July 20, 2016
By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter
Given the appropriate details, anyone can write a press release, however, not everyone should write a press release.
Too often when companies try to DIY their press releases rather than have a public relations professional write it, their message gets lost.
Here are the most common mistakes that we see with DIY press releases:
- It isn’t actually news. If you’re going to ask for the media’s attention, you need to actually give them something, that something is news. If you inundate an editor with press releases that don’t contain news, you’ll do more to damage the relationship than build it.
- It isn’t written in a useable format. Press releases need to be written in AP Style; it makes them incredibly simple for the media to use.
- It’s a sales pitch. Sales pitches are not press releases.
- It puts the important information last. When was the last time you actually read to the end of an article?
- It assumes the reader knows anything about you upfront. A press release came across my desk once that was announcing a new tool and relied so heavily on the tool’s brand name, it never actually told me what the tool is used for.
Press releases are a valuable public relations program basic that when done well can earn you media coverage and help build relationships. Don’t assume that just anyone can write a release well.
Press releases have changed over time, here’s a quick look at the Modern Press Release.
July 19, 2016
By Sandy Bucher, Media Engineer, Sonnhalter
I receive many marketing tip email newsletters, and recently received The Industrial Marketer, a newsletter from ThomasNet rpm. In this newsletter, Derek Yi Yang of ThomasNet rpm discusses how having an effective subject line increases the chances of your email getting opened, and read.
Here are the 5 tips:
- Don’t use capital letters – may increase the chance of your email getting caught in spam filters
- Make lists – people seem to prefer emails in list format – probably because they know it’ll be a quick read
- Personalize the message – use the recipient’s name, location or current event in the subject line
- Time-sensitive offer – creating a sense of urgency can increase open and click rates
- Short and to the point – make it a quick read and enticing enough for your readers to open and read
Keep these tips in mind next time you’re composing your next marketing email. And be sure to click on the link above to read Derek’s post for examples of the 5 tips.
July 13, 2016
By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
I recently read an article by Mark Buckshon from Construction Marketing Ideas where he was talking about how contractors need to identify what makes them different from all the rest. It got me to thinking about farther up the food chain (manufacturers) and how they all have a hard time differentiating themselves. How many times have you heard the following:
- Best in Class
- Industry Expert
- Leading Source
- Industry Leader
- World Class
- Award Winning
The point is, what do these really say about your company that sets it apart from the competition? Phrases like these are marketing hype and nothing more. You need to look hard at those things that really truly set you apart from the competition. Manufacturers typically look at products as the points of difference and in some cases, that might enough. But no manufacturer can say that across their entire product line.
Maybe you should be looking at other points of differentiation such as tech/field support, customer service or distribution policies. For example, in the plumbing fixture category, there are tons of competitors. Yes, some like Kohler and Grohe go after the high-end, but what about the regular guy who needs a new faucet or shower head? If you were a contractor, who would you recommend?
Here’s a good example. Gerber Plumbing fixtures are sold only through plumbing wholesalers and plumbing contractors. Now if you’re a contractor, that would make a difference. They offer similar styles and finishes as their competitors, but they don’t have the hassle of a customer going to Home Depot and telling them they can buy that same fixture for $50 less than what you’re quoting. That’s a competitive advantage. Gerber has the contractors’ backs because that’s their target market.
Here are 3 questions you need to answer regarding your positioning:
- Is it True?
- Is it Relevant?
- Is it Provable?
So I might suggest you take a look at your positioning statement and see if it passes the test.
July 12, 2016
By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
When all is said and done, we’re trying to create all this great content in order to engage the contractors, right? Then we need to ensure that what we do will be looked at, read and watched.
Interactive content will help you accomplish these goals. Contractors love to watch videos (both instructional and entertaining), they are always available to give you their opinions (polls) and they want to show you how smart they are (quizzes). Now not all your content has to be interactive, but I think you’ll find that the content that will get the best play (read and shared) will revolve around interactive content.
Not only does it give the contractors a better user experience, it also affords you better metrics to evaluate your content (shares, likes and comments). The key is to design the message with the focus on the contractor and make the subject matter very focused.
So the first step is setting your objectives:
- What do you want the content to do – create brand awareness, educate, entertain?
- Who is your target audience – owner or worker?
- Where are you going to distribute it – social channels, your own site or a third-party site?
Second step is to keep the message targeted at that specific audience. People today have short attention spans (10 second sound bite).
Third, have a strong call to action. You have to make it clear what you want them to do and you don’t have to wait until the end to make the pitch.
So don’t be afraid of using interactive content and I’m sure you’ll see better results.
July 6, 2016
By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
Beyond the normal marketing things you do, what are you doing to get closer to your customers and LISTEN to what their issues are?
May I suggest a contractor council? You all have brand advocates out there, why not get them together a few times a year and get a better sense of what’s happening in their world and what keeps them up at night. You could even pass by new product ideas before putting them into production. If you make the meetings about them and not you, the outcome will be more positive.
You know these guys talk to each other, either through social media like forums or at association and trade meetings. Meetings could be planned around major trade shows or meetings, and you’d ask them to come in a day ahead of time for say a half-day meeting.
I’d also suggest that some of the meetings could be held at your location (at your expense) so they get to meet other members of your team. Keep these meetings on track with an agenda that should include issues they want to talk about as well. There also should be action items coming out of each meeting where they can see that you actually did listen and are taking some action. Note that all action items don’t have to have a positive resolution, but the council needs to know that you at least took it under consideration.
Other than the ultimate end user, do you sell through independent reps and or distributors? These should be on your radar screen to get closer to as well. Rep and Distributor councils can also reap great results.
- Reps are in the trenches daily and can give you valuable insights not only on the end-user level, but also what’s happening at the distributor level.
- Distributors can give you insights on not only current avenues of business, but might be able to point out new possible areas of growth.
Bottom line is, I’ve seen firsthand what a well planned council can bring to a company. It’s a great long-term strategy that will help you set your brand apart.
July 4, 2016
By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect
The Fourth of July is more than fireworks, parades, cookouts and a day off. It’s a day that we recognize our country’s independence.
All of the red, white and blue that comes out for Independence Day brings the topic of “Made in the USA” to mind.
Did you know…
- Every $1 spent in manufacturing contributes $1.40 to the economy? This is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.
- The majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S. are small? Only 1.4% of firms in the manufacturing sector have more than 500 employees.
- Manufacturing supports 18.4 million U.S. jobs? That’s about 1 in 6 private-sector jobs.
- In 2014, the average manufacturing employee made $79,533? That’s more than $15,000 above the national average for all industries.
- Over the past 25 years, U.S.-manufactured goods exports more than quadrupled?
- Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 9th largest world economy?
These stats came from NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers). You can find these and other facts about U.S. manufacturing on their website.
If you’re also thinking about U.S. Manufacturing today, check out these other posts on the topic:
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!
June 29, 2016
By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter
It took creativity to start your business, and it takes creativity to keep it running every day. So why not apply that same creativity to the greatest challenge facing the manufacturing industry: the lack of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen?
The time to act is now. Waiting for someone else to plug the hole simply won’t work. Schools’ budgets are squeezed too tight. Government agencies are interested in quick fixes, not long-term solutions. You need to find the next generation of workers.
You have two huge advantages: as a manufacturer you’re used to seeing a problem from all angles and creating a solution. And your jobs are actually cool. They allow people looking for a challenge to use their minds and hands together to build something.
So how do you reach future workers? Show off what you do! Take this example from Birmingham Georgia. A normal company would just see this as another contract. Another job. But BL Harbert saw an opportunity. The Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum is one of the most innovative museums in the world. Why not use it as a draw to show how their skills and abilities help make it that way?
via Alabama News Center
Partnering with Go Build Alabama, they arranged for 120 students to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of its museum expansion. Now, we can’t all be working on projects at cool museums, but believe me, much of what you do looks really cool to an outsider, especially when placed into the larger context of what it’s helping to create. I wish I could have seen a CNC machine in action when I was 16 or even a welder or PEX pipe. When you see what a little creativity can do to make the world a better place, or just to improve on an existing solution, you’ve captured someone’s imagination. And when you show them that they, too, can be a part of it, you’ve created a skilled tradesman.
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