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.


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?


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.

 


What Are You Doing to Keep Contractors Coming Back?

April 27, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

The biggest challenge manufacturers face today is the ability to keep contractors interested and engaged in their brands. It’s much easier to keep an existing contractor than going out and trying to convert a new one.

In a recent eMarketer article they talked about how B2B International surveyed 266 U.S.- and Western Europe-based B2B marketers from a variety of industries in October and November 2015. The market research firm found that 62% of respondents said building market share remained the top challenge among others.

Leading Business Challenges Faced by B2B Marketers in Western Europe and the US*, 2014 & 2015 (% of respondents)

But how do you build market share without building relationships with those you sell to? Contractors are looking at solutions, not new products! If your product can help them do their job better or quicker, then you have a winner.

What can you do? One way is helping them identify pain points in their daily routine. A common one is getting new business leadsOwens Corning has a great website where on the one page it focuses on getting the user to the right contractor.

Another pain point for contractors is training employees, both old and new. Most good contractors are limited on growing their company because they can’t find qualified people to do the work. Dust off those YouTube videos and training tips and tricks and offer them to contractors. They can be offered online and you can incentivize the recipients for taking and passing the course. What better way to build brand loyalty from both the contractor and the worker.

There are plenty of ways to build market share and one of them is loyalty. You need to get and keep them engaged and always answer the question,  “What’s in it for me?” Word gets around (contractors talk to each other).


Manufacturers – What is your Biggest Concern?

March 29, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

I guess it would be getting new customers and keeping existing ones.

An effective customer experience starts with understanding your customer and then delivering good, meaningful content to them. The more positive the experience, the better the sales or so it would seem. This could be a challenge in today’s market where sales have turned from relationship-based to transactional-type sales.

So let’s look at two areas – marketing and customer service.

It’s not surprising then that a recent survey of CMO’s by eMarketer showed that their biggest concern was the customer relationship followed by ROI on marketing activities.

But what about once you have them as customers? Usually it’s easier and less costly to keep an existing customer than try to find a new one.

I ran across a study recently in emarketer.com “How to Win at Customer Service,” that claimed most people just want their questions answered.

Attitudes Toward Customer Service Among Internet Users Worldwide, Aug 2015 (% of respondents)

Here are some highlights:

  • 81% of those surveyed just wanted their questions answered
  • 89% feel more positive about brands that give good customer service
  • 46% tell their friends and family about a quick response time

So what does all this mean to the manufacturing sector? Well the bar isn’t raised too high and we certainly don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Here are some tips on how to serve the professional tradesman:

  • Keep your customer service department open on business days from 7 AM to 5 PM EST. If the contractors are having issues, you need to be available when they are working.
  • Staff your customer service department with experienced people who can answer questions, troubleshoot a problem or forward them on to someone who can.

A post you may want to read, Customer Service: How are you Handling Unhappy People, may be a good read. A good customer service department can help increase future sales by giving them a positive experience.


Email Opens on Mobile Increasing: Are You Participating?

January 6, 2016

Desktop opens are still more than mobile, but the trend is closing the gap according to a recent post in emarketer.com.

Mobile click-through rates for U.S. marketing emails sent by Yesmail clients in the later part of 2015 were up close to 14%.

Email Marketing Open Share in North America, by Device and Industry, Q2 2015 (% of total emails sent by Experian Marketing Services clients)

So what does this mean for manufacturers that are trying to reach contractors and tradesman? It means that whatever you’re trying to communicate to them, it needs to be mobile friendly. Contractors check more than emails on job sites, and the more mobile friendly you are, the better results there will be.

Besides the content they want to deliver, they need to consider apps and mobile tactics. Here are a few.

Possible Apps to Consider:

  • Product information
  • Engineering or other calculators
  • Installation and troubleshooting instruction videos
  • Productivity tools
  • Competitive cross-reference charts
  • Ability to check current inventory levels
  • Distributor locator with direct links

If you like this post, you may want to read:

Are you using mobile to share your content with tradesman and contractors.

2016 Budget: How much are you going to spend on social media and mobile marketing?


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