Do You Know How Tradesman Make Their Purchasing Decisions?

March 25, 2015

For a major new purchase, do you think a contractor or tradesman just walks into a distributor and asks what’s new, and then just buys it? Of course not.

They hear or read about a new or better solution to help them do their job better and more efficient. They research what other tradesman think about the idea, either on forums or in person. They research it online and download information to help them. It’s at this point they may contact their local distributor or manufacturer to get more questions answered or ask for a product demo.

2015 B2B Buyer Journey

The point is, the contractor has done lots of research long before they identify themselves to you as a potential sale.

Marketing’s role is to make sure that the right information is in the right place for contractors, whether it’s in trade publication ads, testimonials, product reviews, customer ratings, PR or social media. The fact is, B2B customers are 60-90% the way through a purchasing decision before they contact you! Yikes.

Heidi Cohen recently posted an article on how the 2015 B-to-B purchasing decision process has changed.

Here are some and points to consider:

  • 5% of website visitors provide an email address
  • 20% of marketing emails are opened
  • 1% of leads are nurtured

These types of challenges require some sort of marketing automation tools to help you better reach and engage prospects. You need to determine what content they want, put it where they want it and understand the next steps in their process.

What are your biggest challenges?


Skilled Workforce: Alternative Jobs That Don’t Need a 4-year Degree

March 24, 2015

According to a recent article by Andy Szal on IndustrialDistribution.com, even the Federal Government has identified good paying jobs that don’t require a 4-year degree.

The agency expects those jobs to grow by 17 percent through 2022 and that prospects for qualified applicants “should be very good.”

Electrician & Breaker Panel

Most of the other positions on the agency’s list worked in building maintenance or construction, including building inspectors, iron and steelworkers, electricians, pipefitters, masons and elevator installers. Many jobs receive on-the-job training or post-secondary training.

According to Jeff Owens, president of Advanced Technology Services, the retiring baby boomer generation has a huge impact on the skilled labor shortage.” With the youngest of this generation approaching their mid-fifties and older, boomers are retiring at an average of 10,000 per day according to the Washington Post; American manufacturing is facing serious challenges. “The fact that the retiring workforces acquired their skills through high school industrial arts and company-sponsored apprentice programs that are not available to today’s youth only exacerbates the problem.”

Associations are even getting into the picture to try to help members recruit good talent. One such association is the PMPA that publishes a blog, yourcareerfacts.com, to let young people know there are viable alternatives to a 4-year degree.

As manufacturers, I think our responsibility is to get involved in our local communities with career days. Talk to guidance counselors and offer tours of your facilities and have your HR people be available to talk to students about manufacturing. We can’t sit back and wait for kids to come to us if they don’t know the opportunities exist.


New Content Marketing Research for Manufacturing

March 18, 2015

A new study published by The Content Marketing Institute identifies tactics that are working for manufacturing. 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.

That’s the bad news. 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.

2015-MFG-Research-goals-image 1Beyond brand awareness, their primary concern is sales, and to get to sales, they need to generate leads. Ironically, even though they identify sales as the top goal, fewer than half use sales as a measure of content marketing success. One of the challenges is getting everyone on the same page as to who you are and what you want to accomplish. Mixed or multiple messages don’t work.

Manufacturers top 5 effective tactics are:

  1. In-person events
  2. Videos
  3. Webinars/webcasts
  4. Case studies
  5. White papers

Manufacturers are presently working on:

  1. Converting website visitors
  2. Organizing content on website
  3. Creating better, more engaging content
  4. Better understanding their audiences and how/when they consume content
  5. Finding more/better ways of repurposing content 

So how do these results stack up with what you’re doing?

As a side note, this fall, Content Marketing World will have a whole day focused on the manufacturing sector and it’s worth attending. Great speakers and ideas.


When is Enough Content Enough?

March 17, 2015

As marketers, we’re all trying to do more with less which begs the question, when is enough enough? Or should the question be quality vs. quantity? I’m of the opinion that good content is better than more content and that we should be focusing on where it’s being targeted. The rule of thumb is your target audience needs to see your message at least 7 times before they believe it. That means you must have it on different venues to make sure you’re included. Heidi Cohen in a recent post talked about quality vs. quantity and how it’s affecting us all. 2015_B2B_Research-Content Effectiveness-CMI These stats that only 38% marketers rate their content to be effective or very effective are disturbing. Especially for all the time and effort that you’re putting into it. Here are some more sobering facts from 2014 regarding more is less:

  • Brand-generated content by channel increased by 78%
  • Interactions per post per followers decreased by 60%

This might be a case of too much communications. We can’t stop, but we need to be more focused. It’s getting back to basics of:

  • Knowing your customer
  • Target content to meet your audience’s specific needs
  • Deliver it where they are looking

What kind of problems are you running into? Are these points resonating with what you’re experiencing?


Are you using SlideShare to Generate Leads from Tradesman?

March 11, 2015

SlideShare is probably the most overlooked social media tool.

Close to 70 million visitors a month second only to YouTube is nothing to sneeze at. SlideShare was purchased by LinkedIn a few years ago which allows both platforms to work seamlessly together which is good news for you.

Why should you consider using it?  It’s a great way to market your business, showcase your expertise as an industry leader. Not only can you put up Power Point presentations and white papers, you can upload videos by using SlideSharepro  and have a way to repurpose your webinars or online training options.

If you’re worried about sharing your information with the world, you can upload content that you can make available to select audiences (by invitation only).

The most important reason for using SlideShare is to generate leads. Peg Fitzpatrick recently wrote a great post on Social Media Examiner on ways to capitalize on getting leads.

She focuses on ways to collect emails from viewers, how to use links in slides, why you should add visual calls to action and lastly, why the description. It’s a good quick read.

Heidi Cohen outlines 10 actionable marketing tactics to get the most out of leads.

Don’t miss out on this valuable tool that will help you not only become a thought leader, but generate leads at the same time.


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

March 10, 2015

The professional trades are no different from normal consumers when it comes to using mobile. There have been a few recent articles in eMarketing.com about both time spent on mobile devices and what’s being used to open and read emails. The most recent eMarketing article has to do with B-to-B content marketers not using the mobile platform to spread their message.

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.

Besides the content they want to deliver, they need to consider apps and mobile tactics. Here are a few.

Possible Apps to Consider:

  • Product information
  • Engineering or other calculators
  • Installation and troubleshooting instruction videos
  • Productivity tools
  • Competitive cross-reference charts
  • Ability to check current inventory levels
  • Distributor locator with direct links

Top Mobile Tactics to Consider:

  • Responsive website – so it can be read on any device.
  • Mobile-friendly campaigns - optimize landing pages.
  • Mobile advertising - can be tailored by location, time and device so take advantage of them.
  • Mobile email - make sure your HTML can be read properly on these devices.
  • Mobile apps - apps let you secure a prominent presence on your customer’s device.

Why Should You Use Short Videos to Attract Professional Tradesman?

March 4, 2015

Short videos are ideal for social media and for you to gain reach and shares.

As a manufacturer, are you capitalizing on this powerful tool to disperse your message? You don’t need a “Hollywood” production. As a matter of a fact, the ones done on a mobile phone would do just fine. We’ve done “man on the street” interviews with contractors at will-call counters and on job sites asking their opinions on tools and other products.

Did you know – Videos convey more info per minute than any other media and 65% of the public like to learn via videos.

In my opinion, you’re better off making a series of very short videos (keep each to one thought or idea). Ideally under 2 minutes is what I tell folks to shoot at.

 

Here are some thoughts on content.

  • Focus on a problem your customer might have from their perspective (what happened if the problem isn’t resolved?)
  • Provide tips to solve it.
  • Utilize the video medium to show examples or illustrate a solution. Here’s your chance to be creative.
  • Make sure they know your company has the solution to solve their problem.

Donna Moritz did a recent post in Social Media Examiner that talks about 6 ways to use short videos in social marketing. Here are some highlights:

  • How to video - solve a problem.
  • Highlight your skills - what better way to get your value proposition out there.
  • Showcase an event - trade show, association event or new product intro.
  • Go behind the scenes - give the viewer some insights of your company that they normally wouldn’t see.

She also outlines 10 tools you can use to create and edit short videos.

The bottom line is, use video in your marketing efforts.


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