5th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive to Benefit Habitat for Humanity

July 31, 2014

- Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman

Habitat for Humanity does great work in local communities to help improve both individual’s lives as well as the community in general. This is our 5th year of the tool drive to help out this worthy cause. Last year we raised more than $31,000 worth of tools and building materials and have collected more than $106,000 in donations since our tool drive efforts began in 2010.

23 Group

 

Since Sonnhalter’s major focus is on manufacturers who make things for contractors, 5 years ago we decided to help support our local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and hosted a tool drive in the month of August to try to raise money, and more importantly, to gather tools (both new and used) to help in their building efforts, as well as to support them through their ReStore.
This August… tomorrow, we’re kicking off our Fifth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive! If you’d like to join us in our efforts, visit sonnhalter.com/tooldrive to find out more.

You can also contact me at rascherl@sonnhalter.com (x126) or Rachel Kerstetter – rkerstetter@sonnhalter.com (x130) at 440.234.1812.

Or, if you’re interested in finding a local chapter so you too can help out in your area, click here.
Thanks in advance for your support!

Are You Asking Contractors for Feedback?

July 30, 2014

We’re all focusing on the next greatest product or making sales numbers for the month, but often overlook the very source of those sales.

Consistent contractor feedback is a key in establishing a long-term partnership. Let’s face it, we all have competition and contractors have choices. I think we’re missing opportunities to cement relationships and differentiate our brands. When was the last time you talked to a contractor that didn’t have an opinion?

It doesn’t have to be a complex program and your field sales guys can certainly help in this regard. Here are a few questions they should ask:

  • What’s working - Find out what you’re doing right. Are they getting the tech support they need? Is customer service taking care of them in a timely manner? It’s a great way of finding out their level of satisfaction with you.
  • What’s not - Here’s your opportunity for you to find out ways of things that need to be improved. After talking with several contractors, you will find out rather quickly if a pattern is emerging.
  • What can we do to improve our relationship - Show them that you are proactive. It might surprise you. Together you may identify new opportunities.

Of course, the info you collect will be worthless unless sales and marketing compile a spreadsheet of all answers to review. Action items and process improvements. If you’re not ready and open to making changes, don’t waste your time or the contractors. When talking with tradesmen, there’s not a one of them that would love the opportunity to share insights. Wouldn’t you rather they share them with you instead of your competitors?

 


Content Marketing: What Are Your Competitors Doing?

July 29, 2014

We hear a lot today about content marketing and how we all need to start producing more meaningful content to share. I’m OK with that, but most of us have the cart before the horse.

Instead of starting to develop content, we first do a content strategy. Lots of us do this by taking a look internally to see what content might already exist and identify topics and resources for future development.

But here’s where most of us stop—we don’t take a look at your competitors and see what they are doing. Doesn’t this make sense? If we were going to launch a new product, don’t we do our homework to see what’s already out there so we can figure out what to develop that will give us a competitive advantage?

I recently read a post by Danielle Terreri, Competitor Content Audits: Why & How to Vet Other Players in Your Industry that outlines steps you should take before finalizing your content strategy. Here are some highlights:

  • Content - what are they doing, do they have a blog, how are they talking about themselves and the industry?
  • Setup - what does it look like, how are they promoting it?
  • Blog - does it have a consistent theme, how often are they posting, what kind of topics are they writing about?
  • Evaluation - are they solving problems for their audience, where do you see opportunities for your company?

So bottom line is to avoid the ready, fire, aim strategy, vet your competitors and identify things you can do that would add value to your  target audience.


Considering Starting a Blog?

July 24, 2014

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer

John and I presented a webinar awhile back, at the request of a client, about blogs. When it comes to blogs, the most frequent question we get is:

Should we start a blog?

It’s important to analyze the goals of your organization’s overall marketing plan to see if a blog fits into it. A company blog, like any other communication initiative, is a commitment. Blogs overall take time and energy to run, but they can provide a great payoff if they’re done well.

Here are 5 key questions to ask when thinking about starting a blog:

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. Who else is competing for my audience’s attention?
  3. What will be the blog’s focus?
  4. What are the goals for the blog?
  5. How will these goals be measured?

If you have those answers established and decide that a blog should be a part of your marketing plan, check out the presentation from our webinar below, or watch it on YouTube to get more information on the ins and outs of getting a blog going. And of course, our team is happy to help you get a blog off the ground as well!

Webinar: Should a blog be a part of your marketing plan? Slides

B-to-B Marketers: Are You Utilizing SlideShare?

July 23, 2014

slideshareWhen we think of utilizing social media in the marketing mix, SlideShare is probably the most overlooked and underutilized tool. There are over 60 million unique visitors a month to SlideShare sites with over 215 million page views.

Users are not only looking for good content, but also shared insights and SlideShare gives you a platform for both. Plus, you get the added bonus of using the other social media tools to promote your Power Points.

Lots of marketing departments, even if you tell them how great a tool it is, their push back very often is we don’t have time to develop one. My position is that between sales, marketing and the C suite, there are plenty of Power Points already existing that highlight and focus on issues that help differentiate you and help set you up as an industry expert. Here are some places to look:

  • Industry or association speeches that a C suite executive have given regarding an important issue or trend and their position on it.
  • Presentations to key customers on ways you can help solve their problems.
  • General positioning  Power Point on what makes you different.
  • Distributor-focused Power Point that talk about ways you support them.
  • Contractor-focused Power Point of the tools available to them from you to help them do their job.
  • New products with features and benefits.

I recently read an article by David Waring in Social Media Examiner -7 Ways to Use SlideShare for Your Business, that I found to be very  useful. He gives tips and examples on things as basic as creating well-designed slides, to how to work to get high rankings with key words and phrases by using key words in the file name and tag names. He also gives you tips on  how to grab attention using  how-to guides and  list titles.

The long and short of it is if you haven’t tried it, you have nothing to lose. You may be surprised what kind of views and leads you may get. I’d like to know your thoughts after you’ve tried it.


Do B-to-B Buyers Trust Your Website?

July 22, 2014

Interesting question, isn’t it? I think everyone thinks because they built one, everyone will like and trust what you have up there.

I recently read an article from the Content Marketing Institute written by Dianna Huff entitled, Why 55% of Potential B2B Buyers Might Not Trust Your Website that highlights some interesting findings. These findings were from a KoMarketing Associates usability report and are worth discussing. The key in a B-to-B relationship is that trust and credibility be established up front. The more transparent you are, the better. Here are some highlights:

It’s the little things that can either make or break the next steps in the process. Their study showed that lack of phone number or contact info was the biggest stumbling blocks in building trust (55%). That one made me wonder. The next few were expected – lack of a true message, do it yourself sites and tiny texts were no surprises.chart-elements establish website credibility

Content assets that helped establish credibility were lead by thorough contact and about us page. So I guess we need to carefully look at what we say about ourselves and give them several options on getting in touch with us. Email was the most preferred way (no surprise there) and phone came in second. The reality is vendors source suppliers online and if you don’t have a clear cut message and contact info, you’ll be passed over.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Remove all barriers from people contacting you
  • Include email and phone number on each page for easy access
  • Include info about the people behind your company
  • Consider the strategic importance of the “about us” page

 

 

 


Trade Shows: Are You Taking Advantage of the Media Opportunities?

July 17, 2014

By Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman, Sonnhalter

TradeshowimageIndustry trade shows are much more than just a chance to get out of the office and mingle with prospective customers, answering questions about the newest product launches, with aching feet and dry mouths.

Industry trade shows are terrific opportunities for connecting with industry trade editors who are attending the trade shows to report on the latest and greatest happenings in their markets.

Here are a few ideas to take advantage of the editors’ presence:

1. Schedule editor meetings at your booth. Contact the trade show management a couple of months ahead of time to obtain its list of registered media. Review the list and identify editors who are key to your industry or who are unfamiliar with your products and services, but should be familiar.

Contact the editors to determine if they are interested in meeting with a company representative. Chances are they will be. Editors want to make the best use of their time at trade shows to gather information that they can share with the readers of their publications, e-newsletters and on their websites, to showcase the latest industry trends. Make sure you are prepared to walk the editor through a short presentation and demonstration of your company’s products or services at the booth and then leave them with a thumb drive or a link to follow-up press materials.

2. Press events. Have a worthy product introduction or key company news? Depending on its newsworthiness [see below], a press event, in the form of a media breakfast, media luncheon or media cocktail hour, is an extremely effective method for conveying important company information and building favorable media relationships.

Depending on the trade show’s rules and regulations, the event can be held at your company’s booth before or after show hours, or at a nearby hotel or restaurant venue. A short presentation by company executives, demonstrations, networking, socializing and the all-important leave-behind press materials can make for a very valuable hour and a half event for key media contacts.

3. Press conferences. Reserved for only the most important of company announcements, it is recommended that press conferences be planned judiciously. While we like to believe that our company’s product improvement is extremely important to the industry—in perspective, it may not be perceived as quite that important to busy editors that are shuffling through multiple invitations and parceling out their precious time.

Make sure a press conference is warranted, because an empty press conference room will be a disappointment to not only the team that planned it, but also the company executives.

Are you taking advantage of these trade show opportunities with industry trade media? If you’re not, you should be!


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