November 18, 2014
Did you know that we spend 25 percent of our waking hours listening?
Are we making the most out of it, and what’s more important, what are we missing?
If social media hasn’t taught us anything else, its made it clear that people want to be heard. Listening makes us better people whether it’s listening to our kids, friends, coworkers or customers. We all fall prey to interrupting someone to make a point. We’re so busy thinking about what we’re going to say instead of listening to what’s being said and responding appropriately.
From a leadership point of view, listening is the most important skill a strong leader can have.
In the business world, listening spurs conversations which leads to resolutions and probably more sales. We need to make sure our salesmen and customer service folks are honing these skills.
According to an article in American Express‘ open forum, the article cites a study by the American Listening Association that only 2 percent of all professionals obtain any training to improve their listening skills.
As the landscape continues to change, prospective new customers armed with the internet and social media now are coming to the table with a whole nother set of questions which we may have to think about before we answer. Truly listening to customers can lead to more business!
Here a few listening tips:
- Focus on what people are saying instead of formulating a response before they finish
- Interpret what you hear
- Clarify what you heard
- Ask open-ended questions to engage deeper conversation
- Validate what you heard
Just because you listen doesn’t mean you have to agree. Good listening spurs good conversations and that’s what we’re all looking for.
November 13, 2014
Sandy Bucher, Media Engineer, Sonnhalter
Have you ever had a question that you didn’t have the answer to, and wanted to ask a person in the same occupational trade as you? If you normally read magazines specific to your trade, there is a chance that magazine may offer a forum where you can post a question and have like-minded participants help answer it for you. Or, if you search for a trade-specific forum, you’re very likely to find one out there.
I’ve listed some forums below to give you a head start. Don’t be afraid to ask anything. There are always people out there willing to help you out.
HVAC-Talk.com – online forum of Contracting Business
HVACSite.com – forum for the HVAC market
Plumbing Talk – online forum of Contractor Magazine
PlumbingZone.com – for professional plumbers only
RIDGIDForum.com – a forum of RIDGID users
ElectricianTalk.com – forum for the Electrical market
Different trade forums for contractors
ContractorTalk.com – forums for all kinds of trades
November 12, 2014
I just returned from the STAFDA show which was held in Charlotte, NC. It was the biggest one in some years.
The show, for the most part, was upbeat, and the economic forecast for the next few years looks promising for the construction market.
I talked to several manufacturers and they seemed happy, for the most part, on the turnout for the trade show. The last day didn’t set any records, but most trade shows don’t.
In talking with several distributors and a few buying groups that were there, they confirmed that they were having great growth in 2014 and expect it to continue into 2015.
It was nice to go to a distributor/manufacturer meeting where both sides were positive. Hopefully the crystal ball will be right.
November 11, 2014
I know we all know “CONTENT IS KING” and we focus on putting out good stuff. But we should be just as focused on building the list to whom we’ll be sending all this valuable info. There are so many sources for gathering data from trade shows, PR and leads from advertising. We need to formulate a plan to separate them by market, industry or other criteria so specific targeted messages can be sent with a strong call to action.
It’s a fact that if you have an engaged database of subscribers, you have a captive audience, not only for them to read, but to share. I recently read a post on problogger.net by James Penn entitled, 10 Ways to Get More Email Subscribers For Your Blog that I thought brought home some key points.
Among them are:
- Use multiple opt-in forms – have 3-4 in your newsletter template. The more you have, the better the chances of them signing up.
- Offer a freebie for signing up – Give them a report, industry trends or white paper for signing up.
- Use your most popular posts – They will continue to bring in traffic.
- Create special reports on industry issues – Use already existing content to create.
- Ask readers to join your email list – What better way to get people on board.
These are some great tips. What are you doing to increase your email lists?
November 6, 2014
Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org.
Sauder Woodworking and MAGNET Find A Way To Innovation
When Sauder Woodworking began seeing less growth and profits, the company couldn’t afford to invest in innovation, yet truly needed to explore new markets. By reaching out to MAGNET, the Sauder Company received structured guidance towards innovating a new kind of product and ensuring its financial success. In this video, you’ll learn how MAGNET helped lead the Sauder Woodworking Company to create the innovative and commercially successful WoodTrac Ceiling System.
Click here to read the original post.
October 23, 2014
Scott Bessell, Idea Builder at Sonnhalter
Over the years, I’ve watched the relationship trend between clients and agencies shift from a partnership level to a vendor level. I’ve seen it from both the client side and the agency side.
Many times budgets force the terms of these relationships to change, but when you’re looking for an agency (or at your current one) the primary question regarding your relationship is:
“Do I need a partner or a vendor?”
via Trevor Hurlbut
Understandably, agencies prefer to be partners. Partnership, like a good marriage, and integration into and with your marketing team and plans make it easier for us to do what you need and make us invested in your work, and in your success.
A few of the benefits of making your agency your partner, rather than your vendor, are:
- You know that you can call your agency and automatically be on the same page and your agency will regularly provide updates.
- Trust is something that is earned, which takes time and is natural in a long-term partnership. It cannot be developed as an “on-call” vendor.
- You know, and can depend on, your agency to produce what you need, when you need it.
- You know your agency’s abilities and processes and your agency knows your message, your brand and your goals–in other words, you’re always on the same page.
Partnerships lead to a more secure, efficient and comfortable relationship. And if the word “partnership” makes you uncomfortable, might I suggest “going steady?” It’s certainly better than a one-nighter.