Marketing 101 with Next Step Communications
Written by: Carolyn Sotos
Marketing is the action of promoting your business and the products or services you sell. It is important that as a business trying to promote growth, that you have a marketing plan to make sure your message is getting across in a clear and consistent way. In 2018, iD Additives decided to put more thought and energy into our marketing plan, and it paid off. In October 2018, we were honored to be nominated for ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’ by Plastics News along with three other companies.
Once we focused on our marketing efforts, we saw a climb in our sales, website views, people contacting us, and more. We also had the help of Founder/President Greg Hannoosh and Marketing Specialist, Mitch Hannoosh of Next Step Communications Inc. with our new Marketing Campaign adventure. To get a better idea on how we achieved our nomination, I interviewed Greg Hannoosh on his background and the thought process behind Next Step’s plan for our printed advertising, email marketing, social media, and more:
1) How did you get started in the Marketing Industry? Where is your education from?
“I earned a BA in Journalism from St. Michael’s College in Vermont. After graduating, I moved back to the Boston area and decided that instead of pursuing a career writing for magazines or newspapers, I would work in industry; after all, all businesses need strong writers and communicators to get their message across. In 1986 I answered a newspaper ad for a Marketing Communications Manager for a small company in Gloucester, Mass. called KONA Corporation. I got the job, and that was my start in the plastics industry. KONA was a manufacturer of hot runner systems and related equipment for the injection molding industry.”
2) When/how did you decide to start your own company?
“I went out on my own and started Next Step Communications Inc. in June 1996. I had worked for 10 years in the plastics industry, but the company I was at was acquired and was undergoing a lot of changes, so I decided to move on. I was hesitant to start my own company; I had to find a way to make it work and fast, because at the time, my wife was teaching school and my four children were 12, 10 and 8 (twins), and we had to make it work financially. But the best advice I got came from my former boss, who had retired. He told me ‘first of all, you’ll be successful, and you’ll never look back. But if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out, you can always get a job- you’re well known in this industry.’ That advice gave me the confidence I needed, and he was right, I never looked back.”
3) How has marketing changed since you first started?
“Pretty much everything has changed – but in some ways, nothing has changed at all. What has changed and changed dramatically are the methods being used; when I started, there was no internet, no e-mail, no social media, etc. As everyone knows, the internet and digital media has changed everything. But what hasn’t changed is the importance of getting your company’s message out there, regardless of how you do it. The need to communicate your company’s message to potential customers is a constant.”
4) When you started working with iD Additives, how did you make your plan of action? What areas did you think iD Additives needed to focus on the most?
“I first met Nick Sotos at a Plastics News Marketing Summit, where Next Step was exhibiting and a sponsor of the event. I was impressed with Nick’s enthusiasm and his desire to learn more about how to market iD Additives to grow his business. Once we began working together, it became clear to me that the company needed to focus its messaging. We began working on ways to simplify and make it clearer what the main product lines offered by iD Additives were, and how they were better/different from the competition. Once we defined the messaging, we went to work implementing that message in all iD Additives promotions.”
5) How did you decide the look/message of our printed advertising and trade show booths?
“The message was first, and some of it was already in place; Nick had been using the tagline ‘Unmatched Technical Support for Innovative Products’. We kept that but also simplified the product messaging, so it was clear exactly what the company’s main product lines were; and then took that a step further but identifying the key features/benefits of those product lines. As for the look, our graphics designer does a great job and he developed the green dot concept; the dots are a play on one of iD’s core products, foaming agents. Once the new look was developed, we implemented Marketing 101, which was to use that look consistently in all of iD’s ads, literature, trade show graphics etc.
A new print and digital ad campaign was developed, along with all new literature and a comprehensive company brochure. Then we went to work developing a new look and feel to iD’s NPE 2018 booth and promotions. We brought in our old friend and industry expert John Effmann to help us with iD’s NPE 2018 efforts. John brought invaluable trade show experience as he was the President of two major shows in his career; NPE and IMTS.”
6) Do you think Email Marketing/Social Media is impactful in the Plastics Industry for marketing? How so?
“Yes, both are extremely impactful. E-mail marketing is important for a lot of reasons; it gives companies a very effective way to reach out to their customers and prospects with their messaging, and everyone is on e-mail. There are a lot of great e-mail programs out there; we use Constant Contact which is a great resource. It allows you not only to easily create and send out the e-mail, but to track results. Social media is also extremely important. We work to help our clients get up and running on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and others and once their accounts are active, we help them post regular content. Social media is exploding as a medium. When Mitch joined Next Step in 2012, he told me at that time that it was going to be essential for all of our clients to be active on social media. I was skeptical, but he was right. It has grown exponentially over the past several years. We know it’s essential from a PR standpoint to reach the industry press; but it’s much more than that. All companies need to know that their customers and prospects are on social media.”
7) What is the most important thing companies should remember when starting a new marketing campaign?
“I like to say, ‘keep it simple’. It’s not rocket science. Companies all know, or should know, what their strengths are and what their products, technologies and services bring to the industry. The trick is figuring out how to come up with the message, and then how best to communicate it. That’s where marketing firms like Next Step come in and provide value.”
8) Any suggestions on the importance of using multiple ways to market a company, versus focusing on just advertising or trade shows etc.:
“Yes, and that is, it’s important to use numerous methods. For instance, advertising is important to show you’re a player in the industry, and to be seen in the leading publications both print and digital. PR is important to get your name out there, so you’re included in the stories that are written by industry editors on your products and technologies. Trade shows are important, there’s no better way to have numerous potential customers all come to see you in one place at one time. Appearing at industry technical conferences is important so you’re seen as a thought leader. E-mail marketing and social media are important, literature is important, etc.
I’d also like to mention, it’s important for all companies to develop a budget and a plan for their marketing efforts. Planning is essential to staying on track with your budget and your message and we work with all of our clients to create and execute their marketing plan.”
We saw our website views go up 112%, more foot traffic coming in our booths at trade shows, and more people calling for samples. The biggest moment that really defined that our efforts were working is we got back on the Inc. 5000 list in 2018 after being off of it in 2017. iD Additives was on the list for six years in a row from 2010-2016 and we missed the mark in 2017, but to be back on in 2018 showed our consistency paid off. Even though we did not win the Plastics News Marketing Campaign of the year, it was an honor to be nominated and to share the stage with the other three companies: M. Holland, Team 1 Plastics, and Extreme Tool & Engineering. We couldn’t have seen these results without the help of Next Step Communications!
Thank you to Greg Hannoosh for taking the time to answer these questions for the Plastics Proud Blog!
Greg Hannoosh- firstname.lastname@example.org (207)-703-0343
Mitch Hannoosh- email@example.com (978)-609-2176