Logistics PR Strategies: Getting your Customers to Talk

Jim Bierfeldt

Jim Bierfeldt is the founder and chief strategist at Logistics Marketing Advisors, a marketing firm that helps logistics businesses define and communicate their value, and then translate that value into revenue.

Buyers of logistics services are busy people who, frankly, can’t devote a lot of time to promotional come-ons from logistics businesses.

But get a respected customer to talk about how they worked with you to solve a problem – perhaps in a magazine article or at a conference – and all of a sudden you’ve got the prospect’s attention.

Case-Study-iStock_000046486032SmallWhy? Because it’s not just some supplier thumping its chest.

It’s a colleague telling a real-life story.

But many logistics businesses are uncomfortable asking customers for testimonials or to participate in case studies as part of their logistics PR strategy. Typical excuses:

  • “They’re too busy, I don’t want to bother them.”
  • “Their lawyers won’t allow it.”
  • “We missed a shipment last week. Now’s not a good time.”

Will there ever be a good time?

Getting customers to agree to participate in case studies takes some work and the right approach, but it’s worth it.  Here are some tips to getting to “yes.”

Identify the right candidates. With whom have you done your most interesting work? It’s good to document your work with all customers, but only the more compelling examples have potential to interest a trade magazine editor or conference organizer.

Present it as a win-win.  Don’t approach the customer like you’re asking for a favor. First, understand what’s in it for the customer and present it as a mutually beneficial opportunity. Align with the supply chain leader’s goals. There is clearly value for him in highlighting that the company runs a very tight, efficient supply chain. Align with the customer’s corporate goals. For instance, if you know that environmental stewardship is a priority for the company, explain how the case study could call attention to a freight strategy that led to major CO2 reductions.

Put it in writing. These requests often need to get sent up the chain or to the legal or PR department. Write an email to your contact that clearly explains the win-win nature of the opportunity. He can then include this in his internal correspondence.

Enlist senior managers to make the request. Attach a degree of importance to the request. Make it harder to say no.

Couple the case study with a nomination of your customer for an industry award. This puts the case study in the context of the customer’s success, not yours.

Share some dirty laundry. Few major logistics initiatives get implemented without challenges or operational hiccups. Share those gaffes and how they were overcome and your story becomes more credible and authentic.

Don’t focus solely on the large marquee customers. Sure, associating yourself with these respected companies does have a halo effect. But these large organizations have equally large PR and legal teams who can stall the process. Smaller companies that are anxious to promote their emerging brands may be better candidates.

As logistics PR strategies go, case studies are effective because they can be leveraged in many different ways by your logistics business – to attract publicity and speaking engagements, in email marketing, as social media posts, on websites, and more.  Presented in the right way, customers can gain real advantages, as well.

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