In the traditional sales model, we identify our prospects and then use several tactics to get in front of them, qualify them and ultimately sell them. But what about all the other potential users of your product or service that you don’t know about? Yes, some of them may find you through a referral or get on your website, but there are many more that may not ever know that you exist.
In most cases, especially for manufacturers who are selling more complicated products, there is a sales funnel you need to take folks through before they are ready to buy. That’s great, but that only works if you’ve identified the potential sale.
Think of social media as your silent salesman. It’s out there bird dogging for you and taking a potential through some of the initial stages of the selling cycle.
Social media is a great way to connect with prospective buyers because they will find you based on what they are searching for (what kind of problem they are looking for a solution for) on the web. It allows you, not only to connect, but to start a conversation. It allows them to get a better feeling for the company and how you go about helping people. In other words, you start building the know, like and trust model that comes with any sale, especially to new potentials.
Social media is a great way to educate prospective buyers because of all the tools you have available: YouTube, SlideShare, Blogs, Forums. All are platforms for you to add value to the conversations by giving them great content, and it starts establishing you as an expert they can count on.
Social media is a great way to collaborate with potential buyers because of the tools like GoToMeeting, Google Hangout or other technologies that allow you to connect almost immediately to help answer a question or show them how to fix a problem. There are even listening platforms, like HooteSuite, radian6 and others that will help you monitor conversations around the areas you want to be in, and you can contribute at the appropriate time.
So don’t just do business as usual. Think outside the box and give social a try. You might be surprised as you might eventually identify themselves as a potential new customer that was never on your radar screen.
Sometimes as marketers we tend to gravitate to the newest or hottest thing out there to give it a try. What I might suggest we all do is go back to some basics like email marketing. This is a proven method of communicating with both existing and potential customers.
Lauren Fisher from eMarketer recently did some benchmarking on email marketing which included key data, trends and metrics. Here are some highlights:
Emails are increasingly accessed by mobile devices.
Personalization using triggered emails are increasing.
Daily email use is higher among mobile phone users.
There are over 546 million mobile email users in 2012. That number will triple by 2016.
USA mobile users are estimated at nearly 116 million users.
Nearly 33% of all emails are opened on a mobile device.
Internet users still trust email messaging.
Less that 22% of marketers are optimizing their emails for mobile devices.
I recently caught up with Sage Lewis, president of SageRock, a digital marketing agency that’s one of our strategic partners, to talk about the importance of SEO, especially in the manufacturing sector.
Search engine optimization is an ever-moving target. It has never been harder to rank well for your targeted key phrases than it is today. We will discuss the 3 most important things manufacturing marketers need to be doing in search engine optimization today.
Sage gives us some good tips and references to use.
If you’re an old-time marketer like me, there’s been lots of changes over the past several years as to the alternative ways to reach your targeted audiences. So what do you do so you don’t go the way of the dinosaurs?
I recently read an article in CCO Magazine where they interviewed Brian Kardon, the CMO of Lattice Engines. The interview focused on the making of a modern CMO and what he had to do in order to adjust and thrive in his new environment. Here are some good points he brought up that might help us all:
Get out of your comfort zone - Look at alternative ways to communicate with your potentials. Keep an open mind.
There is no substitute for doing - Jump in and get your hands dirty. The best way of understanding something is by trying it.
Learn from the best - Identify people who are out in front. Those that are risk takers and their passion is contagious.
Don’t fear mistakes - Consider them chances to learn.
Partner with specialists - With all the alternatives out there, hire folks that are good at what they do and then let them do it.
Don’t look back - The things that were successful in the past may not be the best option moving forward.
So I think we can all learn from these pointers if we keep an open mind. I’m finally getting comfortable with most of the new digital and social options available. What I’m not afraid of is asking questions and trying things out. What I found out is I can’t break things like Twitter or SlideShare.
What kinds of challenges are you facing with all these new options?
With the NAED show coming up in May and the ISA show coming up the first part of June, it got me to thinking about trade associations and how they try to get the distributors and manufacturers together so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Most associations are stuck doing things the way they have for years. I wonder if it’s because they’re afraid of change or don’t know how or why to try something different.
Two models that I think work well are the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) and the Industrial Supply Association (ISA). They both have tried different things that seem to be working.
The NAED for years now at their regional meetings have a dance card format that Manufacturers need to get on to get, I believe, 20 minutes with key folks from the distributors they want to talk to. Most manufacturers like this as they know who they’re going to see and can prepare accordingly.
The ISA, a few years back, initiated the FastMatch program in which the manufacturers are in the booth, but set up their dance card with the distributors they want to see. They like to have 20 minute intervals in which to have one-on-one meetings. This year, they are trying, “Take an exhibitor to lunch,” in which the distributors set up a lunch in the hall and invite select manufacturers to lunch. I’ll be curious to see how that works out.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is these associations are trying different things to bring more value to the table.
I’ve put together a quick poll to see what your thoughts are on this. Please take a minute to take and see the results.
I don’t know why, but in some companies, sales and marketing hardly talk to each other, no less work together. Don’t they realize that they are on the same team? It’s a shame because by working together they can identify, qualify and close more sales. The answer is to open a two-way communication.
Marketing is (or should be) managing the conversations with potentials and helping move them through the sales funnel and then handing them off to sales for the close.
Ironically though, for marketing to move the prospect through, they need to address relevant issues and that’s where sales comes in. This will help build your credibility and hopefully shorten the selling cycle.
Sales are on the streets everyday talking to contractors and distributors. They know what’s keeping them up at night and can bring those issues back to you to develop content around. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?
We all work hard developing content and sometimes forget to spend as much time promoting it. Repackaging and republishing in different ways to drive traffic to your website – these are the driving forces on the internet. Our content is relevant around the world and we need to re-share.
I was reminded recently by an article from ASM, The Association of Strategic Marketing, that there are easy ways to share content. Among them:
Syndication - RSS feeds are the most common way to re-share content. That little button that you put on your site or blog makes it so easy for people to share your content with their group of contacts.
Summarized reports - Group previously published articles to create a report that can be shared by PDF or other downloadable formats.
Social Media - Share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+
E-mail – Don’t forget about the old standby. Your contacts, both customers and prospects, will welcome good content.
Multi-media - Repurpose into a podcast or video. This media has its own benefits in that we all like to listen and look as opposed to read all the time. Not to mention that YouTube is the second most search engine behind Google.
What are you doing to make sure your content is shared?
SEO and social media tools are important tools in evaluating your performance. Today we have a guest post by Emma-Julia Fox from Pitstop Media that outlines some of the free ones available. Enjoy.
Manufacturers and business owners are always on the look out for smart SEO and social media tools that can help them increase their visibility as well as ROI. If these tools come for FREE even better!
Here’s a list of SEO and social media tools that can help you gather some very valuable insights in terms of your web pages’ performance.
One of the most important aspects of SEO is keyword research. You will therefore need effective tools to make keyword research a lot easier. Among the most helpful tools in this case would be the myriad Keyword Density Checkers; the following are among the most reliable.
This tool scans the URL that you provide and then shows you the most commonly used words on the page, presented in a keyword cloud. (A keyword cloud is a visual presentation of the keywords on the page, with the font of high-density keywords slightly larger than others.) You’ll know your main keywords are doing well if they are presented in large font at the head of the cloud.
This is a downloadable java program that can scan as many as 500 URLs; you’ll have to pay for a license if you want to scan more. This can be a very useful tool if you’re launching a new website, as it can help you identify 302 redirects, 404 pages, duplicate content, pages with missing Meta data, and title that exceed 70 characters, among other internal issues that may compromise the quality of your website.
You can even use the tool to analyze your competitors’ websites from an SEO perspective.
Screaming Frog is a downloadable program you can use to identify issues on your website.
Open Site Explorer
OpenSiteExplorer is a link analysis tool that you can use to get some valuable information on any website, be that your own or the competition’s. The tool can help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your website and your links.
You can also use it to check how your site is doing as compared to your competitors. More importantly, it can help you identify some good websites to link to your own.
SpyFu Recon Files
This is another tool you should consider. It is currently still in beta and is allowing users to access their reports for free. The SpyFu reports are presented in three categories: Opportunity, Competition and SEO Value.
With this tool, you can identify valuable SEO opportunities and determine your own strengths and weaknesses as well. You can also check what keywords your competitors use on their ad copy and what they’re likely to spend on. The data you collect can be a valuable guide when you’re crafting your own SEO strategy.
WooRank is an online tool that assists you with the technicalities of SEO. When you check your website on WooRank, you’ll get a score of anywhere from 0 to 100 along with an explanation as to what your site’s problems are and how you can improve it.
Additionally, you may want to give Marketing Grader a try. Just like WooRank, it shows you how you can improve your website. What sets it apart, though, is the fact that it also has metrics for measuring the performance of your blog.
It is important for you to keep track of how well your site is doing in terms of SEO.
Social Media Tools
Social mentions are very important in social media marketing, which is why you will need tools that can help you count the number of social mentions you have. The following are among the most recommended tools:
This is a very simple tool that shows you some valuable social networking statistics. When you provide your URL, the tool will show you the number of share counts you have on social networking sites.
You can use these statistics to either prove your popularity to your site visitors or take the necessary steps to improve your social media performance.
If you prefer viewing your social media statistics in visually attractive presentations, then you’d do well to take advantage of this tool. When you provide your URL and e-mail address, the tool scans and analyzes all of your social media accounts and blogs.
In less than a minute, you’ll get a report where you receive a score of anywhere from 1 to 100. Naturally, a score of 100 is what you’re aiming for. If you get anything less than that, then you can take steps to improve your social media performance.
When you talk about social media marketing, the focus has always been on the manner in which your target audience perceives your brand. This is why ‘engagement’ is a very popular buzzword in the world of social media marketing.
To ensure success, therefore, you will need to monitor how your brand is being received by your target audience. A good tool to use for this purpose is Social Mention. This tool allows you to take a quick look at what people recently said about your brand or subject of interest. Perhaps the best thing about it is that it is compact and very easy to use.
You need to monitor how your brand is perceived by your social media audience.
Marketing is a constantly evolving aspect of any business and if you want to succeed, you’ll have to learn how to go with the flow. When the Internet first entered the picture, marketers had to learn all about SEO.
However, the Internet and the SEO industry are also constantly evolving and what you learned in the past may no longer be applicable today. In fact, social media marketing is a fairly new concept that online marketers are still getting used to.
As a business owner, therefore, it is definitely important for you to ensure success in both your SEO and social media campaigns. The tools discussed above should do much to point you in the right direction.
Emma-Julie Fox writes for a Vancouver based company that provides white hat SEO services, Pitstop Media.
With an 800 lb. gorilla like Amazon, once they come into your playground, things will certainly have to change. Big online giants are not new to this market. We’re used to the Grainger, McMaster Carr and MSC’s of the world. The difference in my mind is that while price is important to them, they are selling more of a convenience. The Amazon model is a bit different and price points are more critical.
AmazonSupply has been up and running for about a year now. I wrote a post last summer and asked how they might be influencing your business. Back then it might have been too early to tell. (I sure would like your input now.) I assume many manufacturers are using them as another outlet for their products. The trends are indicating that the traditional distribution models are declining.
I recently read an article by Scott Benfield in Industrial Supply, Trials and Tribulations of Sales Growth in an AmazonSupply World that outlined the difference and suggested ways traditional distribution can effectively deal with them. According to Scott, it comes down to the way traditional distribution goes to market. He calls it the bundle approach (full service) as opposed to a transactional model with a much lower cost base.
He also recommends strategies moving forward for the “new normal.” In my mind, I’d hate to see the traditional distribution model go away. There’s lots of value in their expertise, but if they are not willing to change, then the future might be dim for some of them.
Manufacturers, what are your thoughts on the different distribution models and where is your sales staff spending their time and efforts? Better yet, what can Associations like ISA do to help their members?
In the B-to-B market where sales cycles can be much longer and complex to several factors, many leads are given up on if they aren’t ready to buy when your salesmen call. We need to focus on quality not quantity of leads.
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Welcome to my blog, Tradesmen Insights. I'm the master of one trade, founder of a B-to-B marketing communications firm to companies that target tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets.
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