October 21, 2014
We all want to capture more business, and the best source of that is from existing customers. If you were a retailer, it would be much simpler to develop a program. But if you’re a manufacturer who sells through distribution channels, your challenge is where do you put your efforts … at the distributor or end user? You’re between a rock and a hard place.
From a distributor’s perspective, all manufacturers are trying to get more time and attention. If you’re an A or B line item, chances are you’ll get some time. Here are some challenges to consider:
- When you do, what kind of plan are you presenting?
- Is just like everybody else, or does yours stand out from the crowd?
- And what about the cost? You know it’s coming out of your margins, not the distributors.
- Do you incentivize for total sales or for incremental sales once they’ve met last year’s numbers?
- How do you get their sales force excited?
- Do you incentivize the distributor or the salesmen?
- Tracking program – make it simple so you’re not spending all your time figuring out who gets what.
End users aren’t as loyal as they once were. Most will change brands at the drop of a hat or for 5 cents.
There are some iconic brands out there that have worked very hard to build that trust and loyalty over many years, and for the rest of us, we are envious. But even these brands have to fight for incremental sales outside their core “loyalists.”
The younger tradesmen, for the most part, have little brand loyalty unless they were brought up through an apprenticeship program or trade school where your products were used.
So if you’re considering doing an end-user promo, here are some things to think about:
- What’s your objective? Is it brand building or product related?
- Are you developing an end-user database? If so, what do you plan on doing with it?
- What’s the offer? Is it memorable? Can you tie it into other branding activities?
- Are you involving distribution to help create the buzz?
Manufacturers, you do have your challenges. I’d like you to share programs you’ve seen that have been effective.
October 16, 2014
By Robin Heike, Production Engineer, Sonnhalter
via Marta on Flickr
Printing may only be “ink on paper” in a general sense, but when you’re printing collateral and other materials, you need quality printing.
Here are a few things you need to know about printing for a quality final product:
- Good design requires good art
- Good print requires good art
- Good print requires good paper
- Good print requires good printers
- Good printers stay on my vendor list
- Good printers have a wealth of knowledge – use it
Ink on paper produces print.
Print with these things in mind products amazing!
September 30, 2014
My grandkids went back to school last month, and after having a very active summer, I asked them if they were looking forward to going back to school. They both agreed that they were, and when I asked why, some of the answers surprised me.
I expected to hear that they were looking forward to seeing old friends that they had not stayed in touch with over the summer. They were a bit apprehensive about meeting their new teachers and what the next grade had in store for them. But at the same time they were looking forward to learning something new.
I thought that their insights could be useful for all of us in business as teachable moments.
- Going back to see old friends - When was the last time you called up a long-standing customer you haven’t talked to for some time to see how they are doing and thank them for their business?
- Apprehension on meeting new people - What are your new challenges? Is it calling on some new key potentials or joining a professional group that would help improve your job skills?
- New challenges - What are your goals to learn something new? Get active in a LinkedIn group, take an online course or go to a seminar that will help you do your job better.
I guess the key, to me, is we should never stop learning.
I know with all the things in both our personal, as well as professional lives, it’s sometimes hard, but I think we need to step back occasionally and re-evaluate what we’re doing.
What are you doing to challenge yourself?
September 24, 2014
We all have a list of customers’ emails in some assemblage of order. What are you doing with them? Let’s not assume just because someone is currently buying from you that they will continue to do so. You need to continue to reinforce why they should do business with you and it doesn’t have to be a sell piece. Give them something of value that they can use in their business. A quick installation tip. A calculator link to help them figure out how much product they need.
Besides the emails you already have from current, past and future customers, what are you doing with all the leads you’re getting from digital sources?
Digital media is a great way to build on to your existing database list and start nurturing them along your selling cycle. By using an email marketing tool, you can build silos by market or by where they are in the buying cycle so you can tailor messaging to each.
Here are a few tips in developing your lists:
- Get their permission - send them an email that you’d like to keep them on a list to send out valuable info on a regular basis that would help them.
- Ask questions - when sending out the initial request, give them options of things that might interest them, i.e., markets, product or applications that they would find useful.
- Get them engaged – invite them to a webinar or send them a how-to video or an e-book if you have one.
- Stay on topic - focus on what you do. You’re trying to build brand awareness and credibility.
- Respect their time - experts say you shouldn’t send more than 2-3 emails a month. My recommendation is start with 1.
- Monitor who’s reading them - by using an email marketing tool, you can see who opened and read your message. If they’re regulars, you may want to pass them on to the sales force as a soft lead for them to reach out to.
By developing a list and starting communication with them, you’ll be able to see response rates increase and hopefully sales as well.
If you like this post, you may want to read:
Email Marketing: Is this the Best Way to Reach the Professional Tradesman?
Why Email Marketing is so Important in Nurturing the Professional Tradesman