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!
We have been blogging on a regular basis since early 2010. Based on the positive results to our web rankings and the soft touch it creates with customers and prospects, we plan to continue. Recently, we have brokered out our pen to help customers get in the groove with their own blogs.
We use an interview process to guide clients through their first blogs. It’s their story and our pen initially. Our intent is to get them over their fear of writing and provide a model they can adopt to eventually go solo. Kind of like installing training wheels on your first bike. These are the top 3 push backs we get from potential bloggers… and our response:
1/How can I find the time?
You need to block off 2-3 hours on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to write. Making it a routine is the answer.
2/What would I write about?
You write about what you know, what you’ve experienced and share that insight in a personal and candid way. You are not selling your company, simply sharing information that may help others in some way.
3/Does it really accomplish anything?
Yes! I find it somewhat therapeutic to step outside of my day to day routine and reflect on recent events through my blogs. It clears my head for new thinking. It keeps me in touch with clients and prospects. And last but not least, it increases our industry and web profile.
Lee’s Quote for the day
“Blogging is like jogging without the sweat and the iPod. They’re both good for you and become more enjoyable with time.”
I had a client meeting that took the whole morning and I stopped off at a local fish and chip place for lunch. It was a small spot and a pretty casual atmosphere. A well dressed chap, in his mid-forties, came in and I noticed he was wearing a tie clip. I can’t remember the last time I wore one or even saw somebody with one on. I passed that comment on to him and he mentioned how cufflinks were back in style now too. I asked him what business he was in and I got a quick but brief response, “sales”.
Somewhat ironic I thought, that a professional sales person would not have expanded on that answer. What if he was in the business of selling something I or someone in my family or business network might need? Was he embarrassed about what he sells for a living? The conversation ended. And so did a possible sales opportunity.
I had a similar feeling when a transportation client told me (that same morning) that their website was fine. It was all they needed. One of their employees designed it 5 or 6 years ago and he was happy enough with it. I mentioned to him about 5 or 6 ways it could be improved but he wasn’t all that interested. By not addressing these details, will he be out of business? Probably not, but will he lose possible sales opportunities? Absolutely yes!
The carrier in question made a few mistakes that are easily corrected. And from our research, he is not alone. These are a few things that we see often and most likely need to be addressed on your site if it was designed 4-5 years ago.
1/ If you have a 2 language site you don’t need a splash page anymore to select languages. It can all be done with programming. The same goes for a separate splash or flash opening of any kind. Get the visitor to your home page, as soon as possible.
2/ Don’t make your customer click extra buttons to get to the secure log-in area, or rate request forms on your site.
3/ If you’re like most companies with an older site, you probably have out of date information that needs to be updated. Don’t delay, it is easily rectified.
4/ Have relevant information about your core services front and center on the home page with quick links to access additional data. It’s your best opportunity to cross sell other services to existing customers and capture the interests of potential customers.
5/ Make it easy to contact you. That is what the majority of people coming to your site are trying to do.
6/ Don’t have any text explaining your company services as an image as it cannot get picked up by the search engines and therefore, will not move you up in the rankings when people search for your service.
7/ Understand what key words are searched for in your industry and optimize your site accordingly.
8/ If the equipment pictures on your site were taken a number of years ago and they were a few years old then, you could be promoting a 7-8 year old fleet on your site.
9/ Design trends change. Sites are not left justified anymore and they take advantage of the background area to expand the graphic treatment and overall visual effect.
10/ You may have spent a lot of time and energy achieving various certifications, green initiatives, awards…are they promoted on your site and is your last posted news item current?
Lee’s quote for the day
The correlation, between marketing your company to a potential customer and dating someone for the first time, is very similar. In both cases, you need to present the best version of yourself, do something to capture their interest, do things to maintain their interests and if you want the relationship to be long term, never take them for granted.”