Brand – maybe even more important than you think

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

I’m addicted to TEDTalks. If you don’t know what they are, here’s a primer from their website.

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

Part of this initiative is a weekly radio program that takes a look at a theme through insights from several TEDTalks, called the TED Radio Hour.

452_5472026They recently had an episode dedicated to Value, Brand and how our brains process the “worth” of something. Turns out, it’s all way more subjective that you may think.

Every day you assign value to a thousand things without ever thinking about it. How? What biases come into play, and what can nudge those biases so much that you notice that you’re being manipulated? And can you even use that realization to your benefit?

And that’s the line great content marketing should straddle. Yes, at the end of the day you are trying to push the customer towards your product, and a consumer should realize that as well. But if the content itself still provides useful information, or is packaged in a way that acknowledges that transaction, it can still be beneficial.


Why You Should Have a Trade/Vocational School Marketing Plan

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
With the shortage of skilled workers today, the trade/vocational schools are making a comeback and there’s a great opportunity for you to do some grass-roots marketing to future tradesmen.
Many leading brands come to mind (Ridgid and Klein Tools) that have been built by using these schools as a starting point to get their tools in the hands of future users.


Managing Price Overrides: 4-Step Process

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While common, price overrides can be dangerous. They train your sales team and customers that price is negotiable and interferes with one of your primary goals: sticking to your pricing strategy.

If that doesn’t worry you, consider this: companies that grant high numbers of ad hoc price exceptions are more likely to experience price erosion across all customers.

An effective and mature pricing strategy includes a policy for establishing price overrides. But what would such a policy look like?

From experience, we know that managing override activity is a multi-layered process. It requires adapting your internal systems, developing new guidelines, and transforming your culture. But at the end of the day, your goal is to establish a framework to monitor and manage potentially dangerous price overrides. When we help our clients with the same goal, we use the following four-step process.

Step 1: Grow Your Awareness: Understand what pricing overrides are happening and why

Step 2: Determine Market Relevance: Set appropriate prices for specific customer and product segments

Step 3: Set Policy: Establish guidelines and controls around pricing authority

Step 4: Encourage Training: Empower the sales organizations with the tools they need to handle pricing conversations with clients

Let’s dig deeper into each of the four steps.

Step 1: Grow Your Awareness: What is Happening and Why?


Turn Email Prospects Into Loyal Customers

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
We’ve talked a lot in this blog on how important a good email list is and how to develop one. By nurturing the email subscribers, you take them through your sales funnel. You need to start building a good trustworthy relationship and it should start soon after the contact comes into your database.

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: (more…)

How the Manufacturing Sales Process Changed Over 40 Years

I think we all can agree that the manufacturing sales function has had its challenges and has changed over the past several decades.

Alan SipeToday we have a guest post from Alan Sipe, President of Toolbox Sales and Consulting. Alan has over 40 years of experience including Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for Klein Tools and President of KNIPEX Tools. His insights in selling through various distribution channels and professional contractors are invaluable. Alan can be reached at

I am possibly the oldest living American who in 40+ years of manufacturing selling has pretty much sold just pliers for 35 of those years! Twenty four with Klein Tools, eleven with KNIPEX plus the four with Stanley and one with Waterloo fill in the rest of the 40. This successful career longevity gives me a pretty long view of what it takes to have sales success. (more…)

Get Your Message Across in an Ad-Blocked World

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter



A recent report shared that 32% of global page views are impacted by the use of ad block and mobile sees three times the rate of ad block use than desktop.

Did you know that even some people who work in advertising block ads? Let’s face it, website ads are mostly annoying. If you’ve ever opened a webpage and had an ad start talking to you that you couldn’t turn off, you know what I mean. Although digital advertising has a solid place in integrated marketing programs, accompanying it with other tactics can get your message to audiences that wouldn’t be reached otherwise – those who use ad blockers.

How do you get your marketing messages past ad blockers?


Are you Trying to Sell or Connect Emotionally with Contractors?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

There’s a time and place to sell and you need to know when that is. Social media is one of those times when selling shouldn’t be your prime objective; connecting with your target audience should be.

This should be no surprise, but Google surveyed 3,000 B-to-B buyers and one of the main outcomes of the study was that brands that connect with buyers on a personal and emotional level are twice as likely to convert than brands that only try to sell stuff.

When trying to reach contractors you need to find out the emotions that are most important and address them accordingly on a regular basis.

I’ve always been a big believer in relationship selling. After all, we usually buy stuff from people we know, like and trust. Agree? So why not take that to another step in the selling process by using the same principles to your marketing efforts?

This is especially true now that content and content marketing is such a big part of everyone’s overall strategy.


Time (and Advertising) Stops for No One

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter


That’s one of my favorite quotes. Not because I’m in marketing and advertising, but because it dispels one of the biggest myths about manufacturers. That is:

All manufacturers are engineering and sales driven, and advertising is an afterthought, or a “necessary evil.”

Henry Ford wasn’t just any old manufacturer. He transformed not only American manufacturing, but revolutionized manufacturing processes. He changed the way we live. His streamlined assembly line could churn out a Model T every 24 seconds. As summer winds down, it’s worth noting that he’s partially responsible for all the grilling you did as well.


How to Create Distributor Plans that Incent Growth [FREE TEMPLATE]

This post originally appeared on


Many manufacturers treat their distributors equally. They offer everyone the same discounts, the same promotions, and the same training programs.

However—not all distributors work equally hard for your business.

In this article, we’ll look at how the right distributor plan can help you get the most benefit from your distributor relationships and drive the business objectives you want to achieve.