Manufacturers: Are you Using Marketing Automation Tools?

July 22, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

To keep our sanity in trying to keep up with and engage potential customers, it makes sense to use some sort of marketing automation tools to help the process. And there are plenty of options out there: Marketo and Hubspot being two of the better known.

We all know nurturing improves lead quality and moves them through the famous sales funnel. The problem is most sales funnels aren’t simple straight lines.

Here’s the reality – the typical sales funnel isn’t as straight forward as we’d like to think especially in the B-to-B world. The Forrester graphic below is probably more accurate.

2015 B2B Buyer Journey

The challenge for me is determining messaging for each level to get them to the next step. We need to make them as personal and to the point as possible, but you can’t have 20 different e-mails.

Depending on what you’re selling (engineered product), the selling cycle is longer, and in many cases, there are multiple decision makers, all of which have different hot buttons. How do you handle them? Ideally you want to send leads to sales that are sales ready.

Here are some tips:

  • Try to identify where they are in the sales funnel so you don’t lose them on messages that are already past.
  • Give them something to download that will help them in their job (i.e. calculator, configurator, relevant case study).
  • Make them aware that CAD files are available for downloading.
  • Try to initiate a question that will want them to talk with one of your application engineers.

What are you doing to better qualify leads before sending them to sales?

Positioning: Have You Found Your Focus?

April 28, 2015

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

Last fall, Sonnhalter was recognized by HubSpot as an agency that “gets” positioning and has found its focus. (Check out the blog post here.)

It’s no secret that we’re known for our B2T marketing communication niche and that we really dig in and get our hands dirty. But the question we often get is:

“Does B2T limit you?”

The short answer is “No!” The opportunities in our niche seem limitless, in fact more than half of our business is generated by relationships with brands located outside of our hometown.

A deep understanding of the audience of the B2T marketplace not only helps us help our clients, but it also helps us form relationships.

Truly understanding your audience: their needs, their jobs, their struggles and their personalities are key to making any marketing communication effort successful.

It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t be all things, to all people, all the time. Identify your strengths so that you can hone your focus.

And of course, when you need help, be sure that you consult with someone who really “gets” your audience.

Podcasting – Another Effective Way to Get to Contractors

April 15, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter


Podcasts are a very popular medium today and rightfully so. Podcasts can add another dimension to your audience as they can hear the voice behind the words.

Alisa Meredith recently wrote a piece on HubSpot on why marketers should be using Podcasting and shows you that getting started is relatively painless.

Jay Baer, in a recent episode on Social Media Examiner, said,“There’s something about bringing somebody inside your head through your ear holes that ties you to that person in a way that reading a blog post or reading a book or anything else just doesn’t.”

Using podcasts is a way of building brand awareness as well as loyalty. Podcasting gives busy contractors another way to get information (let’s face it, we all only have so much time to read), and the auto industry with smart dashboards are making it easier to listen to.

You can also put them on iTunes which can give you access to more potential customers who are searching for info on key subjects by key words or phrases. Don’t be obsessed with the number of people who listen to your podcast, but more on the quality of them.

There are several ways that you can use podcasts to get to the professional tradesmen. Here are a few to consider:

  • You initiate them. You can talk about issues affecting the tradesmen and possible solutions they could consider.
  • You can interview industry experts or association leaders that can talk about everything from legislative issues that might relate to your business in the future, or talk about things you can do now to improve your business.
  • Be a guest on someone else’s podcast. There are bloggers out there that target the same types of audiences you do. Follow them for a while, and if you determine it would be a good fit, contact the blogger and ask if they would consider doing a podcast with you. You’ll need to lay out the reasons why you think you can contribute to their audience and propose several topics for discussions. Don’t know any bloggers? Go to iTunes and type in under podcasts some of the key words that you are associated with. You’d be surprised at the number of podcasts that already exist. Listen to a few and contact the originator.

Podcasts help set you apart and allow you to be known as not only an industry leader, but if you do your own podcasts and get guests to interview, it will also show that you are wired to the right people who can give a different view or experience that will help your listener. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Are You Using LinkedIn For New Business Development?

May 29, 2012

LinkedIn 277% More Effective for Lead Generation Than Facebook and Twitter.

In a study conducted by Hubspot, LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost 3 times higher (277%) than both Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%).

200 million leads were generated on LinkedIn last year, according to their Advertising Chief, Jim Lister.

LinkedIn is an important social media platform for new business that helps you to:

  • Re-establish older connections with past colleagues and clients.
  • Find new connections and seek referrals.
  • Request and share recommendations.
  • Maintain top-of-mind awareness with prospects through status updates.
  • Gather the right kind of intelligence to make better targeting decisions.
  • Find and follow client and prospective clients using LinkedIn’s advanced search features. You can find people or companies in your geographic location, or within a particular industry or niche.

LinkedIn has been the “dark horse” of the social media platforms. This is partly because it is a difficult platform to master and networking isn’t easy. But LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, is stepping up improvements.

LinkedIn attracts dedicated users who are serious about business. Here are 12 LinkedIn improvements that will help you connect:

  1. More than two million businesses with company pages are now allowed to post status updates to their followers. Watch for prospect’s company status updates and engage with them.
  2. Targeted updates enable you to target your company’s status updates to specific followers so they can deliver the most relevant content to the most appropriate audiences.
  3. To help facilitate conversations, a new polling feature has been added to LinkedIn Groups that’s designed to get a quick read on an issue.
  4. Users can now create a custom group, very similar to a regular group, except you’ll be able to customize a space on the right side of the page. You can add video, integrate your blog, Twitter feeds or other RSS feeds. You can also easily add a poll, from which you can ask your group members questions.
  5. An option available with a premium account is the ability to send InMails, or private emails through the LinkedIn network. Whether you know a  person or not, you can contact anyone on the LinkedIn network, even if you don’t know them.
  6. New Group Search helps you to find the right conversation faster among the 1.2 million groups.
  7. The upgraded People You May Know feature makes it even easier to find and connect with people in your network.
  8. LinkedIn Alumni makes it easier for you to tap into this important personal network and review relevant associations.
  9. LinkedIn’s Follow Company button can now be added to their websites, making it easier for any consumer to begin following companies of interest.
  10. Your LinkedIn Profile now puts more emphasis on Skills and Expertise. This means you can showcase your abilities to easily connect with people who have similar skills or with companies looking for specific expertise.
  11. A new tab on your page called Follower Statistics, will add a new layer of reporting to the Page Statistics.
  12. You can now embed a YouTube video on your companies overview page as well as on each individual service page.

Are You Using LinkedIn to Generate Leads?

March 20, 2012

LinkedIn has always been one of my best sources of activity to my blog. It also allows me to network with others who have the same interest in groups that I join, and I can always count on input from those who are linked with me if I need something or a question answered.

That’s why it wasn’t a big surprise to me when a recent study by HubSpot said that LinkedIn generated the highest visitor to lead conversion rate of 2.74%, almost 3 times higher than both Twitter and Facebook.

Social Media Conversion Rates

I guess that shows me that the people who are on LinkedIn are there for business purposes and are looking to network. So here are some tips on how to leverage LinkedIn:

  • Invest the time – develop and nurture your community. Don’t post something for the sake of posting. If you don’t have good content, wait until you do.
  • Focus content on what’s working – if blog posts are getting the most traffic, concentrate on doing more of them. If webinars or podcasts create more activity, focus on them.
  • Don’t forget lead generation content – call-to-action items need to be included in the mix so you’re continually inviting people to engage.
  • Keep learning – don’t take any success for granted. Keep working to improve your content.

Those are some of my thoughts. What are you doing to take advantage of LinkedIn?

Is your Website Optimized for Mobile Users?

December 14, 2011

Here are some facts we can’t ignore: According to Hubspot, mobile devices will be the number-one way we access the Internet by 2013. Comscore just released a white paper that shows in the U.S. right now almost 7% of Internet traffic is coming from non-computer devices with mobile phones leading the way.

So it begs the question – is your website optimized for mobile users? I recently read an article by Jamie Turner in Social Media Examiner, 9 Tips for Optimizing Your Website for the Mobile Users that I thought was very helpful. Here are some highlights:

  • KISS – keep it SIMPLE.
  • Plan your site layout – keep pages to a minimum and the layout simple.
  • Match branding elements – make sure mobile site looks like your regular site (look and feel).
  • Avoid Flash and Java – Apple products don’t Flash and many phones don’t support Java.
  • Reduce the amount of text entry – use dropdowns, checklists or prepopulated fields when possible.
  • Use mobile redirects – make sure your site has the correct software so it can identify a mobile user and send them to that version of the site.

Have you made sure your website is mobile friendly?

Blogging: Helps Increase New Business Leads by 69%

October 20, 2011

Blogging greatly improves search engine optimization, which has proven to be a key lead generating factor for new business. Following are some highlights from a post from my social media mentor, Michael Gass.

How new business is being acquired for companies is currently undergoing a paradigm shift; instead of pursuing clients, it’s now more important for your prospective clients to find your co

Blogs make their search easier.


2011 HubSpot ROI Study
In a recent 2011 HubSpot ROI Study, 69% of businesses surveyed said that blogging attributed to their lead generation success. The study also found that 75% of businesses believed SEO was a primary factor. The study shows companies that blog attract 55% more website visitors than non-blogging companies.

Blogs generate far more visitors by:

o Search visibility – blogs are organized to be search engine friendly. Plus the more content you have (well-linked), the more chances there are of attracting search traffic.
o Click-through traffic – through posting interesting articles a blog gives a reason for other people to link to you.
o Repeat traffic – regularly updated content and comments bring visitors back… and back… and back. Most company websites are not conducive to repeat traffic, particularly if your website hasn’t been updated in 5 years.
o Personality – create a blog around your company’s culture and let your personality shine through. People will be attracted to you. People like to associate with people they like. It’s hard to make friends with a business, but easy to warm to an individual with a welcoming personality.
o Viral effects – you create something cool and visitors tell their friends, who tell their friends… and so on.
o Authority/credibility – blogging allows you to become an expert in the minds of your prospective clients.

Company Website | Blog
Your company’s website functions well as an online brochure, a place for your credentials and credibility. A website doesn’t have the potential that a company blog has for significant online traffic and to provide prospects a reason to visit often. A blog can be the gateway to your company. Through content marketing, focused toward a specific target audience, a company’s blog can become a great lead generation tool for new business.

Your company’s website is about YOU, but your blog should be about THEM. Blogging keeps you focused on what is important to your prospective clients. It forces you to speak to their benefit instead of your company’s products and capabilities. Blog content, if developed correctly, will have more appeal to your prospective client audience because it is focused on their marketing needs and challenges.


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