Content Marketing: More is Not Necessarily Better

November 22, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Your potential audience doesn’t want quantity, they want quality. So if you’re trying to generate more content quicker just for the sake of having it, don’t waste your time. You need to accelerate demand, not noise.

I recently read an article by Carlos Hidalgo from Content Marketing Institute on How to Develop a Buyer-Centric Content Marketing Strategy that made several good points.

The best way to connect with your audience is to determine what kind of content they want. In other words, what motivates buyer behavior and how do they get information? If you know these, you can build the correct content architecture.

  • What motivates buyer’s behavior? You need to have a deeper understanding of how a buyer thinks and then what do we need to say to get him over to our side.
  • How do they get their information? What type of content do they prefer and where do they go to get it?
  • Building a content architecture – Once you have an answer to the above questions, then you can map out a plan to get to them with the right info at the right time.

Content Marketing’s main purpose is to drive specific business outcomes. So the buyers are looking for more info, just the right info. He points to a 2014 ANNUITAS survey where less than 3% of those responsible for content marketing activities were happy with their outcomes. Here’s another scary fact from Sirius Decisions — that 70-80% of all content is never used!

These are not good numbers to take to the C-Suite to get more funding. If you can’t achieve positive and measurable results that can be tied to sales revenues, you really don’t have a content strategy at all.

2016 Budgets: How Much are you Going to Spend on Social and Mobile Marketing?

November 17, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter


Now that it’s time for budgeting for next year, the question is, where are you going to allocate your dollars? There’s always more opportunities than there is money to fund them.

Social media – have you tried some efforts in it this past year? What were the results? What were management’s expectations?

Mobile marketing – Has this been on your radar screen? Do you have plans to be mobile friendly in 2016?

I recently read a post from Jeffrey Cohen at Social Media B2B that highlights the latest CMO results on B-to-B Statistics on what and where money is being spent. You can get complete details here. What’s amazing is that only 23% of marketing projects run by B-to-B product companies use marketing analytics.

Here are some highlights on budgets:

  • Marketing makes up 10% of overall company budget
  • Product companies currently spend 8% of their marketing budgets on social media
  • In the next 5 years, they will spend 18% of their marketing budget on social media

Here are some highlights on social media impact:

  • 54% of B-to-B product companies have proven impact of social media on their business
  • 40% of B-to-B product companies have a good sense of the impact of social media on their business
  • 6% of B-to-B product companies have not been able to show impact on their business

Here are some highlights on mobile and internet:

  • B-to-B product companies currently spend 5% of their marketing budget on mobile
  • In the next 3 years, B-to-B product companies will spend 14% on mobile
  • B-to-B  product companies complete 7.5% of their sales over the internet

Hopefully these numbers will help you in your upcoming budgeting processes.

Does Your Company Have the Patience for Content Marketing?

October 6, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

We live in a society that expects immediate gratification. This spills over into our business lives, and companies expect an immediate ROI on almost everything today — Content Marketing is no exception.

Some companies are putting more eggs in the content marketing basket and are expecting big results in a short period of time. The problem is, to build a loyal audience, it takes time. They need to get to know, like and trust you and that doesn’t happen overnight.

If you want immediate results, use traditional outbound tactics like direct mail to generate short-term activity.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute found in interviewing a number of entrepreneurs for his new book, Content Inc., that it took at least 15 months to grow a loyal audience.

This is no surprise for those of us who have been doing this for some time. For those that are trying to get a content program going they need to do some ground work to let management what to expect and when to expect it.

Joe offers some suggestions on getting in the game while you try to build a case for the BIG push.

  • Do a pilot program  choose a market category and put metrics like increases search engine ranking or number of leads that will demonstrate to the bean counters that it’s working.
  • Fear Factor – analyze your competition and make the case that your company is losing web visibility.
  • Find a sugar daddy – identify solutions to key pain points for your sales leaders and you may find that they not only will become your advocate, but may find funds short term to fund your efforts.

The bottom line is that it takes time, so be patient!

Reaching Professional Tradesman: Why Content Marketing Works When Advertising Might Not

September 30, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Contractors and professional tradesman often don’t have time to read the latest trade publication or look at the magazines’ website on a regular basis and might miss your message. Chances are, unless you only make one product, their interest at any given time may be on another product.

When they do go looking for things, the first place most go to is the internet, and the chances are that they are looking for a solution just as much as they are looking for a specific product. That’s why search is so important in the big scheme of things, and what makes you go up in search – good meaningful content!

Heidi Cohen had an interesting article regarding advertising vs. content driven messages that had some good points for the B-to-B market.

B-to-B lags behind the consumer counterpart in doing research before they contact a manufacturer or distribution point. But even at 57%, you’d better have some skin in the game from a search perspective or you’re going to be left at the curb.

Best Lead Generation Tips

Razorfish found that:

  • 50% of U.S. consumers will do anything to avoid ads
  • 75+% of U.S. consumers hate hearing or seeing ads multiple times
  • 65% of U.S. consumers use a DVR to skip ads

Those are some scary numbers, and even though they are consumer driven, remember that those same consumers may be buying your products at their workplace. So what’s the alternative?

  • 86% of U.S. consumers value brands that are useful over those that have interesting advertising.

Translation: give your customers the info they need when they need it. Here are some tips:

  1. Leverage the social media platforms where your customers hang out.
  2. Supply product info for potentials to seek out.
  3. Tap into sources your customers trust, like trade associations.
  4. Make sure the info you give prospects enhances the product value.
  5. Skip the promotion and show them best practices when using your products.
  6. Re-promote your content. Once is not enough.

So the question is, how much effort are you using to create great content?

5 Best Practices for Testimonials

September 23, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

I have found that there’s no better way to position yourself as a credible source than by having a third party sing your praises. Most companies, if pleased with what you did or supplied, would be happy to not only give you a recommendation, but in some cases, a testimonial.

Here are five things to consider:

  • Keep the requests to unique applications or markets. This helps you focus on something that sets you apart.
  • Ask when the project is complete – when everything is fresh in everybody’s mind.
  • Get proper clearances upfront – when dealing with bigger companies or unique situations, it’s smart to get an approval upfront and let the customer know what you want to accomplish and assure them that they will have final approval before it’s used. If you have a PR department or agency, they are used to vetting out potential before you waste time and resources.
  • It’s best you control the writing. Most customers are not writers, they’re contractors. Besides, they aren’t aware of the big picture of what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish. Write an outline of what you want to accomplish and then let someone interview the contractor and write the story.
  • Utilize info in multiple places – try to get it featured in a leading trade magazine. Post it on your website. Have a sell sheet made up for your salesmen to use. If you’re on social media, post it there with links back to your website. Here’s a good example of Viega that uses case studies very effectively.

ViegaMercyHealthProfileDon’t miss out on one of the best ways of building credibility using a third party.

Tips on How to Build an Effective Landing Page to Reach Contractors

September 8, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Landing pages are a great way to both monitor and capture information. The key to successful landing pages are to focus on the one message that got them to that page and deliver.

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 good call to action should fit seamlessly in the flow of the landing page so even if they are scanning the page it will stand out and will give them a clear and compelling reason next step.

Make sure the call to action is “above the fold” if your landing page is more than one screen. We don’t want to take the chance of them not scrolling down to get what they want. Give them more details on what you’re offering and a reason to give up their contact info in order to get it. If you’ve promised a contractor a mobile app that will make his life easier, tell him in more details why.

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.

Contractors’ time is precious, so keep the message to only a few short paragraphs and use bullet points where possible. Test it out first. Pass it by some contractors to get their feedback and see if they get the intended message the way you intended.

You’ve spent time, money and energy to get them to this page and you don’t want to lose them.

12 Tips for Contractor Testimonials

September 1, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter


Testimonials are one of the best ways to validate your products/services, especially if it’s from a contractor. Don’t be afraid to ask as most are more than willing to participate. Once you get them, make sure to repurpose them in several areas. Put it on your website; if you have a blog, do a post. If you’re on social media, share a link. Do project profile sheets that your salesman and distributors can use in the field.

Third-party validation is a powerful tool for new business. Testimonials help to eliminate skepticism, provide credibility and trust. If done correctly, it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways of creating appeal with potential contractors.

Here are some tips for creating and using testimonials:

  1. Don’t be generic. Specific, detailed testimonials are much stronger than those that are general and vague.
  2. Prospects are more likely to believe testimonials that are attributed to a specific person and company than those that hide their identify. I’ve found that most happy clients are glad to provide a written recommendation and are willing to have their name attributed to the testimonial.
  3. Provide testimonials on your firm’s website, your online brochure. They should be used anywhere and everywhere on your site. Not just on a testimonial page. Also include them in other materials used to promote your company. The more places potential clients can see them, the better. 
  4. Develop a consistent process to solicit testimonials from your satisfied clients. The best time to ask is immediately after you have done business with them.
  5. An easy way to request a recommendation is through LinkedIn. You can ask your connections to write a recommendation of your work that you can display on your profile, and with their permission, you can add it to other materials used to publicize your company. LinkedIn is also a great place to give testimonials in order to get testimonials.
  6. Whenever you receive a great letter or e-mail from a client, be sure to ask them if you can use their comments as a recommendation.
  7. Adding pictures to testimonials can significantly increase interest and raise their CTR.
  8. Providing a link to the site of the person who wrote the testimonial can bring additional credibility.
  9. Don’t neglect to create some select video testimonials. These are much more personal and powerful than just written copy.
  10. Good testimonials are filled with benefits. That’s what prospective clients are really looking for, how your services benefit them.
  11. When asking for testimonials, give your clients clear instructions on what you need.  Make them as specific as possible.
  12. I’ve found that setting up a Google Alert to receive daily emails of who is talking about your company is a way to discover additional testimonials.

If you aren’t using testimonials, you’re missing out on a simple, but great tool for new business.

Do you have any additional tips to share? Please add them in to the comment section below.


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