What is a QR Code?

September 15, 2015

Quick Response (QR) codes seem to be everywhere. They can be a great tool in mobile marketing if you use them correctly.

In the latest video in Sonnhalter’s Marketing Minute series, Matt shares some ways to use QR codes effectively to reach a mobile audience.

To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here.

Is Your Company Giving Back?

September 9, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

give backBeing socially responsible goes beyond individuals. Companies, no matter what size, should support communities where they draw its workforce from.

Plans should be well thought out and be in line with your company, customers and employee’s goals. Although most people think of financial donations as the primary way of showing support, there are many ways to get the entire staff involved like volunteering at a food bank or shelter or building a house for Habitat for Humanity.

A company’s greatest asset are its people. Studies have shown that employees perform better when there are locally supported programs. They are proud to be associated with a company that gives back.

Here are 5 results of developing a community program:

  1. Creates better morale among employees
  2. Helps create a more efficient business process
  3. Builds a strong public image of your company (and is a good recruitment tool)
  4. Better employee loyalty
  5. Attracts new customers

The key to success in my opinion is to get the employees involved with suggestions on where the money would be better spent. Let’s face it, they probably have a better handle on where the greater needs are.

Here are a few examples:

We have a small manufacturing client that has a clear-cut plan for where a portion of the funds will go, but they’ve added a twist. Each employee has control of $1,500 of the company’s money that they have 100% control over where it goes. Talk about engagement!

Since we focus on reaching the professional tradesmen, we have supported the local Habitat for Humanity with an annual tool drive to raise money for them. We are fortunate that many of our clients choose to participate by giving tools and other accessories that can either be used on a project or sold in their ReStore where the money is used for future builds.

These are just a few examples. I’d love to hear how/what your company is doing to support the local communities.

Tips on How to Build an Effective Landing Page to Reach Contractors

September 8, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Landing pages are a great way to both monitor and capture information. The key to successful landing pages are to focus on the one message that got them to that page and deliver.

No matter what kind of promotion you’re doing, when going after the professional tradesmen, the bottom line is you want them to ask for more info and ultimately a sale. You can’t do that in an ad (print or digital) by itself. You need those that are interested in whatever it is you’re selling to go somewhere to get more info. Effective landing pages make it clear what the visitor is going to do/get for the site.

A good call to action should fit seamlessly in the flow of the landing page so even if they are scanning the page it will stand out and will give them a clear and compelling reason next step.

Make sure the call to action is “above the fold” if your landing page is more than one screen. We don’t want to take the chance of them not scrolling down to get what they want. Give them more details on what you’re offering and a reason to give up their contact info in order to get it. If you’ve promised a contractor a mobile app that will make his life easier, tell him in more details why.

Landing pages help segment markets, capture leads and make it possible to monitor advertising effectiveness.

  • By directing them to a specific page with an offer and the appropriate form to fill out, it makes it more likely that they will complete the form and convert to a lead.
  • If your visitors decide to download your offer, why not invite them to share your content?
  • Lead nurturing is a very important part of the process. 50% of those who respond aren’t ready to buy just yet.
  • 78% of sales that start with a web inquiry get won by the first company that responds.
  • By sending a follow-up thank you to those that downloaded material, you have the opportunity to offer them additional info and downloads, as well as asking them to share this with others via social media.

Contractors’ time is precious, so keep the message to only a few short paragraphs and use bullet points where possible. Test it out first. Pass it by some contractors to get their feedback and see if they get the intended message the way you intended.

You’ve spent time, money and energy to get them to this page and you don’t want to lose them.

Which Works Better for Reaching Contractors – E-blasts or Direct Mail?

September 2, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

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I have this running conversation with clients about which is better, a traditional direct mail program or an e-blast. It’s a tough question to answer and I’m not too sure there is only one answer. There are challenges for using both methods and we have seen it become more and more difficult to get emails delivered even if we use opt-in lists from trade publications and have them send it out under their name.

I think that when reaching out to our target market, the professional tradesman, you have just as good, if not better of a chance, of reaching them with traditional snail mail.

We recently did a sampling program for a client who wanted to focus more on the electronic side of things and wanted to use more, if not most, in this media. They assumed that direct mail was a thing of the past and was too costly (neither of which are true). We convinced them to give both a try and the results were surprising.

The direct mail portion of the program outperformed on average 3-to-1 over the e-blasts. We used the same criteria for both lists and did both within 2 weeks of each other. We’re doing a second test using the same message and list parameters and it will be interesting to see if it still holds true.

We’ve all used both of these marketing tools. My question to you is, have you found one better than the other in reaching contractors or the professional tradesman?

12 Tips for Contractor Testimonials

September 1, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter


Testimonials are one of the best ways to validate your products/services, especially if it’s from a contractor. Don’t be afraid to ask as most are more than willing to participate. Once you get them, make sure to repurpose them in several areas. Put it on your website; if you have a blog, do a post. If you’re on social media, share a link. Do project profile sheets that your salesman and distributors can use in the field.

Third-party validation is a powerful tool for new business. Testimonials help to eliminate skepticism, provide credibility and trust. If done correctly, it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways of creating appeal with potential contractors.

Here are some tips for creating and using testimonials:

  1. Don’t be generic. Specific, detailed testimonials are much stronger than those that are general and vague.
  2. Prospects are more likely to believe testimonials that are attributed to a specific person and company than those that hide their identify. I’ve found that most happy clients are glad to provide a written recommendation and are willing to have their name attributed to the testimonial.
  3. Provide testimonials on your firm’s website, your online brochure. They should be used anywhere and everywhere on your site. Not just on a testimonial page. Also include them in other materials used to promote your company. The more places potential clients can see them, the better. 
  4. Develop a consistent process to solicit testimonials from your satisfied clients. The best time to ask is immediately after you have done business with them.
  5. An easy way to request a recommendation is through LinkedIn. You can ask your connections to write a recommendation of your work that you can display on your profile, and with their permission, you can add it to other materials used to publicize your company. LinkedIn is also a great place to give testimonials in order to get testimonials.
  6. Whenever you receive a great letter or e-mail from a client, be sure to ask them if you can use their comments as a recommendation.
  7. Adding pictures to testimonials can significantly increase interest and raise their CTR.
  8. Providing a link to the site of the person who wrote the testimonial can bring additional credibility.
  9. Don’t neglect to create some select video testimonials. These are much more personal and powerful than just written copy.
  10. Good testimonials are filled with benefits. That’s what prospective clients are really looking for, how your services benefit them.
  11. When asking for testimonials, give your clients clear instructions on what you need.  Make them as specific as possible.
  12. I’ve found that setting up a Google Alert to receive daily emails of who is talking about your company is a way to discover additional testimonials.

If you aren’t using testimonials, you’re missing out on a simple, but great tool for new business.

Do you have any additional tips to share? Please add them in to the comment section below.

Fresh Ideas for Staffing Your Hard-to-Fill Skilled Trade Jobs

August 26, 2015

Today, we have a guest blog from Area Temps on new ways to staff hard-to-fill positions in the skilled trade industry.

The job market is tight, and you have several unfilled openings for hard-to-find candidates, causing your company to lose production unless you pay overtime to your current staff. You’re not alone. According to a recent Boston Consulting Group report, by 2020, there will be a shortage of 875,000 machinists, welders, maintenance technicians and industrial engineers. The steady growth in Northeast Ohio manufacturing, just as many skilled laborers are reaching retirement age, is leaving employers scrambling to find the right candidates from an ever-shrinking pool of applicants. Often, positions remain open for months while HR personnel search for the perfect person who can perform 100 percent of the job duties upon hire. A better solution may be employing individuals with school training who are motivated to work in their chosen fields. Let’s explore why.

Reason #1 – Flexibility

A candidate who is looking for on-the-job experience after completing a training program will be more flexible about work responsibilities than someone with years of experience. They won’t shy away from other duties during down times, such as assisting in the warehouse or cleaning work areas. In most cases, they are satisfied as long as they perform their primary job, such as machining or welding, most of the time. In contrast, many skilled candidates feel that doing work outside their field is beneath them. Recently, we interviewed a highly skilled welder who refused to do anything except welding, even though other job requirements, such as sweeping his work area, were minimal. Needless to say, our client selected a different candidate with less experience but a more flexible mindset. In industry today, having a flexible workforce is a key component to a company’s success.

Reason #2 – Less Turnover

Some skilled applicants are available in this highly competitive market because they are simply not interested in committing to any company long-term. They may spend one or two years with an organization before seeking greener pastures and moving on to a competitor who is offering more money or better benefits. Even though these individuals require minimal training and are productive while you have them, they won’t hang around for long, and you may be in a bigger staffing bind once they leave than you were before you employed them. On the other hand, trainees tend to be appreciative and loyal to the companies that took a chance and hired them. There is a higher likelihood that they will stay with you if you treat them well and give them opportunities for advancement.

Reason #3 – Economical

To land a highly skilled applicant, you must be prepared to offer an extremely competitive salary and benefits package. And if you want to keep them, you will need to give healthy raises, which may become a strain on your budget. In contrast, a candidate with school-only training is typically willing to work for a reasonable entry-level salary to increase their hands-on knowledge in the field. Be careful of underpaying these individuals once they become proficient in their jobs. You should always keep tabs on the going rate for their experience level and pay them appropriately, so you don’t lose them to your competitors. Keep in mind that other forms of compensation work well too, such as generous vacation plans, profit sharing or production bonuses.

Reason #4 – Faster Hire

Since there are more trainees available than experienced applicants, you will be able to fill your openings more quickly. Many times, a trainee can be hired within a few days, versus the weeks or even months needed to hire a skilled individual. Leaving a position open for an extended period of time will result in higher overtime costs to offset lost production. In most cases, a trainee will become proficient in less time than it would take for you to fill the job with your ideal candidate.

Reason #5 – More Trainable

Have you ever hired a candidate who, on their first day, said, “That’s not how we did it at XYZ Company?” If so, you know how frustrating it is when a seasoned person comes into your organization and is reluctant to conform to your procedures, because they feel they know better. Granted, some of the ideas they bring to the table might be good ones, but if they haven’t learned why you handle tasks a certain way, how do they know their methods are better? Trainees come into your company with a clean slate. They are eager to be taught your processes, to prove that they have what it takes to succeed within your organization. Even though they need more initial training than a skilled candidate, they make up for their lack of experience with a willingness to learn.

Reducing the Risk of Hiring an Entry-Level Candidate

Are you still unsure about hiring candidates with limited on-the-job experience? If so, you can mitigate your risk through Area Temps’ temp-to-hire program, which gives employers the opportunity to work with applicants during a probationary period, prior to making a long-term commitment. A trainee’s ability to learn the job, their attitude, their reliability and other important factors will all become evident during this timeframe. Candidates who develop into assets to your organization can be rewarded with permanent employment, at no additional cost to you. Please contact us if you would like more details about available applicants or our temp-to-hire program.

This post originally appears here on Area Temps blog.

B-to-B Marketers: Why it takes more than three calls to make a sale

August 25, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

We’re all focused on generating more leads these days, but I find it ironic that most companies don’t do much with them once they get them. Simply fulfilling a request is not the answer, but yet many companies do just that. According to a survey of people who have requested info suggests that 80% of all sales are made on or after the third contact. The survey polled over 700 respondents with only 8% buying after the first call.

David Frey, the senior content editor and author of several marketing books advises, “An educated prospect is your best prospect, and if they haven’t become a customer, it’s because you haven’t fully educated them on the value of your product and developed a relationship of trust.” Why do many businesses have a problem following up with their prospective customers? Mr. Frey explained, “The problem is not that small businesses don’t have the capacity to follow-up with prospects, it’s that they don’t have the systems in place to do it well.”

In his recent newsletter, “Follow-Up Marketing: How To Win More Sales With Less Effort,” Mr. Frey advised, “A good follow-up marketing system should have three attributes:

  1. It should be systematic.
  2. It should generate consistent, predictable results.
  3. It should require minimal physical interaction to make it run.

This leads to a more pressing issue and that is, what is the difference between sales lead management and a CRM tool? According to Russ Hill, President of Ultimate Lead Systems: Sales lead management is a sub-function within an overall CRM strategy. Traditional CRM programs like Salesforce.com, SalesLogix, ACT, Goldmine, Maximizer and others focus on the sales person entering and managing his own data and pushing it “up” to management.

Sales lead management starts with management generating and capturing leads from all sources, fulfilling information requests and delivering them to the sales channel and tracking follow-up and sales results to measure marketing return-on-investment.

Here are some other interesting facts:


  • 67% of all inquiries are from legitimate prospects with real needs.
  • 34% have current needs that must be satisfied within 6 months!
  • 70% did not know the company made the product before seeing their ad … making them NEW PROSPECTS!

A six-year study* of nearly 60,000 inquiries conducted by Penton Media Company also found that:

  • 43% of inquirers receive literature and information too late to be of use.
  • 72% of inquirers are NEVER CONTACTED by a salesman.
  • 25% of sales contacts are made at the inquirer’s request.
  • 40% of inquirers purchase the advertised product, a competitive product or change their suppliers.
    * NED Reader Action Reports

The key is to get a lead management system in place that can help your CRM convert those leads into sales.


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