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 Content Marketing May Work Better Than Traditional Advertising in Reaching Contractors

June 8, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Contractors and professional tradesmen often don’t have time to read the latest trade publication or look at the magazines’ website on a regular basis and might miss your message. Chances are, unless you only make one product, their interest at any given time may be on another product.

When they do go looking for things, the first place most go to is the Internet and they Google it. Chances are that they are looking for a solution just as much as they are looking for a specific product.

That’s why search is so important in the big scheme of things… and what makes you go up in search? Good meaningful content! You need to be top of mind when they reach that portion of the sales funnel where they will need to contact someone.

Heidi Cohen had an interesting article regarding advertising vs. content driven messages that had some good points for the B-to-B market.

B-to-B lags behind the consumer counterpart in doing research before they contact a manufacturer or distribution point. But even at 57%, you’d better have some skin in the game from a search perspective or you’re going to be left at the curb.

Best Lead Generation Tips

Razorfish found that:

  • 50% of U.S. consumers will do anything to avoid ads
  • 75+% of U.S. consumers hate hearing or seeing ads multiple times
  • 65% of U.S. consumers use a DVR to skip ads

Those are some scary numbers, and even though they are consumer driven, remember that those same consumers may be buying your products at their workplace. So what’s the alternative?

  • 86% of U.S. consumers value brands that are useful over those that have interesting advertising

Translation: Give your customers the info they need when they need it. Here are some tips:

  1. Leverage the social media platforms where your customers hang out.
  2. Supply product info for potentials to seek out.
  3. Tap into sources your customers trust, like trade associations.
  4. Make sure the info you give prospects enhances the product value.
  5. Skip the promotion and show them best practices when using your products.
  6. Re-promote your content. Once is not enough.

So the question is, how much effort are you using to create great content? You only have so much time, so use it wisely. Give them solutions to help them run their business better and make money. You’ll be a hero in the end.


Do You Have a Company LinkedIn Page? You should.

June 7, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

LinkedIn is a business platform and although it’s set up for individuals, companies can and should have a company page. It allows your company to have a snapshot of who you are and helps you connect with your audiences.

Yes, LinkedIn has been used primarily in the past for people to network, but remember, not all folks on LinkedIn are looking for jobs.

LinkedIn Company Page

I recently read an article from socialmediaexaminer.com on 7 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Page and I wanted to share some of their 7 insights.

  • Brand recognition − Use your company logo and colors that define your brand. Create a custom background image to set you apart. Incorporate your main URL and phone number too.
  • Focus message – Instead of taking the about us from your website, tailor the description that speaks directly to the people who are visiting your page.
  • Improve search  Under the specialty section, add key words/phrases. You need to make your page easy to find.
  • Stay in front of your prospects – Post relevant content on a regular basis and create custom images to set you apart. You have three options for sharing: 1  Push it to everyone that follows you, 2  Target specific groups (if you have enough in each group) and 3  Pay to sponsor the update to attract new followers.

Start promoting your page on email signatures and even send an e-blast out to your current database with a link to your page. The key is don’t miss this opportunity.


Contractor Email List – Do You Have One?

June 1, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

tradesperson-cement

Let’s face it, we’re all in this for the same reason. To talk with people who share the same interest. We must always be tweaking and improving what we deliver.

Warranty cards and trade show leads are a start but we need to be more creative. Salesmen visits to job site are a good way to start a conversation.

So in order to get them to give up their email, we better come up with some interesting and helpful stuff that will make them want to read our emails for future gems.

It’s not only what you have to say, but how you say it. Beyond being potential customers, these contractors can be your best friend by sharing it with their peer group. Remember contractors need to know, like and trust you before any meaningful dialog will start.

Here are some tips to building a better list of contractors and tradesmen:

  • Think like a contractor  What are their pain points? Give them practical solutions. Always answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Talk like a human – Don’t use marketing or sales speak. Keep it conversational.
  • Give them a reason to sign up – Sneak peeks at new products, exclusive product demos.
  • Ask the contractor what they want help with – Get engagement from the audience you want to reach.
  • Don’t be afraid of humor – People like to smile and it shows more of your human side.
  • Reach out to contractors – On a regular basis, randomly pick several contractors and have a product manager call and pick their brains on possible new product ideas.

Emails are back and stronger than ever if we do them right. Remember, you’re not looking for a big list, but a good one.


How Many Calls Does it Take to Make a Sale?

May 31, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

770_3980835-phone

We’re all focused on generating more leads these days, but I find it ironic that most companies don’t do much with them once they get them. Simply fulfilling a request is not the answer, but yet many companies do just that.

According to a recent survey of people who have requested info suggests that 80% of all sales are made on or after the third contact. The survey conducted by Marketing Best Practices, Inc. polled over 700 respondents with only 8% buying after the first call.

David Frey, the senior content editor and author of several marketing books advises, “An educated prospect is your best prospect, and if they haven’t become a customer it’s because you haven’t fully educated them on the value of your product and developed a relationship of trust.”

Why do many businesses have a problem following up with their prospective customers? Mr. Frey explained, “The problem is not that small businesses don’t have the capacity to follow up with prospects, it’s that they don’t have the systems in place to do it well.” In his recent newsletter, “Follow-Up Marketing: How To Win More Sales With Less Effort,” Mr. Frey advised, A good follow-up marketing system should have three attributes:”
1. It should be systematic.
2. It should generate consistent, predictable results.
3. It should require minimal physical interaction to make it run.

This leads to a more pressing issue and that is, what is the difference between sales lead management and a CRM tool? According to Russ Hill, President of Ultimate Lead Systems:

Sales lead management is a sub-function within an overall CRM strategy. Traditional CRM programs like Salesforce.com, SalesLogix, ACT, Goldmine, Maximizer and others focus on the sales person entering and managing his own data and pushing it “up” to management.

Sales lead management starts with management generating and capturing leads from all sources, fulfilling information requests and delivering them to the sales channel and tracking follow-up and sales results to measure marketing return-on-investment.

Here are some other interesting facts:

INQUIRIES MEAN NEW BUSINESS!
67% of all inquiries are from legitimate prospects with real needs.
34% have current needs that must be satisfied within 6 months!
70% did not know the company made the product before seeing their ad. . . making them NEW PROSPECTS!

A six-year study* of nearly 60,000 inquiries conducted by Penton Media Company also found that:
43% of inquirers receive literature and information too late to be of use.
72% of inquirers are NEVER CONTACTED by a salesman.
25% of sales contacts are made at the inquirer’s request.
40% of inquirers purchase the advertised product, a competitive product or change their suppliers.
* NED Reader Action Reports

The key is to get a lead management system in place that can help your CRM convert those leads into sales.

If you like this post, you may want to read:

B-to-B Marketers: Why it Takes More than 3 Calls to Make a Sale

B-to-B Marketers: What are Your Most Effective Sales Channels?

10 Engagement Tactics That Will Help B-to-B Marketers 


8 Tips on How to Connect with Contractors

May 24, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Building relationships with contractors is no different from building them with your friends. You build relationships with friends over time, but once they know, like and trust you, then they will do anything for you.

Building relationships with contractors is no different. It can’t be a one-way street when everything you talk about is trying to sell them something. You’d get a lot farther if you were looking out for their best interest and helping them solve problems or do things better so they can make more money.

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A friend of mine once told me “contractors buy stories before they buy stuff.” Anyone who has spent time with contractors knows how true this is. Know what’s bothering them and keeping them up at night. So how are you going to find those things out? By talking with them and starting to build a relationship.

So if you’re a manufacturer looking to spend more meaningful time with contractors, I’ve written 8 tips on how to connect with contractors that you can get HERE.

8 Tips

The paper gives you tips on how to use relationship marketing and storytelling when dealing with contractors. You’ll also learn how to use training modules and mobile to stay connected and help them train their staffs.


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