Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2015

As the Thanksgiving weekend approaches, we’d like to say thanks to the many friends and clients we’ve had the good fortune to come in contact with over the years. We’re all running in several different directions all the time, and this time of year we need to slow down a bit to appreciate the things around us.

So this weekend, don’t take your briefcase home, and your emails will still be there Monday morning when you get back in the office. Recharge your batteries this weekend. Play with your kids or grandkids, visit an old friend or watch some football. We take a lot of things for granted sometimes – our Families and Friends.

Enjoy the weekend. We can get back to the rat race next week.

Content Marketing: More is Not Necessarily Better

November 22, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Your potential audience doesn’t want quantity, they want quality. So if you’re trying to generate more content quicker just for the sake of having it, don’t waste your time. You need to accelerate demand, not noise.

I recently read an article by Carlos Hidalgo from Content Marketing Institute on How to Develop a Buyer-Centric Content Marketing Strategy that made several good points.

The best way to connect with your audience is to determine what kind of content they want. In other words, what motivates buyer behavior and how do they get information? If you know these, you can build the correct content architecture.

  • What motivates buyer’s behavior? You need to have a deeper understanding of how a buyer thinks and then what do we need to say to get him over to our side.
  • How do they get their information? What type of content do they prefer and where do they go to get it?
  • Building a content architecture – Once you have an answer to the above questions, then you can map out a plan to get to them with the right info at the right time.

Content Marketing’s main purpose is to drive specific business outcomes. So the buyers are looking for more info, just the right info. He points to a 2014 ANNUITAS survey where less than 3% of those responsible for content marketing activities were happy with their outcomes. Here’s another scary fact from Sirius Decisions — that 70-80% of all content is never used!

These are not good numbers to take to the C-Suite to get more funding. If you can’t achieve positive and measurable results that can be tied to sales revenues, you really don’t have a content strategy at all.

3 Pricing Adjustments Manufacturers & Distributors Should Make Now

November 18, 2015

This post originally appeared on INSIGHT2PROFIT.com

Years ago, an Ohio-based specialty metal business made the decision not to charge for freight costs, even though their products were extremely heavy. The rationale? None of their competitors were charging, so they couldn’t either.

In reality, this company was  No. 1 in the industry, so all those competitors were actually just following their lead. When the company realized what was going on, it had the opportunity to change the policy for its entire industry.

And so it did—collecting more than $1 million in additional revenues.

Smart companies know pricing strategy isn’t just about the price on the invoice. To have an immediate impact on your bottom line without formally raising prices, here are three areas to tackle first.

1. Freight Costs

If you’ve been operating for decades, your freight policies have probably been in place just as long. Maybe you don’t charge for freight at all, or fees are the same across all territories—or you charge the same as you did 50 years ago even though shipping rates have risen dramatically.

To start, ask yourself:

  • When was the last time our freight terms were updated?
  • What is our justification for our freight policy?
  • What are our competitors doing in this space?

This line of questioning can help internal stakeholders determine if there’s opportunity for improvement without much effort, as the aforementioned specialty metal business discovered.

2. Rush Orders

When you place an order on Amazon.com and you want 2-day shipping, you understand you’ll have to pay premium pricing—in this case, $99 for a year of Amazon Prime.

Your customers realize this, too. Yet many manufacturers and distributors don’t charge extra for rush orders.

If your lead time is two weeks, but your buyer needs his order in three days, are you charging extra? In order to get that order to the buyer within his limited time constraint, you’ll have to disrupt your operation, move around other orders and pay higher shipping costs. You might even put other orders at risk. You should be paid for those efforts, but many manufacturers don’t actively seek compensation.

Remember, if a buyer needs an order faster than usual, they’ll gladly pay to get it sooner.

3. Volume Discounts

It’s natural to want to offer discounts to your biggest customers, but if you don’t have a discounting strategy in place, the practice can steadily erode your bottom line.

Discounts shape your customers’ perception of your pricing: With every discount your give, the lowered price becomes the new standard. The next time that customer calls with an order, she will expect that same price, even if the order is only half the size.

The key here is to communicate early and often regarding volume discounts. When buyers understand why they are receiving discounts for a specific order, they will begin to understand the rationale behind your invoicing and, therefore, not expect discounts with every order.

Additionally, the threat over-discounting poses on profit often goes undetected since most companies don’t truly know how much profit is lost when sales reps offer discounts. Your company does not need to ban discounts all together, but a discount ceiling should be put in place to keep your profits from decreasing too drastically.

Start Small (and Risk-Free) with Freight, Expedites and Discounts

Raising prices throughout each of your product lines can be a highly complex process that demands a lot of analysis. Freight, expedites and discounts are areas you can impact quickly without upsetting current customers.

Start by identifying improvements that can deliver the most profit with the least amount of risk and effort. The extra revenue you uncover can be used to support larger-scale strategic pricing efforts in the future, such as increasing product prices, which will require more time, effort and commitment.

Bad pricing practices are more common than you’d think. Find out why bad pricing happens to good companies in our free guide.

Eliminate the Silo and Become a Change Agent

October 27, 2015

Today we have a guest blog post from Jeff Naymik, Marketing Director at Nook Industries. This post originally appeared on Nook’s blog Making Motion Work and is reposted with permission. Read the original blog here.

We live in a world of instant communication and yet, we are sometimes not good communicators. Poor communication is usually the root problem for creating silos in many technology-driven companies. Development secrets are usually held tightly and limited to only those in the organization who “need to know.”

When you start limiting the flow of information in your organization, divides begin among associates, departments and divisions. Many mature brands struggle with the problem of departmental silos, while some start-ups introduce products at lightning speed. How can this happen? The reason is communication is their lifeline to survival and success.

Look around your organization for signs of silos. You’ll find:

  • Special projects in every department no one has heard of.
  • Too few meetings to inform senior staff of progress.
  • Poor communication from the top illustrating how your efforts fit into the big plan.

Many companies recognize this problem but most don’t know how to address it. The senior staff needs to appoint a cross-functional team of people committed to change, “Change Agents” if you will.

With the backing of the senior staff, this team has the authority to break down barriers of communication throughout the organization. A process needs to be put in place and everyone needs to take ownership.

Change will come through the commitment of proven leaders in the organization as they drive the change process.

Reaching Professional Tradesman: Why Content Marketing Works When Advertising Might Not

September 30, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Contractors and professional tradesman often don’t have time to read the latest trade publication or look at the magazines’ website on a regular basis and might miss your message. Chances are, unless you only make one product, their interest at any given time may be on another product.

When they do go looking for things, the first place most go to is the internet, and the chances are that they are looking for a solution just as much as they are looking for a specific product. That’s why search is so important in the big scheme of things, and what makes you go up in search – good meaningful content!

Heidi Cohen had an interesting article regarding advertising vs. content driven messages that had some good points for the B-to-B market.

B-to-B lags behind the consumer counterpart in doing research before they contact a manufacturer or distribution point. But even at 57%, you’d better have some skin in the game from a search perspective or you’re going to be left at the curb.

Best Lead Generation Tips

Razorfish found that:

  • 50% of U.S. consumers will do anything to avoid ads
  • 75+% of U.S. consumers hate hearing or seeing ads multiple times
  • 65% of U.S. consumers use a DVR to skip ads

Those are some scary numbers, and even though they are consumer driven, remember that those same consumers may be buying your products at their workplace. So what’s the alternative?

  • 86% of U.S. consumers value brands that are useful over those that have interesting advertising.

Translation: give your customers the info they need when they need it. Here are some tips:

  1. Leverage the social media platforms where your customers hang out.
  2. Supply product info for potentials to seek out.
  3. Tap into sources your customers trust, like trade associations.
  4. Make sure the info you give prospects enhances the product value.
  5. Skip the promotion and show them best practices when using your products.
  6. Re-promote your content. Once is not enough.

So the question is, how much effort are you using to create great content?

Here are Some Blogs Professional Tradesmen Read

July 15, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

There are over 152 million blogs – how do you identify and communicate with the right ones to get in front of the professional tradesman? The first question to answer is are your products or services applicable to your end users using social media? If the answer is “yes,” then your goal should be to identify the right communities, monitor them and jump in and get involved!

If social is to be a part of your media relations strategy, you must remember that different rules apply to social:

  • Your brand can be affected positively or negatively. Remember you don’t control the message.
  • Your brand depends on the “loyalists” who are passionate about you.
  • Key blogs or social sites are authored by thought leaders from your industry.

All blogs are not created equal. Do comprehensive research as to the communities you might want to get involved in and then monitor them. If they seem to be talking about relevant topics, jump into the conversation. Social media demands transparency, so be honest in your engagement. Here are a few sites that may be of interest to those going after the professional tradesman:

Blog references:


The blogs of MDM: segmented into Distribution Sales & Marketing; Economy; Human Resources; Industry Insiders; Management & Strategy; Mergers & Acquisitions; Online Marketing; Public Policy; Technology.

Plant Engineering Blogs: designed for plant engineers and maintenance professionals.

The blogs of IMPO: blogs covering various topics related to industrial maintenance and plant operations.

IndustrialSAVER: IndustrialSAVER.com serves as a free all-in-one Online Industrial Marketplace, B2B Classifieds and Trade Portal for those looking to buy/sell all kinds of industrial, engineering and construction supplies, equipment and machinery as well as custom and contract manufacturing solutions.

Industrial/MRO Forums

Industry Week Forum

CR4 Forum

Maintenance Forums: Where reliability and maintenance meet


Residential Construction Blogs

Home Construction Improvement: Todd Fratzel is a full-time principal engineer for a large design-build construction firm. In his spare time, Todd blogs on home improvement and construction. In addition to the expert advice available on this site, Todd is also very accessible for questions or advice about individual projects.

Paragon Remodeling: This company has won awards for Top Remodeler from Qualified Remodeler Magazine for their outstanding home remodeling services for Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. They specialize in deck construction, patio building, window replacement, roofing, siding replacement, sunrooms, kitchen remodeling, bathrooms and basement remodeling. The primary focus of the blog is industry news, contractor requirements, home projects and cost versus value reports.

Commercial Construction Blogs

Construction Market Data: CMD’s portfolio of products and services includes national, regional and local construction data, building product information, construction cost data, market analytics and advertising channels to construction industry professionals in the U.S. and Canada. With a wide range of choices from forums to building codes, this blog includes a vast array of topics. Post subjects include staffing solutions, computer models and Sears houses.

Green Blogs

Building Green: Blog from BuildingGreen.com, an independent publishing company committed to bringing its members accurate, unbiased and timely green design information.

Greenversations: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency keeps a detailed blog about all things green. In addition to employees, the occasional expert guest blogger stops by to post. There is even a section for frequently asked questions.

Architecture and Design Blogs

anArchitecture: A blog by Christoph Wassmann, living and working in Vienna, Austria, anArchitecture is an internationally focused blog related to architecture and architectural thinking. A resource for people in the orbit of architecture, this blog aims to broaden the horizon of architectural design – pushing the boundaries of what architecture can be. He posts regularly with news, links and opinions.

BLDG Blog: This blog is written by Geoff Manaugh, the Senior Editor for Dwell Magazine and author of The BLDGBLOG Book. The blog focuses on architectural conjecture, urban speculation and landscape futures.

Inhabitat: This site is devoted to the future of design, tracking innovations in technology and practices that push architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future. Started by NYC designer Jill Fehrenbacher, this blog was intended as a forum in which to investigate emerging trends in product, interior and architectural design.

Construction Informer: An active blog by Duane Craig with interviews, articles and discussion about building structures and the things that make up the built environment.

Electrical Blogs

LiveWire is the electricalmarketing.com source for electrical news. Monitored and maintained by Jim Lucy and Doug Chandler who are seasoned journalists from the editorial team of Electrical Wholesaling/Electrical Marketing.

Features the latest association news from NAED President and CEO, Tom Naber, and others.

Established in 2013, NEMRA’s blog covers articles produced by the organization as well as follow up information on article topics.

Online Forums

A leading authority on marketing, referral management and search engine optimization for contractors, plumbers, remodelers, landscapers, painting contractors and HVAC contractors throughout North America. The site contains marketing tips, a free marketing newsletter and lots of great ideas on how to win more new clients, get more referrals and win more new business from existing clients

Professional Electrical Contractors’ forum.

Professional Contractors’ forum with electrical sub-forum.

The BIMForum’s mission is to facilitate and accelerate the adoption of building information modeling (BIM) in the AEC industry. Ten subforums have been established to address each relevant industry sector and topic.

Part of a network of forums for professional contractors.

Online forum of Contracting Business; Broader audience that includes consumers and educated DIYers; Peer-to-peer.

HVAC Blogs

ACHR News Blogs
Blogs for The News, includes: Opinions Blog, Editors Blog, Guest Blog and The Coach’s Blog.
Blogs feature news, opinions, business advice and a variety of other topics.

Contracting Business Blogs 
Blogs for Contracting Business, written by editors Terry McIver and Ron Rajecki. Blogs cover a variety of HVAC- and business-related topics.

Energy Vanguard Blog
Energy Vanguard’s mission is to turn houses into high-performance homes through training and design. The blog covers topics including industry standards, building science, industry news, safety issues, conferences and education.

Blogs written by SNIPS Magazine editors Michael McConnell and Kori A. Winters, with contributor Al Levi. Blogs cover industry topics including legislation and trade shows.

Plumbing Blogs

Plumbing Engineer industry news blog.

eLocal site with tips and advice from professionals for homeowners.

This blog is a home base for kitchen and bath professionals hosting a weekly Twitter chat, contains topics, host profiles, transcription and other information.

Blog by internet marketing provider for plumbers that features blog posts and podcasts with advice for plumbers to gain better online visibility.

General Pipe Cleaners’ blog with plumbing and drain cleaning tips and best practices..

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?


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