Do You Have a Strategy for Negative Social Media Posts?

April 16, 2014

I’m amazed by the stats that more than half of those on social media don’t have a plan to respond to negative social media posts.  Social media isn’t new, isn’t going away, and if you’ve followed or read anything about this space, you know there have been numerous posts about the subject.

The February 2014 research from Social Media Marketing University substantiates the notion that people still aren’t taking this seriously.

Negative issues need to be addressed and what better way to hear about issues than on social platforms. Don’t you want to know what customers are saying about you? You’d better be monitoring them and jump in with a plan to respond. There are several monitoring options out there will help you. Here are some free ones – Social mention, Google alerts, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.

I recently had an experience with a major faucet manufacturer about a replacement. We had to get a new tub at home and my wife wanted to update the faucets, which we did. The manufacturer sent the wrong spout and it took our plumber almost 2 months to get the replacement for it. They weren’t good at customer service, just making excuses. I made mention (by brand name) on a tweet what my frustration was, and true to form, heard nothing back.

In the short run, ignoring me may not be a big deal to them since I had already purchased the tub set, but in the long run, my wife is planning to replace all the faucets in our 3 bathrooms. Guess who isn’t going to be considered for that purchase?

In a world where we have alternative plans for everything, don’t overlook social responses to negative posts. It’s better to address them straight on or they will fester and come back to bite you when you least expect it. Have a plan in place.


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.


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.

 


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.


Do You Say “Thank You” For A Retweet?

March 25, 2014

twitter (2)If you’re active on Twitter, you probably have received a “thanks for the RT.” Saying “thank you” helps build brand loyalty and brings a conversational aspect to your tweets. We all struggle on what’s the correct etiquette for thanking someone on Twitter. Do you always have to say thanks? Are there other ways to show your gratitude?

Angie Schottmuller from Interactive Artisan recently did a guest post on Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert that was right on target with helpful do’s and don’ts regarding etiquette. Here are some highlights:

DO’s

  • Follow the user - Review their profile and if they are a good fit, follow them.
  • Reciprocate - Scan their tweets and see if one is applicable for you to RT.
  • Retweet a Retweet - This is a good way to recognize the user and put quality content back into the stream.
  • Conversational Mention - Reply with a conversational response about the post to get a discussion going.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t put numerous RT’s back-to-back.
  • Avoid peak content hours.
  • Don’t put out a generic thanks. Always include a hashtag.

If you like this post, you might like:

7 Tips to Use Twitter to Generate Traffic and Leads.


Podcast: What HVACR Contractors Are Looking For From Manufacturers

March 19, 2014

HVACRBusiness recently released a new research study, “HVACR Contractors: Trends in the Adoption of Products/Systems & Management Approaches,” that highlights new trends on their involvement with manufacturers. I did a podcast interview with Terry Tanker, the publisher, to talk about the results of the research.

Listen to the podcast here.

You can sign up to get a copy of the study here.


What Are You Doing to Get the Most Out of Trade Shows?

March 13, 2014

We’ve been doing a lot recently with clients for trade shows. There’s been a renewed interest it seems in them. Most of you participate in various trade shows from time to time.

If you do, you know that they can be very expensive and management is always looking for a ROI. That’s why it’s important for sales and marketing to work together to make sure they get the best bang for the buck.

I ran across a guest post from Vince Tricomi, VP, New Business Development at PFI Displays on ways you can maximize your efforts that I thought was worth repeating. Enjoy.

Except for a lucky few who still write orders at trade shows, most exhibitors can’t tie a specific revenue-generation figure to their trade shows.

That’s OK though. Consider how marketers tie sales figures to a magazine ad:  They can’t, and that’s why they measure things like impressions, reach and awareness.

Trade shows offer plenty of measurement opportunities for the savvy event marketer. Some of these metrics are firm, others are calculated estimates, but they can be combined to create clarity into the effectiveness of any trade show program, large or small.

Here are a few of our suggestions:

1. Leads:  a. Let’s get this easy one of out of the way i. Don’t mess around with collecting business cards ii. Renting a lead retrieval machine that loads your lead data on a flash drive is money well spent b. SAVVY TIP: Break these leads down into A, B, and C categories for better insight into the show’s quality.

2. Cost Per Lead: a. Take the total cost of your exhibit investment and divide it by the total amount of leads collected b. Compare this to other marketing efforts to see how your show stacks up c. SAVVY TIP: If you exhibit at multiple shows, this metric also shines light on the comparative effectiveness of each show.

3. Demonstrations: a. If you’re launching a new product, consider giving one-on-one or group demonstrations b. Count how many demonstrations you give and how many audience members listen or interact c. If you’re doing multiple presentations each hour, you’re having a great show d. SAVVY TIP: Find out from the VP of Sales an average cost of a trip for a sales person to give a demo at a prospect’s office. Compare that with the show’s average cost per demo, and suddenly trade shows look like a bargain!

4. Website Traffic: a. Know the average visitors to your website before the show, and compare that to the visitors during and immediately after b. Pay special attention to the pages for the products and offers you featured at the show c. SAVVY TIP: Don’t forget that trade shows are about face-to-face interactions. Generating web traffic is a great metric, but for most exhibitors it shouldn’t be the main goal.

5. Press Mentions: a. These hold special appeal, and therefore more “weight” as a viable metric, for all classically trained marketers b. SAVVY TIP: With the abundance of trade magazines, writers, and bloggers at every show, if you’re not getting mentioned, something is wrong; try setting up interviews and press walk-throughs well before the show.

6. Post Show Appointments: a. In today’s hectic, time-starved business world, one of the hardest challenges faced by every salesperson is securing a face-to-face appointment b. Commit the sales team to informing you of every show lead that generates a follow-up appointment c. SAVVY TIP: You’ll have friends for life if your shows facilitate setting post-show meetings. Think creatively about a space in your booth dedicated solely to this endeavor.

As you can tell, these suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg.  Please share some of your favorite, and most effective, metrics with us.

In closing, leading full service exhibit companies, like PFI Displays, offer innovative, easy to use software tools that will help you measure your shows—and do a lot more, too.

I’m sure you can add to the list and I’d like to hear ways your company is measuring the effectiveness of trade shows.

If you like this post you might like:

5 Ways to Improve Your Trade Show ROI

New Study Shows Best Way of Reaching Manufacturing Professionals


Are You Using Landing Pages?

March 12, 2014

No matter what kind of promotion you’re doing, when going after the professional tradesmen, the bottom line is you want them to ask for more info and ultimately a sale. You can’t do that in an ad (print or digital) by itself. You need those that are interested in whatever it is you’re selling to go somewhere to get more info. Effective landing pages make it clear what the visitor is going to do/get for the site.

A landing page is ideal for a next step in the lead process. A good landing page will target a particular audience using a unique page that allows visitors to download the appropriate content (you wouldn’t have the same offer for say a tradesman and for a design engineer). They also help you track and monitor activity by offers so you know what works and what doesn’t.

Landing pages help segment markets, capture leads and make it possible to monitor advertising effectiveness.

  • By directing them to a specific page with an offer and the appropriate form to fill out, it makes it more likely that they will complete the form and convert to a lead.
  • If your visitors decide to download your offer, why not invite them to share your content?
  • Lead nurturing is a very important part of the process. 50% of those who respond aren’t ready to buy just yet.
  • 78% of sales that start with a web inquiry get won by the first company that responds.
  • By sending a follow-up thank you to those that downloaded material, you have the opportunity to offer them additional info and downloads, as well as asking them to share this with others via social media.

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

Product Landing Pages: Tips on How to Improve their Performance

The Best Way to Reach Professional Tradesmen: Drip or Closed Loop Marketing?


Choose Your Words

March 6, 2014

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter

I spend about 90% of my time in the office writing something – news releases, feature articles, testimonial stories, ad copy, social media updates, blog posts, emails, etc.

When you’re writing anything from a formal proposal to a memo or a social media posting, the best advice to keep in mind is: Choose Your Words.

When choosing your words, make sure that your message is clear and concise. Why would you write 50 words when you could write 5?

Keep it short and clear. Make your point and let your busy audience move on.


The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

March 5, 2014

back-to-the-future

I had some time this week to reflect on almost 40 years in this crazy B-to-B marketing communications business and realized not much has changed.

Let me explain. In our business someone wants to sell something, so they ask us to help to communicate why they should be talking with them about product X as opposed to one of their competitors.

35 years ago, we didn’t have many options in the B-to-B space to get their message out. There was direct mail, trade shows, referrals (today we call it networking) and a newfangled machine called a fax that we could send messages out on. With the exception of referrals, we pretty much had control of the message, when it went and the frequency. The only thing we couldn’t control was when someone actually referred a customer to you.

Today we have so many other alternatives of getting our message out with digital offerings and social media. Some of these tactics we can still control what is said and when it goes out. Others, like social media, we have no control over messaging or when people decide to look at your info and better yet, contact you.

The point being in both cases is that we either identified a prospect or they identified us and the sales cycle started. No matter which scenario you chose, what comes next is the same. You need to talk with the prospect, listen to what they need and give them a reason to buy from you instead of your competitors. For most B-to-B items, unless they are considered a commodity, there are value-added benefits for doing business with one company over another. It could be a unique feature or a great support team after the sale.

I’ve always said an ad or blog post won’t sell anything. People and companies do, and they do it by interacting with each other in person on the phone or email. You can’t take the human element out of the equation in most cases, and I’ll guarantee you when you lose a sale that you thought you had, it could be because they liked what someone else said better.

My point is, you can use all the marketing tactics in the world, but if you don’t have good qualified sales to back it up, the sale won’t happen. That’s why it was important 40 years ago as it is today – sales and marketing need to work together as a team.

Like I said, the more things change, the more they stay the same.


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