Aviation Marketing: 7 social marketing trends for airlines

Blog_77_irlines are embracing people-to-people marketing

Airlines are embracing people-to-people marketing

“The State of Airline Marketing,” published by Airtrends.com and SimpliFlying, takes a global look at innovative social marketing using case studies. The report identifies trends such as experiental, location-based, co-creation and social loyalty incentives. Below is my interpretation of their report with focus on people-to-people marketing trends.

1. EXPERIENTAL – Traditional branding tactics are becoming increasingly less effective when trying to reach a jaded flying public. Heretofore, “consumers,” once viewed as a target audience or demographic are now viewed as customers. This shift in perspective requires a people-to-people marketing approach as airlines are turning to the brand experience to capture the attention and imagination of people interested in their service offering.

2. SOCIAL CARE – Today’s traveler is connected to his or her social networks via a smart phone or tablet. These mobile devices provide a conduit for praise or bashing when frustrated with a product or service that does not meet expectations. It is important for airlines to tackle the problem at the place where it occurs, building goodwill and turning a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate.

3. ON LOCATION – Aviation brands want to interact with customers no matter the location. From QR codes at taxi stops to scavenger hunts using twitter hashtags, airlines are increasingly “going to the customer.” This location effort puts a human quality to the corporate brand.

4. BACK TO REALITY – To connect with the customer, airlines are seeking and using user-generated content to open a window into the interworking of airline operations and the logistics involved with travel.

5. CROWDSOURCING – Airlines are using crowdsourcing to determine the priorities of the customer. Good ideas are not the exclusive domain of the airline. Customer ideas are being incorporated into variety of product innovations, loyalty rewards, and tablet applications.

6. VIRAL VIDEOS – Airlines are learning to be their own media outlets. Those that demonstrate creativity in their marketing are being rewarded with millions of views on social channels, thus reducing the cost of bought media.

7. SOCIAL LOYALTY & GAMIFICATION
Airlines are tapping into location-based services to track loyalty in terms of repeat visits as well as social advocacy. By offering real-world rewards to fans and followers who promote their brand online, airlines add an element of gamification to their marketing.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketing

Defining your brand personality

3 ways social media can help build your brand

To download a copy of “The State of Airline Marketing” click here.

To learn more about SimpliFlying click here.

To lean more about Airtrends.com click here.

Aviation marketing: Why bother with branding?

Why bother with branding?

Our experiences, values, DNA makeup and beliefs drive our unconscious decision towards a specific brand

Our emotional connection with a brand is an unconscious decision

Product and service innovation in the aviation industry comes from improved features and functions. On the flight deck, it can be a chip-driven avionic component that replaces a mechanical legacy system, to the cabin, where passengers are plugged into inflight wireless connectivity while enjoying their lay-flat seats — these innovations are the result of engineering.

Aviation marketers have been indoctrinated with the belief that purchasing decisions, from components to airline tickets, are made on the rationalization of feature and function to support the purchasing decision.

If this is the case, why bother with branding? It would be simple enough to feature pricing for products and services on the manufacturers’ or airlines’ website and let the customer make the purchasing decision based on rationalization of their circumstances or required functions of the component. This type of thinking comes from conscious decision-making.

What about unconscious decision-making?

Our emotional connection to a brand is an unconscious decision. The connection comes from our life story. Our experiences, values, DNA makeup and beliefs drive our unconscious decision towards a specific brand. We use the conscious rationalization of feature and function to explain or justify our unconscious purchasing decision.

This leads us to the intersection of rational avenue and emotional boulevard and which approach to take when marketing aviation product and services.

Douglas Van Praet, author of Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower Marketing states, “while emotions overwhelmingly drive behaviors, it’s misguided to believe that thinking and feelings are somehow mutually exclusive. Emotion and logic are intertwined.”

Prat further states that, “Behavioral science is now telling us that we don’t really have ‘free will.’ We have ‘free won’t.’ We can give in to the visceral impulses that drive us or choose to apply the brakes of rational restraint. While we can’t choose our emotions because they originate unconsciously, we can choose our conscious response to our feelings. This is essentially what consciousness is–a series of critical reflections and interpretations about how we are feeling.”

All this is heady stuff but I feel it has merit. People-to-people marketing lives at the intersection of rational avenue and emotional boulevard. People-to-people marketing is about connecting with customers and creating an emotional preference for your brand. Yes, feature and function is important and helps with the rationalization of the purchasing decision, but social marketing platforms take this a step further with peer and product reviews, ratings, and comparative analysis.

Using an emotionally based marketing approach gives us a “persona” for storylines and a pallet with more colors for creating a brand story. This translates to a brand preference leading to increased revenues that keeps those rational types in the “C” suite happy.

Additional articles you find of interest on this topic:

Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

Emotional ties create strong brand loyalty

Don’t rule out emotional connections in the purchasing process

You can purchase Douglas Van Praet’s book on Amazon by clicking here.

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

The connected customer gathers information from a multitude of online sources before coming to the final purchasing decision

The connected customer gathers information from a multitude of online sources before coming to the final purchasing decision.

The connected customer spends more time on social media than with watching television, listening to radio, or reading a newspaper. Cloud-connected smart phones, tablets, and laptops are the predominant tools of the connected customer. They absorb information from many different sources and share their experiences with followers on social networks. Aviation manufacturers that do not shift their marketing tactics are endangering their brand and flirting with obsolescence.

Aviation marketing is changing. Yesterday’s target audiences are now communities of constituencies that share information across digital platforms. Here are 5 reasons why aviation marketers need to embrace people-to-people marketing:

1. Traditional advertising is a one-way conversation

Traditional advertising is great for building brand awareness. However, it cannot create the conduit for immediate engagement or offer additional content at the click of a mouse or tap of the screen. The connected customer wants the option of a two-way conversation.

2. An integrated model of online and offline channels are necessary to hold the connected customer’s attention during the considered purchase process

A strategic approach to integrating online media with traditional print media placement offers the manufacturer the opportunity for extending the engagement during a prolonged sales cycle. Banner ads across different digital media channels, coupled with guides and E-books, provide brand stickiness with authoritative content and data collection from interested parties.

3. The traditional sales funnel has been replaced with the customer decision journey

Traditional B-to-B sales and marketing is based on a linear approach of selling to accounts. This approach loses sight of the importance of trigger events, internally or externally driven, that kick starts the decision journey in the first place. At first the prospective buyer may either be unaware or unconcerned, but then something happens (the trigger event) to raise their awareness of an issue they need to deal with – and the online search for a solution gets underway.

The connected customer’s decision journey is circular with four potential areas where marketers can win or lose: initial consideration, active evaluation, closure through purchase, and post-purchase. During each of these phases manufacturers can be added or subtracted for consideration.

4. Savvy aviation manufacturers have increased their social marketing budgets

There has been a massive shift in the adoption of mobile devices. Apple’s CEO Tim Cooke summed up the tablet adoption.

“Through the last quarter <Q1 2012>, I should say, which is just 2 years after we shipped the initial iPad, we’ve sold 67 million. And to put that in some context, it took us 24 years to sell that many Macs and 5 years for that many iPods and over 3 years for that many iPhones.”

By 2015 there will be 7.4 billion wireless compatible devices on the market (ABIResearch). This where the connected customer lives and aviation manufacturers should consider investing a minimum of at least 15% of marketing funds to online channels.

5. Aviation marketers that adopt social marketing get better customer insight that leads to better decision-making

Analytics obtained from social marketing provide a wealth of information about the connected customer’s decision-making process and behavior. This information can drive product development and smarter product marketing.

Translation:  if you’re not where your customers are, connected to them and tuned into their purchasing behavior, you’re going to lose business and inflict damage on your brand.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why people-to-people marketing is replacing business-to-business in the aviation industry

Dynamic customers require quality content

Designing a social marketing strategy for aviation marketing