Social Media: Does it Affect Marketing to the Professional Tradesman?

July 27, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Are you trying to increase your exposure, traffic and leads? Are you trying to provide insights to contractors and generate leads? If so, social media should be part of your overall marketing program.

Social media is a targeted way of getting your message out and letting prospective customers find you. Social media benefits are:

  • Reach – get your message distributed to a broader audience.
  • Influence – both existing contractors as well as new prospects.
  • Conversions – marketing insights leads to engagement that leads to sales.

Here are some tips to maximize your social media efforts to the contractor market.

Reach – Use several different social media platforms, i.e. YouTube, SlideShare, Instagram, Flickr, to reach the contractors. Make sure what you do share is relevant as you don’t want to waste contractors time. They want quality content, not quantity. Repurpose existing content that they may not have been aware of.

Influence – You may not have to impress your existing customers, but you do for potential ones. Here’s where you have to become a thought leader. Don’t push your company or brand, but a solution to a potential problem. Develop thought leaders within your company (no need for marketing to bear all the responsibility). Tap some seasoned customer service folks, your engineering department and sales force. They are the ones on the front lines that deal with problems and come up with solutions.

Conversion  This is a hard metric if you want to tie it directly to sales. In many cases where products are either specified or sold through distribution channels, it’s nearly impossible to track sales results. You can, though, create landing pages with offers for white papers or other items that would help the contractor in their day-to-day operations. Be patient, and as you engage these folks on social media, attempt to take them off-line and start a traditional relationship with them.


Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Working Together to Reach the Professional Tradesman?

July 26, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

It may be time to reflect on ways we can do better moving forward to better identify ways to reach contractors and professional tradesman. I have found one of the biggest issues and one of the easiest ones to correct is communications between sales and marketing. As you can see in the chart below, most companies see room for improvement.

Sales and marketing must work together to define the ideal client and determine how and what to get in front of them. They need to share information and have a plan in place to hand off a lead from marketing to sales.

Social media and the internet in general have changed the way people buy. Today, research is done online long before the potential customer identifies themselves to a prospective vendor. So what can you do to ensure that when the buyer is ready, you’re on the list to talk to?

This is an issue that continues to frustrate marketers and sales across the board. Both disciplines have insights to offer and neither should be working in a vacuum. Marketing’s role is to provide qualified leads to the sales team so they can more effectively close more sales.

I read an interesting article recently by John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing that addresses this very problem.

He states: “My take is that for organizations to take full advantage of the dramatic shift in the way people and organizations buy today they must intentionally blend inbound marketing, outbound marketing and inbound selling in a way that mirrors today’s customer journey.”

He offers some suggestions on how they can work together. Here are some highlights of shared responsibilities:

  • Planning – When marketing is creating a plan, involve sales. They have insights that marketing doesn’t. Their insights are invaluable in helping define the customer journey.
  • Editorial – Even if sales people aren’t great writers, they certainly can identify pain points along the way and possible solutions for marketing to write about.
  • Social – Make sales aware of social opportunities, whether it’s LinkedIn or participating in an industry forum that social is a good networking tool.
  • Engagement – Have sales and marketing make calls together or write a proposal.
  • Measurement – Forget quantity and focus on quality of lead and how you can take them down the sales funnel. Focus on creating a profitable customer.

If you liked this post, you might like:
Are You Getting Your Sales Force Involved in Social Media?
How Does Social Media Impact a B-to-B Purchase?


5 tips on how to write effective email subject lines

July 19, 2016

By Sandy Bucher, Media Engineer, Sonnhalter

I receivThe number 5e 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:

  1. Don’t use capital letters – may increase the chance of your email getting caught in spam filters
  2. Make lists – people seem to prefer emails in list format – probably because they know it’ll be a quick read
  3. Personalize the message – use the recipient’s name, location or current event in the subject line
  4. Time-sensitive offer – creating a sense of urgency can increase open and click rates
  5. 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.


Why Interactive Content Matters when Reaching the Professional Tradesman

July 12, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

interactive content

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.


Are You Using Brand Advocacy in Reaching Contractors ?

June 28, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

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 two 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.


6 Ways to Make Your Marketing to Contractors More Effective

June 22, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Today we have so many options to reach our targeted audiences. While I’m a proponent of trying new things, we must not lose sight of who we’re trying to reach. More importantly, we need to identify the preferred way they like to be communicated with.

Below are six ways you can make your marketing to tradesmen more effective:

1. Focus On What You Can Control

You can’t control what’s going on in Washington, the economy or most other market factors. However, you do have control over your marketing. Recognize where the demand is and go after it. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

2. Re-Evaluate Your Marketing Goals

Based on what’s happening with the economy, are your company’s marketing goals achievable? It may be time to re-state and re-prioritize your goals.

3. You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure

Take a hard look at the performance of your marketing plan. I know something like ad awareness is costly and hard to measure. But things like trade show leads, direct mail and online programs are measurable. Look hard and, if needed, reallocate and optimize your budget. You can’t afford under-performing programs.

4. Fish Where The Fish Are

You know who your customers and potential customers are. Make the most of your marketing investment and increase your visibility through targeted vehicles where your prospects will see your message and take action.

5. Integrated Marketing

We’ve always been advocates of tying your messages to various touch points for your customers. This synergistic method allows you a better bang for the buck! And don’t forget to bring the sales team up-to-speed as to what you’re doing. They’re an extension of your marketing efforts.

6. Focus On Quality not Quantity

More is not necessarily better. The quality of your sales leads is far more important. If you adhere to the previous five suggestions, you will deliver better-quality leads, which will improve your bottom line and make everybody happy.

What are you doing to reach your targeted audiences?


Why Manufacturers Should Personalize Content for Professional Tradesmen

June 21, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

While there are plenty of reasons to use automated technology to manage leads through the sales funnel, there comes a point when personalized content needs to be used to reach contractors and professional tradesmen.

Contractors need answers to specific questions whether it’s product or application related. They normally are looking for this relevant info and personalized content is an excellent way of delivering it.

There are benefits to using personalized content. More than half of senior marketers worldwide polled in CMO Council’s June 2015 survey said that using enriched or personalized content and digital interactions brings higher response and engagement rates.

Leading Benefits of Using Enriched/Personalized Content and Digital Interactions According to Senior Marketers Worldwide, June 2015 (% of respondents)

So what are you doing to personalize content to the professional tradesmen? Are you addressing their concerns? Do you know what those concerns are?

Send your sales staffs out in the field and get a better read on what the tradesmen are looking for…don’t assume you know.

 


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