If you take a survey of top executives in the transportation industry, how many would say that marketing their company is important? I think most would agree that it is required. I would also suggest that most don’t make the budgets or time available to make it happen.
Typically, a sales and marketing VP has their hands full managing reps and their share of major accounts. They may have a flair for marketing but probably very little training on the subject. The biggest synergy between sales and marketing disciplines are they both have to tell a compelling story and communicate the unique reasons why their product or service is the better choice for prospective buyers. Maybe that’s why they have been lumped together in the B2B transport sector, while they are very much separate functions in consumer products.
My experience with the owners and presidents of transportation companies is that very few are marketers. I would say they are typically deal makers, know their numbers, great at attracting the right people to their team, and workaholics by either necessity or nature. In my 23 year career, I would say the original owner of Concord, and the folks heading up Challenger and MSM have been the biggest believers in using marketing to grow their business.
Sometimes it can be a little thing that gets you noticed. A good example is when CN recently adopted the paint scheme from their train engines to their highway tractors… simply brilliant!
We find many companies think about it, want to do it but the reactive nature of the business keeps them from taking the steps necessary to make it happen. Other things take priority and the marketing that’s required is put on hold waiting for a better time to address it.
Here’s the deal. The time to address it is now. We’ve seen a dramatic change in the last year and a half with the ROI on web marketing. The transportation industry is behind. Especially in web marketing. The primary focus is on existing customer shipment visibility. That myopic view is limiting opportunities. It doesn’t cost that much to take greater advantage of the power of the web across these additional 4 areas:
Lee’s Quote for the Day!
In my twenties, I had very little income. If the question was “How broke was he?”, the answer would be, “he’s as broke as Lee Palmer”. I was a not- so- successful, full time musician and songwriter and a chronic deal maker, at dollar amounts that were insignificant, for the most part. I was so broke that when I rented a little house in Vancouver (due for demolition) for a $100/month, I had to rent out a room for $50 /month, as I couldn’t afford the $100 by myself. At that time, the most I ever spent on a car was about $800 but that was after I was more established. When I moved to Toronto to further pursue my music career in the eighties, I lived in my van and played the Queen Street bars… and looking back, quite enjoyed it as a matter of fact.
So that’s my excuse-old habits die hard and every dime counted. Now that I make a good income and have for some time, what’s the big thing about having to get a deal? It’s a disease, plain and simple. The last 10 years, I’ve tried hard to catch myself when I go into deal making mode and as a result I’m better than I used to be… but still subject to relapses. As long as I feel I’m being treated fairly and I like and trust the person, I’ll haggle a bit but will pay the price. I’m also very loyal to the suppliers I buy services from and value those relationships. Going through a messy and expensive divorce was a big part of my rehabilitation. Not too many deals to be had in that scenario.
So next time you find yourself walking away from a deal for $50, $500 or $50,000 ask yourself these 3 questions. And, if someone on the other side of the equation is beating you up on price, maybe ask them these same questions too:
1/Have you done your research? Is it a fair price for the product or service…even though it’s not the price you had in mind. Is it about the deal itself or what you are buying?
2/ Will you need to deal with this person again, if so, go for a good deal, not necessarily the best deal of you career!
3/ Is this about A/ ego and winning or B/paying the right price for the product or service? Do the necessary cognitive restructuring (love that term) and try and make it about B. You’ll see it is a shift you can make and feel good about.
Lee’s Quote for the day