking, these techniques can reduce the time, cost, and effort exerted in the entire construction process.

Common Challenges Related to Digital Transformation in Construction

Many new technologies are available to help construction businesses become more efficient and productive. While you may be enthusiastic and ready to embrace change, you also have to ensure that all stakeholders are on board as well. (more…)

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

by Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer

It has been more than five months since the Sonnhalter office transitioned to an indefinite work-from-home (WFH) policy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. And like thousands of companies and millions of employees all over the world, we have both struggled and thrived as we learn to live with this massive paradigm shift. While our stories may not be unique, we thought it would be a fun exercise to have a team roundtable and let everyone reflect and share the ways they’ve adjusted to life in quarantine and learned to thrive as best as they can in the “New Normal.”

When Sonnhalter initially started working from home, what were some of the initial adjustments you had to make to your daily routine in order to be productive?

Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman: I was fairly used to WFH from my time independent contracting for a few years. So, although I stopped getting up quite as early as I used to (5:45 a.m.), I still got up early every morning and took a shower and got out of my PJs. I tried to step away from my computer at lunch time and take a walk after lunch to break and refresh myself. It is proven that taking a walk can reduce stress, and studies have shown that going for walks can not only improve your ability to focus, but it can actually boost our creative problem-solving skills!

Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter: I had to get used to both my wife and I working in a two-bedroom apartment, which was not designed for having two people work remotely! Other adjustments include keeping in daily contact with my fellow employees (when I was in the office it was easy to just walk around the office and say “hi” and catch up with employees) and trying to figure out good natural and/or virtual backgrounds for video calls.

What have been some of the upsides of your experience working from home?

Andrew Poulsen: I had about a two-foot stack of books I was finally able to get around to finishing. I want to come out of this experience with some positives, so I’ve tried to fill the hours I used to spend going out, watching sports and shopping with educating myself. Also, my girlfriend and I had discussed converting our spare bedroom into an office for months, so quarantine forced me to stop being lazy and finally put the desk and shelves together to make it happen.

Sandy Bucher, Media Engineer: No commute! I never really worked on a laptop before, so I now have experience doing that. I am able to take the laptop out onto my back deck and work outside if I want. I can concentrate better with fewer distractions and noise. I’m able to spend more time with my dog, Charlie. I can do household chores throughout the day. I’m able to retrieve packages right away, so they’re not sitting outside.

Robin Heike, Production Engineer: Being able to login in as early as 6:30a.m. to start the day since I am up early. Not having to drive into work.

What have been some of the downsides of your experience working from home?

Angela Ruland, Design Engineer: Not being able to have in-person meetings with clients and coworkers. Emailing back and forth for everything can get old.

Matt Sonnhalter: Sometimes, the days start to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day”… (more…)

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

As all aspects of the B2T (business-to-trades) industry are challenged with navigating their businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we had the opportunity to gain some insights on this “New Normal” as it relates to the distributor sector of our industry. We gained insights by speaking to a couple of industry experts and learned how they saw the distributor sector adapting to this new environment.

Open for Business

When the pandemic first occurred, several major industrial distributors outlined COVID-19 safety precautions that they soon enacted in their facilities, including closing branches to the public except for curbside pickup, temperature screenings for all employees upon entry, staggered shifts and frequent deep cleanings. Smaller, local distributors followed suit, issuing statements on their protocols and not wanting their customers to wonder if they were still open. 

“The distributors that we work with were open, but the vast majority of them locked their doors,” said Beck Oberholtzer, regional and marketing manager, at CSV Marketing, Inc., a manufacturers’ representative agency offering a diverse array of high-quality, industrial products. “If the distributor had a showroom, there was no walk-in business and they were doing touchless delivery.”

“Most of the smaller distributors were not able to send their employees home,” added Oberholtzer.  “They still had employees working the phones and pulling orders, which were delivered or set outside. Some of these smaller, older-style businesses’ systems just aren’t set up to operate through the cloud. They have servers onsite and need people in the building to conduct business.”

According to Natalie Forster, editor of Supply House Times, a BNP Media brand reaching wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers’ representatives of plumbing, bath and kitchen, industrial PVF, radiant and hydronics, and HVAC products, as well as the official publication of the American Supply Association, “The biggest impact I’m seeing from the pandemic is that distributors are planning on keeping the switch to digital. Suppliers are realizing that they can be even more efficient with text-in orders and people working from home. This pandemic is going to be with us for a long time and the need for cleanliness is not going to go away. Many of the distributors, suppliers and showrooms plan to keep these changes in place.”

Forster reported that the majority of distributors had not allowed contractors to come inside when the pandemic initially hit, although it varied from state to state. Customer service, accounting and HR departments have been able to work remotely in order to keep the minimal amount of people in the showrooms and warehouses, and they have opted for drive-up, contactless service. As various states began reopening phases, suppliers implemented the typical precautions that you see elsewhere–face masks, lines on the floor and increased cleanliness.

At the beginning of the pandemic, contractors in some states, knowing that they were going to be deemed essential and that construction wouldn’t stop, came into the distributorships to obtain the supplies they needed for the remainder of their projects.

Supply Chain Challenges

Some suppliers had the foresight to predict that the pandemic would impact the U.S. in the way that it did, and proactively made mass orders to have surplus of inventory at hand. Other distributors didn’t have trouble getting inventory, other than the obvious PPE equipment, which was frozen by government mandates. However, others experienced minor troubles.

“The one trend that we heard, was that suppliers that get the majority of product from overseas, ran into the most problems,” said Oberholtzer.  “Manufacturers that are manufacturing overseas experienced a significant slowdown.”

In recent years, especially since the “Great Recession” of ‘08, distributors have tended to be very lean on inventory levels, for the most part stocking only what they must and keeping levels low.

“It will be interesting to see how distributors will react long term,” said Bill Via, president of CSV Marketing. “Margins have been forced down with online business. Why would a supplier want to hang onto inventory any longer than they must? We see distributors looking to suppliers that are really good at JIT (just-in-time).”

Staying in Touch … Virtually

As states are opening up, many distributors continue to be cautious.

“Some distributors are letting customers in, but they are not allowing salespeople in,” said Oberholtzer. “While others are not letting customers in but will meet with contractors on location. It varies, but salespeople ‘dropping in’ is not an option anywhere right now.”

According to recent survey stats from an HVAC buying group, when it inquired of its members whether distributor locations were seeing outside salespeople, it found that 37 percent were not allowing any in-person sales meetings, 46 percent were scheduling appointments for emergencies only, and only 16 percent were accepting in-person sales calls.

Manufacturers reps, whose entire job is interacting and building relationships with distributors and suppliers, are finding that during these unprecedented times, they must be especially creative at cultivating those relationships. The bottom line is more communication. More frequent video calls. More emails. More texts.

“Everyone is doing Zoom virtual meetings,” said Forster. “It’s so important to stay top of mind. Whereas, if you did an in-person meeting, maybe you went to a sports event and had a great time; that lingers for a while. Now, it’s important to be more proactive. And, I think the greatest challenge going forward is going to be figuring out how to maintain relationships with customers while sports events and gatherings aren’t happening.”

Due to social distancing policies, manufacturers that traditionally held distributor “Lunch & Learns,” to conduct product demos and education, are also turning to other avenues.

“We’ve also seen distributors embracing the opportunity for online training,” said Forster. “Training is more important than ever before—and it can be done virtually.”

Ramping Up E-Commerce

In response to the pandemic, many distributors are attempting to accelerate their efforts to revamp their e-commerce platforms. Smaller distributors that tend to be more “old school” generally haven’t implemented sophisticated e-commerce systems, if they have e-commerce at all.

“Larger distributors that had solid e-commerce platforms actually did very well so far during the pandemic, some even showed growth,” said Via. “Smaller, mom and pop distributors, who might not even have online purchasing capabilities, weren’t prepared to keep the business running off site. Those businesses have reported sales down anywhere from 30 to 80 percent, and I think they are realizing that they’ve got to proactively get e-commerce in place, or they may not survive the next pandemic.”

“I think some distributors are capitalizing on this time to ramp up (or launch) their e-commerce platforms to get them to where they need to be sales-wise,” agreed Forster.

New Opportunities

While some distributors are really grateful that they were located in less populated areas that were less affected by COVID shut downs, other distributors are predicting that the industry will see an increase in acquisitions, which it has already seen for years. Some of these acquisitions will be made strictly for their customer base or for their skilled employees.

“There is a real possibility that there will be some casualties because of the pandemic,” said Via. “We are also seeing distributors that have approached manufacturers for credit relief.”

“In addition, we’re seeing manufacturers that are offering extended dating and special shipping deals like prepaid freight to ease the stress for suppliers,” added Oberholtzer.

New Respect for the Trades

One interesting takeaway from the pandemic that several distributors noticed is that people seemed to have gained additional respect for essential workers and the trades, that perhaps was lacking.

“We’ve had a couple of distributors submit thank you letters acknowledging plumbers and other essential workers in the trades and requesting it to be published,” said Forster. “Now, people might be thinking, ‘It’s not a bad idea to be in an essential field.’ Maybe, if we activate this in the correct way, we can turn this into a positive and help address the skilled labor shortage.”

Made in the USA

Another silver lining in the pandemic is the move towards, “Made in the U.S.”

“We think there is going to be a real serious push towards domestically made products as we move forward,” said Via. “Imported products are going to have to be the only option, or suppliers are going to have a battle on their hands. There is a very anti-Asia sentiment in the market right now.”

“Initially, the reason why manufacturers went to China was cost,” added Oberholtzer. “When you change the equation with the risks involved with another disruption, as well as customers pushing back for domestic products, it makes sense to re-examine imported products. Over the next five to 15 years, expect to see a lot more manufacturing in America when it is possible.”

It’s great to see people coming together, not just in this industry, but across all industries,” said Forster. “We’re all going through this together. We are finding more efficient ways to do things, and everyone is trying to be as productive as possible. We are going to come out of this!”

To read more of the series or more about the effects of COVID-19 in the B2T industry:

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

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

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

 

 

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “New Normal.”

We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were adapting to this new environment. The following is part five of our five-part series.

CFE Media and Technology has provided engineers in manufacturing, commercial and industrial buildings and manufacturing control systems with the knowledge they need to improve their operational efficiency for the past 10 years. The company’s publishing brands include Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering and Oil and Gas Engineering.

We spoke with Matt Waddell, vice president of sales at CFE Media and Technology, who oversees the entire sales organization and ensures CFE provides its marketing partners with direct access to targeted engineers, market intelligence and best practices to accomplish their marketing goals.

When the COVID-19 pandemic initially hit, CFE immediately realized that its subscribers were, for the most part, working from home. Reaching multiple engineer marketplaces—plant engineering and manufacturing, control engineering, oil and gas engineering and consulting specifying engineering—its subscribers had an easier transition than many other industry segments.

“They either travel a lot and are used to working remotely, or they’ve been able to transfer computer capabilities and bandwidth to a home office,” said Waddell. “Other engineers within our subscriber base are considered essential workers that are represented by key markets like food and beverage-, pharma- and healthcare-related markets.”

Lend a Helping Hand

“We know that our engineering audience will remember those that have helped them during this difficult time, whether it was creating education or providing a free service,” said Waddell. “And, when companies find a way to help out, they definitely endear themselves to our audience.”

For an example, one of CFE’s partners, Bentley, created its, “We’ve Got Your Back Initiative,” to help its customers meet work-from-home challenges by making its software accessible and waiving its fees until the end of September 2020.

“Sophisticated marketers know that now is a bad time to disappear,” said Waddell. “We’ve talked to a lot of manufacturers that are interested in working with us to create content for the engineers to educate the market during this time.”

To address the changes that have occurred in the marketplace, not only with its subscribers, but also with its advertiser partners, CFE made several changes and created several new digital and virtual communication products.

Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic started, CFE launched a weekly e-newsletter titled, “COVID-19 Engineering Alert.” The e-newsletter was created in four versions, targeted with specific content to CFE’s four engineering markets, consulting specifying, control, plant and oil and gas. The newsletter provides engineers with up-to-date information about how this global pandemic is impacting the engineering community.

“We’ve noticed that our open rates and click-thru rates have been very impressive across all brands,” said Waddell. “Likely, because many engineers have more time working from home.”

No Show, No Problem

As more and more industry trade shows are cancelled or postponed, CFE found additional ways to keep its engineering audience up-to-date and allow its clients the opportunity to showcase their products. CFE brands typically attend the international Hannover Messe, International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), Pack Expo International, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). CFE also hosts the Global Manufacturing and Automation Summit (GMA) in connection with IMTS.

CFE created its Virtual Booth Visit as a way for manufacturers to showcase their products to targeted engineering audiences, despite the cancellations of these trade shows and other events. The Virtual Booth Visit is hosted online and is available for engineers to access on demand. It includes a 15-minute product overview presentation, a 5-minute demonstration video for the product and options for the viewers to download spec sheets or contact the product manager directly.

“If you were planning on launching new products or product updates at a show, we’ve got a virtual event platform solution,” said Waddell. “Our partners aren’t going to shows, so they likely have some budget to work with to find alternate methods to get the word out to their audiences without having the big party and the booth expo.”

At certain trade shows, for an example NFPA, the association uses the conference as a platform for fire and safety engineers to review, update and vote on codes and standards to ensure the safety of buildings and fire protection practices. These codes and standards must be followed by the AHJs (authorities having jurisdiction), municipalities and other government agencies for design purposes.

“As we come out of the COVID-19 era, we know there are going to be a lot of dramatic changes,” suggested Waddell. “Not only are the codes and standards going to change, but as a result, there is going to be a demand for creating new products and solutions. It’s actually a great opportunity for both the engineers and manufacturers to be very involved in these updates.”

Regarding live events, CFE holds its annual Marketing to Engineers® educational seminar for its marketing partners. The seminar features industry experts presenting tips for successful integrated marketing campaigns and the latest marketing trends relevant to the engineering community.

“In the past, we’ve always held our Marketing to Engineers event live and in person,” said Waddell. “Unfortunately, this year we had to change it to a virtual live event. Now, more than ever, this event is extremely important because there are limited ways to communicate with engineers.”

CFE marketing partners had the option to access the same great content that they would have experienced in-person and they have the option to view it on-demand on any computer or smart device.

CFE also recently launched CFE Edu to provide continuing education to engineering professionals. Whether enrolled students need a refresher course on a particular topic or need to know the latest issues going on in the engineering industry, CFE Edu offers courses that touch on various topics. CFE’s new Virtual Training Week, which will be held October 5-9, 2020, is an additional way to further educate engineer subscribers and offer CEU and PDH accreditation at the same time.

“We’ve definitely seen an uptick in registrations for all of our products,” said Waddell, “Keep in mind that this is a small amount of data, but we have to assume that with our engineer subscribers stuck at home, they have more time to actually consume information.”

CFE believes that the ability for the engineer to consume highly educational content at their pace is resonating. And, the opportunity to earn professional development hours (PDH) or continuing education units (CEU) is also valuable.

In spite of the unique and difficult situation of COVID-19, CFE continues to roll out new products and look for unique ways to proactively get valuable information out to its engineer subscribers.

“We’re not letting COVID stop us,” declared Waddell. “We remain positive. And, we continue to keep the ideas coming, we keep learning how engineers are consuming content and we keep putting out the best vehicles to proactively help engineers during this time.”

To read more of the series about how the trade media is adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic and more about the effects of COVID-19 in the B2T industry:

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Donate extra inventory, demo models, tools and building materials that are no longer needed during the month of August to support Habitat for Humanity.

CLEVELAND – July 2020 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, is partnering with Habitat for Humanity again for its Eleventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive. In the past decade, Sonnhalter has raised more than $280,000 worth in donations for the organization.

From Saturday, August 1 to Monday, August 31, organizations, businesses and manufacturers are encouraged to donate extra inventory, demo models, tools and building materials to the Sonnhalter Tool Drive to benefit Habitat for Humanity’s cause and its efforts of eliminating substandard housing.

“When we held our first annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive ten years ago, we never dreamed that we would be entering a second decade of working on this endeavor with such a great partner as the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity!” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We really count on the generosity of businesses to clean out their extra inventory, overstocked materials and demo models, and donate to this very worthy cause. In our eleventh year, we’re looking forward to exceeding the generous donations of years past.”

Affiliates of Habitat for Humanity individually work with participants to sponsor fundraising activities such as tool drives. The Sonnhalter Tool Drive strives to engage businesses and organizations to look through warehouses for extra inventory and overstocked tools or items, as well as the community to look through their workbenches, storage lockers, basements and garages for duplicated or no-longer-needed tools and items to donate.

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity has completed more than 250 homes since 1987 and today, engages over 3,000 volunteers, who provide more than 93,000 hours of service per year to Cleveland’s most 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/I9F2H-qogyU

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, please contact Rosemarie Ascherl 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. The organization creates 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. During the last 32 years, Cleveland Habitat has brought together over 325 sponsor groups and 90,000 volunteers to help more than 275 Habitat homeowners, including more than 900 children, have a safe and decent place to live. Cleveland Habitat has provided working families who earn between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) affordable homeownership opportunities in 20 different Cleveland neighborhoods. For more information, visit: www.clevelandhabitat.org.

 

 

Independence Day Reminds of U.S. Manufacturing

The Fourth of July is more than fireworks, parades, cookouts and a day off. It’s a day that we recognize our country’s independence.

All of the red, white and blue that comes out for Independence Day brings U.S. manufacturing to mind.

Did you know…

  • Each dollar spent in manufacturing contributes $2.74 to the economy?
  • The majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S. are small? 
  • Manufacturing supports 11.74 million U.S. jobs?
  • In 2018, the average manufacturing employee made $87,185?
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 8th largest world economy?

These stats came from NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers). You can find these and other facts about U.S. manufacturing on their website.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

B-to-B Video is on the Rise: Are You Taking Advantage?

Does your company have a presence on YouTube? If not, consider these stats:

  • 2 billion monthly active YouTube users
  • 30 million daily active YouTube users
  • 5 billion videos watched each day
  • 500 hours of new videos are uploaded every minute
  • 500 billion videos shared to date

We’re a visual society and everyone loves to watch videos. Of B-to-B companies who are using videos, 80% of them reported positive results. From a manufacturing perspective, this should be a no-brainer. The key is to have a strategy and create compelling content. How-to videos, troubleshooting, new product launches are just a few that come to mind.

Some of the biggest challenges many B-to-B firms face are lack of manpower and budgets, followed by creating compelling content. Videos don’t have to be long or be made into a Hollywood production. There are inexpensive cameras (including a recent iPhone) and simple editing software that enable most videos to be created in-house. The key is content. You must provide the viewer something he or she can use. Keep the message clear, to the point and short.

Here’s an example of one of our Marketing Minutes:

 

According to a recent study by Demand Metric, the most important objectives of videos are:

Certainly, these top three objectives fit into your marketing strategy. So, what are you doing about capitalizing videos to enhance your marketing efforts?

If you like this post, you might want to read:

Why Should You Use Short Videos to Attract Professional Tradesmen?

12 Tips for Effective Tradesman Videos

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “New Normal.”

We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were adapting to this new environment. The following is part four of our five-part series.

SGC Horizon is a leading diversified media, content, marketing, data and events company serving the residential and commercial design and construction markets. The company has a collection of leading publication brands, including ProBuilder, Pro Remodeler, Building Design+Construction, Products, ProTradeCraft and Construction Equipment.

 

We spoke with Jeff Elliott, SGC Horizon Regional Sales Director and Principal.

Since 2018, one of SGC Horizon’s key initiatives is ProCONNECT, a series of events that bring leading building industry professionals together with top building product manufacturers for a day-and-a-half of confidential one-on-one meetings to discuss upcoming projects and explore solutions.

ProCONNECT is not just another trade show. ProCONNECT’s unique, one-on-one format and manageable size of up to 100 attendees and sponsors creates just the right environment for truly effective problem solving, high-level networking, and efficient use of attendees’ valuable time.

“ProCONNECT is kind of like ‘speed dating’ between key target audiences of builders and building product manufacturers,” said Elliott. “Since we launched ProCONNECT, our 12 events have produced more than 5,000 one-on-one meetings.”

Connecting Pros Virtually

“When COVID-19 hit, we were in the midst of holding an in-person ProCONNECT event for the multifamily market,” said Elliott. “It was held right when the pandemic was starting, and only three people canceled. We received positive reactions with productive meetings and great leads.”

Once the country started closing down and live events became impossible, SGC Horizon quickly responded to the new normal. “We knew that allowing people to connect virtually and engage in substantive discussions was going to be a valuable service we could provide,” said Elliott.

The company immediately launched Virtual ProCONNECT. “Keeping the health and safety of our audience members and building products customers in mind, we can keep connecting builders and manufacturers in an effort to establish and grow long-lasting partnerships—all from the comfort and safety of their home offices,” said Elliott.

The virtual ProCONNECT format brings traditional event ideas right to a home office. The event opens with an opportunity for attendees to ‘e-meet’ and continues with one-on-one private Zoom breakout meetings to discuss future projects and partnerships. Manufacturers meet with at least 16 builders over what amounts to a total of eight hours over two half-days.

ProCONNECT Produces Tangible Sales Results

ProCONNECT events have proven to be highly efficient for both attendees and sponsor companies.

“At a time when people are finding it impossible to meet in person, ProCONNECT is giving them an opportunity to keep their businesses moving along, said Elliott. “It’s a really good investment, where you can actually measure the marketing ROI and tie it back to orders. The feedback we are getting has been great.”

For more information on future ProCONNECT events, visit: https://sgchorizonproconnect.com

 

To read more of the series or more about the effects of COVID-19 in the B2T industry:

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

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

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

Let’s Improve Your Demonstration Skills

Each month, Alan Sipe, a contributing editor for Professional Distributor magazine, writes a sales skill article targeted to the independent business people who own and operate the various branded tool trucks you see parked at automotive repair shops  everywhere. Although this article is written for the automotive repair industry, the sales skills are applicable to everyone.

Practice feature, advantage, benefit selling … and create some videos.

All the cool stuff you ordered at your recent major jobber show or from your recent promotions is in and your mobile store is filled to the top. Your credit line is stretched to, or even past, its limit. Adding to this situation is the fact that COVID-19 is giving everyone good reason to keep their distance and be conservative with their purchases. Additionally, since most of us are not driving our vehicles very
much, our cars are not breaking down and the rate of collisions has decreased.

If you are still making your calls, each one must be more productive than ever. And if you are working from home, getting those sales is more difficult than ever. So, what’s a mobile jobber to do? The answer is to demonstrate your products better than ever. Remember: a presentation without demonstration is a wasted conversation. As a wagon jobber, you offer the technicians several benefits that other merchants can’t or won’t. Things like on-the-spot sales/service, repair or replacement of broken products, specialty products that are very hard to find elsewhere, a wide variety of products, excellent credit terms, and the knowledge to present the right tool for the job to be done.

What you cannot do is compete on price. Therefore, you must be a better salesperson than any online picture or description, and significantly better than the next mobile jobber coming through the door.

Let’s get to the point. If you want to sell more stuff, make your calls, give great demonstrations and ask for the order. Do that enough times and you will sell something. Do it better and better each time and you will make more sales.

It is very important for you to know the product features, advantages, and benefits before you start your presentation. The feature simply is what it is: “This unit has a USB port.” The advantage is what it does: “This USB port will power and charge your phone, tablet, and other electronics.” The benefit describes how it impacts the user: “This handy feature will help you keep your electronics ready for use at any time and stop those annoying dead battery delays.”

Again, the feature is simply what it is. The advantage is what it does. To you, the benefit may be so logical that you may feel silly mentioning it. Present it anyway! You are not selling to yourself; you are selling a product to your prospect. Don’t assume what they do or do not know. In fact, presume they know nothing and you will be better off. Think of it this way: your demonstration is no different than singing a song or performing in a play. Every time AC/DC performs “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” they sing every word. They leave out nothing, even though their fans know every word. Performing a demo is no different. Leave out nothing. That one little feature or benefit that you omit may be exactly the one that convinces your prospect to buy. (more…)

10 Tips for Effective Social Media Practices in Reaching Today’s Tradesmen

Social media is constantly evolving and presenting new opportunities for reaching and engaging with your audience of professional tradesmen. You might be wondering if you’re using your social media channels optimally? Or, would you be better served by switching to a new social trend?

As a longtime leader in Business-to-Tradesman marketing, we’ve developed 10 helpful tips that will help you integrate social media in your overall marketing program to effectively reach contractors in this niche space.

 

 

In “10 Tips for Effective Social Media Practices,” you’ll learn how to evaluate the social media you’re already using and pick the right avenues for connecting with contractors. The tip sheet shares the latest best practices for Instagram, as well as handling negative feedback and leveraging influencer relations.

You can sign up to download it here.

Need help with your social media campaign? Give us a call or email. And check out our other Tip Sheets here.

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

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

With the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic constantly looming, finding silver linings throughout this situation isn’t always easy. But with millions stuck at home with their phones acting as their main source of entertainment and social interaction, influencers and content creators in the trades have been able to use this time as an opportunity to expand their audiences, connect and engage with their online communities and use their platforms to spread messages of positivity and encouragement.

One of these content creators is Dustin Henson, owner of Rustic Customs Woodshop. Based out of Texas, Dustin primarily makes custom wood projects for customers, such as barn doors, dining room tables and built-in shelving units. On Instagram, Dustin is a very active voice in the woodworking and DIY communities, where he shares his projects and woodworking tips to his more than 13,000 Instagram followers.

Sonnhalter spoke with Dustin to learn more about how the pandemic has affected his personal and professional life, the nature of the content he creates and some of the positives he has experienced while staying home with his wife and kids.

Sonnhalter: What were some of the initial changes you noticed in your personal and professional life when the pandemic started?

Dustin Henson: In my personal life, I think it’s obvious. It’s been nice spending time with the family, but I think being stuck in the house has us ready to strangle each other. [laughs] Professionally, I was already booked two or three months ahead of time, so it hadn’t slowed down my business yet. I just don’t have as many new projects coming in. Probably about 90% of my stuff is barn doors or custom-built furniture for houses, where I have to go out and visit the homes to measure for those projects, so that’s been put on hold.

Did you notice any significant changes in engagement or follower growth on social media?

(more…)

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “New Normal.”

We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were adapting to this new environment. The following is part three of our five-part series.

Mechanical-Hub is an online industry resource for today’s plumbing, heating and mechanical contractors. Founded in 2012, its mission is to provide updated industry news and information to the trade contractor and to partner with industry leaders in media, contracting and manufacturing.

We spoke with John Mesenbrink, president of Mechanical-Hub, who oversees its one-of-a-kind website and digital ecosystem. Today’s busy contractors looking for information to help them perform their jobs more efficiently turn to the site for highlights of the latest industry news, originally written features, videos, new products and tools, weekly guest blogs and contractor resources. The “Hub” also features social media engagement on its social channels and is a cornucopia of unique and original information for contractors and a great place to connect with other professionals in the industry.

“We started almost 10 years ago as a digital-only resource,” said Mesenbrink. “In these unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic, we feel that we are in a good position to be flexible and to help our clients and their companies get their messages out. We can be the vehicle to help promote a brand.”

Online After-Hours Training

Many of Mechanical-Hub sponsors rely heavily on in-person training and trade shows to educate their customers. With these types of events canceled because of COVID-19, Mechanical-Hub felt that it had an opportunity to help companies by facilitating casual online training sessions.

A few companies expressed interest, and Mechanical-Hub has been conducting two online webinars each week, scheduled eight weeks out. Free to attendees, all of the informal educational webinars are recorded and archived on Mechanical-Hub’s YouTube channel for reference. There is a minimal fee for the brands to participate to defer the administration and promotional efforts.

With many of Mechanical-Hub’s audience considered essential workers and on the jobsite during the day, the consensus was determined that holding the sessions in the evening would be the most convenient for attendees. That timing proved successful. (more…)

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “new normal.”

We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were adapting to this new environment. Following is part two of our five-part series.

Babcox Media is a business-to-business media and information services company serving the auto dealer, auto care, tire, performance, commercial trucking, powersports and enthusiast markets. Its 100-year heritage is built upon its commitment to connecting audiences with quality content and providing clients with results-oriented campaigns. It delivers content through various assets across all channels and platforms to engage its audience.

We spoke with Sean Donohue, group publisher/vice president of sales at Babcox Media, where he oversees several brands, including AutoSuccess, Dealer Service, Motorcycle and Powersports News, BodyShop Business, Engine Builder, TechShop and Professional Car Washing and Detailing.

Betting on Video … Even Before COVID-19

“Over the last 18 months, we’ve been making big bets on video, which is proving to be a good strategy,” said Donohue. “Eighty percent of content viewed online is video in today’s world.”

As tools get more complicated—and cars get more intricate, technicians are using video as a key training resource to conduct their jobs. Video allows technicians to learn a lot more, a lot quicker.

Since COVID-19, the demand for video has not slowed down at all, and, in fact, the video segment of its business has actually increased for Babcox Media.

“Everybody’s at home and there is a desire to want more content, to learn, to see what’s new, to see what’s next, and to be able to do that quickly in a video format,” added Donohue. “We’ve seen increased digital engagement in the last few months across our entire portfolio.”

Garage Studio Videos Soar

Noticing the video trend many months ago, Babcox Media recently completed its 5,000-square-foot Babcox Garage Studio in its headquarters’ bottom level parking garage, complete with three working bays, cars, lifts, tools and all the latest equipment from the leading manufacturers and suppliers in the industry. The studio provides the perfect backdrop to bring video content to life–whether it is a 2-minute how-to video on repair best practices or a 30-minute training video featuring a technical service advisor. ASE-certified technicians are on staff as writers that help facilitate the video content.

(more…)

SEO Checklist for 2020

Today we have a guest post from Pete Kever, president of K6 Digital Marketing, who has been leading the SEO, search marketing, website development and digital marketing for its clients. He’s been at it since before Google.

The World Wide Web has reached its “thirtysomething” birthday and is the base of the world’s digital information infrastructure. Today, according to websitehostingrating.com, there are over 1.74 billion websites containing many trillions of documents. With so many websites clamoring to deliver information to their target audience, search engine optimization (SEO) is as important as ever.

SEO is the art and science of attempting to gain a listing of website content on page one of Google, the world’s most popular search engine. If your content is not on page one, your competitors are getting their messages in front of your potential customers instead of you.

SEO helps businesses put their messages in front of people right at the moment they are searching for it.

SEO is Important to Every Business

Trades marketers and manufacturers need to care about their search engine rank. According to a recent Google study:

 

  • 71 percent of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search
  • On average, B2B researchers do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site
  • 89 percent of B2B researchers use the internet during the B2B research process
  • Nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials
  • B2B researchers who are not in the C-suite influence purchase decisions
  • 70 percent of B2B buyers and researchers are watching videos throughout their path to purchase

While there are a number of marketing strategies and services available to get the attention of online viewers, such as social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing and digital banner ads, SEO still offers the most long-term value.

We have developed a checklist of important technical and creative SEO tactics.

Pick Relevant, Focused Keywords

Based on your products and services and on what people are actually searching for, select a list of keywords and phrases that will lead people to your site who most likely will buy. This list becomes your keyword roster and is monitored; over time your rankings should increase for the important terms. Online tools are available for conducting keyword research and for monitoring rankings–a popular one is SEMRush but there are others.

Be sure to choose a mixture of highly popular, but more difficult keywords and long-tail keyword phrases–specific terms that are not used as often, but are less competitive and that tend to bring qualified traffic.

Write Useful, Engaging, Unique Content

Once you know the terms that are actually being used to find your products and services, you need to build content containing those keywords and phrases throughout your site. Professional SEO writers are valuable here, as they understand tactics like semantic search and keyword iterations and can weave keywords into on-page copy for the search engines that also help drive action from users.

Your site needs content that is both sales- and value-based, as well as educational. The sales and value content is optimized for keywords and focused on pitching your products and services. The educational content builds your organization as a thought leader and is useful for providing helpful resources that eventually drive purchase decisions.

Educational content–such as a blog–is also great for social media sharing and building awareness.

Make Sure All HTML Tags Are Optimized

Some HTML tags are absolutely essential for any SEO campaign and MUST be utilized if you want SEO success. Title tags feature keywords from your roster and are useful to search engines in understanding the context of each page. The description meta tag gives more detail on the page’s content is usually a reader’s first encounter with your website in the listings on search results pages.

There are rules and best practices for character-count limits and what to include in these tags if you want to maximize their effectiveness. Search Engine Journal offers a good primer on these essential tags for your online presence.

Build Inbound Links

The more links from other sites that link to your website, the better. The logic here is that other sites respect your site and are referring their traffic to your site. Your website is thus a healthy and participating component of the Web.

Be aware: links that are deemed “toxic” by Google and other search engines can actually harm the SEO rankings of your site, and disavowing bad links is an aspect of SEO that needs to be followed. Google Analytics can help with this SEO task and many others!

Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly

Google has begun displaying mobile content more predominately and is thus very interested in ranking websites that work well on a mobile platform. Google has even created a “mobile friendly test” tool to get insight into whether individual pages on your site pass basic mobile checks.

Make Sure Your Site Is Fast and Responsive

Since Google’s business relies on being the “front door” to web content, they are constantly looking to rank websites that have short wait times, load correctly and respond well to users. Therefore, it is important to constantly be checking your site for slow-loading pages, images that are very large, broken links and more.

Stay Connected with Customers and Prospects via Social Media

Social media sites like LinkedIn and Instagram are powerful tools to connect with your customers and prospects, and to increase your brand awareness. Social media does not directly influence your search engine rank, but well-known brands tend to get more clicks and engagement than unknown entities.

These platforms are other digital destinations where searchers can find out about your business and often you can provide a link on these platforms to come to your website. Just as “all roads lead to Rome,” many roads can lead to your website. Social media platforms are also useful in promoting special campaigns and offers.

Video Marketing

YouTube is owned by Google and indexed by Google with great regularity. More importantly, video content is highly popular–YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google. 68% of YouTube viewers have watched a video to help them decide upon a purchase. Having your company content on YouTube is a smart marketing strategy. Also, videos keep site visitors on your web pages longer.

Staying on top of SEO is an expense, but the long-term ROI is one of the highest among all forms of advertising and marketing. Once your website has been optimized and you continue to follow SEO best practices, you will see a payback over time, whether your goals are increased brand share, more leads, or more sales.

Make no mistake, whether you decide to pursue SEO or not, some of your competitors absolutely will.

Would you like to engage with Sonnhalter for SEO services for your industrial or manufacturing business? We’re here for you – please contact us to get the conversation started.

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

As we are all challenged with navigating our businesses through the realities of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that a number of the trade media have been nimble in responding to the “new normal.”

We had the opportunity to speak with several publishers in our B2T (business-to-trades) industry to learn how they were changing their tactics to adapt to this new environment. Following is part one of our five-part series.

As print readership has been declining over the past several years, many publications have been gradually making the move to offering digital issue options for readers who would prefer to receive their industry news on their laptop, tablet or smartphone.

One publisher doing exactly that is BNP Media. In business for more than 90 years, BNP Media is one of the largest B2B publishers, publishing nearly 60 titles that serve the architecture, engineering & construction, food, beverage & packaging, gaming & hospitality, manufacturing, mechanical systems (including plumbing), security and services markets.

We spoke with Dan Ashenden, group publisher of the Mechanical/Plumbing Group at BNP Media, on his organization’s reaction. The Mechanical/Plumbing Group publications include Plumbing & Mechanical, which targets contractors, Supply House Times, which targets wholesale distributors and PM Engineer which targets plumbing/mechanical engineers.

Digital-First Format

“Moving to an all-digital platform was part of BNP’s long-term strategy, said Ashenden. “The unfortunate pandemic we find ourselves in was simply a happenstance and motivation for BNP to say, ‘Why go slow with this plan?’ We’d already done the groundwork—we had been getting all our users registered and had started creating products that were trackable. And, our customers were demanding more digital options.”

On March 31, 2020, BNP co-CEO Taggert Henderson made an official video announcement that beginning with the April 2020 issues, BNP controlled subscription publications were moving to 100 percent digital-first format. (more…)

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

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

With the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic constantly looming, finding silver linings throughout this situation isn’t always easy. But with millions stuck at home with their phones acting as their main source of entertainment and social interaction, influencers and content creators in the trades have been able to use this time as an opportunity to expand their audiences, connect and engage with their online communities and use their platforms to spread messages of positivity and encouragement.

Sarah Listi, who runs Tool Girl’s Garage, is one of Instagram’s leading voices in the woodworking, home improvement and DIY communities. Based out of Texas, Sarah is a full-time tool reviewer, builder and all-around storyteller who has partnered with some of the industry’s biggest brands and built a loyal following of more than 51,000 Instagram followers.

Courtesy of @ToolGirlsGarage

Sonnhalter spoke with Sarah to learn more about how the pandemic has affected her personal and professional life, the content she creates and how the situation has affected her brand partners and the online community at large.

Sonnhalter: How has it been trying to create content in the midst of the pandemic?

Sarah Listi: There is a lot of fear and concern out there, so I try to generate content that is useful and positive. There is that feeling of, and I don’t want to say “obligation,” but you want to put out positive content when things are going on that are difficult to escape. This is a hard time. It’s weighing on everybody. So, I’m trying to stay positive and focus on what the content is meant to do, whether it’s meant to inspire, bring positivity or just be funny or irreverent.

What have been some of the challenges for you and how have you overcome them?

Trying to balance being a parent and being a content creator when there is no division. There is no school to divide up the day. My biggest thing is trying to stay as consistent as I was before, stay positive and focus on the good. There are many amazing things happening in the community, not necessarily just on social media, but so many people are showing up for others.

I try to be honest about how I feel. I’m very lucky to have followers who are very loyal and respectful and engage with what’s going on in my day-to-day life. I try to be transparent and honest because it’s just easier to be honest and be yourself than to pretend something else. I needed to own up to and address that it’s crazy being a mom, a teacher, a housewife and a full-time content creator right now. That’s a lot for anybody.

Have there been any unexpected benefits or positive experiences with your time at home?

While I am in the shop, my kids have been able to come in and help with sanding or to just ask a lot of questions. It’s nice, because before when they were home, I tried to just focus on them 100 percent so now that there’s a mix, I think they appreciate it and I think it’s good for the family dynamic in a way. It’s nice to have that connection. Like, my daughter was following me around with a sketchbook full of designs of things she wanted me to build her, which struck me. It was a cool moment for me because she’s learning that building and creating is so much more than the execution. There’s a planning stage and there’s an artistic aspect to it.

We had a scrap plywood family project I did with them over the weekend with Lowe’s “#BUILDTHANKS” project and they got a kick out of it. That was really fun and it reminded me of when I was younger and got to create something for the first time. There was a little bit of magic in there.

With everyone being stuck at home, did you see an increase in your social media engagement?

A lot of people are seeing engagement in higher numbers, but I’ve seen more increases in profile visits and followers. I was averaging about 850-900 new followers a week for a while, and now it is closer to 1,100. It’s significant, but not, say, a 300% increase or anything.

Courtesy of @ToolGirlsGarage

What has this situation meant for brand partnerships?

A lot of us have heard more from brands trying to get content together, because they can’t utilize those traditional marketing methods right now, like photo shoots, filming, etc. It’s been kind of interesting. I would imagine that [these opportunities] are probably going to keep growing, even after we get back to the norm.

What are some of the trends you’ve seen with fellow content creators and your followers during the pandemic?

One cool thing about social media is that we’re never alone. If I talk about having a rough time or a great day, they want to hear that and give you that feedback and they’re always celebrating those victories with you. For content, I think a lot of people are focusing on getting organized. We all wish we were more organized, especially in our shops, so we are all thinking about how we can make it better for when we are back to the norm. There are a lot of “build at home” initiatives and projects encouraging others to use scrap materials.

Any other ways you’re staying positive during this time?

I am trying to capitalize on family time. We are all home together, so let’s make the home that much better to be in. At the end of the day, when have we had this much time at home with our families? It’s a weird and huge shift. You have to find the good in whatever you can. Hopefully, we never have a situation like this again. It has been devastating to see this much fear, but all you can do is make the best of a bad situation.

To learn more about Sarah’s work, visit her website or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

To read part one of our blog post series, click here: Even During a Pandemic, Influencers in the Trades Build On: Part One

 

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

by Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

With the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic constantly looming, finding silver linings throughout this situation isn’t always easy. But with millions stuck at home with their phones acting as their main source of entertainment and social interaction, influencers and content creators in the trades have been able to use this time as an opportunity to expand their audiences, connect and engage with their online communities and use their platforms to spread messages of positivity and encouragement. One of the leaders in this online community of DIYers and woodworkers is Rob Rein of Ginger Woodworks. Based in Grand Island, New York, located north of Buffalo and south of Niagara Falls, Rob is a full-time social worker during the day and a practicing woodworker and DIYer to his nearly 80,000 Instagram followers during all the hours in between. Sonnhalter spoke with Rob to learn more about how the pandemic has affected and influenced him, his content and his online community at large.

Courtesy of : @gingerwoodworks

Sonnhalter: When the pandemic crisis began in the U.S., how did you initially respond?

Rob Rein, Ginger Woodworks: Initially, I saw it as, “How are we going to balance this new routine, but also be productive?” So, I went out and bought all the supplies I needed to finish all the projects in the house. All of us have projects we get into and they get left behind because the next project happens and it all just snowballs. We grabbed everything for some projects we needed to finish and had a staged setup ready to go. I wasn’t going to let the time be wasted.

Have there been any unexpected benefits or positive experiences with your time at home?

With my kids, they are always busy, but with all that stuff no longer happening, I’ve been able to include my kids into my work. My oldest, he’s learned electrical in one month. He’s been wiring the outlets at my in-law’s house. We showed him over the last couple weeks how to do the outlets, and now he’s replacing all the outlets in the house. Those are the wins. It’s good to remind folks that you have an opportunity to pass skills onto your kids who otherwise would be too busy. My wife and I are taking the opportunity to help our kids come out of this with actual life skills.

With everyone being stuck at home, did you see an increase in your social media engagement?

I have noticed that [likes and views] are probably up 20-30% from before. You have outliers, like a video or post that speaks to the community. You really have to make content that is a three-headed monster. It has to be a quality post, have quality writing and it has to engage people. Sometimes, you post something and don’t realize that people give a crap about it. For instance, I got these nail pullers. I could post a video of these and show people how to use them and it could flop. But I would take a chance on that, because it’s possible that a lot of people right now are doing home renovations or some kind of demo. All of a sudden, I get 74 comments that say, “Man I wish I would’ve had these last week,” or “Man, I’m gonna need that.” (more…)

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

Over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented set of challenges to not only our country’s workforce, but nearly all facets of our daily lives. While millions of Americans are being advised to work remotely or self-quarantine, our professional tradesmen are still reporting for work each day to keep the lights on and the water running. While this pandemic has brought on stress and uncertainty for many, Sonnhalter wanted to shine a light on some of the ways that those working in the trades continue to persevere, with some even finding new opportunities to succeed during this crisis.

Toilet Woes Still Require Plumbing Pros

With the well-documented toilet paper shortages across the country, people have resorted to using toilet paper alternatives that can wreak havoc on your plumbing, from napkins to shredded t-shirts. While those at home see these incidents as misfortunes, the recent increase of flushing improper items has provided an unexpected increase in business for some plumbers, like Michael Williams of Just Drains LLC in Philadelphia. “This is going to turn out fantastically for the drain cleaning industry,” he asserts. “People are flushing lots of things down the drain that should not go there – wipes, tissues, paper towels.”

Utility Company Workers are Redefining “Work from Home”

With hospitals filling up, people filing to the supermarkets to stock up and many telecommuting from their homes, it is unthinkable how much worse the crisis would be without power or natural gas. But in order to maintain operations, utility companies in New York and Florida have taken a new approach to both keep utilities running and abide social distancing guidelines by sequestering employees in offices, power stations and control rooms. According to the article, employees for these utility companies are trading off week-long shifts living in RVs and trailers at the company’s facilities in order to maintain power and natural gas services to thousands of customers.

Architecture Firm Uses 3D Printers to Make PPE Face Shields for Healthcare Workers

Some of the biggest heroes in our country’s response to this crisis have been the healthcare workers on the frontlines, and it has been encouraging to see companies using their resources and technology to help provide essential safety equipment. For example, HMC Architects is using 3D printers to manufacture PPE face shields and making them available to hospitals and clinics in its communities. The face shields are produced remotely by HMC employees, who are able to produce about 35 face shields per day from their homes.

National Association of Home Builders Provides Key Tips for Jobsite Safety

As construction jobs move forward, there is significant need for information that employers and workers can use to help reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) published guidance for construction employers, employees, contractors and companies conducting work on construction job sites on a number of topics such as coronavirus exposure prevention, preparedness and response. These documents describe, “how to prevent worker exposure to coronavirus, protective measures to be taken on the jobsite, personal protective equipment and work practice controls to be used, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and OSHA guidance on what to do if a worker becomes sick, including recordkeeping requirements.”

HVAC Technicians Implement “Contact-Free” Protocol to Keep Employees and Customers Safe

For necessary HVAC service jobs, some companies are offering “contact-free” protocol to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Technicians for these companies will call before heading to the job site, as well as calling when they arrive at the door. Technicians are also advised to maintain a six-foot distance from the customer at all times, wear masks and protective gloves and even offer video chat consultation if extra precautions are necessary.

We are living in a time where it feels like the situation is changing by the day, but one thing that remains constant is the courage and fortitude of the professional tradesmen and their ability to find new ways to providing all of their essential services. Know of any other innovative ways professional tradesmen are getting the job done during the pandemic? Email us at info@sonnhalter.com.

 

Will Tradesmen Be Safe From the Rise of Automation?

by Relena Jane, guest columnist

Article exclusively written for Tradesmen Insights

The rise of machinery and automation has been a constant thorn in the side of engineers, machine operatives and even farmers for many years.

As far back as the 1700s workers were revolting against the onset of technology. English textile workers rallied against the development and implementation of new machinery. They were known as the Luddites, a term that became synonymous with people who opposed technological advances.

It might have taken a couple of centuries, but increased understanding of technology is leading to more automation and AI involvement in our working processes than ever before. Slowly, but surely, machines have taken over from human beings. Think about your supermarket experience and the self-service checkout, or booking cinema tickets using your computer, collecting them from a machine on arrival.

Source: Pexels

Nowadays, algorithms are being used to mark essays in certain parts of the world, something that seemed impossible a decade or two ago. People are being used less and less in all forms of business, customer service and engineering. Will our dependable tradesmen, the plumbers and joiners of this world, be safe from the rise of automation?

To answer we have to understand how quickly technology is advancing. Manufacturing is one industry that has been hugely affected. Operatives have become scarcer on production lines, even when dealing with intricate assembly and manufacture of parts such as computer chips. Soon enough, AI will start disrupting this industry for the better, making processes much more efficient and quicker. The complexity of circuit board parts to create new machinery will be no more, and will lead to completely eradicating the need for human intervention. Thus, some areas will always need reactive operatives, but in far fewer numbers than before. (more…)

5 Tips for Communications During the Coronavirus Crisis

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

As we’ve learned from the fallout regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), this is a very unsettling time for businesses, and it has created many challenges for manufacturers, as well as their team members and customers. It’s important during times of crisis, such as we are experiencing, to maintain a calm, collected brand voice and keep the channels of communication open with customers, team members and stakeholders.

Here are five tips for effective communications during the COVID-19 crisis:

Form a Communications Leadership Team

Have representatives from every aspect of your business—C-suite, Marketing, HR, Operations, Sales, Legal, etc. so that you receive input on the different perspectives of how the crisis is affecting the individual departments and their functions. This team can vary in size based on the size of your company and should include a chain of command. From this team, appoint one or two official spokespersons that will be the only ones providing information on behalf of the organization. (more…)

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

The recent coronavirus pandemic reminds us that at any given time, organizations, communities, states and even countries can be faced with a crisis that requires effective communications with a strategic plan. Today seemed like a good time to dust off a past guest blog post from Nancy Valent of NMV Strategies on crisis communication.

 

Your phone rings.

It’s a CNN reporter wanting to know why your facility had an explosion, which injured five of your employees.

What is your response?

Probably the first reaction you have is to say: “No comment.” It seems harmless and a good safety net to buy you some time. In reality, your “no comment” starts a snowball reaction of assumptions that you are trying to hide something or go on the defensive.

Spokespeople who use this phrase are subliminally communicating that they are not being proactive or stepping out to really tell the truth. This type of response drives both consumers and business clients away and starts to degrade your brand and corporate identity faster than just saying in a very truthful tone: “I will get back to you in an hour with the facts and information, which I can confirm.”

Too many large, medium and even small manufacturing businesses operate under the philosophy that a company crisis will never happen to them. But, if it does it won’t get media attention and somehow they will ultimately handle it. If you research any of the past company crises that get national attention and talk to the manufacturing operations people who have lived through it, they will tell you everyone should be prepared for the sudden and the smoldering crisis…it can happen to you. (more…)

Sonnhalter Promotes Andrew Poulsen to Content Engineer

Andrew PoulsenSonnhalter promotes Poulsen from his role as public relations technician with the company.

CLEVELAND – March 2020 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, promoted Andrew Poulsen from public relations technician to content engineer.

In this new position, Poulsen is responsible for development and management of Sonnhalter’s public relations and creative copy for both the agency and its clients. His copy responsibilities include press releases, feature articles, blog posts, e-blasts, social media posts, print ads, digital ads and more. Additionally, Poulsen will uphold his previous duties of developing client publicity programs, conducting media and influencer relations, maintaining day-to-day contact with clients and other essential public relations functions.

“Over the past five years, Andrew has shown tremendous growth in his ability to write effective and strategic copy tailored to our business-to-trade niche,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Sonnhalter is excited for Andrew to expand his role and bring his strong copywriting skills to the creative side, where he will then be an even greater asset to our agency and the clients alike.”

Prior to joining Sonnhalter in 2015, Poulsen worked as a writer for various print publications. He was previously an intern for Billboard, and his work has appeared on Billboard.com and in Ohio Magazine, Cleveland Magazine, Fresh Water Cleveland and many other publications. Poulsen is currently a member of the Greater Cleveland chapter of PRSA. Poulsen earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University, located in Athens, Ohio.

 

About Sonnhalter

Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter is located in the historic Brownell Building in the heart of downtown Cleveland. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to 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.

#    #    #

Connect with Sonnhalter:

Facebook  ▪ Twitter  ▪ LinkedIn  ▪ YouTube ▪ Instagram

Content Marketing Research for Manufacturing

A recent study published by The Content Marketing Institute identifies issues that manufacturing content marketers are facing. The B-to-B sector has always been known to be slightly behind the curve when compared to consumer goods, but the manufacturing side is even farther behind. The good news is that this sector is willing to try things, and this study shows that they are now identifying things that work and are focusing on improving them.

One thing that definitely needs improving: too many manufacturing organizations are still talking about themselves instead of prioritizing their audience’s informational needs. While 51% of manufacturers regularly prioritize audience information needs, this number is quite a bit lower than the 73% of B2B North America content marketers who do.

So, how can manufacturing marketers reverse this? (more…)

3 Areas To Tackle Now For Bottom Line Impact

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com.

Several years ago, an Ohio-based specialty metal business made the decision not to charge for freight costs, even though their products were extremely heavy. The rationale? None of their competitors were charging, so they couldn’t either.

In reality, this company was No. 1 in the industry, so all those competitors were actually just following their lead. When the company realized what was going on, it had the opportunity to change the policy for its entire industry.

And so it did—collecting more than $1 million in additional revenues.

Smart companies know pricing strategy isn’t just about the price on the invoice. To have an immediate impact on your bottom line without formally raising prices, here are three areas to tackle first.

1. Freight Costs

If you’ve been operating for decades, your freight policies have probably been in place just as long. Maybe you don’t charge for freight at all, or fees are the same across all territories—or you charge the same as you did 50 years ago even though shipping rates have risen dramatically.

To start, ask yourself: (more…)

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

This year’s NAHB International Builders’ Show was as robust as ever, with more than 90,000 attendees and 1,400 exhibitors packed into the massive, 60,000-square-foot Las Vegas Convention Center. The show has always been a special and important time for builders, remodelers, design professionals, architects and specialty contractors to learn and share their new ideas.

Strong Educational Focus

The show offered more than 150 education sessions in seven different tracks and dozens of hands-on demonstration opportunities. Examples were the “Tech Bytes” sessions, which featured two stages delivered via headphones and attendees could choose the program they wished to follow by using a switch on the headset. The topics for these programs focused on technologies that are changing the home-buying experience and how attendees can better plan their projects and business operations. Other key highlights from the educational portion of the show included the “Game Changer” keynotes which addressed critical issues in the housing industry and the “High Performance Building Zone” which offered practical demonstrations on topics like blower-door testing and rainscreen-sliding details.

The Future of “Smart” Homes

From a tech standpoint, one of the greater themes from this year’s show continues to be “smart” technology and digital assistants and how attendees could incorporate them into their future home building projects. The CEDIA® Technology Pavilion gave attendees the chance to familiarize themselves with hundreds of products and ideas that they could apply to their kitchen, bath, energy efficiency and other construction and remodeling projects.

Another showcase for the latest in smart tech came from The New American Home® and The New American Remodel® model homes which featured some of the industry’s smartest and most energy-efficient products on the market. Some of the highlights from these models included motorized window shades, climate control solutions and in-wall touch panels for sound systems. (more…)

Marketing Minute: Trade Show Pre-Show Activities

We’re in the midst of trade show season, and admittedly, trade shows can be overwhelming.  Sonnhalter is here to help. In the first installment of our series of Marketing Minute videos on trade show best practices, Matt Sonnhalter reviews some of the pre-show activities that you can take advantage of to help make your next trade show a success. From reminding your contacts through e-blasts, e-newsletters and social media and sending postcards to the preregistered attendee list, to leveraging the editorial contacts in attendance, trade shows are great marketing opportunities when properly taken advantage of.

 

To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here. Let us know if there’s a B2T marketing topic you’d like us to cover.

Benefits and Challenges of Unpaid Influencer Partnerships

by Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

Lately, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of influencers in the trades. In fact, it has grown so much so that Sonnhalter clients are forming partnerships and relationships with these influencers much in the same way we would with traditional media. What defines an influencer can sometimes be broad, so there are categories like “micro-influencer” and “nano-influencer” that distinguish these social media content creators by the size of their audience. Many influencers make a full-time living by working with brands to make sponsored content that involves financial compensation. However, there are plenty of influencers who are slightly less established and are looking to start a relationship with a brand and are willing to make content in exchange for free product and cross promotional opportunities. Since the company is only sending product samples, unpaid influencer partnerships are great for increasing brand awareness and social media numbers when you have a limited marketing budget. Below is a real-world example that outlines some of the pros and cons of unpaid influencer partnerships.

The Origin of the Campaign

Photo Credit: @UrbanArborDesigns

One of our clients had a strong reputation overseas as one of the leading manufacturers of spirit levels, laser levels, and layout tools, marking and measuring tools, but had yet to make a major splash in the U.S. We had experienced a decent amount of success in getting this client featured in many key trade publications, but with the rise of influencer marketing in the woodworking, construction and DIY markets, we thought we could gain more traction with our time by exploring this new, grassroots approach. We wanted a better method for conveying the client’s product ingenuity in a way that was more interactive and visual. We figured that the quickest way to grab the attention and build our client’s credibility amongst the professional tradesmen on Instagram was to target key influencers within these communities that were connected to their followers and whose word would spread fast. (more…)

Manufacturers: How Are You Getting Closer to Professional Tradesmen?

By John Sonnhalter, Founder, Sonnhalter

Beyond the normal marketing tactics you do, what are you doing to get closer to your contractors and LISTEN to what their issues are? listening to tradesmen

May I suggest a tradesmen council? You all have brand advocates out there, why not get them together a few times a year? By doing so, you can get a better sense of what’s happening in their world and what keeps them up at night. It’s also an opportunity to run new product ideas by them before putting them into production. If you make the meetings about them and not you, the outcome will be more positive.

You know these guys talk to each other either through social media and forums or at trade events. Meetings can be planned around major trade shows or association meetings. You’d simply invite them to come in a day ahead of time for a half-day meeting.

I’d also suggest that some of the meetings be held at your location (at your expense) so they get to meet other members of your team. Keep these meetings on track with an agenda that includes issues they want to talk about as well. There also should be action items coming out of each meeting where they can see that you actually did listen and are taking some action. Note that all action items don’t have to have a positive resolution, but the council needs to know that you at least took it under consideration.

Other than the ultimate end user, do you sell through independent reps and or distributors? These should be on your radar screen to get closer to as well. Rep and distributor councils can also reap great results.

Reps are in the trenches daily and can give you valuable insights not only on the end user level, but also what’s happening at the distributor level. Distributors can give you insights on not only current avenues of business, but might be able to point out possible new areas of growth.

Bottom line is, I’ve seen firsthand what a well-planned council can bring to a company. It’s a great long-term strategy that will help you set your brand apart.

What do you doing to get closer to your contractors?

Like this post? Read How to get more out of your B2B strategies to reach the professional tradesman.

The State of SEO In Industrial Marketing

Today, most industrial marketers understand that their company’s website entails more than a nice-looking, professional site that is informative and responsive. SEO is an important component to generate traffic to your site and shouldn’t be neglected.

SEO is a constantly growing and evolving marketing tactic. Industrial marketers must optimize pages for key words and build links, and today, more than ever, make high-quality content available for improving search engine rankings. Search engines are continually changing and upgrading their algorithms, creating almost a mystique about when it comes to the best tactics to employ.

GlobalSpec recently set out to find out how industrial marketers feel about SEO. It conducted a survey examining the challenges, spending and content production processes.

According to the survey results of industrial marketers:

  • 72% actively produce content for SEO purposes in their organizations
  • 57% do not have any employees dedicated to SEO
  • 45% expect their spending on SEO to increase over the next 12 months
  • 19% are unsure of which SEO strategies work

A summary of the results is illustrated by GlobalSpec’s “The State of SEO in Industrial Marketing” infographic. The in-depth survey is available for download here.

Want more info about SEO in industrial marketing? Read blog post SEO Checklist or listen to podcast SEO in Manufacturing: 3 Things You Need To Be Doing.

How to Use Content to Reach Contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Founder and Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

We all want to get our message in front of contractors. In order to get more mileage out of your content, you need to tie it to your strategy.

We need to help contractors with solutions to their problems, a better technique or tool for the job. A different process that will save time and money. Online training for their workers.

We’re all so concerned on getting our message out that we sometimes miss other opportunities to use the same content (message) and deliver it differently.

I recently read a post by John Jantsch, 10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content, that brings this into perspective. Contractors get their info in several formats. Have you tried any other ways of delivering your message?

Here are some highlights from John’s post:

  • Turn your content into a series of videos that the sales team can send out on an individual basis
  • Do a webinar and feature it on your website
  • Develop an infographic and send it out in an e-blast
  • Testimonials. Locate contractors who are already happy customers to give you testimonials, either written or on video.

You don’t need more content – you need the right content in the right context.

Want to read more about content for contractors?

How To Repurpose Content for Contractors

5 Ways to Engage Professional Tradesmen Using Content Marketing

 

Sonnhalter Honored with Multiple PRSA Rocks Awards

Marketing firm wins gold award in “Brand and Reputation” category on behalf of Kapro Tools and bronze award in “Media Relations: Trade” category on behalf of Weldcote.

CLEVELAND – December 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, received a gold award in the “Brand and Reputation” category and bronze award in the “Media Relations: Trade” category at the 17th Annual Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Cleveland Rocks Awards competition.

Sonnhalter received the gold award in “Brand and Reputation Management” for the U.S. influencer program it launched for Kapro Tools, a manufacturer of spirit levels, laser levels, and layout tools, marking and measuring tools. Sonnhalter worked strategically in finding and pitching woodworking, DIY and contractor influencers in the U.S. and Canada who would be willing to use Kapro products on upcoming builds and give honest opinions on the product’s features. Sonnhalter drafted personalized letters to accompany each package of Kapro product samples.

Within the first year of Sonnhalter fully implementing Kapro’s influencer program, the number of Kapro’s Instagram followers has more than tripled. Without ever paying more than the costs of shipping free products, Kapro has greatly increased its presence and credibility across many crucial online communities.

Sonnhalter received the bronze award in the “Media Relations: Trade” for its trade industry media presentation at FABTECH 2018 for Weldcote, a welding products manufacturer. Weldcote was exhibiting for the first time at FABTECH, a large, industry trade show, so Sonnhalter developed a plan four months before FABTECH 2018, identifying the tactics, messaging and budget and presented it to Weldcote. Sonnhalter invited trade media attending the show that cover the welding/fabricating industry to a media event arranged at Weldcote’s booth after show hours. Weldcote received immediate product coverage in industry trade publications that were showcasing highlights from FABTECH and the company became a source for several feature articles based on the connections made with media members at the show. (more…)

Finding Common Ground within the “Millennial Mindset”

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

“Millennial Mindset,” hosted by Walsh University faculty members Ron Scott and Amanda Gradisek, is a podcast that pairs Baby Boomers or Generation Xers with Millennials who work in a particular field and tries to find common ground and understanding between the two generations. As Millennials continue to increase the size of their footprint in the modern workplace, there has been a decent amount of pushback and skepticism from older generations who maybe struggle to see the value in what Millennials bring to a company. Millennial Mindset helps show the parallels between the professional journeys of both generations and how they can help each other succeed.

Ron Scott, Walsh University faculty member, Andrew Poulsen, content engineer at Sonnhalter, and Amanda Gradisek, Walsh University faculty member, during recording “Millennial Mindset.”

 

Earlier this year, I sat down with Ron and Amanda to discuss my journey and how it led me to working in public relations for a creative agency. For this episode, Ron and Amanda also spoke with Brian Brinkman, a graphic designer of more than 25 years who runs his own agency in Canton, Ohio, OnTheBrinkCreative. While the two of us work in different disciplines and come from different generations, there was certainly a lot of overlap in our career paths and what we value in our respective professions. I encourage you to listen to the entire episode yourself, but here are three major takeaways I had after listening back to our conversations with Ron and Amanda.

  1. Having an open mind can allow you to be an artist without being a “starving artist.”

After graduating from Ohio University with a degree in journalism, I initially had my heart set on moving to a big city and taking a job at a newspaper or magazine where I would write about exciting things like rock and roll, art, movies and politics. (more…)

Matt Sonnhalter talks changes in the marketing industry

Sonnhalter’s Vision Architect, Matt Sonnhalter, was interviewed for Crain’s Cleveland Business’ regular “Source Lunch” to talk changes in the marketing industry, running a family business, and more!

Read the article at Crain’s Cleveland here.

 

Matt Sonnhalter Source Lunch

 

Help Impact the Future of Manufacturing: 2020 Ohio Manufacturing Survey

Today we have a guest post from MAGNET (The Manufacturing and Growth Advocacy Network) organization that has a mission for helping manufacturers grow and compete in Northeast Ohio, especially the 98% of startup to medium-sized manufacturers that drive our economy. MAGNET rolls up its sleeves to provide hands-on support ranging from new product design to operations and brings education and business together to create tomorrow’s manufacturers. 

MAGNET needs your help. By taking 20 minutes to complete its survey before the end of the year, you can help impact future legislative decisions, offerings and services, as well as use the survey results to help your own organization.

At MAGNET, we’re inspired to drive regional impact by supporting small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies in areas of product design and development, process innovation and automation, operational excellence and engagement, and more. 

But for us to supply you with the right services at MAGNET, it’s imperative that we gain insight into the current Northeast Ohio manufacturing landscape. That’s where the survey comes in.

About the Ohio Manufacturing Survey

This year’s survey is your opportunity to impact how key stakeholders across manufacturing make decisions for our industry’s future. By giving us 20 minutes of your time, you can:

  • Impact how legislators and key stakeholders make future decisions
  • Shape the offerings and services of manufacturing support organizations
  • Use the results to benchmark how you compare to other Ohio manufacturers

And as a thank you for your time and responses, you’ll get the following upon submission:

  • Your choice of any one of 12 different business books
  • FREE admission to one of our report rollout events—Cleveland, Akron, or Canton in February 2020
  • $5 to Harvest for Hunger donation made by our sponsors for every response

The survey deadline is December 31, 2019. This survey is limited to businesses that produce physical goods, with production locations in Ohio.

Make Your Manufacturing Voice Heard

Every response creates a more powerful view of the state of manufacturing in Ohio. Submit your responses to the 2020 Ohio Manufacturing Survey.

Want to read another guest post from MAGNET?

Manufacturers: Avoid These Three Frequent Failures of a Product Launch

 

Skills Gap Awareness: Are We Making Progress?

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

It’s been a while since we talked about one of our hot buttons: the ongoing skills gap in manufacturing and the trades. It’s good to see that the topic is very much alive and getting continual, positive coverage in the media. Are we slowly experiencing a shift to bring young people back into skilled traded positions? Is the stigma for blue collar positions slowly lifting?

Plenty of industry leaders are doing their part to help bring awareness.

Lincoln Electric recognizes this issue and is leading the challenge to change the perception of manufacturing jobs, which as CEO Christopher Mapes points out, “When people think about welding, they typically don’t think high-tech. Instead, they picture workers with their heads enveloped in welding helmets. That’s not what welding is today…Welding is robotics. It’s metallurgy. It’s software engineering.” Read more about Lincoln’s initiatives for tackling the skill gap here.

Skilled trade’s biggest proponent, Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe, who recently published, “The Way I Heard It,” believes, “The skills gap today, in my opinion, is a result of the removal of shop class and the repeated message that the best path for most people happens to be the most expensive path.”

 

While 40 years ago we needed more people to get into higher education, the pendulum swung so far in the direction of promoting higher education, that it has alienated an entire section of the workforce, skilled trades. With 7.3 million skilled jobs unfilled in our country (and 1.6 trillion in debt from higher education), we desperately need the pendulum to swing back.

It seems the messaging is starting to get through.

This recent article articulates how trade schools are now touting how blue-collar professionals such as plumbers, electricians and mechanics make more money than workers whose roles require a college degree.

Perhaps the trend against four-year-college degrees has begun. Many of the fastest-growing professions do not require a bachelor’s degree, and some do not even require a high-school diploma. Could the new six-figure job be trade work?

Let’s hope that more and more of our young people (or people considering a career change) look at skilled trade positions as a viable option for their career path.

If you found this post interesting, check out these additional posts on the topic:

Skills Gap: We’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Using the Gender Gap to Close the Skills Gap