Plan, Plan, Plan

January 16, 2014

From Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer

For most of us, a new year is a lot like a blank slate. New goals are set at the beginning of each year and new initiatives are undertaken.

IMAG2441To have a successful year, it’s important to do more than just set goals. You don’t just jump in the car to go to a new location for the first time, you look at how to get there, how long the trip will take or at least put the destination into your GPS. That’s planning.

Planning is crucial no matter how big of a project you’re going to start. Whether you’re initiating a rebranding campaign or creating a 30-second video, you have to plan, plan, plan.

To map out your journey to your goal, decide:

  • Who will be involved. Make sure you know who will be in charge of each aspect of your project and if you’ll need outside help.
  • What outline the strategy and tactics of your plan. Sometimes this is a simple statement of intent and the steps the “who” of your plan will take. Other times this is a large document that will guide your team in your new effort.
  • Where you will focus. In the example of a 30-second video, the where is not only your filming location but where the video will go next. If it’s a product advertising campaign, will you use print, digital, broadcast or other types of ads?
  • When will your project start, end and when are your check-in points. A large year-end goal is great, but plan for pit stops along the way to see how you’re progressing and rework that plan.
  • How will your project get done and how much will it cost. Make sure you know what time, talent and equipment resources you need and how much you can spend to complete your project.

Your plan is your road map to completing a project. You can’t always plan for everything, but having a plan in place gives you guidance along the way and can help you navigate whatever detours you encounter.

Are You Missing out on Mobile Marketing Opportunities to the Professional Tradesman?

October 2, 2013

We’ve talked many times about the importance of having a mobile strategy when wanting to reach the professional contractors. Their office is a jobsite and they need to be and stay connected. Mobile is changing the way we reach these important people.

A recent article by Bob Oord in marketingprofs outlines the explosion in this market and ways we can maximize our efforts there. An amazing stat is that their usage has doubled in just 1 year! The integration of mobile apps with CRM and business intelligence has changed user expectations.


  • Responsive website – so it can be read on any device
  • Mobile-friendly campaigns – optimize landing pages.
  • Mobile advertising – can be tailored by location, time and device so take advantage of them.
  • Mobile email – make sure your HTML can be read properly on these devices.
  • Mobile apps – apps let you secure a prominent presence on your customer’s device.

Please note that a recent report by Forrester, “Don’t Confuse Tablet And Mobile Marketing,” a B2B marketer needs to differentiate between smart phones and tablets. Smart phones have a much smaller screen for content experiences and is used “on the go,” while tablets are used more at home and in the office offering rich content opportunities.

If you liked this article, you might want to read:

Mobile Marketing to the Professional Tradesman: What are you Doing?

Why Mobile Marketing is Important for the Professional Tradesman.

Evolution of a Press Release

July 18, 2013

Today we have a guest blog post from Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman at Sonnhalter, discussing the evolution of the press release. Yes, it still is a legitimate marketing communications tool.  

Ghosts from press kits past.

Ghosts from press kits past.

Perhaps this will date me, but I remember the days when issuing a press release on behalf of one of my clients meant printing copies, stapling and affixing 4×5-inch prints or slides, folding, stuffing in envelopes and metering for postage. Whew! Eventually, many media outlets requested that the press release be faxed.

The press release of today, while no longer issued on paper, still bears some similarities to press releases of yesterday. It should be well written, factual, using A.P. Style [which updates its guidelines each year]. Same as always, it shouldn’t present information in an opinionated or sale-sy style.

But, today’s press release must be written with digital in mind. It will appear online first, that is, if it is properly optimized. To be effective, it should be clear and very concise. This is not the time for long-winded sentences filled with industry jargon.

The headline, with proper key words for search, is key, and adding a subhead helps by adding more searchable key words near the top. It should include logos, photos, charts and videos to convey information. It should also contain two or more key links, directing readers to more information.

Because of digital, the modern press release is getting to its audience faster and with even less filtering than in the past. Now, press releases are often published as-is on blogs, websites and e-newsletters. At Sonnhalter, when we issue a press release on behalf of our clients, within minutes, the press release shows up on trade publication websites.

Occasionally, the debate will surface that the press release has run its course, and is no longer a viable marketing communications tool. Not so! Press releases are the perfect tool for boosting search rankings, driving people to your website, reaching media, bloggers, customers and sharing via social media.

6 Ways to Maximize Your Agency Relationship

May 23, 2013

Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect at Sonnhalter, is posting today on how to maximize your relationship with your agency.

One of the most important questions that marketing communication clients should ask themselves is, “Are we making the most out of our relationship and interactions with our agency?” Merely talking about how to maximize synergies and rapport between client and agency versus actually implementing such strategies is an entirely different story.

Here are a few way to get the most out of you client-agency relationships:

Be on the same page.

Fostering shared meaning and mutual understanding is a vital aspect of successful client-agency relationships. It is important to be on the same page. Setting clear expectations with one another enables clients and agencies to better communicate and forecast unexpected issues or changes. Establishing processes and responsibilities early on with an agency will decrease stress from time-crunching deadlines. Also, be sure to clearly define success with one another and develop a measurable method for evaluation. Understanding how agencies function and subsequently knowing how to utilize them can reduce the likelihood of miscommunication.

Be clear.

Efficiency is all about clear communication. To reduce confusion, frustrations and delay, have one main contact for the agency. Likewise, an agency should make sure its client knows with whom to communicate. There is nothing more frustrating than having too many cooks in the kitchen. Facilitating consistent, effective communication will aid in strengthening the bond between the client and agency. Companies are more likely to meet project goals by providing their agency with a concise point-of-view.

Be accessible.

Make sure to invest time in the agency. Frequently engage in face-to-face communication by arranging regular meetings to review and discuss active projects – take a necessary break from the computer and telephone. Being available will create a well-oiled working relationship with an agency and produce quicker results.

Be direct.

Another strategy to ensure a healthy and open client-agency relationship is to address issues promptly and judiciously. Otherwise, molehills can develop into unnecessary mountains. Do not let problems fester, but swiftly find the root of the issue and respond with calm, measured and consistent action. Both client and agency should offer and receive feedback. For example, an agency may ask clients to participate in a customer satisfaction survey.

Be a partner.

Agencies want clients to treat them like a partner rather than a vendor. Involve the agency early on in the process. Offer access and resources to the agency, including resources outside of marketing such as sales or engineering – the more an agency knows about its client’s business the more it can help. Take the time to introduce the agency to fellow employees, so that they feel like a part of the team.   

Be open-minded.

Strive to remain flexible and receptive to new ideas. Be willing to take risks, occasionally calculated ones. Even areas outside of marketing, such as product development, can sometimes benefit from fielding agency advice.

Above all, trust an agency’s judgment, expertise and point-of-view – people would not let their lawyers perform surgery on them, so likewise allow the agency to do what they have been hired to do. And remember, agencies are in the business of communication, so there is no such thing as over communicating with them.

How Manufacturers are Managing Content Marketing: 7 B2B Insights

May 16, 2013

Today we have a guest blog post from Lisa Murton Beets director of CMI Books, from the Content Marketing Institute.

The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs recently published research on B2B and B2C Content Marketing in our 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reports. While the findings give us insight into how B2B and B2C marketers are managing content marketing, we were still curious about the state of content marketing in specific key industries, and how content efforts in vertical markets were differing from those of their peers in other industries.

We decided to first look at marketers who work for B2B manufacturing organizations in North America. This group has adopted content marketing at a slightly higher rate (94 percent) than their North American B2B peers across all industries (91 percent).

Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences:

Manufacturing marketers have similar goals for content marketing

Marketers in the manufacturing industry have the same top three objectives for content marketing as their peers across all B2B industries: brand awareness, lead generation, and customer acquisition. However, manufacturing marketers place less emphasis on thought leadership (47 percent versus 64 percent) and website traffic (47 percent versus 60 percent) as organizational goals, which indicates a disconnect, as they also cite website traffic as the primary way they measure content effectiveness. This fundamental disconnect between goals and measurement was present with B2B manufacturers when CMI surveyed them two years ago, but it has shown some improvement.

Manufacturing marketers use video and print magazines more often

Manufacturing marketers cite video as their top content marketing tactic (it was ranked seventh by this group two years ago). Their overall use of tactics is fairly similar to that of the overall population of marketers; however, they place far less emphasis on blogs (54 percent versus 77 percent), which makes sense considering that this industry does not put strong emphasis on web traffic and thought leadership as objectives for content marketing, two areas where blogs can have significant impact.

Manufacturing marketers use print magazines at nearly twice the rate of their peers (60 percent versus 31 percent). However, only 11 percent of self-reported “best-in-class” B2B manufacturing marketers rank print magazines as “effective” or “very effective,” indicating that traditional media companies still have a stronghold on B2B manufacturers, who have traditionally used paid advertising in trade magazines to reach their audiences.

Manufacturing marketers prefer Facebook and YouTube

While their B2B content marketing peers use an average of five social media platforms, manufacturing industry B2B marketers report an average use of three.

Yet, manufacturing industry marketers use YouTube more frequently than the general population of marketers do. This makes sense, considering they rank video as their top content marketing tactic. Their use of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter has risen over the last two years, yet they are somewhat behind in their adoption of Google+, Pinterest, SlideShare, and other “newer” social media options, so it will be interesting to see if they grow in these areas over the next year.

Manufacturing marketers outsource content more often

Compared with the overall content marketing population, manufacturing marketers outsource content more often:  57 percent versus 43 percent. This could be because they rely more heavily on printed material, which often requires outside assistance. Given their increased usage of video, compared to other marketers, it is likely that they are outsourcing video creation as well.

Manufacturing marketers spend less

When compared with their peers across all B2B industries, marketers in manufacturing dedicate significantly less of their total marketing budgets to content marketing (22 percent versus 33 percent). However, 53 percent of manufacturing marketers say they are going to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months (31 percent say they will keep spending at the same level).

Manufacturing marketers struggle with effectiveness

Like their peers, marketers for the manufacturing industry report that producing enough content is their biggest challenge. One challenge they cite more often than their B2B peers is the inability to measure content effectiveness (55 percent versus 33 percent). And they’re not only challenged with measuring content effectiveness, many are not even sure if their overall efforts are effective. We know this because only 21 percent of B2B manufacturers rank their organization as “effective” or “very effective.” On the other hand, 36 percent of B2B marketers across all industries rank themselves as “effective” or “very effective.”

On the flip side, 32 percent of manufacturing marketers rank their organizations as “not very” or “not at all” effective, compared with 17 percent of their B2B peers. This shows a need for content marketing education and improvement in the manufacturing vertical.

A brief look at the manufacturing demographic

While it is noteworthy to understand how marketers in the manufacturing industry are managing content marketing tools and tactics, it’s also important to understand how demographics may play a role in these research findings. Here are a few notes about the demographics of this research:

  • Out of a total 1,416 B2B North America respondents, 88 respondents identified themselves as working in the B2B manufacturing industry.
  • About 40 percent of the B2B manufacturing respondents work for companies with 1,000 or more employees (16 percent of that figure is for companies employing more than 10,000, so these results could also reflect what larger companies are doing).

Do you work in manufacturing? Are these trends consistent with what you are seeing?

For more insight on the state of content marketing in the manufacturing industry, register to attend the Manufacturing Summit at Content Marketing World in September 2013. And if you are looking for more content marketing research? Check out our third annual B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends and first annual B2C Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends studies.

Cover image via Bigstock

The post originally appeared on and is reposted with permission. You can view the original post here.

Free Webinar for Manufacturers: Should a Blog Be a Part of Your Marketing Plan?

September 11, 2012

Do you read industry blogs and wonder if your company should get involved in blogging?  Blogging can be a valuable marketing tool that gives your organization a way to prove its expertise.

In order to tap into the values that blogs offer, manufacturers need to ask themselves certain questions and make several decisions before their blog goes live. This webinar will help participants find out if a blog should be a part of their marketing plans and what all is involved in starting one.

Join us on September 25th at 2:00 p.m. EDT for the free one-hour webinar.

This webinar is available for viewing on our YouTube channel – click here.

How Are You Integrating Email and Social Media?

October 27, 2011

In today’s market, everyone seems to be focusing on social media as the thing to do. Both social and traditional tactics have a place in your marketing plan. Inbound and outbound marketing must work together to get the most bang for your buck today. Social media or email can’t be isolated tactics, but should be used together.

I recently read an article by Kipp Bodnar in Social Media B2B, 7 Awesome Email and B2B Social Media Integrations that I thought hit the nail right on the head. Here are some highlights:

  • Use social media links in your emails – pretty simple but you’d be surprised how many folks miss this opportunity.
  • Use social media to grow your email list – you have a better chance of getting a lead if you can convince them to sign up, for example, for your monthly newsletter.
  • Test email efforts on social – before sending out a communication to your list, test it on social to see what kind of reaction you’ll get.
  • Use social media for future email content – follow and listen to what the hot issues are on social and craft future messages around those issues.
  • Source leads correctly – use tracking URLs to better understand where your interest is coming from.

Those are some highlights; what are you doing to integrate social into your traditional marketing efforts?


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