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.


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?


Mobile Apps: Manufacturers, Are You Using Them to Build Customer Loyalty?

March 4, 2014

Most folks are familiar with mobile apps, but I think we associate them more with retail/consumer applications instead of the B-to-B world. The key to a good app is no different from any other piece of content you develop. It has to answer and be helpful to your customers. To have an app for an app’s sake doesn’t do anyone any good. You need to be customer centric.

The reasons for having an app are pretty simple:

  • How many contractors do you know that don’t have a smart phone?
  • Mobile represents over 5.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide.
  • Mobile devices are on the way to surpassing PCs as the first screen for all web usage according to a study by Grant/Morgan Stanley.

eMarketer recently had a post, Mobile Apps Help Lure Customers, Spur Loyalty, that I thought had some great points that would spill over into the B-to-B world for manufacturers to consider. The survey was done by Forbes Insights to executives of companies with revenues over $250,000. Most common reasons were: customer communications, customer service and product information. No real surprises here other than the way it’s accessed and delivered.

Apps can definitely play a role well beyond branding to both support existing customers, but to help potentials through the buying cycle. Potential apps that you might consider would be:

  • Product information
  • Installation and troubleshooting instructions videos
  • Productivity tools
  • Competitive cross reference charts
  • Ability to check current inventory levels
  • Distributor locator with direct links

These are only a few ideas. The point is, with mobile being the fastest growing segment, you need to have a presence there. Make sure your interfaces are user friendly and make sure they fall within the requirement of the app stores.

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

Do You Have a Mobile App? Are You Promoting it?

Things to Consider When Using Mobile to Reach the Professional Tradesman.


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!


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?


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.


Is Your B2B Blog Your Top Marketing Tool?

November 12, 2013

B2B prospects tend to be well on their way through the buying process before they even identify a company. Don’t you want to be one of those they contact?

In the 3 years that I’ve been doing a blog, I’ve seen more and more interest and yes, business that has originated because of what folks read on my blog. In many cases, by the time they identified themselves, we’re already talking strategy and have won the business. It’s a nice position to be in.

I recently read a post by Heidi Cohen, How to Make Your B2B Blog Your Content Marketing Tool that outlines 10 steps that will help you get there.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Understand your audience.
  • Do an editorial calendar that ties in with your other promotional activities/events.
  • Optimize content for findability via search engines.
  • Distribute content by building regular readership either by RSS or e-newsletters.
  • Use other social platforms to promote your content.

Blogs are time-consuming to do,but if you’re going to do it, then do it right. It’s a great way to stay in front of prospects on an ongoing basis, builds your credibility in the space you’re in and ultimately generates new business.

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

Blogs that Reach the Professional Tradesman

B2B Blogs Can Help Increase Marketing Efforts to the Professional Tradesman


Do You Have a Mobile App? Are You Promoting It?

October 23, 2013

I think everyone realizes by now that mobile is the fastest growing segment of the business. While the biggest impact is on the retail markets, B-to-B usage continues to grow. So should you have an app? The answer to that is, will your app give value and help your targeted user with practical things? If yes, then you’d better get rolling.

comScore data shows that 63% of mobile commerce happens via a smartphone. Don’t take these retail numbers for granted. From a B-to-B perspective, giants like Amazon are leading the way in this category. That means that a consumer can buy a book as easily as a hydraulic fitting using a smartphone.

So the questions you have to ask yourself are this: do I have a mobile website, and if I do, is it optimized for smartphones and tablets? If not, you need to get a responsive designed site sooner than later. But just because you’ve built an app doesn’t mean people will come.

I recently read a post by Heidi Cohen, 21 Ways to Promote Your Mobile App that gives you quick ideas on how to promote. Here are some highlights:

  • Promote your app on your website
  • Promote your app on your mobile site
  • Get your app in iOS and Android app stores
  • Use it in self promotion from emails to QR codes in print and digital ads
  • Promote it on your business cards and email signature

Let’s not waste an opportunity.

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

Mobile Marketing to the Professional Tradesman – What are you Doing?

Things to Consider When Using Mobile to Reach the Professional Tradesman.

Is Your Website Mobile Ready for the Professional Tradesman?


Are You Optimizing Your Landing Pages?

October 22, 2013

Hopefully we all are using landing pages to both identify and segment new business leads. But are we just dumping content or are we using creative ways to cross sell, up sell to convert leads into sales? ioninteractive.com has a white paper that gives creative ways to maximize the use of landing pages to distribute your content marketing gems.

They bring home the fact that there is a fair exchange for content. In other words, is the perceived value of what they are getting worth giving up some contact info to you?

They cover ways to maximize content on your blogs, white papers, webinars, slide decks and infographics. Some highlights include:

  • Blogs - give them a reason to do something else once they are on your blog. Give them something of value for free if they sign up. Give them a reason to sign into your database for future info (get them in the nurturing cycle).
  • White Papers - most are gated which might restrict the number of sign-ins. Test a non-gated version, but put some call to actions within the paper for comparison chart, industry study, etc. that they would have to register in order to download. See which one generates more. The ungated will certainly bring in more numbers, but most of us are looking for quality not quantity so you’ll have to evaluate what might work best for you. You might want to also concert doing some teaser-type ads/emails that would include a top 10 list with a link to the white paper.
  • Webinars - after the fact, what are you doing with the recorded version? Are you promoting it with links to either the webcast itself or to the companion slides? Are you including social links for them to share? Test a gated vs. ungated model to see which one generates more interest.
  • Slides - utilize SlideShare to post the slides with links to the actual webinar (gated). Again, include social links for sharing.
  • Infographics - visual always gets attention. Make sure there are several links to social, QR code and subscribe button so they have options of both staying in touch as well as sharing.

Their white paper is easy to read and gives you great ideas on how to get more from existing content. You can download it here.


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