Plan, Plan, Plan

January 16, 2014

From Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer

For most of us, a new year is a lot like a blank slate. New goals are set at the beginning of each year and new initiatives are undertaken.

IMAG2441To have a successful year, it’s important to do more than just set goals. You don’t just jump in the car to go to a new location for the first time, you look at how to get there, how long the trip will take or at least put the destination into your GPS. That’s planning.

Planning is crucial no matter how big of a project you’re going to start. Whether you’re initiating a rebranding campaign or creating a 30-second video, you have to plan, plan, plan.

To map out your journey to your goal, decide:

  • Who will be involved. Make sure you know who will be in charge of each aspect of your project and if you’ll need outside help.
  • What outline the strategy and tactics of your plan. Sometimes this is a simple statement of intent and the steps the “who” of your plan will take. Other times this is a large document that will guide your team in your new effort.
  • Where you will focus. In the example of a 30-second video, the where is not only your filming location but where the video will go next. If it’s a product advertising campaign, will you use print, digital, broadcast or other types of ads?
  • When will your project start, end and when are your check-in points. A large year-end goal is great, but plan for pit stops along the way to see how you’re progressing and rework that plan.
  • How will your project get done and how much will it cost. Make sure you know what time, talent and equipment resources you need and how much you can spend to complete your project.

Your plan is your road map to completing a project. You can’t always plan for everything, but having a plan in place gives you guidance along the way and can help you navigate whatever detours you encounter.


What Are You Doing to Grow Your LinkedIn Connections?

January 14, 2014

From a B-to-B perspective, LinkedIn is one of the better networking tools. I like it because it’s strictly for business. You can also join groups that focus on various industries or topics. As you build your network, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts.

I recently read an article by Melonie Dodaro in Social Media Examiner, 6 Ways to Grow Your LinkedIn Connections, that give you some practical tips on growing your connections. Here are some highlights:

  • Profile image - make sure you have a good, professional shot. Remember this is their first impression of you and you only get one chance.
  • Keyword optimization - keep it to 3-4 top words you want to be associated with. Don’t stuff your keywords or people will pass you by.
  • Personalize your connection request - let them know how you got their name. Whether it was from a common business associate, a group you both belong to, or maybe they do a blog that you follow.
  • Ask for endorsements - From people you know, don’t be afraid to ask. If they know, like and trust you, they would be happy to do you a favor. You should also reciprocate and endorse skills of folks you know.
  • Treat recommendations like references - you want to be sure those who are recommending you have a good reputation. Rule of thumb, never accept a recommendation from someone you don’t know.

Hopefully these tips will help you grow within LinkedIn.


Are you Having Trouble Getting the Staff on Board Supporting Social Media?

January 8, 2014

I think most marketers realize that social isn’t going away and they need to plan to incorporate it into their overall marketing strategy. Marketers also know that adding social means more work for their existing staffs.

One of the biggest issues is push back from others within the organization. While marketing may be in charge of social media, it doesn’t mean they have to carry the entire load. I recently read an article by Stephanie Shkolnik in Social Media Examiner that outlines suggestions on why to get employees involved. Here are some highlights:

  • Define the end goal - like any other initiative, we need to define objectives on what we’re trying to accomplish and how we are going to measure its success.
  • Create a task force - whether you’re a one-man band marketing department or have a big staff, you need to get others involved and they can and should come from other departments. Tap into sales, customer service, engineering, R&D and general management to be part of the process.
  • Develop a strategy - that will involve the whole company.
  • Be consistent - hold regular meetings with the team and track your progress.

If you get others involved and explain what the goal is, it will become easier to get others on board and share the responsibility.


Podcast: Link Building is Dead – Long Live Link Building

January 7, 2014

Welcome to another edition of Marketing Insights. Today, we’re talking with Sage Lewis, President of SageRock, a search marketing agency here in the Midwest.

link building is dead

Sage is the author of the #1 bestselling book on Amazon - Link Building is Dead. Long Live Link Building, and we’re going to pick his brain today about the book.

Sage highlights why people who are focused on search engine results should read this book. It’s an easy read even for someone like me, and it costs less than a Starbucks coffee for a digital copy.

Click here to listen to podcast.

Enjoy!


A Picture is Worth…

December 12, 2013

Today’s post is from our PR Engineer, Rachel Kerstetter.

We’re deep into mapping out marketing plans for 2014. When meeting with an editor to talk about their content needs in the next year, one comment stood out to me the most, “We found that pictures are the most popular.”

The #1 item they requested from us (and our clients) next year is photos. If you’ve been paying attention to marketing and social media trends over the past couple of years, you know that the entire internet is becoming more visual. In fact, a picture might be worth far more than a thousand words now.

According to Jeff Bullas’ blog post 6 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Include Images in Your Marketing, images encourage people to engage with your content. When I think about my own news browsing habits, I’m more likely to click on an article that has an intriguing image.

Jeff shared some interesting stats, including:

  • Articles with images get 94% more total views.
  • Including photos or videos with press releases increases views by more than 45%
  • Facebook engagement rates for photos are 37% higher than plain text

I highly recommend reading the rest of his blog post for some tips on integrating photos.

Courtesy of: B2B Infographics

6 Ways to Make Your Marketing to Tradesmen More Effective

December 11, 2013

Today we have so many options to reach our targeted audiences. While I’m a proponent of trying new things, we must not lose sight of who we’re trying to reach. More importantly, we need to identify the preferred way they like to be communicated with.

I wrote this post in 2009 and it still holds true today.

Below are six ways you can make your marketing to tradesmen more effective:

1. Focus On What You Can Control

You can’t control what’s going on in Washington, the economy or most other market factors. However, you do have control over your marketing. Recognize where the demand is and go after it. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

2. Re-Evaluate Your Marketing Goals

Based on what’s happening with the economy, are your company’s marketing goals achievable? It may be time to re-state and re-prioritize your goals.

3. You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure

Take a hard look at the performance of your marketing plan. I know something like ad awareness is costly and hard to measure. But things like trade show leads, direct mail and online programs are measurable. Look hard and, if needed, reallocate and optimize your budget. You can’t afford underperforming programs.

4. Fish Where The Fish Are

You know who your customers and potential customers are. Make the most of your marketing investment and increase your visibility through targeted vehicles where your prospects will see your message and take action.

5. Integrated Marketing

We’ve always been advocates of tying your messages to various touch points for your customers. This synergistic method allows you a better bang for the buck! And don’t forget to bring the sales team up-to-speed as to what you’re doing. They’re an extension of your marketing efforts.

6. Focus On Quality

More is not necessarily better. The quality of your sales leads is far more important. If you adhere to the previous five suggestions, you will deliver better-quality leads, which will improve your bottom line and make everybody happy.

What are you doing to reach your targeted audiences?


Tradesmen Are People Too – Put the Cool Factor Into Your B2T Branding

December 4, 2013

Most B-to-B companies don’t take connecting with their customers on an emotional level as a serious tactic in their branding strategy. They contend that customers base decisions on facts, not opinions or not on silly things like emotion.

Yes, it’s important to talk about quality and the features and benefits that set you apart from the competition. But contractors and  tradesmen as a whole are also influenced by other outside influences, both in making personal as well as business decisions.

You need to set yourself apart from your competitors and have customers not only remember you, but want to buy from you.

Let’s take an example of buying a motorcycle. If you went on the facts about performance, you’d probably buy a BMW; if it was reliability, you’d buy a Honda, and if you wanted to be cool (emotion), you’d buy a Harley.

Harley’s brand is built on emotion, and those contractors buy that Harley because emotions play an important part in the decision-making process.

Manufacturers who realize this have built a brand that includes using emotion as part of their overall strategy. Emotional branding is a business imperative because emotions are inevitability part of the decision-making process.

So when planning your next marketing effort, what will you be riding?


What Are You Doing to Improve Your Content Marketing Performance?

December 3, 2013

When you go to all the work to create great content, don’t miss out on opportunities to share it. We’re all guilty of getting into a routine when creating content and rarely deviate from it, whether it be because of time constraints or just laziness. The point is, we need to shake it up a bit sometimes.

According to 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends, there are over two dozen tactics that you could use. Here are some that I think are important in going after the professional tradesman:

  • Offer useful info on your website - Make sure to include topics that help folks through your selling cycle.
  • Industry newsletters - As you collect email addresses, send out a regular newsletter quarterly or monthly. If you are selling to several different audiences, segment the newsletters so they will be more meaningful for those who read them.  A plumber probably isn’t interested in something a HVAC guy would be. Don’t be concerned about the size of the lit, but the quality of it. I’d rather be regularly communicating with 500 key prospects than 5,000 unqualified ones.
  • Case Studies - By market or application are in high demand by your target audience. Tradesmen like to see what their peers are doing and the results. Post on your website, use it as an e-blast to your targets and have them reprinted so your sales force has something to hand out.
  • Videos - How to and feature and benefit videos are an easy way for you to get your point across. Put it on your website, and put it on YouTube (create your own channel) with the appropriate search terms.
  • Online Presentations – Take those PowerPoints you do everyday on why you’re better than the other guys and put it on your website, along with putting it on SlideShare with appropriate key words.
  • Podcasts - Even if you don’t have a blog, you can utilize this tactic. Interview an industry leader on the issues of the day or what’s coming down the line that might impact your reader. You can use it again on your website and do e-blasts to targeted audiences.

Those are some highlights from my point of view. Whether it’s utilizing these tactics or others, step outside the box and try other things. You’ll be glad you did.


Ways to Maintain a Better Relationship With Tradesmen

November 26, 2013

The cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to five times greater than keeping an existing one.

That holds true when it comes to the trades. They have long memories, and if you let them down with either poor product performance, technical  assistance or customer service, they will be hesitant to keep using you.

They can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Unless you have a unique product that no one else has, you have to compete with someone for the business, and part of that process is building good customer relationships.

Contractors, for the most part, are loyal folks as long as your product delivers on its promises and you don’t treat them like dirt. Bottom line is, if you treat them right, they’ll be customers for life.

Not only will they continue to be a customer, but they will become an advocate for your brand. These guys talk to each other and believe me, if your product doesn’t deliver on its promises, word will spread fast.

Here are three ways to keep relationships with professional tradesmen strong:

1. Stay in touch. Email is probably the best and most cost-effective way to this. Make them feel important, even a quick email to say thanks for the business or a follow-up note from customer service after they have helped out with a problem will pay off long-term.

  • A call from their local sales rep to say hi with no particular sales pitch may lead to opportunities if they (your sales guys) just listen.
  • Make them feel like they’re special by giving them a first look at new products as they are being developed.
  • They also could be the ideal source for field testing prior to launch. Also, think about doing a webinar for customers only on a new product or application.

2. Solicit feedback. You have the perfect audience of people who know and use your product. I haven’t met a contractor yet that doesn’t have an opinion he wants to share. There are several low-cost survey and poll services that you should check out:

What better venue to ask for feedback on a new product or product enhancements. Make them feel like they’re part of the team.

3. Provide valuable resources. These contractors are up to their eyeballs, so if you’re going to give them something, make sure there’s some meat on the bone. Good vehicles to use would be to have pertinent information on your website like case studies and white papers.

If you feel really bold, set up industry forums on your site and let the contractors come and talk to each other. You’ll find that there will be strong advocates that arise out of such forums that will be your best advertising to the group.


10 Steps to Ensure a Successful Interview or Podcast for Your Blog

November 13, 2013

podcast

Other than me writing about stuff, there are ways that you can change it up and throw in some outside options about issues. The most common way is to ask someone who you know and respect to write a guest post for you and your target audience.

I have found that interviewing industry leaders, either in a Q/A format, or better yet, interviewing them for a podcast, has proven to be very beneficial and useful for our audience. Here are some steps that I use that might be helpful:

  1. Pick an appropriate topic that would be of interest to your audience.
  2. Identify an industry expert that would be willing to go on the record with an option.
  3. Focus the interview/podcast on a focused subject. General topics don’t normally do well.
  4. Get the questions to the interviewee before so they can contemplate their response.
  5. Get interviewee’s input in finalizing questions.
  6. I find that the fireside chat format (more conversational) works best.
  7. Put them at ease, especially when doing a podcast (tell them this isn’t live and if they want to re-answer a question, we can do that and edit it).
  8. Get them a copy prior to going live for final approval.
  9. Let them know when it does go live and supply them a link in case they want to promote it.
  10. Thank them. You never know when you want to reach out to them again.

Hope these ideas help .


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