No Worries, this is it. Last One, back to the regularly scheduled bitch-fest as soon as I have something to bitch about.
Marketing Freight Forwarding, Supply Chain Logistics For the Global Village
Commercials. Television. Radio. Magazines. Journals. Web Ads. Pop-up ads. Billboards. Flyers. Neon. L.E.D.
There is no escaping advertising. It is ubiquitous in this plugged in and turned on world of ours. While it may seem to simply be an annoying aspect of modern living, it is, in fact, a very complex world of creativity, design, psychology, sociology, marketing tactics and strategies combined to disseminate important information between supplier and end user. It involves very specialized areas of study applied in real life to exact a positive result for a product or service.
A successful marketing strategy can skyrocket a company to fame, for example, the Coca Cola Company commercial from the 1970’s featuring young people, reflected the youth culture and by extension, the largest consumer market of the time, with the song “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke”, after a few false starts using simply an audio message, the marketing firm of McCann-Erickson convinced the Coca-Cola company that a visual message was required and the rest, as could be said, is advertising history.
This addition of a visual accompaniment to a song threw the world of advertising wide open. The potential and the impact of this new form of advertising are evident whenever we turn on the television. The Gap, a retail clothing chain, for example, in a stroke of advertising genius in the 90’s, created television commercials where the actors/models sang and danced wearing products the store chain wished to move.
Choreographed musical numbers were not new however, while the visuals were aimed at the young audience, many of the songs employed were songs that were familiar to the parents of these young consumers. Parents, by and large, ultimately paying for the purchases. This subtle use of advertising and marketing strategy by way of warm familiarity to the true buyer was brilliant. There was no overt sexuality or objectionable content that might impact the buyers’ sensibilities, instead, audio designed to remind the consumer of a younger and hopeful time in their lives, invariably connecting the “product” with positive perception of a brand. The end result is that The Gap is a familiar and almost globally recognized brand name in retail.
While soft drinks and clothing are physical products, perhaps viewed as easier to advertise than a service; along comes U.P.S. and their “What Brown Can Do For You”, increasing the visibility not only for their smaller parcel service but by extension, the visibility of the supply chain division. U.P.S. has developed a comprehensive and absolutely accessible web presence, available in multiple languages to service the globe. They understand the need for the freight forwarding industry to push the envelope, so to speak and embrace the world that freight forwarding has, in fact, helped to create. A global marketplace.
Fed Ex has also joined U.P.S. in recognizing the world of advertising in previously untapped marketplaces. Fed Ex is now a recognized brand, synonymous with freight forwarding. Often, in casual conversation individuals will use Fed Ex as a verb, for example: “I’m going to Fed Ex grandma’s gifts.” however, the gifts may well be going through Purolator. Fed Ex’ing is now a common metaphor for shipping. This visibility thanks to forward thinking and clever marketing strategies have turned these companies into recognized brands, not unlike Coke or The Gap.
Marketing within the freight forwarding milieu must keep up with technology and the various new forms of media; there must be a change in attitude because to do any less would be self-limiting to the industry. Fed Ex and U.P.S. operate Twitter accounts, the viability is still being studied but it does add to the visibility. It is vital for a brand to be recognizable in this world of instant demand for access, for supplies, for services.
A quote from Peter Drucker, found in the CIFFA Supply Chain Management and Marketing Program textbook, truly reflects the reality of our current marketplace: Marketing is so basic that it cannot be considered a separate function. It’s the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view. Another quote from Mr. Drucker which is very apropos would be: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
Mr. Drucker does not differentiate between marketing a product and marketing a service. The aim, the methods and the execution of a marketing strategy would be the same, employing similar tactics toward the end goal; increased visibility, increased viability and of course, profit.
Market focus in the freight forwarding industry should extend beyond previous borders of a limited markets; the commercial and industrial shipping world. Visibility should be created in mass media, including visual media, the world wide web, communication applications like Twitter, Instagram, Pininterest as these are the preferred methods of mass global communication and exposure.
Corporate strategy planning is not complete without a well-designed and constantly researched marketing plan. New ideas, concepts and products need to be presented to consumer groups, the data analyzed and examined for potential implementation.
Consumer focus, regardless of whether the consumer is the general public or an industry is the key to success in any business, product or service.
Brainstorming potential untapped markets, planning marketing processes, innovating products, services and perhaps even the contractual areas are all part and parcel of the successful marketing process and development.
Marketing strategy must include the following:
- Identify a potential target market – the “Who” portion of strategic marketing.
- Identify the methods of marketing with the greatest potential – the “How” portion of the strategy
- The marketing strategy itself – the “What” of the whole exercise, the “what” being a successful marketing endeavor.
The successful freight forwarder requires an intimate knowledge of customer needs and is able to forecast coming trends in the marketplace because ultimately, a new exciting product created by a manufacturer is useless without the knowledge and expertise of their freight forwarder. The ability of the forwarder to understand the consumer supply and demand trends, to respond accordingly is paramount for the success of the product, success for the client and ultimately, the success of the freight forwarder. This is where a thorough understanding of marketing processes is required.
A greater market penetration can be achieved without any real change to a service being provided by the forwarder. A decrease in pricing, special discounts to top clients for services and increased advertising all lend themselves to not only ensuring a positive relationship with current clients but may well help to increase the client base without too much of a change within the corporate service strategy. This would be a relatively simple initiative to institute.
Market development is more involved and requires research, data collection and analysis. Reviews of demographics, the needs of specific groups and realizing potential toward encouraging increased use of services offered by the company to a wider consumer base. If it is possible, is it viable from a market return perspective?
Information that should be gathered while engaging in market penetration and development can lead to new product and service concepts, aimed toward garnering new business and securing the loyalty of existing clients. Growth potential and visibility are the ultimate benefits.
A risky but an area with a potential for growth is diversification. This should always be approached with caution; however, if it were not for the concept of diversification, freight forwarding would not be the juggernaut industry that it has become. U.P.S. diversified itself beyond the delivering of parcels and is now a leader in supply chain management. If appropriate research and development is undertaken, then diversification can be a successful strategy toward conquering a market.
There are various forms of marketing which transcend the types of products and services offered and are completely applicable within freight forwarding. The delineation between the marketing of a product versus the marketing of a service has all but been erased through innovation and creativity within the marketing theories. Successful marketing is available to all, including freight forwarders; members of this industry need to break down old and outdated ideas regarding what constitutes successful advertising for freight forwarders. Using trade journals, attending conferences specific to freight forwarding are methods of a bygone era; multimedia and the efficient use of computer generated technology is the tidal wave for the future success for freight forwarding. Visibility is viability.
It is of the utmost importance to recall the words of the eminent marketing professor, Phil Kolter: “Marketing takes a day to learn. Unfortunately it takes a lifetime to master.”