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How Top Freight Brokers Leverage Facebook to Grow Their Business

Recently, I had the opportunity of getting a little face-time with one of LDi’s top freight broker agents. During our conversation, he shared with me his struggles on building his presence on social media and with Facebook in particular. His main concern at the time was how he could grow his Facebook freight broker business page fan base. As LDi’s Marketing Manager, I was more than happy to share with him my social media expertise and offer in-depth insight and suggestions that he found to be valuable. It was then that it occurred to me that this information, as simple as it seemed to me with my background, was not so obvious to him and that it could be beneficial to ALL freight broker agents facing this very same struggle.

I’ll admit that this article might seem like a departure from more “traditional” methods for growing a freight broker business such as: turning cold calls into warm calls, finding new customers or retaining current ones, etc. But, I assure you that social media, once considered a novel alternative by businesses, is now a mainstream growth tool for your business and that you’re missing out on additional business opportunities if you are not fully embracing and exploring all avenues with regards to social media. To go a step further, if you have an established social media presence you may not be doing enough to truly reap the benefits that it offers. More specifically, I believe freight brokers should be utilizing Facebook equally if not more so than LinkedIn to grow their freight broker business and here’s my thoughts on why:  first, in the professional world, the general consensus is that LinkedIn is the ‘god of prospecting and connecting’ when it comes to businesses or business professionals…when the truth is that sales and growing your business is a numbers game and numbers are all about reach and exposure. And if you’re talking reach and exposure, no other social media network even comes close to Facebook. For those of you, and I’m sure there’s quite a few, that are saying, “But Facebook is a SOCIAL network!” That’s absolutely true. But, the number of people that are on Facebook and using it daily are astounding! Whereas on LinkedIn, very much considered the powerhouse of lead generation, user numbers are considerably less and they are not on LinkedIn daily. And, now I can hear those same individuals saying, “But we need to connect with businesses”. Also true. But we don’t sell to a business – we sell to a person.

My second reason, is any individual looking to sell a product or offer a service can’t ignore the TRUE determinant of why prospects become customers and customers stay loyal to you…and that’s RELATIONSHIPS. And I’m not talking about a ‘business relationship’ where you call, they have a need and you deliver a solution. That’s just logistics and if that’s your only approach you’ll spend more time trying to drum up new business and the rest of the time wondering why you can’t keep your customers. I’m talking about a personal relationship where you have put in the effort since day one with them. Getting to know your prospect/customer as a person, relating to their concerns, building trust and deepening that connection to the point where they aren’t just a business contact anymore – they are now a loyal customer that trusts your word, depends on you to service their needs and would not even consider sending their business elsewhere. There will even be days, once that level of comfort is firmly established, that your customer will give you a quick call, state their need and know you’ll just ‘handle it’. But chances are you also know their favorite hobby, if they’re married, have children or just bought a new house – all because you’ve built a personal relationship with them. And what social network is known, used for and deemed appropriate for building personal relationships and connecting on a personal level? That’s right – FACEBOOK!

FACTS:

  • More than 467 million people use LinkedIn BUT there are more than 1.6 BILLION users on Facebook DAILY!
  • More than 3 people sign up every second on LinkedIn BUT more than 8 people per second are added on Facebook!
  • An average user spends 17 minutes on LinkedIn per month BUT an average user spends 21 minutes on Facebook a DAY!

That’s impressive! Now that I’ve addressed the why and offered some facts, I’d like to share how a freight broker can begin leveraging Facebook as a POWERFUL tool to grow their business* even if they just created a Facebook business page TODAY! For those of you that have already been working with your Facebook business page, I’m confident that even you will benefit from some of these suggestions, keeping in mind I’m assuming nothing of your social networking abilities or depth in your current progress, so I’m starting with the basics:

  1. Create a Facebook business page
    1. Obviously! This is easily done from your personal page by looking to the upper right corner of your screen and clicking on the white downward arrow. In the drop down menu, select ‘Create Page’.
  2. Optimize your Facebook business page
    1. It’s important that BEFORE you decide to just create a business page for yourself that you research other users on Facebook, similar to you, that have created a business page and that you take the time to carefully review all the elements that went into their page (banner image, photos, bio, videos, everything). It’s always best to emulate the best instead of winging it or starting from scratch.
  3. Link your Facebook business page to your personal profile
    1. This is a great way to alert your personal contacts that you have a business page and hopefully drive them there and Like your business page. The more connections the better and those connections will hopefully help to share your business page content that could mean the potential for new or more business opportunities.
    2. To do this, start from your personal page and look on the left-hand side under ‘Intro’. Click on edit and start typing in the name of your business page. When you see it pop up, click on it to add it. Now it has become a link that people visiting your personal page can click on that will take them directly to your business page!
  4. Put a Facebook Fan Box on your website/blog
    1. Now that you’ve made your FB business page, don’t stop there! You need to promote your page every chance you get – be it on your website, in your blog, at your place of business, on your company literature, etc. Spread the word, again, it’s all about REACH and EXPOSURE.
  5. Take advantage of your personal Facebook account
    1. Whatever you post on your business page, you can also post on your personal page – that’s the beauty of Facebook and its lenient nature and flexibility.
  6. Content is KING
    1. Even if this is Facebook and interaction is very social and laid back, you should always post with being mindful to the “Big R’s” of social media:
      • Relative: relative refers to the content you are posting for your audience. ALWAYS think of your target audience FIRST before you post anything! You wouldn’t post a smoothie recipe on a jewelry store page. SPEAK to your SPECIFIC audience. Your Fans should find your page informative, helpful, interesting and appealing. Remember that this is your attempt at promoting your business side so you should project yourself as an expert, thought leader, educator and above all else, a professional.
      • Relevant: to attract and keep your Fans, you must post information that is always relevant. Keep topics current, keep your page fresh and you can even have fun with it by posting an industry article, a podcast of yours or (thanks to Facebook!) a funny meme about the transportation/logistics industry, etc. – and never, never, ever post anything questionable or offensive (I can’t stress this enough).
      • Reputable: whatever you post, that’s your image and whatever information you put out there, it needs to be accurate and easily verifiable.
      • Reciprocate: like any other social media network, content is shared. As much as you’d like your Fans to share your posts, you should make the same effort to regularly share some of your Fans posts as well. It can’t be a one-way street if you expect to continue having loyal Fans.
      • Responsive: Engagement is key. Just as you will invite comments and interaction from your Fans, you must make the effort to respond to their comments and stay constantly engaged with them. Answer questions, stay on top of your notifications, reply to comments and do it all in a timely manner! That’s just basic social media etiquette.
      • Results: Make sure to regularly check your Insights tab to gain valuable information/feedback on best time to post for your Fans, which of your efforts saw more engagement – was it a video? A meme? A posed question where they needed to select a response? An industry article? And harness that information to streamline your future efforts for better engagement by appealing more to your Fans.
  7. Post on Weekends
    1. With being the biggest social network out there, people aren’t just on it during work hours. They are on evenings AND weekends too! So, post anytime you want – if it’s good content (see #7).
  8. Invites, Likes and Fans
    1. Now that you’ve created a business page, you need FANS! Luckily there are SEVERAL ways to gain Likes:
      • Invite your friends from your personal page. Again, it’s all about reach and exposure and this one’s quick and easy.
      • From your personal page, join groups relative to your business page. For instance, freight brokers might search for groups using some of these words: truck, trucks, trucking, freight, freight broker, shipping, logistics and so on. Once you join or are accepted into some groups, you are now free to post content to their page. Make sure you don’t do anything to get yourself kicked from the group such as over-posting or bad content. The rule is, if you’re unsure – DON’T POST!
      • Make another established freight broker/trucking contact an admin to your business page. This is another quick and easy way to have access to their connections and invite them to your page as well!
  9. Create a Group
    1. Not only can you add Fans to a group by promoting it on your personal and business pages but others on FB will be searching for groups to join that they are interested in and join your group all on their own! How easy is that???
    2. Also, since you created the group, you set the tone for the page and content. This is the next best thing to prequalifying your prospects! Even though not all group members might be a hot prospect, at least they are more targeted and easily accessible to you.
  10. Check Yourself
    1. Just a word of warning as you venture into Facebook territory and begin marketing your professional self and your business. In the past, what might have been viewed as acceptable to your personal connections on your personal page (trash talk, slang, off color or inappropriate jokes/references, etc.) will now be potentially viewed and judged by anyone that connects to your business page. So, it might be wise to examine the content on your personal page (videos, posts, images, content) to make sure there is nothing that might offend or turn away potential prospects or current customers.

Let the above methods serve as a jumping off point for any freight broker looking to create a Facebook business page or have already done so but not sure how to proceed in optimizing it’s use. For those that found this information to be too basic and you’re looking to deepen your leveraging efforts with your Facebook business page even more, I invite you to obtain a copy of our free report, “Advanced Facebook Leveraging for Freight Brokers”.

If you have any additional suggestions on how to leverage a Facebook business page to help grow fan base and ultimately business opportunities, we’d love hear them! So, please feel free to comment on this or any of LDi’s blog posts or suggest future article topics and thanks for reading!

*Please keep in mind that this only serves as a general gauge and not all freight brokers will reach the same level of achievement, results or success when utilizing a Facebook business page to gain more customers or grow their business.

10 Reasons to Be Thankful as A Freight Broker

For many, Thanksgiving means a time when we gather with family and friends over a meal fit for a king, catch up on others’ lives, maybe enjoy a nap and splurge on some football. It’s also a great time to break away from our busy routine and pause to reflect on what we should be thankful for in our own lives such as good health, great family/friends, being safe and living free.

As a freight broker agent, you have even MORE reasons to be thankful and now’s a great time to take pause and recognize all the things that should make you thankful and grateful you chose this challenging yet highly-rewarding profession.

Among the MANY reasons, here are my top 10 reasons to be thankful as a freight broker:

1. YOU LIVE IN AMERICA – From day to day, we lose sight of this monumental advantage. This alone should make every freight broker agent thankful that they have the right to own and operate their own business as well as enjoy other fundamental rights awarded to you as an American citizen such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

2. CREATING A FAMILY BUSINESS – As a successful freight broker, you’ve now turned a solid, lucrative endeavor into a family business where you can create employment for the business professionals in your family circle. What’s more, you have the flexibility to find the positions that are best suited to fit everyone. Perhaps they don’t care much for working in a dispatching position but love finding new customers or carriers or vice versa. It can be a win-win situation when everyone finds what they enjoy most and where they fit in best and you benefit from a stronger business structure with happy, productive employees. And, many years from now, the business that you and your family helped build can serve as an established legacy and priceless asset to be managed for generations to come.

3. LOW START UP AND OVERHEAD COSTS – As a rule, it typically costs around $3,500 to launch into becoming a freight broker agent. These costs include everything from training, licensing and equipping your office with everything needed to function successfully as a freight broker agent (phones, computer, desk, files, supplies, etc.). From there, it’s not uncommon for a freight broker that started their career in a spare room or garage to outgrow their surroundings and need to expand into an offsite office that is five times larger! Also, if you are working your freight broker business on your own AND work from home, you are already saving money on overhead costs. You have the advantage over other business owners by not needing to pay or paying very little for expenses such as building costs, utilities and employees.

4. NO COMMUTING – Most people would agree that working from home and making good money would be nothing short of a dream job. So, be thankful…you are living the dream! You have the luxury of sitting at your computer in comfy pajamas, enjoying lunch in your own home (and probably saving HUGE on that aspect alone), and never being concerned about traffic issues, bad weather or putting added miles and additional wear and tear onto your vehicle.

5. A PROFITABLE INDUSTRY – As reported by Michael Curry from My Carrier Resources, there were 13,565 licensed freight brokers in the US at the beginning of 2014 and that figure has climbed to 15,203 in January of 2015. That level of growth for one year is impressive to say the least and it continues to grow! This not only indicates that freight brokering is a profitable industry but also illustrates freight broker agents are in high demand. The freight broker industry has proven to be a great opportunity for inexperienced individuals, new graduates and other business professionals with little exposure or experience in the logistics industry that are seeking a reliable and rewarding career path.

6. TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) – As a freight broker, you can be thankful for all they do for the logistics and freight brokerage community that include programs like TIA Watchdog, TIA Certified and TIA Political Advocacy.

7. SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET – With access to websites like www.internettruckstop.com, www.getloaded.com, and the comprehensive search ability of Google, you have powerful resources at your fingertips that freely offer up valuable insight and information to put you leaps ahead of your competition and help you do your job more thoroughly and efficiently. Helping you to quickly research new customers, gather intel, source carriers and finding the exact go-to person, are just some examples of attainable knowledge that will help you build and develop long-term relationships with your customers and vendors. Additionally, social media sites like www.linkedin.com, www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com, and www.youtube.com practically eliminate the need for cold calling and keep you informed on real-time information.*

8. SMARTPHONES AND WI-FI – It has become the running joke that no matter the need…there’s an app for that! And, it’s true! Thanks to smartphones and their ability to get more done, fast. Today, there are countless apps available to help freight brokers run, manage and track their freight brokerage activities from virtually anywhere. No longer do you need to be chained to your desk to check your email, make/receive phone calls or complete tasks.

Here are just some of the amazing apps available to freight brokers that save valuable time and provide convenience:  ITS Broker, Get Loaded, MyRadar, Evernote, Google Maps, and of course, LDi AgentMate; an app that keeps our freight brokers connected and in control of their freight 24/7 with features that allow you to create/cover/dispatch/deliver loads, post/edit/delete/view open postings, validate carriers, view customer information, post to 50+ load boards in seconds, and email rate confirmations instantly to name a few.** There’s an advantage to most everything with technology but, most of all, the real benefit is enjoying extra time for yourself and your family.

9. BEING YOUR OWN BOSS – Every entrepreneur and freight broker agent gets to enjoy the freedom of making their own decisions and flexibility to create your own schedule. You get to determine your salary/raises, when you take the day off, where/when/how you conduct your business, and are the sole determining factor of how successful you want your freight brokerage to be. Whether you want to make enough to live comfortably or live a lavish life…the sky’s the limit!

10. CUSTOMERS AND CARRIER PARTNERS – Freight brokers and freight agents should never forget that their loyal customers and carrier partners are the life-blood of their business and should be thanked regularly. It takes very little effort and cost to offer a heartfelt thank you, send a pizza for lunch, mail a thank you note (with a copy to their superior), and remember their birthday or give a holiday gift.

11. BONUS – LDI AS A RESOURCE – Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention www.LogisticDynamics.com. Not only do we provide high-value content in our blog but amazing information resources for freight brokers with our free reports, pre-recorded webinars and educational videos. Many talented individuals at LDi invested their time, valuable insight and seasoned expertise to create these pieces geared specifically for helping freight brokers be more successful and grow their business.***

When you take on an attitude of gratitude, you will find more contentment in all areas of your life. And, hands down, gratitude will always trump a bad attitude. Thanksgiving seems to put us in the mood to be thankful and appreciate all the things we are grateful for, but what a difference it would mean for us all if everyone instilled this way of thinking throughout the year.

What are you thankful for as a freight broker? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.

* For more details on how to find information and engage prospects in ways you never thought possible, view our free pre-recorded webinar, “Work Smarter Not Harder – How to Win More Freight Without Cold Calling”, featuring well-known presenters Sam Richter, author of Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling and Art Sobczak, author of Smart Calling that will demonstrate how knowledge itself is not power, but the USE of that knowledge is and show you specifically how to plug that information into the Smart Calling process that thousands are using to open up new accounts!

** View a demo of LDi AgentMate, an app that keeps our freight brokers connected and in control of their freight 24/7, and experience the freedom and power of real-time instant information access anytime, anywhere, all in the palm of your hand.

*** Visit LDi’s Resource Page for access to webinars, videos and free reports geared specifically for freight brokers and freight agents that want to keep current in the industry and help increase their income TODAY!