The COVID pandemic elevated the term supply chain into everyone’s daily vocabulary. As we faced shortages of common household goods in our favorite stores, we were told that the reason was disrupted supply chains.
Manufacturers and businesses from many sectors faced critical supply shortages. For example, a microchip shortage negatively impacted the auto industry, and is still leading to reduced inventory and high prices for buyers. This placed a lot of stress on logistics companies, and many of us were quick to blame them for the shortages and disruptions. According to transportation industry data firm Broughton Capital, in 2020, 3,140 trucking companies ceased operations, many closing for good, due to significantly reduced freight volumes.1
At the same time the transportation industry was experiencing a record number of bankruptcies, Ease Logistics’ revenue was two-times greater than their projections. How did they do it? According to Alisa Alvich, Marketing Manager at Ease, they delivered and communicated innovative solutions that go beyond their core transportation service, not only to their customers but also their community. She refers to it as new age marketing.
Focusing on Big Business
Ease’s market position is big business. Ok, I know what you’re thinking. That’s not how you define a market! Alvich is quick to say that they define their market in a non-traditional way and big business doesn’t mean big revenue. Rather, it means working with clients who are a good fit for them strategically and culturally.
Ease is an innovative company in a very traditional industry. They market to, and work with, clients who are also innovative in their own industries. And they are committed to helping their clients grow their businesses as much as they are to growing Ease. For instance, they have a 24/7 operations center. Not just someone answering the phone, but a fully staffed center that can deploy logistics support at a moment’s notice.
Their market, or target audience if your will, includes their community of Dublin, Ohio. Ease and their employees are active with local non-profits and contributing to their community in a selfless, helpful way is as important as on-time freight delivery.
Strategy and Innovation
One must look no further than the marketing team at Ease to encounter innovation. Marketing reports to Abby Failla, Director of Strategy and Innovation, and they are also part of the Employee Strategy and Innovation Team (ESIT). This is a team that gathers input from across the company on how to deliver better services to clients, improve the customer experience, or better engage prospects throughout their buyer’s journey. They develop the most impactful ideas and implement them. Because most of the ideas are centered on their prospects and clients, marketing can operate more nimbly to communicate the value.
The business development team doesn’t just take orders from customers needing to transport goods. They are responsible for understanding the why’s of their client’s business, their key performance indicators, and helping them reach them. This consultative approach creates customers for life and helps Ease develop new services as customers express challenges they have. These ideas often bubble-up into the ESIT for action.
Alvich explains that Ease’s external messaging, like their business model, comes from a place of empathy for their customers and a desire to meet them where they are. Alvich says, “this may mean helping them with issues that may not be tied directly to a service they offer.”
They also employ an innovative technique when developing marketing content. Good B2B marketers and salespeople are accustomed to asking their prospects and customers questions to better understand them and to reveal helping opportunities. Alvich says they have taken the idea of questioning and applied a buyer’s perspective.
Through research, customer feedback, and common sense, they’ve developed a set of questions that every prospect has, and they try to answer the questions with their content. Here they are, and keep in mind that these are questions from the buyer to the seller.
Do you understand my pain points?
Can you speak to and relate to my problems?
Can you accurately paint a picture for me?
What makes you unique?
Are you offering value beyond your solution?
Are you sharing something with me that I don’t already know?
Are you contributing usefully to my professional life?
Are you making my job, and life, easier?
This technique is a great way to give your content a score from your prospect’s perspective. Afterall, that is who you want to receive high scores from.
Developing Content Around Current Events
There is some risk in creating marketing collateral and thought leadership content around current events. There is no predicting when current events will no longer be newsworthy, and you don’t want your customers and prospects to associate a negative reaction they have to news with your brand. However, Ease had a great deal of success with a series they did on the supply chain in the middle of the pandemic induced disruptions. Why did it work?
Alvich describes it like this. While supply chains are nothing new, when they are working, no one really thinks about them. But when widespread shortages occur, like they did at the height of the pandemic, everyone wants to know why. So, Ease wrote a series of thought leadership pieces intended to educate readers on the modern complexities of the global supply chain. They were intentionally unbiased, careful to not place blame on any single person or part of the supply chain. Ease’s expert understanding of the supply chain was just what a highly curious set of current customers and prospects needed, and the campaign was a hit.
Getting all this to work is easier said than done and the key component isn’t necessarily a big marketing budget. Alvich attributes it to great leadership across the company, one in which everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas and innovate without risk.
The founder and CEO, Peter Coratola, established Ease after working for another logistics company that espoused a more traditional, perhaps outdated business model. The flatness of Ease’s organizational structure, empowerment of its employees, and closeness of marketing to strategy is intentional.
Alisa Alvich is the marketing manager at Ease Logistics. She is a seasoned professional with broad experience developing go-to-market strategies, aligning and driving long-term and short-term marketing and sales initiatives, and owning all areas and aspects of an organization’s marketing from overarching positioning and strategy to tactical execution. Always eager to learn something new each day, she is a firm believer in building strong business relationships based on listening first, offering innovative solutions, and providing exceptional value and customer service.
About Ease Logistics
EASE is an award-winning global supplier of innovative supply chain solutions focused on improving efficiencies and optimizing customer’s logistics, transportation, and unique supply chain needs. EASE provides accelerated solutions by means of a highly effective network of logistics and transportation partners, a dedicated team of hands-on employees providing proactive updates in real-time, 24/7/365. By using multiple modes of transportation, innovative applications of the latest technologies, and an industry-leading 2-minute response time, Ease ensures shipments are delivered on-time and without surprises - so customers can focus on what they do best, running and growing their business.