Are you Using Mobile to Share Your Content with Tradesman and Contractors?

March 10, 2015

The professional trades are no different from normal consumers when it comes to using mobile. There have been a few recent articles in eMarketing.com about both time spent on mobile devices and what’s being used to open and read emails. The most recent eMarketing article has to do with B-to-B content marketers not using the mobile platform to spread their message.

What I find especially interesting is mobile is last on the list and social media is second. Do they think contractors are checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts during the work day to see what kind of info a manufacturer is promoting that day? I wonder if those content marketers really understand how and what might be useful to a contractor on a job site.

Besides the content they want to deliver, they need to consider apps and mobile tactics. Here are a few.

Possible Apps to Consider:

  • Product information
  • Engineering or other calculators
  • Installation and troubleshooting instruction videos
  • Productivity tools
  • Competitive cross-reference charts
  • Ability to check current inventory levels
  • Distributor locator with direct links

Top Mobile Tactics to Consider:

  • Responsive website – so it can be read on any device.
  • Mobile-friendly campaigns - optimize landing pages.
  • Mobile advertising - can be tailored by location, time and device so take advantage of them.
  • Mobile email - make sure your HTML can be read properly on these devices.
  • Mobile apps - apps let you secure a prominent presence on your customer’s device.

Why Should You Use Short Videos to Attract Professional Tradesman?

March 4, 2015

Short videos are ideal for social media and for you to gain reach and shares.

As a manufacturer, are you capitalizing on this powerful tool to disperse your message? You don’t need a “Hollywood” production. As a matter of a fact, the ones done on a mobile phone would do just fine. We’ve done “man on the street” interviews with contractors at will-call counters and on job sites asking their opinions on tools and other products.

Did you know – Videos convey more info per minute than any other media and 65% of the public like to learn via videos.

In my opinion, you’re better off making a series of very short videos (keep each to one thought or idea). Ideally under 2 minutes is what I tell folks to shoot at.

 

Here are some thoughts on content.

  • Focus on a problem your customer might have from their perspective (what happened if the problem isn’t resolved?)
  • Provide tips to solve it.
  • Utilize the video medium to show examples or illustrate a solution. Here’s your chance to be creative.
  • Make sure they know your company has the solution to solve their problem.

Donna Moritz did a recent post in Social Media Examiner that talks about 6 ways to use short videos in social marketing. Here are some highlights:

  • How to video - solve a problem.
  • Highlight your skills - what better way to get your value proposition out there.
  • Showcase an event - trade show, association event or new product intro.
  • Go behind the scenes - give the viewer some insights of your company that they normally wouldn’t see.

She also outlines 10 tools you can use to create and edit short videos.

The bottom line is, use video in your marketing efforts.


For Your Lead Nurturing Programs – Where do you Find Good Content?

March 3, 2015

One of the biggest challenges B-to-B marketers face is developing/identifying content that can be used in e-newsletters, e-blasts or just plain emails as part of a nurturing program.

I think a major stumbling block is that some think they need to produce all-original content themselves or have control of all the messaging. The whole point of a nurturing program is to engage potentials with RELEVANT and INTERESTING content. Follow a rule that of three things you talk about, make one of them about you and the other two about ways they can improve their jobs.

That doesn’t mean highlighting the news widget in your line. Too many people make the mistake of always trying to sell you something or are always talking about themselves. When was it when you were at a social or business gathering and got stuck with someone who only talked about themselves? Not a very engaging conversation and I’m sure it didn’t last that long.

To the contrary, you need to give the reader something that will help them do their job better (relevant) and you want to get their attention (make it interesting).

What some don’t realize is that there are numerous options out there that are free for the taking if you know where to look, and they might be right under your nose. You need to look at good secondary sources. Here are some:

  • Trade associations - They are always addressing issues that are relevant to your space.
  • Trade publications - Most have archives of great written relevant articles that address applications or processes in your area. They also have articles/views on industry issues that could be shared. Write a small comment and link to their website.
  • Other manufacturers’ sites - Other non-competing manufacturers in the same space you are might be publishing great insights on an application or how-to article that would be a benefit to your audience. Again, write some comments and link to their site.

Not only will you engage more prospects, but you can increase your audience. If people receive things that are valuable, they will share it with others. So a by-product of good content would be an increase in your list size.

What kind of secondary resources are you using?


Crisis Communication: If a crisis hits, do you have a plan?

February 25, 2015

Today we have a guest blog post from Nancy Valent of NMV Strategies on crisis communication.

Your phone rings.

It’s a CNN reporter wanting to know why your facility had an explosion, which injured five of your employees.

What is your response?

Probably the first reaction you have is to say: “No comment.” It seems harmless and a good safety net to buy you some time. In reality, your “no comment” starts a snowball reaction of assumptions that you are trying to hide something or go on the defensive.

Spokespeople who use this phrase are subliminally communicating that they are not being proactive or stepping out to really tell the truth. This type of response drives both consumers and business clients away and starts to degrade your brand and corporate identity faster than just saying in a very truthful tone: “I will get back to you in an hour with the facts and information, which I can confirm.”

Too many large, medium and even small manufacturing businesses operate under the philosophy that a company crisis will never happen to them. But, if it does it won’t get media attention and somehow they will ultimately handle it. If you research any of the past company crises that get national attention and talk to the manufacturing operations people who have lived through it, they will tell you everyone should be prepared for the sudden and the smoldering crisis…it can happen to you.

Preparation is relatively easy if you have created a plan before a crisis hits. Here are some questions to ask the management team and/or your communications department:

  • If we had a crisis, who would be the spokesperson?
  • How would we communicate with our employees and our customers?
  • What are three key message points we would want to share about the history or background of our company to illustrate that we were good corporate citizens in safety and other aspects of business?
  • Do we have a hard copy of key phone numbers for organizations and people who would need to be contacted? (Having it your smart phone doesn’t count if it was left behind on your desk in the burning building.)
  • Do you have a good relationship with one reporter in the local media who knows your company and can accurately report the facts?

Manufacturing companies have Risk Management Plans and Emergency Preparedness Plans, which address business continuity, etc. In most cases, these plans usually do not go the extra mile to detail all the nuances of effective internal and external communications when a crisis hits.

Being proactive and prepared with a Crisis Communications Plan also works in tandem with these plans so that you have designated teams handling your target audiences; be it the communications with the media, your customers/clients, shareholders, employees and even your competition.

Knowing how to communicate effectively while a crisis is occurring and knowing how to handle your emotions on-camera are skills that can be developed before a crisis hits. Being prepared helps to safeguard your brand and positioning of your company. It is something to think about doing for your company sooner than later.

Nancy has experience in the communications handling of plant explosions, chemical spills, gas leaks, company espionage and disgruntled employees. Her background in media relations with the national and international press is well established, having directed media opportunities throughout the United States and Latin America. Visit nmvstrategies.com for more information.


Are Independent Industrial Distributors Helping Amazon to Succeed?

February 24, 2015

I recently read a great article in Industrial Supply magazine on how independent distributors are helping Amazon take business away from them. The article was written by Jack Bailey, CEO of IDC-USA, an independent distributor cooperative.

The article is interesting because it not only affects distribution, but ultimately the manufacturers who supply them. From a distributor’s point of view, they are either scared to death of them or they think it’s a passing fancy and this too will go away.

The problem is that most items that have part numbers and can be ordered online or through a PO are prime game for Amazon. Amazon has convinced many distributors to join their third party selling agreement to sell their products on the Amazon e-commerce site. Short term for many of them, it means more sales, but long-term, it will mean disaster. Amazon is a great collector of data and once they have enough profile info on who buys what, they can and will cut out the independents.

What does it mean to manufacturers who have resisted selling to Amazon is they run the risk of being replaced by a competitive product and literally lose millions in sales when Amazon comes to them with all this data of who bought what from whom.

This has always been one of manufacturers biggest challenges with traditional distribution of getting the names of their customers and what they buy. Now the distributors are willing to give that up freely to their biggest potential competitor that could put them out of business and they will!

How ironic!


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.


LinkedIn Still the Top Performer for B-to-B

February 17, 2015

I don’t know about you, but LinkedIn continues to be a top performer for me and my blog posts. The top referrer is search engines, but LinkedIn is a strong second and Twitter is third for getting the right eyes on my blog.

A recent article in eMarketer.com confirms the fact that among top social sites for B-to-B, LinkedIn remains on top for both usage and effectiveness.

I use LinkedIn exclusively to share my posts with not only the folks that linked to me, but to the numerous LinkedIn groups that I belong to. I’ve had clients who have great success in recruiting the right kind of talent using their paid job searches.

Are you using LinkedIn, and if so, are you having similar success?


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