You can find highlights from each session of the FreightWaves Sales & Marketing Summit right here.
This summit features discussions from the industry’s leaders in freight sales and marketing techniques and will have a Put That Coffee Down reunion with live sessions hosted by Kevin Hill and Dooner.
You can register to watch the live event at this link and follow along all day on the FreightWaves TV Twitter account.
Want to listen on the go? Find all of today’s sessions right here on FreightCasts.
The marketing trend in 2021? Buy, rather than build, an audience
The meeting in Singapore was in 2008. A chief marketing officer of a top-50 company asked Joe Pulizzi and his business partner about building an audience for multiple content areas. “You don’t have to build,” they replied. “You can go out and purchase it.”
The CMO’s response? “You can do that?”
Indeed, you can — and more than a dozen years later, the buy-over-build approach has become more prevalent, according to Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute. What once was a lengthy process can now be achieved in significantly quicker fashion, with companies using their marketing budgets to purchase the growing number of influencers, bloggers, podcasters and other trendy content platforms, as well as traditional outlets such as print publications.
“If you’re looking for a trend in 2021, you’re going to see a lot of companies of all sizes acquire a number of media properties,” Pulizzi told FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller during the opening session of the virtual Sales & Marketing Summit on Thursday. “Most media companies don’t have a lot of money. Who has all the money? Enterprises.”
For a content creator with a 50,000 subscriber base, Pulizzi referenced a purchase rate of $3-$5 per subscriber. “We’re seeing a lot of those deals done,” he said. — Mike McAllister
Making the audience — and the data — the center of marketing universe
It’s all about the audience and making it the focus of a marketing strategy. And in 2021, that means a data-driven strategy.
“Without having an understanding of what’s coming across their feeds, on their devices, you’re kind of shooting in the dark,” Jason Fishman, the senior vice president for digital strategy at Digital Niche Agency, said during a fireside chat with Adam Robinson, a FreightWaves vice president who oversees product marketing of the SONAR platform.
Robinson pointed to FreightWaves’ own experience with SONAR and the importance of developing and marketing concrete solutions to customers’ needs.
“It’s no longer about beating your chest and saying, ‘We’re No. 1,’” Robinson said. — Nate Tabak
How ’zembles is changing the world of prospecting
The dynamic duo of Kevin Hill and Dooner reunited for the first of four live Put That Coffee Down sessions and welcomed back to the FreightWaves stage ’zembles COO Greg Johnson, who was featured on WHAT THE TRUCK?!? earlier this week.
“I like catching, I don’t like fishing,” said Johnson, explaining that ’zembles uses data and analytics to gather better prospects for its customers. He said it takes the guesswork out of finding sales leads so salespeople can spend more time talking to those prospects and making more sales.
With data dependence driving successful business, Johnson believes you have to invest your time in mining that data. “If all you do all day is use data and technology, you end up with the best in that world,” he said, cautioning you have to have good data to input into strong technology or you will never get the outcome you want. — Kaylee Nix
Battling fear and loathing on the content creation trail
Be authentic. Don’t worry about ROI. Practice, practice, practice.
Those were a few of the tips Blythe Brumleve and Kyle MacNaught dished out during a fireside chat about how to manage fear when creating digital freight marketing content.
Logistics professionals worry they don’t have enough experience or talent to make a podcast or video, said MacNaught, director of Freight Marketing at FreightPlus. “But as long as you’re genuine, that is what talent is online.”
Was Tom Brady a Hall of Fame quarterback the first time he ever touched a football? queried Brumleve, founder of Digital Dispatch. “No, he went to the field and practiced.”
Get rid of the idea that you’re going to be able to measure ROI through video and podcasting, emphasized Brumleve. Digital content is a long game, focused on building relationships, community and engagement.
Don’t stress about having top-of-the-line equipment; do worry about sound. “People will not watch a video if the audio is bad,” said MacNaught. — Linda Baker
Social media: The wild, Wild West
Dooner and Hill welcomed Toby Howell, writer at The Morning Brew, on the second live session of Put That Coffee Down to talk about the social media view of the stock shorts currently sweeping Wall Street.
Howell said social media is unpredictable so companies have to understand their brands and target demographics when commenting on trending topics. Sometimes people don’t think before they hit send and that can come back and bite them.
During times when people are glued to their phones, like checking Twitter for the latest GameStop stock prices, Howell knows he has a chance to capitalize because the audience potential is huge.
“This is a three-week-long home run moment,” he said, and his goal for The Morning Brew social media is all about posting in the right place at the right time. — Kaylee Nix
Personalization and digital tools for the long sales game
Salespeople who used to meet prospective customers face-to-face at trade shows and other events are now turning to tools like Zoom and LinkedIn to enhance their virtual first connection.
FreightWaves President George Abernathy referred to Trey Griggs, vice president at Lean Sales, as a “LinkedIn ninja” during this long game-themed sales and marketing chat.
“If I put on a 30-second video clip, I mean that’s like a commercial, to some of the top CEOs and VPs in our industry and it doesn’t cost me anything but a little bit of time to do that, you know [LinkedIn is] very underutilized and undervalued,” Griggs said.
The familiarity of seeing someone’s posts and activity on LinkedIn a few times before a cold call can really warm up the conversation, Griggs noted. He shared his sandwich theory for more successful cold calls: The meat of the phone call is sandwiched between two personal conversations acting as the bread. “People love to talk about themselves, their kids and their business,” Griggs said.
Griggs said that when hiring, Lean Sales looks for people with customer service, communication and decision-making skills regardless of experience with CRMs and other sales tools because they are easy to learn. The pair discussed how platforms like Ambition and Gong can motivate sales teams by gamifying sales. Though much about sales and marketing has evolved, “at the end of the day, sales is still a numbers game,” Griggs said. — Alyssa Sporrer
Selling in the agent vs. employee logistics models
Logistics companies come in all shapes and sizes, with each having its own strengths and advantages, said Brian Mann, president and CEO of Armstrong Transport Group.
“I would say that one path isn’t better than another path; it really just varies on someone’s comfort level and also expertise in the market,” he said.
Mann chatted with FreightWaves Chief Strategy Officer JT Engstrom about “Selling in the Agent vs. Employee Logistics Models.”
Charlotte, North Carolina-based Armstrong Transport Group was founded in 2006 and provides dry van, refrigerated, flatbed and specialized truckload, LTL, heavy-haul, expedited, rail and air freight services throughout North America. The company has over 130 agent offices and 450 logistics professionals around the country.
“When a company store model is built, that is a little bit different: Sometimes it’s siloed out, you have your capacity people, you also have account managers, or you have sales individuals, and they focus solely on those factors of the business,” Mann said.
“In the agent model, there’s a lot of cradle to grave to it: You are the person booking the freight, you’re the person who’s building the relationship with the shippers and receivers. You’re talking to the customer asking them how their children are, making sure you build a deeper relationship, than the company store model.” — Noi Mahoney
H.D. White Logistics founder: Ask questions before approaching prospect
Many freight brokers and third-party logistics providers put the proverbial cart before the horse. They go after business before understanding a customer’s needs. That’s not Hope White’s modus operandi.
Many brokers, White said, don’t take the time to understand the nuances of transportation and logistics before approaching a prospective customer. “They are so anxious to get the business they don’t understand what are the problems they are trying to solve,” White said Thursday during FreightWaves’ virtual Sales & Marketing Summit. “You should know what the customer’s problems are before you meet them.”
White said that five years in logistics and fulfillment at big-box retailer The Home Depot taught her how to look at problems from a customer’s perspective when she launched her McDonough, Georgia-based brokerage and 3PL business, H.D. White Logistics LLC, in 2016. “As a customer, I understood what the expectations were” of my logistics partners, she said. White also avoids cold calling on potential customers, saying the strategy of “spray and pray” doesn’t work for a company like hers that takes a targeted approach.
As an example, White noticed that the once lightly traveled roads around McDonough had become chock-a-block with trucks. After making some inquiries, she discovered that most of the trucks were carrying containers to and from the port and that a lack of storage facilities was forcing more freight into vehicles than into storage centers. Not long after, her company opened a storage and drayage complex on Interstate 16 in Metter, Georgia, 69 miles from Savannah and 179 miles from Atlanta, to take some of the pressure off the trucks and the highways. — Mark Solomon
Selling over marketing
Serial entrepreneur Andrew Leto is on his third startup, the digital freight marketplace Emerge. Like GlobalTranz, a $1 billion revenue software-driven third-party logistics company he exited in 2016, and 10-4 Systems, a freight tracking business sold to Trimble in 2017, Emerge has the same M.O.
“I’m always selling somebody, whether I’m selling an investor or someone to come on,” Leto told FreightWaves President George Abernathy in a fireside chat during the FreightWaves Sales & Marketing Summit.
“That’s really how companies are built. It’s a snowball. It starts with you and your idea. Then you get a few partners that will be willing to back it that obviously have connections and have that industry expertise. And that’s going to help you raise money.”
Sales and marketing often are used interchangeably and sometimes in a single business title. That’s a mistake, Leto said.
It’s about selling. The rule of thumb is a sales force of at least 50 for a company generating $100 million in revenue.
“I’ve always said you can’t market your way to success in this industry,” Leto said. “You still have to sell.” — Alan Adler
Keeping sales teams engaged with Ambition
On the third live session of Put That Coffee Down, Dooner and Hill welcomed Mark McWatters, vice president of sales at Ambition, to talk about how the company is keeping sales teams connected in work-from-home situations.
“Ambition is like sales TV, like ESPN,” said McWatters. The technology allows companies to track their sales reps’ progress and show that progress to everyone. It also creates visibility and drives competition among sales reps.
McWatters said it is tough to keep teams engaged while everyone is working from home, but the “gamification” of Ambition makes it fun to watch salespeople’s accomplishments even though they can’t be celebrated in person.
He called it a “real-time recognition of sales strategy, even when working from home,” in order to celebrate, motivate and recognize accomplishments in sales. — Kaylee Nix
The bricks of building a good sales culture
Building a sales culture is a delicate process, especially in a socially distanced or remote world.
Charley Dehoney, president of FitzMark Great Plains, an Indianapolis-based freight broker, and John Rapp, vice president of sales at Airspace Technologies, a time-critical provider of next-flight-out and express courier services, discussed strategies at the FreightWaves Sales & Marketing Summit on Thursday.
The two worked together at Airspace. Dehoney was one of the company’s founders.
On mental roadblocks and how he got going in sales, Rapp commented, “I feel like sales reps, we get in our own way most of the time.” He said the key was to ask for help all the time. His learning curve was steep, moving from a freight by the truckload environment to selling something that can be as small as an envelope. He said today he makes it a point to supply new sales reps with the knowledge and then let them take off. “If you don’t equip them first, they’re going to spin for a while.”
Dehoney said it’s important to listen, remain humble and have the ability to hear things about yourself that you don’t want to hear.
The two talked about the importance of team collaboration, especially when leadership isn’t involved. Rapp said a sales team should naturally evolve. On a good team, individuals come in, build their career and then turn around and assume some of the roles and tasks management would do without being placed in an official position of power.
Rapp said a great example is when someone finds a solution or better process, let him or her own it and communicate it to the team. He said that person knows the process better than he does and allowing an associate to run with it puts him or her in a position of leadership versus Rapp taking the idea as his own. “If you didn’t know it, have that person own it.”
The importance of building a rapport with newer associates is required to establish a foundation. Rapp said building a repository of positives with a new rep and building that rep’s confidence is required before you can start presenting constructive criticism. He won’t give new reps any negative feedback for the first month. He noted it’s important to build the expectations early on, letting them know how you will respond when something negative does happen so it isn’t a surprise down the road. — Todd Maiden
Use science to steer sales and marketing teams
Needless to say, there are more than the usual number of consumer distractions out there in 2021. The challenge of sales and marketing — to break through to those distracted customers — is even more daunting. So to succeed this year, it’s more important than ever to leverage the proven science of sales and marketing.
That was the central theme of the fireside chat between Meshach Weber, chief marketing and chief experience officer at Loadsure, and David Hoffeld, chief sales trainer at the Hoffeld Group and author of “The Science of Selling.”
One key precept: the power of growth mindsets over fixed mindsets. With a growth mindset, you believe that through effort, you can improve your sales and marketing. With a fixed mindset, you believe you either have it or you don’t. “It’s scientifically proven that a growth mindset will radically boost the likelihood of successful sales,” asserted Weber.
As Hoffeld put it: “Marketing skills are like a muscle. You don’t go to the gym once. You go over and over. Training produces results over the long term. That’s the power of the growth mindset. And it will be more and more impactful as the world gets more and more competitive.”Weber and Hoffeld also emphasized the importance of habits and cognitive biases. The trick is to “architect choices in a way that predictably boost compliance rates,” said Hoffeld. Sales and marketing are about “tapping into how our brains work” and pitching products and services via “something that feels natural to the consumer,” he explained. — Greg Miller
Adjusting a sales team to new reality of work from home
The co-founder and COO of the sales information provider Ambition has found that his company’s services are aligning perfectly with the needs of a workforce that has all headed to home offices.
Brian Trautschold told FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller during the virtual FreightWaves Sales & Marketing Summit that the retreat to home working means that “a lot of sales leaders have lost that energy and they’ve lost the kind of buzz of the sales floor.”
But Ambition is a tool that gives its users a wide range of information about sales completed, phone calls made and contracts sent and is a platform for what Trautschold called the “gamification” of sales as an employee incentive.
“With Ambition, not only do I get to inject that energy and create a culture of recognition in an environment where people are on it continually, but they also have the accountability they used to have when they could know whether a person is on the phone, are they doing the activities that I expect them to do,” Trautschold said in discussing how the Ambition tools can fill that gap lost by the sales “bullpen” that marks so many companies.
Working from home may indeed be “a pretty permanent thing,” Trautschold said. “It’s going to be down to people saying, ‘I can get more out of my eight- or nine-hour workday and be as comfortable as possible.’” Part of that is having the tools available to make that work. With those tools, Trautschold said, “wherever I am is ideally where they are their most productive.” — John Kingston
Marketing to truck drivers? Don’t be afraid to get creative
Faced with a dwindling driver pool, competition is fierce among motor carriers to snag qualified drivers.
Don’t be afraid to implement creative marketing strategies to separate your carrier from the rest of the pack in 2021. This was the advice from Rob Hatchett, president of SeatMyTrucks, and Travis Overton, president and CEO of CDLLife, during a fireside chat about marketing strategies to recruit drivers.
Besides investing marketing dollars in lead generation and brand awareness, utilizing your best drivers to serve as brand ambassadors could give your company a competitive advantage.
“You’ve got a handful of drivers that are your premier drivers, they’re awesome and you would love to put your name behind them,” Overton said.
Recruiters shouldn’t be afraid to go back through their carriers’ databases and call up former drivers to see if they are interested in making a job move and pay them more. “There’s no replacement for picking the phone up, having a human interaction and talking to somebody,” Overton said.
Another marketing challenge the industry is facing is attracting the next generation of professional drivers, Hatchett said.
“The question continues to be how do we market to people to make transportation as a whole more attractive,” he said. — Clarissa Hawes
Branding is king for businesses
On the last live Put That Coffee Down session Thursday, Ryan Mann from Lean Solutions talks about how differentiating yourself through your brand is so essential, especially in saturated markets.
Mann says there are lots of ways to manipulate your brand and its impact, from customer interaction to social media presentation to commercial publishing; overall impacts come from the emotional response you elicit from your audience.
“You’re going to have to address some areas where your business can improve,” says Mann. Progress does not come without getting uncomfortable and analyzing weak spots first.
He breaks down owned vs. earned media and how each type can influence the consumer. Owned media is manipulated by the owner to tailor it specifically to the audience. Earned media could be collaborations, like interviews or guest appearances.
“Branding is all about association: You’re either a Coke guy or a Pepsi guy, an Adidas guy or a Nike guy . … That branding is powerful,” says Mann. — Kaylee Nix
Being consumer focused in a B2B world
When considering where to place advertising, “you need to identify what platform you’re using to be sure that you’re storytelling and that you’re engaging,” said Sylvia Cintron, marketing director for Chattanooga, Tennessee-based third-party logistics company Kenco.
During a fireside chat Thursday during FreightWaves’ Sales & Marketing Summit, Cintron told Kyle Taylor, a FreightWaves SONAR account executive, that the potential audience for a company’s product or service will be expecting a specific level of communication that is relevant to the social media platform on which you’re engaging them.
“You need to be sure you’re mapping all of your data detail into one single story, but telling it in the correct tone for consumption within a specific platform,” she said.
Cintron also pointed out that sales and marketing has been transformed from an art to a science.
“When you’re creating a digital marketing campaign in our industry you have access to the data so you’re able to optimize it and make changes in real time,” she said. “People tend to have a misconception that to grow your market you have to grow your [marketing] spend. Yes, you need to increase your footprint, and there’s going to be channels that you’ll invest in. But the No. 1 thing to look at is the opportunities you have at hand and consider what can be done to optimize and improve them.” — John Gallagher