What is a USP?

August 28, 2014

Do you have a USP? Do you know what a USP is?

USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition and it is an important part of developing a marketing program.

In the first video of Sonnhalter’s Marketing Minute series, Matt explains how to develop a good USP for you next marketing program.


Tips on Getting the C-Suite Involved in Blogging

August 27, 2014

The folks at the top got there, for the most part, because they know the industry and your customer base. Unfortunately, as they move up the corporate ladder, they spend less and less time with the customer and what’s really on their mind.

An interesting book Made to Stick  by the Heath brothers talks about the “knowledge curse” of the C-S. Basically, it means that the better we get at generating new insights and solutions, the harder it gets for them to communicate those ideas clearly. In other words, once we know something, it’s hard to imagine everyone already knowing it and when we go on with the thought, we bypass an explanation and go on to make the point, thus losing the audience.

The key with blogging is giving people valuable info that can help them do their job. The challenge for most of us is how do we get that knowledge from between the ears of the big boys and into the hands of the actual user? So what can we do to help get the valuable info out of the C-Suite and yet make it understandable to our target audience? Here are a few tips:

  • Narrow the focus of the article
  • Give them only a few choices to write about
  • Give them a deadline
  • Be prepared to edit out buzz words and what I call corporate speak and put it in terms your audience will understand
  • Edit for readability

So don’t give up on getting valuable info out of the corner office and into the hands of your customers.


Is Brand Advocacy Part of Your Marketing Strategy to Reach Tradesman?

August 26, 2014

Let’s face it, in an ideal world we’d all want our customers to love us! We all know that’s not going to happen, but I’ll bet you might have more advocates for your brand than you think.

Why are brand advocates important? Studies show that people rely on peer recommendations and reviews before purchasing goods. Contractors are no different, especially if you’re introducing a new product or application they haven’t used or seen before. They certainly don’t want to be the first to try something.

Brand advocates are more than loyal customers. They are your ambassadors in the trades. I’ve seen contractors with tattoos of company logos. That to me is the ultimate.

Some brand advocates will surface on their own by commenting on your blog or website several times or talking you up on an online forum.  Others might offer positive comments on a survey or warranty card. Don’t forget to ask your sales staff in the field who are calling on contractors, as well as your customer service department. They certainly should be able to identify a few. Hopefully a few will be high-profile folks within some associations that you are a part of.

One of our clients in the plumbing market was able to identify and nurture several advocates over the years. Once they brought the top 10 contributors into the main office and treated them like royalty for 2 days and then sent them home. They got a plant tour, a look at what was coming down the line as new products and met with customer service and technical people that they interface with on a regular basis on the phone or with emails. You wouldn’t believe the results of that effort. They became ambassadors on steroids!

Once you’ve found them, then what? You should set up a brand advocacy program that will give them ways to help you grow the brand. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask them to write testimonials or reviews on new products. Then ask them to share them.
  • See if they would be willing to do a case history for you.
  • If timing permits and you can meet them at an association meeting or trade show, see if they would let you  interview them both for a podcast and testimonial video.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Have them test and evaluate new products before they are brought to market.
  • Have them identify potential new products.

This needs to be an ongoing effort so you’re always adding new advocates to keep the message current and fresh.

Don’t miss a golden opportunity for your customers to help sell your brand.


The 3 Most Important Things I Learned as an Intern at Sonnhalter

August 21, 2014

Emily Bessell just wrapped up a summer internship here at Sonnhalter and before she left, she shared some of the things she learned during her time on our team. Here’s what she had to say…

With summer winding down and my senior year at Denison University just around the corner, I’m beginning to reflect on my internship experience here at Sonnhalter.

The first thing that came to mind was,

“Where did the time go? It seems like I just started yesterday!”

But I will save the familiar ‘time is fleeting’ conversation for another day.

The second and third things that popped into my head were more closely related to what I aim to communicate in this post. That is, the three most important things I learned as an intern.

1. Research skills are important.

One of my predominant projects this summer involved heavy research so effective skills were essential. However, I learned that research skills are important for other things too, like preparing for meetings with clients. During my time as an intern, I was included in client meetings and conference calls. While observing these meetings, I wanted to be well informed and if needed, participate in the conversation with confidence. To do this, I engaged in thorough research about the client and company prior to the meeting. With this kind of preparation, I was well informed and ready to learn new things.

2. Always carry a pen and paper.

This might sound obvious, but I learned never to leave my office without my black Sakura Gelly Roll pen and Moleskine notepad (equipment is important too!). These tools came in handy, as I am quite the note taker. Each day is full of new information and writing it down helped me commit it to memory. It is also important to take note of key projects so you can refer back when updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.

3. Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As an intern, asking questions is important in learning how to do things the right way the first time. I found that co-workers with experience are excellent resources and are incredibly helpful in answering questions and providing feedback.

I’ve had a productive couple of months at Sonnhalter, in the northern part of Ohio, and while I still have a lot to learn and improve upon, I have gained important lessons and invaluable skills. During my time as an intern, I was able to see how and why the Sonnhalter team is excellent at what they do. It was a pleasure working with them and I am truly thankful for the experience.


Email Marketing – Is this the best way to reach the professional tradesman?

August 20, 2014

With all the marketing trends and new things over the last several years, email still seems to be the “workhorse”  for most people’s marketing efforts. Recent research from Gigaom reports that over 75% of smart phone users check their emails on their phones. What I find remarkable, if you look at the chart below, 5 years ago paid search, SEO and digital ads would have been at the top of the list. Oh, how the more things change, the more they remain the same.

When you’re on the job site, how many times have your conversations been interrupted when a contractor has to take a call or his email dings?

Email is considered in this research as the most effective in reaching their goals – awareness, acquisition conversion and retention. Pretty powerful stuff!

It’s not surprising then that most marketers are planning on spending more time and money on email marketing. The key is what are you doing? Here are a few things to think about and they aren’t costly to implement.

  • make sure your email is mobile optimized – most services like Emma and Constant Contact have that option
  • make an editorial calendar of email topics and schedule them on a regular basis
  • make sure you test and review results to make sure you’re getting the most out of them
  • give them a link to something of value that will help them do their job better

The key is to use email as an effective marketing tool to get your message across.

If you like this post, you might like to read:

Why Email Marketing is so Important in Lead Nurturing to the Professional Tradesman

5 Tips on Improving Your Email Marketing to the Professional Tradesman


Manufacturers: Do You Have a Responsive Website? You Should.

August 19, 2014

SON-416_Responsive_mockup

How many times have you seen an ad or read an article with a link, that when you clicked on it, it went to a page that was designed to be read on a full-size screen? Chances are you didn’t go any farther and clicked out of it.

Many B-to-B companies don’t realize that smart phone and tablets are increasing in usage as the primary source of getting on the web. Of smart phone users, over 25% use them as their primary device to connect to the internet. Tablet users show a higher conversion rate than desktop users. You should monitor your analytics to see how much activity is coming from these devices and act accordingly.

All your hard work of gathering valuable content won’t be read because it wasn’t optimized for the device it’s being read on. What a shame!

Bottom line is, deliver content to potentials in the way they use to access it. Responsive sites do that in that they recognize what kind of devices are trying to connect to them and react accordingly.


An Interview with Habitat for Humanity Executive Director, John Habat

August 14, 2014

JohnHabat2Right now we’re in the middle of our annual Tool Drive supporting the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. Since our efforts started in 2010, we’ve found amazing support from our clients, partners, friends and community members.

We talked with John Habat, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity to find out more about him, Habitat for Humanity and their efforts. Here’s the conversation:

Q. What is your position at Habitat for Humanity?

A. I’m the executive director.

Q. How long have you been there?

A. 3 years

Q. What are your responsibilities at Habitat for Humanity?

A. Everything imaginable and some things I never imagined!

Q. What’s your most memorable moment working for Habitat for Humanity?

A. There are many. But I think if you consider the dedications of our finished houses – these are really special. Happy kids running through their new home, selecting bedrooms, etc. Also, it’s the energy in the air – such a spirit of gratitude permeates and there are tears of joys amongst the family, the volunteers and staff. These are truly special moments.

Q. What does Habitat for Humanity need most from the community and businesses that wish to help?

A. Volunteers make Habitat happen, and money helps too. We always need volunteers, particularly in the ReStore.

 

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Q. Tell us something that people might not know about Habitat for Humanity.

A. It is the fastest growing volunteer movement ever! In under 40 years, 100 million people across the planet have come together to make affordable housing a reality for more than 3 million families.

Q. How do tool drives like the Sonnhalter 5th Annual Tool Drive benefit Habitat for Humanity? 

A. Our ReStore is a go-to used and new retail store for construction items, and tools top the list of desired products. New ReStore revenues are dedicated to Habitat’s affordable housing program; last year, the ReStore generated enough funding to fully rehab 8 houses.

Q. What’s your favorite part of your position with Habitat for Humanity? 

A. The diversity of issues is incredible. I have a lawyer, lobbyist, CAO, CFO and marketing and journalism background (I am not as old as that collectively may seem!), and all of these skills are used in running Habitat.

Q. The Sonnhalter tagline is “Not Afraid to Get Our Hands Dirty.” What is your favorite way to get your hands dirty at Habitat for Humanity?

A. I love seeing the donations that come in the ReStore trucks as they are being unloaded on the dock… and I can’t resist getting involved. I also thoroughly enjoy working the sales floor in the ReStore.

Q. What’s your favorite way to get your hands dirty outside of work?

A. Gardening

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A. The annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive is a highlight of our ReStore donation year. It is amazing how many tools you folks collect.

If you’re interested in participating in the Sonnhalter Tool Drive, visit sonnhalter.com/tooldrive or contact us to find out more. Click here to read last year’s interview with Frank from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.


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