The Internet is nowadays a normal factor in the daily life and even more so in work life. Many companies’s services are only offered through the Internet and/or are based on the Internet and could not exist without it. But companies offering “offline” services which are not dependent on the Internet e.g. the road goods transport industry and freight and transport providers, could, nevertheless, also benefit from the Internet. However, many smaller or midsize companies (SMEs) are not up to date with the digital age and do not grasp the opportunity which the World Wide Web offers. According to a survey commissioned by GoDaddy from Redshift Research, the majority of the smallest businesses are do not focus on the importance to be found online. This counts for many midsize companies as well. The experts on the field are the opinion that if a company cannot be found online with a proper web presence or similar, then your company has been rejected as a possibility already before somebody even had had a first look at the company.
Reasons to get your transport company visible online
It is no longer enough just to be listed in a directory with just a name and an address to be found. If we focus on companies from the road goods transport sector as an example, this is an industry which before the Internet had their own “company directory book” or paper index card box with just the company name and an address. In time, as most of the large and some of the midsize companies discovered the Internet as a market place to offer and advertise their transport services, most of the SMEs have stayed comfortable with not at all having an online presence or just being listed in an online directory “like in the good old days with the index card box”. The first equals not being found, as if your company is invisible and the second means likeliness on losing the interest of a potential business partner or customer immediately. Catching the interest of potential buyers requires a lot more company information and hence, more effort and investing of time and perhaps a small amount of money. The survival and growth of SMEs are linked to their customers buying their transport or freight services. Due to the size and capital which of course are a lot smaller than the large competitors they are more sensitive to negative changes such as e.g. a main customer cancelling a contract. The clever transport or freight company look ahead and forestall such situations by having other customers which will keep the business going even if the main contractor leaves. Or, if the freight or transport provider wants to expand business, this logically also requires new customers. And today, the most customers almost no matter what industry or business are searching for new business partners through the Internet and the search engine machines like Google. When you have not done business before, credibility is the keyword for transport providers and freight companies. Your company’s credibility is the first thing you have to convince the potential customers about, even before you have been in contact. This is where your online presence become most important.
3 tips on how to become more visible online
The reasons and importance to become visible on the Internet in order to be found by new customers and potential business partners is now established, but what online media channels are the best “display windows” to reach them? The most noticeable in relation the Internet and a search engine machine like Google is of course a website.
A website does not have to be an impressive 100 page monster. A simple and nice-looking website with company info, contact info and a presentation of services offered can also do the trick. There are thousands of guide on how to bulid your own website, so just google and read your way through one of them or perhaps find a video tutorial on YouTube. A recommendation is images and photos of the team, perhaps photos of the company fleet, if you are a transport provider. Have in mind that it will become your window to the potential business partners, so rather invest a bit more time in the website in the beginning to get a nice result. A website also requires that you first buy a domain, so a financial invest even if it is a small one, is also necessary. If you have the time and resources, it is also giving a good first impression if you have news or press releases on your website. They do not have to be long, just small features about news in the company. It could be presenting new employees, a newly bought lorry or HGV, a donation to charity or new cooperation with a transport platform or freight exchange.
Another important channel to reach out to new customers is through social media. Some companies are concerned about the risk of getting negative feedback and avoid the social media channels. But as a SME this is a very small risk and it benefits a company more than it harms. Nestlé is one of the historical examples of a company with a Facebook profile where a shitstorm occurred, but even though it was poorly handled, it did not ruin the company at all.
A social media profile does not cost anything, but investment of time. You will have to open an account, insert profile photos and company information and ideally you should post regularly to attract other users and potential customers to your site. If you have a website, it is also perfect to make a link here to your social media profile site, so potential customers can see that you are active. Just remember to keep the post activity, because a corporate social media profile with the last post posted half a year ago or even year(s) ago is not a very active/interesting image to sell. Again, the Internet is full of how-to-pages and videos, if you need tutorials.
Third tip is more additional to the first two mentioned. Have a look at your corporate partners which you are buying services from. Very often these companies are large and have advertising possibilities and an interest in cooperating with customers like your company.
A company profile through cooperation partners like for instance your lorry reseller, your freight management system provider, telematic provider, freight exchange provider, etc. Even though your company is small or midsize you are probably buying a service from a large company with all the right (Internet) connections. It does not cost anything to ask them, if they offer the possibility to become a customer reference on their website (perhaps even with a link to your new website). Or perhaps they offer an online directory. For instance, the pan-European transport platform TIMOCOM with a freight exchange has an online business directory only for their customers. And they have customer references on the website with a link to the customers’ corporate website. Their customer base contains 36,000 pan-European transport providers and logistics companies which gives you an advantage as an SME to reach out to this many companies which are not just competitors but also potential customers. The advantage of contacting cooperation partners is that mostly they are more than willing to display the satisfied customers online and free of charge as you are already buying their service/product. And is the company large as for example the lorry manufacturer MAN, they often also have corporate social media sites with many thousands of fans/followers and are they willing to display your company as a satisfied customer with additional company info, these thousands will discover your transport/freight company.
Do not let “a small size” be the argument to not get online properly, get your transport or logistics company linked to a world of new customers which you normally physically would not reach. Do not forfeit the chance, get “plugged in” and become connected.
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