Does your brand embrace change?

People-to-people marketing changes the approach to customer relationships.

People-to-people marketing changes the approach to customer relationships.

When working with companies serving the aviation industry that are transitioning to people-to-people marketing, I stress that marketing content should be centered around two things:  1) solving customer problems, and 2) the journey through the purchasing process – because these are the two main elements of creating brand preference. Yet many times after this suggestion is made there is resistance to change and a tendency to circle back and do things the way they are most comfortable with. This usually takes the form of reskinning their current website with the latest product iteration.

The tragedy of this is the missed opportunity to connect with customers, improve their brand experience, and influence future purchasing decisions.

Understanding the value that you give

One aspect of people-to-people marketing is knowing what the customer considers valuable. The path to this enlightened place begins by looking at the areas where the customer interacts with your brand.

  • Interest
  • Purchase
  • Customer Service
  • Payment

Connecting and engaging with the customer as they travel through the four phases gives insight and actionable items to the departments responsible for each of the above areas.

This is a holistic approach that requires each department to share both good and bad experiences. The customer journey is a series of small steps. Good experiences increase brand loyalty, and bad experiences send customers to your competitor.

Developing content that is focused on the customer’s needs, and mechanisms within the marketing channels that invite customer response, shows willingness on the brands part to be open and receptive to change with the goals of providing a better brand experience.

Putting the customer in the middle

Having insight into the customer’s purchasing experience allows you to see your brand through your customer’s eyes. To some the purchase can be influenced by design and functionality of the website.  To others is may be speed of delivery, ease of ordering, or return policy. Taking a hard look at the customer purchasing journey will help you identify performance indicators that cross all departments leading to a more profitable and satisfying customer relationship.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

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

 Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

 How to build a connected brand

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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: 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: Big data and creativity

Creativity needs big data to define the landscape in which the brand operates

Creativity needs big data to define the landscape in which the brand operates

One provides tactical insight, the other the emotional glue

Big data is the buzzword of the day. The techno savvy number crunchers are heralding big data as an “end all, be all” for tracking RIO and determining which marketing initiatives to fund. I’m in agreement that big data, when properly interpreted, can provide customer insight as to the purchasing habits and the media channel that culminated the sale. No argument – this is valid tactical information and should be considered when planning marketing initiatives.

Big data has limitations

Big data interpretation is also influenced by what the interpreter wants from it. We all know numbers can be twisted to justify decisions based on the interpreter’s bias and ultimate goal.

Big data also presents a one-sided view of the transaction process. Yes, it can isolate the channel that the purchase was transacted through, but it cannot measure the cumulative effect of brand value and preference across all the marketing channels that led to the conversion.

Big data lacks soul

Dissecting any purchasing process has to take into account the emotional decision to consider the brand in the first place. This is where big data comes up short.

Purchasing decisions start by pinging an emotional need.  These emotions are what make us human and drive our wants, desires, and needs. Emotions are the glue that create an attachment to a brand and pique our curiosity to investigate features and benefits to justify the purchase.

Creativity needs big data and visa-versa

Big data is automated. It’s a logical path that turns creativity into a commodity. From automated ad purchasing programs to social media sentiment, tracking these algorithms can not detect sarcasm, joy, empathy or any of the other emotions we humans employ on a daily basis to communicate, cope, and justify our purchasing decisions.

There was once a time when creativity was celebrated. Good advertising built brands and created brand preference. It could sweep the nation with catch phrases and imprint the brand message in the minds of millions of potential customers.

Creativity needs big data to define the landscape in which the brand operates. Big data can help creative thinking by providing comparative analysis, insight into purchasing habits, and models of what not to do based on different scenarios.  Ultimately, this tactical execution may be big data’s greatest contribution to the creative process.

photo credit: familymwr 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: 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.