Why use Video as Part of your Marketing Mix to Reach the Professional Tradesman

August 18, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Video is a powerful tool. Consumers view more than 8 billion videos a day on YouTube and Facebook. That alone should tell you something – that people like videos. Why should you use short videos to attract the professional tradesman? Show how to solve a problem or demo a new tool or application.

Although there’s no specific research for the B-to-B sector, and more specifically to the professional tradesman, I think it would be safe to assume that these folks like to watch them as well. Here are 12 tips for effective tradesman videos. By using testimonials and showing how a product is used, videos also help move prospects through the sales process.

A recent study was done by Animoto of 1,000 consumers on how they interact with and feel about companies who use videos. Here are some highlights:

  • 25% of consumers lose interest in a company if they don’t use video.
  • Email open rates can increase by up to 50% if video is included.
  • 75% believe a video describing a service is important.
  • 80% believe a demo video is helpful.

How are you using video to help you sell?

Video Marketing Cheat Sheet

Are You Using Landing Pages to Help Qualify Leads?

July 28, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Landing pages are microsites where prospects go when they click-through a link.

landing page

Hopefully, as part of your strategy to move prospects along the selling cycle, you are using landing pages in order to deliver on what you promised. It’s also a great way to track responses and gather contact info. It could also be a way of losing a potential customer.

Here are some tips that might help results:

  • Keep it simple – Deliver on what you promised to get them there in the first place.
  • It’s not about you – How can you help them with a problem that got them there in the first place.
  • This is not an ad – They’re not looking for a sales pitch, but answers to specific questions.
  • Powerful content – Keep it relevant. Don’t focus on key words. Instead, make what you say useful and valuable.

Landing pages focus the visitor on the next step in the process.

All too often, folks want to talk about 5 different things and give them additional links. It won’t work. Just ask yourself – why did they click on a call-to-action that got them here? Then deliver what you promised.

If you want to learn more, you might want to read:

Are you Using Landing Pages?

Product Landing Pages: Tips on How to Improve Performance

Manufacturers: Are you Using Marketing Automation Tools?

July 22, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

To keep our sanity in trying to keep up with and engage potential customers, it makes sense to use some sort of marketing automation tools to help the process. And there are plenty of options out there: Marketo and Hubspot being two of the better known.

We all know nurturing improves lead quality and moves them through the famous sales funnel. The problem is most sales funnels aren’t simple straight lines.

Here’s the reality – the typical sales funnel isn’t as straight forward as we’d like to think especially in the B-to-B world. The Forrester graphic below is probably more accurate.

2015 B2B Buyer Journey

The challenge for me is determining messaging for each level to get them to the next step. We need to make them as personal and to the point as possible, but you can’t have 20 different e-mails.

Depending on what you’re selling (engineered product), the selling cycle is longer, and in many cases, there are multiple decision makers, all of which have different hot buttons. How do you handle them? Ideally you want to send leads to sales that are sales ready.

Here are some tips:

  • Try to identify where they are in the sales funnel so you don’t lose them on messages that are already past.
  • Give them something to download that will help them in their job (i.e. calculator, configurator, relevant case study).
  • Make them aware that CAD files are available for downloading.
  • Try to initiate a question that will want them to talk with one of your application engineers.

What are you doing to better qualify leads before sending them to sales?

Customer Service: How Are You Handling Unhappy People?

July 8, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

I’m amazed by the stats that more than half of those on social media don’t have a plan to respond to negative social media posts. Social media isn’t new, isn’t going away, and if you’ve followed or read anything about this space, you know there have been numerous posts about the subject.

customer service

Customer service departments are usually the place where traditional issues are handled. But when it comes to social media, most don’t know how to find complaints and have a process of responding in a timely manner. Customers especially on the internet want a response and want it now (42% want to be responded to in an hour or less).

I recently read a great article by Jay Baer from Convince and Convert on Why You Need a Customer Service Response Road Map that highlights ways to identify, prioritize, assign responsibility and set deadlines that’s well worth reading.

Negative issues need to be addressed and what better way to hear about issues than on social platforms. Don’t you want to know what customers are saying about you? You’d better be monitoring them and jump in with a plan to respond. There are several monitoring options out there will help you. Here are some free ones: Social Mention, Google Alerts, Hootsuite and TweetDeck.

I recently had an experience with a major faucet manufacturer about a replacement. We had to get a new tub at home and my wife wanted to update the faucets, which we did. The manufacturer sent the wrong spout and it took our plumber almost 2 months to get the replacement for it. They weren’t good at customer service, just making excuses. I made mention (by brand name) on a tweet what my frustration was, and true to form, heard nothing back.

In the short run, ignoring me may not be a big deal to them since I had already purchased the tub set, but in the long run, my wife is planning to replace all the faucets in our 3 bathrooms. Guess who isn’t going to be considered for that purchase?

In a world where we have alternative plans for everything, don’t overlook social responses to negative posts. It’s better to address them straight on or they will fester and come back to bite you when you least expect it. Have a plan in place as negative reviews will affect your SEO.

Unless you are offering something you can’t get anywhere else, then you’re going to have competition from someone. So what makes your customers or potentials want to do business with you instead of them?

Assuming you have a good product, then I’d say the customer experience would be the major deal sealer or breaker. Customer service starts the moment someone from your company answers the phone through the sales process and follow-up with your customer service department if a question or problem arises.

I guess what I’m trying to say is your company’s customer service should start with every employee. Those that are on the front line (be it a CS or delivery man), they have the one-on-one contact with the customer and can sway future purchases by their actions or inactions. We all build our business around repeat sales, so everyone in the company needs to be good will ambassadors. The challenge for all of us is to find the friction in our process and smooth it out.

Here’s a good test. Make a complaint on social media about one of your products (under a name they won’t recognize) and see what kind of response you get.

Is Trust Part of Your Long-Term Marketing Strategy?

July 7, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

trustIn today’s world, trust is a more important marketing asset than the product or service you’re trying to sell. Think about that for a minute. Would you buy something off of someone you don’t trust? Chances are, the answer is no.

Trust is something that’s earned and it’s always been important. But in today’s world, you can’t BS your way through it. People want to see proof. With the internet and social media, the potential customer has several options to gain access to you and how you’re actually performing in the market.

That’s why building trust should be a long-term goal.

I recently read an article by John Jantsch from Duck Tape Marketing, 5 Ways to Make Trust Your Most Important Marketing Asset, that brings home this point. Here are some highlights:

  • What do others say about you – These third-party comments say a lot about how you really do business. Customer reviews impact SEO.
  • Who are you connected with – Who do you hang out with, how do you add value, who do you collaborate with? All help shed a light on who you really are.
  • How do you react – How do you react to questions or negative comments? People are watching.
  • Are you easy to do business with – Convenience has become a value proposition. Actually go through your own process to see how easy it is to really do business with you.

Why Distribution Needs to Charge for Their Expertise

June 30, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Distributors in general are their own worst enemies when it comes to the value they bring to the table and charging customers for it. As their customers are asking for more and are willing to pay less, the distributors’ margins are being reduced and they don’t know how to change the momentum.

If you’re a general line distributor, I wish you the best of luck as you are destined to go out of business if you continue to follow this path. Most distributors who have a specialty like cutting tools/abrasives, power transmissions, bearings, etc. have a distinct value to the proposition, but many aren’t taking advantage of it.

Traditional brick and mortar distributors can’t compete with online catalog sites on price, but what if there’s an on-site production problem? Over the years, I’ve been on several joint end-user calls where the distributor and manufacturer are going in to solve a production problem.

Long ago, the distributors just solved the problems and didn’t charge for it (by the way, it wasn’t usually the product the distributor sold them; it was how the customer was or was not using it correctly).

dollar signI recently read an article in Industrial Distribution by Bill Moore from SKF on how distributors can put a dollar sign on the valuable services they offer. Here are some highlights:

  • Understand your value stream – Are you taking advantage of all the support your manufacturing partners are offering such as training or engineering assistance? All can contribute to a cash value at the customers.
  • Understand the customers’ challenges – Instead of selling him cutting tools, find out what type of production issues they’re having using the tools. Help him solve that. Add value they can’t get somewhere else.
  • Valuate your services – What do you bring to the table that they’d have to hire an outside consultant to do? What price can they put on not having to shut down a production line?

Bottom line is, take advantage of what your supplier partners have to offer. They can help you improve your value and add $ to your bottom line.

How Many Ways Are You Using Content to Reach Tradesmen?

June 24, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

time for content

We all want to get our message in front of contractors. In order to get more out of your content, you need to tie it to your strategy.

We’re all concerned on getting the message out that we sometimes miss other opportunities to use the same content (message) and deliver it differently.

I recently read a post by John Jantsch, 10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content, that brings this into perspective. Contractors get their info in several formats. Have you tried any other ways of delivering your message?

Here are some highlights from John’s post:

  • Turn your post into a series of videos that the sales folks can send out on an individual basis
  • Do a webinar and feature it on your website
  • Use a Slideshare deck that you can use both on Slideshare as well as on your LinkedIn profile
  • Develop an infographic and send it out in an e-blast
  • Testimonials. Get contractors who are already happy customers to give you testimonials, either written or on video.

John’s point is that it’s not the amount of content, but its intention.

What are you doing to maximize your content?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 760 other followers