March 24, 2015
According to a recent article by Andy Szal on IndustrialDistribution.com, even the Federal Government has identified good paying jobs that don’t require a 4-year degree.
The agency expects those jobs to grow by 17 percent through 2022 and that prospects for qualified applicants “should be very good.”
Most of the other positions on the agency’s list worked in building maintenance or construction, including building inspectors, iron and steelworkers, electricians, pipefitters, masons and elevator installers. Many jobs receive on-the-job training or post-secondary training.
According to Jeff Owens, president of Advanced Technology Services, “the retiring baby boomer generation has a huge impact on the skilled labor shortage.” With the youngest of this generation approaching their mid-fifties and older, boomers are retiring at an average of 10,000 per day according to the Washington Post; American manufacturing is facing serious challenges. “The fact that the retiring workforces acquired their skills through high school industrial arts and company-sponsored apprentice programs that are not available to today’s youth only exacerbates the problem.”
Associations are even getting into the picture to try to help members recruit good talent. One such association is the PMPA that publishes a blog, yourcareerfacts.com, to let young people know there are viable alternatives to a 4-year degree.
As manufacturers, I think our responsibility is to get involved in our local communities with career days. Talk to guidance counselors and offer tours of your facilities and have your HR people be available to talk to students about manufacturing. We can’t sit back and wait for kids to come to us if they don’t know the opportunities exist.
March 3, 2015
One of the biggest challenges B-to-B marketers face is developing/identifying content that can be used in e-newsletters, e-blasts or just plain emails as part of a nurturing program.
I think a major stumbling block is that some think they need to produce all-original content themselves or have control of all the messaging. The whole point of a nurturing program is to engage potentials with RELEVANT and INTERESTING content. Follow a rule that of three things you talk about, make one of them about you and the other two about ways they can improve their jobs.
That doesn’t mean highlighting the news widget in your line. Too many people make the mistake of always trying to sell you something or are always talking about themselves. When was it when you were at a social or business gathering and got stuck with someone who only talked about themselves? Not a very engaging conversation and I’m sure it didn’t last that long.
To the contrary, you need to give the reader something that will help them do their job better (relevant) and you want to get their attention (make it interesting).
What some don’t realize is that there are numerous options out there that are free for the taking if you know where to look, and they might be right under your nose. You need to look at good secondary sources. Here are some:
- Trade associations – They are always addressing issues that are relevant to your space.
- Trade publications – Most have archives of great written relevant articles that address applications or processes in your area. They also have articles/views on industry issues that could be shared. Write a small comment and link to their website.
- Other manufacturers’ sites – Other non-competing manufacturers in the same space you are might be publishing great insights on an application or how-to article that would be a benefit to your audience. Again, write some comments and link to their site.
Not only will you engage more prospects, but you can increase your audience. If people receive things that are valuable, they will share it with others. So a by-product of good content would be an increase in your list size.
What kind of secondary resources are you using?
February 24, 2015
I recently read a great article in Industrial Supply magazine on how independent distributors are helping Amazon take business away from them. The article was written by Jack Bailey, CEO of IDC-USA, an independent distributor cooperative.
The article is interesting because it not only affects distribution, but ultimately the manufacturers who supply them. From a distributor’s point of view, they are either scared to death of them or they think it’s a passing fancy and this too will go away.
The problem is that most items that have part numbers and can be ordered online or through a PO are prime game for Amazon. Amazon has convinced many distributors to join their third party selling agreement to sell their products on the Amazon e-commerce site. Short term for many of them, it means more sales, but long-term, it will mean disaster. Amazon is a great collector of data and once they have enough profile info on who buys what, they can and will cut out the independents.
What does it mean to manufacturers who have resisted selling to Amazon is they run the risk of being replaced by a competitive product and literally lose millions in sales when Amazon comes to them with all this data of who bought what from whom.
This has always been one of manufacturers biggest challenges with traditional distribution of getting the names of their customers and what they buy. Now the distributors are willing to give that up freely to their biggest potential competitor that could put them out of business and they will!
February 4, 2015
From a manufacturing point of view, it’s in your best interest to train contractors on the best way to install your product. It eliminates call backs and helps contractors sell more of your stuff. No surprise there, but with sales forces that are stretched thin, now they can only do so much training. Where do they focus their efforts – on the distributor’s sales force or on the end user?
The answer is use online training for both.
- You can train distributor sales on new products, not only on features and benefits, but also on where/when they should be used. There are several eLearning options out there that can test them after to make sure they got the point.
- You can train contractors on new products/processes and installation tips.
- Online lets them take the course on their timeline, not yours.
Both distributors and contractors want to get the most out of both employees as well as opportunities, so you’re better off arming them with the right info.
- According to the American Society of Training and Development, companies that spend $1,500 or more per employee average a profit margin 24% higher than those who don’t invest in their employees.
- Deloitte reports that 18% of all training is now on smartphones.
- Cisco’s VNI Global IP traffic and service adoption forecasts that by 2018, 79% of all internet traffic will be videos.
If you like this post, you might want to read:
Do You Have a B-to-B Video Strategy?
Manufacturers: Are You Missing out on Video Opportunities?
B-to-B Video is on the Rise: Are You Taking Advantage?
January 27, 2015
Do you know that the average office worker checks their email 30 times an hour? Can you imagine what the stats are for contractors out in the field?
The point is that emails are very acceptable ways of communicating with each other. The key is to have relevant and timely info for your prospect.
Heidi Cohen gives us several reasons why email trumps social media:
- Email provides directly measurable ROI – You know immediately how many opened and read your message.
- Email is content format agnostic – It’s user-friendly and you can use text, images, videos, audio, PDFs.
- Email can deliver both long and short content – Content can vary from a link to several pages in length.
- Emails you can control delivery – Whether it’s now or delayed.
- Emails can be read on anything – Smart phones, tablets, laptops, no apps required.
- Emails build customer relationships – Once someone allows you to communicate with them, it represents a certain level of trust.
So since you have such a powerful tool, we need to make sure we’re using it correctly to get the best bang for the buck. eMarketer, in a recent article, stated that we all should get ready for more personalized emails and companies plan on spending more money to accomplish this.
These triggered and transactional emails can be part of a nurturing campaign. The key is getting the right message in the hands of the right people at the right time. You need to ask the right questions to see where they are in the sales funnel so you can address that immediate need.
If we use and target emails correctly, whether you’re going after a contractor or a plant manager, the result improves with the more segmenting you can do. So do your homework and take advantage of a great marketing tool.