Earlier, most logistics companies didn’t invest in marketing. All marketing activities were limited to trade shows and publications in the press, some companies did some email marketing, and that’s it. The industry is still profoundly reliable from referrals and outbound sales even today.

Though the trend is changing as most logistics companies are starting to realize that marketing is useful for they’re business and that it’s not enough to rely solely on outbound sales tactics or referrals anymore. Organizations began to understand that they need to start some inbound content marketing activities, that they need to be found on the internet, and need to be active in social media.

So now logistics businesses are hiring marketing managers or are outsourcing they’re marketing activities to a third party; this trend is seen at almost all biggest service providers.  And with the right team on hand, companies start blogging, social selling, optimizing their web sites, etc.

Digital marketing and social selling activities are providing immersive results. Therefore, it’s logical that companies start to invest more in marketing. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of bad marketing out there. To avoid costly mistakes, organizations need to understand that different approaches are found marketing logistics services compared to marketing to B2C customers. There are plenty of marketers who are earning their bread from consumer goods, but not too many marketers who specialize in logistics and supply chain services. That’s why it’s easy to find bad advice which will not generate any result and will cost loads of money.

With this article, we would like to draw your attention to the significant differences between marketing logistics services and consumer goods. Knowing the differences is crucial to avoid bad marketing decisions.  We will provide some peace of advice as well.

1.When marketing logistics services organizations need to focus on value provided

The central ethos for B2C marketing is saying: that you need to market the slobber instead of the steak, as for consumers’ pleasant experience, and the “wow” factor is on top of consumer goods buyers’ minds (exception low-cost utility products). We have a completely different story with logistics services as value is the most important thing for this buyer. Value can be expressed in many ways: price vs. performance, the excellent fit with customers’ business objective, flexibility, and compatibility with the existing technological system.

Advice: Be aware when someone will try to pitch the emotional approach for your marketing campaign, it doesn’t work.

2. Buying decisions are made by groups, not by individuals

The buyer of a consumer good decides by himself, whereas the procurement of Logistics services can include multiple decision-makers. Logistic services marketers must influence numerous people at various stages of the buying process, and each of these individuals has different priorities. Some decision-makers are fund sensitive; some prioritize increased turnover and some the quality of delivered service. Marketers need to find common ground with all those attributes.

Advice: Organizations marketing their strong sides (value proposition) need to be sure that everyone in the prospect’s company sees the positive attribute in the same way. For example, a low price for the logistics manager and supply chain director can have different meanings. Marketers need to find ways to justify their value propositions.

3. Longer buying cycles

There are different logistics service providers in the market; some of them have short buying cycles (like moving services or packaging services, etc.),  but most have longer buying cycles (like stevedoring companies, technology companies, etc.). Longer buying cycles are related to higher costs and sophisticated services. Most logistics service providers are being chosen carefully as a wrong logistics provider can negatively impact the bottom line.

Advice: Companies need to choose wisely which type of content or sales and marketing message to provide at each stage of the customer’s journey map. If a marketing agency or manager will say that you need to create one type of content, it’s a red flag, as this will not work.

4. The buying decisions are more like commitment

When companies decide to work with a logistics provider, most of the time, it involves investments, long term agreements, or a learning curve. Therefore it’s tough for companies to change service providers; the change will happen when they are looking for a replacement already, and they will choose the successor who can deliver as they believe.

Advice: Only 3 % of customers are ready to buy at the time you are reaching them out; therefore, nurturing becomes one of the greatest weapons for acquiring the customer. Organizations need to find ways to stay in the minds of a prospect for a long time.

5. Service level and support are essential decision factors

Customers won’t wait on hold for thirty minutes when they’re cargo or some other operations are delayed. They expect they’re problems do be solved when they need them solved. Logistics service providers need to understand this simple truth and provide the necessary support and market the errorless (if they measure error rates and can deliver) factor as the most important one.

Advice: The service level and errorless approach (or the ability to reach and solve issues fast) are crucial decision metrics for most businesses. Companies can win a lot if they find creative and not dull ways to market those approaches.

6. Logistics services have a lot of moving parts

Within logistics, most contracts are custom bid, may include bundled services, discounts, and detailed schedules. This process involves extensive communication between different departments of both organizations and openness at the beginning of the relationships.

Advice: If your company doesn’t have value-added services, they need to think of something fast, as a lot of cross-selling possibilities are being lost. Remember, companies are more likely to buy from trusted sources.

7. Relationships play a critical role

In some cases, responsible specialists who procure logistics services bet they’re careers on the choice they make. Therefore it’s essential to understand that the success of the buyer is as necessary as making the sale.

Advice: Make sure you inform your customer about the gains he will get and how will you ensure them. On the other hand, you can tell what they will lose if they will not work with your organization (If you actually have an extraordinary service or product which will provide impressive results to your customer).

8. Channel relationships

On many occasions, companies are hiring 3PL to arrange they’re logistics operations (forwarding, warehousing, distribution, etc.). Some companies try to overcome the channel partners and sell directly to the shipper. Nevertheless, it’s essential not to forget that most of the time 3Pl’s are signing the invoices to pay; therefore, it’s not smart to overcome them, as, in the end, there may be no business for you left. Secondly, most of the time, Chanel partners are strong players, which are hard to beat.

Advice: If you are working as a subcontractor for a channel partner, maybe it’s nor vise to spend money on marketing (of course, if you have growth plans, then it’s an entirely different thing), and if some marketer will say the oppositely it’s a red flag.

We have looked through all the significant differences between B2C and logistics service marketing and have provided with few peaces of advice. There are massive possibilities which can be gained for logistics service providers, which decide to invest in marketing activities, as most of the competition is still relating to old tactics, which do not cut anymore. Nevertheless, it’s essential to do it in the right way by choosing the right platform, creating the right content, and distributing them at the right time.

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