Marketing your business, Part 1
Burns uses free services transport911.com, truckingplanet.com and hotshotcarrier.com to advance her visibility. She also has a Facebook page devoted to the business and still blogs regularly.
Videos, whether posted on YouTube or a business website, provide immediacy. They give viewers the chance to see an owner speak about his values and services, as well as to see the appearance of equipment. Often cited as effective tools are Schneider National’s YouTube videos for driver recruitment. Less than two minutes long, each explains the company’s mission and provides useful information.
Those who can’t afford to pay a professional to design and maintain a website can establish one themselves for free. Thousands of people use websites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com or Webs.com to build their own website. Using instructions on those sites or tutorials available through Google searches, someone with basic computer skills can create a website.
Having a weekend to work on the project and getting outside help can be productive, too. “If you’re not computer savvy, find a kid in your family or someone who is,” Burns advises. “Don’t be afraid of it. It’s a virtual reality we all need to be tapping into.”
Still, successful websites and social media pages need ongoing attention, so expectations for online marketing should be realistic. “A one-truck guy is not going to have the time to manage a website,” says Joe Rajkovacz, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s regulatory affairs director. “He’s going to spend a lot of time during his day just getting loads.”
Mark “Gator” Arnold, 53-year-old owner of Bells, Texas-based All Ways Trucking, launched a Facebook page to help build his reputation.
“I can have a new broker signed up before most guys can find a truck stop,” Arnold says, noting he can often find food loads for his 2007 Volvo and reefer within 100 miles of his home.
Taking a saucy approach
Making an impression with flare is important to Mark “Gator” Arnold, 53-year-old owner of All Ways Trucking in Bells, Texas. Arnold not only uses business cards with a photo of his rig, a 2007 Volvo and 53-foot trailer, but he has given Christmas cards and pens to clients. “It just kind of connects on a personal level,” Arnold says.
A unique touch is his homemade Red Wiley’s Sweet & Sassy Bar-B-Q Sauce, which he often gives to clients. The spicy concoction has helped land him loans at the bank as well as repeat loads. Once an Arkansas broker called him back “just because of the barbecue sauce,” Arnold says. “Those people don’t ever forget you.”
Clay Allman, 54-year-old owner of Road Dog Express, based in Indianapolis, hired veteran drivers for his startup two years ago, but relied on younger workers for online efforts. Office manager Crystal Shafer and sales associate Clay Graham, both in their late 20s, helped Allman work with a web designer for a planned January website launch. It emphasizes service and driver experience as the strengths of the seven-truck fleet.
“They had to change my way of thinking,” says Allman of his young office staff. “They’re the future. They tell me that website’s going to make a big difference.”
Fleets as small as one truck need to market their trucks, drivers and customized service, says David Owen, president of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, which has 3,000 members.
“The large carriers go out on the golf course to advertise,” he says. “Our guys don’t have that luxury.” Internet marketing and other online tools, Owen says, give small fleets “inexpensive access to where the rates and loads are.”