It’s Tool Drive Time!

August 2, 2016

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect at Sonnhalter

It’s August! At Sonnhalter, August means Tool Drive!

We’ve just kicked off the Seventh Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive which benefits the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. If you don’t already know, Habitat for Humanity does great work for communities, helping improve the lives of individuals and their communities.

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We’ve been doing this Tool Drive since 2010 and each year the generosity of our clients, partners, community and friends is absolutely overwhelming. Last year, we were able to collect more than $35,000 worth of donations, which brought the total we’ve collected since our efforts began back in 2010 to more than $176,000.

Hosting an annual tool drive just made sense for us since we work with companies who make products for tradesmen. Everything donated is put to use either building homes or sold at a ReStore location. Everything sold at Habitat’s ReStores supports building and rehabilitating homes for people who need them.

Be a part of this year’s Tool Drive!

To find out how to get involved, visit visit Sonnhalter.com/tooldrive or contact me at rkerstetter@sonnhalter.com or 216.242.0420 ext 130.


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 tradesmen. 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?


Anyone Can Write a Press Release

July 20, 2016

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

Given the appropriate details, anyone can write a press release, however, not everyone should write a press release.

Too often when companies try to DIY their press releases rather than have a public relations professional write it, their message gets lost.

Here are the most common mistakes that we see with DIY press releases:

  1. It isn’t actually news. If you’re going to ask for the media’s attention, you need to actually give them something, that something is news. If you inundate an editor with press releases that don’t contain news, you’ll do more to damage the relationship than build it.
  2. It isn’t written in a useable format. Press releases need to be written in AP Style; it makes them incredibly simple for the media to use.
  3. It’s a sales pitch. Sales pitches are not press releases.
  4. It puts the important information last. When was the last time you actually read to the end of an article?
  5. It assumes the reader knows anything about you upfront. A press release came across my desk once that was announcing a new tool and relied so heavily on the tool’s brand name, it never actually told me what the tool is used for.

Press releases are a valuable public relations program basic that when done well can earn you media coverage and help build relationships. Don’t assume that just anyone can write a release well.

Press releases have changed over time, here’s a quick look at the Modern Press Release.


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.


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.


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