Skilled Workforce: Alternative Jobs That Don’t Need a 4-year Degree

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.”

Electrician & Breaker Panel

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.


New Content Marketing Research for Manufacturing

March 18, 2015

A new study published by The Content Marketing Institute identifies tactics that are working for manufacturing. The B-to-B sector has always been known to be slightly behind the curve when compared to consumer goods, but the manufacturing side is even farther behind.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that this sector is willing to try things, and this study shows that they are now identifying things that work and are focusing on improving them.

2015-MFG-Research-goals-image 1Beyond brand awareness, their primary concern is sales, and to get to sales, they need to generate leads. Ironically, even though they identify sales as the top goal, fewer than half use sales as a measure of content marketing success. One of the challenges is getting everyone on the same page as to who you are and what you want to accomplish. Mixed or multiple messages don’t work.

Manufacturers top 5 effective tactics are:

  1. In-person events
  2. Videos
  3. Webinars/webcasts
  4. Case studies
  5. White papers

Manufacturers are presently working on:

  1. Converting website visitors
  2. Organizing content on website
  3. Creating better, more engaging content
  4. Better understanding their audiences and how/when they consume content
  5. Finding more/better ways of repurposing content 

So how do these results stack up with what you’re doing?

As a side note, this fall, Content Marketing World will have a whole day focused on the manufacturing sector and it’s worth attending. Great speakers and ideas.


For Your Lead Nurturing Programs – Where do you Find Good Content?

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?


Are Independent Industrial Distributors Helping Amazon to Succeed?

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!

How ironic!


Are You a Strategic or Tactical Thinker?

February 10, 2015

Strategic or Tactical, which is more important? It takes both to ensure a comprehensive marketing program. Most of us have no problem doing tactics since we can list the tasks and check them off.

Strategic thinking is another matter. It really sets the tone from which the tactics are identified and then implemented.

Jason Falls from Social Media Explorer summed it up very simply on what the difference is.

Strategy vs. Tactic Pyramid

Strategic thinking identifies who we are or who we want to be. What do we stand for?

Tactical identifies those things (what we do) in order to support our strategic thinking.

My biggest challenge is that I always tend to fall back on tactics because I can, in my own mind think that by checking off tasks, I’m accomplishing something. I guess I am, but it’s short-term.

The best way for me to make sense of both of them is that strategic is long-term and tactics are more short-term.

Do you have the same struggle with strategies like I do ?

I know we need both and we can’t have meaningful tactics until we have a strategy.


Online Video Training Can Make Contractors Be More Productive

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?


Email Marketing: Still a top performer

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.


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