Small World Marketing and the Logistics Industry

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.

small_worldThe world is small, and getting smaller.

Yesterday I had my first call with a new client – a large freight forwarder based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. They sat in their stylish 800-person office complex in Dubai and I ran the online meeting from my modest digs in Northwest Connecticut.

It’s a great example of small world marketing. Before we first engaged, I had no idea who they were, despite their large size.

But they knew us – a small, boutique marketing agency in the U.S.

Why did they know us? Because my firm has a very clearly defined market positioning. We focus exclusively on marketing for logistics businesses.

Not only did they know the firm, they knew our point of view and our basic approach to branding and lead generation in the logistics space. That’s because we started talking with this forwarder around five months ago and since then they have visited our site a number of times, downloaded articles, and read my blog posts.

We spoke a few times during that period, addressing questions about capabilities and pricing. Eventually, a comfort level developed and they were ready to move forward.

The Lesson of Small World Marketing for Logistics Businesses

I think there is a lesson here for all businesses, but especially smaller logistics businesses looking to grow.

Sometimes you have to shrink your market to expand your sales.

That’s sounds counter-intuitive, and even flat out scary to some logistics firms. I’ve spoken to many executives at logistics businesses who feel that, by choosing a narrow market niche, they would tacitly be implying that the company doesn’t serve other markets. So they’re drawn to the middle, where they have the freedom to chase every opportunity that comes along.

The problem is it’s very crowded in the middle, and very easy for smaller firms to get lost among the bigger trees.

And guess what? Your prospects don’t look for providers in the middle, among the generalists.

Typically, a sales opportunity starts with a very specific pain point a company needs to solve. They don’t want to talk to 15 or 10 or even 5 providers to identify the one that’s the best fit. They do their research long before any providers are engaged in order to determine what providers are experienced and laser focused on the exact solution they seek. Then they engage with a short list.

Whether or not you are on this short list may be more a factor of good marketing than good sales. Would companies looking for the precise value you offer find you before you find them?

Think Inbound, Not Outbound

Back to my friends in Dubai, had I marketed my firm as one that served a broad range of clients, I don’t get this contract – even if I put a spotlight on our expertise in logistics. The company specifically sought a marketing agency with a logistics specialty, and they found me, some 7,000 miles away.

As marketers, we spend too much time putting names on a prospect list for outbound marketing and too little time defining, and owning, a brand positioning that can put you on the prospect’s list of potential providers.

For smaller businesses, generic doesn’t sell, except in pharmaceuticals.

The noise level is so high in the logistics services space that prospects are filtering out all but the most essential information. As a logistics business, you need a smart positioning and branding strategy focused not on finding prospects, but on getting found by companies whose needs best align with your value proposition

Think about your company’s specialty. Would a manufacturer or retailer seeking precisely that kind of solution FIND YOU?

It’s a small world. Trust me, they’re looking.

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