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.

 


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.


Are you Considered a “Trusted Authority” in Contractors’ Minds?

May 10, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

We all want to be recognized as leaders in our respective fields and in today’s world the current mantra is to be that “Trusted Authority.” To be a recognized leader in your field is not an overnight sensation. It takes time and you need to deliver more than bells and whistles.

I recently read an article by Mark Buckshon from Construction Marketing Ideas where he discusses this very topic. He gave the example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s role in leading architecture to a new level in his day. He truly was considered a trusted authority, and if you wanted a second opinion, you’d just have to ask him. Not everyone agreed with him, but they respected him.

 Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House, in Buffalo, NY. Courtesy of Dave Pape.


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House, in Buffalo, NY. Courtesy of Dave Pape.

Time is one thing we have little of, yet it’s what it will take to position yourself and your company as the industry expert. Wisdom comes from experience and experience is gained over time. Lots of your credentialing will come from the school of hard knocks. But that’s OK. We should learn from our failures and missteps.

Learn to share your expertise and solve problems instead of trying to sell contractors stuff. With the advent of social media, we no longer control the message or where or when it will be delivered. You need to learn to share your experiences via story telling as opposed to a sales pitch. Show your expertise by telling contractors how you helped others solve a problem or gave them a better way of doing a job that resulted in them making more money.

To become a true authority you need to deliver results beyond the ordinary. If you do this, you’ll be able to grow your business through referrals and repeat business. Contractors are very loyal and they do talk among themselves, so let’s make sure what they are saying about your company is good.

It’s a never-ending battle. You need to keep being ahead of the curve and continue to wow contractors. Remember, everything you do at the contractor level should answer this one simple question, “What’s in it for me?”


How to Use Content to Reach Contractors

May 4, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

time for content

We all want to get our message in front of contractors. In order to get more out of your content, you need to tie it to your strategy.

We need to help them with solutions to their problems, a better technique or tool for the job. A different process that will save time and money. Online training for their workers.

We’re all concerned on getting the message out that we sometimes miss other opportunities to use the same content (message) and deliver it differently.

I recently read a post by John Jantsch, 10 Ways to Use One Piece of Content, that brings this into perspective. Contractors get their info in several formats. Have you tried any other ways of delivering your message?

Here are some highlights from John’s post:

  • Turn your post into a series of videos that the sales folks can send out on an individual basis
  • Do a webinar and feature it on your website
  • Use a SlideShare deck that you can use both on SlideShare as well as on your LinkedIn profile
  • Develop an infographic and send it out in an e-blast
  • Testimonials. Get contractors who are already happy customers to give you testimonials, either written or on video.

John’s point is that it’s not the amount of content, but its intention.

What are you doing to maximize your content?


Are you ready for the true digital natives?

April 20, 2016

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

The Millennial generation has been a hot topic for managers and marketers for many years now; in fact you used to call us Generation Y. Not everyone agrees on the exact years for each generation, but it’s generally accepted that Millennials are those born between 1980 and sometime between 1998 and 2000. Generation Z is the next upcoming generation with birth years in the 1990s through 2010. Predictions are already being made about the generation of kids born after 2010 as well!

People used to call Millennials “digital natives” due to our comfort using the internet and technology in general. But the generation after is what I would consider truly digital natives.

Millennial Technology Experience

Take me as an example. I’m a member of the Millennial generation and I can trace the growth of technology through my formative years. I recall changing the channel on the television using a dial and improving the picture on the tube TV by repositioning bunny ears. I used DOS and the first laptop computer I ever touched had a black and white screen. I looked up phone numbers in the phonebook and had to take typing classes in school. But we also caught on as technology advanced by leaps and bounds. I think that’s part of why the Millennial generation is so quick to learn – we had to adapt quickly.

Generation Z Technology Experience

The next generation that communicators should be preparing for is Generation Z. Those who knew how to use a mobile phone before they could sit in the front seat of a car. Those who stream music, TV and movies as the norm and consider DVDs to be “old” technology and don’t know what the “Save” icon really is.

The need for visual and video content is apparent now, but this generation will consume content differently and we need to be talking to them the way that they want to be talked to. Now more than ever, people have more control over the messages that reach them.

Everything travels fast, which enhances the need for real-time marketing and virtual communication. In our B2B space, we’re often protected and can learn from the mistakes and triumphs of others because we don’t start talking to this generation until they enter the workforce, so pay attention now. Watch the consumer brands that communicate to a younger demographic. You’ll notice an increase in visual, real-time communication, but don’t think that means your brand needs to get on SnapChat or Instagram to communicate with the new generation.

Infographic via Fluent

Infographic via Fluent

Video

By and far, mobile, visual, app-based social media is being used for interpersonal communication among peers. Instead, this group is turning to video on YouTube as well as on Facebook. This is an area where you should be upping your game now. Video is such a valuable content marketing tool for your brand as it is. Refresh yourself on 6 Tips For Using Video To Tell Your Story and make sure you’re working video content into your integrated marketing plans.

Live Conversations

It may seem strange to bring up live conversations when talking about a digitally native generation, but technology makes live conversations even easier. Livestreaming, video chatting and other services facilitate an in-person conversation without actually being in person. Check out our recommendations for using livestreaming.

Start Now

Don’t let the next generation of your B2B audience sneak up on you. Take the lessons you’ve learned from communicating with tech-savvy Millennials and the observations that you make on communications with digital natives in Generation Z and implement them in your marketing communication plans today.


Passion Isn’t the Problem

March 2, 2016

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

I recently listened to a report on NPR about how big companies are analyzing their social media followers to make sure they’re “passionate” enough. It’s not enough for these brands anymore to just rack up followers; they need to re-tweet, blog and be engaged enough to matter.

In manufacturing, the opposite could very easily be said. There’s no shortage of passion, but social media numbers and avenues continue to be a struggle.

Passion side of the argument, the case is easy to make. There simply aren’t people more passionate about their work than skilled craftsmen. It’s part of what makes that jump from simply doing a job, to doing a job right so distinct. And look at the time and effort the average tradesman puts into sharing knowledge with others and the next generation, it’s unmatched in any other field. Lastly, look at the brand loyalty and rivalries that do exist in our industry. The passion generated by Ford/Chevy, Lincoln/Miller, Deere/Case IH, Snap-On/Mac/Matco and a hundred other make Coke/Pepsi look like a kindergarten sandbox dispute.

So how can you use that passion to improve your social media numbers?

  • Be on the Right Channel – Facebook can allow for a more direct line of access, but it can also be demographically wrong. Twitter allows for quick hits of info, but requires more monitoring. LinkedIn is great for professional development, but has a structure that takes some getting used to. You don’t need to have all your eggs in one basket, but you should prioritize your message and messaging.
  • It’s Not All Rah Rah – If you’re only going on social media to talk about the latest products and re-post press releases, stop now. Be a source for more than just self-promotion.
  • Know What Your Audience Wants to be Doing – What do your customers do when they’re not working? Share stories about that every once and a while, so you become a resource.
  • Share the Bigger Picture – Community outreach, training and other industry rather than company issues should be a regular feature of your feed.
  • Don’t Read the Comments, Except When You Do – Part of the passionate rivalries I mentioned above seems to be following the brand you DON’T like, just to constantly comment on how much you don’t like it. Don’t give those comments the time of day (or attention their posters want). However, social media can be an excellent point of contact for legitimate customer issues. Act on those, and quickly.

Professional Tradesman Email Contacts: The Holy Grail of B to B Marketing

February 2, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

As manufacturers we all know how important keeping in contact with our customers is. Email is one of the easiest and most effective way to do that and unfortunately for those of you who sell through a distribution process it’s hard to get the ultimate end user’s name no less try to start a relationship with them.

That’s why it’s important to begin building your own database of both current and potential contractors. If you’re fortunate enough to make products that require a warranty card that certainly is a place to start. Other outbound marketing activities should include incentives for contractors to give up their contact info so you can start a dialog with them.

Give them something of value that would help them in their everyday activities, such as:

  • mobile app
  • some sort of calculator to help them estimate projects
  • white paper
  • a series of how-to videos
  • industry research on new and upcoming trends
  • checklists on  detailed processes
  • case study
  • tool kit (cheat sheets, checklists, videos, e-books)

Do you know that the average office worker checks their email 30 times an hour? Can you imagine what the stats are for contractors out in the field?

The point is that emails are very acceptable ways of communicating with each other. The key is to have relevant and timely info for your prospect.

Heidi Cohen gives us several reasons why email trumps social media:

  • Email provides directly measurable ROI – You know immediately how many opened and read your message.
  • Email is content format agnostic  It’s user-friendly and you can use text, images, videos, audio, PDFs.
  • Email can deliver both long and short content – Content can vary from a link to several pages in length.
  • Emails you can control delivery – Whether it’s now or delayed.
  • Emails can be read on anything – Smart phones, tablets, laptops, no apps required.
  • Emails build customer relationships – Once someone allows you to communicate with them, it represents a certain level of trust.

With all the marketing trends and new things over the last several years, email still seems to be the “workhorse”  for most people’s marketing efforts. Recent research from Gigaom reports that over 75% of smart phone users check their emails on their phones. What I find remarkable, if you look at the chart below, 5 years ago paid search, SEO and digital ads would have been at the top of the list. Oh, how the more things change, the more they remain the same.

So what are you doing to grow your own email list?

Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Benchmark Report on Email Marketing Sheds Light on Top Priorities for B-to-B Marketers

5 Tips on Improving Your Email Marketing to Professional Tradesmen

Email Marketing: How Are You Using it to Reach the Professional Tradesmen


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