Are You Using Influencers in Your New Product Launch to Professional Tradesmen?

April 15, 2014

When you’re planning your next new product launch beyond your traditional media lists that you send to, are you utilizing the Influencers in the market you’re going after?

Most times you don’t think about those bloggers out there that have big followings in the markets that you’re trying to reach.

An Influencer is someone who is able to mobilize options and create reactions when talking about a specific market or topic. They are the kinds of folks you want talking about you and your products. For example, if your target is mechanical contractors, you should be talking with John Mesenbrink from mechanical-hub. His blog is known throughout the industry and he’s a respected source of information.

Beyond getting them samples to try, they are looking for material you can provide so they can produce their own content. If possible, some exclusive little tidbits are always helpful. They can spread the word to a large number of your target audience in a short period of time…that’s the good news. The  potential bad news is you can’t send them a press release and expect them to run it as is. Influencers make and have opinions, and we always run the risk that they may not be as kind as you would in evaluating the product. They will always be fair, but to some marketers, that’s a relative term.

Long-term strategy would be to identify and start-up a conversation long before you launch that new product. Get to know them and they you. Again, it’s about relationships.


From MAGNET: Find New Talent

April 10, 2014

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org.

Employers: Find New Talent with MAGNET’s Summer Work-Based Learning Experiences Program

Judith Crocker, Director of Workforce & Talent Development, MAGNET

Now is the time for Northeast Ohio manufacturers to step up and become part of the skills-gap solution by taking part in a unique summer work-force development program coordinated by MAGNET.

MAGNET’s 2013 Work-Based Learning Experiences program (WBLE) offers work-based learning experiences to high-school students who will enter their senior year next fall.  Students from Mahoning County Career Technical Center, Polaris Career Center and Lorain County Joint Vocational School are participating in this “earn and learn” program.

This program allows Northeast Ohio manufacturers to be part of the solution and help attract and engage young people in engineering and manufacturing careers. Manufacturers can contact me, Judith Crocker, by phone (216.432.5386) or email to participate.

Prep: One- and Two-Day Shadowing Events

MAGNET student interns learn by doing under the supervision of senior product development engineers.

MAGNET student interns learn by doing under the supervision of senior product development engineers.

In addition, in preparation for the summer WBLE program, MAGNET is currently seeking companies that will welcome a student to shadow an employee for  just one or two days, to learn about the company’s products or services. This will give them the opportunity to see for themselves how what they are studying in school relates to the “real world” experience of a manufacturer.

It is our hope that employers who participate in the “shadowing” program will see the student’s potential and go on to offer that student a chance to participate in the summer WBLE program.

About MAGNET’s WBLE Program

Participating employers provide up to 150 hours of work and learning experiences related to the students’ programs of study. These include:

  • Electronics & Alternative Energy
  • Welding
  • Engineering Technology.
  • Precision Machine Technology
  • Computer Design and Drafting

Some of the eligible students are participants in Project Lead the Way. This pre-engineering program is a rigorous national curriculum that prepares students to pursue an engineering related or technical program in college. By the end of 11th grade, these students have studied digital electronics, principles of engineering and blueprint reading. They’ve also been introduced to related engineering and manufacturing skills. So they will bring this valuable background to the summer learning experience.

Students have the opportunity to earn college and high-school credit while preparing for careers in engineering

Northeast Ohio companies will be great places for a student to see how what they have studied applies in the workplace. In addition, they will see for themselves concrete examples of well-paid future career opportunities in the manufacturing sector.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

The MAGNET Work-Based Learning Experiences program is made possible with generous support from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, Nordson Corporation Foundation,Dominion Foundation, and a challenge grant from the Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust.

Click here to read the original post.


Are You Getting Your Sales Force Involved in Social Media?

April 9, 2014

No, I’m not trying to delegate the social media tactics and implementations to the sales force, they’re too busy selling. But if you aren’t getting them involved to a degree, you could be missing some opportunities for prospecting, research, networking and branding.

Let’s face it, your sales forces are in the trenches every day solving customer’s problems. Chances are other folks are having similar problems. Why shouldn’t you share those solutions with other customers and potential new ones?

Don’t Overlook One of Your Best Resources for Great Content – Your Sales Force

Here are four things salespeople can do that will help marketing by using social media:

  1. LinkedIn - Make sure all your folks are on LinkedIn and their profiles include a uniform and concise description of the company. The marketing department can help with the wordsmithing. Messaging should be on your business and the solutions your company offers. Don’t forget to include links to appropriate videos and websites. Have your salespeople join and be active in LinkedIn groups. Chances are that one of your trade associations or users have groups already set up. Have them monitor and participate when appropriate, but make sure they aren’t selling. Have them put on their problem-solving hat and offer solutions.
  2. Social media training - We’re not trying to make them experts, but to give them an overview of what social media is and how you are using it as another tool. Once they understand the why and how, they can be a great resource for you. The training could be a 30-45 minute “go-to meeting” with refreshers possibly at the annual sales meeting. This could pay off big time with the next two items.
  3. Company blog - If your company doesn’t have one, maybe you should consider doing one. The biggest challenge is writing good content, and if you train your sales force, they will give you plenty to write about. Make sure they know you have a blog. Make them read it and make suggestions on future topics. First ask them for ideas on articles that would benefit the users. Once you get a list, identify those within the sales force that has the most experience/expertise in that product or market. In some cases, they might want to take a stab at writing it, but I’d suggest someone in marketing interview them, write a draft and get it back to them for approval. It would be ideal, when possible, to get an actual customer involved and quoted in the post.
  4. Content Generation - Your sales force is or should be the experts in the field. Are you taking advantage of their problem-solving expertise? Why not have them write down the problem and solution. Then they could do several things with it.
  • Get it to marketing to be put on a FAQ section of the web, and it also could be used for other social content down the road.
  • Share it with the other salespeople who may have customers with similar problems.
  • Share it with other clients/prospects of theirs via email that might benefit from the outcome.

 


How Does Social Media Impact a B-to-B Purchase?

April 8, 2014

B-to-B purchases are usually more complex and the selling cycles are longer with multiple decision makers in the mix.

I recently read a post by Heidi Cohen, B2B Purchase Process 2014: What You Need to Know, that highlights findings from the DemandGen’s 2014 B2B buyers behavior survey.

Use of Social Media in B2B Purchase Process 2014

Here are some points of interest that would relate to Manufacturers:

  • Purchasing process teamwork – 55% include 1-3 people and 37% include 4-7 people.
  • 72% use social for research – they are looking for recommendations, expert advice and connecting with potential suppliers.
  • They’re not looking for information, but quality content.
  • 46% of buyers use search engines to start their purchasing process.
  • 37% ranked white papers and infographics on manufacturers’ websites to be the most important info.

So based on these stats, what are you doing to make sure you’re being found and considered?


Communication Vehicles: Then and Now

April 3, 2014

By Scott Bessell, Idea Builder, Sonnhalter

One of my more astute colleagues here at the agency suggested that I might share with you my thoughts on new communiqués of today versus yesterday. She, being a millennial, didn’t consider that I was chosen moreover because I, given my age, probably also created those “old” ads. Apologies accepted.

via Abdullah AlBargan

Driving into the creative cave today I was behind a Cadillac CTS 4. Jet black, LED lights, looking…bad (as in good, you know). Anyway, I was thinking about my former favorite caddy, from those bygone days; The 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. I would look ridiculous in either. Dissecting them both is how I offer up my opinion on today’s ads versus yesterday’s—to groans within (another Scott metaphor), here goes. The cars. Both, the new one and my ‘59, appear to us purely as style statements. Underneath, they both have a drivetrain, steering mechanism, wheels. Internally, both have seats, a steering wheel, pedals to make it stop and go and if we’re lucky, a subwoofer! So, they both did/do their jobs. In its day, the ‘59 was kick-ass no doubt. Radical and (insert 50’s adjectives here). Today the CTS is held in high esteem also. Both are powerful and comfortable modes of transportation for their times.

Ads. Stripping away the “art” and “design” of most of today’s communication vehicles, yes, even those obnoxious banner ads, like the cars mentioned previously, “underneath” they too must have something in common, and usually always do—the message.

What do you want to say to me? What would you like me to do or know? Whether it was an old ad or a new one, at their core is the message. They might date themselves by the language they use—dated colloquialisms and such. And like that last sentence, how much unnecessary BS they contain. Let’s retry that: They might show their age by their use of words and phrases popular with the people of the day. So, common to both is the message. Then, like those cars, we stylize a body for our “vehicle” so people will notice it. Ads from “back in the day” looked like it. Ads of today, at least the professional ones, look like it. Understand too that most all the ads from yesteryear were done by professionals. Back then, they didn’t have desktop publishing. Amateurs or wannabes weren’t charged with constructing the latest ad with the latest anyone-can-use software.

So, my comment about communications of yesterday versus today is they both did/do their jobs effectively in that they communicate to the viewer a message. The good ones, then and now, do it cleanly and thus clearly. The best ones get your attention and are memorable. The ones that ad managers claim were totally their own creations are the ones that get you to act and follow through. Or better yet, place an order—immediately.

 


Noise – I’m Sick of It!

April 2, 2014

manholdingearsI recently returned from a trade show in Vegas. From the time I got off the plane until I got back on, I was inundated with noise. From the one-arm bandits in the terminals, to the larger than life videos in baggage claim, I started to get a headache. So I was looking forward to a quiet cab ride to the hotel – WRONG! As soon as I got in, there was a TV screen in my face with speakers behind my head blasting away on all the cool things I could be doing while in town. I was actually looking forward to going to the show for some peace and quiet.

Thankfully I don’t have to spend a lot of time in Vegas, but it got me to thinking of my daily routine and all the noise that surrounds me in my business life. My wife complains that I’m an email Junky (and I guess I am since I’m in a service industry) because I’m checking emails 18 hours a day. I sleep with my smartphone next to my bed, and I certainly wouldn’t be caught dead without it during the day. A sad commentary.

Technology is great and I know our society is an “I want it now” mode, but we really need to get a life. I think we need to decompress and I’m going to start by limiting my time on the internet for business purposes on the weekend. Hopefully that will help me free up some time for something more quiet and relaxing.

What are you doing to wind down? Certainly I’m not alone in this, am I?


Direct Mail – A Targeted Way to Reach Tradesmen

April 1, 2014

bullseyeSometimes we’re so focused on the digital and social options out there that we forget about what we used to use before these new ones were available. Direct mail is and has been a tried and true method of generating leads and business from contractors.

Yes, I know direct mail is expensive compared to email and e-blast types of tactics. I’m not saying to do mass mailings, but rather targeted ones. Think about what I call the noise on the electronic side of things. How many emails do you get a day? The answer is plenty, and if you’re anything like me, you delete far more than you open.

Here’s something to try. On your next new product introduction, send out  the same amount of direct mails as you would an e-blast to the same list criteria. Send them both to a landing page so you can track results. I think you may be surprised that the old fashioned direct mail campaign will outperform the electronic one.

Here are three tips on delivering a successful direct mail program:

  1. Target Audience - Quantity isn’t important; quality of a list is. Ideally you start with an internal list of prospects. If you’re going to purchase a list, make sure it’s from a reliable source. I usually prefer to get one from a trade publication that serves the industry I’m targeting. They usually have several select options that will help you define and refine who you are looking for.
  2. Targeted Message - Keep the mailer focused on one subject and don’t try to squeeze 10 pounds into a 5-pound bag. Mailers don’t always have to be about selling something, but they always have to achieve something. Put yourself in your potential customer’s shoe and come up with messaging that will help him, not you. Are you addressing a possible concern and giving them an alternative solution?
  3. Targeted Offer Define your call-to-action based on the message. This could be a link to a technical piece on how to do something or an offer for a demo or sample of a product. The objective is to stop and engage the potential, and if the message is on target, get them to do something.

If your message is on target to the right audience, you will get measurable results.


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