Flush With Gratitude!

November 19, 2013

logo_bigThe can, John, latrine, porcelain throne, commode, potty… No matter what you call it, the toilet is an important part of daily life.

Today is World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day was started to bring awareness to the global sanitation challenge. Here are just a few facts about the global sanitation challenge:

  • 2.5 billion people do not have a clean toilet
  • Sanitation is a human right
  • Safe toilet facilities keep girls in school
  • Sanitation is a good economic investment

You can read more information about World Toilet Day and the facts above here.

We have the pleasure of working with companies serving the tradesmen that keep our toilets in excellent flushing order and help maintain the sanitation systems that we rely on. Their jobs are not considered glamorous, but they are so important.

Today, and every day, we are flush with gratitude toward them for everything they do!


Happy Plumber’s Day

April 25, 2013

April 25th is set aside each year to honor plumbers. At Sonnhalter, we have a great appreciation for plumbers and the work that they do. Today, Sonnhalter’s PR Engineer Rachel Kerstetter will be sharing with you about plumbing.

eMail_Header_Plumber

Often plumbers don’t receive the credit and fame that they deserve unless they’re Mario and Luigi and trying to save a princess. The Super Mario Brothers are the most famous plumbers, and they live in a Nintendo game.

The reality is that without plumbers, our world would be far from sanitary or pleasant. As part of our team’s commitment to getting our hands dirty in our clients’ work, we’ve had the opportunity to see plumbers at work, we’ve used their tools and we’ve heard their stories; we know that they deserve to be honored today.

Plumbers do much more than unclog drains and fix leaky faucets –  it’s plumbers who install the miles of piping that make hot, cold and process water and gas utilities possible. Using a little research combined with our knowledge of the profession, we’ve put together a list of things you may not know about plumbing:

  1. The word “plumber” goes back to the Roman Empire and the Latin word “plumbum” for lead.
  2. It’s because of a plumber that the Chicago River is dyed green every St. Patrick’s Day. The river was first turned green in 1962 using plumbing dye for detecting leaks. (more of that story here)
  3. The ancient Egyptians had plumbing systems. Archeologists have found lavatories inside tombs as well. (more on that here)
  4. Since 1963, more than 28 billion feet, or about 5.3 million miles, of copper tubing has been installed in U.S. buildings.
  5. In 2004, there were more than 91,000 miles of water distribution piping in the U.S. 78% of that pipe is made of PVC.
  6. In 2011, there were approximately 555,900 plumbers and pipefitters working in the U.S. (via the 2011 Encyclopedia of Careers and Vocational Guidance)
  7. Plumbers install and repair pipes for water, but also for: steam, air and a variety of liquids and gases.
  8. Toilets have saved more lives than any other invention.
  9. Thomas Crapper did not actually invent the toilet. Sir John Harrington actually invented the first flush toilet. (more on that here)
  10. Thomas Crapper owned his own plumbing shop in London by the time he was 25 and was awarded nine patents for plumbing innovations during his lifetime, three of them consisting of improvements to the flushing toilet.
  11. Plumbers installed 2,500 toilets and 2,500 sinks in the Empire State Building. The building also has 70 miles of pipe (more on that here).

Today we salute the ones who keep everything flowing, and not overflowing. We’re thankful for the dedicated plumbers who answer the call and don’t recount the tales of what they’ve pulled out of pipes.


How Do You Approach Tradesmen in the Early Stages of the Buying Process?

March 12, 2013

SalesCycle

Very carefully!

When we get a lead in, we all assume that they’re ready to buy, and in most cases, that’s not true especially when it’s an expensive or major initiative. If a contractor is contemplating a major new piece of equipment for his crews or a new piece of software to help him run the company, it’s going to take some time and investigation first. There are several stages the normal prospect goes through, and if we can’t get them past the initial stages, we’ve lost the battle.

I recently read an article by the Albertson Performance Group, How to Write Content for Early Stage Buying Process that I thought was very helpful. Here are some highlights:

  • So if a contractor responds to some marketing efforts in this-type scenario, what we need to do is to give him some general advice or tips on how to decrease downtime or set-up costs. You may have to do this a few times using different tools such as videos or a free diagnostic tool to use.
  • Then slowly get into the ways how using your products makes people’s lives easier (use a testimonial on how your product helped one of his peers).
  • Put your prospect in a position where he see’s that if he has your product he’s the hero.

They sum it up with one thought – The buyer doesn’t want your product, he wants what it will do for him. Give him reasons to buy from you.


Tablets and Smartphones are Changing the Way Manufacturers Will be Reaching the Tradesmen

November 16, 2011

Today’s digital environment is rapidly evolving driven by the increase of devices people use to consume content. This holds true for the professional tradesman as well (remember they are consumers too).

With smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, consumers have become digital omnivores according to a new study out by comScore. Their new white paper, Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U.S. Digital Media Consumption. Findings include:

  • Consumption away from desktops and laptops is really growing.
  • Smartphones are the catalyst to mobile media consumption.
  • Tablet traffic is becoming  notable and rising quickly.

Download a copy of the white paper.


Use Twitter to Talk Up Your Brand to Tradesmen

July 14, 2010

If you don’t talk up your brand on Twitter and other social sites, you’re missing the boat.

This according to a recent  post on eMarketer.com from ROI Research. A study in April of 2010 found that at least once a week, 33% of active Twitter users shared opinions about companies or products, while 32% make recommendations and 30% ask for them.

Behavior* of US Twitter Users Since Connecting with  Companies/Products on Twitter, October 2009 & April 2010 (% of  respondents)

According to Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics who commissioned the study “Social networking has greatly contributed to the shift from strict consumerism to more lively, two-way participation between Brands and everyday customers.”

If you like this, you should like:

How to Engage the Professional Tradesmen on Twitter

Awareness of Twitter has Exploded: Great Way to Reach the Professional Tradesmen

Want to Find out if Professional Tradesmen are Active on Twitter?

If you like these, please pass it on to a friend.

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10 Ways to Engage Tradesmen

November 18, 2009

tradesmenWhen we communicate with our target audiences, whether it’s through traditional methods or the use of social media, we want to inform and hopefully engage them. It’s through the engagement process that we start a dialog with them which hopefully will turn into something more (hopefully a sale). I’ve enclosed some tips on how we successfully engage tradesmen:

  1. Make sure you identify WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) for the contractor.
  2. Make sure the message is easy to skim (bullet points, bold or italicized type, photo captions).
  3. Make sure your message is clear and expressed (understood) quickly.
  4. Offer a demo – either online or in person.
  5. Contractor testimonials – Peer reviews are more believable and hold more influence on other contractors.
  6. Offer several ways for them to easily contact you and get more info.
  7. Offer incentives or other reasons for them to respond immediately.
  8. Make it easy for them to respond – email, website form or special phone number.
  9. Back up any claim with the proper proof (or reference where they can get it).
  10. Make sure offers appeal to the different stages in their buying cycle.

These are my top 10 ways. I’m sure you have some proven ways and I’d  love to hear about them.

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Use Online Training to Educate Tradesmen – Part 1

November 10, 2009

Training – both product training and safety training – are important to  professional tradesmen. That’s why several years ago we formed a strategic alliance with BlueVolt to help educate and inform our client’s customers (the professional tradesman). BlueVolt creates online marketing and learning platforms that are focused on the professional tradesmen. They have delivered over 535,000 courses to 50,000-plus registered users. We have the privilege of having Lisa Bordeaux, director of sales and partner development, here to share with you a two-part series on the benefits of online training. Enjoy her insights!

The most successful companies are the ones that not only offer training to individuals but they support them with online tools and resources, a community. In many cases, suppliers may or may not tie this to their website, they may work with associations or we may collaborate to syndicate their content. If done right, training can make it easier to engage with customers and develop a relationship that supports and fosters sales for years to come.

Training can be a great way to go to market. It’s a softer sell than advertising and it provides value to the customer while building brand affinity. BlueVolt works with a number of manufacturers, some have a strong history of training. In fact, one of them is so committed to training, they have one person in the marketing department, 7 people in the training department. Training is done both online and in-person and their training staff is teamed with sales people by territories. This fosters a tight relationship between sales opportunities and education.

Over the years I have come to think that in many cases, training is a Trojan horse for Marketing. I have seen this done to great effect in a number of cases. Here are three examples of efforts we have supported:

  1. Using education to generate sales. We have a number of examples in this case. Many manufacturers have fairly complex products either to operate or install. Providing training on a specific product can ensure that people prefer it over other products. We find offering training can provide a market of excited advocates and experts, doing it online provides an easy way to communicate and follow up with folks. The individual may pay for this training and the supplier most typically gives either a product or incentive to the individual to offset the cost of the training. http://www.bluevolt.com/case-studies/wright-tools
  2. Just in time training on new products. This is a big one for taking training online and we do it daily. When done right we significantly shorten the return on development for a new product. By delivering information to people online about new products either live, archived or even a simple PDF cut sheet that individuals many manufacturers leverage provide training just in time. This training is most often incentivized. That is, the individual receives some sort of reward for proving their knowledge.  http://www.bluevolt.com/case-studies/uei

Building a market through education – this is an expensive proposition, but can be very effective. We undertook this with a large switch manufacturer who built a course to train home integrators so they could network devices in residential. They didn’t make any products in the space, but believed they would sell more switches and routers, if there were more integrated homes needing bandwidth. Through a series of partnerships, we built a community of training centers and hosted and tracked all the training online. This is typically a scenario where the individual would pay to participate in the training. As a manufacturer, you really need a long view and high level of commitment to improve the industry.

Next, you’ll learn which has more impact, a carrot or a stick?

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Top 10 Posts For Marketing to the Professional Tradesmen

September 15, 2009

It’s always interesting to see which articles pull the best each month. Enclosed are the top ones from August ranked in the order of the amount of traffic each generated. Enjoy.

  1. 10 Engagement Tactics That Will Help B-to-B Marketers
  2. Social Media: Who Uses It and Why?
  3. Industrial and B-to-B Marketers Can’t Ignore Social Media Anymore
  4. 5 Tips for B-to-B Marketers to Get the Most out of Twitter
  5. 2009 Trends and Spending Strategies for B-to-B Marketers
  6. Social Media: 4 Signs Your Tradesman Wants to Hear From You
  7. 5 Tips For B-to-B Marketing Thought Leaders on How to Increase Your ROI.
  8. Forrester Report: Why Most B-to-B Blogs Fail
  9. 5 Quick Tips to Promote Your Post
  10. 5 Ways to Find Prospects on Twitter

What’s Your Grade on Twitter?

July 15, 2009

twittergraderSocial media is trying to be taken seriously, and in late 2008 came out with several tools to measure the effectiveness of Twitter. Two of the more popular tools are Twitter Grader (I scored 97.6 out of 100) and Twinfluence (I scored 98 out of 100).

How much credibility do you put into these type tools? I use them as a guidepost to make sure I keep on track.

It makes me:

  • Check my network to get rid of non-contributing (spammers) followers.
  • Re-evaluate my end game to make sure you’re still on target. You want to search for like-minded people (in my case, those looking to talk to tradesmen). You’re not looking for the biggest list of followers; you’re looking for the right ones!
  • To make sure my messages are timely and rich in content for my target audience.

Twitter Grader bases its score on the number of followers you have, the power of your network, the frequency of your updates and how complete your profile is.

Twinfluence bases its criteria on Reach (what’s the maximum number of people that could get your tweet),Velocity (how fast are you adding followers), Social Capital (how many followers do your followers have) and Centralization (how dependent are you on a small number of followers who have big followings).

You may or may not agree on the metrics, but at least it’s a start. If it does nothing else but make you stop and evaluate your program at a 30,000-foot level, it has served a purpose.

So what are you waiting for? What’s your score?

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Tradesmen: Early Adopters of Social Media

April 17, 2009

left_collageThey are the hard-working men and women of America. They drive the products to market. They build the towers of business. They dig the foundations of dreams. They serve America in every capacity.

They are the blue collar tradesmen, working class heroes we sometimes overlook.

They have been all over this social media stuff long before the rest of us jumped on board. They have been building relationships with friends and business associates from around the world, across the country and around town for decades. They adopted these amazing communication technologies not as a narcissistic plaything but as serious tools of industry.

They are the ham radio operators, the CB truckers and the Nextel two-way cell users. They go by names like Gladys and Night Rider and Bubba and they are the real pioneers in social media.

What makes any of us think this group of users will avoid this brave new world? They are logging on in record numbers. According to one survey, while the universe of blue-collar social media users is less than 10%, they are the fastest-growing segment.

As their jobs dwindle, they are learning new trades and finding new jobs through the use of SM.

Blue-collar men and women are a critical part of the conversation.

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