The Challenges of Being Seen, Heard and Read

May 20, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Everyone is getting better at resisting all the interruption-driven ads and promotions. Your customers are taking control of what they want to read or look at.

So what’s the answer? Quit selling and start giving them what they want (helpful content), where they want it and when they want it.

I recently read a post by George Stenitzer on Content Marketing Institute that talked about when more people are saying no to ads, what options do we have to get your message in front of them?

He cites some amazing stats:

  • Mobile has taken over as the first screen to view content
  • Over 50% of Americans record TV shows and don’t watch commercials
  • 91% of consumers unsubscribe or unlike brands for which they once opted in for

George gives us some helpful ways to make sure your content is seen and read.

  1. Permission is golden – If someone allows us to share info with them, make sure you give them good relevant content (it’s not about you).
  2. Give them what they want – A small percentage of your content will outperform the rest. Use your analytics to give them more of the same.
  3. Earn their attention in 7 seconds (23 words) – In the battle for attention, you need to answer the question quickly of what’s in it for them. Use images where possible.
  4. Keep customer info up to date – If you’re trying to be more personal and have the wrong info, you’ve lost the battle before it started.

These tips are not earth shattering, but a good reminder of what sets good content apart from the other self promotions.

4 Trades That Are Crucial to the Construction Industry

May 19, 2015

Today we have a guest blog post on behalf of WIA (Welding Industries of Australia) on four trades that are crucial for the construction industry.

Whether you live in a small town or a large city, you rely on the construction industry to provide infrastructure. From large corporations to modest family households, the construction industry is responsible for creating buildings that shelter you. But while we may depend on this industry for many things, the industry itself relies on several specialized trades. Here are four of the trades that are vital to the field of construction.

1. Electricians

Readi609_3399637ng at night, keeping cool in the summer, using computers at work or cooking a meal, there’s a seemingly endless list of day-to-day activities that are made possible by electricians. In our modern society, there’s no doubt that any building without electrical wiring would be virtually useless; the construction industry wouldn’t get very far without the skills of electricians. And while these tradespeople generally get paid well (U.S. News puts the average salary for electricians at around $50,000), there are certainly drawbacks to this profession. Aside from limited promotion opportunities and a lack of flexibility, electricians also face the very real risk of injury or death on a daily basis. According to Electrical Contractor magazine, 143 or so construction workers die due to electrocution each year, with about 34 percent of these individuals being electrical workers. It’s little wonder electricians experience above-average stress levels on the job.

2. Carpenters

Most of the wooden furni432_2980060ture you use, timber floors you walk on and wooden walls and beams that support the roof over your head are the handiwork of carpenters. When you consider that the majority of homes in the U.S. are constructed with timber frames, the importance of carpentry becomes even more obvious. With over 900,000 carpenters in the country and projections for this number to rapidly grow, this trade is clearly an important part of the construction industry. Fortunately, the decent working conditions and respectable average salary of about $45,000 should see this trade continue to flourish in the future.

3. Welders

Welders, often categorized together with cutters, solderers and brazers, are essentially the metal equivalent of carpenters. From manufacturing household appliances, to building race cars, there is a uniquely diverse range of projects that a skilled welder can find themselves working on. While less known than other trades, welding is an extremely valuable element of the construction industry.430_4403220

Welders require thorough training and often need to earn credentials before landing their first job. Sometimes, they also have to invest in their own equipment from a specialist provider like WIA. These factors may contribute to the fact that welding is the only trade on this list that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted will decline in number moving towards 2022. According to this Forbes article, welding is one of the main fields in which an older average population of workers could lead to a shortage in the near future. This means that welding is not just a crucial trade for the construction industry, it’s also a worthwhile career path for young aspiring tradespeople.

4. Plumbers

Similar to electricians, plumbers are essential in the construction of any contemporary building. They also become vital tradespeople when you want to renovate a bathroom, decide to add an en suite to your home or have any toilet issues. 609_3677189The task of keeping our pipes and water systems functioning smoothly employs about 390,000 plumbers in the U.S., and this number is expected to grow much faster than the average profession this decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This steady growth is likely due to the construction industry’s (and society’s) consistent demand for plumbing work, combined with the healthy average salary of around $49,000 and the job satisfaction that comes from regularly making a difference to the lives of other people.

There are many trades that form integral parts of the construction industry – these are just four of the most crucial ones. Reflecting on the important role these tradespeople play can help us appreciate and understand why pursuing a trade can be a lucrative and very fulfilling path.

Why Forecasting and Budgeting are Vital to Success

May 6, 2015

Today, we have a guest blog from Emily Hunter on the importance of forecasting and budgeting when making smart financial and HR decisions in planning a successful business model.

Adjust sales budget concept

Why Forecasting and Budgeting are Vital to Success

There are countless aspects to running a successful enterprise, and forecasting and budgeting are amongst the most important. Without a proper focus on these aspects, a business can easily spend too much money, make errors in hiring and have different departments in a company working toward competing goals. Let’s take a look at some of the more important reasons that budgeting and forecasts are so vital to keeping your business in sync.

Planning for the Unexpected

One mishap or emergency can sometimes spell disaster for the entire company. Being ill-prepared for these events can result in a company going out of business or, best-case scenario, having a long run of unprofitable months. This is where budgeting and forecasting models are so essential. Though a time may never come when a contingency plan is necessary, having one in place is still important.

Forecasting potential issues can help a company stay afloat if, for instance, a top producer in the corporation departs. Having a financial plan set up to keep a company going strong in this instance, and in many others, prevents any one department, individual or another aspect of a company from being the only thing keeping it successful.

Making Appropriate HR Decisions

Some companies hire an overabundance of new employees with the idea that they’ll need them in the long run. This can be an unfortunate decision if proper budgeting and forecasting solutions aren’t implemented. Discovering that unnecessary resources are being spent can sometimes result in angry former employees and increased unemployment insurance costs.

Fortunately, enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions can help in this situation. Because these types of tools allow multiple departments to simultaneously access information and data related to inventory management, product planning, marketing and a variety of other aspects, it’s easier to forecast staffing needs instead of making pointless hires. In the end, this can save untold expenditures in training and other human resources expenses.

Improving Income Statements

Operational plans are essential to forecasting projected income for a corporation. Making them more efficient is a great way to improve budgeting and forecasts, and thus be prepared for events which could impact a company’s progress. Creating these plans is much easier and produces better results when cash flow statements and balance sheets are integrated between all departments.

Increasing Good Collaboration

Effective budgeting and forecasting tools can also ensure that collaborative projects run much more smoothly and efficiently at any company. Simply imagine an individual ordering inventory without realizing that another employee has just made a huge sale that will diminish much that is on hand. Similarly, someone focusing solely on inventory without realizing that the approaching month’s sales will be slower can result in overstock.

ERP software can go a long way to prevent such mistakes from occurring. All employees who would benefit from access to the forecast model can be added to the shared permissions for any collaborative sections. This allows for more cooperative human resources; when each employee knows the full circle of their tasks, it is less likely that costly mistakes will be made.

Recognizing Growth Opportunities

Properly created budgeting and forecasting models allow a company to make informed decisions on whether or not they can expand. By using the reports derived from this data, it’s possible to answer questions such as: “Can we afford another employee in Department X,” or “Will increasing production result in enough sales to still cover overhead costs while still turning a profit?”

There are not many aspects of a company that the elements of forecasting and budgeting do not directly affect. Because of this, an ERP software solution containing these elements is certainly amongst the best software investment a budding entrepreneur can include in their budget. The aforementioned benefits are just a small sampling of what a successful budgeting and forecasting model can do to ensure your company’s ultimate success.

Emily Hunter is a SEM Strategist and Outreach Supervisor at the Marketing Zen Group, working closely with TGO Consulting. She loves designing strategies with her team and is excited about spreading the Zen gospel. In her spare time, she cheers for Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment, crafts her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen

Did Your Website Survive Mobilegeddon?

May 5, 2015

And Did You Know It Happened?

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent at Sonnhalter


(image courtesy of CNET)

On April 21st, Google changed its search results algorithm.

Sounds boring, right? Well the results of that change may impact your business more than you think. As of that Tuesday, nicknamed Mobilegeddon by various media outlets, the mobile friendliness of a site is now a more important factor in ranking mobile search results. Why the change? Because the way we access the web is changing.

Last year, it was estimated that over half (60% by some estimates) of all online traffic was from mobile devices. Facebook reports that 85% of daily access to its site is from mobile devices, and last holiday season, Amazon stated that 60% of all sales were from, you guessed it, mobile. At the same time, Google’s dominance in mobile has slipped. As more and more mobile search comes from apps rather than true search, so has their share of traffic and revenue. In 2014, they reported 68% of all mobile search revenue. Impressive, but dramatically down from the 82.8% only 2 years earlier.

So What Can You Do?

First and foremost, find out how mobile friendly your website is. Google has a site, here, that will score your site ( scores an “awesome”) Now that you know, there are several steps you can take:

  • Add some elements to your pages to make them more user-friendly:
    • Have text that is readable without tapping or zooming
    • Make sure tap targets are spaced appropriately
    • Avoid unplayable content and horizontal scrolling
  • The update applies to individual pages, not entire websites, so make sure your most critical pages such as product pages, receive mobile makeovers first.
  • Pages being a good search match still trump mobile-friendliness, so make sure you know how people search. Customers probably aren’t searching by product number, so make sure your pages contain common keywords and industry-specific slang.
  • This new criteria only applies to mobile searches, so know how your customers are finding you. It may be that you don’t need a mobile strategy right now. But keep in mind that the biggest name in search has a mobile strategy, so soon you’ll need one too.

Stop and Smell the Roses

March 31, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter


Last week I was reminded of how fragile life really is. I lost a friend who was only 57 and appeared to be in great health and they found him at work in his car. One really doesn’t know when your time is up.

It got me to thinking that in this world where emails are the last thing we check at night and the first thing we check in the morning might not be the most important thing in the big picture. I know I’m guilty of that as much as anyone.

Maybe we should step back on a more frequent basis and appreciate our families and friends more. Oh, by the way you, should tell them! Play hooky some afternoon and take your grandkids out to the zoo. Take your wife on a picnic.

I guess as I get older I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who had a successful career but never took the time to enjoy life. There’s got to be a better balance in life. I know this might be a little late for a New Years resolution, but I think I’m going to stop and smell more of the roses.

PMPA National Technical Conference- Empowering Your Team

March 30, 2015


great event for manufacturing. Learn and share with peers

Originally posted on Speaking of Precision Blog:

The National Technical Conference is one of PMPA’s most valued deliverables. Produced by members for members, this conference shares how- to‘s across the full range of our industry’s challenges- Operations, Management and Quality. Presenters are people that can (and do!) do the work:.

  • Building an Effective Training Program being presented by Shingo Silver Award winning shop experts Dan Vermeesch of Micron Manufacturing company and Dave Masereau of Boston Centerless.
  • Gary Griffith (our highest ranked presenter) is back with a great workshop on GD&T.
  • Diane Thielfoldt with more about our millennial workforce.

Plus sessions on Troubleshooting,  ISO 9001:2015 , Rapid Improvement Events, Finish Issues, Shop Floor Math, Innovating with CAM and CNC, Print and part review– to name just a few. This conference is truly packed with a host of opportunities for your team to bring back new ideas and  new capabilities to your…

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Are Field Salesmen Dead?

February 18, 2015

I recently read an article in Industrial Distribution Magazine by Justin Roff-Marsh that basically said that the industrial distributor field salesman, as we know it, is DOA.

I don’t know what planet he was born on, but it wasn’t this one! If he was, he would realize that to survive against the big national brands, they must have a unique selling proposition and a strong brand promise.

Granted, if you’re a general line house, your survival rate isn’t good. But most distributors today focus on either a market (Electrical, Plumbing, Construction, etc.) or in specific disciplines like power transmission, cutting tools or industrial hose and fittings. They become experts in that field and customers depend on them for not only product, but advice. This is how they can compete with the Biggies like Grainger and Fastenal.

Speaking of the big boys, who’s going to tell them to stop opening more brick and mortar stores and by all means don’t hire any salesmen!

If this guy did his homework, he’d know that in these models, a lot of their customers come to them. I bet he’d be surprised if he were to walk into a STAFDA, electrical or plumbing wholesaler between 6:30 and 9 any morning, that he’d have a pretty good chance of being run over by customers picking up stuff. And they’re not just picking up an order, they’re talking with counter people on how to solve a particular problem. What’s that worth?

Granted, the role of field salesman has changed over the years, and I don’t expect anyone makes cold calls anymore. But the seasoned field salesman is worth his weight in gold. He’s aware of his surroundings as he walks through a plant or construction site identifying opportunities for new sales. You can’t do that on a phone call or an email.

Years ago, I was making a sales call with a salesman who was called into a customer who was having some production problems with cutting tools. I was amazed as this salesman walked onto the shop floor and walked directly to the CNC machine that they were having trouble with (without even being told ) by just listening to the sound of the machine. He suggested a few adjustments to the feeds and speeds and the problem was solved. The point is, they don’t teach that in college or anywhere else. It comes from experience.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is people still like to buy from other people. If you have value and can help them do their job better, you can bet they’ll make time for you. Look at independent buying groups like Affiliated Distributors or NetPlus Alliance. Each year, they post strong sales growth despite the growing competition. I’ll bet field salesman come into that equation somewhere.


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