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.

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Interesting content, fresh design and a good user experience invite participation

More often than not aviation component manufacturer websites are more like electronic brochures than conduits for nurturing customer relationships.

Aviation marketers that practice people-to-people marketing create vibrant websites with a clear vision of what the site is charged with accomplishing and the appropriate strategies to get there.

Vision examples may include:

  • Customer portal to access account information and order placement
  • Configurator engine for designing and ordering custom components
  • News and announcement sections for public relations efforts
  • Blogging platform to increase social media presence
  • E-commerce site equipped to handle orders and monetary transactions
  • Investor information for acquiring interest from Private Equity and Institutional investors

Each of the aforementioned examples requires specific navigation, design, content and programming to provide a superior user experience.

Vibrant website are responsive, easy to maintain and update

WordPress is a popular open source programing language that is quick to learn, requires minimal coding experience and provides a platform for easy content updates.

Elite WordPress theme developers license their website designs to individuals and companies. Usually the site designs come complete with page templates, coding files and Photoshop files for custom page design. In addition, many sites now are designed to be fully responsive – meaning they will automatically display on desktop, tablet or smart phone without additional programming. This is becoming increasingly important as usage trends are predicting that mobile platforms – smart phones and web enabled tablets will be more popular than internet desktop use by 2015.

The key to taking a WordPress theme site and making it your own is having the availability to customize the following:

  • Color pallets
  • Backgrounds
  • Short codes for special features
  • Fonts
  • Banner graphics – slide, dissolve, etc.
  • Blog page templates
  • Page divider graphics
  • Multi-column page format

One excellent feature when posting to the news, announcement or blog pages is the capability to short link the page URL using Bitly or Google and post updates to your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages. The abbreviated post will link back to the site for a complete viewing of the release or article.

Another key feature is the comments section. This provides visitors and customers with an avenue to join in the conversation and start the relationship building process.

A word of caution about how different browsers may display the site content. Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox are pretty good about staying current with responsive website design. Microsoft Internet Explorer can be challenged to display correctly due to operating system version and configuration. It is best to trouble shoot the site on both PC and MAC and several mobile devices with different browsers to determine if corrective programing is need for proper site display.

A vibrant people-to-people marketing website contains your latest twitter feeds, pintrest postings, content about your industry, events you will be participating in, and links to your blogs and social media channels. It also visually tells customers and potential customers that your are active in social media and understand how to maximize the power of people-to-people marketing.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

How to build a connected brand

3 ways social media can help build your brand

How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketing

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: Engaging employees in social media marketing

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships.

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships.

Social media provides insight into the customer’s brand experience

The website technorati.com has lunched a podcast series, “Social Brands & Influencers”. Technorati interviews top thought leaders and decision makers in the social media and marketing world. Liz Brown Bullock formally of Dell Computer and now CEO of the start up SASI provided her perspective on getting employees involved in social media marketing. Below is my interpretation for aviation marketers.

Imagine having an army of subject matter experts trained in social media. Now imagine unleashing your army in the marketplace, engaging with customers and building an emotional connection with your brand. Social media marketing is about listening to customer conversations, identifying what is really important, and reporting back to product development, engineering or marketing on what the customer really cares about. Content in context from your customers, providing deep insights that you would never get from a conversation in a focus group.

People-to-people marketing uses social media to build relationships

Everyday in your company there are hundreds of conversations taking place with customers that influence your brand perception. These conversations can originate from many groups within the company from sales, to marketing, to technical support. Knowing how to turn these conversations into relationships requires training employees in social media skills — listening, engaging, and relationship building.

The business case for social media selling

Taking social media to the next level within your company requires support from executive management. Social media is not the responsibility of any one group, but is most effective when all groups in your company recognize that all can contribute to representing your brand online.

Customers want to engage with subject matter experts. Having your content experts engage with a customer accomplishes several things:

  1. It can build a deeper relationship with the customer by providing the best information possible.
  2. It creates a two-way dialogue that builds brand loyalty through social selling.
  3. Deeper relationships result in brand loyalty providing a path for monetization.

Organize a library of content for customer consumption

Producing quality content is important, and distributing that content is equally important. Developing a content calendar for quick reference can speed up information retrieval, and when needed connect the customer with the content expert to answer their question.

A second approach is to develop an online library of curated content. Curated content can provide the validation of an engineering approach, business strategy or marketing trends from third party experts and influencers.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

Using social media to gain customer insight

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

5 reasons why aviation manufacturers need to embrace people-to-people marketing

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

To follow Liz Brown Bullock on twitter click here. To hear the complete podcast click here.

photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page via photopin cc.

Aviation Marketing: Using social media to gain customer insight

Blog_81_Using social media to gain customer insight

Good social monitoring brings about actionable engagement strategies

Social media offers an unadulterated view of issues and opinions that shape brand preference

When developing strategic communication plans for companies in the aviation industry, I always want to know what’s going on in the customer’s mind. Customer insight can be attained via several channels using different tactics. For example, insights can be gained from:

  • Focus groups
  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Social listening

Several of the above-mentioned tactics have been the staple for customer research for many years with documented pros and cons associated with each tactic.

Social listening is a relatively new tactic that relies on monitoring social media channels. Mining the channels brings forth an abundance of customers’ opinions and conversations about your brand and information about competitors.

Good social monitoring brings about actionable engagement strategies

Social monitoring goes beyond Facebook “likes” or Twitter “followers.”  It provides an interpretation of the online conversation and how it relates to the purchase intent of customers interested in your brand. Think of it as an early warning system about product functionality, advertising messaging, and emotional connection which provides the ability to course correct marketing strategies before experiencing a decline in sales.

Forrester Research estimates that $1.6 billion will be spent this year on social brand tracking. For that investment, savvy airlines and aviation manufacturers will have a front row seat for ascertaining the tone of the conversation, what the interest levels are for  their brand, and what brand perceptions are being formed in the customer’s mind.

What social monitoring brings to the table

Customer Insight – helps aviation companies ascertain purchasing intent, triggers for purchasing behavior, and specific communities in which to focus resources.

Brand Insight – aligns Key Performance Indexes (KPI) to understand how awareness, perception, and brand consideration are formed.

Category Insight – helps companies determine how to capitalize on opportunities in specific business segments.

Social listening platforms

It takes two to have a conversation.  Blogs, websites, Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, and tweets invite customers to express themselves to you and to each other. These are global conversations about brand loyalty, customer frustrations, and service shortcomings that can identify areas for improvement.

Making sense of the conversations

Depending on the size of the company and resources available, social monitoring can be very simple or highly structured.  There are several online providers that can supply you with platforms and dashboards incorporating a host of tools to acquire and categorize the conversations, bringing statistical significance to the information for actionable implementation.

Social media monitoring tools (paid):

A comparision of the above tools can be downloaded at pr2020.com

Additional articles that may be on interest on this topic:

Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

10 reasons why social marketing efforts fail

 3 ways social media can help build your brand

photo credit: afagen via photopin cc

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