Marketing and P&R activities are potent weapons that businesses worldwide use to increase brand awareness and stimulate faster growth. However, many logistics businesses, except the big names (XPO, DHL, etc.), are still cautiously looking at P&R and marketing. This is happening because there are few viable myths around those topics. This prevents logistics companies from investing in marketing activities and causes them to lose the growth potential which could be achieved. In this edition, we will disclose those myths and bust them.
Myth number one: The big logistics players are investing vast sums of money into marketing, and we will not be able to compete anyway.
One part of the above statement is genuine; the big logistics players invest a lot in marketing and P&R. They do everything needed to build thought leadership and increase brand awareness. And the results are outstanding; in the USA, the action of sending parcels the next day is called “FedEx it,” and it doesn’t matter which provider the shippers choose. This proves how powerful branding is.
But the second part of the above statement is entirely not actual. Big names usually have general marketing strategies typically operated from the center. They have strategies for the most important regions, but they never niche down to a country, especially a small one.
Moreover, SMB owners usually do not compete with big names. Instead, those companies compete with local companies. So a far more thoughtful way is to forget the big guys and examine your local competitors.
In any case, local logistics businesses can get excellent results with the help of guerrilla marketing strategies. The best marketing strategies for logistics companies are vertical and account-based marketing. By choosing one vertical or a few accounts and doing everything needed to create value, this kind of marketing will work better than any of the big players. Big players will never be able to niche down to smaller segments or accounts.
Myth number two: The ROI of marketing is hardly measured.
Marketing activities usually have tangible and intangible parts. The tangible part relates to shortening sales cycles, getting top customers that haven’t done business with you earlier, increasing customers’ lifetime value, and getting more business from existing customers. This part can be measured. But for this to happen, logistics businesses need to do some homework, like having a CRM that can calculate conversion rates from different channels, sales cycles, and customer lifetime value. Moreover, before a benchmark appears, you must put data in the CRM for at least a year. Unfortunately, many logistics businesses do not use a CRM or have legacy CRMs that do not have the functionality to measure conversions. However, with the help of the required tools, it can be estimated easily.
And then, we have the intangible part related to brand awareness and increased customer loyalty. Yes, this part is hardly measured, but on the other hand, this part can bring the most significant ROI. For example, let’s say your organization has a blog, newsletter, or Linkedin page where the organization shares valuable insights. In such a way, the logistics company shoots two rabbits simultaneously. From one side, you stay in your potential customer’s mind during the buying cycle, and when the buying window is open, you will have far better chances of getting the business than those companies who haven’t done anything.
And from another side, when you share valuable insights with your customers, you attach them to your brand. Recently I’ve heard a story from one of our customers, saying that their customers bring their newsletter insights to the board meetings and discuss it. Just imagine what power one article can have when being introduced to everyone in an organization. So, when the logistics manager brings a new shipping contract to the table with increased prices or volumes for a VP of logistics, your organization will no longer be seen as just another logistics provider; therefore, the chances of getting the deal increase tremendously. This interaction alone can bring 100K, one million, or even 100 million extra revenues to your company. So yeah, the ROI will be hard to measure because you will never know which touch point generated the business your content, account managers, or sales managers. But I somehow believe that your content needs to get the most significant credit as it stipulated the most potent psychological influence points: Authority, Reciprocation, Commitment, and Consistency.
Myth number three: Marketing and P&R don’t work in Logistics
Well, this is one of the most viable myths. This is not true, as marketing and P&R work well in logistics. Look at any high-growth logistics company, and you will see that each one is doing many marketing activities. For example, look at Arrive Logistics and XPO; they all have newsletters and are active on LinkedIn, like on other channels. And there are many other great examples.
And we see positive results with our customers. The only thing logistics businesses need to understand is that logistics services aren’t transactional, so the marketing complex should be chosen adequately. The result will be poor if you choose the same marketing complex for logistics services as for consumer goods or other transactional services.
The other thing that can spoil your marketing initiatives is choosing the wrong partners. The success of marketing and P&R initiatives is related to how well the guy or gal creating content and strategies understands your customers. And the number of agencies that understand logistics is deficient. So when choosing an agency or employer, ensure they know the industry and the pain points and speak the same language as shippers.
The other thing which makes marketing not work is when management doesn’t believe in it and doesn’t provide all the needed resources. Then such organizations start doing something, but such activities scratch the surface but don’t bring the results required. So again, you can read more about why marketing is essential here.
In conclusion, I would like to add one last thing. Yes, in the beginning, if you haven’t done any marketing and P&R activities, you will need to perform a leap of faith, as you will not have the necessary data to measure the ROI. However, the easiest way to decide going forward can be made by looking at your competitors. You need to follow them if they are doing something in this field. In another case, your competitors will gain an advantage in the long run.
Moreover, it would help if you did this better. And if your competitors aren’t doing anything, there is a massive opportunity for you to be the first and get all the benefits of being the first. And have no doubts, you will get both tangible and intangible results. In my lifetime working with logistics companies, I’ve only seen once that it didn’t pay off. But this case was related to one of the above roadblocks.
About the author:
Tomas Ananjevas is a supply chain professional with 15 years of experience purchasing and selling Logistic’s services and building a supply chain from scratch. He founded a consulting, training, and staffing company that works exclusively with the logistics industry. Tomas is helping logistics companies implement the necessary changes to ensure business growth and continuity. You can arrange a time to talk with Thomas about possible synergies by clicking here.