Innovation Roundtable – Getting the Trades, Distributors and Manufacturers Together

March 28, 2012

I was invited to an industry roundtable event recently in conjunction with a regional trade show for the electrical industry, Electro Expo 2012 in Cleveland. The event was the brainchild of Rob Fisher from Madison Electric, which also hosted the event.

What was so unique about the event is that there were manufacturers, distributors, electrical contractors, electricians, building inspectors and even representatives from the IBEW and NAED there. Topics included industry landscape, building partnerships, media revolution, marketing best practices, emerging technologies and innovation and culture.

The event was two hours and the groups were broken up into tables with each disciple represented to discuss specific topics. At the end, someone from each table gave a summary of the issues and possible recommendations on solutions. A white paper will be issued and when it is, I’ll post a link.

It was a great event, and my compliments to Madison Electric for hosting it. Too bad other industries aren’t doing something similar to get all the stakeholders together to talk about common goals and ways to make doing business easier.


How Will Professional Tradesmen Jobs of the Future Be Filled?

June 22, 2011

There’s a lot of talk about manufacturing jobs continuing to go away in this country. But when I talk to manufacturers, one of the biggest issues they talk about domestically is finding qualified help. Apprentice programs for tool and die makers are shrinking due to lack of interest. Even factory production jobs aren’t menial labor jobs anymore. It takes skill and training to run CNC or other sophisticated machines.

The same is true with professional tradesmen in the contracting field. Talk to a plumbing or electrical contractor and they say the same thing. There aren’t enough young folks getting into those trades as well.

So what’s the problem? A good plumber or electrician can make a very good living and their jobs can’t be outsourced. I used to belong to a country club and next to doctors, contractors were the next biggest category of members! NJATC, IBEW and other trade associations and unions have training programs in place. Spokespeople like Mike Rowe has a passion to get more people into the trades. He’s even testified in Washington about the challenges that face us as a nation.

The same holds true in the manufacturing sector. There are good jobs for those that are trained properly. I know Skills for America’s Future and the Manufacturing Institute are trying to work with community colleges to develop successful programs so young folks can enter the workforce with skill sets necessary to get and keep a good job. Even President Obama is endorsing a manufacturing skills credentialing system and I hope it’s going to be more than window dressing.

The problem, in my opinion, is perception by young people that those kinds of jobs aren’t cool and they are low paying. Also most guidance counselors with most high schools are pointing everyone to college. Not everyone is 4-year college material. What young people don’t realize is that a plumber or  journeyman electrician makes more than 4-year college graduates and they don’t have all those student loans to pay off.

Our challenge as an industry is to somehow mount a campaign to kids at an early age to show them that these kinds of jobs are cool and just as important, if not more so, than someone sitting behind a desk. Ideall,y trade and manufacturing associations should come together and mount a public service campaign. Someone has to take the first step and we need someone visible enough to carry the message and credibility to the young folks.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on how we can secure the future for our kids.


4 Tips to Target Tradesmen Online Using Key Word Research

April 17, 2009

connect-a-desk-laptop-standIn the B-to-B  marketing world, most companies have specialties or niche markets that they serve.

In our case, most of our clients target the professional tradesman which makes our task a bit easier than others. To reach, for an example, Electrical Contractors or Electricians, there are very specific key words that would drive them to your site like IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), side-cutters or power bender.

Key words and SEO have long been associated with web sites. But blogs are actually more SEO friendly and much easier to update  from information from your analytics.

Twitter isn’t there yet, it’s only a matter of time and search will be one of its most important elements.

Consistently using key words that your target audience would use to find your company will generate significant online traffic.

Companies make the mistake of assuming that once the initial search for those key words and phrases are done, they won’t have to go through that again. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Key words and SEO have to be a part of a continual process of monitoring and updating.

Tools like Google search allows you to type in key words and phrases to see what kind of activity levels there are. Especially in this economy where everything is being measured, SEO/organic search engine marketing has proven itself to be a good ROI.

Here are 4 tips to consider when developing your key words:

  1. Understand your audience. Since you’re in the business of making stuff, i.e. for Electrical Contractors, you should know their slang and buzz words. You should also know what’s going on in the industry. Don’t focus on marketing terms, focus on what the contractor would be typing into Google to solve his problem.
  2. Keep it simple. Because you’re talking to a specific audience (electrical contractors), you don’t need 1000 key words. The rule of thumb for key words is to have one key phrase per page. Having 6 or 8 only confuses the search engines so they’re not able to determine the focus of the page.
  3. Evaluate your competition. There are few companies that don’t have some sort of competitors. Look at their site and blogs if they have them. See what key words/phrases they’re using.
  4. Treat key word searches as an ongoing process. At least once a quarter, take a good hard look at the metrics and make tweaks where necessary.

What tips can you share to help improve your SEO performance?

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