Berea, Ohio-based Sonnhalter is a b-to-b marketing communications agency that specializes in helping clients reach the construction, industrial and MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) markets. BtoB recently spoke to Matt Sonnhalter, president, about best practices for reaching manufacturing professionals and industrial buyers.
BtoB: What challenges do companies currently face in marketing to this audience?
Sonnhalter: One basic thing is trying to find the right decision-maker. Nowadays, a lot of these organizations are complex. For example, if you're selling something related to capital equipment that has a larger price tag, the finance people may be involved. If you're selling an everyday, lower-priced thing, the purchasing people might be involved. Green is a hot topic now, so you've got environmental specialists and engineers involved. Each of those people has different hot buttons. The finance guy is a numbers guy, so he wants to know what the ROI is. The plant manager wants to know how quickly he can get the product. The purchasing department wants to know about price. You have to find the right decision-maker and make sure you're delivering the right message.
BtoB: What's the best way to break through to this audience?
Sonnhalter: It still comes back to basic marketing 101 stuff. It's clearly delivering your message and your end-user benefit to that appropriate audience. What's in it for them? Why should they buy your product or service? What's unique about it? It's also about building a relationship and credibility with these customers, which means you're not always selling to them 100% of the time. You should be constantly trying to serve up new and valuable information, and providing value to that end-user—whether it be white papers, or technical articles or education in safety seminars. And sure, you might have a product or service that helps deliver on that, but that's not the main focus. If you're trying to sell just on price, it's a losing battle, because there's always someone who will do it for less. So provide other things to those end-users that they see value in and build relationships with them. M