Is Trust Part of Your Long-Term Marketing Strategy?

July 7, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

trustIn today’s world, trust is a more important marketing asset than the product or service you’re trying to sell. Think about that for a minute. Would you buy something off of someone you don’t trust? Chances are, the answer is no.

Trust is something that’s earned and it’s always been important. But in today’s world, you can’t BS your way through it. People want to see proof. With the internet and social media, the potential customer has several options to gain access to you and how you’re actually performing in the market.

That’s why building trust should be a long-term goal.

I recently read an article by John Jantsch from Duck Tape Marketing, 5 Ways to Make Trust Your Most Important Marketing Asset, that brings home this point. Here are some highlights:

  • What do others say about you – These third-party comments say a lot about how you really do business. Customer reviews impact SEO.
  • Who are you connected with – Who do you hang out with, how do you add value, who do you collaborate with? All help shed a light on who you really are.
  • How do you react – How do you react to questions or negative comments? People are watching.
  • Are you easy to do business with – Convenience has become a value proposition. Actually go through your own process to see how easy it is to really do business with you.

Do you Participate in LinkedIn Groups? Why not?

July 1, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

LinkedInLinkedIn certainly is the most popular social site for professionals with over 347 million people participating. Certainly there must be someone in that mix you’d like to talk to. It’s a great resource for product and industry knowledge, especially if you identify, join and participate in groups that share your same interests.

It’s easy to do … just go to the search box at the top of the page and type in some key words about the groups you’re looking for. The groups will come up in rankings according to size. Look and see if any are appropriate and join. Some groups are open (anyone can join) and some are closed and you have to apply.

Once you’re in, you should monitor the conversations and jump in when you have something to contribute. The key is to contribute good content, not a sales pitch. You want the others in the group to recognize you as an expert eventually (it takes time).

If you have an issue or want to share something relative with the group, do so. Most groups review content to make sure it’s relevant. Once it’s posted, it doesn’t stop there. Make sure you respond to those that make comments and get a conversation going. After all, that’s the real end game here, that is to start relationships that might lead to business down the road.

What if you can’t find a group that covers your interest? You always have the option of starting a group. It’s a lot of work, but a great way to distribute content and identify like-minded people. Content Marketing Institute had a post outlining 17 tips for starting your own group. The post gives you guidelines on how to start it the right way, ways to promote and manage it and what to do if it’s not working. It’s worth the read if you’re thinking about starting your own group.


Why Distribution Needs to Charge for Their Expertise

June 30, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Distributors in general are their own worst enemies when it comes to the value they bring to the table and charging customers for it. As their customers are asking for more and are willing to pay less, the distributors’ margins are being reduced and they don’t know how to change the momentum.

If you’re a general line distributor, I wish you the best of luck as you are destined to go out of business if you continue to follow this path. Most distributors who have a specialty like cutting tools/abrasives, power transmissions, bearings, etc. have a distinct value to the proposition, but many aren’t taking advantage of it.

Traditional brick and mortar distributors can’t compete with online catalog sites on price, but what if there’s an on-site production problem? Over the years, I’ve been on several joint end-user calls where the distributor and manufacturer are going in to solve a production problem.

Long ago, the distributors just solved the problems and didn’t charge for it (by the way, it wasn’t usually the product the distributor sold them; it was how the customer was or was not using it correctly).

dollar signI recently read an article in Industrial Distribution by Bill Moore from SKF on how distributors can put a dollar sign on the valuable services they offer. Here are some highlights:

  • Understand your value stream – Are you taking advantage of all the support your manufacturing partners are offering such as training or engineering assistance? All can contribute to a cash value at the customers.
  • Understand the customers’ challenges – Instead of selling him cutting tools, find out what type of production issues they’re having using the tools. Help him solve that. Add value they can’t get somewhere else.
  • Valuate your services – What do you bring to the table that they’d have to hire an outside consultant to do? What price can they put on not having to shut down a production line?

Bottom line is, take advantage of what your supplier partners have to offer. They can help you improve your value and add $ to your bottom line.


How Many Ways Are You Using Content to Reach Tradesmen?

June 24, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

time for content

We all want to get our message in front of contractors. In order to get more out of your content, you need to tie it to your strategy.

We’re all concerned on getting the message out that we sometimes miss other opportunities to use the same content (message) and deliver it differently.

I recently read a post by John Jantsch, 10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content, that brings this into perspective. Contractors get their info in several formats. Have you tried any other ways of delivering your message?

Here are some highlights from John’s post:

  • Turn your post into a series of videos that the sales folks can send out on an individual basis
  • Do a webinar and feature it on your website
  • Use a Slideshare deck that you can use both on Slideshare as well as on your LinkedIn profile
  • Develop an infographic and send it out in an e-blast
  • Testimonials. Get contractors who are already happy customers to give you testimonials, either written or on video.

John’s point is that it’s not the amount of content, but its intention.

What are you doing to maximize your content?


Do Less, But Do It Better

June 23, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Outside the box

I don’t know why folks think that more is better. Better than what? Why do you have to focus on the latest and greatest new thing that comes out? From a marketing perspective, I think we’d be better off if we focus on some key initiatives and do them extremely well.

We can’t be all things to all people so identify your USP (unique selling position) and focus on a marketing strategy that addresses your points of differentiation. Once that’s in place, identify 2-3 key initiatives that you can focus on to show your thought leadership in your area of expertise.

Think outside the box when identifying ways to promote your USP. Identify where your business is coming from. Is it from presentations or referrals? If so, you need to nurture them. Do blogs or e-blasts perform better for getting your message out? Then make sure your content is strong and spot on.

By limiting the number of tactics, you can spend more time doing less but doing it better. Not only can you focus on good content, but you can also measure your ROI.

What are your top 2-3 ways of promoting yourself?


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?


Lead Nurturing: What Industrial Marketers Need to Know

June 16, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Industrial marketers who are targeting design engineers need to practice the virtue of patience when communicating with them. I know Sales wants low hanging fruit to sell now, and the C suite is looking for results sooner than later.

The truth is, nothing moves fast when dealing with designers. According to IHS Engineering 360, 70% of new business comes from long-term leads. You don’t know whether they are just fishing for options, have a real project and need help in determining options, or are ready to  download CAD files to put in their drawings.

Very rarely does the conversation start at the download CAD drawings. Being spec’d in can take 6 months to several years. Is it worth it? Long term, I think the answer is yes.

As an industrial marketer, our jobs are to identify where they are in the sales funnel and engage with them as they move toward a sales. Your company needs to be top of mind so when the purchasing decision is being made, you have an advocate inside promoting you.

Here are the four cornerstones of a nourishing campaign:

  1. Nourish – provide them healthy servings of relevant, useful information.
  2. Protect – keep their interest so they don’t abandon you for a competitor.
  3. Support – stay in regular contact and always meet their needs.
  4. Encourage – give them offers to help them through the sales funnel.

IHS Engineering 360 has put together a lead nurturing tool kit. Here are some highlights:wp_leadnurturingtoolkit

  • Respond to inquiries in a timely fashion – if you don’t respond for a month or so, chances are they will have forgotten why they inquired in the first place.
  • Respond appropriately. Define your audience segments so the messages will be meaningful.
  • Offer value, not sales pitches.
  • Create a call to action and objectives. Engage a prospect and monitor results.
  • Build a schedule of multiple touches over a period of time.

What are you doing to nurture leads?


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