In a 2021 study, 74% of 3PL providers said finding or retaining clients is one of the biggest challenges they face. One of the most frequent questions our logistics clients ask us is how they can reach more customers and expand their Third-Party Logistics (3PL) businesses. This is where 3PL marketing strategies come into play.
Logistics is a high-growth industry, and new players are entering the field every day. So how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors and help your ideal customers find you? By using these tested, strategic marketing tactics to:
- Break through the clutter
- Create awareness of your brand
- Attract new clients, and
- Grow your business
Below, you’ll find some of the most effective marketing strategies you can begin implementing right now to stay ahead of your competition.
Let’s dive in.
What are some general 3PL marketing strategies that businesses should follow?
Effective digital marketing strategies can increase brand awareness, create customer preference, and grow your bottom line for your logistics business.
1. Define your positioning in the market
Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur famously said, “If you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.”
This sentiment is as true for coaching a champion football team as it is for marketing your business. With so many competitors in the marketplace, your business needs to position itself to communicate your key strengths and/or your preferred client base across all of your marketing in order to stand out.
If you try to emphasize everything your logistics company does, you’ll end up lost in a sea of undifferentiated services, easily substitutable in the eyes of clients. What does this mean?
Parity products (those that are basically all the same and functionally equivalent to the offerings of a competitor) are forced to compete on price, pushing your profits (and your competition’s) downward as you all try to scramble for the same customers who have no idea why your business is different from any other.
Your best strategy is to find the areas where you are most successful or where you have a proven track record with a specific customer base. For example, here at Linnworks, we have an extremely strong record of success with providing WMS software for 3PL companies, helping them to lower their costs, increase productivity, and improve customer service for their clients.
Your logistics business may excel in a benefit that is highly desirable to your customers, such as multiple warehouse locations, high picking accuracy, or excellent customer service ratings. Or, you may have established yourself as the go-to logistics company for high-volume niches, such as beauty and health. By doubling down on that market and claiming the “high-volume” positioning in the marketplace, you can dominate that extremely profitable segment and make your logistics business stand out from the crowd.
Retailers and manufacturers are increasingly focusing on their core business and subcontracting logistics, where they have less expertise. This is why 3PL earnings are projected to reach $1,789.94 billion by 2027, growing by 7.1% beginning in 2019. This growth has attracted many competitors to the market.
In order to define your position and key differentiators in the market, you’ll want to consider the following factors:
- How Do You Compare to Your Competitors?
- What are Your Key Areas Where You Succeed?
- What do Your Best Current Customers Look Like?
- Why did Your Current Clients Choose Your Company Over Others?
- How can Your Current Customers be a Blueprint for Your Future Prospects?
- What Trends are Impacting Your Business?
- What are the Customer Pain Points you can Solve With Your Business?
- Do Your Customers (or Better, Your Competitor’s Customers) Have a Need That Isn’t Being Fulfilled?
2. Invest in being exceptional
If you want to grow your logistics company’s bottom line and provide best-in-class customer service, you will need to outperform your competition.
To do that, you’ll need to communicate the message company-wide and provide your team with the physical resources, warehouse management software, and staff to make that happen.
As your company generates exceptional results for your customers, word-of-mouth advertising will become your most powerful tool: your customers will ultimately become your best salespeople.
Use inbound marketing instead of a scattershot approach
How does your logistics expertise solve real problems for your customers? This is the beauty of inbound marketing.
Your prospects are trying to solve their supply chain challenges, and they are looking for answers. Your 3PL company’s most effective way to engage with them is to give them the solutions to their problems, exactly when they need them.
Cold-calling (or cold-emailing) customers who may or may not be interested in your services is a scattershot approach, hoping to hit them at exactly the moment they’re searching for a service provider.
Instead, create content for potential customers about how to solve their pain points and biggest problems. This content can come in the form of videos, webinars, articles, eBooks, blog posts, etc. Then, share that content where your prospects are most likely to see it.
These content magnets will bring prospects right to your doorstep at the precise time they need your company’s expertise and are ready to buy.
Andrew Davis, best-selling author of Digital Marketing Growth Hacks said, “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
This is why content marketing is such an important inbound digital marketing strategy.
What are some other inbound strategies that can benefit 3PL businesses?
Some of the inbound marketing tactics that can have a significant impact on your 3PL business include blogging, influencer campaigns, and video marketing.
Blogging is a foundational element of a 3PL inbound marketing plan. Helpful, relevant blog articles should address your target customer’s pain points. These posts can play a major role, not only in attracting leads to your company website but also in helping to boost organic traffic as well. Marketing best practices recommend you post at least one article per week, and you will most likely see significant growth once you hit between 55-70 articles.
2. Influencer campaigns
The use of niche influencer campaigns is an effective inbound marketing strategy, as influencers generally have a significant following of fans that trust their opinion and recommendations of your 3PL company.
When working together with a niche B2B influencer, make sure your guest post touches on the pain points of your target audience. This will significantly increase the likelihood your prospects will engage with your call to action.
3. Video marketing
According to recent predictions, it’s estimated that video traffic will make up roughly 82% of consumer internet traffic by 2022. There’s never been a better time than right now to use video as a key component of your inbound marketing strategy.
Your 3PL company can produce a wide array of effective video content to increase brand recognition and spark the interest of your prospects, including:
- Warehouse Demos
- Customer Testimonials
- Capability Demos
- Case Studies, and
- Video Blogs
The key to effective video content is in educating your audience on the value of your products or services.
What are some outbound strategies that can benefit 3PL businesses?
Effective outbound strategies, including targeting, developing a brand voice, and email marketing, can help your logistics company generate more quality leads, close more deals, and earn more revenue.
Software applications have made it possible to review large databases efficiently and segment leads by multiple criteria. This allows you to avoid those leads that are not good prospects. This improves outcomes and slashes the amount of time and effort necessary for sales calls.
2. Cultivating a unique brand voice
Once you’ve established your position in the logistics marketplace, both your clients and prospective clients should be able to recognize your brand voice across all of your various marketing channels. Work on developing a brand voice that is both unique to your company and easily distinguishable from your competitors.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing is a cost-effective and powerful outbound marketing tool. Personalized email is an efficient way to stay top-of-mind with your leads and existing customers during lead generation, lead nurturing, sales, and customer retention.
Creating triggered, customized emails when a customer downloads a specific content marketing asset (such as an eBook or white paper) helps to convert prospects into customers by reaching out to your prospects at the exact time they are looking for solutions and are most likely to buy.
What are some paid tactics that can benefit 3PL businesses?
Paid digital marketing tactics that can help your 3PL business grow to include:
1. Paid search
Paid search can ensure your company is the top search result at the exact moment your prospects are looking for solutions to their logistics problems.
Both digital and video ads can make the information-seeking process for your customers faster and more efficient. Industry-specific and professional platforms such as LinkedIn can provide the target-rich audience of decision-makers you seek to make your ad campaign successful.
3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
When your prospects are searching online for a solution to their pain points, Search Engine Optimization helps to maximize the likelihood of prospects finding and clicking on your company’s website. This efficient tactic can bring a higher volume of targeted traffic to your site.
What are some social media tactics that can benefit 3PL businesses?
Did you know that 84% of C-Suite executives and 75% of B2B buyers use social media when making a purchase? In fact, it significantly impacts executive-level purchase decisions.
Your prospective customers expect your logistics company to have a presence on popular social media channels. Why? Social media content helps to give your brand a personality that your customers can connect with, and it allows decision-makers to seek the advice of colleagues while making a decision.
Decision-makers strongly prefer advice from online colleagues and friends. Why? Research shows that buyers feel more confident and comfortable when their decisions are informed by peers. In marketing terms, the buyer is experiencing social proof that they’re making a good decision,
Online professional networks are the number one preference of B2B buyers in the final stages of the buying process, and the key platform for professional networking is LinkedIn. Try sharing your content marketing within your professional network, ads, and working with influencers.
TikTok has more than 100 million users looking for fun and entertainment. But it’s not all Bones / No Bones (a channel about a 13-year-old pug named Noodle who predicts how your day will go) on this fast-growing platform.
B2B companies including Shopify and Adobe are creating content that engages their target audiences in a fun and effective way. TikTok is all about experimentation, and if you can identify what works for your 3PL brand you could see your business grow in ways you didn’t think were possible, like this “Ride the Conveyor Belt” video with almost 15K views.
Real-time content is a winner on Instagram, including video content (called reels), and live streaming, adding a much-needed human element to your 3PL business. Effectively using Instagram as part of your digital marketing strategy can help you to form genuine connections with your prospects and existing customers alike.
In addition to your videos and pictures, captions provide opportunities to give additional context and narrative to the images you post. Business-oriented hashtags such as #SmallBusinessTips and #SmallBusinessOwners as well as industry-specific tags help your audience find you.
Utilizing these marketing tactics effectively can help your 3PL business to attract new clients and grow your business.
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