The pandemic, Brexit and war in Ukraine have all elevated almost everyone’s understanding of the importance of logistics and transporting goods.
Whether it’s the increase in deliveries to our front doors, keeping shelves stocked in local retailers or the global movement of materials and components to-and-from manufacturers – logistics are critical.
So, let’s take a look at some B2B marketing hints and tips for businesses providing warehousing, transport or logistics:
Define what you do
Logistics is complex. The word itself has a broad meaning.
In commercial terms, it can refer to everything from 4PL (fourth party logistics), 3PL (third party logistics) and complete supply-chain management – to warehousing, bulk transportation or delivering things through letterboxes.
It’s tempting to try to be all things to all people, particularly if you have warehousing, vehicles, technology and people who can be flexible across differing logistics services and market sectors.
However, the ability to stand out when using B2B marketing to win customers is key. If you cannot define what you do in a simple sentence or statement, it may be harder to build awareness and stick in your customer’s minds.
Try creating an elevator pitch. Define who you are, the services you deliver (the individual elements of logistics or transport), the sectors or product types you focus on and what makes you different from others – in no more than a few lines of text.
Try to be as specific as possible, whilst not alienating any particular group by appearing not to serve them. Be aspirational but remember that it’s your key customers that keep you going, even if you wish to now target another segment.
Know your customer
Some logistics and transport providers specialise in handling particular goods such as food, drink, FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), building materials or manufactured components. Others target a particular step in supply chain logistics like warehousing, freight forwarding, distribution or ecommerce fulfilment.
If you already have a strong customer base, take some time to understand who and what they are. Growth is typically easiest to find by capturing more of an existing market segment. It’s where you already shine!
However, your highest volume customer may not be your most profitable and the one who demands most attention may not be the one who contributes most to your turnover. Bear this in mind.
Consider who you naturally attract and who you currently serve and look for opportunities to do more of the same but to a wider market. Innovation or specialisation may help.
If you’re keen to grow in a new area or direction, try to define what that is.
Whilst it might be that almost any business could benefit from the logistics and transport services you deliver, you should be realistic about who your product or service will appeal to. Consider aiming your B2B marketing at the ‘low hanging fruit’ before targeting some of the more challenging segments.
Think about the individuals who make enquiries and who make buying decisions in the businesses you target.
A good tactic is to develop a ‘buyer persona’ – giving your typical customer a name and their likely age, gender, interests, needs and preferences. It’s important to understand the challenges they face and the kinds of marketing most likely to reach them.
Whenever you create a piece of B2B marketing you can ask yourself if it would reach and appeal to them.
Stand out from competitors
Many businesses in and around logistics, warehousing, distribution and transportation find this the toughest challenge. Standing out in a crowded marketplace of hauliers, logistics companies, fulfilment providers and 3PLs can seem an impossible task.
Think first about what your customers value most. Maybe ask a few existing customers why they chose you.
Next, think about the qualities you’re most proud of. Perhaps an investment in new technology or the length of time you’ve successfully serviced a key sector such as the automotive supply chain or FMCG distribution.
Contrary to the name, a Unique Selling Proposition (or USP) doesn’t always have to be that unique. It’s just the quality or attribute you believe your target customers will value most – and should potentially become the focus of your marketing.
Develop the right plan
So, you know your stand-out qualities and your target customers. Which channels of B2B marketing do you use to communicate and reach them?
A full-mix marketing strategy is always best for maximising results. Don’t entrust your marketing success to just one channel – for example social media or PPC – but don’t spread yourself too thinly either.
It’s said the average consumer needs to be exposed to a brand’s marketing seven times before they act. Businesses can be just as fickle, so utilise more than one channel to steadily introduce your customers to who you are, what you do and why they should choose your business.
Depending on how specific your focus is, the chances are you could list the companies or brands you might wish to work with in your chosen area of logistics. If that’s the case – as with most B2B marketing – being direct with your marketing methods may provide the quickest and best results.
This could be true direct marketing – emails or mailers – or other direct methods of digital marketing like social media or content.
Despite the prominence of digital marketing, don’t underestimate the impact of something physical – such as a brochure, flyer or sales letter. They can be widely retained, remembered and actioned.
For businesses in modern logistics, digital marketing is an increasingly big part of the B2B marketing mix.
Either when searching for a new logistics provider – or taking a look at a familiar business to gain reassurance – most potential customers will visit your website at some point.
Your website should be easy to navigate, informative and clearly communicate what you do and why you do it well. Ask someone to take a 30-second look at your website and tell you what they pick up – that’s about the same time you’ll get from the average first time visitor.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can ensure you feature highly (e.g. higher than competitors) in search results. The key is to have a well-built and search engine friendly website with lots of useful and fresh content which you frequently contribute to and update.
Don’t judge your websites SEO simply by Googling your own business though. Google results are highly personalised and localised, so you’ll need better data to understand how you really perform.
Whilst your SEO is taking effect, PPC (also known a paid search, search ads or Google Ads) can help bridge the gap by ensuring you appear near the top of search results.
A strong social media presence is an increasingly powerful marketing asset for logistics and transport providers. LinkedIn can be very effective at reaching decision makers. Chances are, around 50% of the middle and senior staff you might wish to engage with in the businesses you target are active on LinkedIn.
However, don’t just go on social media and ‘sell’ what you do. Create posts which disseminate updates about your business, share thoughts on industry topics and are genuinely of interest or value to those you wish to target.
As it sounds, content marketing is all about creating written, visual or audible content which you target customers may choose to engage with. It’s perhaps the biggest growth area of B2B marketing.
Your content should represent the market position and values you wish to communicate – for example, trusted and knowledgeable.
Again, try to keep outright sales messages to a minimum. Content marketing is about demonstrating you’re great at logistics and transport, not simply telling people!
Take the time to analyse the content others are delivering and work to develop more unique – and more useful – stories. The most effective content marketing is typically about helping your audience.
Engaging and valuable content marketing – disseminated through digital marketing, direct marketing, public relations and social media – can reach seep into your target audience. Over time, it both builds brand awareness of your company and trust in what you deliver.
What was once simply called public relations (PR) can be critical. If you have a development in your business, try to turn it into a compelling press release. The sector press within your industry and those you are targeting are likely crying out for worthy stories. Every one which is published may contribute to your SEO too.
Testimonials and case studies
Logistics and transport are often business critical. In reality, few businesses wish to be mavericks, so they will typically choose suppliers which they have confidence will reliably deliver what they need.
Client testimonials and case studies are a powerful way to quickly build trust amongst your target customers, particularly if you have examples of excellent service which relate directly to them.
Often in logistics and transport, there are some major contracts or companies which could be transformational if your business won their work. Increasingly, large logistics providers are turning to account-based marketing (ABM) to capture them.
At its core, ABM is simply about tailoring your marketing to the individual, not the broader target market. With direct marketing, social media, content marketing, events, telesales and marketing literature, you can personalise your approach for each key customer to give you the best opportunity of winning their work.
As with all B2B marketing, consistency and persistence are critical. Your target customer may be reluctant to change logistics provider or only consider their current supplier once a year or so.
With persistent account-based marketing, you can ensure your company name is the very first they consider when they do!
Logistics is a complicated and crowded area, so define what you do and the ways in which you stand out. This should be communicated throughout your marketing.
Where you can, go direct to your target customers. Consider pin-point account-based marketing if winning that client is potentially game-changing!
Most potential customers will visit your website on the way to buying from you, so ensure it communicates the quality you want. Digital marketing is likely to be critical but remember it’s often a vehicle for effective content marketing.
Use social media and content marketing to communicate your expertise and experience. Being consistent and persistent with all your marketing channels will pay off when potential clients review their logistics suppliers and needs!
If you need any further help with B2B marketing for your logistics or transport business, contact us