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?


Is Brand Advocacy Part of Your Marketing Strategy to Reach Tradesmen?

August 26, 2014

Let’s face it, in an ideal world we’d all want our customers to love us! We all know that’s not going to happen, but I’ll bet you might have more advocates for your brand than you think.

Why are brand advocates important? Studies show that people rely on peer recommendations and reviews before purchasing goods. Contractors are no different, especially if you’re introducing a new product or application they haven’t used or seen before. They certainly don’t want to be the first to try something.

Brand advocates are more than loyal customers. They are your ambassadors in the trades. I’ve seen contractors with tattoos of company logos. That to me is the ultimate.

Some brand advocates will surface on their own by commenting on your blog or website several times or talking you up on an online forum.  Others might offer positive comments on a survey or warranty card. Don’t forget to ask your sales staff in the field who are calling on contractors, as well as your customer service department. They certainly should be able to identify a few. Hopefully a few will be high-profile folks within some associations that you are a part of.

One of our clients in the plumbing market was able to identify and nurture several advocates over the years. Once they brought the top 10 contributors into the main office and treated them like royalty for 2 days and then sent them home. They got a plant tour, a look at what was coming down the line as new products and met with customer service and technical people that they interface with on a regular basis on the phone or with emails. You wouldn’t believe the results of that effort. They became ambassadors on steroids!

Once you’ve found them, then what? You should set up a brand advocacy program that will give them ways to help you grow the brand. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask them to write testimonials or reviews on new products. Then ask them to share them.
  • See if they would be willing to do a case history for you.
  • If timing permits and you can meet them at an association meeting or trade show, see if they would let you  interview them both for a podcast and testimonial video.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Have them test and evaluate new products before they are brought to market.
  • Have them identify potential new products.

This needs to be an ongoing effort so you’re always adding new advocates to keep the message current and fresh.

Don’t miss a golden opportunity for your customers to help sell your brand.


Email Marketing – Is this the best way to reach the professional tradesman?

August 20, 2014

With all the marketing trends and new things over the last several years, email still seems to be the “workhorse”  for most people’s marketing efforts. Recent research from Gigaom reports that over 75% of smart phone users check their emails on their phones. What I find remarkable, if you look at the chart below, 5 years ago paid search, SEO and digital ads would have been at the top of the list. Oh, how the more things change, the more they remain the same.

When you’re on the job site, how many times have your conversations been interrupted when a contractor has to take a call or his email dings?

Email is considered in this research as the most effective in reaching their goals – awareness, acquisition conversion and retention. Pretty powerful stuff!

It’s not surprising then that most marketers are planning on spending more time and money on email marketing. The key is what are you doing? Here are a few things to think about and they aren’t costly to implement.

  • make sure your email is mobile optimized – most services like Emma and Constant Contact have that option
  • make an editorial calendar of email topics and schedule them on a regular basis
  • make sure you test and review results to make sure you’re getting the most out of them
  • give them a link to something of value that will help them do their job better

The key is to use email as an effective marketing tool to get your message across.

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

Why Email Marketing is so Important in Lead Nurturing to the Professional Tradesman

5 Tips on Improving Your Email Marketing to the Professional Tradesman


Manufacturers: Do You Have a Responsive Website? You Should.

August 19, 2014

SON-416_Responsive_mockup

How many times have you seen an ad or read an article with a link, that when you clicked on it, it went to a page that was designed to be read on a full-size screen? Chances are you didn’t go any farther and clicked out of it.

Many B-to-B companies don’t realize that smart phone and tablets are increasing in usage as the primary source of getting on the web. Of smart phone users, over 25% use them as their primary device to connect to the internet. Tablet users show a higher conversion rate than desktop users. You should monitor your analytics to see how much activity is coming from these devices and act accordingly.

All your hard work of gathering valuable content won’t be read because it wasn’t optimized for the device it’s being read on. What a shame!

Bottom line is, deliver content to potentials in the way they use to access it. Responsive sites do that in that they recognize what kind of devices are trying to connect to them and react accordingly.


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.


Do’s and Don’ts of Content Marketing

August 6, 2014

So everyone knows what content marketing is. But do we know how to get the best results out of it? I know I’ve been doing this for over three years now and have hardly touched the potential of what is available. I’ve been to webinars, seminars and summits on the subject and continue to learn new ways to capitalize on content marketing.

I recently read Joe Pulizzi’s book Epic Content Marketing. As usual, Joe does a great job explaining how to use and integrate into overall marketing plan.

epiccontentmarketing-pulizzi

This is a good book for the beginner or for those already engaged to reinforce the right way of doing things. It’s easy to read, has lots of examples, from defining your strategy to developing and managing content to marketing your stories, and I’m sure you’ll get tons of useful tips on how to get more out of your content marketing.


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