Sonnhalter Partners with Habitat for Humanity for 12th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive

CLEVELAND – July 2021 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, is partnering with Habitat for Humanity again for its Twelfth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive. In the past decade, Sonnhalter has raised more than $310,000 worth in donations for the organization.

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

“We never imagined how big the tool drive would become! Over a decade later, we are still working with our wonderful partners at the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Since our efforts began in 2010, we are once again counting on the generosity of our clients and business colleagues, as well as businesses to clean out their extra inventory, overstocked materials and demo models, and donate to this very worthy cause. We’re looking forward to exceeding the donations of past years.”

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

Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity has completed more than 300 homes since 1987 and today, engages over 3,000 volunteers, who provide more than 93,000 hours of service per year to Cleveland’s most distressed neighborhoods. The donated items will be used for Habitat for Humanity projects or will be sold at one of the organization’s ReStore, a recycled building materials store. Proceeds from ReStore sales are used to help Habitat build and rehabilitate homes for those in need.

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

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

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

About Sonnhalter

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

About Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity
Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity engages people of all faiths to eliminate substandard housing. We create hope by building and fully rehabbing homes, strengthening neighborhoods and reweaving communities. Cleveland Habitat was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987. Cleveland Habitat has brought together over 275 sponsor groups and 87,000 volunteers to help more than 300 Habitat homeowners, including more than 1,000 children, have a safe and decent place to live. We have provided working families who earn between 30 and 80% of the area median income (AMI) affordable homeownership opportunities in 20 different Cleveland neighborhoods. For more information on Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity visit http://www.clevelandhabitat.org/.

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How to Build a Manufacturer Representative Business Plan That Really Works

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, “16 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.

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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.

Angie’s List

AngiesList.com

AngiesList.com

Angie’s List 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 Angie’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, Angie’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 Angie’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.

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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.

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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

 

 

Marketing Minute: Trade Show Leads and Inquiries

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

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

 

Are You Attending STAFDA in Nashville This Week?

Are you attending the STAFDA Show in Nashville this week? If so, check out our exclusive

Insider’s Guide to Nashville and use this guide to help you get around the “Music City”  during your free time.

• Want to know where the locals like to eat barbecue and hot chicken? We have the insider information from our friends in Nashville.

• Need tips on nightlife and sightseeing? It’s not just honkey-tonk and saloons. It’s a great place to check out one of the countless live music venues. We made a list of shouldn’t-miss recommendations.

• Have you ever driven in Nashville? We have you covered with taxi and limo services.

See you downtown at the Music City Center…or at one of the great places in our guide!

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

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

Last summer, we published a blog that outlined some of the best practices for running an Instagram account for your company. Since then, Instagram has grown to be arguably the most useful social media tool for the trades. If you’re still new to Instagram, we encourage you to go back and read the blog and some of the basics for getting your account started. Say you’ve set everything up, posted some cool product shots, gained a respectable number of followers and have a pretty good understanding for how the app functions. The next step is to take advantage of some of Instagram’s more advanced features and strategies that can improve your ROI, grow your number of followers and increase your brand’s visibility. Here are a few things to consider incorporating into your Instagram strategy moving forward.

Influencer Marketing

One of the fastest-growing marketing strategies on social media, particularly Instagram, is what’s known as “influencer marketing.” Influencer marketing is when brands collaborate with opinion leaders in an online community, known as “influencers,” to create content that endorses a product. This collaboration is typically done for a monetary fee, free products or a combination of both. What that content looks like varies between influencers and is usually negotiable. Content can range from a static shot of the product with a written review, to photos or videos of the product being used in the field or for building something in a workshop.

Finding the right influencers in your target audience can build credibility by using a trusted source in the community and, thus, increase sales. Like the online forums of the past, professional tradesmen use Instagram to be a part of a bigger community within their trade, and these influencers are often considered leaders within these communities whose word matters. Ingratiating yourselves with these influencers can go a long way in terms of improving brand recognition within these targeted groups. (more…)

Generic Values = Generic Culture

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.”

MOST COMPANIES HAVE A SET OF VALUES. MOST OF THESE STATED VALUES ARE GENERIC AND QUITE FRANKLY, MEANINGLESS.

Take this test. Pull out a copy of your organization’s values – remove your company name and logo from it. Replace it with another company name. Does it work for them? Could it apply to that company? If so, then your company values are not distinct enough to have meaning and value. A company like a person needs to have unique values similar to your personal values which cannot easily be shared by anyone else. This is important because the culture of your company is a reflection of what the company values – it guides employee behavior and decision making. The more generic the values, the more difficult it is for employees to know what to do or how to represent the company that is in alignment with the culture. 

For example, here are the values of a company:

Communication – We have an obligation to communicate. Here, we take the time to talk with one another… and to listen. We believe that information is meant to move and that information moves people.

Respect – We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment.

Integrity – We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it.

Excellence– We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do. We will continue to raise the bar for everyone. The great fun here will be for all of us to discover just how good we can really be. (more…)

How Can Manufacturers Get the Most Out of Their Marketing?

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

Being able to accurately show how well your efforts impacted a company’s bottom line is one of the biggest challenges marketing teams face every year. For years, the easiest indicator of a marketing team’s success was measured mostly in sales and lead generation. But with the rise of content marketing, influencer relations and social media in marketing plans, it’s sometimes difficult to accurately quantify exactly how all these tactics improve ROI. Regardless of where you stand on the value of these tactics, even the most stubborn skeptics will need to face the reality that content marketing, social media and other tactics for the digital age are here to stay. Unfortunately, most marketing budgets have yet to catch up with the financial and personnel resources necessary to successfully utilize these tactics.

Many of these challenges and concerns were addressed in IEEE GlobalSpec’s “Trends in Industrial Marketing Survey,” which surveyed 326 marketing and sales professionals in the industrial sector on marketing trends within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from the survey:

  1. Breakthroughs in marketing analytics have made it easier to calculate the ROI of a company’s marketing efforts.

“Marketers are under steady pressure to demonstrate ROI for their marketing programs. The need to improve ROI is one of the top challenges industrial marketers face. To meet this challenge, marketers use leads as their number one measure of success. But generating high-quality leads for sales is also one of the top marketing challenges. This may sound like a vicious cycle, and some marketers would agree, but the point is that measurement matters. Other measures of success include customer acquisition and sales attributed to marketing campaigns. Marketing automation software, which can improve tracking and measurement capabilities, is used by only 37 percent of industrial marketers.” (more…)

Influencer Relations: Is It Right for Your Brand?

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

Recently, you’ve been hearing a lot about “Influencer Marketing” or “Influencer Relations.” But what exactly is it, how does it work and is it right for your company’s marketing strategy?

Sometimes referred to as the “new media,” a comprehensive marketing communications strategy often will include influencer relations as a tactic for expanding a brand’s awareness.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is someone that has a large social media following and actively engages with its audience to “influence” them on his or her opinions. While “influencer” might conjure up ideas of Kim Kardashian touting the latest waterproof eyeliner or designer handbag, there are influencers in the industrial, manufacturing and contractor space, as well. While some of these influencers might not boast the same Instagram audience numbers as Kardashian’s 149+ million followers, their audiences can be very significant for the market they are in.

A large social media following can be relative. Nano influencers, with 1K to 10K followers, have small, niche and highly engaged audiences. Micro influencers, the next tier up, with 10K to 50K followers, are often the most informed opinion leaders in their niches and typically have a very engaged community of followers who rely on (and trust) their content.

If you are a nano/micro influencer in a niche market such as woodworking, developing relationships with companies that are promoting the tools or supplies you use can be mutually beneficial for both parties. For the influencer, it provides the opportunity to be the first to experience innovative products and share their experiences and opinions with their followers, providing appealing content that keeps their followers enthralled and looking for more. For the brand marketing products, it provides an authentic, engaging opportunity to get your products or services endorsed by an opinion leader and visibility in front of your target audience. Plus, repurposing influencer content is a great way to showcase the influencer and also add credibility to the brand.

According to research, consumers are much more likely to trust peer recommendations than advertisements. By finding the right influencers in your target audience, brands can build credibility by using a trusted source in the community and, thus, increasing sales. Even for the B2B niche, influencer marketing is about partnering with industry experts to add credibility, distribution and engagement to great brand content.

Questions to answer before launching an influencer program

Before jumping into an influencer relations program, evaluate your company and its offerings and decide if it is a good fit for a program. Does your brand have an e-commerce presence? The idea is for influencers to drive awareness (and ultimately sales), so if there is not an easy, online process in place to purchase your products, now might not be the time to launch such a program.

Do you have an active presence on social media? If not, your effort will be wasted or certainly not amplified to the level that would move the needle for your brand.

Finally, are your products or services ready and ample? No point in engaging an influencer who creates intense interest amongst his or her followers, only to frustrate the followers when the product is unavailable or on back order.

Once you’ve decided that an influencer program is a fit for your brand, you’ll want to develop a strategy and set some goals and objectives and create a process. You’ll also want to track and measure your results.

Influencer relations vs. media relations

Influencer relations, as mentioned earlier, have been likened to media relations. Build and nurture relationships with influencers in a similar fashion as you do with the media. Influencers are interested in trying products they care about and many are looking for the next big thing to show their followers, in the same way a trade media editor may be looking to write about the next industry trend. But they are different, too. People tend to engage more with influencers than they do with traditional media. While someone may read a story and not necessarily share it online, they would be more inclined to share a post or image from an influencer.

Another difference is that the collaboration between brand and influencer is typically done for a monetary fee, free products or a combination of both. If your product doesn’t lend itself to being sent out to influencers, consider planning an influencer event where you bring influencers together at a trade show or industry event to experience your products and engage with their peers, as well as the brand.

Getting started with influencer relations

You may want to consider a trial run program, especially if upper management is skeptical, to see what type of success you can expect. Remember, like anything, curb expectations and allow the program to grow and gain momentum naturally.

Influencer marketing is here to stay and is growing to be an increasingly popular tactic for reaching target audiences and gaining market share. Getting influencers to persuade your audience can drastically work in your favor when executed properly.

Have questions about whether an influencer relations program is right for your brand? Or need help strategizing or implementing your influencer program? Contact rascherl@sonnhalter.com.

Stay tuned for our next post on influencer marketing, “Tips for Implementing a Successful Influencer Relations Program.”

 

 

 

 

Updated Sonnhalter Electrical Market Overview Now Available

Information on electrical market codes, standards and certifications, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  

At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen, industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the electrical market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Electrical Market Overview here.

 

 

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

CLEVELAND – September 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, partnered with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for a tenth year during its annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive, which ran the entire month of August and collected $28,000 worth of tools and building materials. Since Sonnhalter began its efforts in 2010, it has collected nearly $280,000 in donations.

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

 

 

 

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

Honoring the Trades, Building the Future

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman, Sonnhalter

It seems especially appropriate to address the subject of “skills gap” today, the third Friday in September, which is also “National Tradesmen Day.” National Tradesmen Day is a day where we honor the men and women dedicated to maintaining the complex infrastructure of our roads, cities, water systems and power grids. The skills and knowledge of those in the trades–electricians, plumbers, masons, mechanics, carpenters and everyone in between–ensure the jobs get done and businesses, homes and entire nations keep running.

While these professionals work day in and out to maintain their skills unique to their trade, the grim reality is that every day qualified workers retire, and the demand for skilled workers grows. In fact, as the country grows, the skilled trades are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the job market today. Their skills and jobs are so valuable, in fact, that training is available in nearly every sector of the skilled trade job market.

The problem is there are fewer and fewer students pursuing an education in the trades. Instead, they have been led to believe that it’s necessary to attend a four-year college in order to get a high-paying, satisfying job. It isn’t. There are other paths to a good career.

Build Your Future, an organization that aims to be the catalyst for recruiting the next generation of craft professionals, elaborates on the advantages of a career in the skilled trades in this guest post.

By 2023, there will be 1.5 million construction jobs that need to be filled. This shortage could be detrimental to the infrastructure and construction projects in America.

As the skills gap worsens, those with a lot of knowledge and experience in the crafts will be highly sought out with high-paying opportunities. Following the idea of supply and demand, this shortage has led to stable, high-paying careers for construction professionals.

With so much opportunity in the skilled crafts arena, it makes sense to explore the many options—and become part of the much-needed team of professionals that keep our nation running smoothly with their hands, their skills, their tools and their training.

Want to read more on the subject? Check out this post:

“Using the Gender Gap to Close the Skills Gap”

Are You Considered a “Trusted Authority” in Contractors’ Minds?

By John Sonnhalter, Founder, Sonnhalter

We all want to be recognized as leaders in our respective fields and in today’s world the current mantra is to be that “Trusted Authority.” To be a recognized leader in your field is not an overnight sensation. It takes time and you need to deliver more than just bells and whistles.

Mark Buckshon from Construction Marketing Ideas discusses this very topic. He uses the example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s role in leading architecture to a new level in his day. Wright truly was considered a trusted authority, and if you wanted a second opinion, you’d just have to ask him. Not everyone agreed with him, but they respected him.

 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

 

Time is one thing we have little of, yet it’s what it takes to position yourself and your company as the industry expert. Wisdom comes from experience and experience is gained over time. Much of your credentialing may come from the school of hard knocks. But that’s OK. We should learn from our failures and missteps.

Learn to share your expertise and solve problems instead of trying to sell contractors stuff. With social media, we no longer control the message or where or when it will be delivered. You need to learn to share your experiences via storytelling as opposed to a sales pitch. Show your expertise by telling contractors how you helped others solve a problem or gave them a better way of doing a job that resulted in them making more money.

To become a true authority, you need to deliver results beyond the ordinary. If you do this, you’ll be able to grow your business through referrals and repeat business. Contractors are very loyal, and they talk among themselves, so let’s make sure what they are saying about your company is good.

It’s a never-ending battle. You need to keep being ahead of the curve and continue to wow contractors. Remember, everything you do at the contractor level should answer this one simple question, “What’s in it for me?”

If you liked this post, read, “11 Tips on Marketing to Contractors.”

Manufacturers: Avoid These Three Frequent Failures of a Product Launch

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

Did you know 70% of all new product launches fail?

While manufacturers may feel a sense of urgency to introduce a new product or service to market, testing thoroughly before launch can mean the difference between success and failure. After all, simply launching a new product will not guarantee its success.

So whether you’re in the ideation phase of a new innovation, or zeroing in on your promotion plan, you’ll want to take into consideration these frequent failures of a product launch.

Lack of Market Understanding

Why do so many products fail? The answer is simple: failure to understand the market. Misunderstanding the market is equal to destroying a product before launching it.

We’ve all heard the old adage “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, why do it at all?” Instead of rushing to get several products to market with incomplete research, sales support, or inventory, manufacturers should consider planning for a few, well-thought out products in a given time period for higher profit margins and faster growth.

Read more.

Sonnhalter Adds Cleaning Technologies Group as New Client

CLEVELAND – August  2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, announces Cleaning Technologies Group (CTG) as one of its newest clients.

Founded more than a century ago, Cleaning Technologies Group is the industry leader in parts cleaning equipment and ultrasonic cleaning equipment for a vast number of applications. CTG provides parts cleaning equipment of various designs, including rotary basket and conveyor machines, benchtop cleaning systems, ultrasonic cleaning components and robotic cleaning systems as both pre-engineered platform products and custom designed systems. The company is comprised of three divisions, Blackstone-NEY Ultrasonics, Ransohoff and CTG Asia.

“We at CTG proudly stand behind our expertise and processes, but we wanted to partner with an agency that could work with us to revamp our brand to increase our visibility in the industry,” said Dave Melton, marketing manager at Cleaning Technologies Group. “Sonnhalter possessed the industry experience to develop key marketing initiatives that will leverage our leadership and innovation in a way that’s both modern and cohesive.”

Together, Sonnhalter and Cleaning Technologies Group look to create an open-ended plan for marketing support that will cover a variety of services, including creative messaging, media planning and public relations.

“Cleaning Technologies Group is a company with a storied history, an expansive list of cutting-edge technologies and a footprint in nearly every industrial market,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with them to further its presence as an industry leader and utilize new marketing tactics that are as up-to-date as the solutions it makes.”

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 Cleaning Technologies Group, LLC

Cleaning Technologies Group is a global supplier of the most innovative industrial and precision cleaning technologies available today. The company is comprised of three divisions, Blackstone-NEY Ultrasonics, Ransohoff, and CTG Asia. Serving the medical, semiconductor, electronics, aerospace, automotive, off-road, and many other industrial markets, its team has process knowledge and capability to meet the specific needs and the experience required to help make an educated cleaning equipment purchase.

 

 

How Effective is Your Social Media Strategy in Reaching the Professional Tradesman?

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter

Social media has been an essential cog in every consumer brand’s marketing machine for more than a decade, but manufacturers in the trade industries have been slow to embrace the many marketing advantages that come with social media. I believe this comes from the perception that social media had originally only targeted the younger generations, and with the average age of the professional tradesmen skewing higher and higher, these manufacturers felt more comfortable using more traditional methods with their marketing dollars.

However, with Facebook and Twitter both grossing hundreds of millions of users, it quickly became clear that almost any brand had customers and prospective customers on these platforms. While many companies in the trades have adapted and are actively using Facebook and Twitter to connect and engage with its audience, there are plenty of other digital and social platforms whose features can be useful to companies in these industries. And with only so much time, effort and money available, brands should examine all of these platforms and their potential and effectiveness in reaching the professional tradesman.

Here is a rundown of some of the most popular social and digital tools out there, how they help reach the professional tradesman and how well they do it.

Facebook

Despite its well-documented PR hiccups, Facebook still casts a wider net than any other social media network…for now. Facebook has more than two billion users, and there are more than 65 million businesses using Facebook Pages. Because of the sheer volume of users, every company should be on Facebook to regularly promote new products, announce trade show appearances, share positive media coverage and company news, etc. (more…)

Thousands of vocational programs, many ways to connect

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman, Sonnhalter

We’re in the midst of back-to-school season–which prompted us to update our vocational education database. And 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.

We 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.

Our most recent update features nearly 980 schools across the country, not including satellite or branch locations of each. There are almost 4,700 programs, offering different types of degrees or certifications. The types of programs include construction, electrician, robotics, welding, HVAC, plumbing, machine tool technology, among others. A separate tab for national programs and resources is also included.

Why would a marketing communications firm take the time to create and update such a resource? We hope our tool helps to 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. (more…)

Sonnhalter Updates Comprehensive List of Nation’s Vocational Education Programs

Agency updates and improves its list of more than 980 schools and 4,700 technical programs across the country.

CLEVELAND – October 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, updated its free database of vocational education and technical programs in the United States. The current database now lists more than 980 schools and almost 4,700 programs.

Originally launched in 2015, Sonnhalter’s vocational program database contains useful and easy-to-read information about each program, including addresses, phone numbers, websites and more. In addition to its new programs, each state in the database is listed separately, and there is also an updated page for national programs and resources. Other features include concise and easy-to-sort course titles.

The database serves as a tool for companies looking to implement more grassroots campaigns to recruit the next generation of professional tradesmen. The convenient and easy-to-use database is available for download and is designed to be sortable and searchable for a variety of fields, including program type, location, degree type and other important information.

“Sonnhalter understands the growing concerns faced by those in that industry, such as the nation’s skills gap and the struggle to attract young people to the trades after high school,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “Hopefully, with our latest edition of the vocational education database, companies will have a new tool that will make it easier to reach and inspire the next generation of professional tradesmen.”

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

 

About Sonnhalter

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

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

By John Sonnhalter, founder and rainmaker journeyman, Sonnhalter

Our workforce is aging faster than we can replace them, especially in the skilled labor category.

High schools used to push college as the only viable alternative to higher education. These graduates, with their liberal arts education, come into the workforce with no vocational skills. And individuals who lack the right skills or credentials, land in careers with little or no chance for meaningful advancement.

We’ve talked for years, now, about how many of our youth are missing opportunities in the workforce because they were thinking that they had to go to college. Let’s face it, college is not for everyone and for many who go to college, they end up in jobs that have nothing to do with their major.

In recent years, the media and the rest of the world have now started to pay attention to the lack of skilled labor to fill loads of trade jobs that, by the way, pay very well (sometimes better than four-year college degrees) and don’t have big student loans to pay back! And electrician, plumber or carpenters jobs can’t be outsourced overseas!

Here’s what Mike Rowe has to say about it:

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Sonnhalter Partners With Habitat for Humanity for Tenth Annual 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 – August 1, 2019 – 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 Tenth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive.

From Thursday, August 1 to Saturday, 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.

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.

 

“At last year’s Tool Drive, we were excited by the community’s response in donating more than $31,000 worth of tools, building materials, appliances and other items, bringing the total to more than $250,000 donated since our efforts began in 2010,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. “In our tenth year, we’re looking forward to exceeding last year’s total. We are once again counting on the generosity of our community as well as businesses to clean out their extra inventory, overstocked materials and demo models, and donate to this very worthy cause.”

Sonnhalter partners with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity for its annual Tool Drive. 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.

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.

3 Tips on Maintaining Good Relationships with Contractors

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

The cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to five times greater than keeping an existing one.

 

Unless you have a unique product that no one else has, you have to compete with someone for the business, and part of that process is building good customer relationships.

Contractors, for the most part, are loyal as long as your product delivers on its promises and you don’t treat them like dirt. Bottom line is, if you treat them right, they’ll be customers for life.

Not only will they continue to be a customer, but they will become an advocate for your brand. Contractors talk to each other and believe me, if your product doesn’t deliver on its promises, word will spread fast.

Here are three ways to cultivate strong relationships with professional tradesmen:

  1. Stay in touch. E-mail is probably the best and most cost-effective way to this. Make them feel important, even if it’s a quick e-mail to say “thanks for your business” or a follow-up note from customer service after they helped out with a problem. It will pay off long term.

(more…)

Pricing Challenge: Actual Versus Plan

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com.

Welcome back to INSIGHT2PROFIT’s 2019 Pricing Challenge! Each article covers a common pricing challenge faced by businesses and provide some tips to help improve your profitability.

 

Now that we’re about halfway through 2019, let’s talk about the plan you set for the year. How have you performed thus far relative to your plan?

If your performance hasn’t matched your financial projections for this first part of the year, what happened?  Maybe you’ve looked at your financial reports, and you see that your customer or product mix isn’t what you were expecting, or that you have been impacted by tariffs, and your profitability has suffered because of it.

That’s a start – having a rough idea of the shortfall – but you need to get to the root causes. Has a shift in your mix driven down margin rates? Are you falling short of plan due to a volume slowdown, or are pricing shortfalls eroding your revenue growth? How does that vary by market segment or by salesperson?

Analyzing the gap down to the customer-SKU level can yield clear, actionable intelligence about your problem. Well-run businesses have a strategy, and the budget is the road map to execute it. Planning at the same level of granularity as your sales allows for a healthier understanding of what’s happening within your business, why, and how to act. By having a detailed budget, you are creating a source of accountability for your team and a path for success for your business.

Accurate revenue planning and measurement is tough to do, but it’s one of our specialties. Every engagement includes strategy, a client-specific model, a detailed plan and road map to execute it, and measurement to achieve the set goals. All while leveraging our DRIVE technology platform.

To learn more about how your company can improve results for the remainder of 2019, schedule a time to talk to one of our profit experts today.

What’s your pricing challenge? Talking about pricing challenge, with tariffs ever present in the news, you may want to download our 3 Steps to Navigating Tariffs Guide.

10 Tips for Trade Show Marketing

Trade shows provide incredible opportunities for connecting with customers, developing relationships with the media and generating brand awareness for your company. The key to trade show marketing success is organization, proactive planning and comprehensive follow up.

 

In our latest Tip Sheet, we’ve laid out 10 strategies for making sure you’re taking full advantage of all the marketing opportunities associated with trade shows. Follow these tips, and you will be sure to maximize your company’s trade show presence.

You can sign up to download it here.

Need help with your trade show marketing? Give us a call or email. And check out our other Tip Sheets here.

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

We’ve talked much over the years about customer service and how important it is to resolve issues. And, we’ve also addressed the issue that customer service is everyone’s responsibility, from sales through tech support. Customer service is really all about your customers’ total experience.

This is true in our relationships with distributors as well as contractors. Manufacturers need to be careful, especially when business is on the uptick and attention to detail may come in second to short-term sales increases.

Don’t take your distributor and tradesman for granted. There’s always someone out there that can identify contractor’s needs and deliver—and it won’t necessarily be based on price or delivery—but on the total customer experience.

This article in HVACR Business by Jim Baston stressed, once again, how important customer service is in the big picture. Jim’s article is focused on the HVACR service business, but his points can be transferred to the manufacturing sector as well.

Jim breaks it down into five dimensions of service:

  • Reliability: Your ability to dependably and accurately deliver as promised.
  • Assurance: Your ability to convey trust and confidence.
  • Tangibles: Your personal presentation and the condition of the physical facilities and equipment.
  • Empathy: Your ability to demonstrate a high degree of caring and individual attention.
  • Responsiveness: Your willingness to promptly and courteously respond to customers’ needs.

As manufacturers, you need to understand your customers’ (distributors and contractors) needs. Remember that everyone in your company is in customer service. If you haven’t asked your customers what their needs are recently, maybe you should. Things change and their priorities might have too. Focus on what matters to them.

If you like this post you may want read:

Manufacturers: Are you keeping up with your customers expectations?

Customer Service: What Are You Doing to Retain Customers?

Updated Sonnhalter HVAC Market Overview Now Available

Information on HVAC market codes, standards and certifications, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  

At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen, industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the HVAC Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter HVAC Market Overview here.

Best Practices for Dealing with Negative Feedback on Social Media

By Andrew Poulsen, Public Relations Technician, Sonnhalter

When social media was in its dinosaur days, the technology’s potential seemingly capped out at reconnecting with old friends who live abroad, or more commonly, sharing with your peers that you were having a taco salad for lunch. Few would’ve predicted that social media would become not just a helpful, but an essential tool for companies to connect with customers in ways that are faster, easier, cheaper and more personal than almost any other asset within a marketing strategy.

Social media allows companies to speak with customers directly and display trust and accountability in ways that did not exist 20 years ago. However, for companies new to these platforms or unfamiliar with the volatile nature of Internet commenters, seeing countless strangers saying hurtful and profane things about your products or services in real time can be jarring, if not infuriating. Uncomfortable as it may be, these kinds of comments are inevitable. Even the most beloved brands in the world have comment sections filled with negativity from disgruntled commenters and trolls. The reality is that there is no way to avoid negative comments and reviews, but by internalizing some of these best practices, you can learn how to maintain an even keel and turn some of these upset commenters into lifelong customers.

Be quick to respond, even if you don’t have an immediate answer

Customers who leave negative feedback are often coming from a place of disappointment or unmet expectations. The last thing you want to do is make them feel like you are avoiding them or as if their opinion doesn’t matter. If someone comments on an issue they have with your business, publicly reply to the comment immediately, even if it is just to say, “Can you please email or message us with more details (more…)

3 Technology Trends Transforming Manufacturing

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.

The widespread adoption of technology is indisputably transforming manufacturing operations. But before manufacturers jump right in and fight for technology implementation and adoption, it’s important to understand how certain techs can work, how they’re used, and what benefits they may reap.

MAGNET details three common technology trends that are impacting manufacturing processes:

1. Expansion of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

2. More Emphasis on Cybersecurity

3. Continued Push for 3-D Printing

To read the entire post and download MAGNET’s 2019 State of Northeast Ohio Manufacturing Report, click here.

Why Should You Use Social Media in New Business Development?

In the traditional sales model, we identify our prospects and then use several tactics to get in front of them, qualify them and ultimately sell them. But, what about all the other potential users of your product or service that you don’t know about? Yes, some of them may find you through a referral or make their way to your website, but there are many more that may not ever know that you exist.

In most cases, especially for manufacturers who are selling more complicated products, there is a sales funnel you need to take prospects through before they are ready to buy. That’s great, but that only works if you’ve identified the potential sale.

Think of social media as your silent salesman. It’s out there bird dogging for you and taking a potential customer through some of the initial stages of the selling cycle.

Social media is a great way to connect with prospective buyers because they will find you based on what they are searching for (what kind of problem they are looking for a solution for) on the web. It allows you not only to connect, but to start a conversation. It allows them to get a better feeling for the company and how you go about helping people. In other words, you start building the “know, like and trust” model that comes with any sale, especially to new potentials.

Social media is a great way to educate prospective buyers because of all the tools you have available: Blogs, Forums, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. All are platforms for you to add value to the conversations by giving them great content, and it starts establishing you as an expert they can count on.

Social media is a great way to collaborate with potential buyers because of the tools like GoToMeeting, WebEx, Zoom and join.me or other technologies that allow you to connect almost immediately to help answer a question or show how to fix a problem. There are even listening platforms, like HooteSuite, Sprout Social and others that will help you monitor conversations around the areas you want to be in, and you can contribute at the appropriate time.

So, don’t just fall into business as usual. Think outside the box and give social media a try in your new business development efforts. You might be surprised as you may eventually identify a potential new customer that was never on your radar screen.

 

Sonnhalter and Viega Honored with PRSA Rocks Award

Marketing communications firm wins silver award in the “feature article” category for its article on the subject of water quality.

CLEVELAND – May 2019 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, received a silver award in the “feature article” category at the 16th Annual Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Cleveland Rocks Awards competition.

Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR foreman, Andrew Poulsen, PR technician, and Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect, of Sonnhalter accept the  silver award for feature article category at the PRSA Rock Awards.

The feature article, “Go with the Flow: Best Practices for Maintaining Water Movement in Plumbing Systems,” was written in collaboration with Viega, a leading manufacturer of pipe fitting installation technology. In 2018, Sonnhalter targeted and reached out to a top trade publication in the plumbing industry and pitched a feature article on the subject of water quality. Once accepted, Sonnhalter interviewed and collaborated with Viega personnel to develop an article that focused on how to reduce the spreading of water system-related illnesses. The winning feature article outlined a number of best practices for maintaining water flow and temperature with the intention of informing plumbing system designers and installers of some of the new ways to combat the risk of waterborne diseases. (more…)

Updated Sonnhalter Plumbing Market Overview Now Available

Information on plumbing market codes, standards and certifications, key trade shows, industry associations, buying groups, training providers, top distributors, industry publications, blogs, online forums and more.  

At Sonnhalter, we pride ourselves on working only in the B2T, or Business-to-Tradesmen, industry. And that means not only being up to date on what our clients are doing, but with their industries as well.

To that end, we have developed comprehensive Market Overviews for relevant industries, and continually update them. Our latest update is for the Plumbing Market. Please feel free to download, review and share, and if you have any questions, contact us.

Sign up for our updated Sonnhalter Plumbing Market Overview here.

Marketing Minute: Using an Integrated Marketing Campaign

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

 

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

How to Repurpose Content for Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

For those of you who might be looking for ways to generate more awareness and conversations, generating new content may not be your only option. It makes sense to use other social media outlets as a way to get your existing messages out.

To achieve higher reader engagement you need to know your audience, their habits and pain points. Different social media outlets reach people differently. So whether you’re looking to repurpose existing data or convert outdated info, consider delivering them in smaller bite size pieces using alternative avenues.

Looking for ideas on how to do this? This article in Social Media Examiner, “19 Tools to Create Social Media Content,” shows you ways to repackage existing material and use other social media outlets to get the message out. They outline several ways and give examples of tools to use.

Here are some highlights that I think manufacturers could use in reaching the professional tradesman:

Present your business via video. Tell your story, not the corporate one, but the one that talks about ways to come up with solutions to help contractors do their jobs better.

Use infographics. They are 30 times more likely to be read than pure text. People like visuals and are more likely to share them.

Convert long form content into slides. Use existing presentations and break them up into smaller groups. You can use them as PowerPoint presentations or there are programs that will easily allow you to incorporate animation.

Use podcasts to share your voice. Podcasts are one of the fastest growing mediums for social media and it comes as no surprise. Interview contractors and talk about the newest technologies. I’m sure you can come up with a multitude of topics to cover.

 

Sonnhalter Continues Support of Cuyahoga Community College With Annual Scholarship for School’s Construction Program

Agency’s fifth annual scholarship donation toward construction program adds to its longstanding relationship with trade professionals.

CLEVELAND – April 2019 – Sonnhalter, a marketing communications firm to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, continues its support of Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) “Construction Program Scholarship” with a $2,500 donation. This marks the fifth year in a row Sonnhalter donated to the program.

With more than 5,000 students enrolled, the construction apprenticeship program at Tri-C is one of the largest of its kind and helps students learn a valuable trade within the construction industry through quality assurance, drawings, project management, scheduling, problem solving and communication.

“On behalf of Cuyahoga Community College, we are very grateful for Sonnhalter’s continued generous support,” said Megan O’Bryan, vice president, development and president, Tri-C Foundation. “This gift helps students realize a dream that otherwise may not have been possible by providing scholarships which are an essential tool in ensuring access to the education and training our students will need to work in the construction industry. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of Tri-C students.”

Students receive up to 250 hours of classroom instruction, as well as up to 1,600 hours of on-the-job training. During their apprenticeship, students have the opportunity to earn wages and learn from experienced union workers and vocational instructors. Students who complete certification in the program will have the skills to take on careers that include cost/quantity estimating, project scheduling and CAD technician work.

“With the construction scholarship, I was able to improve my skills and enter into the Carpenters Apprenticeship Program,” said Brian, a 2019 pre-apprenticeship training graduate at Cuyahoga Community College.

“Each year, Sonnhalter is pleased to extend our support for this program and all the work it does to shape the minds of future hardworking professionals in the construction industry,” said Matt Sonnhalter, vision architect at Sonnhalter. ”These types of programs at Tri-C are especially critical as the industry faces a tremendous skills gap. We are pleased that we can help encourage students in our community by helping to provide career opportunities that they might not have considered.”

Sonnhalter developed an extensive database of vocational education and technical programs in the United States similar to Tri-C’s construction apprenticeship program. The database, which includes more than 20,000 programs, contains useful and easy-to-read information about each program, including addresses, phone numbers, websites and more. To download Sonnhalter’s updated, comprehensive list of vocational programs in the U.S., visit sonnhalter.com/vocational.

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.