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: How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketing

Blog_65_How mobile application development drives people-to-people marketingBrands are starting to realize how mobile apps can improve the brand experience.

Enterprise mobile development, the strategy and integration of mobile applications based on devise capabilities and user expectations, is becoming part of brand strategy. Applications that aid us in doing our work are providing a brand experience outside of the workplace environment.

In the aviation industry, airports, airlines and hospitality companies will benefit from understanding the when, where, and how of creating engagement and deployment apps that increase customer loyalty.

The tale of two apps – QR codes disrupted by NFC

Not long ago, QR (quick response) codes held the promise of integrating print advertising with the online experience. Large consumer brands jumped to add QR codes on packaging and point-of-sale materials. The strategy was based extending the engagement leading to an action or a monetary transaction.

B2B companies also started to add QR codes to their advertising but failed to consider the amount of time and resources needed to create meaningful content on the back end of the QR code transaction.

In the aviation industry, adoption of this technology has been slow due to the following:

  • No technology standardization
  • Users unaware of QR code technology and reader apps
  • Limited mobile bandwidth
  • Small size and low-resolution screens of mobile devices
  • Inferior camera software and lenses
  • Difficult keyboard response
  • Immature mobile operating systems

All of this resulted in a hit-and-miss user experience.

Contrast this with the emergence of NFC (near field communication) chips that are being embedded in Samsung smart phones running Google’s Android operating system. NFC technology is a communication protocol and data exchange format that is based on existing radio-frequency identification (RFID) standards. NFC builds upon RFID by allowing two-way communication between app and NCF tag.

Samsung TecTileTM is an app that lets you read and write programmable NFC tags.  TecTiles are the NFC tags that can be programmed for multiple actions such as:

  • Change phone setting
  • Launch apps
  • Check into places
  • Update social status
  • Make calls or send text messages

All these are done by swiping your smart phone in close proximity over the TecTiles.

This is a disruptive technology for QR codes based on standardization of application and chip contained in an open source operating system for mobile devices.

Airports, airlines, and the hospitality industry should consider implementing NFC branding in situations where TecTiles are in close proximity to customers. This technology holds the potential to enhance the user’s experience, increase brand loyalty, and extend the functionality of the brand outside of the intended workplace.

For more information on NFC, click on the following links:

Samsung TecTilesTM

Wikipedia Near Field Communication

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: Emotional branding requires delivering a memorable experience

Emotional memory creates a connection to the brand.

Products fulfill needs. Experiences fulfill desires.

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:

 FROM PRODUCT  TO EXPERIENCE

In aviation manufacturing, buying for a need is driven by specification, price, and delivery.  Because a majority of aviation components and systems are manufactured to meet certain specifications and perform to MIL-SPEC or DO-160 standards, there is little differentiation between branded products.

However, few aviation marketers seize the opportunity to offer the purchaser an emotional memory or a connection to the brand far beyond the need to meet specifications.

Experiences make us feel alive and connected to the people and brands associated with the experience. For example, a few years ago Honeywell brought in Jimmy Buffet to perform at their NBAA event. While on stage, Buffet spoke of the value aviation provides to his business and how he relies on the Honeywell avionics system to safely get him and his band to the next show. This memory exceeds any attribute or stated benefit of their avionics system and emotionally positions their company as one that understands the value of the customer relationship by providing an exclusive experience.

While a majority of aviation manufacturers do not have the wherewithal of a Honey-well or General Dynamics, they still should be thinking about how to provide a memorable purchasing experience nevertheless.

  • One area that can lead to brand differentiation and emotional branding is at tradeshows. Attend any aviation trade show and you will see aisle after aisle of small trade show booths, each with a header in the same position and a table at the front of the booth loaded with cheap pens, key chains, or other items emblazoned with corporate or product line logos.
  • What if you invested a little more imagination and resources into a larger booth with space dedicated to an experience? Stepping out of the B-to-B mindset and thinking like a retailer, what if you offered your customers a visit to a Parisian internet café, or a rock climbing wall, or even a 3-D movie experience about the design inspirations that led to the physical configuration of your newest product offering?

For established products to attract and retain interest, it is important to invest in innovative thinking, new channels that engage in dialogue with customers, and product launches that capture the customer’s imagination.

To purchase Marc Gobé’s book, click on the following link: “Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People.”

photo credit: tonyboytran via photo pin cc

Designing a social marketing strategy for Aviation Marketing

Implementing social marketing tools and tactics accelerates customer engagement.

Aviation component and systems manufacturers already practice the basic elements required for social marketing. Taking what you know on the B2B side and moving it to the people-to-people social marketing side requires a shift in thinking – losing the urge to dominate the conversation and understanding the tactics and tools of social marketing.

Social marketing adoption for aviation marketing has been slower than on the consumer side. However, a case can be made that certain B2B practices can easily be extended into social marketing.  For example, most aviation companies exhibit at trade shows.  While there, they:

  • Learn something from leaders in their field
  • Interact with their peers
  • Share advice
  • Solve problems
  • Gain customer feedback
  • Meet new vendors
  • Engage with new prospects
  • Check out the competition 

The reality is that most aviation manufacturers are challenged with budget and resource constraints, and therefore only participate in these activities a couple of times a year. With a properly structured social marketing strategy, these same actions can be conducted 365 days a year with real-time monitoring and feedback.

Understanding how to use the tools of social marketing and where your prospects are hanging out is essential for inbound marketing success.

Social Marketing Check List: 

  1. Before engaging in Social Marketing, list the objectives to be accomplished.
  2. Define how to measure and track the efforts’ success
  3. Understand who your target audience is and where they congregate
  4. Keep in mind how your customers learn and find out information about your products and services
  5. Understand what social media tools they use
  6. Tie in and cross-pollinate with other outbound channels

You don’t want to be stuck in the elevator with a life insurance salesman.

Social marketing differs from advertising, promotion, direct mail, and broadcast in that the tone of conversation is not about selling your product or service. In a social marketing setting, prospects do not want to be sold. The quickest way to lose a prospect’s interest is to try to sell your product or service as the answer to their needs without first gaining their trust and advising them on how they may solve their particular problem. 

Social Marketing Tools:

Blogs – Blogs are about sharing expertise and allowing prospects to check you out before engaging in a conversation.

Social sites – LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ – These sites allow you to engage with your community. Use these to join groups, establish conversations, and provide customer service.

Twitter – Micro-blogging site that allows followers to stay up with events, trends, and current news.

You Tube – Video sharing site that allows you to tell your story in a compelling way that is preferable to reading content on a corporate website.

Measurement:

Measurement needs to be established at the beginning of your social marketing efforts.  Some metrics that are worth looking at are:

    • Cost per inbound lead compared to outbound
    • Tone of conversation
    • Number of followers
    • Engagement with customers and prospects
    • Number of mentions
    • Number of re-tweets
    • Number of prospects ready to purchase instead of having to be sold

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