These fast-paced innovations, combined with a variety of environmental factors, create a new landscape for marketers in the transportation and logistics space.
After spending many years as a logistics tech marketer, I’m excited to share some of the biggest factors affecting the state of marketing, especially as it relates to trucking, fleets, and logistics tech.
A branding renaissance
A large part of the trucking and logistics community is adopting the latest technologies as a core part of their business and newly positioning themselves as tech companies. Even freight carriers, who were traditionally managed by phone calls and faxes, are now plugged into the latest technology, and they are leading with this new brand position.
This new opportunity to reposition a brand is, in some cases, a natural next step—in other cases, it’s a complete 180 that comes with some risk, but incredible opportunity. Marketers should be acutely aware of these brand transitions, and feel empowered to speak up when it becomes time for a brand refresh.
Driver shortages affect nearly every element of the trucking industry as a whole—everything from new truck build, to part sales, to freight capacity.
Capacity shortages mean that you not only have to market yourself to potential customers, but also to drivers and employees. Recruitment marketing is becoming more important than ever before, and marketers are typically tasked with supporting this effort, in addition to generating a slew of leads. Remember: just like potential customers are more interested in the problems you help them solve vs. the specific product you offer, potential employees want to know that there is a positive employee culture. Be sure to focus your marketing on “what’s in it for them.”
“Frenimies” is the new norm
Employing channel partners to sell your product is an effective strategy to exponentially expand your reach and gain market share at a quicker pace than you could have done organically.
Interesting though, channel partners can sometimes be with organizations who previously or currently compete with you.
Marketers should be aware of all of the dynamics when employing a partner enablement strategy, like if there is any proprietary product details that shouldn’t be disclosed in the partner training.
Ecommerce expanding in unique ways
Ecommerce is taking on new and unique approaches—I am now the proud subscriber of seven (7!!) monthly subscription boxes, including clothes rentals, makeup, toddler crafts and succulents!
The shift and increase in ecommerce also means an increased importance in last mile delivery. Last-mile delivery is important because the current practices surrounding this part of the freight cycle are outdated, costing carriers big money. The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals estimates that 28% of all transportation costs occur in the last mile.
Marketers should watch closely how ecommerce and last-mile delivery evolves, and how these ecommerce companies are differentiating themselves from the rapidly increasing competition.
Visibility continues to improve on every front for trucking and logistics. Shippers now have better tracking from pickup to delivery, and carriers can watch their vehicles via GPS tracking.
This expanded visibility extends to marketers’ ability to see prospect activity in a whole new light. The visibility is interesting on an individual level, but drastically impactful on a higher level. By watching trends, marketers can adjust campaigns and tactics accordingly, to make marketing efforts more effective than ever before.
2017 was the beginning of the blockchain flurry in the trucking and logistics space. Now recognized as a proven technology that will help create a secure network, organizations like BiTa are leading the charge to develop a common framework and standards, as well as promoting an ongoing and industry-wide dialogue.
The industry as a whole still has a lot of learning to do, especially to figure out the varying roles that need filled. Like last-mile delivery, marketers should keep a close eye on blockchain, to see how it is being positioned by the topic thought leaders.
The latest and greatest of marketing tools and tech are readily available in the trucking and logistics space.
Marketing automation tools like HubSpot run inbound marketing campaigns, sophisticated chat bots engage web visitors like never before and artificial intelligence is providing meaningful competitive intelligence reports. Marketing technology is a natural and important extension of your marketing team.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new addition to marketers minds in 2018. The EU regulation impacts more than the freight industry, but these massive changes warrant attention. The purpose is to better the protection of personal data, but because sending emails and cold prospecting isn’t possible without data, it affects businesses who use mass email as a core marketing tactic.
Companies who use cold emailing for prospecting should invest time into a more precise targeting of campaigns, and make sure to never share your database with another organization, or keep the data longer than you need it.
If you’d like to read more about the GDPR and its impact, check out this GDPR guide from HubSpot.
A one man/woman show
A lot is expected out of today’s marketing professionals, and I know that first-hand.
Today’s marketers are de facto copywriters, PR/communications experts, web developers, trade show gurus, ad experts and graphic designers. The problem is, as marketers, that doesn’t mean we are inherently designers or developers or writers.
If you have a small team or are required to perform tasks outside of your primary skill set, consider working with an agency. You'll be free to do the work you enjoy, while outsourcing tasks outside of your expertise.
A personal note from the author:
When I got my first co-op job at a Tier 1 OEM supplier, I walked in wearing the best of my new work wardrobe, excited at the opportunity to gain some experience at a reputable company.
All the while, I was telling myself, “I’ll do this for a bit, then I’ll find a cool marketing job.” I dreamt of working in a fast-paced industry, promoting innovative products with cutting-edge marketing tools and techniques.
Over the years, I supported both the OEM and aftermarket sides of the business, and worked directly with product marketing, fleets, aftermarket distributors and more. After working with multiple internal departments, I found my love for content and inbound marketing, then spent four years in the central marketing group.
I then got the opportunity to take that groundwork knowledge of trucking and transportation in a slightly different direction—as the Marketing Manager at a leading SaaS provider of API connectivity for the logistics space, I dove into the software side of of things.
Nearly 10 years later, I’ve realized that trucking and logistics really is cool.
I’ve experienced first-hand some of the most innovative, sophisticated, and forward-looking products and software solutions. I’ve see the impact that these products have on the trucking and freight industry, as well as every industry they touch (which is just about every industry imaginable). And I’ve used the most cutting-edge marketing tools all along to promote these products that I first thought weren’t cool.
Growing up, I didn’t dream of working in trucking and logistics. But it’s been as great ride (pun intended), and I’m thrilled to continue working with transportation and logistics tech companies.
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