October 23, 2014
Scott Bessell, Idea Builder at Sonnhalter
Over the years, I’ve watched the relationship trend between clients and agencies shift from a partnership level to a vendor level. I’ve seen it from both the client side and the agency side.
Many times budgets force the terms of these relationships to change, but when you’re looking for an agency (or at your current one) the primary question regarding your relationship is:
“Do I need a partner or a vendor?”
via Trevor Hurlbut
Understandably, agencies prefer to be partners. Partnership, like a good marriage, and integration into and with your marketing team and plans make it easier for us to do what you need and make us invested in your work, and in your success.
A few of the benefits of making your agency your partner, rather than your vendor, are:
- You know that you can call your agency and automatically be on the same page and your agency will regularly provide updates.
- Trust is something that is earned, which takes time and is natural in a long-term partnership. It cannot be developed as an “on-call” vendor.
- You know, and can depend on, your agency to produce what you need, when you need it.
- You know your agency’s abilities and processes and your agency knows your message, your brand and your goals–in other words, you’re always on the same page.
Partnerships lead to a more secure, efficient and comfortable relationship. And if the word “partnership” makes you uncomfortable, might I suggest “going steady?” It’s certainly better than a one-nighter.
October 21, 2014
We all want to capture more business, and the best source of that is from existing customers. If you were a retailer, it would be much simpler to develop a program. But if you’re a manufacturer who sells through distribution channels, your challenge is where do you put your efforts … at the distributor or end user? You’re between a rock and a hard place.
From a distributor’s perspective, all manufacturers are trying to get more time and attention. If you’re an A or B line item, chances are you’ll get some time. Here are some challenges to consider:
- When you do, what kind of plan are you presenting?
- Is just like everybody else, or does yours stand out from the crowd?
- And what about the cost? You know it’s coming out of your margins, not the distributors.
- Do you incentivize for total sales or for incremental sales once they’ve met last year’s numbers?
- How do you get their sales force excited?
- Do you incentivize the distributor or the salesmen?
- Tracking program – make it simple so you’re not spending all your time figuring out who gets what.
End users aren’t as loyal as they once were. Most will change brands at the drop of a hat or for 5 cents.
There are some iconic brands out there that have worked very hard to build that trust and loyalty over many years, and for the rest of us, we are envious. But even these brands have to fight for incremental sales outside their core “loyalists.”
The younger tradesmen, for the most part, have little brand loyalty unless they were brought up through an apprenticeship program or trade school where your products were used.
So if you’re considering doing an end-user promo, here are some things to think about:
- What’s your objective? Is it brand building or product related?
- Are you developing an end-user database? If so, what do you plan on doing with it?
- What’s the offer? Is it memorable? Can you tie it into other branding activities?
- Are you involving distribution to help create the buzz?
Manufacturers, you do have your challenges. I’d like you to share programs you’ve seen that have been effective.
October 16, 2014
By Robin Heike, Production Engineer, Sonnhalter
via Marta on Flickr
Printing may only be “ink on paper” in a general sense, but when you’re printing collateral and other materials, you need quality printing.
Here are a few things you need to know about printing for a quality final product:
- Good design requires good art
- Good print requires good art
- Good print requires good paper
- Good print requires good printers
- Good printers stay on my vendor list
- Good printers have a wealth of knowledge – use it
Ink on paper produces print.
Print with these things in mind products amazing!
October 15, 2014
I know we all want to have customers that only call us and never quibble about price. I guess we need to wake up. Years ago you could build customer loyalty, but today I really wonder if it holds true anymore.
If you’re a manufacturer who sells through distribution, you have a double challenge—to keep both the distributor and user happy. The question is, where do you spend your time, the distributors or users? I guess the answer to that question will be different for all of us, but I think we all agree we need to spend the time building loyalty where it will make the biggest impact on sales.
My guess is for those who are looking to get to the professional tradesman, the best way to do that is to have a strong relationship with the distributors, who in turn have customer loyalty with the tradesman.
Yes, there are some iconic brands that have a great end-user preference, and hats off to those that have. But those numbers are a small percentage of the total. These folks, while we will envy them now, will, I believe, have a similar issue down the road when all the oldies (50 plus) get out of the business and the younger generation doesn’t value the loyalty card as much as the older generations.
No matter what avenue you choose to foster loyalty, there are some basic guidelines that need to be considered:
- They need to know, like and trust you - Without that, you will have an uphill battle, and it will take time.
- Make them your top priority – Back it up by having someone treat them like a key account that they are.
- Spend time with them belly button to belly button - You can build a relationship via emails.
- Not everything you’ll do results in a sale - Help them out whether it’s tech support or customer visits. Make them look like a hero.
- Under promise and over deliver - Folks remember those that go the actual extra mile.
- Show them you do care – Customers stop doing business with people because they have the perception of indifference. Send them a handwritten note or a copy of an industry article that would be relevant.
I’d be curious, for those who sell through a distribution channel, where do you focus your efforts? At distribution or the end-user?
October 14, 2014
Video is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolbox. Why aren’t you focusing more on them?
A recent study from eMarketer showed that even though consumers wanted more video, 75% of U.S. marketers said videos are not a priority, and nearly half said they had no plans on increased efforts this year.
According to eMarketer, consumer-branded video increased over 16% from January to June 2014 to almost 3 billion views a quarter.
We’re a visual society with a 30-second sound bite mentality. Why not use video to deliver your message in a different way? In today’s world with the use of smart phones and desktop editing suites, compiling a video isn’t hard or expensive anymore.
The more successful videos have to do with a single subject and usually run under 2 minutes in length. And, if appropriate, add a little humor (everyone likes to laugh). Manufacturers have plenty of options for using video. Instructional how-to videos, training sales/reps, new product intros and testimonials to name a few.
Next to Google, YouTube is the second biggest search engine. Let potentials find you. Obviously the demand is there. Don’t be left on the sidelines.
If you like this, you may want to read:
Have Your Videos Gone Viral?
Why Videos are Such an Important Way to Reach the Professional Tradesman.
B-to-B Marketers: Are you Taking Advantage of Online Videos?