The very way businesses connect and interact with their customers is changing, as a new era of business and consumer communications unfolds before us. For many years, the traditional model companies and marketers used when speaking to consumers was that of one-way communication. Quite dramatically, a shift has taken place with social media being used as a tool for companies to connect and have a conversation with customers. Tearing down this traditional barrier and making it a two-way conversation enables customer feedback and response in real-time.
As such, more businesses are beginning to realize the power social media and digital marketing can bring to their operation. Business-to-consumer (B2C) focused companies have long known about and utilized social media channels as an opportunity for engagement. Logistics companies tend to fall into the business-to-business (B2B) category, and as the sector’s use of social media in their business continues to grow, it’s essential for B2B businesses to realize the potential that this new age of marketing can bring.
The logistics industry is known for normally being conservative in their business approach, so it’s refreshing to see that some are beginning to plunge into using social media. LM was fortunate to recently speak with Mr. Jonathan Wichmann, co-founder of Wichmann/Schmidt creative agency. Mr. Wichmann was Head of social at Maersk Line 2011-2013, and helped the carrier when they first embarked into the social media space. This was a pioneering move, as not many in the B2B market had realized the power social media could have on their business. What Mr. Wichmann established at Maersk helped them to become one of the first, and to date, one of the stronger logistics companies on social media. However, they are just a jumping off point for logistics companies looking to take advantage of social media; there’s still much innovation to be done that B2B businesses should strive for.
Turning back the clock, we first wanted to ask Mr. Wichmann about his time at the shipping behemoth and how he developed their digital presence on social media. “When I first joined the company, we were starting from scratch and opening the accounts on social media,” said. Mr. Wichmann. “We started developing the communication rapidly after that. I was doing multiple jobs at the time, including writing, photography and videography, which is needed if you want to do social media on your own. There was an attraction to Maersk offering a large playing field and it was a big opportunity to start something new. My thought at the time was this would either go really well or really wrong.”
Thankfully for Mr. Wichmann his hard work was a success and garnered him high praise after his time with the company. He continued, “Maersk was transforming as well, going from almost no communication, to being extremely transparent. They were changing into being able to deliver real communication. They were traditionally guarded with their communications, with the traditional model of issuing in-house press releases or sending them through a PR agency. We managed to move onto social media and through this process the company became more open.”
Mr. Wichmann describes his first meetings with his colleagues as a disheartening moment, with them believing little would materialize from this new endeavor. They self-diagnosed themselves as ‘boring’ and that there would be little to say on social media. As Mr. Wichmann began exploring, he found the opposite was true of the company. This can be applied to any logistics company that thinks they don’t have anything interesting to say; there is many stories yet to be told in the logistics world.
“In a way, I think there’s many more stories to tell in a B2B operation compared to B2C. You could say it’s all been done before in the B2C realm, there’s so much that hasn’t been told in B2B.”
“In a way, I think there’s many more stories to tell in a B2B operation compared to B2C. You could say it’s all been done before in the B2C realm, there’s so much that hasn’t been told in B2B. For instance, the logistics industry has crazy supply chains and big ships sailing the ocean, and the home away from home structure on them. They have extremely smart experts that can share their knowledge. There’s a lot of value to be gained and there is a cultural shift happening in the industry, this is all worthwhile content waiting to have its story told,” said Mr. Wichmann.
Connecting via Content
At the heart of this change is the way content is created and consumed. Consumers have grown more savvy over the years and tend to turn away from being hard sold on products and services. With the internet at their fingertips, consumers can go seek the answer to their needs on their own. To adapt to the changing digital world, companies both small and large need to become content and solution providers for consumers. Providing useful, informative, and entertaining content attracts consumers to your company and leads to brand recognition in the marketplace. Marketers call this ‘inbound marketing,’ where the content attracts consumers without hard selling your product or service.
Mr. Wichmann suggests, “I would first look towards really listening and understanding what are the pain points and what customers are looking for and requesting. It’s a new way of doing business and you need to make sure to connect the dots in a way that this service is not just an add-on. It’s very important that it’s all part of the process of listening and understanding a customer journey. Interviewing, talking, and really tuning into customers and providing useful content to them is essential for success. This content is not an image or video in the fashion of, for example explaining our new product, but content that is about helping people. I would urge businesses to move in this direction. Customers can then see the difference you’re making, solving their problem quickly instead of having a headache for a few days. It’s a tool that can be used proactively for customer service and bring credibility and trustworthiness to your brand.”
“It’s very important that it’s all part of the process of listening and understanding a customer journey. Interviewing, talking, and really tuning into customers and providing useful content to them is essential for success.”
A sticking point that Mr. Wichmann kept emphasizing is that this works best if you are not expecting immediate results. Of course, every business wants to make a profit or sale today, but you should be looking for is long term customer loyalty. “If you have a customer addressing you with a complaint or a problem, if you solve it you’re building loyalty. I think that’s far more valuable if you measure it in the long term. I think that’s the direction metrics should be measured as well, and it’s where you can start looking at true value. Not just for you, but for your customers as well.”
The Future of Logistics
This type of marketing should be considered as the future where all B2B business should be moving their business towards. Giving authenticity to your brand has real value and creating an open and responsive organization has positive side benefits. Mr. Wichmann believes that for recruiting efforts, a more open and transparent company is more attractive to Millennials and younger generations as well. For it is here where the future of logistics really lies. Attracting new blood to the industry is important to sustaining it for the long haul.
“To achieve this, it’s clear that you need to have an open mind, be curious, and you need to be brave. It’s not just information, it’s two-way communication.”
Mr. Wichmann concluded, “I see value across the board for all of social media, social technologies, and digital communications. I think you can apply that to any of the functions within a company, whether that’s internally or externally. It can support various processes and can have a direct impact on the bottom line with sales, and it can support the building of a more human brand. To achieve this, it’s clear that you need to have an open mind, be curious, and you need to be brave. It’s not just information, it’s two-way communication. As a company, you need to improve at listening and learn to take criticism, for it is here where real progress can be made. This is a change that these tools can truly help to support, now and into the future.”
Don’t be intimidated, diving into the world of digital marketing can be easy and straightforward. Check out the infographic below for ideas on how to get started!
Watch Odyssey of creation at The Royal Danish Theatre, the latest award winning advertisement from Wichmann/Schmidt.