What's Driving Communication & Branding Success in 2016?

By Brian Everett, Chief Executive Officer of TMSA. Part 3 of a 4-part series on "Highlights from the 2016 TMSA Connections Events."

Nearly 40 marketing, communications, and sales professionals attended two TMSA Connections events last month in Atlanta and Chicago. The next TMSA Connections event takes place in Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 9. These events are intended to give executives an overview of key industry metrics as I report on the 2016 TMSA Sales & Marketing Metrics Study - and ultimately into "speed learning" discussion groups.

Connections

So what are some of the best practices and emerging trends in communication, branding, and marketing taking place in commercial freight transportation and logistics? Here are a few observations:

Content Is King
Content marketing continues to be a primary focus of marketing and communication practices in our industry. There were many discussions around TMSA's keynote speaker at the 2016 TMSA Marketing & Sales Conference this year, Joe Pulizzi (who is considered the foremost authority on content marketing):

  • Self-serving content does nothing for your targeted audience, and wastes time and resources of the brand. Don't use it. Rather, make sure your content is meaningful, relevant, timely and interesting to your audiences.
  • The primary goal of your content should be focused completely on your audience, and the business goal should be secondary. Sure, your organization's goals should be considered - which could include  sales, savings, customer acquisition, lead generation, and customer loyalty. But you can't reach the business goal without first serving the needs of the audience. And don't be hesitant to leverage third-party content, as long as it's relevant (and your source is credited).  
  • According to the 2016 TMSA Sales & Marketing Metrics Study, content and copywriting is commonly outsourced. In fact, 38 percent of copywriting is outsourced. That said, be strategic about what you outsource - and remember, "you get what you pay for."

Social Media As A Growing Communications Tactic
Social media continues to be a significant communications and marketing tactic used to achieve business goals. Given this is a relatively new communication phenomenon in the industry, those weighing in on this trend suggest some of the biggest factors of success are:

  • Get management's buy-in that social media efforts are worth the risk and reward. But this can be challenging, given the ability to identify a meaningful and accurate ROI can be a problem.
  • Making sure the content is fully relevant to your targeted audiences, as well as keeping content "fresh." This includes resisting the urge to sell your brand or value; rather, provide useful information that is not perceived as overtly commercial.
  • Don't forget to repurpose your content whenever appropriate. Just because you've used it once or twice before doesn't mean you've fully used the content. Some successfully repurpose and/or remarket the information 10-12 times or more by placing a unique twist on a whitepaper, fact, news item, or general content piece.
  • Social media is an excellent tactic to build thought leadership among your executives, establish credibility of your brand, and build your corporate reputation. It establishes yet another "touch point" for your targeted audiences, drives traffic to your website, and is an opportunity to develop and amplify your corporate personality in the industry.
  • Don't forget social media's impact and influence on your organization's SEO.
  • Ensuring social media practices and content is compliant with your internal processes and policies (including anything that addresses legal concerns). This also includes communicating and collaborating with your own workforce to do what's possible to manage and control the brand and messaging out there.

More next week on the importance of aligning sales, marketing, and communication strategy with business goals and objectives. 

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