Influencers on the Rise

Influencers on the Rise

By Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Not All Demonstrations are Created Equal

Not All Demonstrations are Created Equal

By: Alan Sipe, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

A “selling benefits” attitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in it for your customer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demonstrations vs. demonstrations

Now, back to the difference between demonstrations and demonstrations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, go sell something!

Author Bio

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

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National Apprenticeship Week

National Apprenticeship Week

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

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

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

Hands-on Training

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

Job Opportunities

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

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

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Plumbing, Piping and PHCC Connect

Plumbing, Piping and PHCC Connect

By: Kylie Stanley, PR Technician

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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AI Developments in Marketing

AI Developments in Marketing

by Kaylee Lauriel, PR Intern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Identify The Right Price Point in B2B Markets

How to Identify The Right Price Point in B2B Markets

By: ISURUS, guest blogger 

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

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

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

What the market pays today

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

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

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

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

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

Willingness to Pay: Gabor Granger Method

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

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

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

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

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

Optimal Price Point: Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter

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

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

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

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

Insights and Use Cases

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

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

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

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