Why PR Should be a Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy

January 21, 2015

Everyone today is so focused on Content Marketing that they may overlook an old standby, PR, that could help in getting that all-important content out there. Content marketing drives long-term thought leadership goals. PR can help you short-term to meeting these objectives. After all, both disciplines are working toward the same goals.

Here are a few reasons to use PR in conjunction with your content marketing program:

  • PR builds corporate credibility - Foster good relationships with key editors in your field and let them tell your story.
  • PR increases brand awareness - Use your new content to attract focused audiences and new leads.
  • PR makes your content team focus on your public - Instead of selling features and benefits, use fresh insights and angles on how others have solved similar problems. Be relevant and timely on issues.

If you like this post you might like:

8 Tips for Media Interviews

The Scary Side of PR


Do you have a B-to-B Video Strategy?

January 20, 2015

We are a visual society and it’s a fact that videos are a unique way of delivering your message to a targeted audience. B-to-B companies using this media sometimes are too set in the old ways (or another way of saying it, they want to present the facts and videos are boring). No wonder their videos aren’t being watched, those that are putting folks to sleep!

Videos can be a powerful tool for any manufacturer but they need to be done right. You need to have a video strategy before doing your first one. Don’t do them because your competitor is. Do them because what you have to say is relevant, timely and well done. Yes, people would like to be entertained a bit, but what they’re really looking for in our space is a solution to a problem.

I recently read a post by Jess Osteoff, managing editor of Convince & Convert, that talks about the 8 New BtoB Video Content Marketing Trends.

Here are some highlights:

  • It’s all about the experience - We need to capture the attention of the viewer.
  • People love to laugh - Think about the videos you’ve seen. I’ll bet most had some sense of humor included.
  • Problem solving - We must not get away from the real reason why they are watching.
  • Emotion trumps logic - Emotion captures their attention.

The key to a successful video program is first, have a strategy of what you’re going to say and how are you going to say it, and second, put yourself in the viewer’s shoes. Lighten up and make them memorable. Yes, it’s ok to have a sense of humor.


What are you doing to build your “Proprietary Audience?

December 17, 2014

I had the chance to hear Jeffrey Rohrs speak at a WTWH Media event recently and subsequently read his new book, Audience.

Jeff’s take on social media and content marketing revolves around one thing – THE AUDIENCE.

Companies need audiences to survive – before they are customers they first have to be part of an audience. As we all are focusing on creating content, it won’t mean much if you don’t have someone to read and react to it.

And that’s his point, to build what he calls the “Proprietary Audience.” He defines it as ” a comprehensive, collaborative and cross-channel effort to build audiences that your company alone can access.”

He shows you how to build your database using paid, owned and earned media to identify your audience. He also shows you how to identify and communicate with Seekers (those that are looking for info), Amplifiers (those who have audiences that can share your info) and Joiners (those that are buyers).

The book is an easy read and I would recommend your marketing teams look at Audience as a new marketing discipline.


Manufacturers: Contractors are expecting more from you. Are you delivering?

November 19, 2014

Progressive contractors, I believe, are changing the way they are interacting with their manufacturers. When I ran across this research recently, it verified in my mind that it holds true. I only wish the Electrical and Plumbing markets would do similar research.

hdlogo

HVACRBusiness recently released a new research study, “HVACR Contractors: Trends in the Adoption of Products/Systems & Management Approaches,” (for a free copy of executive summary click here), 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.

Bottom line – 70% are more likely to evaluate additional manufacturers and their products. You can’t depend on your sales rep going to see them personally to introduce a new product. By the time they get there, the contractor may be well down the selection process. Contractors, no matter what kind, are looking for good information, not a sales pitch, but information that can help them do their jobs. If you can do that, it will help keep you in the game.

Here are some highlights.

They define a “High Yield” contractor as being more active in managing their business, have substantial revenues and are experiencing significant growth. In other words, The “A” players in the field.

  • 93% get involved in the early stages of the selection process of new products.
  • Contractors have even greater expectations for products/systems than 5 years ago.
  • Contractors are expecting manufacturers to do more to help them compete and operate efficiently.
  • The selling environment has become more businesslike and competitive.

The bottom line is that these “High Yield” contractors have made significant changes in their relationships with their manufacturers and expect more out of them. Among them the top three are:

  1. Making manufacturers more accountable for their products/systems.
  2. Offer more support.
  3. Make more objective decisions about products/systems/brands.

 


Manufacturers: How’s your 2014 shaping up?

November 5, 2014

If you listen to the media, we all should be fat, dumb and happy since business is just rolling in and we can’t handle it all. I know housing starts are at an all-time high since 2008, road and bridge contracts are now being released, automotive production in this country is setting records and most industrial indicators for manufacturing are on an upward trend.

So saying all of that, how are you doing? Most of our clients (manufacturers) are having modest growth but have a hard time figuring out why (getting new business or stealing it from competition).

Would you be so kind as to take a one-question survey?


UPS B2B Purchasing Insights Very Enlightening

October 29, 2014

UPS

UPS recently released a study they did on the behaviors, preferences and perceptions of industrial supplier performance.

Industrial distribution was once dominated by family owned companies built on personal relationships. Things are changing, and now suppliers (whether they are distributors or manufacturers) need to be not only aware of, but be a part of the online movement.

The UPS study surveyed 1501 online. The respondents were either sole/joint decision makers and the survey included only stock only products (no special orders). Annual spends ranged from under $50,000 to over $250,000.

Here are some insights from the study that I found interesting:

  • 40% of those surveyed were only on the job for less than a year.
  • 23% were on the job less than 5 years.
  • 50% of purchasers say having a catalog and sales rep are important in making a decision.
  • More that 50% are making purchases online.
  • 33% of purchasers spend most of their budget online.
  • 34% say they go outside their existing supply base to make an online purchase with a new vendor.
  • Preferred research methods for new products were websites and search engines.

Are you still with me? So what does that me for you? It’s an opportunity for you to keep the business you have and expand outside your normal trading areas. Yes, buyers are concerned about quality, availability, price and delivery. But they are also interested in an integrated system that makes the buying process easy — from picking a product to making hassle-free returns.

Suggested action items from the survey:

  • Online selling is changing they way people buy things — embrace e-commerce (but not exclusively)
  • Continually improve the customer experience — make it easy for them to purchase from you
  • Be in the right place at the right time — utilize SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) to make sure people find you when they are looking

Care to share what you’re doing online?


Customer Loyalty: Does it Exist Anymore?

October 15, 2014

I know we all want to have customers that only call us and never quibble about price. I guess we need to wake up. Years ago you could build customer loyalty, but today I really wonder if it holds true anymore.

If you’re a manufacturer who sells through distribution, you have a double challenge—to keep both the distributor and user happy. The question is, where do you spend your time, the distributors or users? I guess the answer to that question will be different for all of us, but I think we all agree we need to spend the time building loyalty where it will make the biggest impact on sales.

My guess is for those who are looking to get to the professional tradesman, the best way to do that is to have a strong relationship with the distributors, who in turn have customer loyalty with the tradesman.

Yes, there are some iconic brands that have a great end-user preference, and hats off to those that have. But those numbers are a small percentage of the total. These folks, while we will envy them now, will, I believe, have a similar issue down the road when all the oldies (50 plus) get out of the business and the younger generation doesn’t value the loyalty card as much as the older generations.

No matter what avenue you choose to foster loyalty, there are some basic guidelines that need to be considered:

  • They need to know, like and trust you - Without that, you will have an uphill battle, and it will take time.
  • Make them your top priority – Back it up by having someone treat them like a key account that they are.
  • Spend time with them belly button to belly button - You can build a relationship via emails.
  • Not everything you’ll do results in a sale - Help them out whether it’s tech support or customer visits. Make them look like a hero.
  • Under promise and over deliver - Folks remember those that go the actual extra mile.
  • Show them you do care – Customers stop doing business with people because they have the perception of indifference. Send them a handwritten note or a copy of an industry article that would be relevant.

I’d be curious, for those who sell through a distribution channel, where do you focus your efforts? At distribution or the end-user?


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