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.

Is Your Company Giving Back?

September 9, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

give backBeing socially responsible goes beyond individuals. Companies, no matter what size, should support communities where they draw its workforce from.

Plans should be well thought out and be in line with your company, customers and employee’s goals. Although most people think of financial donations as the primary way of showing support, there are many ways to get the entire staff involved like volunteering at a food bank or shelter or building a house for Habitat for Humanity.

A company’s greatest asset are its people. Studies have shown that employees perform better when there are locally supported programs. They are proud to be associated with a company that gives back.

Here are 5 results of developing a community program:

  1. Creates better morale among employees
  2. Helps create a more efficient business process
  3. Builds a strong public image of your company (and is a good recruitment tool)
  4. Better employee loyalty
  5. Attracts new customers

The key to success in my opinion is to get the employees involved with suggestions on where the money would be better spent. Let’s face it, they probably have a better handle on where the greater needs are.

Here are a few examples:

We have a small manufacturing client that has a clear-cut plan for where a portion of the funds will go, but they’ve added a twist. Each employee has control of $1,500 of the company’s money that they have 100% control over where it goes. Talk about engagement!

Since we focus on reaching the professional tradesmen, we have supported the local Habitat for Humanity with an annual tool drive to raise money for them. We are fortunate that many of our clients choose to participate by giving tools and other accessories that can either be used on a project or sold in their ReStore where the money is used for future builds.

These are just a few examples. I’d love to hear how/what your company is doing to support the local communities.

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.

Which Works Better for Reaching Contractors – E-blasts or Direct Mail?

September 2, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

email2 direct mail2





I have this running conversation with clients about which is better, a traditional direct mail program or an e-blast. It’s a tough question to answer and I’m not too sure there is only one answer. There are challenges for using both methods and we have seen it become more and more difficult to get emails delivered even if we use opt-in lists from trade publications and have them send it out under their name.

I think that when reaching out to our target market, the professional tradesman, you have just as good, if not better of a chance, of reaching them with traditional snail mail.

We recently did a sampling program for a client who wanted to focus more on the electronic side of things and wanted to use more, if not most, in this media. They assumed that direct mail was a thing of the past and was too costly (neither of which are true). We convinced them to give both a try and the results were surprising.

The direct mail portion of the program outperformed on average 3-to-1 over the e-blasts. We used the same criteria for both lists and did both within 2 weeks of each other. We’re doing a second test using the same message and list parameters and it will be interesting to see if it still holds true.

We’ve all used both of these marketing tools. My question to you is, have you found one better than the other in reaching contractors or the professional tradesman?

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.

B-to-B Marketers: Why it takes more than three calls to make a sale

August 25, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

We’re all focused on generating more leads these days, but I find it ironic that most companies don’t do much with them once they get them. Simply fulfilling a request is not the answer, but yet many companies do just that. According to a survey of people who have requested info suggests that 80% of all sales are made on or after the third contact. The survey polled over 700 respondents with only 8% buying after the first call.

David Frey, the senior content editor and author of several marketing books advises, “An educated prospect is your best prospect, and if they haven’t become a customer, it’s because you haven’t fully educated them on the value of your product and developed a relationship of trust.” Why do many businesses have a problem following up with their prospective customers? Mr. Frey explained, “The problem is not that small businesses don’t have the capacity to follow-up with prospects, it’s that they don’t have the systems in place to do it well.”

In his recent newsletter, “Follow-Up Marketing: How To Win More Sales With Less Effort,” Mr. Frey advised, “A good follow-up marketing system should have three attributes:

  1. It should be systematic.
  2. It should generate consistent, predictable results.
  3. It should require minimal physical interaction to make it run.

This leads to a more pressing issue and that is, what is the difference between sales lead management and a CRM tool? According to Russ Hill, President of Ultimate Lead Systems: Sales lead management is a sub-function within an overall CRM strategy. Traditional CRM programs like Salesforce.com, SalesLogix, ACT, Goldmine, Maximizer and others focus on the sales person entering and managing his own data and pushing it “up” to management.

Sales lead management starts with management generating and capturing leads from all sources, fulfilling information requests and delivering them to the sales channel and tracking follow-up and sales results to measure marketing return-on-investment.

Here are some other interesting facts:


  • 67% of all inquiries are from legitimate prospects with real needs.
  • 34% have current needs that must be satisfied within 6 months!
  • 70% did not know the company made the product before seeing their ad … making them NEW PROSPECTS!

A six-year study* of nearly 60,000 inquiries conducted by Penton Media Company also found that:

  • 43% of inquirers receive literature and information too late to be of use.
  • 72% of inquirers are NEVER CONTACTED by a salesman.
  • 25% of sales contacts are made at the inquirer’s request.
  • 40% of inquirers purchase the advertised product, a competitive product or change their suppliers.
    * NED Reader Action Reports

The key is to get a lead management system in place that can help your CRM convert those leads into sales.

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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 761 other followers