Aviation Marketing: Inbound marketing essentials

Have the right inbound marketing tools and platforms in place help build brand preference

Have the right inbound marketing tools and platforms in place help build brand preference.

Aviation manufacturers are slowly warming up to the idea of inbound marketing. Progressive practitioners are realizing the benefits of improved organic search rankings, broader reach of influence, and increased brand preference by investing in a strategic inbound marketing program.

When contemplating the execution of an inbound marketing program there are business, strategic and tactical issues to consider before starting the process.

It starts with identifying business goals.

Just as with external marketing, inbound marketing should be aligned with achieving business goals. Drafting a communication plan will help identify points of differentiation, constituent’s perception of your brand, and help develop key messages that resonate with decision makers.

When developing key messages it’s important to understand what keeps the decision makers for your particular product or service up at night. Understanding their business issues helps with crafting messages that create emotional connection.

Once the messaging segment is compete then it’s time to move into tactical execution.

Where to start?

Some of the basic tools and platforms you will need are:

  • Website
  • Presence on social media channels that connect with your constituent base
  • Resources for content development
  • Coordinated branding materials
    • Presentation templates
    • Presentation graphics
    • E-information sheets
    • High quality photography

Website: Electronic brochure or brand story magnet?

Weather developing a new or retooling an existing website pay attention to developing an overall concept or theme for the site. A good concept can differentiate you from the competition and help bring continuity to your outbound and inbound marketing support pieces as well. Bypassing the concept step can result in a website that is generic and more of an electronic brochure instead of a reflection of your brand story.

Another issue for consideration is the flexibility of the website with regards to adding sections and additional functionality as market and business conditions dictate. One important website attribute I stress is a simple content management system for content updates and announcement postings.

Social media channels are important.

Old school aviation marketers have yet to warm up to these channels but those that don’t have a presence are just inviting their competition to take the upper hand. When this happens you have to work twice as hard and invest that much more to achieve parity with your competition.

Content creation and design.

Having consistence of messaging and continuity of graphic execution helps solidify your brand image. Understanding how online content is digested above the fold and below the fold provides the insight needed to determine how much content to put on a webpage, where to place it, and when to augment the content with a downloadable file.

Additional Articles on this topic you may find of interest.

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Defining your brand’s personality

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Please leave you comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: Investing in your brand perception

Blog_88-375px_iStock_000027247088Medium

As your brand in perceived so is your company.

In the aviation industry, brands fall into three categories – innovators, challengers and laggards. Innovative brands take calculated risk; they think big, invest smartly and understand the power of marketing. Challenger brands are smart and agile they rely on new technology and materials to disrupt traditional business models. Laggards, well are laggards. Laggard brands practice “Random Acts of Marketing” a term my colleague Paula Willliams uses to describe marketing tactics without strategy.

Where does your brand stand in the food chain?

At a recent tradeshow I attended all three types of brands were present. The aviation industry for all of its engineering innovation is really a marketing challenged bunch.

This conclusion is drawn from conversation with executive management. When questioned about their biggest marketing challenge the responses went something like this:

“We don’t have any, everybody know us and we know them”

“Were challenged by the state of the industry not by our marketing efforts”

“All of our business comes from the MRO’s we can’t make any headway with the OEM’s.

“There is no definition of quality because all it all has to meet specification”

Statements like this lead me to the conclusion that a lot companies serving the aviation industry treat branding as an after thought. Most will agree that establishing a brand is important. However, evidence points to a lack of understanding of how to keep the brand vibrant and relative in the age of digital inbound marketing strategy and tactics.  Relying on what they are comfortable with the companies plug along doing the same thing and getting the same results while all the time becoming more frustrated with their place in the food chain.

Changing your brand perception

To move up the food chain and command a higher price for products and services rendered requires knowing what the customer considers important. Most aviation components and systems have to meet an engineering specification. Therefore the value-add becomes what does your brand provide that the competition doesn’t?

Identifying the differentiating factors and incorporating them into the brand story defines the brand promise. The brand promise is what helps create the emotional connection to the brand. Customers that select the brand have a sense of familiarity, providing them with peace-of-mind. The emotional connection also extends the reach of the brand. Knowing what the customer’s expectations are provides content for brand engagement through social marketing and owned media channels.

Additional article on this topic you may find of interest.

The difference between positioning and the brand promise

Finding your voice

Defining your brand’s personality

Why aviation marketers struggle with digital marketing integration

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: How to Achieve brand leadership through content creation

Brand leadership requires that everyone contribute to content creation

Brand leadership requires that everyone contribute to content creation

Brand leadership is about showing and telling the world what the brand stands for.

Brand leadership is achieved by communicating brand values, thoughts and deeds. In the digital world this can be achieved by publishing content via blogs, videos and microsites that are interesting and demonstrate the brands values and commitments to both customers and industry.

Organizations that are considering investing in content creation should first ask  “Why?”

The idea of content creation appeals to many people. They will read an article, see a video or blog post online and feel like they have something valuable to contribute. This is first step in the journey of people-to-people marketing.

When approached by someone in the organization about creating a blog or a video the first question should always be “Why?” This is not a rhetorical question. No doubt there are thousands of blogs and videos dedicated to aviation topics.  This question is asked to determine if the content supports the brand values.

After determining the merit of the “why”, the next questions should be:

  • What are the resources required to support content creation?
  • Does it contribute to the brand leadership effort?

 Resources

Successful content creation informs and inspires the readership. This usually comes from the author’s experience and unique point-of-view with regards to the subject matter. Another important aspect of the undertaking is that successful brand leadership requires a library of content before the first piece is ever published. Visiting a website with an abandoned blog or a single video post indicates a lack of effort and commitment.

Brand leadership requires that every department contribute to content creation

It’s not just the responsibility of marketing or public relations to produce content. People in these departments are trained communicators but may lack the deep knowledge base needed to develop authoritative content. In addition, there are conversations everyday throughout the company that relate to customer satisfaction, product improvement, and user experience that can provide inspiration and valuable input for ongoing content creation.  An additional benefit of company wide content creation can be a library of content that can be accessed online providing a quick reference for solving problems to customer questions.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

14 social marketing channels for content distribution

Engaging employees in social media marketing

How to write effective online copy

Social marketing begins with the correct strategy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: How to use #hashtags effectively

Hashtags provide short cut links to events, people and businesses.
Hashtags provide short cut links to events, people and businesses.

Knowing how and when to use hashtags can increase brand adoption

Lynne Serafinn, author of The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, wrote an article on how and when to use hashtags on Twitter and Facebook. Below is my interpretation for aviation marketers.

The aviation industry is slowly coming around to using social marketing as an inbound channel to build brand loyalty, provide customer service and convert new customers. While some in the aviation industry are still wishing that social media would go away, the facts state undeniably that it is here to stay. Twitter and Facebook have over 1.5 billion users on their social media platforms. Twitter has pioneered the use of hashtags and Facebook recently adopted hashtag linking protocol.

What are hashtags? What do they mean? How do you use them? Why should I care?

A hashtag is a word or term that is preceded by a ‘hash sign’, i.e. #. There can be no spaces between the hashtag and the word/term, and there can be no spaces in between words if you are using a term. Hashtags are not case sensitive; however, using upper and lower case can make them easier for your followers to read and identify.

When you put together a tag like this, #aviationmkting, it automatically creates a hyperlink that people can click. When they click on the hyperlink, they will find all the most recent Tweets or Facebook posts that have used that hashtag. Basically, putting a # sign in front of anything will turn it into a clickable link.

How hashtags are used:

 Follow current trends – Perhaps the most common use of hashtags is to follow information about a current story or event. For example, clicking on the link #Asiana will bring you to tweets and article posts about the airline incident and the summer intern’s short-lived job at the NTSB.

Find like-minded people – Hashtags can not only help you find topics of interest, but people of interest too. While some hashtags are on ‘trending’ topics, others are on long-term topics of interest. Using #aviationweek will display a range of the top 20 tweets of people that are using the hashtag in connection with their content or business.

Brand identity/content – Not all hashtags are about ‘things’ or events. If your product or service relates to the aviation industry, you should consider creating a hashtag that identifies your brand. Boeing has branded the hashtag #boeing where you can view their tweets as well as photos and other content about Boeing aircraft.

Hashtags provide shortcut  links to events, people, and businesses. Learning the correct way to use them improves your social marketing presence and increases brand awareness.

To read Lynne Serafinn’s full post “5 Ways to Use Hashtags” on Twitter or Facebook. click on the following link

photo credit: uwgb admissions via photopin cc
 

Aviation Marketing: How to engineer a social marketing strategy

How to engineer a social marketing strategySocial marketing is not free – it requires time, money, and resources

Social marketing is an all-encompassing term that covers very specific strategies and tactics designed to engage customers and prospects. When considering the addition of social marketing into the marketing mix, it’s best to review current marketing strategy and determine where social marketing will have the greatest impact.

Aviation marketers that step into social marketing are really making a decision to become their own content producers. Implementing a successful social marketing program requires time, money, and dedicated resources. Without these, the effort will be shortlived and short on results.

Where to start

Social marketing strategy development starts with the answers to the following questions:

  • What are the goals for the social marketing program?
  • How will social marketing integrate the existing marketing program?
  • Who will lead the social marketing efforts?
  • What resources are available to ensure success?
  • How will social marketing ROI be measured?

The answers to the above questions will form the foundation of your social marketing strategy.

Below are a list of goals that can be used as thought starters when defining the goals for the program:

  • Increase the number of prospects on the sales funnel
  • Influence decision makers in an informational, non-selling manner
  • Add an interactive component to the website
  • Position executives and technical talent as experts in their field
  • Create product evangelists that recommend product or service offerings

How will social marketing integrate into the existing marketing program?

To have a holistic marketing program, a balance of outbound and inbound strategies and tactics need to be orchestrated. Relying solely on a blog to generate leads is not a good idea. However, integrating a blog on the website may be a good idea to feature technical talent, thought leadership, or respond to customer questions and comments.

Who will lead the social marketing efforts?

Social marketing cannot be relegated to the summer intern or administrative assistant. Having a Facebook page and Twitter account does not make one a social marketing expert.

Having a champion in the executive suite provides the focus, incentive, and resources to assure that quality content is being produced and tactical execution followed through.

What resources are available to ensure success?

Depending on the social marketing tactic, one may need writers, video producers, coders, designers, and/or digital media planners. Few aviation manufacturers have this type of talent on staff.  Selecting a firm that has access to this talent can provide the necessary resources to keep the program moving and cost in line.

How will social marketing ROI be measured?

Everything digital can be measured. It’s important to realize the role that social marketing plays in the overall marketing mix. Consider the customer touchpoints in the sales cycle and where social marketing can influence the sales process. A purchase inquiry may come through an email campaign, but where was the customer influenced that started the research process leading up to the purchasing inquiry?

Additional articles that may be of interest:

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Why aviation marketers struggle with digital marketing integration

Aviation Marketing: 3 ways social media can help build your brand

Aviation Marketing: Social marketing begins with the correct strategy

Scoal Marketing Strategy Labyrinth

Social marketing can build relationships during the extended sales cycle.

Today, a few innovative aviation marketers are using social marketing to extend the engagement with key constituents during the sales cycle. Relationship driven, people-to-people marketing is generating brand awareness, highlighting thought leadership, and humanizing the brand.

Why is the correct social marketing strategy important?

Because 90% of buyers start their search for an aviation product or service via a search engine, not a company website, it is imperative that marketers understand to whom they are selling and where they congregate.

In addition, social marketing has a lot of moving parts. Marketers are simultaneously engaging new customers, nurturing those further along in the sales cycle, and rewarding those that have purchased and are now brand advocates.

Creating relevant content that focuses on the purchaser’s corporate pain points requires multiple campaigns based on the sales cycle. Depending on whether the audience is an influencer or purchaser, content needs to be developed for each, addressing their concerns.

How to extend the engagement

The biggest mistake marketers make is not paying attention to the landing page. Simply making an offer for authoritative information and then linking to the corporate website is a sure fire way to end interest and engagement. Marketers should create specific landing pages for each offer, reinforcing the offer and asking the viewer to share a modest amount of information in return for the desired content.

In essence, the landing page becomes the face of the brand, delivering on the brand promise.

Different audiences, different addresses

Through social marketing listening, marketers can determine where their audiences spend most of their time and where they are likely to make the purchasing decision. Younger engineers may spend their time on Facebook checking out events at an upcoming trade show, while senior executives may be more inclined to peruse a pay-per-click link on LinkedIn.

Social media channels should be tested to determine which will be the most effective and return the best results.

Segment but don’t alienate

Different social media channels offer different ways to segment their audiences. LinkedIn, for example, allows companies to target demographics by location, job title, age and gender. While this is important, don’t alienate those that  see themselves as future key decision makers. Allow this group to participate by signing up for news updates or special invitations for future events.

Photo CC BY Flickr, photo credit Fdecomite

Aviation Marketing: Protecting your social marketing assets

Got Trademark?

Got Trademark?

The increase in blogging is fueling trade name infringements

Recently I received a Notice of Infringement Cease and Desist letter over the blog and newsletter name Altitude Marketing.  This came as a surprise because I’d been publishing the blog and newsletter for over a year. It seems that “Altitude” when combined with “Marketing” violated a trademark registered by another marketing consulting firm.

Ignorance is bliss

The way I looked at it, this was a blog name, not a company name.  In addition, we operated in different market segments. I have several aviation-based clients. They had none. Their logo had mountains. My masthead showed an airplane. A google search identified several marketing companies using variations of the two-word combined phrase.

A quick search of United States Trademark Electronic Search System, (TESS) identified two companies with similar but different trademarks. Both had registered the term and shown prior use before I published my blog.

A second search of “WHOIS” provided the necessary confirmation that the URL of the combined words was indeed registered to the party that instigated the cease and desist letter.

Finding a new name without any previous use is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Naming is a tedious task, especially when operating in a specific market segment.  My mission was to conceive a new name that was clever, identified what the blog content is, and would be memorable and connect with aviation marketers.

After three days of name ideation and cross checking names and combined terms with TESS and WHOIS, seven possible names were selected for consideration.  Of course, being a firm believer of “practice what your preach,” I posted the choice of names to my Facebook page with a heart-felt plea for my online community to act as a focus group and post their comments for each name possibility.

Three of the seven names were immediately embraced as having potential to replace the current combination of words, with one being a decisive winner.

Strategic Air Marketing replaces Altitude Marketing

The chosen replacement name is Strategic Air Marketing. I am happy to report the TESS and URL registration is complete, and that the digital frontier can be tamed through due diligence and free online research tools.

To view the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Electronic Search System click the following link (TESS)

To start a domain search for available URL’s click here.

I’m interested in hearing from my fellow aviation marketers. Have any of you had similar experiences and if so what was the work around? Please comment in the space below.
photo credit: caitlinburke via photopin cc