Are You Making the Most of Your Content Curation?

June 17, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

One of the biggest challenges we all face is getting more out of our marketing budgets. Most of us, when thinking of developing content, think of it as a new task that we have to start with a clean sheet of paper.

Some overlook the fact that you may be sitting on a gold mine of existing content, but have you maximized your existing content (content curation)? Heidi Cohen, in a recent post, Internal Content Curation: What Most Marketers Miss, shows how to give new life to content you’ve already published.

Internal Content Curation -Chart

By changing headlines, graphics or focusing it on a specific industry or application, you can get more mileage out of it. Or utilize the content in a different format, i.e. SlideShare or an infographic. It’s a great way to get more content out there to incremental audiences without spending lots of money.

Heidi lists 10 steps to maximize your internal content curation. Here are a few that caught my eye:

  • Audit existing content – This is low hanging fruit. Look at the gems that get the most attention. Are there content sections missing or that are weak and need to be bolstered up?
  • Gather content from across the organization  Look outside the marketing department for relative content. Don’t overlook customer service, tech service and engineering as good resources. Collect questions they get from customers on a regular basis and make sure you address them.
  • Monitor content analytics – What kind of content attracts the most traffic? What keywords do best? Is one platform outperforming others?

What are you doing to maximize your ROI on content?


Lead Nurturing: What Industrial Marketers Need to Know

June 16, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Industrial marketers who are targeting design engineers need to practice the virtue of patience when communicating with them. I know Sales wants low hanging fruit to sell now, and the C suite is looking for results sooner than later.

The truth is, nothing moves fast when dealing with designers. According to IHS Engineering 360, 70% of new business comes from long-term leads. You don’t know whether they are just fishing for options, have a real project and need help in determining options, or are ready to  download CAD files to put in their drawings.

Very rarely does the conversation start at the download CAD drawings. Being spec’d in can take 6 months to several years. Is it worth it? Long term, I think the answer is yes.

As an industrial marketer, our jobs are to identify where they are in the sales funnel and engage with them as they move toward a sales. Your company needs to be top of mind so when the purchasing decision is being made, you have an advocate inside promoting you.

Here are the four cornerstones of a nourishing campaign:

  1. Nourish – provide them healthy servings of relevant, useful information.
  2. Protect – keep their interest so they don’t abandon you for a competitor.
  3. Support – stay in regular contact and always meet their needs.
  4. Encourage – give them offers to help them through the sales funnel.

IHS Engineering 360 has put together a lead nurturing tool kit. Here are some highlights:wp_leadnurturingtoolkit

  • Respond to inquiries in a timely fashion – if you don’t respond for a month or so, chances are they will have forgotten why they inquired in the first place.
  • Respond appropriately. Define your audience segments so the messages will be meaningful.
  • Offer value, not sales pitches.
  • Create a call to action and objectives. Engage a prospect and monitor results.
  • Build a schedule of multiple touches over a period of time.

What are you doing to nurture leads?


Content Marketing: Who has the Advantage – Big Brands or Small Ones?

May 27, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

gorillaI always like stories of the little guys who take on the 800-lb. gorilla and win the battle. One of the benefits of social media and content marketing is you don’t have to be an 800-lb. gorilla to succeed.

In my opinion, it’s the one who is consistent on providing good content and responding in a timely matter that really counts.

All too often larger companies need to go through a “process” that is very time-consuming for both posting content and answering questions. They may have a bigger staff, but do they know your target customer? They may be able to outspend you, but can you out-market them?

Smaller companies, for the most part, have closer and more frequent contact with customers and know what’s on their minds. Customers don’t care how big you are, they just want solutions/answers to their questions, and if you can offer them more and better content, then you win.

So what constitutes a good Content Marketing Strategy?

Here are some tips:

  • Know your customer
  • Know their pain points
  • Anticipate their questions
  • Know where they look for info and be there
  • Timeliness of responding to questions
  • Be consistent and post content regularly

By following these simple guidelines, you will get the recognition you’re looking for, create engagement with potential customers and become a brand leader. Companies large or small need to focus on customers’ needs and always answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

If you liked this post, you may want to read:

New Content Marketing Research for Manufacturers

Why PR Should be a Part of your Content Marketing Strategy

Do’s and Don’ts of Content Marketing


Do You Use Relationship Marketing When Trying to Reach Contractors?

May 12, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

609_3676925-electricianstalking

I’ve always been a big believer in relationship selling. After all, we usually buy stuff from people we know, like and trust. Agree? So why not take that to another step in the selling process by using the same principles to your marketing efforts?

This is especially true now that content and content marketing is such a big part of everyone’s overall strategy.

We all have heard the saying that Content is King and Community is its Kingdom, but what brings them together? It’s building solid relationships with Contractors and Tradesmen using relationship marketing.

I recently read a post by Wade Harman, Why relationship marketing is the key to your content, where he outlines a strong case for using this type of tactic.

He points out that we need to know and understand what our target wants and needs. They want solutions, not necessarily a sales pitch. You need to make yourself available in conversations with contractors.

He also points out that we should collaborate with others that share the same passion. For an example, say your target is professional plumbers. You want to focus on products that will help them do their install better. You’re not interested (nor capable) in helping them market their plumbing business locally.

Why not team up with someone who’s focus is just that, like Plumbers SEO.net or Darren Slaughter who specializes in contractor marketing.

This blog focuses on helping manufacturers better communicate with contractors and professional tradesmen. We have three challenges: 1) identify our audience, 2) give them meaningful content, and 3) keep them coming back. One of the most important things I try to communicate is that to be successful, you must be able to engage and have a genuine relationship with your reader.

Here are some steps to build those relationships:

  • A genuine relationship starts with you – start with an open and positive mindset and be willing to work on the relationship.
  • Make posts as helpful and useful as you can – it’s not about you, it’s about your readers’ problems and concerns.
  • Be helpful and positive in all interactions – whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or your blog…always be helpful, positive and upbeat.
  • Encourage discussion in comments – you’re not the only one with good ideas. Make sure to engage on your response and ask their opinion.
  • Give back on other blogs – link when appropriate to other blogs, visit their sites and make comments and write guest posts for them.

One of the most important points is you can’t fake this stuff. If you are just pretending to care about your readers, if you don’t really want to talk to them, they’ll feel it and then you’ve lost them.


Are Your Employees Brand Ambassadors? Why Not?

April 22, 2015

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent at Sonnhalter

Osborn

Photo Courtesy of Osborn

Do your employees know where your products are used? Do they know the applications the parts they make make possible? Are they aware of the history and critical nature of your company? There are many simple, cost-effective ways to increase productivity and morale by implementing a program that lets them know.

To land new business, you’re always told to “Tell Your Story” well. It’s just as important to tell it internally. Why?

It makes employees feel like part of the plan – Let them see the big picture and where you as a company fit into it

It helps them see the long view, not just their day-to-day part in it – There’s a plan, not just a daily task

It builds internal networks – If Engineering tells their story to Customer Service, everyone sees people and faces, not silos

It allows them to be brand ambassadors – If they know the story you want told, then that’s the story that gets re-told

So how do you reach them? That’s the easiest part—the same way you reach new customers:

Host an Employee Open House – Let them show off to their kids, and see what goes on in other departments

Giving a tour of your facility? Engage employees – Don’t treat them like an extension of the machine they’re working, but have them describe what they do, and the cost savings, quality assurance or other aspect of their work

Start an internal newsletter – It’s a great place to either post external press releases, or develop case studies for outside use

Cover the Walls – Advertising blown up as posters reinforce your brand internally and when guests tour your facility

Let them hear & be heard – Have a quarterly or monthly meeting of non-managerial representatives from every department, and allow for an open exchange or ideas, complaints and stories

Highlight your company’s history whenever possible – Old ads, press clippings or photos give a sense of pride and place

Have a mission statement – And stress it internally. Print it on business cards, coffee cups in the vending machines; anywhere it will be seen regularly

You don’t need to be told that Manufacturing has gotten a bad rap. For years it’s been the butt of jokes, seen as a “dead end” and been declared all but extinct in this country by countless talking heads.

Well those people are wrong. And the house they left to get into the car they drove to the studio where they made their comments is testament to it. And it’s time your employees knew that too.

I once heard a really cool story about the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It has a unique elevator that kind of side-steps its way up to the top of the arch. Well if you look into the arch, instead of out at the view, along the way you’ll see large welder-generators. They’ve been there since the Arch was built in the mid 60’s. Because of the way the arch was made, it was impossible to move them, so they just left them, placed another (which also got left behind) and kept building.

As a former employee of that welding manufacturer, I think that’s fascinating, and if I could ever get over my nagging fear of heights, it would be the best part of the trip up. To know that something that was made in the same building I worked in was instrumental in a project like that, it just boggles the mind. All the “ordinary” people, doing their “ordinary” job at factories all across the country added up to a modern marvel like that. Inspire that sense of awe in your employees, and they’ll help do the heavy lifting of establishing a brand.


ISH 2015: The Biggest Tradeshow I’ve Ever Attended

April 21, 2015
Source - Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera

Source – Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

I recently attended the ISH Show, a biennial show, which took place in Frankfurt, Germany in March. This was the first time I was able to attend this show and it sure did not disappoint. I guess the one word I would use to describe this show would be overwhelming!

Here are some of the amazing statistics from the show:

  • Over 850,000 square feet of exhibit space – sprawled out over 11 buildings, most with multiple levels
  • Almost 2,500 exhibitors – representing over 50 countries; and this number is not nearly as impressive as the individual sizes of their booths; 61% of these exhibitors came from outside of Germany
  • Nearly 200,000 visitors – from plumbing and HVAC professional tradesman (accounting for around a third of the total), architects and engineers, to distributors, service providers, public authorities and more; 37% of these visitors came from outside Germany
Source - Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera

Source – Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Pietro Sutera

This is by far the world’s leading show for the combination of water and energy topics. Everything one could possibly imagine for these industries was covered under the following five product groups:

  1. The Bathroom Experience – think of KBIS on steroids…Grohe and Hans Grohe even had their own buildings
  2. Building and Energy Technology – everything from boiler and burners, to heat pumps and components for heating equipment
  3. Efficient Systems and Renewable Energies – all the alternative energies were represented from solar, rain water, biomass and geothermal, plus there was even an entire floor dedicated to stoves, pellet burners and fireplaces
  4. Air-Conditioning, Cooling and Ventilation Technology – this section was comparable to the entire AHR Expo in U.S.
  5. World of Installation Technology – covering plumbing techniques, tools and systems for surface mounting, pipes, fittings and fasteners
Source - Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Jens Liebchen

Source – Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Jens Liebchen

The overall theme for ISH 2015 was “Comfort meets Technology” where the world’s leading companies covered future-oriented issues such as resource conservation and renewable energies. Here are some of the other broad themes covered during the show:

  • ISH Water: Interior + Technology – Design and Function in Harmony. Topics covered included: the multi-generational bathroom; bathroom architecture in the light of demographic change; hygiene requirements for drinking water and efficient use of water as a resource
  • ISH Energy: Energy Efficiency Plus. Topics covered included: energy efficiency in the heating market; hybrid systems; using a single room fireplace to provide comfortable warmth and holistic sustainability
  • Future Buildings: Topics covered included technology, comfort and energy efficiency in harmony; integrating automation of interior spaces and energy efficiency and smart living – the networked home becomes an everyday reality

Amazingly, this show is really equivalent in size to 4 or 5 of our major U.S. professional tradesman shows. The show was five days in length and you needed almost all of it to walk the entire show. And the booth traffic was tremendous, and not just on the first day of the show like most U.S. trade shows, seeming to build each and every day.

If you’ve never been to the ISH Show and you are involved in any part of the Water and Energy fields, it’s definitely worth attending. Just make sure to book your travel accommodations early and wear comfortable walking shoes!

Want to keep reading about ISH? Check out these links:

Holy cow! ISH Show continues to amaze

6 plumbing trends from ISH

The show that is del-ISH

ISH Frankfurt 2015 Recap from Eric Aune

ISH 2015 — Day 1

ISH 2015 — Day 2

ISH 2015 — Day 3


Tips on Building a Good Contractor Email List

April 14, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

tradesperson-cement

Let’s face it, we’re all in this for the same reason. To talk with people who share the same interest. We must always be tweaking and improving what we deliver.

So in order to get them to give up their email, we better come up with some interesting and helpful stuff that will make them want to read our emails for future gems. It’s not only what you have to say, but how you say it. Beyond being potential customers, these contractors can be your best friend by sharing it with their peer group.

Here are some tips to building a better list of contractors and tradesmen:

  • Think like a contractor  What are their pain points? Give them practical solutions.
  • Talk like a human – Don’t use marketing or sales speak. Keep it conversational.
  • Give them a reason to sign up – Sneak peeks at new products, exclusive product demos.
  • Ask the contractor what they want help with – Get engagement from the audience you want to reach.
  • Don’t be afraid of humor – People like to smile and it shows more of your human side.
  • Reach out to contractors – On a regular basis, randomly pick several contractors and have a product manager call and pick their brains on possible new product ideas.

Emails are back and stronger than ever if we do them right.


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