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?

 


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


B-to-B Marketers: Are you Using Referral Marketing as Part of Your Overall Strategy?

June 17, 2014

I don’t know about you, but referrals are a great source of leads and customers for us.

It takes you down the sale funnel much more quickly if someone says something nice about you and recommends they talk with you.

Now we may all do this in person by networking and asking for referrals from people who now like and trust us. But have you taken that to the next level with your online contacts?

Referral marketing engages people online through daily interactions on the web. By recruiting customers to help drive new business using online is more relevant because you share the same interests and values as your existing customers.

Extole has an ePaper out, Fact vs Fiction: 5 Referral Marketing Myths. They give examples of what companies are doing and focus on:

  • Referral marketing as a high impact strategy for driving new customer acquisition.
  • Referral marketing reaches audiences SEO and SEM don’t.
  • New customers acquired by referral marketing have high retention rates and stronger loyalty.
  • Referral marketing is cost effective.

The paper is an easy read and you can download it here.


Are You Putting the WHY Before the HOW in Your Marketing Programs?

June 11, 2014

Traditional marketers are still, for the most part, selling the features and benefits of their products and why they are better than the competition.

Look at any trade magazine for example, and look at the headlines. I’ll bet 80% of them are promoting just that fact.

To stand out in the crowd and really get some traction in the market, we need to put the WHY before the HOW. The reader wants to know or is searching for solutions to his problems. Ways to make his life better. Here’s an example of someone doing it right (disclaimer, they are a client of ours).

OsbornBrushTestLab

Osborn is a global manufacturer of surface treatment solutions. In other words, they make stuff to remove and polish metal parts.  They are one of the major players in the world, but like everyone else, they have a ton of competition.

A typical method of selling these types of products is on price since most users can differentiate the different levels of quality. It’s hard to make any margin if price is the topic of conversation. So what Osborn did was ask the WHY question to find out what kind of pain points their users are having. One identified they can help in the production process to get the most productivity out of their processes. Whether it’s in their facility or Osborn’s test lab, they can help find a solution.

It’s ironic that many of the performance issues aren’t with the product, but how they are running it on the equipment. Even though they are in the brush business, their ultimate goal is to help the customer. Thus their value proposition isn’t selling  grinding wheels, but selling solutions. Do you think price comes into the selling equation now? Nope.

Their program identifies and talks to different end-user groups as well as a different message to their distribution partners. All directing them to specific landing pages.

So if you put the WHY before the HOW, chance are you’ll be noticed more, get more interaction and sell more stuff with price not being the leading topic of conversation.


Closing the Loop on Sales Leads

May 21, 2014

broken chainDon’t have a plan to follow or nurture leads?

When was the last time you responded to an ad, e-blast or other form of communications about a new product and never heard from the company after they got you what you requested? Or if you did hear from them, it was weeks or months after the original inquiry.

I bet it’s more the rule than the exception, especially in the B-to-B world. What I can’t figure out is why. Unless your product is so unique, wouldn’t you want to let the prospect know why dealing with you is better?

Yet I see many manufacturers still today that have no formal plan to follow and nurture leads. If they are not going to follow-up the lead, then why are they promoting the product in the first place? It’s a waste of time and money.

Many pass the lead on to their distribution network before qualifying them as to what stage in the selling cycle they are.

Wouldn’t it make sense to follow-up with the prospect…

  • to see if they got the info they requested?
  • to see if you can answer any questions?
  • to direct them to a local distributor?
  • to possibly offer them some other help or info once you determine where they are in the sales cycle?

A lead that has been qualified and then passed on to either rep or distributor gives them a little better feel for what the prospect is looking for and the application. The lead doesn’t stop there; it’s only the starting point.

There are several CRM programs out there that can help you manage, track and nurture the leads. What I don’t understand is why folks are using them. One reason I found is that lots of sales folks don’t like lead tracking and nurturing programs because it identifies some weak links in the selling cycle. In the world of ROI, I would think Sales and Marketing would want to know where new business is coming from so you can do more of the same.

It makes sense if you qualify the lead before giving it out to follow-up with.  You’ll get better results and salespeople might even call on them.

The sales cycle is only as good as its weakest link.


Have Your Videos Gone Viral?

April 30, 2014

I guess in a perfect world, all videos would go viral and thousands of people would be flocking to your website. Don’t get me wrong, that would be nice, but that’s not my strategy.

I guess I take a different approach. I’d rather have hundreds of the right people see my videos and act on them as opposed to millions who may see them and do nothing. The purpose, in my mind, is to get people to notice and then engage with us because of what we said (content). In other words, bigger is not always better.

In my opinion, you’re better off making a series of very short videos (keep each to one thought or idea). Ideally under 2 minutes is what I tell folks to shoot at.

buyers

Here are some thoughts on content.

  • Focus on a problem your customer might have from their perspective (what happened if the problem isn’t resolved?)
  • Provide tips to solve it.
  • Utilize the video medium to show examples or illustrate a solution. Here’s your chance to be creative.
  • Make sure they know your company has the solution to solve their problem.

So don’t worry about becoming famous with a video that goes viral. Set your sights on videos that reach your target audience and addresses a solution to one of their problems.

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

Why Videos are Such an Important Way to Reach the Professional Tradesman

B-to-B Marketers: Are you Taking Advantage of Online Videos?


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.

 


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.


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