Working in logistics is a varied and complicated market. Margins are extremely tight often working off single digit profit margins and you make your money on volume rather than high profit single shipments.
A shipping or freight forwarder often puts marketing on the back burner as it’s seen as a cost which eats into their profits. I know from working within a marketing department for a large logistics company how tight budgets can be – so it’s no surprise that the logistics industry doesn’t really know how to market themselves effectively.
But is marketing all that important for a logistics/freight forwarding company that operate using supply chains?
Well, let’s consider this using some ‘fun’ logistics terminology. Having an inbound and outbound strategy to marketing is exactly the same in principle to a supply chain model; making your company website the ideal vehicle to drive your leads and new customers through the sales cycle.
Marketing is critical to make your company standout from other logistics and shipping companies. It’s about separating yourself from the competition.
For example, effective marketing can help correct some common mistakes, such as not talking to customers in logistics terminology. Does anyone other than a freight forwarder really know what a TEU is or ULD, LTL or LCL? No, customers have a consignment which needs to go from A to B and possibly stored in C and reworked, moved to D.
So we’re going to break this blog into two common terms any logistics professional should understand. Inbound Logistics and Outbound Logistics.
So consider the process of moving raw materials into a warehouse and distributing them to manufacturing as required; the operation transforms the input to a finished product. This is exactly the same principle for inbound marketing. This is gathering data from your markets and working out what your users interact with on your website; enabling your website to become like your warehouse.
You can then examine which pages they view and what keywords are searched. This helps you to decide which equipment (which marketing channel) to use, to send your marketing information out from such as Email, Twitter, Linkedin, Blogs, Case Studies or Facebook; this forms your Outbound Logistics.
So you gathered the raw materials from your inbound marketing, they will be the keywords, and visitor behaviours which allow you to shape and create your content effectively.
So let’s say you’ve created a Case Study as your final product on your website, you now need to move this out through your own supply chain, choosing the appropriate equipment (or marketing channel). This is where your website is like your warehouse, it’s got an army of highly skill warehouse operatives being managed and trained on the best location for materials.
The office staff are your content writers, they’re entering the information you need to move the product out of the warehouse. So you then need to deliver this content to your clients, which means deciding on the equipment type.
So for example, LinkedIn may be your best lead generator; in this case you can assign this as the main vehicle allowing a full load so you can push high volume content out to here. Twitter could be your single consignment, delivering small bits of information and Facebook is your 3rd party warehouse or off dock (for those who don’t know what off dock is, it’s a secure area where you stack containers (container yard) which are not ready for delivery, basically an effective short term storage next to or near a major road network) this is where you want to store content to drip the subconscious messages.
So to get your website to work for you, you need to have a good inbound and outbound marketing strategy which is tailored for your users and clients, supporting you to boost business and generate profit.
I am hoping this blog has been useful for you within the logistics industry.