Is Brand Advocacy Part of Your Marketing Strategy to Reach Tradesman?

August 26, 2014

Let’s face it, in an ideal world we’d all want our customers to love us! We all know that’s not going to happen, but I’ll bet you might have more advocates for your brand than you think.

Why are brand advocates important? Studies show that people rely on peer recommendations and reviews before purchasing goods. Contractors are no different, especially if you’re introducing a new product or application they haven’t used or seen before. They certainly don’t want to be the first to try something.

Brand advocates are more than loyal customers. They are your ambassadors in the trades. I’ve seen contractors with tattoos of company logos. That to me is the ultimate.

Some brand advocates will surface on their own by commenting on your blog or website several times or talking you up on an online forum.  Others might offer positive comments on a survey or warranty card. Don’t forget to ask your sales staff in the field who are calling on contractors, as well as your customer service department. They certainly should be able to identify a few. Hopefully a few will be high-profile folks within some associations that you are a part of.

One of our clients in the plumbing market was able to identify and nurture several advocates over the years. Once they brought the top 10 contributors into the main office and treated them like royalty for 2 days and then sent them home. They got a plant tour, a look at what was coming down the line as new products and met with customer service and technical people that they interface with on a regular basis on the phone or with emails. You wouldn’t believe the results of that effort. They became ambassadors on steroids!

Once you’ve found them, then what? You should set up a brand advocacy program that will give them ways to help you grow the brand. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask them to write testimonials or reviews on new products. Then ask them to share them.
  • See if they would be willing to do a case history for you.
  • If timing permits and you can meet them at an association meeting or trade show, see if they would let you  interview them both for a podcast and testimonial video.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Have them test and evaluate new products before they are brought to market.
  • Have them identify potential new products.

This needs to be an ongoing effort so you’re always adding new advocates to keep the message current and fresh.

Don’t miss a golden opportunity for your customers to help sell your brand.

Market Overview: HVAC Market for 2013

June 19, 2013


Sonnhalter is deeply involved with the professional tradesmen. We recently updated our overview of the HVAC market. The purpose of the document is to give the reader a quick snapshot of the industry and its players for 2013.

Highlights include association and buying group contacts, training firms/certification organizations, franchisee organizations and consolidators, online resources, trade shows/meetings and media publications.

A free copy for download is available. Click here to sign up.

What’s Your Mobile Media Strategy for 2012?

February 7, 2012

Moving forward in 2012, is mobile media going to be part of your overall marketing strategy?

According to a recent survey by the Association of Strategic Marketing (ASM), 2011 Trends in Mobile Marketing, 58% of respondents indicated that they were not using mobile marketing.

As a matter of fact, mobile seems to rank somewhere in the middle of overall marketing practices behind email (which ironically is number one) and SEO. The 42% that do use mobile in their marketing plans are optimizing their websites and emails and are beginning to use QR codes.

If you like this post you might like:

Is Mobile Marketing the Best Way to Reach the Professional Tradesman?

What Are You Doing to Reach the Young Professional Tradesman?

The Mobile Marketing Trends Study was created to allow marketing folks to see what similar organizations were doing. Some highlights of mobile marketing goals include:

  • Sales/revenue – 33%
  • Product service info – 25%
  • Customer retention – 15%
  • Lead nurturing – 11%
  • Customer opt-in – 10%
  • Alert reminders – 6%

For those of us in the B-to-B space, and especially for those of us trying to reach the professional tradesman, mobile should be a part of your marketing plan.

Not sure where to start? The easiest place to start is to optimize your website for mobile. Secondly, consider sending mobile-optimized emails.

The key is to make a plan and do something, monitor the response and do something else. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe mobile is going away, and there are many opportunities to reach our target audiences.

5 Things An E-Mail Marketer Should Avoid when Targeting the Professional Tradesman

January 27, 2010

Sometimes we take things for granted and can tend to become complacent when using tools like e-mail marketing. We think we know it all since we’ve been doing it for so long, but we may have lost sight of what made e-mail so successful in the past.

A recent post by Curtis Jackson, What are the top 10 e-mail marketing mistakes, got me thinking that we should all evaluate the processes we have in place regarding e-mails. Here are my 5 top things to avoid:

  1. No Strategy - When you first started using e-mails, didn’t you have a written strategy of what you wanted to accomplish and how you were going to measure it? How are you doing?
  2. List updates - When was the last time you updated your list? Have your open rates been increasing or decreasing? How about undeliverables? That brings us to the next point.
  3. Ignoring metrics - If you’re actively doing e-mail marketing, you have to be using some tool like Constant Contact to help you manage your programs. They have metric tools built in to see how successful the actual e-mail was (both in content and delivery).
  4. Missing an opportunity in your top line message - Chances are your message will be viewed in a preview pane. Make sure your top line message includes a link to a web-based version.
  5. Timing - Tuesday at 10 a.m. may not be the most opportune time to reach your audience. Test out different combinations to see what works best for your audience.

Those are my thoughts. What are you doing to ensure you are getting the most out of your e-mail marketing?


Why Online Videos Help Attract Professional Tradesman

December 16, 2009

Manufacturers should not  lose site that videos are a powerful informational tool when it comes to building credibility with contractors. Consider if you will that next to Google Search, the next highest search is YouTube. That alone should tell you something.

From case studies, testimonials and training, to new product info, videos are a unique way of telling your story and add another dimension to the story by engaging the viewer. According to, rich media ads with video had a higher dwell rate than those without, and almost double the dwell time.

Rich Media Metrics Worldwide: Video vs. No Video, Q4 2008-Q3 2009

This translates into fewer impressions needed for the same results.

So What’s Your Social Media Strategy to Reach Professional Tradesmen?

September 2, 2009

Everyone in the manufacturing sector is feeling the pressure from around them to get in on this social media phenomenon. So you open a LinkedIn account, set up Twitter and even get a Facebook page set up. Wow, that was easy, now all I have to do is to wait until somebody finds me. Unfortunately, this scenario is much truer than one would like to think. Social media is no different than any other marketing program you have. You have to have a strategy in place before you go and start implementing it. You need to determine why you’re on the social media scene before you implement the how. Here are some helpful hints:

  • What’s your point? Do you want to build awareness, build loyalty or generate new leads?
  • What’s your point of differentiation? You have to define a niche or specialty.
  • Do some research into how your target audience uses Social. You may find contractors use Facebook more to try to promote their local business or maybe it’s Twitter. Do you know?
  • How will you determine whether your social program will be successful? You need to determine expectations before starting a program.

Jason Baer wrote a great post recently, Develop a social media strategy in 7 steps, that you might find interesting reading.


E-mail and Social Media – A Great “One-Two” Punch to Capture the Professional Tradesman

July 21, 2009

one-twopunchSocial media has dominated the news lately, and many marketers are considering moving out of traditional e-mail programs and focusing more on social. My advice to them is that neither one is the answer by itself, especially when it comes to reaching professional tradesmen who are slower to jump on the social bandwagon.

Social elements are just more tools marketing can use to gain attention and begin a dialog. Until social media came along, a good e-mail campaign only had their web site to fall back on for support. Social media complements e-mail efforts. B-to-B marketers who want to stay on top of their game must learn how to make them work together.

Here are 4 tips to get the best out of both worlds:

  • Create ONE strategy - Create the objective and then see how each element can help you meet those objectives. By working towards one goal, you’ll be much more effective in the long run.
  • Create content simultaneously - You need to make sure messages are coordinated (and are using the same voice) and are working together and not against each other. You don’t want to be duplicating content.
  • Utilize sites like Facebook and LinkedIn – These and other sites allow groups to their group members. Make sure when sending messages to these groups to target your message.
  • Use e-mail to give them something special whether it’s a sneak preview of a new product, a discount on a current one or some scoop about an upcoming company event or trade show activity. Then make it easy for them to share. Encourage them to share the news with their friends on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Make the most out of your marketing program by making the elements work together.

I’d like to hear what you’re doing to maximize your efforts using social and e-mails.

Here are some other posts that might be of interest to you:

7 Ways to Combine Social Media with E-mail to Reach the Professional Tradesman

Stay Up on New Trends But Don’t Forget Old Friends



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