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| 7 minute read

Episode 24: The Case for Local Industrial Distributors

If you're a local, independent distributor, sometimes it can feel like the walls are closing in. From online retailers to global brands, the competition is fierce. The water may be red with blood, but if you know where to look, you can find golden opportunities to stand out from the crowd and earn customer loyalty. On this episode of The Takeover, we share three ways independent distributors can blow Amazon.com out of the water with the local advantage.

| 8 minute read

Episode 23: Distributor Sales Reps of The Future

Distributors who fail to deliver an omni-channel sales and marketing experience may soon go the way of the dinosaur. Today, it's more important than ever for traditional sales reps to utilize technology that better serves their customers. In this episode of the Takeover, we'll share some creative ways that you can leverage technology to grow your business.

| 6 minute read

Episode 22: Clarify Your Message with Better Storytelling

What if I told you that your customers don't always purchase the best products at the best prices? In fact, nine times out of ten, suppliers are chosen based on how well they communicate the value they offer to their end-user. On this episode of the Takeover, I explain how distributors and suppliers alike can grow their sales through the power of crystal-clear storytelling.

| 6 minute read

Episode 21: Failure to Launch Your eCommerce Website

Every industrial distributor knows eCommerce should be an important part of their business, but very few can actually get the boat out of the harbor, and even fewer can say that eCommerce sales account for a significant portion of their total revenue. In this episode of the Takeover, I share three reasons why distributors struggle to launch their online channel and what to do about it.

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| 11 minute read

Episode 20: Top Secret Catalog Marketing Strategies for Industrial Distributors

How do you retain and grow your existing business while simultaneously attacking new markets and customer segments? The answer is an old-school sales tool with a new-school twist. In this episode of the Takeover, I'll share my ultimate catalog marketing strategies that are proven to drive sales and customer engagement.

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| 4 minute read

Episode 19: How to Choose The Right eCommerce Platform

Should you use an open source, bolt-on, or speciality platform for your eCommerce website? The myriad of options available to industrial distributors today is both a blessing and source of frustration. Choosing the right engine to power your online branch can mean the difference between digital profitability and a costly mistake. In this episode of The Takeover, we will explore the different types of eCommerce platforms available to industrial distributors and which option is right for YOUR business.

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| 3 minute read

Episode 18: The Customer Drives Every Important Decision

We can learn a lot from Amazon about any number of eCommerce best practices, but the number one thing that stands out is their customer-centric approach to management and innovation. They're obsessed with customer experience! As industrial distributors we should be too. Spinstak's eComm-Wheel of Growth is our proprietary system for building, launching, and growing an industrial distribution website.

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| 3 minute read

Episode 17: Introducing Industrial Marketing 101 - eCommerce Master Class

Independent distributors are at a crossroads when it comes to eCommerce. What's going to happen if you fail to adapt to new buyers, new technology, and new expectations for your traditional B2B industrial supply business? Matt shares an exciting new resource that can help you save time and money on your eCommerce initiative.

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| 8 minute read

Episode 16: How to Build an Internal Marketing Team

What does it take to run an elite marketing program in-house? In this episode, we're going to discuss the best practices for building an internal marketing team as well as when and how to outsource projects with agency partners.

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| 6 minute read

Episode 15: Building a Digital Customer Journey

How will industrial distributors survive the generational shift in buying behavior? One answer is to build a digital customer journey that utilizes simple marketing tools and strategies that anyone can execute. The goal is to generate more engagements with your customer base which helps you minimize attrition, educate your customers, and grow your share of wallet.

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| 3 minute read

Episode 14: The State of Distributor Marketing with Jonathan Bein

Only 6% of distributors are happy with the results of their marketing efforts and the rest are just plain frustrated. In this episode, Jonathan Bein, from Real Results Marketing joins us to talk about his research survey on distributor marketing. Learn what is working and which areas distributor leaders need to focus on in 2019 to grow their market share.

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| 2 minute read

Episode 13: The Only Number That Matters with Wayne Johnson

There's only one metric that really matters! Net Profit or EBIDTA is the magic formula for growth. Profit allows you to reinvest in your sales, marketing, and people to add rocket fuel to your business. On this episode, Wayne Johnson, joins us in the studio to talk about some practical steps you can take to begin managing for the bottom line.

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| 1 minute read

Episode 12: Why Traditional Distributors Suck at eCommerce

Frustrated with a lack of results in your online store? Have you been thinking that eCommerce just isn't for your business? You may be right! Learn more about why Traditional Industrial Distributors suck at eCommerce and what to do about it.

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| 6 minute read

5 Pillars of Legacy: A Holiday Guide for Industrial Entrepreneurs

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us here at Spinstak Growth Agency! We hope you are enjoying this holiday season with your loved ones. We created this video and guide about the 5 Pillars of Legacy that will help you engineer the life you want in 2019 and beyond.

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| 7 minute read

Attract Buyers and Grow Your Industrial Distribution Business With Storytelling

 

Every good story has a hero.

The best industrial distributors in the business admit there have been times their sales and marketing message became confusing. It’s easy to do.

The more information we try to cram into the space of a web page, blog article or sales sheet, our customer gets lost. We forget that the entire purpose of our products and services is to help our customer (the hero of our story) along his or her journey, not confuse them further.

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| 5 minute read

Memoirs Of A Tech-Savvy Millennial

We’ve been a little quiet here on the Spinstak Blog, but we’re back to drop a serious truth-bomb. Take a deep breath and read the following sentence with an open mind…

Not all Millennials are the tech-savvy, computer whizzes that society makes them out to be.

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| 4 minute read

Back to the Future: Printed Catalogs Are The Proven Way To Boost Distributor Sales

Print is NOT Dead.

You may have heard otherwise and are hesitant to believe it. You’re not alone. Many educated and successful distributors have accepted the notion that printed catalogs have gone the way of vinyl or 8-tracks. We’ll let you in on a little secret, vinyl’s making a comeback and print never left.

| 5 minute read

The Takeover Story With Matt Johnson

Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped turned upside down...

Fresh Prince, anyone?

 

My Grandparents: The Original Industrial Entrepreneurs

It all started in 1948 when the beautiful Canadian daughter of Irish immigrants married a scrappy son of English immigrants in the lake country of Ontario, Canada. My grandparents, Ron & Veronica Johnson were the founders of several small ventures before entering the industrial supply world in 1958 when my grandfather became a salesman for Fibre-Metal (now Honeywell) hard hats and welding helmets.

Ron Johnson sales at Fibre Metal In 1958, Ron Johnson sold Fibre-Metal (Now Honeywell) Welding Helmets.

 

Safety Distribution Is In My Blood

In 1969, Ron & Veronica took a major leap of faith by opening their own safety equipment distribution business, Armour Protection Supplies, in the basement of their house in Georgetown, Ontario. While calling on industrial end-users, Ron noticed a need for custom safety signage and facility identification equipment, but the local sign guys were not up for the challenge. That gave him an idea...

Veronica Johnson and Dave Johnson at Armour Protection Supply Veronica and son (David) Johnson in 1969 at Armour Protection Supply.

 

In 1976, Ron & Veronica sold their distribution business, purchased some sign manufacturing equipment, and moved to Port Richey, Florida to open Accuform Signs. They invited their sons, David first and later Wayne, to move down and help them start the business.

Accuform startup in Spring Hill Florida Ron, Wayne, and David Johnson (and team) circa 1982 in Spring Hill, Florida.

 

Accuform: Inform, Protect, And Motivate The Global Workforce

Ron’s intuition was right. Industrial safety distributors eagerly partnered with him to deliver custom sign solutions to the Gulf Coast and later to the entire United States. Accuform moved to Hernando County, Florida, in 1982 and steadily grew under the budding leadership of my uncle, David (Dave) Johnson and my father, Wayne Johnson.

From left to right: Wayne Johnson (father), Dena Johnson (sister), John Murphy (brother-in-law), Veronica Johnson (grandmother), Ron Johnson (grandfather), Paul Johnson (cousin), and Dave Johnson (uncle) at the grand opening of 80K square foot facility in Brooksville, Florida in 2001.

 

Steady Growth And The Passing Of The Torch

In less than 20 years, Accuform had become the industry leader in custom identification products for the industrial safety market. Ron & Veronica retired in 1995 and turned over the reigns of the business to Wayne and Dave. Their parting words were jokingly, “don’t screw it up!”

Dave and Wayne did the very opposite.

They grew the small business into one of the most recognized brands in safety. Through tireless innovation, investment in technology, and a commitment to deliver world-class customer service, Accuform has grown into a thriving enterprise. Today, Accuform boasts an impressive catalog of over 100,000 safety and identification products that inform, protect, and motivate the global workforce.

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The Prodigal Son Returns To The Family Business

Every story has conflict, and mine came early in life. After college and a failed golf career, I reluctantly joined the family enterprise my grandfather started and my father grew. Even though I was grateful for the opportunity, my heart’s desire was to create a legacy of my own. I was the prodigal son of a successful CEO and business owner, and upon my return in 2003, I was determined to earn my seat at the leadership table.

My ambition and drive led me through a series of experiences in various positions within the family business- from manufacturing, data-entry, and graphic design to management, marketing, and new product development. I excelled in each role and eventually was asked to join the Board of Directors.

Accuform Executive Team and spouses in 2013 celebrate Wayne Johnson's award for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

 

Safety Marketing Transformation Begins

In 2014, during our strategic planning, the issue of Safety Marketing Services was brought up. Accuform’s sister company, founded in 2003, had atrophied over the years and was on the brink of permanently shutting down operations. It was in that meeting when the “entrepreneurial bug” first bit me. I asked them to let me "take over."

In 2015, I began the process of transformation from the ground up. My goal was to learn as much as I possibly could about digital marketing and then introduce these services to a traditional marketing agency and an industry that desperately needed them.

In 2018, the transformation had come full circle. We rebranded the company, calling our firm Spinstak - a full-stack growth agency. We had become more than safety, more than marketing, and more than services. We've been blessed with four years of double-digit growth under my management. But, it hasn't come without a cost. I've had my share of failed products and turnover. I've learned a lot in a short amount of time about winning and losing gracefully. 

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Today, I’m still learning, transforming, and driving change for my own brand and others in our industry. Spinstak is the fastest-growing full-service marketing agency dedicated to industrial supply. By following my heart, I’ve learned that legacy is not a destination, it’s a lifestyle. One that stands the test of time.

 

Johnson Family Values

Faith, Family, and Friends -- Our faith is the most important thing in our lives. Our faith is in Jesus and nothing and no one else. Our relationship with each other is second only to our relationship with God. We are loyal, forgiving, and considerate with each other. We try hard to consider the needs of others before our own. We are lavish with our love and praise for one another and genuinely enjoy spending time together. We value a small circle of friends who we treat like family.

Work Hard, Play Hard, Together -- We value industry, hard work, and self-reliance because the world is a hard, relentless, and largely unforgiving place. The best way to care for others is to value and care for yourself. We believe that hard work is meaningless unless you can enjoy the fruit of your labor. We play, travel, try new things, get outside, and experience all of life's blessings together. We believe that nothing worth enjoying ever comes easy. We must work hard before we can play hard.

Grace, Gratitude, and Growth -- We believe that those who have been forgiven much, love much. Since we have been shown so much grace, we return the same grace and respect to everyone. Grace doesn’t mean we tolerate abuse or injustice, but it does mean we are quick to forgive. We reject entitlement, socialism, and legalism as radical and broken worldviews. We are grateful and satisfied with everything God has given us. This motivates us to grow, improve, and fail forward.

My family! Daughters Lucy (4), Darcy (8) and sons Asher (3), Kamryn (13) and wife, Brittany.

 

Personal Hobbies & Interests

Outside of work, I am a student of Protestant theology, culinary arts, and holistic health. I'm an avid reader, life-long learner, and scratch golfer. On the weekends, you can find me waiting in long lines in Orlando, throwing kids across the pool, grilling some grass-fed beef, enjoying a good vintage, or playing golf with friends. 

I'm also a fan of JRR Tolkien, Marvel Comics, Food & Travel Shows, and business/branding/marketing books. I don't have a favorite book or movie for the same reason I don't have a tattoo: my interests change too often! One thing that never changes is my passion for spending time with my beautiful bride of 12 years, Brittany, and our four children; Kamryn (13), Darcy (8), Lucy (4), and Asher (3).

The Takeover visited St. Andrews (Old Course) in 2018. Shot 1-over-par, 73 from the championship tees.

 

 

Out Of This Story Comes... The Takeover

How will the story end? The answer to that question is the purpose of The Takeover. Join me in my journey to honor the past, embrace the present, and build for the future. We will grow together.

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| 4 minute read

Safety Marketing Services is now Spinstak Growth Agency

That's right.  New name.  New look.  Revitalized Mission and Vision.

We felt like now was the perfect time to announce our brand change to the world. Coming off the heels of another year of double-digit growth, and today we are laser-focused on helping other high-growth brands scale their business without sacrificing what matters most.

Grab your headphones and some popcorn. I'm pleased to present our Spinstak Hype Video.

| 3 minute read

Growing Again! Meet the Newest Spinstak Nerds and Ninjas

For the third straight year, we were blessed with double-digit growth. 2017 was a wild ride, and this year is shaping up to be no different. The agency life is never boring! One of the reasons why it's so much fun is that we get to work with amazingly talented, passionate, and creative people.

| 5 minute read

5 Reasons Printed Flyers are Still Effective in Sales & Marketing!

Paper is dead, everyone knows that, right?! 

If there's one piece in marketing that people think is dead, that piece would be printed flyersWell…..I think this topic deserves a good ole fashion debate. Just because you spend alday on a smart phone doesn’t mean your customers don’t appreciate a nice printed piece in their hands. Luckily for you, I consider us all friends. I feel comfortable saying that you’re missing a huge opportunity if you give up on this medium completely, without at least reading the rest of this blog. 

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| 13 minute read

Creating Personas for Industrial Marketing: The Complete Guide

“Will you read me a bedtime story?”

Do you remember asking that question to your parents each night when you were a youngin? Maybe you have little ones of your own who always request to hear a story right before they drift off to sleep.

| 14 minute read

15 Campaign Launch Tips and Insider Advice for Marketing Teams [Infographic]

Marketing has changed.

Sure, the foundation is the same and the goal is still to communicate with buyers and sell products. But the way that we do that has evolved. Why? Because consumers have evolved. Many of the traditional strategies we’ve used aren't as effective as they used to be. Now, marketing has to be more buyer-focused. It has become a combination of psychology, science and technology. And this recipe remains very fluid. You can make adjustments based on the tastes and preferences of your target persona. A dash of humor or a dose of information; a visual infographic or a product sample—you can craft each campaign launch differently.

| 7 minute read

Sales Crash Course: (Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Your New Role in Sales

It's been an eye-opening decade but I'm just getting started

Thirty-six years old is still quite young, but I've already dedicated over a decade of my career to the safety and industrial world- that's 1/3 of my life! That's a long time, but most of my colleagues have spent a lifetime in this industry already. The warm-up is over—it's time to start the race

Update 4/15/2009: This article was written by former Spinstak employee, Brady Price.

| 3 minute read

The Pros and Cons of using WordPress Page Builders

Limitations can be a good thing, right? Except when you're next in line for a freshly sold out Justin Beiber concert. That changes things a bit, right?
A common problem people run into when using WordPress is limitations. The lack of ability to make complex pages that are more than the basic title and body format is restrictive. This format is great for simple blog posts, but not-so-great when you need a multi-column layout or multiple full-width sections or pretty much any other complex design.

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| 35 minute read

How to be likable online: About Pages and Origin Stories [Episode 1]

People will only buy from you if they like you.

What’s your origin story?

Is your company more than just the products or services you provide?

Of course it is.

When was the last time you told your story? You know… the story beyond the mission statement that lets the world know who you are, where you came from and where you want to go.

In our inaugural episode, Renia and Matt discuss

| 7 minute read

Understanding Inbound Marketing ROI for Industrial Suppliers

You’ve probably heard us talk a lot about Inbound Marketing, so you may have an idea about what it is and why you need it. Chances are, you were surprised to discover how much work is involved in running a successful inbound campaign. That's where SMS comes in to make your life a little easier. We do the heavy lifting so you can get to inbound marketing ROI faster.

I know what you're thinking. As a busy company leader, I feel it too.

Your marketing team is already busy, your budget is strapped. How do you take digital marketing by the horns and feel confident that you are making the right investment?

Let's discuss every CFO's three favorite letters... R - O - I.

| 10 minute read

Creating Remarkable Content for Industrial End Users

You're probably here because you want to solve problems for industrial end users. That's how sales happen. But it can be challenging to create consistent content that people actually want to read. 

I will teach you a simple 5-step process for content marketing a bit later.

But first, let me ask you a question.

 

Doesn't it feel amazing when you find a solution to one of your problems?

 

It feels even better when you help someone else find the answers to their problems, right?

Your website allows you to help your end-users more than ever before. You can do this by publishing remarkable content.

| 6 minute read

Getting started with Industrial Video Marketing

 

We’re talking about Industrial video production and marketing today! Do you have an idea to make a short video? Do you want to showcase your technical expertise in the industry? Before you look for a freelancer read this!

| 3 minute read

Building a HubSpot Blog Search

Have you ever wished your HubSpot blog had a search feature that didn't take you off your website — looking at you, google search module 👀 — and that it would search only for blog posts? Here is how we recently accomplished this task for Quad City Safety and if you follow along, it's really not all that hard to implement yourself.

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| 3 minute read

Millennials Aren't Coming... They're Here (Are You Ready?)

I know... you're sick of hearing it, right? These entitled, self-absorbed, "kids" are one day going to be your customers, and you better get ready to meet them on their terms. The story has been written time and again. Not unlike the nut on the corner wearing the sign that reads "THE END IS NEAR", marketers and business analysts have been forecasting the change in the buyer journey for years. Are you ready? The millennials are not coming... they're already here. And that's not a bad thing... it's an opportunity. 

| 4 minute read

How SEO Helps Grow Your Industrial Supply Business

So much of today’s content is struggling to find its place among the ever growing void that is the world wide web. With big businesses already claiming some of the top spots in industry authority and search engine results, it may feel like what you have to offer will never make it to your potential customer. That can seem a bit defeating. Worry not! This is where a little SEO education can go a long way toward attracting your ideal buyers and growing your indsutrial supply business online.

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| 4 minute read

2016-2017 SMS Video Reel [The Good Lief]

Have you ever had someone walk into your office to do some contract work only to realize that you cannot let that person leave the building without offering them a job? Let me tell you a story! But first, watch this 2016-2017 SMS Video Reel -- and crank the speakers -- this is going to be fun...

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| 4 minute read

Optimizing Industrial Product Content for Search Engines [Checklist]

In this post, let's dive into that first stage in the inbound methodology: Attract. How do you get industrial buyers to come to your website when they've never heard of your company? Well, I'm glad you asked... one really great way to do this is to optimize your product content for search engines. People are searching on Google over 3.5 billion times PER DAY... isn't it time you start getting a piece of that pie?

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| 5 minute read

How to Communicate the Value of the Industrial Safety Specialist

I have a guilty confession.

I know I’m not supposed to say this. But…

I like Wal-Mart.

I do -- I’ll admit it! Yea, I know they haven’t always treated their employees well (they’re better now). Yea, I know that they low-ball their suppliers (suppliers are fighting back). Yea, I know that you can see some less than savory characters while shopping (unfortunately, this hasn’t really changed). But damn it. Sometimes I need to pick up diapers, pencils, eggs, milk, a birthday cake, some bath towels, and a car battery, all at the same time. That’s the value proposition of Wal-Mart.

Question: What’s your value proposition?

Are you an industrial distributor, who specializes in fasteners? Are you a safety distributor, who specializes in fall protection equipment? Knowing who you are and what value you contribute to your customer’s experience is more critical in today’s crowded, digital world, than it ever has been in the history of industrial supply.

Let me tell you a little secret that’s not so little, and it is not so secret.

The “Wal-Mart’s of Industrial Supply” (and I think you know who I mean), the generalists, are in the process of becoming specialists. And they can do it. Let me explain how this is happening and what you can do fight back. 

| 1 minute read

How To Design Responsive Web Banners [presentation]

When designing a banner ad for a responsive website there are a few extra things the designer has to consider such as:

  • Will a developer create a "coded" version of the banner or will it be a static image?
  • If it's a static image, what aspect ratio works best for a responsive banner?
  • Should I create multiple versions of the banner for different screen sizes?

In my presentation I try to answer these questions and provide best practices for designing responsive banners including how to use a 12 column grid system in Photoshop (download link below) with examples of how a developer might implement the banner in a responsive environment.

| 3 minute read

How to Build a Culture of Gratitude at Your Industrial Supply Company

[updated November 22, 2017]

Fundamental Success Principle: Take care of your staff, and they will take care of your customers.

What kind of culture are you cultivating in your industrial supply company? Is it a place where people love to go to work everyday? Is it a place where freedom and creativity are encouraged? Is your staff engaged in your mission to equip the world's workforce with the tools needed to stay safe and productive?

| 1 minute read

2016 Inbound Conference Recap [Video]

 

We attended Hubspot's INBOUND conference this year and it was amazing! Here are a few of my thoughts.... 

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| 0 minute read

Let's Grow Podcast: Episode 10-11 "eCommerce and the Hunt for Buried Treasure (Part 5/6): Content Waters"

Two episodes in one? Whaaaat? Yeah, it's pretty cool. We're continuing the round table discussion tonight in our introduction to B2B eCommerce management. Matt Johnson (Let's Grow host and SMS Chief Creative Officer), Brady Price (SMS eCommerce Director), and Stefen Phelps (SMS Web Designer) spent some time over some drinks talking about what makes good content. Great insights. Don't forget the beer.

Listen to the episodes here.

For a closer look at eCommerce management, download our ebook, “The Ultimate eCommerce Playbook for Industrial Distributors”. It's free!

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| 4 minute read

5 Tips for Planning your Inbound 2017 [with Audio]

Learn More, Suck Less!

Inbound. It’s not just the methodology of today’s most powerful marketing strategy, it’s mecca for those that share a passion to learn, grow, and stay at the top of a market that consistently pushes the envelope on what is possible in marketing today. 

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| 2 minute read

Progressive Image Loading with HubSpot

I am a big fan of the way Instagram's mobile app and Medium's website load images. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's when an extremely small image is scaled up, blurred out and is loaded before the full image... eventually fading into the full image once it has loaded. Like so:

| 0 minute read

Let's Grow Podcast: Episode 9 "eCommerce and the Hunt for Buried Treasure (Part 4): Make Way"

Our team is still in the round table discussion tonight as we unpack B2B eCommerce management. Matt Johnson (Let's Grow host and SMS Chief Creative Officer), Brady Price (SMS eCommerce Director), and Stefen Phelps (SMS Web Designer) share their experiences in development and how to successfully run and inevitably troubleshoot an eCommerce site.

Listen to the episode here.

For a closer look at eCommerce management, download our ebook, “The Ultimate eCommerce Playbook for Industrial Distributors”. It's free!

| 3 minute read

How To Make an Awesome About Us Page

Have you ever visited an "about us" page on a website just to see about 3 or 4 executives with what amounts to a resume of each person in basically a list form? I've always wondered who the missing employees were. The elusive "behind the scenes" characters. The cogs in the corporate machine....sorry I got carried away.

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| 2 minute read

3 Questions to Ask Before Integrating Your ERP System with Your eCommerce Website

One of the top requests we've gotten from clients with an eCommerce website this year is ERP integration. Automatic inventory updates, price syncing and reducing data entry are the primary benefits to having the integration. However, due to the many different types of ERP systems and various eCommerce platforms there is almost never a "plug and play" solution. Before thinking about hiring some developers, you should ask these questions first:

| 0 minute read

Let's Grow Podcast: Episode 8 "eCommerce and the Hunt for Buried Treasure (Part 3): Chart a Course"

We're continuing the round table discussion tonight in our introduction to B2B eCommerce management. Matt Johnson (Let's Grow host and SMS Chief Creative Officer), Brady Price (SMS eCommerce Director), and Stefen Phelps (SMS Web Designer) share their experiences in eCommerce kickoff meetings and their suggestions to getting the site launched.

Listen to the episode here.

For a closer look at eCommerce management, download our ebook, “The Ultimate eCommerce Playbook for Industrial Distributors”. It's free!

| 3 minute read

The Ultimate Guide to Trade Show Booth Design

Trade shows and in-person marketing events are great opportunities for lead generation and further establishing your brand. Making a positive and lasting impression is important, as well as communicating your message clearly. Both can be accomplished with a well thought-out trade show booth.

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| 0 minute read

Let's Grow Podcast: Episode 7 "eCommerce and the Hunt for Buried Treasure (Part 2): Oh Captain, My Captain"

Today's round-table discussion continues our introduction to B2B eCommerce management. Matt Johnson (Let's Grow host and SMS Chief Creative Officer), Brady Price (SMS eCommerce Director), and Stefen Phelps (SMS Web Designer) share their unique perspectives on the qualities and actions that make for a good project leader.

Listen to the episode here.

For a closer look at eCommerce management, download our ebook, “The Ultimate eCommerce Playbook for Industrial Distributors”. It's free!

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Impressive Trade Show Booths and Displays

Trade shows can be one of the most effective marketing strategies that your company implements all year. They are often the perfect meeting place for highly qualified prospects and like-minded customers, especially in the safety industry.

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| 4 minute read

How our video team revived our Canon 5D Mark III

Here at SMS, our video production team is always researching and working within our means to use the best gear in our price range to produce stunning visual products. This means reading countless reviews, product specs, rumors, and other people's blogs and opinions on what is the best gear. The following are my thoughts on a recent journey we took as we sought to move forward...

Allow me to nerd out on gear talk for a second. Canon announced the 5D Mark IV a few weeks back and the internet lost its mind. This was one of the most highly anticipated announcements for professional, independent producers and photographers. Let's be honest, video gear junkies were waiting for Canon to reclaim its title from the Sony a7s ii as the leader in the small form, cinema quality camera.

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| 8 minute read

Let's Grow Podcast Transcript: Episode 6 "eCommerce and the Hunt for Buried Treasure (Part 1): What's an Interwebs?"

Today we sat down with our very own eCommerce manager Brady Price to talk about the changing market for B2B Industrial and Safety businesses. This begins our short series on eCommerce where we will focus on introductory knowledge.

Listen to the episode here.

For a closer look at eCommerce management, download our ebook, “The Ultimate eCommerce Playbook for Industrial Distributors”. It's free!

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| 3 minute read

Why Use Advanced Search Functionality?

Connecting customers to products they’re looking for is a basic need for all businesses. It’s a simple process at brick-and-mortar stores: stock product visitors are looking for in an easy-to-find manner. The need is the same for online stores, but the process is a little more involved. A simple search function helps, but an advanced search goes even further. So to better connect your customers to your products, let’s delve into advanced search functionality, word-for-word.

Advanced

The term "advanced" might be intimidating, but don’t think of it as that Advanced Physics class you dreaded — instead think of it as an enhanced version of a simple search. As a consumer, is there anything more annoying than not finding what you want? Well, with advanced search the customer is given a better tool to find what they’re looking for. And that tool should make the entire shopping experience more enjoyable.

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| 3 minute read

Benefits of In-Person Marketing at Industrial Trade Shows

Trade Shows are still a thing…

Why do businesses continue to attend trade shows? Since the advent of digital marketing platforms and the increasing popularity of social media, you’d think that traditional marketing tactics would have fallen out of use by now.

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| 3 minute read

On-Page SEO: 2016 Best Practices for an eCommerce Website

Your website has been designed and coded, the products loaded, a payment gateway linked and you're ready to start taking orders. If you build it, they will come... right? Unfortunately, it's not always that easy. By implementing our tips and best practices, however, you'll have a much better shot at getting your products in front of your audience.

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| 1 minute read

Which Trade Show Booth Do You Need?

There are many variables when it comes to your space on the trade show floor so it makes sense that you should also have a wide selection of exhibit systems to choose from.

| 2 minute read

How To Use Excel's VLOOKUP to Quickly Update Product Data

It happens all the time. You get a CSV file full of products with new pricing and you're tasked with updating the products on the website with this new data. I think we can all agree that updating product data can be a huge pain in the butt and a major time suck—especially if you're doing it one-by-one. Well, I'm here to let you in on a little Excel secret called a VLOOKUP that's going to make your life a whole lot easier. It sounds complicated but don't worry, I'll walk you through step-by-step how to perform a VLOOKUP in Excel. You'll thank me later.

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| 3 minute read

Continuing the Conversation After a Trade Show

Feeling like a winner!

You’ve come away from the show feeling like a champion: the trade show booth looked amazing—attracting more visitors than you even imagined—and your team managed to scan an impressive number of badges. All your efforts at lead generation have paid off. Your work is done.

Right?

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| 3 minute read

Website Structure Best Practices

Having a good site structure that's easy to navigate and has a clear goal or purpose is imperative to keeping bounce rates low and visitors happy. A website's structure not only affects user experience, but it will also affect the way search engines see a site. In this article, I will explain how to create a site structure that users (and search engines) will love.

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| 1 minute read

How can I possibly manage an eCommerce website? [Vlog]

 

You don't have to do this alone.

Strategies for minimizing your investment on eCommerce Solutions.

Your time is valuable. You want to get on this eCommerce thing, but you know it'll just be one more project by the waste-side.

Well, you're not alone! There is an abundance of literature and companies dedicated to helping you get this done. But where do you start?

Ultimate eCommerce Playbook - Click Here to Download

| 5 minute read

7 Most Common Mistakes Businesses Make at Trade Shows

Hosting a trade show booth takes a lot of hard work and investment but done right, the benefits can far outweigh the costs.

So much is involved in bringing it all together—from planning and preparation, to the daily grind at the booth—that something’s bound to go wrong. There are just some things that you can’t control and that’s fine, you roll with it.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

But what about the things that you can control? While it’s impossible to predict every possible blunder, there are several mistakes that businesses commonly make at trade shows; mistakes which can diminish their ROI and the overall benefits of their participation. Here’s the good news though: once you know what to look out for, these mistakes are totally avoidable!

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| 2 minute read

Why You Need to Start Planning Your Trade Show Displays Today!

So you want to participate in a trade show.

Great! You’ll have the opportunity to showcase your products, build brand recognition, and present your company to your targeted audience. Success at a trade show doesn’t just happen though; you’ll need to plan and prepare well in advance so give yourself a generous amount of lead time.

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| 8 minute read

Let's Grow Podcast Transcript: Episode 2

In our first interview with Samantha Neilson (Marketing Manager at Accuform Signs), we talk about her best practices for having a well-equipped trade show team, attracting more traffic (and potential leads) to your booth, and surviving those long trade show days. Samantha is the company’s go-to trade show gal. She is responsible for planning, manning, and executing many of Accuform’s trade show displays and exhibits.

Listen to the episode here.

For a closer look at Trade Show design, download our ebook, “The Definitive Guide to B2B Trade Show Marketing”. It's free!

| 2 minute read

Behind The Site: Designing Your eCommerce Website

Behind every good eCommerce website is a good strategy. Who is this site being made for? How does that person prefer to shop online? Do they prefer to have a phone number to call or a form to fill out? What devices will he/she be using to browse the site? These are some of the critical questions that need to be answered before the site gets even close to being mocked up in Photoshop. Answering these questions will give us a clear picture of who to design for and what devices it should be optimized for.

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| 7 minute read

[HTML] Buried Alive! Time Management, Priorities, and Organization


Welcome back to Hipster Training on Marketing Leadership (HTML). 

If you missed our first session, you can catch-up by reading our first post: Mission, Vision, and Missing Your Mark

In this second post in this series, we’re going to discuss an uber-relevant topic: time management and organization. Oh boy, this could get messy.

Have you ever struggled with balancing your work load, prioritizing projects and tasks, and keeping track of your time and files?

Good. I’m not alone.

Teaching a lesson on time management and organization – for me - is sort of like teaching a lesson on humility. I just haven’t arrived, and if anyone else tells you he or she has… run!

This isn’t something that we're born with, and it's not something anyone can master. Sure, some folks may have a knack for organization. They enjoy color-coding their sock drawer, desk drawer, and they're never late for an appointment. Good for them. Seriously, guys and gals -- we envy you!

The rest of us need an intentional strategy to manage our time, prioritize projects, and organize our files. Keyword: intentional.

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| 4 minute read

4-Step eCommerce Kick-off for Industrial Distributors

Did you get a chance to download the Ultimate eCommerce Playbook for Industrial Distributors yet? If not, what are you waiting for? It's completely free and easy to navigate. In this 24-page guide, we walk you through all the aspects you need to consider when planning, developing, and managing an ecommerce website for your industrial MRO or safety distribution business.

It's a big project (that's why we wrote the eBook)! We also understand that big projects like this need some clear direction. We recommend a kick-off meeting! We love kick-off meetings here at Spinstak because we love football, but mostly because we love project management. Good project management dictates that any project that requires cooperation between staff, investment of resources, in terms of time and money, should all be started "the proper way" with an official project kick-off.

Here's some things to consider adding to your kick-off meeting agenda!

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| 5 minute read

[HTML] Marketing Mission, Vision, and Missing Your Mark

Sorry developers, this isn’t that kind of HTML.

This is the first in a series of posts about Hipster Training on Marketing Leadership. Wait, what? That’s right. This is SMS-style leadership training for aspiring marketing professionals.

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| 1 minute read

Creating an eCommerce website takes too much time! [Vlog]

 

An eCommerce website doesn't have to be your biggest project.

eCommerce B2B Websites - You're Not Alone

There's no doubt that creating a B2B website can be time-consuming. The hours put in just to research best practices is enough for a full-time job. You want to get this right the first time. Well, you're not alone! There is an abundance of literature and companies dedicated to helping you get this done. But where do you start?

Ultimate eCommerce Playbook - Click Here to Download

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| 3 minute read

Better Industrial Sales and Marketing Starts with Developing Buyer Personas

These days, industrial buyers are constantly bombarded with emails and information from dozens of industrial suppliers and distributors, each claiming that their product or service is exactly what the buyer needs. This extensive inbox influx can start to get frustrating, however, and while your company may be able to solve all the industrial buyer’s problems, your marketing efforts can be disregarded.

But what if there was a way to target and label your customers, both present and future, so that you consistently get the right information into the hands of the right people? Marketing personas can do just that!

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| 3 minute read

10 PPE Suppliers for Growing Distributors

You down with PPE?

Yeah you know me!

Welcome back, folks! Bethany B. here with another listicle for your reading pleasure (I just really wanted to use the word “listicle”). This week I’m focusing on Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE as we in “the biz” like to call it.

PPE is one of the most important investments employers make, and safety distributors know they need to carry the goods to cover workers from head to toe. It may be difficult to the untrained eye to distinguish one brand of safety glasses from another, so I’ve compiled a list of reputable, high-quality safety suppliers to get your distributorship growing.  

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| 2 minute read

Should I Hire a Marketing Assistant?

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of your to-do list growing by the second as you try to finish up the presentation your boss asked you to complete in three days even though he knew over a month ago this was something he would need.

Oh, that has never happened to you? Well then you have a good boss and can count your chickens. For the rest us, there is never enough time in a day to catchup from that relaxing vacation we were able to take two years ago. There is a glimmer of hope though: your boss has finally given you approval to hire a marketing assistant to help ease your workload and get to those wish-list tasks you’ve been staring at for the past year.

It’s Not A Dream

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| 4 minute read

10 Facility Safety Suppliers for Growing Distributors

Signage and first aid and spills - oh my!

New to facility safety distribution and don’t know which brands to promote? There are seemingly tons to choose from. How do you know which suppliers to work with? Most of them will claim to be THE BEST! And dedicated to YOU! And Safety is [our] number one priority!

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| 4 minute read

Distributor's Guide: How to Use Supplier Co-Op Dollars

Learn how to use supplier co-op dollars to pay for your next catalog or website project.

When last did you collect co-op dollars from the suppliers featured in your marketing efforts? The process of claiming co-op dollars isn’t terribly complicated but many distributors leave the majority of their available market development or co-op funds on the table every year. Let's help you fix that...

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| 2 minute read

6 Reasons Why Inbound Marketing for Safety Distribution Makes Sense

It's all about growth right?

You're here because you want to grow your safety distribution business. You feel the market changing. You know you need to do something different, probably something online, but you're struggling to succinctly explain why. The bad news is that many distributors are closing up shop, working on their exit strategies, but the good news is that's not you! You're here. You're looking to fight back and grow. I would suggest that one way to do that is to implement Inbound - or sometimes called Content - Marketing to drive more traffic, generate more leads, and delight your customer base with remarkeable content.

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| 3 minute read

How to Create Quality B2B Content

Whether you need printed or online material, content is the underlying requirement. Catalogs, brochures, email blasts, blog articles, white papers and more all require content to attract potential customers and to convert those potential customers into actual customers. So with content being such an important aspect of marketing, how should one go about creating worthy content?

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| 2 minute read

The Value of a Value Proposition Video

By now you know the value of a value proposition, but what if that branded statement could increase your lead conversion?

There’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned, written value proposition (probably nested somewhere in your “About US”). Much like print, written word has its value in today’s marketplace. But the best business practices for growth in a changing world mean adapting to your customers.

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| 3 minute read

How to Choose the Right Hard Hats to Offer

There are thousands of different hard hats available, so how do you choose which ones to offer to your customers? Follow these simple guidelines to help you in through the process.

Get in Buyers’ Heads

The reason someone looks at buying a hard hat is to protect heads, either because they are legally obligated to or as an extra precaution. In both scenarios, buying hard hats that meet OSHA and ANSI requirements best fulfill that need for safety (where only minor bumps and scratches are a concern, bump caps are an option). In the realm of actually protecting heads, the vast majority of hard hats do a great job, but what about all the features that differentiate this important safety equipment?

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| 2 minute read

How to Choose Which Safety Products to Promote

If there is more than one way to do something so specific (and shocking) as skin a cat, then it must certainly be true with something as complex as choosing which safety products to market. The options available are nearly boundless, so how does a company make such an important decision?

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| 6 minute read

How to Create a Custom Safety Catalog

Are you considering creating your own custom safety catalog in-house?

Great! You've come to the right place.

We'll show you how.

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| 0 minute read

Thinsulate™ Thermal Insoles: A Perfect Fit for Safety

3M is now offering Thinsulate™ Thermal Insoles designed to make outdoor work more comfortable and industrial workers more productive. The proprietary combination of 3M™ Thinsulate™ Insulation technology and energy-return performance foam absorbs shock with every step.

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| 1 minute read

Custom Product Catalogs on a Small Budget

What comes to mind when you think of the word “value”? Do you think quality or cost-savings? More than likely, you expect both.

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| 1 minute read

EPA’s Proposed Ruling for Hearing Protection

Keeping up to speed with the industry’s latest standards and regulations can be a full-time job. At SMS, our product specialist team stays current on ANSI and OSHA compliance so that the product copy in our distributor catalogs reflects the latest information.

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| 2 minute read

New Kid on the Block — My First Day Working at SMS

My first day at Safety Marketing Services was an unforgettable experience. I dealt with all the regular emotions one goes through when starting a new job: anxiousness, excitement, fear and optimism.

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| 1 minute read

Sharing Success: Here’s a Free Tool that Can Help

As a business-to-business provider for print and web media, SMS wants to help your company succeed through marketing promotions. At the same time, if we can share any tips we’ve learned along the way that might help your company communicate more effectively, all the better.

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| 2 minute read

For the Love of Safety

In a recent article by Occupational Health and Safety (2009), a Ronkonkoma, New York masonry contractor was severely fined after an OSHA inspector from the Queens District office drove by Painting and Decorating Inc. and observed employees performing stucco work on a 13-foot-high scaffold without guardrails or a fall protection system. After a full investigation into the matter, the inspector discovered that this particular masonry contractor had a history of worksite safety violations. Namely, the absence of a fully planked scaffold and no follow-through to make sure the workers had protective helmets! The contractor came out of the ordeal with $120,750 in fines.

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| 2 minute read

Print Catalogs or Web Media….why not both?

We’ve all heard stories of how the internet is rapidly becoming the only media to economically market your services and products. It’s fast; it’s effective and using eCommerce websites can even cost less than printing a full-color 200+ page catalog. However, did you know that relying exclusively on web media alone could be damaging to your business?