For a lot of logistics companies, marketing is a black hole. Money and time go in, but the results that come out are rarely so clear. This makes it hard for company leadership to know what the right deliverables should be for the function, much less understand the actual ROI of their marketing budget.
To make matters worse, there is a persistent grey area when it comes to what marketing success even IS. “Branding” is not a very quantifiable metric – but also cannot be ignored. Conversely, the number of website visitors or leads forwarded to sales are more easily measured both in terms of volume and importance.
The point is that marketing success is not a singular thing. Marketing departments are the experts at getting the work done, so let them. But they also need to be given and understand, the expectations placed on them and the objectives they’re aiming for.
The following are five areas that logistics companies can set as guidelines to make sure their marketing efforts are on track in a way that accounts for the grey areas and how the marketing function really operates.
Improve Prospect Data
Most logistics companies struggle to identify their best prospects – even though they don’t want to admit it. The right prospects for you are always decision-makers with needs that align with what your company does best and in the ways you want to grow. Knowing all this is simple in theory, but harder in practice. Worse yet, the data most companies have about their prospects and customers are usually poorly organized. This makes marketing effectively impossible and why so many companies struggle.
Buying large email lists, full of the wrong people is a waste of time and resources and does not help achieve your marketing goals on any level. Poorly organized data of any type, whether it is in a CRM or buried in spreadsheets on a sales person's hard-drive, makes it all the harder.
It’s not the easy option but take the time to identify your ideal markets and prospect-types, and make sure all your prospect data is well structured. Then, go market to them with precision.
Strive for Better Content
The importance and value of content are well understood these days. Blogs, whitepapers, webinars, and videos are the most effective way to get and keep prospects’ attention. It’s how logistic services providers create and provide value before the sale.
But displaying thought leadership doesn’t come from the quantity of content – quality matters far more. Unfortunately, content from inexperienced writers who do not know the logistics industry is ineffective and often counter-productive. Unfortunately, this is the route most companies take because it’s easier and cheaper. Readers know when content is not legit because it’s shallow, the right vernacular is missing, and the writer's inexperience shows.
Create content with intent and make sure the author is someone who knows the subject they’re writing about.
Everyone’s heard some version of the saying, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
Since 90% of your competitors aren’t even showing up (meaning they’re not doing the marketing basics like with content or email marketing), this is a no-brainer.
Just show up…. enough said.
Always Measure Results
All marketing has a cost – whether it is in time or money. And, all marketing activities should return value. It’s hard to quantify the cost and value of many tactics as we’ve mentioned. Even if it’s not perfect, you should create a way to understand if, for example, the high cost of a trade show has provided worthwhile benefit to justify the expense.
Start by identifying five things you feel have value (leads are an important one for most companies). Then, start tracking the cost of your different marketing activities (such as an inside sales team, or Google Ads) to see where the leads are coming from and what’s producing the best ROI.
Again, 90% of your competition will not take the time for a simple exercise like this. A small effort to put more energy into better ROI activities will have a big impact.
Be Experts and Own Your Space
Just like defining and targeting your best audience, this is another area in which near perfection is important. So much of logistics is commoditized. And, the lines between what certain types of companies do has become blurry – for example, how many warehouses are also freight brokers and how many 3PLs are selling a TMS?
The point is to have a strategy that tightly aligns the actions you take – such as with your list building and content marketing – that set you apart from the competition. Make sure your company’s value, and how you are different gets communicated in everything you do.
Every company needs a reason for customers to want to work with it before the competition. What reason are you giving prospects? Be the best at what you do.
The Right Shade of Gray
Yes, companies should have specific goals for the quantifiable parts of marketing like leads generated. But, operating with these five guidelines is the way to ensure you are moving in the right direction while accounting for the important qualitative parts of marketing too.