When people mention the word ‘logistics’, an image of old, rusty trucks comes to our minds. More than the trucks, it represents the conventional business it is perceived to be. We don’t think of it as one of the modern-day businesses that need to be digitized when it comes to logistics marketing strategy or other aspects of the business. Unfortunately, this also includes people within the industry.
It might be an old-school business, but it’s also undergoing a digital transition. It must be noted that the global market size for digital transformation in transportation and logistics was valued at USD 54.92 billion in 2018 and is expected to rise to USD 145.28 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of 13.0% during the forecast period.
Some have understood it and started adapting, while others still operate the same way. The industry is so competitive in nature that the latter will have to embrace digitization sooner or later. You know where wisdom lies.
We’ve outlined seven steps to creating a robust logistics marketing strategy for your business in this blog post. I’ve tried to make it as concise as possible to make it easy for you to understand. You’ll need to dig in deep to understand each point before jumping to any action.
7 Stepped Marketing Strategy for a Logistics Business
There’s no “standard” process for creating a marketing strategy, as it differs from one business to another. However, the steps I’ve outlined here work the best in my experience. Let’s go through them one by one.
Step 1: Do a SWOT Analysis of Your Company
The biggest mistake you can make while planning marketing is focusing only on the market and not taking a moment to understand your business. A good marketing strategy always starts with understanding and defining your brand. There’s no better tool to go about it than doing a SWOT analysis.
Strengths: Where does your logistics firm excel? Where does it stand out among the competition? What makes it unique? Why should people choose you over your rivals?
I’d suggest you identify strengths in terms of marketing and put your whole business into perspective to get an overview of the areas you can leverage.
Your strengths could be anything from the following:
- Client relationships
Weaknesses: What is holding your company back internally? What are the factors you could improve upon? What is likely to become a stumbling block for marketing your business?
Opportunities: What external factors or situations can you leverage to get a competitive edge?
Opposed to strengths, opportunities are external. Here are a few examples:
- Emerging demand
- Pricing or service advantage over competitors
- Fewer competitors
Opportunities are situations in which you could take advantage of using your strengths.
Threats: What external influences could harm or hurt your business?
Don’t get confused between weaknesses and threats. Similar to opportunities, threats are also external factors. Examples of threats are tariffs, currency fluctuations, weather, government regulations, etc.
Step 2: Competitor Analysis
Competitive analysis can be described as a technique that involves studying significant competitors to gain insight into their offerings, sales, and marketing strategies.
A competitive analysis will help you understand how your competitors operate and uncover potential opportunities to outperform them. It also allows you to keep abreast of trends in the industry and ensure you are keeping up with the industry trends and even exceeding the industry standards.
Here’s how you can do competitor analysis:
- Step 1: Identify your competitors.
- Step 2: Conduct a SWOT analysis of your competitors
- Step 3: Check out the websites of your competition and call their support staff to learn about the customer experience they offer
- Step 4: Determine the market positioning of your competitors
- Step 5: Examine your competitors’ prices, services and current deals
- Step 6: Find out about the technology that your competitors are using
- Step 7: Find out their future plans
- Step 8: Examine social media performance and review social media testimonials
Step 3: Define Your USP
After evaluating your competition, it’s time to identify what sets your company to stand out. Is it your service? Technological command? Faster operations? Customer support? Whatever it is, you must be as realistic as possible. A USP isn’t something you’re good at; it makes you exceptional among the herd of competition.
For many business owners, it’s challenging to disengage themselves from day-to-day business activities to consider strategically and identify your business’s value-added proposition. A great place to start is asking yourself what our most loyal customers have to say about your company and what makes them choose you over other companies.
Once you identify these points, it’s time to create an effective branding strategy around them. Be it your website content, sales pitch, social media posts, brochures, advertisements or any marketing channel; you must emphasize these points to communicate your unique value propositions.
Step 4: Buyer Persona & Firmographic
You know the competition and understand the business, but one piece is missing in this puzzle. Yes, it’s your customers. We’re in the age of growth marketing, and the days of getting results by running advertisements are gone. You need to market and engage with the right people to make the best out of your efforts.
A buyer persona can be a great tool to identify your targeted customer. Here’s what you could identify to create a compelling buyer persona:
Spending power and patterns
Stage of life
Adaptability with technology
Preferred mode of communication
Level of education
Professional success & failure
Product or service that will help them
Typical working day
Source of their industry information
Most used social networking platform
Industry events they attend
Blogs/newspapers they read
The decision-maker in the company/family
Preferred mode of sales communication (emails, calls)
Method of product/services research
A buyer persona works great to target individuals but doesn’t give an idea about companies. It could be crucial if you’re in a B2B business. A well-researched firmographic comes to your rescue. Here’s how you can create a firmographic:
- Industry: Which industry segments would be the most eager to learn more regarding your offering? Consider identifying three to five segments or sectors that you could be targeting.
- Company size: Are you targeting unicorns, startups, or big players? It is essential to define your target businesses in team size and revenue.
- Locality: If your company depends on location, you need to determine the areas you wish to focus on first.
- Sales cycle stage: You need to determine where your company is within its sales cycle. Are they aware of your company? Do you recall having any interactions with them? Did they show any interest? Knowing this information will help you determine the best course of action at the right moment.
- Type of business: The kind or status of your targeted business could influence the process of making decisions. Here’s how companies can be classified:
– Individual firms
– Standalone entities
– Subsidiaries of larger corporations
– Corporate Limited Liability (LLC)
– Companies owned by public shareholders
– Privately owned businesses
- Performance: The growth curve will tell you if they are looking for products from you or not. Take the following factors into consideration when assessing the following:
– The duration of existence
– Rates of decline or growth
– Profits and losses
Step 5: Identify Right Marketing Channels
Now that you know enough about yourself, your competition and your customers, it’s time to discover pockets or channels where you could market your business. The kind of channels you choose will depend on your targetted customers.
The marketing channels function as online or offline platforms where your prospects can hear about you through promotions, announcements, ads, content, etc.
The simplest way to identify marketing channels for your business is by determining where and how your buyer’s persona consumes information. In my experience, the below channels play a crucial role when it comes to logistics marketing:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Trade shows & conferences
- Google Ads (PPC)
- Email Marketing
Step 6: Create a Marketing Plan
The above five steps are part of your marketing strategy. Now it’s the time to grab the drawing board and plan your marketing. Creating a marketing plan is simple, but you must do it with a sense of reality. There’s no point in setting goals and making plans that you’ll never be able to achieve.
Here’s how you can create an effective marketing plan for your transportation business:
- Set Goals & KPIs:
Without goals, you won’t know where you’re going. Thus, the first step to creating a marketing plan is setting up SMART goals. The goals you set must be aimed at an outcome rather than the means. For example, instead of targeting x number of followers on social media, your goal should be to generate y amount of leads through social media.
- Allocate budget & resources:
Marketing comes with a cost of money as well as time. Thus, it would be best if you allocated both in a way that doesn’t become a headache for your business and at the same time gives enough fuel to keep the show running. I want to point out here that optimally using the resources is much more critical than allocating. So, make sure that the ROI doesn’t depress you at month-end.
- Create content calendars:
If you’re going to do the marketing in-house, you’ll need to create content calendars to help you keep moving. The content calendar doesn’t need to be in micro details but must be able to give you enough clarity.
- Set up review & reporting systems
I’ve seen companies often undermining this part of the planning and then paying the price later. It would be best if you weren’t one of them. Regular reporting and review meetings help you take prompt action when things need improvement. I think weekly systems work great as it gives you enough time without losing too much.
Step 7: Measure, Learn & Adapt
This is not exactly a part of the strategy; it’s more about the attitude with which you’ll approach your logistics marketing strategy. No matter what kind of marketing activity you do, you must find ways to measure them and collect relevant data. As a thumb rule, avoid taking any decision with your “gut” or “experience” and only decide if you have enough data to back it up.
In addition, you must keep learning all the time when you’re executing a marketing strategy. If a campaign goes well, first find out what went right rather than celebrating. And, of course, it works the other way round as well. The more you keep learning; the more effective your marketing will be.
LeanSummits: Logistics Growth Marketing Agency
After watching transportation companies struggling to adapt to modern-day marketing, my friends and I decided to solve this problem by starting our transportation marketing agency. That’s how LeanSumiits was born as a modern-day marketing agency that specializes in logistics.
LeanSummits is a team of logistics experts with over 30 years of experience. We have been working with Brokers and Carriers and 3PL and 4PL companies. We are proud to help these companies adopt new strategies for managing their transportation and enhancing the supply chain. Our most important contribution is helping them identify new customers, opportunities for business growth and expansion.
We understand that external influences could impact your products and services. Marketing planning is the key to overcoming these external influences. Our years of experience in logistics marketing will help you grow your company.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our services for growing your transportation company.