Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

In 1958 McGraw-Hill published the famous “man in the chair ad.” This iconic image served as the rallying cry for decades of business-to-business marketing.

In 1958 McGraw-Hill published the famous “man in the chair ad.” This iconic image served as the rallying cry for decades of business-to-business marketing.

Remember studying “Mass Communications” in college? Mass communications was born out of the industrial revolution when manufacturers learned to make lots of the same thing via the assembly line. Henry Ford’s Rouge Factory was the model of efficiency, producing at times more than 1000 cars a day for a growing country. The assembly line concept also caught on with marketers.

This was due to the fact that the few media networks — broadcast and print — were large and expensive to staff and maintain. Networks could deliver the demographics that marketers were after and make it relatively efficient. All marketers had to do was to place advertisements with the assurance that their intended target audience would eventually be exposed to their brand messaging.

Under this model, the company controlled the time and place for customer communications. In addition, there were limited channels in which customers could express their opinion of the company’s products and services.

Enter People-to-People Marketing

Technology has ushered in the era of People-to-People Marketing. Mass communications has transformed into one-to-one communications. This is due to smaller, lighter and more powerful computing technology. With thousands of channels available and low entry cost, anyone can post their opinion about what they like and dislike. The same is true for brands. No longer are they confined to “mass communication” channels. The shift in technology has ushered in a cultural change, disrupting big media networks and requiring marketers to re-evaluate their strategies and tactics.

Now, connecting to customers calls for integrating both push and pull communications strategies to create brand preference.

People-to People Marketing is a strategic execution that combines relevant content with selected media channels to create a personalized experience for the customer. When orchestrated correctly, the content becomes the fiber of the brand story, reaching the customer on different emotional levels. Astute brands recognize this and are implementing People-to-People marketing to gain the customer’s trust and increase the likelihood of an emotional connection with the brand.

To learn more about the transformation of Business-to-Business marketing to People-to-People Marketing, click here to view and download our free guide.

People-to-people Marketing and “Small Data”

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Human insight combined with “Small Data” provides a better customer experience

Devin Wenig, President of eBay Marketplaces recently spoke with McKinsey & Company about how digital technology was transforming the retail marketplace. One of his insights that can apply to companies serving the aviation industry was his take on the importance of “small data” vs. “big data”.

For definition purposes, let’s identify “big data” as data sets that represent large groups of people and certain types of behavior associated with their purchasing habits. This data is gathered from transactional data, website analytics and social insights, and usually requires the service of a data scientist to interpret trends and connections.

“Small Data,” on the other hand, is about putting the customer first. Engaging the customer with information and tools organized and packaged to be easily accessible, understandable, and actionable to accomplish the task at hand (think apps). Companies that understand small data can use it to their advantage by creating relationships leading to increased brand loyalty and repeat business.

“Small Data” leads to actionable strategies

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight, resulting in knowing your customer base as individuals – their likes, dislikes, purchasing history – and providing an easy to use, relevant online user experience.

Long tail data – a complete customer picture

A search engine can sort through millions of bits of data from a keyword query and provide an exact match, but it cannot provide additional queries for items that may be related. For example, say your website has a search feature and the customer has entered a part number. The part number query will take them to the requested part configuration but is incapable of identifying additional parts that may be needed for installation in a specific airframe or for a retrofit of a new digital component. Using the “small data” approach, the search query could also display a complete view of additional components associated with the original query, assuring that the customer gets all they need the first time around.

Relevant online experiences lead to loyal customers

People-to-people marketing requires engaging with customers by providing useful information. Thinking beyond a single data set and applying insight such as including installation tips and additional component selections creates customer loyalty. Thinking of “small data” as the “right data” will help marketers build better customer profiles, leading to a better online experience for all involved.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Using social media to gain customer insight.

B-to-B social media strategy: Quality not Quantity

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Airlines Embrace Mobile Marketing

Airlines are relying on mobile marketing to build brand loyalty with the connected traveler

Airlines are relying on mobile marketing to build brand loyalty with the connected traveler

Airlines are experimenting with mobile marketing strategies to engage and connect with their customer base.

The State of Airline Marketing 2014 report published by SimpliFlying and airlinetrends.com identifies seven trends that airlines are exploring to increase brand preference and customer engagement. It’s not surprising that the tactical execution of these trends rely heavily on the connectivity of mobile marketing using social media networks and mobile devices (smart phones & tablets) combined with promotion. Some of the trends mentioned have merit. Others could be considered annoying in a confined space. One thing for sure is that airlines are beginning to understand the connected traveler and are looking for innovative ways to create brand loyalty.

7 airline marketing trends in 2014

1. Micro events – Organized onboard events, ranging from mid-air fashion shows to golf putting challenges and product giveaways. Airlines leading the way include Virgin America, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, and Air New Zealand. Check out the Air New Zealand putting challenge event video.

2. Cool tech – Airlines that embrace their inner geek are sponsoring hackathons to dream up new travel apps for your mobile devices. Emirates Airline sponsored a 24-hour travel hackathon and is forming a technology and creative community to keep up with mobile marketing technologies and to co-create travel apps.

3. Visual culture – Tapping into the ability of our mobile devices to capture, enhance, and share visual content on social media channels, airlines are encouraging the ultimate “selfie.” Turkish Airlines YouTube channel racked up over 135 million views in a single month for their “Kobe vs Messi Selfie Shootout” video.

4. People Power – Airlines are attracted to the size and power of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Several have offered special rates on airfares outside of traditional distribution venues on platforms like Groupon. This is a form of “Crowd Clout,” where airlines have the ability to create customer frenzies with the offer of deep discounts and viral sharing using mobile devices.

5. Emerging markets – Creating travel stories using emotional connections, airlines are promoting destinations and international travel to and from emerging countries. These include the “BRIC”s (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the “Next-11” (including South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico). British Airways is promoting their North American flights to India with “A Mother’s Wish” web posting.

6. Innovation is the marketing – This is a low cost entry approach into product and service marketing. Examples include wireless chargers found in customer lounges, RFID tags that let you track your luggage, and “meet and seat” experiments that let you check out your seat mates’ social profile before selecting a seat.

7. Outdoor creativity – Unconventional advertising in the form of digital billboards, kiosks, and point of sale floor graphics. British Airways #lookup billboard in Piccadilly Circus was wired to detect BA flights flying below the clouds and would display the flight number and destination along with a URL flight booking and price.

To register to download the full report, click here

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Inbound Marketing and the Prospect Pipeline

Inbound marketing can provide a warm call environment for reaching out to the prospect.

Inbound marketing can provide a warm call environment for reaching out to the prospect.

Inbound marketing can help identify your best prospects

I’m reading a lot these days about the disconnect between marketing and sales. The story goes something like this: Marketing generates leads and hands them over to sales. Sales says the leads are worthless because the prospect has not been qualified as to purchasing intent and does not have an immediate need.

This leads me to believe that marketing and sales have not collaborated on the following:

  • What does the best prospect look like?
  • What are the critical business issues the prospect is facing?
  • How does the product or service offering provide the best solution?
  • How do you determine the prospect’s interest in the solution offering?
  • What milestones should marketing achieve before turning the information over to sales?

Gaining productivity forms inbound marketing.

The primus of inbound marketing is to identify interested prospects and educate them about the brand’s product or service offering.  Consistency of engagement and messaging helps to build trust for the brand leading to preference for the brand’s solution when the critical business issue arises.

Inbound marketing was never intended to carry the entire marketing load, or substitute for sales-building personal relationships. Used correctly, inbound marketing can gain an inside advantage, change the parameters of an RFP, and substantially shorten the decision making process.

Where inbound marketing shines is in creating an environment where prospects are familiar with your brand and the story behind your product or service offering.

Digital analytics – structured and semi-structured data – can provide a representative visual picture of prospects that have interacted with your inbound marketing. By assigning values to data points, a lead scoring system can be developed furthering defining the prospects interest.

For example, if the prospect opens an email newsletter three out of five times, you could assign a high value due to the frequency of opens. Conversely, if the prospect only opened the email newsletter one time in five mailings, a low value would be assigned.

Creating this picture over an extended time frame provides a detailed image of the prospect, their interest in the offering, and the groups that they interact with.

All of this information provides a warm call environment for reaching out to the prospect.

The inbound marketing activity is the first step in people-to-people marketing – engagement. This step helps in qualifying the prospect’s interest and allows sales to determine if the prospect meets the criteria for additional follow up.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Social media content strategy

People-to-People Marketing: Engage, Connect, Influence

How inbound marketing can help drive lead generation

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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What’s your brand’s reputation worth?

The customer’s emotional connection to a brand’s reputation reflects their values and beliefs

Customers select brands that align with their values.

The customer’s emotional connection to a brand’s reputation reflects their values and beliefs

It has been documented by several top-flight management consulting firms that B-to-B brands can achieve brand loyalty by providing positive experiences across multiple touchpoints. While I agree with this statement, it fails to take into account the customer’s emotional connection with the brand’s reputation. Their emotional connection is the real estate between the customer’s ears. Owning this can be a competitive advantage because it makes the competition work harder and invest more to be considered in the evaluation segment of the considered purchase process.

What’s your brand’s reputation worth?

Aside from an intangible asset listing for “goodwill” on the financial statement, studies have show that companies with strong brands have a higher EBIT margin than those with weak brands. This can be attributed to the buyer’s positive perception of the brand based on its reputation in the industry segment.

Small companies that invest consistently in their brand’s reputation can command premium pricing, leading to ownership of the high-end segment of the industry. This can cause larger competitors to adjust their price point and product offering to appeal to a less sophisticated user, resulting in smaller profit margins.

Purchasing cycle touchpoints

The traditional B-to-B purchasing funnel has been disrupted. No longer is it a linear journey but more of a spiral with blended phases. These phases consist of awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchase, and advocacy. During any one of the phases, the buyer can spin off into a new search when social media or peer recommendations influences the brand’s reputation. Of course, building a personal relationship is still the most effective means of influencing the purchasing decision. However, in the digital age, a majority of buyers have already their completed their due diligence by the time the sales representative is brought into the loop.

Brand investment marketing touchpoints:

  • Website
  • Advertising
  • Sales collateral
  • Press releases, feature articles
  • Social media networks
  • Industry trade shows

Customer messaging that connects

B-to-B customer communications has primarily focused on product feature/function and innovation. Additional themes have been security of supply, global reach, and customer service. While the above topics are important, there is a shift in customer sentiment and a yearning to know more of the brand story. This shift represents an opportunity to enhance the brand reputation by communicating, for example, how it treats supply chain vendors in developing countries, or supporting social causes that benefit a population segment or environmental causes that protect natural resources.

Customers select brands that align with their values. The Wal-Mart brand stands for low cost, Audi stands for automotive engineering excellence, and Whole Foods stands for locally sourced organic produce. Visit any of the brands’ stores or showrooms and you will see an alignment with their customer value systems. Brands that speak to their customer’s values and beliefs will have an enduring reputation and lasting value within that segment.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Investing in your brand perception

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Emotional ties create strong brand loyalty

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Air charter: Defining your brand

Brand differentiation is a process beginning with defining your product and service offering.

Brand differentiation is a process beginning with defining your product and service offering.

On-demand air charter customers seek a better brand experience.

With over 2500 air charter operators in the United States, competition is fierce for acquiring and keeping customers. While the focus of on-demand air travel is safety, security, and productivity, charter operators should not overlook the value of the emotional connection that customers need to establish with their brand.

Determining your point of differentiation

Taking a strategic approach to brand differentiation is a process beginning with defining your product and service offering. For this first step, it’s important to review your assets and how they match up to the market need. Depending upon your footprint — international, national, or regional – this analysis defines the value of your product and service offering.

For example, if your service is mostly used by sportsmen to access fishing and hunting camps, that’s a different value proposition than offering international jet service.

Brand attributes and benefits

Next, list the feature, function and end user benefit of the service offering. Think of this in terms of equipment, pilot experience and training, safety record, ease of doing business, customer satisfaction, and problem/resolution during the charter operation.

Business segments

Analyzing the business segments that your charter service will depend on for paying the bills is also important. For example, on the Gulf Coast, many charter operators rely on the energy sector for shuttling workers to and from offshore drilling platforms. Identifying specific business segments, individual companies, and decision makers and influencers helps to narrow the focus and formulate key messages.

This area also provides the opportunity to gain customer insight based on decision makers’ perception of the service offered, in order to determine the best communication channel to reach the audience with your differentiation messaging.

Brand personality

To borrow a page from consumer package goods marketers, viewing your charter service as a brand helps define its personality, points of differentiation, and key messages. This forms the foundation for your brand promise and the experiences that customers can expect from selecting your on-demand charter service.

Taking a strategic approach to define your brand leads to more efficient marketing, better use of marketing resources, and helps to create an emotional connection with your customers.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Finding your voice

Creating the foundation for brand differentiation

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Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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