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.
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:
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.
Sharing your experience with the aviation community opens the door for creating a brand preference.
Darron Rowse, founder and editor of ProBlogger Tips, published an article showing new bloggers what they should blog about. While reading the article, I realized a parallel to what aviation marketers should be doing with their online advertising and social marketing efforts. Below is my interpretation of the article as it relates to aviation marketers creating content for their social marketing efforts.
Strategy and tactics must work together to achieve business goals
Jeriah Owyang, Industry analyst with the Altimeter Group, posted an article defining strategy and tactics by their associated actions. Below is my interpretation for aviation marketers:
Aviation manufacturers need strategic thinking and tactical execution to move the business forward. If you have strategy without tactics, then the big idea is never implemented. If you implement tactics without a strategy, you end up herding cats.
Social marketing is changing the way customers interact with your brand
My theory on why the aviation industry has been slow to adopt and implement social marketing is because aviation manufacturers are stuck in the mindset of business-to-business instead of people-to-people marketing.
The business-to-business (B2B) mindset is based on selling products and services to accounts. Contrast that mindset with people-to-people (P2P) where the emphasis is focused on improving the customer experience. Customers no longer measure brands based on message, but on interactions they have with them.
Aviation marketers that have successfully adopted social marketing understand that delivering on the brand promise can be done effectively on social platforms. Take a look at Jet Blue, Southwest, or Virgin America Airlines. Each one has been able to get tangible results through social marketing about how well they deliver on their brand promise.
Aviation marketers that choose to ignore the power of social marketing run the risk of becoming a second tier brand by not being able to monitor the customer experience in an unadulterated environment.
8 behaviors required to enhance the customer experience:
Good customer relation management (CRM) starts with good traditional CRM. You cannot expect to improve CRM by adding a social component if the legacy CRM platform was not good to begin with.
Customers expect more. Resolution of problems is a given. Now, customers expect a brand to be proactive within the community of users.
Build customer empathy at all levels of interaction. This should be the golden rule for sales, marketing and customer service – Treat customers as you would like to be treated yourself.
Everyone is a representative of the brand. It only takes one bad experience to drive a customer to a competitor.
Talk with the customer, not at the customer. Customers can tell when the conversation is scripted. Authentic conversation starts with empathy for the customer’s situation and offer of a resolution based on a thorough understanding of the product and service offering.
Don’t leave customers waiting. We live the era of real time engagement. Responding to a customer service issue in 24 hours is not acceptable.
Use social media platforms for problem solving. Enabling self-help through social platforms spreads knowledge and customer feedback across the community of users.
Change the way you measure customer satisfaction. Backward looking measurements that tell you what happened are no longer as effective. Consider a forward looking measurement like a net promoter score that tells you how satisfied your customer is with your service or product offering.
People-to-people marketing is the measure of brand engagement. Creating trust through conversation and helping customers solve problems builds brand loyalty.
I’m interested in hearing from my fellow aviation marketers. What have been your greatest challenges in implementing social marketing? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.
Offering valuable content extends the engagement cycle
Historically, digital banner ads average a .05% click-through rate. So what’s happening with the other 99.95% of the viewers that see your online advertising? Mostly, the viewer already knows what is waiting on the other side of the ad — your website. That’s not to infer that your website is of poor quality or lacking content, but most aviation industry websites are electronic brochures with a “contact us” page.
In Marc Gobé’s book, “Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People,” Gobé puts forth 10 commandments for emotional branding. One I found particularly relevant for aviation manufacturers and marketers was the premise:
Connecting with your customers’ emotions can create a brand preference
In aviation marketing, the purchase decision is often solely based on the performance specifications of a product. Each product on the market, no matter the manufacturer, will fulfill the client’s baseline need. With different products of standard utility competing for business, one way to differentiate is by manipulating the price point. Although not terribly flexible, a price can be offset by manipulating variables within the company such as service, warranty, and delivery policy.
The primal appeal of social media is the connectedness of like-minded people
In recent years, the emergence of different social media technologies has spurred a revolution in the aviation marketing. Today’s market necessitates that aviation manufacturers utilize these tools as an integral component to help build brand value.
“The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity through Social Technologies,” published by McKinsey & Company, presents a forward view on how social technologies impact value creation for manufacturing and service companies.