Stats on U.S. Manufacturing

July 4, 2016

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect

The Fourth of July is more than fireworks, parades, cookouts and a day off. It’s a day that we recognize our country’s independence.

All of the red, white and blue that comes out for Independence Day brings the topic of “Made in the USA” to mind.

Did you know…

  • Every $1 spent in manufacturing contributes $1.40 to the economy? This is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.
  • The majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S. are small? Only 1.4% of firms in the manufacturing sector have more than 500 employees.
  • Manufacturing supports 18.4 million U.S. jobs? That’s about 1 in 6 private-sector jobs.
  • In 2014, the average manufacturing employee made $79,533? That’s more than $15,000 above the national average for all industries.
  • Over the past 25 years, U.S.-manufactured goods exports more than quadrupled?
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 9th largest world economy?

These stats came from NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers). You can find these and other facts about U.S. manufacturing on their website.

If you’re also thinking about U.S. Manufacturing today, check out these other posts on the topic:

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!


Creativity is the Key

June 29, 2016

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

It took creativity to start your business, and it takes creativity to keep it running every day. So why not apply that same creativity to the greatest challenge facing the manufacturing industry: the lack of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen?

The time to act is now. Waiting for someone else to plug the hole simply won’t work. Schools’ budgets are squeezed too tight. Government agencies are interested in quick fixes, not long-term solutions. You need to find the next generation of workers.

You have two huge advantages: as a manufacturer you’re used to seeing a problem from all angles and creating a solution. And your jobs are actually cool. They allow people looking for a challenge to use their minds and hands together to build something.

So how do you reach future workers? Show off what you do! Take this example from Birmingham Georgia. A normal company would just see this as another contract. Another job. But BL Harbert saw an opportunity. The Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum is one of the most innovative museums in the world. Why not use it as a draw to show how their skills and abilities help make it that way?

via Alabama News Center

Partnering with Go Build Alabama, they arranged for 120 students to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of its museum expansion. Now, we can’t all be working on projects at cool museums, but believe me, much of what you do looks really cool to an outsider, especially when placed into the larger context of what it’s helping to create. I wish I could have seen a CNC machine in action when I was 16 or even a welder or PEX pipe. When you see what a little creativity can do to make the world a better place, or just to improve on an existing solution, you’ve captured someone’s imagination. And when you show them that they, too, can be a part of it, you’ve created a skilled tradesman.

Ready to get started?

Download Sonnhalter’s database of 20,000+ vocational education programs.


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 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.

 


5 Key Metrics for Measuring Trade Shows

June 15, 2016

Trade show season is upon us and for those of us that are still going to them, you know that the costs to play aren’t going down. That’s why ROI and documented metrics are so important. I talked to Vince Tricomi recently to make sure his post from a year ago still was appropriate and he assured me it was, so I thought I’d remind us all of these metrics.

Today, we have a guest post from Vince Tricomi, VP, New Business Development at PFI Displays on ways you can maximize your efforts. Enjoy.

Most of you participate in various trade shows from time to time. If you do, you know that they can be very expensive and management is always looking for a ROI. That’s why it’s important for sales and marketing to work together to make sure they get the best bang for the buck.

Except for a lucky few who still write orders at trade shows, most exhibitors can’t tie a specific revenue-generation figure to their trade shows.

That’s OK though. Consider how marketers tie sales figures to a magazine ad:  They can’t, and that’s why they measure things like impressions, reach and awareness.

Trade shows offer plenty of measurement opportunities for the savvy event marketer. Some of these metrics are firm, others are calculated estimates, but they can be combined to create clarity into the effectiveness of any trade show program, large or small.

Here are a few of our suggestions:
1. Leads: 
a. Let’s get this easy one of out of the way
i. Don’t mess around with collecting business cards
ii. Renting a lead retrieval machine that loads your lead data on a flash drive is money well spent
b. SAVVY TIP: Break these leads down into A, B, and C categories for better insight into the show’s quality.

2. Cost Per Lead:
a. Take the total cost of your exhibit investment and divide it by the total amount of leads collected
b. Compare this to other marketing efforts to see how your show stacks up
c. SAVVY TIP: If you exhibit at multiple shows, this metric also shines light on the comparative effectiveness of each show.

3. Demonstrations:
a. If you’re launching a new product, consider giving one-on-one or group demonstrations
b. Count how many demonstrations you give and how many audience members listen or interact
c. If you’re doing multiple presentations each hour, you’re having a great show
d. SAVVY TIP: Find out from the VP of Sales an average cost of a trip for a sales person to give a demo at a prospect’s office. Compare that with the show’s average cost per demo, and suddenly trade shows look like a bargain!

4. Website Traffic:
a. Know the average visitors to your website before the show, and compare that to the visitors during and immediately after
b. Pay special attention to the pages for the products and offers you featured at the show
c. SAVVY TIP: Don’t forget that trade shows are about face-to-face interactions. Generating web traffic is a great metric, but for most exhibitors it shouldn’t be the main goal.

5. Press Mentions:
a. These hold special appeal, and therefore more “weight” as a viable metric, for all classically trained marketers
b. SAVVY TIP: With the abundance of trade magazines, writers, and bloggers at every show, if you’re not getting mentioned, something is wrong; try setting up interviews and press walk-throughs well before the show.

6. Post Show Appointments:
a. In today’s hectic, time-starved business world, one of the hardest challenges faced by every salesperson is securing a face-to-face appointment
b. Commit the sales team to informing you of every show lead that generates a follow-up appointment
c. SAVVY TIP: You’ll have friends for life if your shows facilitate setting post-show meetings. Think creatively about a space in your booth dedicated solely to this endeavor.

Whoops; did that headline say “5 metrics?”  Consider the last one a bonus.  As you can tell, these suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg.  Please share some of your favorite, and most effective, metrics with us.

In closing, leading full service exhibit companies, like PFI Displays, offer innovative, easy to use software tools that will help you measure your shows—and do a lot more, too.

I’m sure you can add to the list and I’d like to hear ways your company is measuring the effectiveness of trade shows.

If you like this post you might like:

5 Ways to Improve your Trade Show ROI

New Study Shows Best Way of Reaching Manufacturing Professionals


Challenges Facing the Industrial Distributor Today

June 14, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Every year, Industrial Distribution magazine puts out their annual survey of distributor operations. Here are some highlights from the 69th version and my opinion as to where they should be spending their time and effort.

F1a_0
While the economy is their biggest concern, it’s one they have little control over. Truth be known, I don’t believe the industrial segment of the market ever got back to levels pre-2008. Sales and margins are down (show me a business that doesn’t have similar issues) and that’s a natural reaction when sales drop, you try to protect existing business and the easiest way of doing that is lowering prices. Distributors can sometimes be their own worst enemies. Sell value not price.
Here’s my view of what these distributors should be concerning themselves with:
  • Specialize – if you’re a general line distributor, I wish you luck as you won’t be in business too much longer. If the only thing you have to sell is price and availability, the big guys are going to eat you alive. The cutting tool, power transmission and other specialized distributors who add value to the sale will and can be more competitive. If you have a  cutting tool problem on a CNC machine, Grainger or Amazon aren’t going to be sending anyone out to help you solve the problem.
  • Promote value-added relationship selling – they are the local guys and should be selling themselves as the guys who have your back (assuming you have value to add). If not, look for a buyer.
  • E-Commerce – Get in or you won’t be long for the world. We live in front of a computer screen and the “I want it now” mentality that we find on the consumer side has trickled over to ours. Let’s face it, some people would like to place orders after hours and they would like to know if you have it available and can have it delivered the next day.
  • Buying groups – If you’re not in one, get in one. They are the easiest way for you to stay price competitive, and many offer other services in the day-to-day operations.
If you like this post, you may want to read:

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