Why Content Curation is an Important Marketing Tool to Reach the Professional Tradesman

July 16, 2014

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme. The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging and publishing information.

Why is it important to Manufacturers who want to reach the Professional Tradesman?

Chances are you have lots of bits and pieces of information on your products/services. They are scattered all over from catalog, tech sheets installations sheets, presentations, etc. We as marketers are so focused on creating content, and in most cases, your first priority is to consolidate all relevant info on a product or service in one place. Once you see what you have, it will be easier to identify the pieces that are missing and need to be created.

Professional tradesman are always looking for help in solving problems, and it benefits both you and them if they can go to one source and get all their questions answered.

Wouldn’t it make sense for a potential customer who is interested in left-handed widgets to find one source that could:

  • help evaluate your situation and options available
  • give you an independent industry perspective on possible solutions
  • give you guidelines on what products to consider for the project at hand
  • give you tips on installation
  • give you troubleshooting suggestions
  • give you tips on maintenance

So if the number-one challenge to marketers is lack of time, doesn’t it make sense to organize first, then prioritize how you’re going to fill the holes?

Heidi Cohen wrote an interesting article recently, The Top 10 Reasons You Need Content Curation in Your Content Marketing Mix where she outlines her reasons to use content curation.

Here are a few that caught my attention:

  • it provides a variety of perspectives which helps increase its credibility
  • positions you as a thought leader in your field
  • good content will be shared leveraging other people’s audiences
  • builds your brand
  • content can be segmented for social media and drive folks to your curated site with more information that they requested

So don’t take the ready-fire-aim approach to developing content.  Take an inventory of current assets before developing new ones. Also don’t try to do everything at once. If you have products that serve several markets, pick one, do it well, document results and then plan the next one.

 

 


Tips on Making your Landing Pages Better

July 15, 2014

Hopefully, as part of your strategy to move prospects along the selling cycle, you are using  landing pages in order to deliver on what you promised. It’s also a great way to track responses. It could also be a way of losing a potential customer.

Here are some tips that might help results:

  • Keep it simple - Deliver on what you promised to get them there in the first place.
  • It’s not about you - How can you help them with a problem that got them there in the first place.
  • This is not an ad - They’re not looking for a sales pitch, but answers to specific questions.
  • Powerful content - Keep it relevant. Don’t focus on key words. Instead, make what you say useful and valuable.

All too often folks want to talk about 5 different things and give them additional links. It won’t work. Just ask yourself – why did they click on a call-to-action that got them here? Then deliver what you promised.

If you want to learn more, you might want to read:

Are you Using Landing Pages?

Product Landing Pages: Tips on How to Improve Performance


Are Your Sales and Marketing Departments on the Same Page?

July 9, 2014

Sales and marketing must work together to define the ideal client and determine how and what to get in front of them.

Social media and the internet in general has changed the way people buy. Today, research is done online long before the potential customer identifies themselves to a prospective vendor. So what can you do to ensure that when the buyer is ready, you’re on the list to talk to?

This is an issue that continues to frustrate marketers and sales across the board. Both disciplines have insights to offer and neither should be working in a vacuum.

I read an interesting article recently by John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing that addresses this very problem. He states: “My take is that for organizations to take full advantage of the dramatic shift in the way people and organizations buy today they must intentionally blend inbound marketing, outbound marketing and inbound selling a way that mirrors today’s customer journey.”

He offers some suggestions on how they can work together. Here are some highlights of shared responsibilities:

  • Planning - When marketing is creating a plan, involve sales. They have insights that marketing doesn’t. Their insights are invaluable in helping define the customer journey.
  • Editorial – Even if sales people aren’t great writers, they certainly can identify pain points along the way and possible solutions for marketing to write about.
  • Social - Make sales aware of social opportunities, whether it’s LinkedIn or participating in an industry forum that social is a good networking tool.
  • Engagement - Have sales and marketing make calls together or write a proposal.
  • Measurement - Forget quantity and focus on quality of lead and how you can take them down the sales funnel. Focus on creating a profitable customer.

If you liked this post you might like:

Are You Getting Your Sales Force Involved in Social Media? 

How Does Social Media Impact a B-to-B Purchase?

 


Distributor Strategy: What’s Yours?

July 2, 2014

In the B-to-B world that I live in, manufacturers have to balance their time and efforts when dealing with distribution, between the big boys like Grainger ($9.4 billion), Fastenal ($3.3 billion) and MSC ($678 million), and the independently owned small local distributors.

Here are a few facts about the independent distributors (ISA) that you might not have known:

They collectively represent about $153 billion in sales.

AD (Affiliated Distributors) members do about $25 billion and NetPlus Alliance more than 5 billion in sales.

Now I realize they need to sell both. The strategy and support for a big player is much different from that of the local independent distributor. Let’s look at the different personas of both.

Big Boys.

  • Sell lots of stuff.
  • Beat you up on price and delivery.
  • Are more order takers than problem solvers.
  • Most are high maintenance from a customer service perspective.
  • Sales staff turnover high – most use sales as a stepping stone either inside that organization or for a position elsewhere.
  • Because of the high turnover, it’s hard to train and build a relationship with them.

Independent Distributors.

  • Collectively they sell more than the big boys.
  • Usually you can make more margin.
  • Are usually problem solvers not order takers (that’s their value proposition).
  • Lower maintenance from a customer service perspective.
  • More stable sales staff.
  • Have actual relationships with local customers
  • Able to train and build relationships with sales staff.

Logic and sometimes management says that we need to focus more time on the big boys as that’s where the biggest potential is.

Here’s a challenge for you.

Let’s take Fastenal for example. They have over 2,000 branches in North America. Besides calling on corporate, how many of the branches are stocking your product? What’s the average sale per year per branch?

Now look at the number of independents you sell to and what is the average annual sales for those that stock your product?

I think what you might find is that the independents will be outselling the big boys.

Now the next question is, what percentage of your sales teams times are being spent on both groups.

For those of you who do the exercise, I’d be interested if your results are similar to what I’m suggesting.


Manufacturers: Help Your Contractors Have Online Success

July 1, 2014

Many contractors have trouble navigating the digital scene. Here are some tips that can be forwarded on to them to help them get noticed and sell more of your stuff!

Guest post by Lachezar Stamatov, a regular contributor to the Work N’ Gear blog.

Contractor’s Online Success Strategy: Get Listed on These 4 Websites

ToolStop / Flickr / CC BY

ToolStop / Flickr / CC BY

For service-providing businesses, like contracting companies, greater online visibility can almost immediately bring more business. People’s primary way of finding somebody to do a job for them is by doing a quick online research. In order to increase your chance of being found online, one of the things you can do is get listed on websites for contractor services. Here are some websites worth considering.

HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor.com

HomeAdvisor.com

With over 56,000 likes on Facebook and more than 14,200 followers on Twitter, HomeAdvisor is one of the most popular websites for home service professionals.

HomeAdvisor’s web platform is extremely user-friendly. There is a very wide array of home improvement categories to choose from. Homeowners pick one, describe their needs and they get matched with up to four professionals. They can also read reviews of a particular contractor’s services.

Perks of the site include the Home911 app, which homeowners can use to find contractors willing to take emergency calls and do immediate repairs.  Another great benefit of registering with HomeAdvisor is that you will also get listed on other popular websites such as 1-800-Contractor, Realtor.com, Build.com and more.

CraftJack

CraftJack.com

CraftJack.com

CraftJack is a very versatile web tool which allows you to do a lot more than just get listed in a search directory.

CraftJack works much like a social network but one geared exclusively towards contractors. Each contractor has a unique profile page, which they can use to promote their business. You can use it to showcase your finished work by posting photos and videos. Plus, the page will display your overall customer rating.

CraftJack comes with a feature called Lead Manager, which can help you get more leads and referrals. You can even get discounts on the leads you win (e.g. by contacting a lead within 30 minutes of receiving the notification).

ACCA

Acca.org

Acca.org

ACCA stands for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. But that doesn’t mean that only HVAC contractors can get listed. The website also works for contractors in refrigeration, plumbing, home and building performance, etc.

The way the website works is very simple. There is a search engine which homeowners, builders or building owners can use to find a contractor based on a variety of criteria, such as proximity, the kind of work they perform and the market segment in which they operate – commercial, residential or government. Site visitors can also find instructions on how to choose the most suitable contractor and see a list of questions they may want to ask the contractor before the work begins.

While you can get listed even if you are not a member, becoming one will grant you some extra benefits, such as opportunities to network during ACCA events or discounts on accreditation programs.

Angie’s List

AngiesList.com

AngiesList.com

Angie’s List is for contractors who work in the areas of home and yard improvement, as well as auto and health services. The website claims to be used by more than 2 million US households.

There are two ways your business can get listed in Angie’s List’s search directory. The first one is if a customer that is really pleased with your services adds you there and recommends you as a professional. The second one is if you create your own free profile where you can list your areas of expertise, follow your ratings and respond to customer feedback.

If you receive a negative review, Angie’s List will give you the opportunity to talk to the reviewer and hopefully have the review removed. Bear in mind that you should have a valid license, because Angie’s List gives homeowners the option to check if you are licensed and bonded.

Some Additional Advice

These four websites will give your business great visibility and increase your chances of getting more business. But there are two other things you should also do. First, get registered with Google Places, so your business can appear in the “sponsored ads” column of Google search results. Second, try to get listed in the .gov website of your state, as this will give you some extra credibility.

What steps are you taking to advertise your business and make sure you are visible online?


Photo Worthy: 6 Steps to Build Your Photo Content

June 26, 2014

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer

Pictures are incredibly powerful marketing, PR and social media tools. Every single project that I work on for Sonnhalter’s clients involves some form of visual element… which is also one of my biggest challenges as a public relations professional.

Trying to wrangle high-resolution images for a project is tough because sometimes the photo well is just not deep. In our digital age, it doesn’t make sense to not have photographs of basically everything. There is no concern regarding wasted film because everything is digital.

Here are my tips on making sure you have an ample supply of good photos to accompany your marketing communications programs:

IMG_0498

1. Think that everything your company does is photo-worthy.

If you host or attend an event, you should take pictures. That includes: Trade shows, customer events, employee events, seminars, etc. [Tweet This]

2. Take a lot of photos.

Not all pictures will turn out great, some will be blurry, someone will have their eyes closed or being making a horrible face. Take several pictures to make sure that you have useable ones. For example, for last year’s Sonnhalter Tool Drive, we took 50 photos and a couple of videos and only used 13 of them in our Facebook album from the event.

For events and trade shows, don’t limit your photos to just the pre-event set up. Capture some action, get people in your photos, both candid and posed. After events, people love to go back and see if they were caught on camera.

3. Assign someone to take photos.

Chances are there is someone in your organization who is pretty good at taking photos. Find that person and leverage their abilities. If you aren’t sure, ask for a volunteer to run around and capture photos. They don’t have to be a professional or even use a DLSR camera (although those will yield higher quality photos). It’s also okay to duplicate photos, so having more than one person taking pictures is fine.

4. Equipment doesn’t have to be complex.

For any photo or video needs, you don’t need professional-grade equipment to capture events. (If you’re putting together something like a commercial or instructional video, that’s a different story, and you should definitely engage a professional). For catching your company picnic three-legged race, an iPhone will do fine. Want some candids from a trade show? These days, most smartphones can yield high-resolution images or bring along a “point-and-shoot” digital camera.

5. Get high-resolution.

When I’m writing something for a print publication, high resolution images are often the biggest challenge. The standard for an image being “hi-res” is 300dpi (dots-per-inch) or greater. That means when supplying photos to your marketing team, agency or an editor, do not just click download from Facebook. Send them the original(s), even if you have to use a file transfer or sharing service such as DropBox or HighTail (formerly You Send It).

6. Use the photos you take.

Upload photos to your company’s social media accounts, provide them to your agency or editors for stories, share them with your staff on your intranet, etc.

Here are some general tips for getting good photos and videos:

  • Keep your finger off the lens (also remove smudges)
  • Don’t use the front-facing camera on a mobile device, these cameras typically take lower quality photos
  • Take at least three photos for one group or individual pose
  • Avoid shooting photo/video through windows or screens if possible
  • Hold smartphones horizontally or in “landscape” to video instead of vertically, it provides a much better viewing experience later
  • Be courteous to those around you when photographing for example, turn off flash for performances and speeches, and be extremely mindful if you must take pictures using an iPad or tablet as most who photograph with them block others’ views and are more disruptive (I highly recommend that you use a smartphone or camera and not a tablet)
  • Try to avoid photographing/videoing people at an upward angle (it is unflattering to the subject) or with light behind them (try to have the main light source behind you and not the subject)

3 Tips to Get More Out of Your Marketing Efforts

June 25, 2014

Number 3Since marketing is being held more accountable, it’s important to make sure the tactics you’re using are getting you the best bang for your buck.

Here are some tips:

Define your value proposition - Why are you here? What makes you different? If people don’t know why you exist, how will they know if you can help them?

Before doing something new, determine what’s working - You don’t have to keep reinventing things. Look at what’s working and do more of that instead of trying something new.

Understanding the sales process - and supporting the sales team with useful content that will help them keep a potential prospect engaged.

 

What are you doing to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for the buck?

If you like this and want to read more, you might like:

What’s Your Marketing Strategy for 2014? See What Others are Saying.

How Sales and Marketing Can Get the Best out of Their Content Marketing

6 Ways to Make Your Marketing to Tradesman More Effective


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