Good marketing is critical for freight brokers, particularly when you’re just getting started.
You’re going to need a solid base of contacts to begin brokering freight, and marketing is a great way of finding that base. Once you create a pool of leads, marketing continues to work for you by helping you turn these leads into actual clients.
Just follow this step-by-step guide, part of our Freight Broker Starter Kit e-book, and you’ll be well on your way to a solid list of clients. This is the lifeblood of your freight brokerage, so make sure you invest enough time into making it work.
Marketing Basics for Freight Brokers
At the beginning, freight broker marketing looks just like any type of niche-specific marketing. There are basics you simply can’t do without, such as having a great website, understanding your customers, and figuring out how to stand out online. Only once you check these off should you focus on starting a freight brokerage marketing strategy to attract your customers.
1. Make a Great Freight Broker Website
All of your marketing efforts need to start with a well-designed website. Your website will usually be the first thing a potential client encounters and needs to make a good impression. Lucky for you, this is easier than ever with affordable hosting and website building tools like squarespace. Providing information about your services and a place where potential clients can contact you is absolutely essential.
But beyond simply making a great website, you also need to take into account Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This means avoiding things which Google’s algorithm punishes, like having duplicate content, lists of keywords (instead of keywords which are incorporated naturally into content), purchased links (paying people to link to your site), or usability problems like slow load speeds.
2. Understand Your Clients
“Buyer persona” is a marketing industry term for a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. To create one, you need to think about your ideal customers’ demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The most basic step towards providing a great service and having a successful marketing strategy is creating one or more detailed buyer personas. Once you know who your customers are, you can start to consider strategies to target them specifically.
3. Find Your Niche with Keyword Research
This is a list of the main keywords that anyone looking for a freight broker would use in their online searches. Companies like Hubspot provide great video tutorials on all aspects of online marketing, and their article on keyword research should provide some great tips for finding what you’ll need for your business. In general, tools such as the Keyword Planner from Google Adwords are helpful in seeing what keywords have higher volume and lower competition. Those are the ones you want to target.
4. List Yourself in Business Directories
You need to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to find you. One essential step is making sure you’re listed in business directories. The most common online directories you should place yourself in are:
Add to these any local online or offline directories which are popular in your area and you’ll be set. Just make sure you create your listings using the same Name, Phone, Address (NAP) and have this information visible on your website, or Google won’t be able to connect the dots.
Expert Strategies for New Freight Brokers
There are a variety of ways to target your buyer personas online. The two most basic types of strategies are those which allow you to reach out to potential customers, and those which bring those customers to you. You can choose to use one or both of these in your marketing campaign.
Strategy #1: Going Local
When you’re starting your own business, one of the most important choices you make is the location. You want to set up your brokerage in an area which will support your business goals and growth. Well, after you’ve made your decision, it’s time to take advantage of your location!
When somebody’s searching for freight brokers in your particular area, you want to show up in Local Results, since that’s the easiest way of making it to the top of the results page. To start, you should find some great local long-tail keywords that help people find your business in your specific area. You’re probably not going to rank in Google for “freight broker,” but you may very well be able to rank for “freight broker kansas city.”
Once you’ve got a list of targetable keywords, it’s time to get to work and help Google rank you higher for them. There are a few ways to do this:
- Incorporate these location-specific keywords into important site content, such as page titles and headings.
- Add your location to all of your local listings.
- Update existing Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) to be consistent across all directories, so they all point back to one and the same business.
- Encourage your satisfied clients to leave reviews in the directories.
Strategy #2: Using Lead Lists
This is a solid strategy for any customer-driven business. It involves making a list of potential customers. In particular, one which allows you to clearly organize all the information you have about them. This will not only help you stay organized, but it will help enormously in targeting your customers individually. Top Ten Reviews has a fantastic survey with tons of information to help you choose the best lead finding and organizing software.
Besides software, you can make a lead list in several ways. The most basic is to use your own knowledge and personal contacts to draw one up. If you’re not in a position to try that strategy, there are companies specializing in finding sales leads. You should also be attending industry events and conferences when possible to continue building a solid network and to bring in new leads.
Once you have your list, you need to decide on the best method to contact your leads. One way is by simply cold calling (a business term for calling a lead with whom you haven’t interacted before). If you have a large list and feel you don’t have the time to make the calls yourself, you can try outsourcing them to a call center. But most brokers can and prefer to reach out to potential customers on their own. You could also try sending personalized emails.
Strategy #3: Targeted Ads
Another great way to target potential customers is through targeted ads. There’s a huge variety of platforms for doing this. One of the most basic is Google Adwords. Here you can target people searching for very specific keywords on Google, as well as in particular geographic locations. This can be immensely useful for a freight broker, since you can target people searching for brokers in your specific region.
Beyond Adwords, social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ also offer similarly targeted advertising opportunities. The kinds of users on the social media site and the cost per click of advertising vary between them and are worth considering. LinkedIn, for example, has excellent professional networks, but is much more expensive than Facebook. For more details, check out Hubspot’s guide to social media marketing.
Strategy #4: Content Marketing
The key to driving organic traffic to your site is content marketing. Sure, you can spread your business’ brand by word-of-mouth, cold-calling, and old-fashioned networking, but content marketing is how you make sure people who are looking for you online can actually find you.
Great content marketing involves creating high quality content like blog posts, which incorporate those keywords you listed before. The key is to always think about your potential clients and readers; your content should always provide value to them. Give them something they want to read.
Doing this can increase your ranking in Google and bring relevant traffic to your site. You can even develop a nice reputation in the industry on the way. All in all, it’s one of the most consistent and effective forms of online marketing.
Calculating Return on Investment (ROI)
One common mistake many companies make when they begin their first marketing campaign is ignoring the essential step of calculating ROI. So, once you’ve started a strategy you need to think about how you can quantify your results.
This means using things like Google Webmaster Tools to look at your website’s traffic and where it’s coming from. Beyond that, every social media platform you may be advertising with will offer you plenty of data. So take a look at what works, what doesn’t, and how much it all costs to determine the best marketing strategy for your brokerage.
For a more detailed guide, check out this article from Marketo.
Bottom Line: Discover Your Best Strategy
In the end, it’s all about picking and choosing from our recommendations to find the best strategy for you. Don’t be afraid to try something new and see how it goes. Just don’t forget that many of these marketing techniques take a few months to show their results. Good luck out there!
For a complete guide to every aspect of becoming a freight broker, download our free e-book, The Freight Broker Starter Kit: