What does it take to become a “shipping partner of choice?”

Use referrals, case studies, and video to demonstrate proof of performance.

Perhaps the greatest takeaway I received at the recent Transportation Sales and Marketing Association conference came during the shipper panel. It was the opportunity to listen to a panel of prominent decision-makers live and unfiltered. The panel members are part of a very elusive and mysterious group. To put it another way: it’s hard to get through to this group—and rare to have the opportunity to hear what they think.

So what was this great takeaway I received? It came from Troy Turner of Unilever who was answering the question, what it takes to become a shipping partner of choice?

He answered that it came down to “ease of doing business.”

In other words, how easy is it to do business with a transportation provider? A consideration that he admitted can only be demonstrated by actually working with the transportation partner in question.

His answer had most of us in the audience scratching our heads. But Turner was kind and didn’t abandon us to chase chicken-and-egg scenarios. He gave a couple of workarounds for demonstrating how easy it is to do business with your company…without actually doing business with your company, that is.

Referrals are the next best thing to proof of performance.

They’re golden to Turner. Get a referral from the right colleague and you’re in.

Referrals are powerful, but there are different ways to leverage this power—some more nuclear than others. An email introduction can open the lines of communication for you, but what if you took it a step further and asked a happy client to call your prospect directly? The extra effort would speak volumes about your client’s esteem for you while making the referral more personal. A voicemail from your client would have a similar personal appeal, and might be an easier ask.

The only thing about referrals…they can be hard to get. Plus they’re a one-time single use tactic. I mean you can’t expect to get a referral for every prospect.

Second best is case studies.

Turner values case studies that demonstrate how companies have addressed challenges and how they’ve worked with other companies. This tracks with what I’m seeing; carriers, logistics companies and NYSHEX are consistently asking me to write case studies that demonstrate how they help clients overcome their challenges and that bring their services to life. They’re also maximizing their use by repurposing them in blog posts, newsletters and white papers. Another nice thing about case studies is their staying power. Post them on your website and they’ll work hard for you for a long time.

So how else could you demonstrate ease of doing business?

Turner’s comments inspired me to consider what other alternatives are available to marketers who want to prove their value to prospects.

Don’t forget case studies’ little brother, testimonials.

Quick, scannable, 2ndperson endorsements can create instant credibility for you. They have powerful name-dropping appeal, and their short format makes them great for home pages, inserting into emails and lots of other things. Always ask a happy client to give you a blurb. (Tip: ask right after you’ve done something great for them.)

Show ‘em in a video.

In the absence of great case studies, it came to me that another way you could demonstrate ease of doing business would be to capture the experience in moving pictures. Show your people working on a real problem. Demonstrate your processes. Provide visual proof of your standards. And introduce viewers to your culture. A lot of times these things are better shown than said anyway.

Aim for a case study on every project.

When you complete an engagement, ask your client if you can feature them. Better yet, during the project, plant the seed of a case study by mentioning that your client has a great story to tell and a lot of people would benefit from hearing it. Sometimes it takes a while for clients to give you the go-ahead, so ask early and pitch the idea in an appealing way, In other words, tell them how innovative, daring and agile it will make them look.

Need help keeping the case studies flowing?

I know the ropes from conducting successful interviews to creating a unique case study style for your brand—as well as the many ways you can promote and repurpose your great stories. Let’s talk. Email me to arrange a short call, or click here to see some samples.