We’ve Always Done it That Way!

September 9, 2014

OutsidetheBox

I cringe when I hear someone say that phrase. Past actions will not ensure future success. Manufacturers who have this mindset are missing out on many opportunities. You literally need to think outside the box.

In today’s market, there are so many other options to consider. Some may not be appropriate for you, but you have to evaluate and pick the ones that might be useful for you. One basic change we all need to make is change how we reach out to potentials. If you’re trying to sell features/benefits to a prospect, you’re going to disappointed.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Take a different approach - Instead of talking about you, help your customer solve a problem. Always answer the question from your customer’s perspective of  “What’s in it for me?”
  • Friendly website - If you count on your website as a way of selling your brand, come at it from a customer’s perspective and make sure that your site is responsive (have different versions for smart phones and tablets). Make it easy to find what they are looking for.
  • Limited social media - Most manufacturers don’t need to utilize all the options that are available to you. You should focus on those areas that will bring you the most bang for the time you have. You already may have existing things like how-to videos (YouTube) or Power Point presentations (SlideShare) on the best way to solve a particular problem. If you’re in specific market segments, join and participate in the conversations (LinkedIn). If you have the resources, starting a blog would be an ideal way of setting you apart from your competitors and putting you out as an industry expert. Places like Facebook and Twitter, for the most part, are not ways to communicate with contractors and professional tradesman.

The key is to do something different, and as I’ve shown you here, in most cases you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You have valuable info and insights on how to solve your customer’s problems. Don’t keep to yourself – share it.


B-to-B Video is on the Rise: Are You Taking Advantage?

September 2, 2014

Does your company have a presence on YouTube? If not consider these stats:

  • 1 Billion unique visitors each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video watched each month
  • 100 hours of new videos are uploaded every minute

We’re a visual society and everyone loves to watch videos. Of B-to-B companies who are using videos, 80% of them reported positive results. From a manufacturing perspective, this should be a no-brainer. The key is to have a strategy and create compelling content. How-to videos, troubleshooting, new product launches are just a few that come to mind.

Some of the challenges firms are facing are lack of manpower and budgets being their biggest, followed by creating compelling content. Videos don’t have to be long or be made into a Hollywood production. There are inexpensive cameras out there and editing software that most things can be done in-house. The key is content. Give the viewer something he can use. Keep the message clear, to the point and short.

Here’s an example of one of our Marketing Minutes:

 

According to a recent study by Demand Metric, the most important objectives of videos are:

video objectives

I’m sure that those top 3 objectives fit into yours. So what are you doing about capitalizing videos to enhance your marketing efforts?

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

Have your Videos gone Viral?

Why Videos are an Important Way to Reach the Professional Tradesman

 Are you Taking Advantage of Online Videos?


B-to-B Marketing: Is There Room for Humor?

August 13, 2014

Everyone knows that B-to-B  marketing is serious stuff. Maybe sometimes too serious! We need to write white papers and do microsites that talk about all the features and benefits. All good and necessary stuff, but is it memorable to a prospect looking at your brand? Now I agree that not all things may be appropriate for a humorous take, but most are and there are plenty of companies reaching out and taking the leap.

The president of our agency earlier this summer attended the annual BMA Conference in Chicago where one of the presenters was Tim Washer with Cisco. His topic was humor and why it’s important  to use it.

Here’s an example from Tim Washer on how Cisco used humor introducing a new router .

Another example is Kinaxis who used the idea of a dating scenario to bring home the points on supply chain management.

Here’s an example of how Kinaxis puts humor into the use.

The challenge to all you conservative folks out there is to keep an open mind. I’m not suggesting you drop all the traditional stuff, absolutely not. But it’s not bad to show folks you’re human.

  • These don’t have to be Hollywood productions.
  • The key is delivering a key message using humorous situations.
  • Keep it focused and under two minutes.
  • Take a risk and dare to be different.

Let’s face it, we’re all humans here, and with all the things going on in the world, everyone enjoys a laugh. Make your brand stand out from the rest.


Are You Having Success With the Likes of Amazon Supply?

August 12, 2014

AmazonSupplyNew

It’s been two years now that Amazon decided to get into the industrial space and compete with the traditional brick and mortar stores. Google shopping even jumped in for a while (though they recently discontinued their pilot program).

I’ve written a few posts over the last couple of years asking you, the manufacturer, if you’ve jumped on the band wagon. For those that have, I’d be interested in what kind of results (sales) that you’re getting from this channel?

A bigger question is, are the big boys, Grainger, MSC, Fastenal, etc., becoming a bigger percentage of  your sales number?

What’s your forecast going forward? Are the independents still going to be a vital part of your go-to market strategy?

I know these are lots of questions, but I’d like to get a feel for where folks are going to be focusing on in the future. Here are some of my thoughts Distributor Strategy: What’s yours?

What’s yours?


B-to-B Marketers: Are You Utilizing SlideShare?

July 23, 2014

slideshareWhen we think of utilizing social media in the marketing mix, SlideShare is probably the most overlooked and underutilized tool. There are over 60 million unique visitors a month to SlideShare sites with over 215 million page views.

Users are not only looking for good content, but also shared insights and SlideShare gives you a platform for both. Plus, you get the added bonus of using the other social media tools to promote your Power Points.

Lots of marketing departments, even if you tell them how great a tool it is, their push back very often is we don’t have time to develop one. My position is that between sales, marketing and the C suite, there are plenty of Power Points already existing that highlight and focus on issues that help differentiate you and help set you up as an industry expert. Here are some places to look:

  • Industry or association speeches that a C suite executive have given regarding an important issue or trend and their position on it.
  • Presentations to key customers on ways you can help solve their problems.
  • General positioning  Power Point on what makes you different.
  • Distributor-focused Power Point that talk about ways you support them.
  • Contractor-focused Power Point of the tools available to them from you to help them do their job.
  • New products with features and benefits.

I recently read an article by David Waring in Social Media Examiner -7 Ways to Use SlideShare for Your Business, that I found to be very  useful. He gives tips and examples on things as basic as creating well-designed slides, to how to work to get high rankings with key words and phrases by using key words in the file name and tag names. He also gives you tips on  how to grab attention using  how-to guides and  list titles.

The long and short of it is if you haven’t tried it, you have nothing to lose. You may be surprised what kind of views and leads you may get. I’d like to know your thoughts after you’ve tried it.


Big Data, Mobile and Social Media Dominate the Conversations at the 2014 BMA Global Conference

June 12, 2014

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

960x300_BMA14

I recently attended the Business Marketing Association (BMA) global conference which was held in Chicago May 28-30, 2014. The largest B2B marketing conference in the world, BMA14 was attended by a record 950 B2B marketers from 450 firms, 33 states and 12 nations.

The 2014 BMA conference also deployed two digital platforms—Livecube and ISEBOX—to enable speakers to take polls and attendees to ask questions, follow tweets, share photos and access conference content. If you are in charge of planning live events/conferences, I would suggest checking out these two resources.

The 3-day conference was jam packed with content – featuring 79 speakers and presenters leading 41 sessions—three pre-conference programs, nine panels, 12 keynotes and 17 firestarters. These sessions covered a wide array of topics and trends of critical interest and importance to B2B marketers today. Someone at the conference referenced the amount of information presented was like drinking from a fire hydrant!

Here are a few themes I saw throughout the entire conference:

Big Data

marketing_technology_jan2014

It’s becoming more and more difficult for marketers in today’s environment and I thought one illustration that did a great job of representing our challenge was the Marketing Technology Landscape graphic by ChiefMartec.com. We are surrounded by data, but starved for insights; that is, data does not automatically equal insight. Today’s marketers need to solve both analytical and creative issues as we continue to trend toward extreme personalization…segments of one.

Mobile

Since mobile devices are the predominant way people globally access the web and information, mobile is a critical factor when planning future marketing efforts. Here are a few stats from the conference that help reinforce the importance of mobile:

  • Mobile data usage doubled in 2013
  • In the US, 1 of every 5 minutes spent on mobile are on either Facebook or Instagram
  • More Facebook users globally now engage the site via their mobile device compared to their desktop
  • 78% access Twitter via a mobile device

Social Media

Social media continues to be a key component of the B2B marketing mix, with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube still being the main ones utilized by B2B marketers. There was a great session by Tim Washer from CISCO on “How to bring humor to B2B storytelling.” Just because you work in B2B marketing does not mean you need to be devoid of humor…check out some of these examples shared by Tim:

You can view/download videos and documents from the entire conference here: http://bma.isebox.net/.


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.


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