Waiting in the wings, though, the shipping industry is fast becoming a very exciting sector, full of brands that could be doing the most interesting and groundbreaking marketing.
The shipping industry is the backbone of the global economy, carrying 90% of global trade and moving 95% of the goods that people use every day. Shipping is now a rapidly changing sector, fuelled by innovation, technological change and a shift in the attitudes of its leaders.
Times have been tough, with the majority of big players struggling to recover after the global financial crisis – facing fierce pricing competition and suffering the hangover of over-supply with forecast demand failing to materialise. But things are now back on the up, with trade increasing and business leaders becoming more responsive to new technologies and innovation.
At a recent roundtable attended by delegates from UK Chamber of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register and several emerging tech companies, the need for the Maritime sector to embrace digital transformation was discussed at length.
“I didn’t have to understand blockchain to understand its advantages”, said one of the attendees – indicating the shift in thinking that’s now happening.
This change in perception has opened shipping up to becoming an industry rich with opportunity, with new players already leading the charge:
Blockfreight has built an end-to-end blockchain solution for ‘bill of lading’ access for all entities in the supply chain, Xeneta is a crowdsourced comparison service that is leading the way in ocean freight pricing transparency, and Kontainers which has been heralded as ‘the Expedia of shipping’.
And, thanks to sustainability commitments, companies such as Rolls-Royce have unveiled a concept fleet of self-driving drone ships which could be ready by 2020.
These innovations and technologies need great B2B marketing.
New entrants in the shipping technology market have to differentiate their product with impact and land their brand story to convince new customers of their importance to their changing business model. And they have to do this without using alienating jargon whilst still sounding like an authentic industry partner.
Traditional partners, like large insurers, need to update their brands and overhaul their websites to remain relevant and at the cutting edge, and run campaigns that show they’re keeping up with the new players.
And the big shipping companies, such as Maersk, Evergreen Marine and ONE, have to communicate in the clearest and most creative ways that they are the people to add value, protect cargo and be the real industry innovators that are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
There is enormous opportunity to do interesting and highly effective B2B marketing that will allow businesses to become the de facto owners of specific subjects, ideas and experiences. For example:
As a truly global industry, shipping has an endless supply of human interest stories just waiting to be told – from the seafaring journeys themselves to the day-to-day running of the companies that rely on shipping to operate. Some businesses have already started doing this – Maersk do this particularly well through their social channels – but there’s always room for more.
Shipping is a complex industry and digital experiences can be created to help people understand the more complex aspects of it and position your business as empowering and insightful. For example, an interactive website that tracks the journey of a cargo container, or a Virtual Reality experience that explores the ins and outs of a ship at a trade show. The possibilities are wide open.
Businesses can distinguish themselves from competitors by addressing one of the pressing topics in the shipping industry right now, such as the push to go green and help build the world economy without destroying the earth, or the reality of mental health issues in some parts of the industry. The business that flies the flag for change will be better placed to start winning hearts and minds in the B2B space.
Shipping is a deeply traditional industry, built very much on personal relationships. Brands need to reflect this within their marketing and, most importantly, across all of their online experiences to show that they are both living in the future and have a deep appreciation for the past.
It’s clear to us that the entire industry is rich with potential and crying out for creativity – especially now when increased local production is threatening the size of the industry, and companies like Amazon are making moves to own the logistics chain.
We cannot wait to see who steps up to stand alongside the Fintechs and Telcos in showing everyone what great B2B marketing looks like.