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: 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

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

Aviation Marketing: Finding the sweet spot for social marketing

Blog_74_Sweet_Spot

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.

People-to-people marketing is about creating a preference for your brand that eclipses feature and function and achieves an emotional connection.

A majority of aviation manufacturers are hardware driven – innovation comes from incremental upgrades by engineering. So the question becomes: how can engineering-driven manufacturers make the jump beyond feature and function to creating an emotional connection to their brands?

Content drives the emotional connection, and the sweet spot for dialogue is between “what you know” and “what the customer wants to know.” To hit this area, review your expertise as it pertains to specific outcomes of product or service usage.

In addition to content, it is essential to implement the correct social marketing engagement tactics.

In certain instances, public social platforms act as the lubricant for interaction due to the sheer number of like-minded people congregating in and sharing the same space. However, there are a multitude of private social platforms serving the needs of the aviation community that can be monitored for opportunities to join in the discussion and provide answers to specific questions or issues members have posted.

For example, a review of the NBAA maintenance form reveals hundreds of opportunities for OEMs and component and system manufacturers to step up with authoritative information.  The sharing of information gleaned from years of experience creates the emotional connection with flight department and maintenance personnel, enabling them to troubleshoot and solve everyday problems associated with different aircraft and avionics systems.

Additional articles you may find of interest on the topic:

Aviation Marketing: How to start a sustainable blog

Aviation Marketing: Social marketing begins the correct strategy

Aviation Marketing: 14 social media channels for content distribution

To connect with Darren Rowse on Twitter, click here

Aviation Marketing: The difference between strategy and tactics

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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.

Breaking down strategy vs. tactics:

Purpose:       

  • Strategy – To identify clear goals that advance the overall business and organize resources.
  • Tactics – To utilize specific resources to achieve sub-goals that support the defined mission.

Roles:            

  • Strategy – Individuals who influence resources in the organization. They understand how a set of tactics works together to achieve goals.
  • Tactics – Specific experts that maneuver limited resources into actions to achieve a set of goals.

Accountability

  • Strategy – Held accountable for overall health of the organization.
  • Tactics – Held accountable for specific resources assigned.

Scope

  • Strategy – All the resources within the organizations, as well as broader market conditions including competitors, customers, and economy.
  • Tactics – A subset of resources used in a plan or process. Tactics are often specific using limited resources to achieve broader goals.

Duration

  • Strategy – Long term, changes infrequently.
  • Tactics – Shorter term, flexible to specific market conditions.

Methods

  • Strategy – Uses experience, research, analysis, thinking, then communication.
  • Tactics – Uses experiences, best practices, plans, processes, and teams.

Outputs

  • Strategy – Produces clear organizational goals, plans, and key performance measurements.
  • Tactics – Produces clear deliverables and outputs using people, tools, and time.

Below are two examples of how strategic goals can be communicated with clear tactical elements:

  • Strategy: Be the market share leader in terms of sales in the OEM-market segment of the avionics industry.
  • Tactics: Offer advanced technology components that simplify cockpit management with life of the platform warranty.
  • Strategy: Maneuver your brand into top two consideration set of aircraft entertainment systems with MRO decision makers.
  • Tactics: Implement a social marketing campaign that leverages existing customer relationships and encourages them to conduct word-of-mouth with their peers using social platforms.

3 ways to use strategy and tactics to achieve business goals

  1. Educate your colleagues on the differences between terms and how they vary.
  2. Ensure that all tactics align with business strategy, and all strategies are supported by tactical execution.
  3. Reinforce through communication how strategy and tactics work together, advancing and achieving business goals through better utilization of time and resources.

Click here to follow Jeremiah Owyang on Twitter

Image by stock.xchng user

Aviation Marketing: RESPECT the customer

Customers no longer measure brands based on message, but on interactions they have with them.

Customers no longer measure brands based on message, but on interactions they have with them.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Customers expect more.  Resolution of problems is a given. Now, customers expect a brand to be proactive within the community of users.
  3. 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.
  4. Everyone is a representative of the brand. It only takes one bad experience to drive a customer to a competitor.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Use social media platforms for problem solving. Enabling self-help through social platforms spreads knowledge and customer feedback across the community of users.
  8. 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.

Additional article that may be of interest on this topic:

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

Designing a social marketing strategy for Aviation Marketing

Aviation Marketing: Generate More Revenue by Providing a Better Brand Experience

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.

photo credit: Graela via photopin cc

Aviation Marketing: How to increase your conversion rate for online advertising

Offer the viewer something valuable

Offer the viewer something valuable

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 banner ads? 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.

Online advertising is not linear

The aviation industry, with a few exceptions, is still holding on to the one-to-many communications model established in the 50’s and 60’s. It has not embraced the digital communication model of people-to-people.  Print advertising is linear – publications provide the content and advertisers rent space in the magazines to display their ads.  Publishers have taken this old model a step further and have tried to implement it on their publication websites with advertisers tagging along.  In the digital environment, publishers can provide a rear view look as to the viewers’ interests, based on analytics of how many times your banner was clicked.

Old school vs. new school

People-to-people marketing takes into account that the viewer’s time is a limited, valuable asset.  Only under certain circumstances are they willing to share it, if they are rewarded with content that they deem valuable. Therefore, it is important for digital advertisers to offer something more than a visit to their website.

Astute aviation marketers use their banner advertising to offer the viewer something valuable. This may take the form of an E-book, a white paper study, photographs of a prototype, or a thought leadership article. In exchange for this content, the marketer may request that the viewer share some information such as their name, company affiliation and email address. This agreement to share information accomplishes several things:

  • It provides the marketer with customer insight as to their interest and response to the offering
  • Initiates the first step in having a conversation
  • Captures data for future follow up engagements
  • Starts to build a relationship with the interested party leading to brand preference

I’m interested in hearing from my fellow aviation marketers. What are your strategies for continued customer engagement? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Additional articles that may be of interest on the topic:

Aviation Marketing: Customer Insights or Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious?

Aviation Marketing: Achieving Brand Preference through Personalization

Aviation Marketing: Digital’s Impact on the 4 Marketing P’s