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

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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

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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 


Climbing the Steel Ladder: It’s Never Been a Better Time for Women to Enter the Trades

May 25, 2016

Today we have a guest post from Kathy Jackson on behalf of the Tulsa Welding School.

It’s never been a better time to crash that glass ceiling. Increasing numbers of women are climbing the steel ladder to a successful career in the skilled trades. While many of these jobs have traditionally been viewed as mostly male oriented, employers seeking welders, construction workers, and electrical technicians have been reaching out to women.

Industry Growth

Jobs in many skilled trades will likely be plentiful in the coming years thanks to growth in these industries. For example, jobs for electricians are expected to increase by 14 percent through 2024. The HVAC field is also expected to expand by 14 percent, notes the below data from Tulsa Welding School.

Higher Earning Potential

Women who wish to switch from female-dominated fields may find their earnings significantly higher: the average annual wage in childcare is $21,710 versus an average of $40,040 for welders. Or administrative assistants average $34,500 versus HVAC technicians, who average $46,880.

Faster, Less Expensive Training

Women looking to enter these fields won’t need a four-year university degree either. Most jobs only require a high school diploma and training at an accredited trade school, many of which can have graduates up and running in less than a year. Additionally, the savings in tuition will add up. The difference between a trade school and a four-year degree can be as much as $94,000, and university tuition will likely not be getting any more affordable in the near future. Plus, the Department of Labor announced $1.9 million total in grants as a part of the Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations program.

If you’re a woman looking to climb that steel ladder even further, you can work towards positions in management and engineering in the HVAC and electrical fields, respectively.

So, if you have an eye for precision, patience, and attention to detail, try your hand at the skilled trades. They are looking for women just like you!

women-skilled-trades-success

About Tulsa Welding School

Tulsa Welding School was founded in 1949 by two welders who recognized a strong demand for skilled tradesman in their industry. More than 60 years later, TWS has evolved into an educational institution that prepares students for various skilled trade careers with a multitude of specialties and applications. We train our graduates for the skills, knowledge, and the workplace attitudes that are essential when entering the professional world. Graduates who put forth the dedication, commitment to excel, and workplace experience in their welding, HVAC/R or electrical education, have the potential to obtain a lasting and rewarding welding career.


7 Key Findings from Plant Engineering’s 2016 Maintenance Study

May 18, 2016

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

235_2737719Every year Plant Engineering conducts their Maintenance Study. The objective of this research is to better understand maintenance practices and strategies currently in place in North American manufacturing facilities and the effects of maintenance on productivity and profitability.

The 2016 study identified seven important high-level findings impacting the manufacturing industry:

  • Maintenance Strategies – facilities utilize multiple maintenance strategies on the plant floor, with preventive maintenance (76%), “run-to-failure” (61%) and computerized maintenance management system (60%) being the top three
  • Shutdown Schedule – on average, all systems are shutdown three times each year
  • Maintenance Support – 6 in 10 facilities dedicate a significant amount of maintenance support to their rotating equipment
  • Unscheduled Downtime – aging equipment (50%) and operator errors (15%) remain the leading causes
  • Training – more than half of respondents’ maintenance personnel receives training in safety; basic mechanical skills; basic electrical skills; motors, gearboxes, bearings; and lubrication
  • Technologies – 62% of respondents’ facilities use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)
  • Outsourcing – the average facility outsources 22% of their maintenance operations, up from 17% in 2015

Diving deeper into the research findings, I was surprised at some of antiquated and simplistic practices still used for maintenance, especially given this age of technology and the Industrial-Internet-of-Things (IIoT). For example the second highest maintenance strategy was Reactive Maintenance also known as “run-to-failure.” And the leading cause for unscheduled downtime is Aging Equipment at 50%, while Lack of Time to Perform Maintenance or Lack of Maintenance make up 25%. And even though 83% of maintenance personnel receive training in safety, only 3 in 5 respondents indicate that their maintenance teams receive basic mechanical and electrical skills. How can we expect these people to maintain equipment if they are not properly trained? And the ultimate technology dichotomy, “clipboards and paper records” at 39% was ranked third highest for the technology used to monitor and manage maintenance!

See the 7 key findings here.

Download the full report here.


Wanted: A Harvard for Skilled Jobs

April 5, 2016

Today, we have a guest post from Jeff Selingo, author of “There Is Life After College,” which comes out on April 12th.

Nearly 40 percent of American workers hold a bachelor’s degree. College graduates are found in virtually every profession. Some 15 percent of mail carriers have a four-year credential, as do one in five clerical and sales workers, as well as, 83,000 bartenders.

Getting a bachelor’s degree is what going to college means to most Americans and is so ingrained in our culture that students who don’t march along are often admonished, questioned  and considered failures.

The decades-long march to college-for-everyone at 18 has actually closed off rather than opened up options for teenagers and twentysomethings.

As recently as the 1970s, a teenager had a number of options after graduating from high school: get a good-paying job right away, enlist in the military, find an apprenticeship in a trade or go to college.

A teenager today really has only two of those options still available: the military or college. Less than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military, so most go to college right after high school. In the early 1970s, less than half of high school graduates in the United States went on to college the following fall. Today, nearly 66 percent do.

The goal of universal college has actually done more harm than good because it banished anything that smacks of job training to second-class status.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not encouraging 18-year-olds to skip out on further education after high school. But not everyone is ready for a traditional American college experience at 18, nor does it align with the interests, skills, and mindsets of some teenagers.

We need more than just one pathway to good jobs in the U.S. What we need is a place like Harvard—both prestigious and rigorous—that will attract students who have talents and interests to pursue skilled jobs critical for the economy that don’t necessarily require a four-year college degree.

As I traveled the country the last two years talking to employers of all sizes and in all sectors of the economy for my forthcoming book, what I heard most is the worry they have about filling so-called middle-skill positions in advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology.

Nearly half of the American workforce has these jobs today, but many of them are filled by aging Baby Boomers who will soon be retiring. It’s expected that as many as 25 million of all new job openings in the next decade will be for middle-skills jobs.

Employers told me they have a healthy supply of talent for their white-collar office jobs that usually require at least a bachelor’s degree and sometimes a master’s or Ph.D. But if manufacturing has any hope of making a rebound in the U.S., there is a desperate need for younger workers with technical, hands-on skills that require training after high school.

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Today, only 52 percent of young people have either a two- or four-year degree or an industry certificate by the time they reach their mid-twenties. The goal of universal college has actually done more harm than good, because it diverted attention away from any real discussion of a robust apprenticeship program, and it has banished anything that smacks of job training to second-class status.

There is evidence attitudes are beginning to change. First, the number of apprenticeships is rising for the first time since the 2008 recession. Second, with college debt surpassing the trillion-dollar mark, students and parents are giving apprenticeships a second look as an alternative to paying sky-high tuition for a bachelor’s degree that might not lead to a job. Third, some apprenticeships are beginning to have an academic component that makes them nearly indistinguishable from traditional colleges.

The modern version of what an apprenticeship could look like for American students interested in alternatives to college is on display at the Apprentice School in Newport News, Virginia. Students who choose from one of more than 20 occupational areas are paid an annual salary of $54,000 by the final year of the program—$10,000 above that of the average bachelor’s degree recipient—and afterward they are guaranteed a job with the military contractor that operates Newport News Shipbuilding.

The school is just as selective as Harvard. It receives more than 4,000 applications each year for 230 spots, and significant numbers of its graduates go on to earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees. In many ways, it looks and feels like a typical American college, except in one important respect: its students graduate debt free.

We need more such schools and pathways post-high school that serve a greater array of industries as well as students who don’t want to travel down the one route we offer to them now.

About Jeff

Jeffrey Selingo is author of three books on higher education. He is a regular contributor to the Washington Post’s Grade Point” blog, a professor of practice at Arizona State University and a visiting scholar at Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities.

In There Is Life After College, Jeff Selingo explores why students struggle to launch into a career after college and how they can better navigate the route from high school through college and into the work world. It will be released by HarperCollins April 12


Super Bowl 50 Commercial Review

March 23, 2016

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

It’s not late, I promise.

Yes, I know the Super Bowl was well over a month ago. So what’s the point of reviewing the commercials now? Well that’s pretty much my point.

Advertisers at this year’s “Big Game” (as the nonsponsoring like to call it) spent more on commercials during the broadcast that was spent on Super Bowl ads in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s COMBINED. So quick, how many do you remember like the 1984 Apple commercial? How many have become the new brand for a company like Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit”?

Not one. And that’s because for most major brands (or at least the ones that can afford Super Bowl ads) that’s no longer the point. These ads are now focused more on creating “buzz” by being as interruptive as possible. It’s about how many tweets it can spark when it airs, how many shares it can get on Facebook, and how many best/worst listicles it can make it onto the next day. And then it’s on to the next thing, or back to the standard messaging.

A perfect example? PuppyMonkeyBaby. Outrageous by design, its general air of “too cool for you” hits you harder than the overly caffeinated drink it’s selling. It’s all buzz and very little brand (other than the 3 dudes on the couch representing their target demo).

The antithesis? Death Wish Coffee. Sure it’s a CGI-filled 30 seconds, but it sets up the niche this coffee wants to serve, and doesn’t lose its message in the effects.

Of course it was also done for them for free as part of an Intuit campaign. But that makes it an even smarter move for them as they show that they truly are willing to help small businesses, while also poking fun at the bloated advertising/pop culture spectacle that the Super Bowl has become.

So what’s the takeaway for B2T Marketing?

Don’t believe the hype. Set your brand and create collateral that builds on it, not on a fad or trend. Be a thought leader, not another voice in the crowd. And know you market well enough not to launch a broadside at everyone, but a targeted message where you need it to be.


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