Read the top pet peeves and tips from the shippers’ panel discussion at TMSA’s conference
The Transportation Marketing & Sales Association (TMSA) recently held their annual conference covering a variety of key topics for logistics professionals. One of the leading sessions was a panel of transportation and supply chain decision-makers discussing Shipper Perspectives: “Aligning Your Value with the Needs of Your Customer.” This session was packed full of helpful insights for those of us trying to position our services to this audience and their peers.
SHIPPERS SESSION HIGHLIGHTS:
Top Pet Peeves
- Not doing your research ahead of time.
Make sure you know the specifics of our network and be clear on how you would be able to better our supply chain. This way you will be able to speak to topics such as speed of deployment or sustainable solutions if these are a priority for the shipper.
- Old school sales pitches.
Before you dive into your 20-minute sales pitch, share key data about your company. What are your capacity limitations, safety standards, and analytics? A real-world case study is the best way to show how you have grown with your current customers. Show us what the problems were, how you solved their challenges, and include enough detail for it to be meaningful. Many shippers will not even look at your information if a detailed case study isn’t included.
- Emails without substance.
If you are going to send an email, make sure it includes the information listed above about what should be included in a sales pitch. A current customer list of references is also appreciated so we can verify your services and ask about your culture
- Being notified of a problem last minute.
If there is an issue, notify us right away so we have time to consider our options. Do not wait until the last minute because you thought you would be able to fix it before we know about the problem. Honest communication is key to being a good transportation partner.
- Be transparent. Think long term.
If you want us to be transparent with information, we expect the same from you. Reliability is important but so is collaboration and creative problem solving. Give us data visibility and specifics on how you can meet our unique needs. We are looking for someone with a long-term strategy and need to verify our partners are profitable and stable.
- Be easy to work with.
Being easy to work with means being available and reliable. If you can take care of our curveballs, are honest, and proactively working for us, you are on your way to becoming a preferred partner.
- Be an information partner.
A high-level overview of trends, manufacturing news, logistics technologies, etc. can be a helpful way to position yourself. Include an update on how the shipper can prepare for any changes coming and how it could impact their upcoming budget.
Hopefully our recap gave you some ideas on how to improve your communications to potential and current customers. Reimagining your communication strategy and how you position yourself could give your sales and marketing teams a higher success rate with their outreach. So, pack up those old tactics and let us know how your new approach performs.
TranStrategy Partners is the premier partner for freight brokerage firms looking to maximize their business and accelerate their performance.
Erika DeBlasi is TranStrategy’s Marketing Coach and has worked as a marketing executive in freight brokerage and financial services industries. She drives the marketing, branding, advertising and communication activities for a variety of companies in addition to providing a broad spectrum of marketing and communication training. We are the marketing partner for logistics companies who need a dependable and consistent way to increase market share and enhance customer experience.
>> Learn more about our Logistics Marketing Service
At TranStrategy Partners we’ve successfully worked with hundreds of business owners to help them focus their energy, and the energy of their staff, to plan for and grow their business.
Later we often hear clients say, “I wish I’d have done this sooner.”
Why didn’t they?
Most often, they were too busy. Yes, too busy running their business to build it.
Entrepreneurs have their hands full. In the freight brokerage business there is no end to the things a leader could be doing. You have to hire and fire. Deal with problem shipments and carriers. Manage billing, accounts receivable and carrier settlements.
Most leaders barely have time to service existing customers, much less sell new ones.
In the hustle and bustle of a typical day, taking time to consider what you want the business to become takes a back seat. When the action breaks, you want a break too.
We understand. We’re entrepreneurs too.
So how do you find time to plan and grow your business?
First, force yourself to set aside some time-maybe an hour or so. Put it on your calendar, and keep the appointment. Close the door. Turn off your phone. Eliminate all distractions, including thoughts about what else needs to get done or how you should have dealt with the most recent crisis.
Then answer just one question:
When my time here is done, what do I want my business to look like?
With this one step, you’ll learn two things:
1. How to make the time needed to work on your business
2. The desired state of your business-what you want it to be
There’s a lot more to do of course. Seeking some outside assistance comes in handy. Find someone who can take an impartial look at your company, assess its current state, and collaborate with you (and keep you accountable) in planning and implementing a strategy to move you toward that desired state.
Marketing on a (Time) Budget
Maximize Marketing Productivity without Disrupting Your Business
You’re busy. You get 800 emails and calls a day, have a constant tidal wave of paperwork flowing in and out… I get it. You don’t have time to spare to make sure you are driving traffic to your website or to check your emails’ open rates, or for that matter, even have emails going out to your customers.
The primary deterrent from marketing is a lack of time. My customers consistently share they would like to put more effort into their website, customer emails and content but lack the time. I know what it’s like as a business owner to wear many hats and to place marketing last on the list of priorities. Many people think of marketing as a disruption to your business, but it doesn’t have to be. There is a way to market your business on a time budget. You can market your company without disrupting your business by following some simple suggestions to improve your reach and keep in better contact with your customers.
SET GOALS, AVOID THESE MISTAKES
First you want to lay a foundation to help you create a plan that will help save you time.
Step 1. Prioritize your goals
You HAVE to identify what your business goal is in order to avoid frivolous dollars and time in areas that don’t align with your end goal. For example, I work with some businesses who their goal is to grow their company by a dollar amount or by an increase in customer numbers. They would focus on different platforms and venues in order to reach more prospects than another company who is primarily concerned with customer retention and re-engagement. This step will help you focus on where you should spend your time and money and keep you from going down a road that will waste your time.
Step 2. What’s it worth to you?
Determine the value of each new customer and retaining customers. This helps you quantify how much you would be willing to spend in time or money to achieve your goal. If a new customer is worth $5,000 in revenue annually, spending $10 per new lead doesn’t seem out of proportion. It is helpful to compare your market budget in relation to your business goals so that you also have an idea of how to measure your results.
Step 3. Take a look back.
Which marketing tactics have been working? Sometimes you just need to take time to evaluate where your business is coming from currently or how you have found retention to work best in your current business. You will be able to identify the most successful pipelines for your business. This doesn’t mean you are going to abandon the other venues because you still need to nurture leads through social media advertising or email campaigns. It gives you insight on what is working and where you could maximize the results by putting more time and effort into those areas. This can save you time by doubling up your efforts in areas that have proven successful in the past.
Step 4. Identify resources.
This could be tools, a person, or a company to help you maximize your marketing efforts to reach your business goals quicker and more efficiently. Is there an employee who would be great at coming up with social media content? Or, maybe there is a better email marketing tool you could use to make it easier to generate campaigns and will give you better insight into how your emails are doing. You may decide an outside marketing service is necessary. I work primarily with companies who need part-time marketing support and don’t have the bandwidth in-house to tackle all their marketing needs. Or they have someone in-house but they are new to marketing and need some coaching and guidance to get them going.
Step 5. A plan of action and accountability.
You will need to have a game plan but then the discipline to follow through. It can be extremely helpful to have others help you stay accountable. This could be a monthly meeting with a co-worker to discuss marketing projects and progress or an outside marketing coach or professional you hire to assist you. Establish deadlines for each project to create some urgency.
Some people like worksheets so I have put together one you can use. This can be a good starting point to at least help you organize and prioritize where you want to start.
“The more you eliminate the inefficient use of information, the better it is for productivity.” – Mitch Kapor
NOW, HOW DO I FIND THE TIME?
You have a clear goal and plan. How are you going to execute it? What does that look like on a daily/weekly basis?
Now, the biggest barrier is overcoming our misconception that there isn’t any time to execute the plan you just put together.
BREAK UP YOUR GOAL into smaller tasks
Identify your top goal(s) and then decide how you can break that into projects or tasks that can scheduled out. For example, if you are looking to re-engage with customers who haven’t given you much business lately, this could be broken up into calling 5 customers a week or into sending them a monthly email. These individual tasks are more manageable and can be assigned out to others to help you achieve these steps.
CONNECT EACH DAY with your goal & tasks
We all need a system of connecting with our goals or else they won’t stay a priority. So, each week, and each day if possible, we can reconnect to our goals. By writing my goals daily on my agenda, it forces me to ask myself, “How are my priorities and actions today going to move me closer to my goals?” This literally only takes a minute or two each day and ensures I’m staying on track. Make a quick note in your agenda about what your overreaching goal is and it will give you the extra fire to tackle your day’s tasks.
(TIP – I don’t recommend putting them on the wall unless you are going to re-write it or update it each week. How many of us have a picture of artwork up in our office? And when is the last time you can remember looking at it? I certainly can’t remember the last time I looked at mine. That’s because once it is there for a while, your brain will ignore it. This is why putting your goals on the wall isn’t as effective in my opinion.)
TIME MANAGEMENT to prioritize your agenda
Time management is what you do when you prioritize your agenda for the day. The way you schedule your day is key to maximizing your productivity. If you aren’t scheduling your day, you are probably being pushed along by urgent matters that pop up rather than intentionally working on certain goals. My productivity increased dramatically by doing a daily agenda. The key is to just START and then continue doing a schedule each day until it becomes habit. Be realistic about how you structure your time and your day. The time of day that you schedule tasks can also make or break your plan. The wee hours of the morning are my prime time for doing creative work where you may find a later time more suited to you.
ATTENTION MANAGEMENT to minimize distractions
This is an essential skill for maximizing the few minutes you have allocated to marketing your company. Minimize distractions. According to University of Irvine study, it takes people and average of 23 minutes to get back on task after getting distracted. So, what we think will be a quick reply to an email can snowball into more and before we know it, we have spent all our allocated time. Obviously, things pop up that are unavoidable in your business. However, we can also let ourselves be distracted by tasks that are not urgent.
EAT THE FROG FIRST, preferably in the morning
What is the main marketing task you have been avoiding and know you need to do? Starting an article can be the hardest part for me. Once I get going, the creative juices start flowing and I have a great time. Scheduling this task early in the day and just starting by writing down a rough title and bullets gets me over the initial hump and the frog is eaten! Tackling a task you’ve been avoiding helps your overall mood and productivity and sets the tone for the day.
PUT YOUR PLAN into action!
Do it today!
– Establish a marketing meeting with your team
– Or, ask me how
to maximize your marketing productivity!
Erika DeBlasi is the TranStrategy Partners’ Marketing Coach and has worked as a marketing executive in freight brokerage and financial services industries. She drives the marketing, branding, advertising and communication activities for a variety of companies in addition to providing a broad spectrum of marketing and communication training.
>> Schedule Your Complimentary Marketing Review with her