The Marketing PodCAST

How B2B logistics company GEFCO have adapted marketing strategies during Covid-19

July 27, 2020 The Marketing Pod Episode 2
The Marketing PodCAST
How B2B logistics company GEFCO have adapted marketing strategies during Covid-19
Chapters
The Marketing PodCAST
How B2B logistics company GEFCO have adapted marketing strategies during Covid-19
Jul 27, 2020 Episode 2
The Marketing Pod

Every B2B business has had a different experience of Covid-19. As a global logistics business, GEFCO’s services have remained very much in-demand - but in recent months their primary focus has necessarily been keeping their people safe. It’s meant some significant operational changes, all of which have been made a little easier by meaningful support from HR and marketing.

GEFCO has been extremely proactive in their use of marketing during the recent crisis, acting quickly to address the changing conditions brought about by Covid-19. So, we thought it would be great to catch up with their UK Head of Marketing Lydia Maule on how they have adapted their marketing strategy, to keep staff and customers connected and engaged.

Hear Lydia talk to Pod’s Ellie about how GEFCO switched from in-person Innovation Days to podcasts & virtual events; how they’re still celebrating their staff and upholding their ethos as a people-first business, and the other ways in which GEFCO have used marketing to make sure their staff and customers feel confident and cared for.



Show Notes Transcript

Every B2B business has had a different experience of Covid-19. As a global logistics business, GEFCO’s services have remained very much in-demand - but in recent months their primary focus has necessarily been keeping their people safe. It’s meant some significant operational changes, all of which have been made a little easier by meaningful support from HR and marketing.

GEFCO has been extremely proactive in their use of marketing during the recent crisis, acting quickly to address the changing conditions brought about by Covid-19. So, we thought it would be great to catch up with their UK Head of Marketing Lydia Maule on how they have adapted their marketing strategy, to keep staff and customers connected and engaged.

Hear Lydia talk to Pod’s Ellie about how GEFCO switched from in-person Innovation Days to podcasts & virtual events; how they’re still celebrating their staff and upholding their ethos as a people-first business, and the other ways in which GEFCO have used marketing to make sure their staff and customers feel confident and cared for.



Ellie: Hello and welcome to the second episode of The Marketing PodCast! We had
such a great response to the first episode, so we’d just like to say thank you to everyone
that has given us lovely feedback. Today I’m joined by Lydia Maule from GEFCO UK - hi Lydia!

Lydia: Hello!

Ellie: Lydia is the Head of Marketing at GEFCO UK, one of the world’s leading providers
of supply chain solutions - and one of our clients. GEFCO is a global business that
provides an essential part of the logistics solution for lots of organisations. They’ve also
been really proactive and quick to address the changing conditions brought about by
Covid-19. So, we thought it would be great to catch up with Lydia on how they have
adapted their marketing strategy to accommodate the circumstances brought about by
the pandemic. So Lydia, how are you - it must have been a busy few months?

Lydia: I’m fine thank you - but yes, it has been busy! A big part of our workforce can’t
work from home, such as our drivers and staff working in the operation, so our fantastic
Health and Safety team has been working hard to put processes in place to ensure that
they can do their jobs safely. It’s certainly been a strange time for everyone, with some staff furloughed, some who are typically office-based have been working remotely, and some at our operational sites have continued working but they’ve been adapting quickly to the new processes and procedures in place. We’re lucky because as we’re a global business we have had good systems in place to help us stay connected with our colleagues across the globe
for some time. That said, having so many people working off-site at the same time has still taken some adapting to! I’m also responsible for working closely with our HR team on employee comms. We have a strong family ethos at GEFCO and creating a sense of belonging is really important to all of us. Keeping that spirit going while people may not be working - and while those of us that are working are unable to see each other - has been high on our list of priorities. I feel like we’ve all settled into it now though.

Ellie: That’s good to hear! We’re very similar at the Pod - because we usually work from
home every Friday we’ve got the tech infrastructure to manage it, but working from
home all of the time means it takes just a bit more effort to stay in touch - usually we’re
all in the same room. What about staying connected to your staff? I know GEFCO is a really people-focused business, and your UK division has just won the Great Place to Work award, which is brilliant. How have you been ensuring that GEFCO is still a great place to work?

Lydia: We are definitely a people-first business - we know that we wouldn’t be able to
deliver an excellent service for our customers without our brilliant people. So we
dedicate significant time and energy to internal engagement, and that hasn’t changed
since the pandemic hit. During lockdown, we created a video to thank all of our
employees and posted it across our social channels to show our customers that GEFCO
staff are going above and beyond to keep our standards as high as always, wherever
they might be located, and that they are each doing their bit to see us through this
pandemic. As many people were working on our sites throughout lockdown, we also had to pivot some of our activity to create a range of health and safety assets. We’ve designed
several posters reminding staff of social distancing rules and the best ways to stay safe
on site, and a little wallet with all of this information in bite-size form, so staff can get a
reminder wherever they are. In the current circumstances, keeping GEFCO a great place
to work is all about keeping people safe - so that’s what we’re focusing on.

Ellie: And rightly so! I saw the video thanking your employees when it was being
developed in our design studio - it was a lovely touch. I also wanted to ask you about how you’re handling events at the moment, because while we’re slowly easing out of the lockdown, it looks like it will be some time before we can meet in big groups. And I know that like many businesses in B2B, events were intended to form quite a large part of your 2020 marketing programme at the start of the year. Obviously, you’ve had to cancel some of the events you had planned, which is a real shame.

Lydia: We have had to cancel the in-person events we had in our marketing plan, for the
time being at least. It’s definitely disappointing, but it’s actually pushed us to try new
things, and we have learnt a lot! We’re currently working on a plan to carry out a number of virtual events, to help us to stay connected to our staff and customers while social distancing rules remain in place. None of us have lived through anything like this before, so we’re all learning, and at GEFCO we’re doing that by making our events as audience-driven as possible. We recently surveyed some of our staff members to find out what type of events they’d be interested in getting involved with, what times were best for them, and what topics they wanted to hear about. We had an amazing response - lots of people gave their own suggestions, and we’ve used this feedback to create an event that would work for them. That event is our upcoming Virtual Conference Month, in which our team will be able to access a number of virtual sessions on the subjects they voted for in the survey. We’ll be
covering a wide range of topics, including mental health and wellbeing, which was one
of the most common suggestions that came over in the survey results. Honestly, the
survey approach has provided us with some invaluable insights that should help us to
make our virtual events just as engaging as our in-person events - we’ll definitely be
using this approach with future customer events, too. We also put out our first podcast while the UK was still in full lockdown, which also had a mental health focus, and that was really well received.

Ellie: Lots of businesses are taking this opportunity to experiment with podcasts - how
did you find it?

Lydia: It was actually far easier than everyone expected! We had lots of different
speakers on board, and they were all in separate locations around the country, so I
thought it might be difficult to record them all. We used SquadCast, which looks a lot
like a Zoom meeting, but it just records the audio. I think it was much better that they
could all see each other – the speakers said it felt more like a conversation, and I think
that made the end result so much more engaging! Most importantly, we had an excellent response to it - it was downloaded 150 times in the first week alone, which is above industry benchmarks. Obviously, it just goes to show that people are looking for different ways to stay connected. When you’re sitting on your laptop all day, or you’re on furlough, you might be less likely to want to join a webinar - but you might be more inclined to listen to a podcast while you’re on a walk, It was really important for us to reach a wide audience with this podcast, so we were delighted that it was so popular.

Ellie: We were delighted it was so successful too! It’s a really good point that furloughed
workers in particular might not want to log onto their laptops to join a webinar right now.
But like you say, many of those who are on furlough or working remotely are keen to
stay up-to-date with what’s going on in their business and the wider industry, and a
podcast might be a more accessible way for them to do this. I’m also interested to find out more about how you’re communicating with your clients at the minute. Obviously it’s a very sensitive time for many people, and one of the biggest challenges we’ve found is determining the right tone to take. It’s difficult, isn’t it - I think many of us are sick of hearing phrases like ‘new normal’ and ‘unprecedented times’, yet it feels wrong not to acknowledge the pandemic at all. How have you managed to find a good balance in GEFCO UK’s comms?

Lydia: It is tricky! We think it’s really important for us to stick to our usual tone of voice -
our customers rely on us to continue to deliver on expectations and to keep the world
moving, and that hasn’t changed since the pandemic hit. As a logistics provider, there are
a lot of businesses relying on us, so we try to be reassuring, confident and concise in our
communications. We often refer to the coronavirus in our comms, because it has
implications for our operations, but we always stick to the facts and outline how we will
address any issues it may present. We’ve also been focusing on keeping our customers informed - whenever we have an update for them, we get it out straightaway, so that they always know what’s happening with their deliveries.

Ellie: Lydia, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us - I think there are some
really useful insights that any business can use going forward. But if you could give just
one tip to other B2B marketers, what would it be?

Lydia: For me, it’s all about being adaptable and embracing new ways of working. I’m a
big fan of trying out new, innovative ideas - it’s what keeps marketing interesting for me!
That philosophy has enabled me and the GEFCO UK team to embrace new technologies, ideas and means of communication, both with customers and with staff, to make sure we’re getting our message across in an effective, engaging and sensitive way.

Ellie: I totally agree - your approach to trying new ideas is such a positive way of
working, and makes my job both challenging and interesting too! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today, I’ve really enjoyed it and can’t wait to see what’s next for you guys!

Lydia: Thanks Ellie, me too!