Freight, logistics and other supply chain organizations are no stranger to massive volatility, uncertainty and complexity. The past two years alone have wrought trade wars, the onset of Brexit, the increasing Amazon Effect and resulting “Retail Apocalypse,” and rapidly evolving regulations and standards, including IMO 2020.
Enter 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, sending massive shockwaves through global supply chains. Air freight demand soared as container shipping sank. Shippers felt the squeeze of trying to maintain the right inventory levels and distribution requirements, while meeting the needs of homebound and curbside shoppers.
As highlighted in a recent Boston Consulting Group/Flexport white paper, it’s become clearer than ever that supply chains, despite their ever-growing needs for efficiency, need to become more agile and resilient.
Supply Chain Marketers Need to Be More Resilient, Too
Marketing can too often be an exercise in “dive and catch,” pivoting and pouncing to meet shifting business requirements or evolving executive expectations. Even the best aligned, most rigorous modern marketers aren’t immune.
Add in the speed of change and remarkable complexity of freight, logistics and supply chain organizations and the challenges amplify tenfold. The need to do more with less and the instinct to shrink back in the face of uncertainty is natural. But the truth is that companies that choose to stay on the front foot and build resilience into their marketing strategies will be the ones who emerge faster and further ahead of their competitors.
At Retina, we’ve seen this firsthand with brands across categories, from IT infrastructure and AI-driven analytics software to financial and professional services to, yes, supply chain products, solutions and services. Drawing on recent experience with several freight, logistics and supply chain marketers – including Flexport, Oracle Supply Chain, WorkStep and the US Department of State – here are a few best practices we can share.
5 Ways to Future-Proof Your Marketing
1. Double Down On Your Purpose
As our Managing Partner Lynn Kozak stated in a recent blog post, companies who had established a clearly defined brand prior to the COVID-19 pandemic had a strong platform from which to speak when the crisis hit. They didn’t need to find their voice amongst the backdrop of continuous political and corporate messages. Instead, they focused on serving and supporting their customers from an already-established footing, and on supporting their employees.
Ensuring that your brand positioning and messaging are clearly defined will make your organization more resilient and ultimately more agile to mitigated change. At the same time, despite the deafening siren’s call for all things demand, brand couldn’t be any more important than in often commoditized and overcrowded supply chain markets. For example, there are more than 6,000 freight forwarders on the Transpacific East Bound trade lane alone. Brand is the difference.
2. Own an Issue, Publish Often
People don’t often wake up in the morning thinking, “I need a new freight forwarder!” or “Get me a new solution for hiring and retaining my hourly workers!” They do wake up thinking how they can be better at their jobs. How the current state of the economy is affecting their business. How uncertainty and volatility might throw a wrench in their plans. Start there! Because then, when a customer is looking for whatever you’re selling, you’ve given them something of value that they will remember you by.
For example, amid the US-China trade war, we partnered with Flexport to create TariffInsider.com – a ‘one-stop-shopping’ news and content microsite for customers and prospects. The Tariff Insider site generated scores of content downloads and service consultation requests – ultimately delivering dozens of sales opportunities for freight, customs and trade finance services. In fact, 25% of site visitors navigated to Flexport.com, where they converted at a rate 2.4X higher than regular traffic.
ALSO – don’t assume that great content and thought leadership only serve the “top of the funnel.” The content experiences you create can start new sales conversations, aid cross-sell and upsell, and increase share of wallet, not to mention loyalty.
3. Diversify Your Content and Contributors
Different people prefer different formats. Written. Video. Audio. What’s more, they appreciate different points of view. Where can your content come from – and how do you distribute it? Build a strong content team with an agency partner who can seamlessly collaborate with your marketing team and subject matter experts.
And, don’t shy away from your frontline employees who interact with customers every day – and are the gate keepers of enabling customer stories. Or the customers themselves! Maximize every bit of brainpower to scale your brand and content, without massively expanding your costs. Everyone in this ecosystem contributes to and amplifies the power of your content experiences.
4. Make Yourself Useful
Think of ways you can offer brand and content experiences that make you integral to how your customers do business – even without your product or service. Newsletters, blogs, and LinkedIn groups or communities are all ways to bring real-time information and guidance to customers and prospects.
Another way to be useful: educate. Consider creating a help center, set of FAQs or glossary for complex subject matter and issues. The great thing about this: not only do clients value the content, so does Google. Google’s algorithm values educational content and is a tremendous SEO driver.
5. Democratize Your Brand and Content
Lastly, don’t keep your content to yourself. Marketing shouldn’t be your only content marketers, everyone can sell! Share out content to sales with “News You Can Use.” Package campaigns for sales, but also send weekly bulletins with new and useful content, along with prepacked copy for sales outreach emails.
Even better, try implementing a social media sharing solution, such as Dynamic Signal, to enable everyone to broadly distribute your content. This helps you drive demand and help them build their own personal brands as thought leaders.
Learn more with this on-demand webinar
Retina has helped digital freight innovator Flexport launch its global rebrand amid the US-China trade war – helping to elevate the digital innovator toward greater shipping volumes and proving the impact of content and marketing. Learn how in this free on-demand webinar hosted by CEO Ted Kohnen and Chief Creative Officer Michael Ruby. Or contact us if you’d like to discuss your marketing needs.
Chief Creative Officer
As Chief Creative Officer, Michael Ruby spearheads brand strategy, creative and content for Retina’s global client roster. Over his nearly 20-year career, he’s positioned and activated brands for organizations such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Boeing, ADP, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Merck, Korn Ferry, Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and Citrix Online, as well as growth-stage companies that have since been acquired by the likes of IBM, HP Enterprise, and UnitedHealth Group. Named among the 2018 DMN 40under40, Michael has received top honors in global advertising and B2B marketing, including Best of Show at the ANA Business Marketing B2 Awards, Best Integrated Campaign at the Global ACE Awards several times, Webby Awards, Design Week Awards, CMI Content Marketing Awards, FCS Portfolio Awards, multiple awards from The Drum, and perhaps his favorite, “Best use of the word ‘boo-yah’ in a b-to-b ad ever,” according to Ad Age.