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.read 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…read more >

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 Videosread more >

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…read more >

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…read 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…read 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…read more >

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…read more >

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? 15314read more >

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 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…read 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: 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…read more >

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. 14843read more >

New Year’s Resolution: Review Your Content Marketing Efforts

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman It’s a new year, and a perfect time to take a quick review of the past year. Before we start doing the same old thing, we should take a minute to make sure what we’re doing is getting us the results we want. We’re cleaning, purging and issuing new challenges in our personal lives, why not do it for our marketing lives? Makes sense, doesn’t it? As we are making these evaluations, it doesn’t hurt to check on industry predictions that can help us adjust our strategies to respond and align with recent discoveries. Heidi Cohen’s blog post makes 10 predictions for content marketing success in 2019 that we find valuable as we navigate the shifting landscape. Here are a few highlights: Content saturation continues to increase, which is raising the cost of content marketing necessary to break through and get acted upon. Instead of creating new content, improve and transform pre-vetted content and use content audits to keep content relevant and increase traffic. Customers expect more personalized content experiences. Segment your email and other communications to deliver targeted messages. Post sales experience increases in importance. While customers may buy from you once, if you don’t gain their trust, they won’t stay customers. Content formats continue to diversify. Due to the use of more devices and screens tailored to personal and environmentally relevant needs, content consumption patterns continue to change. Influencers including brands remain relevant for content creation and distribution. Work with micro-influencers who have deeper connections with their followers. Heidi has more predictions and recommendations, but the idea is to take the time to evaluate what you did last year, so that you can improve on it this upcoming year. Happy New Year! Let’s make 2019 a successful one.read more >

Why You Use Relationship Marketing When Trying to Reach Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect   I’ve always been a big believer in relationship selling. After all, we usually buy stuff from people we know, like and trust. Agree? So why not take that to another step in the selling process by using the same principles to your marketing efforts? This is especially true now that content and content marketing is such a big part of everyone’s overall strategy. We all have heard the saying that "Content is King and Community is its Kingdom," but what brings them together? It’s building solid relationships with contractors and tradesmen using relationship marketing.  I read a post by Wade Harman, Why relationship marketing is the key to your content, where he outlines a strong case for using this type of tactic. He points out that we need to know and understand what our target wants and needs. Contractors want solutions, not necessarily a sales pitch. You need to make yourself available in conversations with them... He also points out that we should collaborate with others that share the same passion. For an example, say your target is professional plumbers. You want to focus on products that will help them do their install better. You’re not interested (nor capable) in helping them market their plumbing business locally. Why not team up with someone who’s focus is just that, like Plumbers SEO.net or Darren Slaughter who specializes in contractor marketing. This blog focuses on helping manufacturers better communicate with contractors and professional tradesmen. We have three challenges: 1) identify our audience, 2) give them meaningful content, and 3) keep them coming back. One of the most important things I try to communicate is that to be successful, you must be able to engage and have a genuine relationship with your reader. Here are some steps to build those relationships: 13995read more >

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

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

Getting the Most out of Your Company’s Instagram Account (Part 1)

By Andrew Poulsen, PR Technician In less than 10 years, social media has evolved from a fun distraction to keep in touch with college friends and distant relatives, to an essential tool needed by any brand looking to engage with its customers or maintain relevance amongst its competitors. Regardless of how millennials feel about the Baconator® or Moons Over My Hammy®, brands like Wendy’s and Denny’s are winning over young people more and more every day with their funny and relatable social media presence. While not every company needs to adopt to the latest meme or pop culture phenomenon to have a healthy online presence, social media has opened the door for brands to be transparent and relatable in new and exciting ways. By now, companies from international brands to local muffler shops are utilizing Facebook and Twitter to engage and share company news, updates, sales, etc. But over the past few years, we’ve seen more brands incorporating Instagram into their social media plan. What was once considered a platform exclusive to tech-savvy young people with smartphones, Instagram is now just ubiquitous across all demographics as Facebook and Twitter. And businesses across all industries are starting to take notice. That’s because, if used correctly, the app’s photo and video features allow a new way for brands to give their audience a peek behind the curtain. Here are five ways your company can take advantage of the unique features Instagram has to offer. Give Your Audience Something Different Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all bring something different to the table, otherwise we wouldn’t need to be on so many different social media platforms. While this seems obvious, companies often make the mistake of letting their social media content be too similar across all platforms. Instead, companies should reward their audience for following…read more >

New Research Shows How Manufacturers are Using Content Marketing to Build Audiences

Guest post from Lisa Murton Beets, Research Director, Content Marketing Institute Are you delivering valuable, relevant, consistent content to your audience? If not, prepare to be ignored. There is just too much information available today, and only so much time in a day for your target audience to consume it. This is especially true for tradesmen, who spend most of their time in the field. That said, you should be delivering valuable content consistently (hopefully, to a subscribed audience via vehicles such as email newsletters), so when your prospect does need a product or service, your company is top of mind. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines content marketing as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 13515read more >

Change Your Definition, Change Your Business. Learn From Other Industries How to Manage Change

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter A recent Industry Week article by Becky Morgan showcases how a changing industry can adapt and thrive or fixate and die, and has some great advice for being on the right side of that divide. Her first point is to draw parallels between the state of manufacturing today and that of agriculture at the turn of the last century. Rocked by disruptive innovations, a changing marketplace and demographic shifts. And yet agriculture is still around. It’s fundamentally changed, but in a way that’s of benefit to consumers: more productive, larger scale, but with a core of, to use an overused term, “artisanal” craftspeople ready to cater to niche markets. She sees manufacturing developing in much the same way. 12641read more >

Using Content to Market Your Business

Today we have a guest post by Colin Cieloha of Skilled.co. Content marketing is changing the way that businesses promote their products and brands. More and more companies are choosing this option due to both its affordability and effectiveness combined. The problem that these businesses are having however, is how to choose which method of content marketing is best for them as a company. Some of the most common types are listed below: E-books 12621read more >

Why is the human aspect of selling making a comeback with tradesmen?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter No matter what you're selling, it's a relatively simple process. You have something that I want, we get together and make a deal. I've been in business for over 40 years and the selling process/cycle has apparently changed, or has it? We used to call on contractors, see what they needed, and hopefully was able to help them out by selling them something. All of this was done on a Human Level. We interacted with them, got to know their families and what they liked to do when they weren't working. Instead of trying to sell them something, we listened. I called it belly button to belly button selling. 12090read more >

Should you jump on the bandwagon?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter “It seems like a lot of companies are doing _________. Should we be doing it too?” Fill in the blank with any new digital tool: Virtual Reality, Facebook Live, Snapchat, Augmented Reality, etc. Marketers are asked to consult on new communication mediums and trends on a daily basis. When they aren’t asked to consult, they’re being directed to jump in. Once upon a time marketers were asked about email, then social media and apps. We’ve come a long way in technology trends. But the basic question is: Should we jump on the bandwagon? 11944read more >

Are You Maximizing Your B-to-B Blog?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter If you're a manufacturer and you don't have a blog, you should. Why? Because 4 out of 5 B-to-B marketers use blogs. B-to-B blogs aren't new, but manufacturers are finding out that they are a good way of setting themselves apart from the competition, and according to the Content Marketing Institute, over 50% of marketers expect blogs to be critical in 2017. Challenges of B-to-B Blogs Even though marketers expect blogs to be critical in the coming year, most B-to-B bloggers have some challenges ... here are 3 of them: 10890read more >

What’s your Unique Selling Proposition to the Professional Tradesman?

I recently read an article by Mark Buckshon from Construction Marketing Ideas where he was talking about how contractors need to identify what makes them different from all the rest .It got me to thinking about farther up the food chain ( manufacturers) and how they all have hard time differentiating themselves.How many times have you heard the following:read more >

Why Interactive Content Matters when Reaching the Professional Tradesman

Interactive content will help you accomplish these goals. Contractors love to watch videos (both instructional and entertaining), they are always available to give you their opinions (polls) and they want to show you how smart they are (quizzes). Now not all your content has to be interactive, but I think you'll find that the content that will get the best play (read and shared) will revolve around interactive content.read more >

How Many Calls Does it Take to Make a Sale?

Why do many businesses have a problem following up with their prospective customers? Mr. Frey explained, “The problem is not that small businesses don’t have the capacity to follow up with prospects, it’s that they don’t have the systems in place to do it well.” In his recent newsletter, “Follow-Up Marketing: How To Win More Sales With Less Effort,” Mr. Frey advised, “A good follow-up marketing system should have three attributes:read more >

Emails are in for 2016

A recent study by email on acid reported that email marketing is going to remain a top priority for companies in 2016. Though we could have predicted this was the case, nearly three out of four companies (71.8 percent) say they are planning to spend more time on email production and more than four out of five (86.7 percent) report that they will increase email marketing budgets this year.read more >

Don’t Miss the Marketing Summit for Building Material Manufacturers

I'll be one of the guest speakers at the Whizard Summit in Boulder, Colorado in April. Mark Mitchell, CEO of Wizard Strategy, has put together a jam-packed 2-day conference for manufacturers of building materials on ways they can address issues with architects, builders and contractors. Here is a taste of what you’ll learn step-by-step in this two-day event packed with insights and strategies you can use immediately to generate sales.read more >

Top Posts of 2015

We've closed the books on 2015 and 2016 is already off to a great start. If you haven't already, now is a great time to evaluate what worked well and what didn't work for you in 2015 to calibrate your 2016 efforts.read more >

2016 Budgets: How Much are you Going to Spend on Social and Mobile Marketing?

Now that it's time for budgeting for next year the question is where are you going to allocate your dollars? There's always more opportunities than there is money to fund them.Social media- have you tried some efforts in it this past year? What were the results? What were managements expectations? Mobile marketing- Has this been on your radar screen? do you have plans to be mobile friendly in 2016? read more >

Reaching Professional Tradesman: Why Content Marketing Works When Advertising Might Not

Contractors and professional tradesman often don't have time to read the latest trade publication or look at the magazines' website on a regular basis and might miss your message. Chances are, unless you only make one product, their interest at any given time may be on another product.read more >

B-to-B Marketers: Why it takes more than three calls to make a sale

We’re all focused on generating more leads these days, but I find it ironic that most companies don’t do much with them once they get them. Simply fulfilling a request is not the answer, but yet many companies do just that. According to a survey of people who have requested info suggests that 80% of all sales are made on or after the third contact.read more >

5 Ways Construction Design Will Change Within the Next 50 Years

Today, we have a guest blog from Jessica Kane of Federal Steel Supply, Inc., discussing some of the new innovations expected to shape the future of the construction industry. New angles are being used for the advancement of construction design that will most likely be widespread within the next 50 years. Designers and architects are implementing new trends that could very well be profitable in building spaces for new offices and living establishments. Here are just a few: One Stop Design One trend that is already in play is the single design model. A common practice in planning is having an architect create construction documents. They are then handed over to the contractors to be edited and executed. This entire process is now shifting to be done all in one place to save time and money. So, all the outlining, engineering and construction plans are set and submitted to be built directly afterward. Sustainable and Efficient Solutions Being energy efficient is a constant concern in construction. So when new buildings are going up, construction around the world has established new ideas on how to conserve. New facades have been used to produce energy through a solar collection and to provide a natural cooling system. For instance, a designer in Melbourne, Australia, has developed a system which includes an outer layer of a side of a building that contains solar panels that shift to collect energy from the sun and provides optimal shading. Another useful technique that has become a sustainable solution in providing energy is the innovation of utilizing the shade of building faces,  as seen in Hamburg, Germany. A residential establishment has microalgae installed within glass panels that collects solar energy and creates heat through the process of photosynthesis. The panels can also be shifted in order to provide natural…read more >

Automate and ProMat: One Badge, Two Shows

I had the opportunity to attend Automate and ProMat in Chicago on behalf of two Sonnhalter clients (one at each show). A single badge got attendees and exhibitors into both shows, and the combined efforts of the automation and materials handling groups provided for a great event that included keynote presentations from Renee Niemi (director of Android and Chrome Global Business, Google for Work), John Mackey (co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods) and Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple, founder, chairman and CEO of Wheels of Zeus).read more >

Are you Using Mobile to Share Your Content with Tradesman and Contractors?

What I find especially interesting is mobile is last on the list and social media is second. Do they think contractors are checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts during the work day to see what kind of info a manufacturer is promoting that day? I wonder if those content marketers really understand how and what might be useful to a contractor on a job site.read more >

Online Video Training Can Make Contractors Be More Productive

From a manufacturing point of view, it's in your best interest to train contractors on the best way to install your product. It eliminates call backs and helps contractors sell more of your stuff. No surprise there, but with sales forces that are stretched thin, now they can only do so much training. Where do they focus their efforts - on the distributor's sales force or on the end user?read more >

What Will our B-to-B Marketing Responsibilities Look Like in 2 Years?

Marketing's role over the last decade has been pretty simple. Focus on your brand and identify new potential sales. Granted, there have been several new tools and processes introduced to help us identify, track and communicate with potential new customers. But the ultimate end game was to differentiate your brand and help identify and create good leads for sales to follow-up on.read more >

Do you have a B-to-B Video Strategy?

Videos can be a powerful tool for any manufacturer, but they need to be done right. You need to have a video strategy before doing your first one. Don't do them because your competitor is. Do them because what you have to say is relevant, timely and well done. Yes, people would like to be entertained a bit, but what they're really looking for in our space is a solution to a problem. read more >

Manufacturers: How’s your 2014 shaping up?

If you listen to the media, we all should be fat, dumb and happy since business is just rolling in and we can't handle it. I know housing starts are at an all time high since 2008, road and bridge contracts are now being released, automotive production in this country is setting records and most industrial indicators for manufacturing are on an upward trend.read more >

B-to-B Marketing: Is There Room for Humor?

Everyone knows that B-to-B marketing is serious stuff. Maybe sometimes too serious! We need to write white papers and do microsites that talk about all the features and benefits. All good and necessary stuff, but is it memorable to a prospect looking at your brand? Now I agree that not all things may be appropriate for a humorous take, but most are and there are plenty of companies reaching out and taking the leap.read more >

Are You Having Success With the Likes of Amazon Supply?

It's been two years now that Amazon decided to get into the industrial space and compete with the traditional brick and mortar stores. Google shopping even jumped in for a while (though they recently discontinued their pilot program). I've written a few posts over the last couple of years asking you, the manufacturer, if you've jumped on the band wagon. For those that have, I'd be interested in what kind of results (sales) that you're getting from this channel? read more >

B-to-B Marketers: Are You Utilizing SlideShare?

When we think of utilizing social media in the marketing mix, SlideShare is probably the most overlooked and underutilized tool. There are over 60 million unique visitors a month to SlideShare sites with over 215 million page views. Users are not only looking for good content, but also shared insights and SlideShare give you a platform for both. Plus, you get the added bonus of using the other social media tools to promote your Power Points. read more >

Big Data, Mobile and Social Media Dominate the Conversations at the 2014 BMA Global Conference

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect I recently attended the Business Marketing Association (BMA) global conference which was held in Chicago May 28-30, 2014. The largest B2B marketing conference in the world, BMA14 was attended by a record 950 B2B marketers from 450 firms, 33 states and 12 nations. The 2014 BMA conference also deployed two digital platforms—Livecube and ISEBOX—to enable speakers to take polls and attendees to ask questions, follow tweets, share photos and access conference content. If you are in charge of planning live events/conferences, I would suggest checking out these two resources. The 3-day conference was jam packed with content – featuring 79 speakers and presenters leading 41 sessions—three pre-conference programs, nine panels, 12 keynotes and 17 firestarters. These sessions covered a wide array of topics and trends of critical interest and importance to B2B marketers today. Someone at the conference referenced the amount of information presented was like drinking from a fire hydrant! Here are a few themes I saw throughout the entire conference: Big Data It’s becoming more and more difficult for marketers in today’s environment and I thought one illustration that did a great job of representing our challenge was the Marketing Technology Landscape graphic by ChiefMartec.com. We are surrounded by data, but starved for insights; that is, data does not automatically equal insight. Today’s marketers need to solve both analytical and creative issues as we continue to trend toward extreme personalization…segments of one. Mobile Since mobile devices are the predominant way people globally access the web and information, mobile is a critical factor when planning future marketing efforts. Here are a few stats from the conference that help reinforce the importance of mobile: Mobile data usage doubled in 2013 In the US, 1 of every 5 minutes spent on mobile are on either Facebook…read more >

2014 Report on B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing in North America

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs recently released their fourth annual report on the content marketing practices of business-to-business (B2B) marketers working in the manufacturing industry. In this report you’ll find answers to questions such as: What percentage of manufacturing marketers have adopted content marketing? What tactics are they using? How does their approach to content marketing differ from that taken by other B2B marketers? This report also looks at how manufacturing marketers approach content marketing when compared with a wider group of B2B North American marketers representing a range of industry segments. Here are some key highlights from this most recent study on manufacturing marketers and their content marketing efforts: 86% have adopted content marketing Only 30% say they are effective at content marketing Use the same number of tactics (13) as other B2B marketers 81% use YouTube to distribute content and rate it as the most effective social media platform Cite different goals for content marketing when compared with other B2B marketers Top challenges faced for their content marketing programs: 1. Lack of time, 2. Producing the kind of content that engages and 3. Producing enough content 46% plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months Click here to read more details and download the full report.read more >

Manufacturers: HVACR Contractors Are Changing The Ways They Interact With You

Progressive contractors, I believe, are changing the way they are interacting with their manufacturers. When I ran across this research recently, it verified in my mind that it holds true. HVACRBusiness recently released a new research study, "HVACR Contractors: Trends in the Adoption of Products/Systems & Management Approaches," that highlights new trends on their involvement with manufacturers.read more >

Is it Time for a Marketing Check-up?

As we start planning for 2014 ask yourself this question: When was the last time you took a hard look at where your marketing budget is going? B-to-B budgets, while on the mend from the last few years, are not growing at the same rate as the tasks we are being asked to do. We all are creatures of habit and tend to go and support things that we've used in the past and have been successful. read more >

Content Marketing: Have a Strategy and Be Relevant

Today we have a guest blog post from Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman at Sonnhalter, discussing content marketing. Content marketing should be part of all B2B [and B2T] business’s overall marketing strategy. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous week of learning and motivation when I attended the 2013 Content Marketing World Summit at the Cleveland Convention Center.read more >