Aviation Marketing: Digital’s impact on the 4 marketing P’s

Extending brand engagement through digital services

Technology can enhance and solidify the emotional connection to the brand.

Digital technology is affecting the 4 marketing P’s – Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion – by extending brand engagement. Adept aviation marketers are adding value to their brand by providing digital services that complement the user’s life style and the core product offering.

The digital side of the marketing 4-P’s:

Product – the nature of what a brand can provide for consumers has been transformed by technology

Brand interaction is not limited to a specific time and place. Mobile platforms are providing access to the extended brand offering when the consumer has the greatest need.

Digital stickiness

  • Digitally delivered services bolster the brand’s value proposition
  • Opportunity for mass customization by personalizing products
  • Ability to service niche audiences with specific product offerings
  • Digital channels can involve customers in product development and design


  • Southwest Airlines App
  • Nike Training Club App
  • Starbucks App to pay with iPhone or iPod
  • Customizable M&M’s – mymms.com
  • Starbucks crowd sources R&D – my Starbucksidea.force.com

Price – price transparency is transformational in many product categories

Pre-digital, business controlled the information and shared it on a one-to-many communication model.  Now information is everywhere, ushering in price transparency.


  • Jetcost  – cheap flight comparison app
  • Liligo – flight search engine app
  • Travelocity.com
  • Esurance.com
  • Google price comparison
  • CouponcodesUSA.com
  • Mobile coupons that allow stores to appeal to customers in the immediate area
  • Bulk purchasing on Amazon.com

Placement – Electronic (e)-commerce, Mobile (m)-commerce and Social (s)- commerce are changing the purchasing habits of consumers.

Digital connectivity in media turns media channels into commerce channels.  Consumer purchasing behavior has changed where online purchasing is an accepted form of commerce. Because the supply side is now well developed, there is less fear of purchasing online due to improved online security and widespread broadband access.

Promotion – the nature of “promotion” has fundamentally changed because of new places to influence consumers and new ways of influencing

The biggest influencer on promotion is search. Now through behavioral targeting, brands can present relevant content at the time and place when consumers are the most receptive to special offers.

To this, add location-based promotion via mobile platforms and in the not too distant future, connected TV. All of this will require a content-centered strategy not necessarily promoting products, but providing content relevant to the viewer’s life style.

photo credit: Robert Scoble via photopin cc

Aviation Marketing: Digital Adoption and Content Creation

tablet adoption provides aviaiton marketers with new ways to connect

Smart phone, E-reader and tablet adoption is providing aviation marketers with new ways to connect with a diverse audience.

In their Top Digital Trends Report, eMarketerTM predicts that there will be over 89 million tablet users, 53 million e-reader users and 148 million smart phone users in the United States by 2014.

If this trend prediction is correct aviation marketers will have numerous platforms and networks with which to engage customers and prospects through out the adoption and purchase cycle.

Screens Everywhere

The challenge aviation marketers face is now one of learning how to use digital platforms and cloud based delivery systems to enhance the customer experience.

For example: instead of charging passengers for internet access in the airport environment what if internet access service was branded and offered for free? This is contrary to the current revenue generation thinking pattern of charging for every ancillary service, but customer loyalty could be cemented by offering free access to deals and incentives provided by merchants serving the airport ecosystem.

Taking that idea further, what if airlines streamed their own brand of entertainment to travelers in the waiting areas, and then utilized a cloud system to make it available to the traveler on their smart phone or tablet or once seated on the plane above 10,000 feet?

Forward thinking aviation marketers are already experimenting with these concepts. Singapore based, Scoot Airlines is offering iPads to long-haul budget travelers loaded with movies, music and games. This innovation occurred after ripping out their aircraft entertainment systems to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency.

Jetstar, Quantas Airlines ltd’s low cost carrier is now offering preloaded iPads on domestic and international flights lasting longer then 90 minutes.

Both airlines plan to roll out wireless internet access in the near future, further enhancing the traveler’s experience.

People-to-People Marketing is Digital and Mobile

As users of mobile digital devices become more familiar cloud based delivery, their expectations for higher quality content will rise, as will their demand for the capability to engage in mobile commerce.

We are already seeing the trend for higher quality content in action through video ads.

Video ads are designed to support, rather than replace online and offline advertising. This form of marketing is a hybrid approach — drawing in the viewer by making a connection through a sponsorship, event or video game.

Mobile commerce will be influenced by getting customers to use their devices to check out at the register, rather than checking in at the location. Yankee Group expects point-of-sale transactions in increase to $40 billion by 2014 up from $27 million recorded in 2010.

These are fascinating trends that open up new avenues for forward thinking aviation marketers.

To purchase the eMarketerTM report click on the following link: “Top Digital Trends for 2012.”

photo credit: Jetstar Airways via photo pin cc

Aviation Marketing: Employees are your best social media brand ambassadors.

SWA Employee Branding

How Southwest Airlines uses employee branding to gain a competitive advantage.

Employee branding is the process in which employees internalize the brand image and project the image to customers, employees, and other constituents. Southwest Airlines’ brand image is based on:

  • On-time flights
  • Low fares
  • Friendly service

This was demonstrated for me first hand on a recent flight from Dallas to Los Angeles with a stopover in Albuquerque.

The departure was delayed and further exacerbated by an equipment change to an aircraft with reduced seating. The gate agent explained the situation and offered a $300 voucher for passengers interested in taking a later flight.  There were several travelers that took advantage of the offer and boarding proceeded.

Upon arrival in Albuquerque, the ground crew, baggage handlers, pilots, and cabin staff made up for lost time by turning the plane in less than 20 minutes.

During the final leg of the flight we were all invited to sing Happy Birthday to an 88-year-old woman who donned a crown of peanut bags woven together with drink stir sticks by the flight attendant.

Upon arrival, I took the time to survey the faces of departing passengers and found a smiling group heading towards baggage claim.

How did Southwest turn a delayed flight, loaded to the max with a stopover, into a positive customer experience that landed on time?

Southwest Airlines’ first priority is the covenant between the company and the employee, as evident in their mission statement:

 The Mission of Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.

 To Our Employees

We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.

Southwest Airlines employees internalize this mission statement and extend the brand image to the minds of Southwest’s customers. This is accomplished by clearly articulating Southwest’s mission, values, and brand image. It is supported through messages from:

  • Human resources
  • Employee communications
  • Culture/coworker influence
  • Leadership/Management actions
  • Advertising – owned, earned and bought
  • Social media listening and response
  • Customer feedback

Southwest’s competitive advantage in the airline industry is based on its covenant with its employees. This is reflected in the way it manages its messaging systems to reflect brand image, deliver on the mission statement, and reward brand ambassadors.

photo credit: jayRaz via photo pin cc

Aviation Marketing: Leadership lessons from Steve Jobs

Aviation marketers that practice Steve Jobs’ management philosophy can create a powerful emotional connection with their brand.

In his Harvard Business Review article, Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and the author of Steve Jobs’ biography, identifies what he thinks Jobs’ keys to success were and how they affected his management philosophy and style.

Below is my interpretation of Isaacson’s leadership article and how Jobs’ keys to success apply to aviation marketing.

12 keys for leadership in aviation marketing:

  1. Focus – As everyone has limited resources, focus on sustainable marketing efforts that provide the best visibility and customer experience.
  2. Simplify – Customers are busy and want their lives simplified. Eliminate excessive data gathering and intrusive checkout forms to increase conversion rates. Jobs’ mantra was “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  3. End-to-end responsibility – If you hand off any part of the customer experience, make sure your partner lives up to the brand promise.
  4. Leapfrog – When marketing efforts come up short, innovative marketers leapfrog the competition with new marketing platforms and technologies.
  5. Make a dent in the universe – Memorable marketing costs money. Don’t compromise on the quality of outbound and inbound marketing materials. The customer should be just as excited to open the box as he or she is to use what’s inside it.
  6. Intuition is better than a focus group – Understand the desires of your customers. Empathy with the user’s situation builds brand loyalty.
  7. Bend reality – Great marketing is a mixture of passion and sweat equity. Differentiation is achieved by standing out, not blending in.
  8. Impute – Customers form an opinion of the product or company by the way it’s presented and packaged. The tactical experience sets the tone for how the product is perceived.
  9. Push for perfection – When you think you have it right, hit the rethink button. Taking a second look allows you to course correct on faulty assumptions as knowledge is gained and new insights surface.
  10. Speak your mind – You’re there to create inspirational marketing. Surround yourself with the best talent you can afford and encourage opinion sharing – both good and bad.
  11. Engage face-to-face – Ideas are generated from people-to-people contact, not from emails and PowerPoint presentations.
  12. Sweat the details – Big picture strategy is great, but it can get lost in the execution without attention to detail.

To view Walter’s complete article click on the following article title: “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs”

Aviation Marketing: How CMO leadership affects advertising agency performance

If aviation industry CMOs receive work that is creative, meaningful and inspiring, a covenantal relationship is built that fulfills the emotional needs of both CMO and agency.

What type of relationship do you have with your agency – contractual or covenantal?

We all want to be needed. This is never more apparent than when you work with a group of creative people. Agency folks by their very nature are a high touch, service-oriented bunch that will work themselves into a frenzy trying to please their clients.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances or culture beyond the CMO’s control, the relationship starts to sour because it is viewed as a contractual relationship. Contractual relationships lack emotion, are based on obligations written in legalese, and work to the detriment of group dynamics. This type of relationship is based on reciprocity driven by the finance types to find the lowest cost producer.

Typically, contractual relationships are viewed as client and vendor.

As an example, an RFP is sent to 8 agencies (kiss of death) for the development of a new corporate website and an inbound marketing program. Due to the economic climate, the agencies don’t want to say “NO” to anything. These agencies work diligently on their proposals, developing strategies and sighting technologies that will meet the RFP requirement. A couple of agencies even develop mockups of their ideas to help the client visualize the concepts they are proposing. Then the contractual mentality kicks in and the project is awarded to the agency with the lowest cost.

The flip side of the contractual relationship is the covenantal relationship.

Covenantal relationships reward creativity and change. This type of relationship fulfills the emotional needs of both CMO and agency, resulting in work that is:

  • Creative
  • Rewarding
  • Meaningful
  • Inspirational
  • Accountable

In his book “Leadership is An Art,” Max DePree, Chairman emeritus of Herman Miller Inc., identifies seven ground rules for a covenantal relationship:

  1. The right to be needed
  2. The right to be involved
  3. The right to understand
  4. The right the affect one’s own destiny
  5. The right to be accountable
  6. The right to appeal
  7. The right to make a commitment

Achieving a covenantal relationship requires strong CMO leadership – someone who is confident in their abilities yet trusts others on whom they depend for their success.

The covenantal CMO/agency relationship is a group dynamic with one side or the other demonstrating leadership at different times. Throughout this cycle, CMO and agency take on two roles – one as creator, and the other as implementer.

In the covenantal relationship, all parties are emotionally involved with the outcome. In many instances, the CMO’s implementation is just as creative as the creative act he/she is responding to.