It’s one thing to manage a successful business, but it’s another to successfully market it. For companies in the transportation and logistics marketplace, attracting new customers is becoming a near-impossible task due to the saturated business landscape. Because most companies operating in the logistics space are B2B, their unique buyer’s journey and sales funnel only complicate matters more, involving an initial pitch to secondary influencers before closing a deal with the real decision makers.
Many B2B companies struggle with this added layer of sales complexity and are turning to advanced marketing methods that target specific stakeholders of various titles and levels of influence. While it’s not new by any means, account-based marketing (ABM), also known as key account marketing, is quickly becoming a reliable method in the industry for obtaining big ticket accounts. This technique takes a highly targeted approach to the sales cycle while relating directly to business goals.
Account-based marketing has recently been readopted as a transportation marketing method that casts a small net around only the most important stakeholders and influencers from a select group of prospects. This client list contains buyers who would serve a larger purpose for a business, such as fulfilling a strategic client spot, upselling a loyal client or adding to a roster of new, trusted partners.
ABM serves many purposes and its tactics can be executed at any point throughout the customer relationship. Smart B2B companies have placed this marketing method back in the spotlight because it engages only select businesses that fit an ideal customer profile and business goal; it uses personalization to speak directly to key influencers and decision makers; it unites sales and marketing teams under one mission and reduces competition; and it results in valuable long-term customer relationships and expedited business growth.
Overwhelmingly, 92 percent of B2B companies consider ABM a highly valuable marketing method according to a study by SiriusDecisions, a research and advisory company. Some businesses even deem the method a must-have when it comes to pulling together a successful B2B marketing plan.
How can transportation and logistics companies use ABM?
Account-based marketing is a form of integrated marketing because it utilizes multiple channels from a full-range marketing plan. To get the most out of this useful strategy, companies should start by gathering their marketing and sales personnel to discuss the buyer’s journey, sales funnel and client touchpoints. Then sales must develop a ranked list of prospective clients to target. Once priorities and goals are ironed out, the two teams can decide which tactics will best resonate with the key influencers.
Logistics managers and transportation marketing professionals can execute these top account-based marketing tactics to connect with valued influencers:
Content Marketing: Create quality resources that your marketing team can push and your sales team can leverage separately. These content offers should be detailed, well-written eBooks, whitepapers, checklists and other useful assets that directly relate to the pain points of influencers and decision makers. If time and budget allow, personalize these offers and make sure your sales team follows up on every send.
LinkedIn Outreach: If the decision makers you are targeting are available on LinkedIn, make use of InMail by reaching out to them about their challenges and options. While it may not be the best place to discuss your company’s logistics solutions and services, it’s still a good tool for your sales team during the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey. Here you can share relevant articles from your team, ungated content and timely news along with personalized thoughts from the salesperson. You’ll put a visible face to a message that typical email outreach cannot.
Here’s a few examples of how account-based marketing can trump traditional marketing methods:
Situation #1: A prospective client expressed dissatisfaction with their current third-party logistics provider, yet ignores your sales team’s automated email outreach campaign. ABM Solution: Move away from scripted emails to find smart ways to personalize messages that guarantee more opens and reads. Investigate what the company values most in a logistics provider and share viable options that emphasize those values. For example, do their products require extra care in transport? Do they lack internal organization? Make these needs the focal point of your messages – not your specific product or service.
Situation #2: A warm lead has taken a strong interest in your website’s content or recent company article and your marketing team is ready to hand the prospect off to sales. ABM Solution: Have your sales team personally invite them to a webinar hosted by sales personnel that provides an overview of your transportation software, walkthrough of a recent case study or presentation of new thought leadership. Develop questions to ask viewers to add an interactive dimension to the session and follow up with a personalized recap email.
Should you invest in ABM this year?
More than 70 percent of marketers chose to invest in account-based marketing in 2016 and this number is expected to rise in the years ahead due to the overwhelming success it brings to B2B companies. Transportation marketers who see little ROI with one-off marketing tactics should adopt an integrated approach and ABM is a great way to get started. Consider this highly targeted method when planning your 2018 marketing budget so you can pull leads through the entire sales funnel and create lasting partnerships.
Mark Schmukler is CEO and co-founder of Sagefrog Marketing Group, LLC. He brings more than 35 years of global marketing and consulting experience to the agency, leveraging his B2B background to lead brand strategy and business development.