Takeaways from 2014 PRSA International Conference

October 30, 2014

Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman at Sonnhalter

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the 2014 PRSA International Conference in Washington D.C. For three days I was exposed to an incredible amount of expertise, knowledge and thought-provoking ideas, that left me motivated and energized when I returned to my office.

PRSAConferenceLogo

While the takeaways were numerous, a couple really stood out.

Every company should have a media crisis strategy. Crises do happen. Having a plan in place can make all the difference in managing the outcome correctly. Of course, you never know exactly what your company’s crisis will be, but establishing a crisis management team, identifying key audiences, creating a media statement template and conducting media spokesperson training are all elements that encourage better preparedness. Contrary to the goals of most public relations professionals, who are seeking media coverage, in a crisis management scenario, success is NO story.

Visuals continue to rule. We live in a visual world, and compelling images that resonate with your audience are imperative to communicating your message. Bigger images are better. Smart phones are getting larger to accommodate larger images, and in response, clothes manufacturers are designing clothing with large pockets. Consumption habits are changing as well—in 2013, the average view went down to 8 seconds from the average view in 2000 of 12 seconds. Images are also becoming very short-lived as evidenced by Snapchat and Slingshot apps. Visual data is driving the industry, and sooner rather than later, as communicators, we will need to optimize for wearable technology such as Google glass.

The media is facing their own set of challenges. As communicators, we need to do everything we can to help the media do their jobs. Deadlines are faster, resources are shriveling and the expectations are to do more with less, and faster. Often media contacts don’t have time to take phone calls; instead, develop a relationship with them on Twitter. Be sincere and learn what their interests are and the types of stories and angles they cover. Provide content that is readily usable, packaged with research and sources, saving time and helping the media contact meet their deadline.


UPS B2B Purchasing Insights Very Enlightening

October 29, 2014

UPS

UPS recently released a study they did on the behaviors, preferences and perceptions of industrial supplier performance.

Industrial distribution was once dominated by family owned companies built on personal relationships. Things are changing, and now suppliers (whether they are distributors or manufacturers) need to be not only aware of, but be a part of the online movement.

The UPS study surveyed 1501 online. The respondents were either sole/joint decision makers and the survey included only stock only products (no special orders). Annual spends ranged from under $50,000 to over $250,000.

Here are some insights from the study that I found interesting:

  • 40% of those surveyed were only on the job for less than a year.
  • 23% were on the job less than 5 years.
  • 50% of purchasers say having a catalog and sales rep are important in making a decision.
  • More that 50% are making purchases online.
  • 33% of purchasers spend most of their budget online.
  • 34% say they go outside their existing supply base to make an online purchase with a new vendor.
  • Preferred research methods for new products were websites and search engines.

Are you still with me? So what does that me for you? It’s an opportunity for you to keep the business you have and expand outside your normal trading areas. Yes, buyers are concerned about quality, availability, price and delivery. But they are also interested in an integrated system that makes the buying process easy — from picking a product to making hassle-free returns.

Suggested action items from the survey:

  • Online selling is changing they way people buy things — embrace e-commerce (but not exclusively)
  • Continually improve the customer experience — make it easy for them to purchase from you
  • Be in the right place at the right time — utilize SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) to make sure people find you when they are looking

Care to share what you’re doing online?


What’s a Customer’s Lifetime Value To You?

October 28, 2014

For all of us in sales, it’s all about now. Making this month’s/quarter’s numbers. While there’s nothing wrong with this, we all need to step back and look at the total value of a customer. We need to realize, that even though we got this sale, it doesn’t guarantee the next one.

I know most manufacturers sell through distribution networks and often you don’t know who the actual end users are. But for those of you who offer something other than consumables, there are ways, e.g., warranty cards, that will give you access to the user and related products.

So what are you doing about keeping that lifetime customer? First of all, we need to not take advantage of or assume that all future orders are a lock for you. Remember, they do have other choices.

We need to have the mindset to earn every piece of future business. What can you do to foster and nurture those customer relationships so when the next purchase opportunity comes up, we have the advantage?

Here are some post sale things to think about:

  • Follow-up with them to see how they liked the product (first-time buyers) and did it perform like they expected? If not, resolve the problem or take back the product. Ask them to rate the product online.
  • Keep in contact with them via email. Touching base on industry issues or giving them a sneak peek at a new product coming out.
  • Help them find solutions to make their job easier, even if it doesn’t include your product for that application.

By engaging with the customer, you’re building the three key factors of know, like and trust that will give you the edge next time.

 


4 Benefits of Being Partners with Your Agency

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

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.


Are You Using Automation Tools to Help in Social Media?

October 22, 2014

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 I’ve used that will help you schedule and post your content at the best time: 

  • SocialOomph – I use this tool to help repurpose my content. Scheduling to publish content is very easy across your social media accounts.
  • HootSuitePro – Allows you to manage up to 50 social media profiles, schedule your content and report your analytics.
  • Buffer – Helps you manage multiple social media accounts at once and easily schedule content.
  • ManageFlitter – Tools that will help to optimize your Twitter account and identify your Twitter accounts’ prime time.
  • Tweriod – Analyzes both yours and your follower’s tweets to give you the best time to tweet.
  • TweetWhen – A Hubspot tool that shows what days and times get the most retweets per tweet.
  •  Insights – Provides information about your Facebook audience.

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

Post-Pin-Tweet-Best-Time-OutreachCourtesy of: SurePayroll

Manufacturers: Do You Have a Loyalty Program?

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.


6 Things You Need to Know About Printing

October 16, 2014

By Robin Heike, Production Engineer, Sonnhalter

via Marta on Flickr.

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:

  1. Good design requires good art
  2. Good print requires good art
  3. Good print requires good paper
  4. Good print requires good printers
  5. Good printers stay on my vendor list
  6. Good printers have a wealth of knowledge – use it

Ink on paper produces print.

Print with these things in mind products amazing!


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