Archive for Frank Cavallaro


Use Social Media to Enhance Supply Chain Transparency

Use Social Media to Enhance Supply Chain Transparency

Transparency in your supply chain through social media outlets can give a look inside your company in a way that your customers are craving.


Highlights:

  • Customers have been demanding more visibility into supply chains of the products they purchase.
  • Through social channels like  Twitter , LinkedIn , and Facebook, companies are greatly enhancing  their two-way communication with customers and sharing information with their stakeholders.
  • The top reason that supply chain companies are choosing to participate in social media is to increase the visibility of their company.

Supply chain management is such a complicated web of factors that most companies choose to keep operations behind the scenes and unveil a finished product with an intense marketing roll-out.

But what if that’s backwards and an outdated approach to marketing? (Hint: It is.)

The complexity of supply chain management

There is no question that SCM can be deeply and frustratingly complex. Consider TechTarget’s definition of SCM:  “the broad range of activities required to plan, control and execute a product’s flow, from acquiring raw materials and production through distribution to the final customer, in the most streamlined and cost-effective way.”

With so much intense analysis at every step, the details your  supply chain management (SCM) team considers can seem endless, and the impressive knowledge they hold is certainly not something most people can understand.

Or can they? What if that mindset – the one that thinks that your SCM is so complex that it wouldn’t interest or be able to be grasped by your customers – is wrong?

In fact, what if it’s so wrong that you are missing something important? Customers today want to understand your supply chain.

Transparency in your supply chain

A common misconception is that most customers are interested in a final product. Of course, your final product better be outstanding, but there are other factors fueling today’s buyers, business-to-business (B2B) customers included.

For a few years now, customers have been demanding more visibility into supply chains of the products they purchase.  For example, they want to ensure sustainable practices around the earth’s scarce resources, to know where their food is sourced, and to confirm ethical pay and conditions for any laborers involved. B2B buyers are no exception. They want their vendors to be more than just a final product too, and are constantly searching for value outside the sales funnel.

Transparency with social media

What if you shared what fueled your daily SCM decisions with your customers, stakeholders, and suppliers? Not every last complex detail…but some of them, and the intangibles too:

  •  What drives SCM decisions besides cost?
  • Who is your SC team?
  • Where are you sourcing?
  • Why do you do things as you do during production?

Transparency of SCM through social media outlets can give a look inside your company in a way that your customers are craving.  Through social channels like  Twitter LinkedIn , and Facebook, companies are greatly enhancing  their two-way communication with customers and sharing information with their stakeholders.

Of course, the benefits of social media to SCM don’t stop there.The supply chain needs social media for enhanced customer communication, increased industry education, and an ability to socially monitor the market. Social media has the capability to empower your supply chain in multiple ways.

According to a survey we conducted, the top reason that supply chain companies are choosing to participate in social media is to increasing the visibility of their company (95%). Don’t simply focus on your final product(s) and leave out your supply chain! When you make your supply chain transparent to your customers and stakeholders, everyone wins.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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Digital Marketing for the Supply Chain and Logistics Industries

Digital Marketing for the Supply Chain and Logistics Industries

Digital marketing for the supply chain has become necessary to position your company to not only be found online, but also to be researched, to be compared, and to be concluded upon.


Highlights:

  • Digital marketing uses your website, related social media, and other online industry channels to showcase your industry knowledge and experience.
  • Thought leaders are the informed trusted sources in their field of expertise.
  • Supply chain and logistics industries need content marketing to achieve confidence and relationship-building with buyers.

Today’s B2B buyers are researching, evaluating, and coming to conclusions about companies without a single contact with a team member or salesperson.

This kind of B2B buying landscape requires cutting edge marketing strategies to showcase nut-and-bolt industries that have survived without them for many years.

Digital marketing for the supply chain

Digital marketing for the supply chain uses your website, related social media, and other online industry channels to showcase your industry knowledge and experience (rather than trying to convince people of it with a marketing message).

With inbound digital marketing, you publish relevant, informative information to adds value to every stage of a potential customer’s buying journey.

It is the content that you publish that walks them through the initial stages of the sales process.

What should you publish? A good content marketing strategy is about understanding the questions and concerns that are particular to your customer base, and offering quality information and analysis that answers those needs.

A good content marketing strategy is about understanding the questions and concerns that are particular to your customer base, and offering quality information and analysis that answers those needs. Click To Tweet

Showcasing thought leadership through digital marketing

Discovering and meeting the needs of your customers that go beyond your products and services will catapult you in their minds as a knowledgeable, helpful “thought leader” in your industry.

Thought leaders are the informed trusted sources in their field of expertise. They have innovative ideas, can showcase their thinking, and can replicate their successes again and again.

Consider it: Your business has so much more to offer than its primary product or service. You have a team of people with a tremendous aggregate of experience, expertise, and perspectives.

Allowing your customers this sort of access to your team’s experience and knowledge provides them with tremendous value outside the sales funnel, which builds trust and cultivates lasting, fruitful relationships.

Why digital marketing?

In this B2B buying landscape, supply chain and logistics industries need content marketing to achieve a level of confidence and relationship-building with buyers that used to come from face-to-face meetings. Potential and current customers will view your company as a valuable resource for everything related to not only your products and services but to the industry as a whole.

No time to execute?

The downside? Content marketing requires significant time, labor, and resources, and it can take quite some time to start reaping benefits. Feeling overwhelmed and like you and your team can’t possibly add on more marketing? Outsourcing certain key marketing tasks allows insourcing your core competencies while delegating specialized tasks to external experts.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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6 Content Marketing Trends for the Supply Chain in 2019

6 Content Marketing Trends for the Supply Chain in 2019

As content marketing continues to increase in popularity, here are six trends to consider when planning your 2019 strategy.

A recent article by Forbes on content marketing notes: “As recently as a few years ago, marketers handled content mostly as a side project. It was more of a bonus than an essential role — something you did when you had time because it took a backseat to more traditional marketing projects and responsibilities. That’s changed.”

Boy, has that changed. The content marketing industry is expected to be worth more than $400 billion by 2021.

The 2018 report from the Content Marketing Institute shows just how prevalent content marketing is, and how essential it has become to creating brand awareness, educating your audience, and building credibility and trust with your customers.

Supply chain & logistics marketers: Trends to watch

So, where is content marketing headed in 2019? Content marketing budgets are still on the rise, and supply chain and logistics companies are increasingly seeing the value in moving to an inbound marketing strategy driven by original content.

These are the six notable trends to consider when planning your 2019 content marketing strategy.

1. Video

Video is currently the most popular form of content being consumed online today, and video marketing will continue to have substantial value in 2019.

Smart supply chain marketers should start the new year by developing a visual storytelling strategy that offers consistent delivery of valuable content.

What’s your best bet? Be helpful and teach your audience something worthwhile to them.

2. Chatbots

The rise of chatbots – automated computer programs that simulate human conversation in messaging apps – is expected to continue in 2019. Business Insider recently reported that the number of people on messaging apps surpassed the number of users on social networks!

Business Insider recently reported that the number of people on messaging apps surpassed the number of users on social networks! Click To Tweet

Chatbots are just one of the ways artificial intelligence will shape the content marketing landscape in 2019, but their ability to drastically increase customer engagement puts them on the short list for a major trend to watch in the coming year.

3. Voice search

Voice search is becoming an increasingly prevalent means of attaining information. Statistics vary, but it’s expected that anywhere between 30-50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. A recent report by NPR and Edison Research found that the rise of smart speakers is substantially changing consumer routines and purchasing behavior.

A good content marketing strategy for 2019 should consider how your customers might use voice search in your industry, and what you can do to maximize your content’s ability to respond.

4. Long-form content

I love this one, because it harkens back to humble beginnings of content marketing and the desire to put informative, quality content in front of a targeted interested audience.

Long form content – white papers, case studies, and lengthier blog posts e.g. – will have a resurgence of renewed appreciation in 2019. Why? Because many industries, including supply chain and logistics industries, are saturated with tons of mediocre short form content. People are increasingly looking to weed through it all for substantial quality posts from trusted sources. In addition, search engines will favor longer posts in results rankings.

Cheers to 2019 being the year of quality over quantity!

5. Brand ambassadors

We wrote about brand ambassadors as we headed into 2018, but they are worth mentioning again as we look forward to 2019. Brand ambassadors are employees that influence the B2B buying decisions of others, and they are an often-overlooked resource with more traditional marketing tactics.

Peers and colleagues are the third most influential source of information for business to business (B2B) purchasing, right behind online searches and your website! And there’s nothing more credible than a friend who speaks highly of their company’s product or service.

Definitely consider how you can help make brand ambassadors out of your employees in 2019.

6. Market Influencers

The final trend to watch in 2019 is influencer marketing, a form of marketing which focuses on influential people rather than the market as a whole.

Basically, marketers identify individuals who might have influence over potential buyers and create marketing campaigns and activities around these influencers. In many ways, this works similarly to a brand ambassador, where a single person influences their network of friends; in this case, however, the market influencer has a large network and a lot of “friends” who listen.

Influencer marketing will be a huge trend in marketing for 2019, and it would be worth considering who might be an influencer in your industry in the coming year and what your company might do reach them.

So, there you have it. As we head into 2019, these are the trends to watch and plan for in content marketing space.

The B2B buying climate is growing longer and more complex, and content marketing is so effective throughout the entire sales cycle if it’s done well.  The end of the year is a great time to revisit your marketing strategy and make any necessary changes for the coming year.

Best wishes in the year ahead!

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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Social Messaging Platforms: Why Your Supply Chain Company Needs to Pay Attention

Social Messaging Platforms: Why Your Supply Chain Company Needs to Pay Attention

With a growing shift toward social messaging platforms, your business needs to find a way to incorporate these apps into your content marketing strategy.

Feel like giving yourself a pat on the back for finally getting a handle on how to effectively use social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter in supply chain marketing? Well, you might not want to celebrate just yet.

In the constantly changing world of online connection, social messaging apps are the new social media. The top four social messaging platforms have overtaken the top four social media networks in terms of monthly active users.

The increasing popularity of social messaging platforms means your business needs to consider how to incorporate social messaging apps into your marketing strategy if you want to continue to best meet your costumers.

Here’s what supply chain businesses need to know about social messaging apps — and why to use them in supply chain management.

What’s a social messaging platform?

Social messaging platforms are exactly as they sound. They are applications that allow people to easily and quickly connect with friends, family, and businesses for personal and professional conversations. They are basically email’s hip, smart, stylish grandchild. Sending text, photos, multimedia files, and even making voice calls are all available options.

Let’s take a closer look at the top four social messaging apps to gain a better sense of what they can do.

  • WhatsApp. The enormously popular WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, is the most used social messaging app in the world with more than 1.5 billion users. Easy to understand and designed for smartphones and tablets, users can send text messages, photos, voice recordings and videos and even make voice calls over the internet. And guess what? It’s all free. In addition, WhatsApp lets users set a status for their contacts to see without having to message everyone, use the map function to communicate location info with someone, and share files from a phone or computer. 
  • Facebook Messenger. Facebook has its own messaging app too, and it’s just behind WhatsApp at 1.3 billion users. This social messaging app builds on Facebook’s user network but the message functionality was separated from the main social networking app a few years ago. Users can send messages and exchange photos, videos, stickers, and audio files, and they can react to other users’ messages too. You can also make free voice and video calls through the app.
  • WeChat. With nearly 700 million users, WeChat dominates in China and is making a serious push for global reach. WeChat provides users with free mobile instant messaging, video and voice calls, group chat, and multimedia messaging with images, video, audio, stickers, and more.
  • Viber. Viber is another free messaging app that works between phones, tablets, and computers. It currently has 400 million users. Users can send texts, stickers and emoticons, photos, voice and video messages. Viber also has a feature called Communities, which are public chat channels where the user can like and reply to messages in group conversations. It also has a built-in QR code scanner and, like WhatsApp, the ability to share your GPS location in conversations.

Why move to social messaging platforms?

If you’re questioning why to move toward one (or more!) of these four social messaging apps, here’s the short answer: because your customers are.

If you're questioning why to move towards a social messaging app the answer is that supply chain businesses can use these platforms to deliver content, engage with customers one-on-one, and offer superior personalized customer service. Click To Tweet

The longer answer is that supply chain businesses can use these platforms to deliver content, engage with customers one-on-one, and offer superior personalized customer service, all of which result in high-quality relationships and leads. And with the successful rise of chatbots in supply chain marketing, this kind of interaction is more feasible than it may initially sound.

If you need more reasons, don’t just take my word for it. Consider these 10 graphs that show why your business should gravitate toward increasing your social messaging presence.

Social messaging apps for the supply chain

So, which social messaging app is best for the supply chain? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. These are the top 4 platforms where your customers and potential customers are spending time, so this is where you should meet them.

But we all know that “doing it all” isn’t always feasible. So, in order to get the most from your time (and budget!), make sure to take the time to choose the best social messaging app for your marketing needs.

Ask these important questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • How will the app add value to my target audiences?
  • How do I want to deliver my content?
  • Do I want to use more than one app?
  • How frequently will I be marketing on the app?

These questions can help you find the social messaging apps that will work best for your marketing campaign and start connecting with customers in a more personalized way.

With the shift toward messaging apps, your business needs to find a way to do the same. But however you plan to incorporate a social messaging app, here’s a final word of caution: you aren’t a friend, and you aren’t family. Be engaging, be helpful, be available. Just don’t be intrusive. The 2018 Sprout Social Index shows that people are still using social media primarily for connecting with friends and family. As businesses consider how to use messaging apps to deliver content and engage with leads, it is very thin line between getting into your costumers’ hearts or getting under their skin.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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Why Inbound Marketing is a Better Strategy Than Outbound for Supply Chain

Why Inbound Marketing is a Better Strategy Than Outbound for Supply Chain

The supply chain is increasingly seeing the value of moving to an inbound marketing strategy. Here’s what’s at the core of the change to inbound marketing.

Traditional marketing in the supply chain uses an outbound strategy. We’ve all done it. Taking out ads in trade publications. Sending direct mailings. Cold calling.

These types of approaches fight to get your brand name in front of prospective customers, hoping to get a marketing message that resonates in front of the right person at the right time.

Inbound marketing is different

Inbound marketing is different. It’s, well, confident. It showcases your industry merit rather than trying to convince people of it.

With inbound marketing, you publish relevant, informative content where your audience already is – your website, related social media, and other online industry channels – to add value at every stage of their buyer’s journey.

Prospective customers come to associate your brand with industry expertise. When they are ready to buy, they think of you. That’s an inbound content marketing strategy.

Why the supply chain is shifting to inbound content marketing

The supply chain is increasing seeing the value of moving to an inbound marketing strategy. What’s at the core of the change to inbound marketing?

On a theoretical level, it’s recognizing that your business has more to offer than its primary product or service. This is so very important. You also have a team of extremely knowledgeable industry experts with unique and informed perspectives.

But switching to an inbound content marketing strategy is also about recognizing that your customers want much more from you than just your product. The business to busienss (BtB) buying climate is growing longer and more complex, and customers today are demanding value outside the sales funnel. Traditional outbound marketing accomplishes neither of these.

Switching to an inbound content marketing strategy is about recognizing that your customers want more from you than just your product. Customers today are demanding value outside the sales funnel. Click To Tweet

Why inbound marketing is better for the supply chain

If that didn’t convince you, put simply, inbound content marketing is just more effective for four main reasons:

  1. Cost. Inbound marketing is typically less expensive than outbound. Hubspot reports that each sales lead costs approximately 61% less for organizations that employ an inbound strategy versus those that focus on outbound marketing.
  2. MeasurabilityMeasuring your success with inbound marketing is considerably easier. For example, you’ll never know how many people saw your billboard, but you can measure exactly how many people read your blog post.
  3. Longevity. Digital content is often evergreen – meaning it’s forever relevant – and older posts that need an update can be easily optimized. Essentially, content lives forever and continues drive traffic long after you publish it. In fact, at Fronetics, about 80% of our traffic comes from posts that are 6 months old or older.
  4. Targetability. With inbound marketing, you only expend resources on prospects that are already looking for information about your industry, products, and services, making inbound marketing a much more targeted approach for your lead-nurturing efforts. Less expensive, easier to measure, lasts longer, and represents a more targeted approach? Seems like a no-brainer. But what’s the catch? Well, executing a good inbound content marketing isn’t easy, and it generally takes at least six months to yield results.

Executing a good inbound content marketing strategy

Done well, inbound content marketing is extremely effective. A good content marketing strategy is about understanding the questions and concerns that are particular to your customer base and about offering quality information and analysis that answers those needs.

The role of content in the supply chain and logistics industries is to grow brand awareness and customer engagement, increase lead generation and nurturing, and establish your company as an industry thought leader in the minds of your prospective customers.

An inbound marketing strategy helps you become more than just another business to customers. You can become a valuable resource for everything related to your products, services, and industry as a whole. Which is precisely what your potential customers are currently expecting from your supply chain and logistics business.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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