All businesses live or die on good marketing — including hot shot trucking.
Hotshotting may seem like an “all brawn and muscle” kind of gig. It involves powerful vehicles, heavy cargoes, and the vigorous stamina to go long distances. But actually, there is a “brainy and logical” side to hotshotting that a few truckers want to master.
In this article, we will share with you some practical ways to help you better market your hot shot trucking business. Following these tips will help you get more leads and sales. We will group them into three parts, as some of these tips work best in certain business stages.
A. Marketing Your Business During Pre-Launch
Pre-launching your hotshot business is vital. It entails a great deal of planning and preparation.
1. Begin With a Solid Plan
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” goes the famous adage.
Like any other business, hotshotting requires you to have a solid game plan before you even begin. A business plan is what you need.
A business plan is not a list of ideas. Hopefully, your ideas have now become concrete steps on how you intend to execute those ideas to run your business. Yes, the plan may include your “why” in starting with hotshotting. But it includes your goals and how you plan to achieve them.
Your business plan can also become your benchmark to help you see if you have or haven’t reached your goals. It can even help you design a more improved system.
Your business plan is a dynamic document. It may be written with paper and ink, or it may be a computer file. Regardless, it has to change — adapting to new business and market conditions.
2. Nail Down Your Brand Identity
Once you have a game plan, the next step is determining your brand identity.
Brand identity answers the question: “How will everyone remember my business?” Answering this can help you stand out from the competition. It can also project your business values to the world and help attract the best clients to you.
Creating your brand would entail forming your own unique corporate identity (your eye-catching logo, your impactful website, etc.) In short, brand identity “communicates” your business values non-verbally. So think thoroughly and thoughtfully about it before deciding what would it be.
3. Figure Out Your Value Proposition
Your value proposition answers the question, “Why would a client choose my business over the competition?” It has to do with the value your business promises to deliver to your ideal clients.
Here are some things a hotshot trucker can give to their customers:
- Quality service
- Timely and dependable delivery
- Courteous drivers and staff
- Competitive rates
- Reliable, clean, and safe equipment
- Assurance that the client’s cargo is 100% intact upon delivery
Remember that your value proposition will be your commitment to your clientele. The more you meet your clients’ expectations with your values, the more they will trust and stay loyal to you.
Part A is an essential stage in marketing your hot shot trucking business. It will lay a sure foundation for the second part of promoting your business.
B. Marketing During Hotshot Business Proper
After your business plans are put on paper, it’s time to put those ideas into action. Marketing helps to spread awareness that your brand exists and is now ready to serve clients.
Marketing Using Media
There are a variety of media you can use for marketing your hotshotting business.
Here are the types of media businesses use, which you can also apply to your hotshot venture:
This is the earliest — and arguably the best — form of marketing.
A kind word or a positive endorsement from a trusted source always brings in customers. Some popular forms of word-of-mouth marketing are testimonials and reviews.
Word-of-mouth marketing works best for those businesses that have already made a name in the market. But for the newer players, it would take them some time since they still have to prove themselves. But in time, as long as they consistently satisfy their customers, their trust rating will rise. And this trust will result in more long-term clients.
2. Print Media
This is the most traditional way of marketing. Even with the rise of the Internet, print marketing remains strong due to its versatility.
Some powerful print media used today are:
- Your logo in swag like stickers, mugs, shirts, pens, etc. (You may also use these swag items as incentives for your loyal clients.)
3. TV and Radio
Advertising through this means may still be useful. But its usage is slowly declining because of the Internet. Many opt to market online because of its potential to reach more people at a lesser cost, compared to using TV and radio — which are relatively expensive.
You can use this medium for advertising your brand. But unlike TV and radio, it needs your constant attention.
Are you thinking of having an aggressive online marketing campaign? You might need a team to have it regularly checked. In this way, you can zero in on your business’ growth while others market for you.
You can market using these various means:
It is considered to be a trucker’s online portal. If you are independent and have a small budget, you may use free website builders. These can be your tools for creating your website and establishing your credibility at a low to no cost.
In your website, you may create quality content like blogs and vlogs. Use these to educate your audience online or ‘sell’ your hotshot services. The material on your website can help increase your ‘findability.’ It would then make it easier for your target audience to discover your brand.
Post your contact details, services, and other important info clearly on your site. Also, don’t forget to put a link to your website on your preferred social media channels.
B. Social Media
Your pertinent info should be posted here as well. What’s unique about social media is that it can allow you to connect with your audience quickly.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the primary social media platforms businesses can use. Want to parade your fleet in photos? How about providing hotshot tips using videos and graphics? Then consider Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.
You may share the content on your website in the most common social media platforms.
Social media is an excellent marketing tool. It puts hotshot business owners closer to their clients and prospects. Through social media, hotshot truckers also easily connect with their brokers and shippers.
C. Industry-Related Marketplaces
If you are in real estate, you have real estate marketplaces like Zillow and Trulia. If you are a freelancer, you have job market places like Upwork and Craigslist.
Similarly, hotshot truckers also have their marketplace, which they call load boards.
Load boards, otherwise known as freight marketplaces, is an online load platform. Many owner-operators use them to find loads. Some reliable load boards are DAT, Truckstop.com, and 123Loadboard.
C. Evaluating Your Hotshot Business
After Parts A and B, your hotshot business should now be operating. After the first six months of operation, it is essential to evaluate your marketing efforts.
Evaluations are critical at this point since it would show if your hotshot venture is going to be healthy or not in the future. If it is going to be healthy, continue with your marketing strategies. If not, it’s time to recalibrate and improve them.
Value Proposition Check
This is keeping a check if you are still providing the same quality commitment to your clients.
Here are some things you can ask when evaluating whether you are still delivering your best:
- How’s your business image? Does it maintain an image of success and professionalism?
- Are you keeping your fleet well-maintained?
- Are your drivers and staff neat and projecting an image of success?
- Are you still delivering quality service to your clients?
- Are customers satisfied with your service?
- Can you still deliver competitive rates?
- Are your rates still able to support your business operating costs?
Service and Marketing Check
Evaluating your service and marketing strategy is like monitoring your success. Keeping these in check enables you to remove ineffective approaches. These will also help you see if you are hitting your hotshot business goals.
For marketing, you will have to check if there is a rise or decline in sales. This check will help you grasp a general picture of the business if it is getting a return on investment.
Evaluating your marketing strategy is also useful to see your competition’s strategies. You can learn a lot from the marketing efforts of your competitors’ and you may adopt some of them.
Another facet to the evaluation phase is assessing the service you are giving to your clients. One way to gauge the effectiveness of your service is to let your clients answer a survey or a feedback form. You may send this after each delivery. The information you can glean from this would be a big help in improving your hotshot business.
The Bottom Line
You’re now armed with this vital marketing know-how. You’re now ready to grow your hot shot trucking business. Take advantage of the available marketing tools. These tools can boost your hotshotting by touting your services, equipment, and how unique you are from your competition.
The final step is to sell your services. If you’d like to know more, please read the excellent article, 5 Effective Ways to Sell Your Hotshot Services, published on the Hotshot Warriors Blog.