Content Marketing Helps Drive Business Results

August 16, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

I think we all can agree that content marketing is playing a vital role in everyone’s overall marketing plan. Everyone wants lead generation and engagement, and to get both, you have to give them good content!

In a September 2015 study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, 76% of B2B marketers in North America said they expect to create more content in 2016 than they did in 2015.

Contractors and professional tradesman 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 the 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!

And here’s what they are looking for:

The challenge is how do you develop good content? The recognition of these difficulties is leading many B2B marketers to focus on outsourcing some of their work to specialists. Nearly three-quarters of B2B marketers in Ascend2’s survey either outsourced all of their content marketing work or used a combination of outsourcing and in-house resources.

You can certainly look for freelancers to fill the gap or you could look to an obvious source – your PR or marketing firm. They are familiar with your overall goals, your voice and what you do. The key is quality content, not quantity, and your outside professionals can help you keep the bar high.


Another Reason to Use Emails to Reach Contractors: Acquisition and Retention

August 10, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

B to B trends tend to follow retail ones and here’s one more. I’ve been a big proponent of using emails as the best way to reach the professional contractors and tradesman and here are further reasons to consider this tactic.

A recent study by email on acid reported that email marketing is going to remain a top priority for companies in 2016. Though we could have predicted this was the case, nearly three out of four companies (71.8 percent) say they are planning to spend more time on email production and more than four out of five (86.7 percent) report that they will increase email marketing budgets this year.

A great email doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have a good list to send it to. That’s why building your own list is so important. You want to have an opted-in list so you can be assured your message gets by the firewalls and junk mail boxes.

Warranty cards and trade show leads are a start, but we need to be more creative. Sales visits to jobsites 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.

Be sure to read 5 tips on how to write effective email subject lines by Sandy Bucher, Media Engineer at Sonnhalter that will help you get them opened.

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.


What’s your Unique Selling Proposition to the Professional Tradesman?

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
  • One-of-a-Kind
  • Innovative

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.

 


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.


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.

 


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.


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 


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