Content Marketing: Who has the Advantage – Big Brands or Small Ones?

May 27, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

gorillaI always like stories of the little guys who take on the 800-lb. gorilla and win the battle. One of the benefits of social media and content marketing is you don’t have to be an 800-lb. gorilla to succeed.

In my opinion, it’s the one who is consistent on providing good content and responding in a timely matter that really counts.

All too often larger companies need to go through a “process” that is very time-consuming for both posting content and answering questions. They may have a bigger staff, but do they know your target customer? They may be able to outspend you, but can you out-market them?

Smaller companies, for the most part, have closer and more frequent contact with customers and know what’s on their minds. Customers don’t care how big you are, they just want solutions/answers to their questions, and if you can offer them more and better content, then you win.

So what constitutes a good Content Marketing Strategy?

Here are some tips:

  • Know your customer
  • Know their pain points
  • Anticipate their questions
  • Know where they look for info and be there
  • Timeliness of responding to questions
  • Be consistent and post content regularly

By following these simple guidelines, you will get the recognition you’re looking for, create engagement with potential customers and become a brand leader. Companies large or small need to focus on customers’ needs and always answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

If you liked this post, you may want to read:

New Content Marketing Research for Manufacturers

Why PR Should be a Part of your Content Marketing Strategy

Do’s and Don’ts of Content Marketing


Do You Use Relationship Marketing When Trying to Reach Contractors?

May 12, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

609_3676925-electricianstalking

I’ve always been a big believer in relationship selling. After all, we usually buy stuff from people we know, like and trust. Agree? So why not take that to another step in the selling process by using the same principles to your marketing efforts?

This is especially true now that content and content marketing is such a big part of everyone’s overall strategy.

We all have heard the saying that Content is King and Community is its Kingdom, but what brings them together? It’s building solid relationships with Contractors and Tradesmen using relationship marketing.

I recently read a post by Wade Harman, Why relationship marketing is the key to your content, where he outlines a strong case for using this type of tactic.

He points out that we need to know and understand what our target wants and needs. They want solutions, not necessarily a sales pitch. You need to make yourself available in conversations with contractors.

He also points out that we should collaborate with others that share the same passion. For an example, say your target is professional plumbers. You want to focus on products that will help them do their install better. You’re not interested (nor capable) in helping them market their plumbing business locally.

Why not team up with someone who’s focus is just that, like Plumbers SEO.net or Darren Slaughter who specializes in contractor marketing.

This blog focuses on helping manufacturers better communicate with contractors and professional tradesmen. We have three challenges: 1) identify our audience, 2) give them meaningful content, and 3) keep them coming back. One of the most important things I try to communicate is that to be successful, you must be able to engage and have a genuine relationship with your reader.

Here are some steps to build those relationships:

  • A genuine relationship starts with you – start with an open and positive mindset and be willing to work on the relationship.
  • Make posts as helpful and useful as you can – it’s not about you, it’s about your readers’ problems and concerns.
  • Be helpful and positive in all interactions – whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or your blog…always be helpful, positive and upbeat.
  • Encourage discussion in comments – you’re not the only one with good ideas. Make sure to engage on your response and ask their opinion.
  • Give back on other blogs – link when appropriate to other blogs, visit their sites and make comments and write guest posts for them.

One of the most important points is you can’t fake this stuff. If you are just pretending to care about your readers, if you don’t really want to talk to them, they’ll feel it and then you’ve lost them.


Are Your Employees Brand Ambassadors? Why Not?

April 22, 2015

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent at Sonnhalter

Osborn

Photo Courtesy of Osborn

Do your employees know where your products are used? Do they know the applications the parts they make make possible? Are they aware of the history and critical nature of your company? There are many simple, cost-effective ways to increase productivity and morale by implementing a program that lets them know.

To land new business, you’re always told to “Tell Your Story” well. It’s just as important to tell it internally. Why?

It makes employees feel like part of the plan – Let them see the big picture and where you as a company fit into it

It helps them see the long view, not just their day-to-day part in it – There’s a plan, not just a daily task

It builds internal networks – If Engineering tells their story to Customer Service, everyone sees people and faces, not silos

It allows them to be brand ambassadors – If they know the story you want told, then that’s the story that gets re-told

So how do you reach them? That’s the easiest part—the same way you reach new customers:

Host an Employee Open House – Let them show off to their kids, and see what goes on in other departments

Giving a tour of your facility? Engage employees – Don’t treat them like an extension of the machine they’re working, but have them describe what they do, and the cost savings, quality assurance or other aspect of their work

Start an internal newsletter – It’s a great place to either post external press releases, or develop case studies for outside use

Cover the Walls – Advertising blown up as posters reinforce your brand internally and when guests tour your facility

Let them hear & be heard – Have a quarterly or monthly meeting of non-managerial representatives from every department, and allow for an open exchange or ideas, complaints and stories

Highlight your company’s history whenever possible – Old ads, press clippings or photos give a sense of pride and place

Have a mission statement – And stress it internally. Print it on business cards, coffee cups in the vending machines; anywhere it will be seen regularly

You don’t need to be told that Manufacturing has gotten a bad rap. For years it’s been the butt of jokes, seen as a “dead end” and been declared all but extinct in this country by countless talking heads.

Well those people are wrong. And the house they left to get into the car they drove to the studio where they made their comments is testament to it. And it’s time your employees knew that too.

I once heard a really cool story about the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It has a unique elevator that kind of side-steps its way up to the top of the arch. Well if you look into the arch, instead of out at the view, along the way you’ll see large welder-generators. They’ve been there since the Arch was built in the mid 60’s. Because of the way the arch was made, it was impossible to move them, so they just left them, placed another (which also got left behind) and kept building.

As a former employee of that welding manufacturer, I think that’s fascinating, and if I could ever get over my nagging fear of heights, it would be the best part of the trip up. To know that something that was made in the same building I worked in was instrumental in a project like that, it just boggles the mind. All the “ordinary” people, doing their “ordinary” job at factories all across the country added up to a modern marvel like that. Inspire that sense of awe in your employees, and they’ll help do the heavy lifting of establishing a brand.


Why PR Should be a Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy

January 21, 2015

Everyone today is so focused on Content Marketing that they may overlook an old standby, PR, that could help in getting that all-important content out there. Content marketing drives long-term thought leadership goals. PR can help you short-term to meeting these objectives. After all, both disciplines are working toward the same goals.

Here are a few reasons to use PR in conjunction with your content marketing program:

  • PR builds corporate credibility  Foster good relationships with key editors in your field and let them tell your story.
  • PR increases brand awareness – Use your new content to attract focused audiences and new leads.
  • PR makes your content team focus on your public – Instead of selling features and benefits, use fresh insights and angles on how others have solved similar problems. Be relevant and timely on issues.

If you like this post you might like:

8 Tips for Media Interviews

The Scary Side of PR


Do’s and Don’ts of Content Marketing

August 6, 2014

So everyone knows what content marketing is. But do we know how to get the best results out of it? I know I’ve been doing this for over three years now and have hardly touched the potential of what is available. I’ve been to webinars, seminars and summits on the subject and continue to learn new ways to capitalize on content marketing.

I recently read Joe Pulizzi’s book Epic Content Marketing. As usual, Joe does a great job explaining how to use and integrate into overall marketing plan.

epiccontentmarketing-pulizzi

This is a good book for the beginner or for those already engaged to reinforce the right way of doing things. It’s easy to read, has lots of examples, from defining your strategy to developing and managing content to marketing your stories, and I’m sure you’ll get tons of useful tips on how to get more out of your content marketing.


2014 Report on B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing in North America

May 22, 2014

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs recently released their fourth annual report on the content marketing practices of business-to-business (B2B) marketers working in the manufacturing industry.

In this report you’ll find answers to questions such as: What percentage of manufacturing marketers have adopted content marketing? What tactics are they using? How does their approach to content marketing differ from that taken by other B2B marketers?

This report also looks at how manufacturing marketers approach content marketing when compared with a wider group of B2B North American marketers representing a range of industry segments.

Here are some key highlights from this most recent study on manufacturing marketers and their content marketing efforts:

  • 86% have adopted content marketing
  • Only 30% say they are effective at content marketing
  • Use the same number of tactics (13) as other B2B marketers
  • 81% use YouTube to distribute content and rate it as the most effective social media platform
  • Cite different goals for content marketing when compared with other B2B marketers
  • Top challenges faced for their content marketing programs: 1. Lack of time, 2. Producing the kind of content that engages and 3. Producing enough content
  • 46% plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months

Click here to read more details and download the full report.


The Secret to Going Viral

May 15, 2014

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter

You’ve probably heard the word “viral” in relation to online marketing before. If you’re not quite sure what it means, here’s a very brief definition:

Vi-ral:

Adjective

: becoming very popular by circulating from person to person, specifically on the internet.

If something “goes viral” that means it has been shared a great number of times; there is no threshold number of shares to be reached before something can be considered viral, but in general you know when something has gone viral by the way it is talked about.

So here’s the secret to going viral:

The one aspect that every viral thing has in common is that it is a quality piece of content that resonates with your audience. Content that goes viral is often in the form of blog posts, pictures or videos.

Content can resonate with your audience in many ways, most of the time viral content resonates through humor. Content that is controversial or sparks a debate, as well as timely, helpful information will also resonate.

In our industry, content doesn’t often achieve viral status, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t resonated, sparked conversation or been effective.

As marketers, we cannot make content become viral. Content can only be made viral by your audience(s) – they have the power. Marketers and brands do not have the power to make anything viral.

Image via Scott Cresswell

Image via Scott Cresswell

If you’re disappointed that you know the secret to viral but can’t do anything about it, don’t lose heart!

The goal in any marketing initiative should not be creating viral content; it should be on creating quality content.

Marketers and brands have the power to create quality content that will resonate with audiences. If that content goes viral, then that is just a happy side effect.


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