Why employees are the best source for inbound marketing content

 

Creating content for inbound marketing is everyone's responsibility

Creating content for inbound marketing is everyone’s responsibility

Having a process and the right skill set to capture content is half the battle.

Speak with almost any CEO of a small to mid-sized brand, and they will tell you that inbound marketing is an important communication component in creating and maintaining brand preference. However, ask them what resources or processes are in place dedicated to inbound marketing content, and the answer will tell you that this is usually more wishful thinking than reality.

Why is this? Small and mid-sized brands are resource-challenged. Their employees have a wealth of knowledge to share but usually there is no process in place to capture content.

Content mining: content that adds value to the brand

Authentic content has a point of view and provides thought leadership or hands-on practical information.

Every department in the company has something to share. It is vital that content development is viewed as everyone’s responsibility, not just the function of the marketing or PR department.

When the CEO leads the way, resources are sure to follow.

Many times the most authoritative content originates from the CEO. The CEO provides leadership and the high altitude point-of-view about the brand, such as:

  • Its current direction
  • Challenges to be faced
  • Opportunities on the horizon
  • Industry disruption from new technologies
  • How the brand can contribute to the betterment of the industry

Creating content is everyone’s responsibility

The engineering staff also contributes to developing content. This group has a unique perspective on innovation, new technologies, and production processes that contribute to solving customer problems.

The production department contributes by providing content on best practices, achieving optimal product performance, or tips on prolonging product life cycle.

Customer Service also contributes; they are the first to field customer concerns, complaints, and frequently asked questions. This group can be the conduit between engineering and production in identifying product flaws, delivery shortcomings, and inefficient interaction between departments.

Marketing’s job is to determine the most efficient process to capture the content and optimize it for different uses. Usually an employee is identified as an expert in their field and is asked to create a rough draft on a particular topic. From there, working in collaboration with either an internal or external journalistic resource, the content is edited and polished so it is suitable for publication and optimized for web use.

In addition, once the content is formalized, it becomes part of an e-library. This e-library can serve as a quick reference to customer requests.

Inbound marketing requires a commitment of time and resources to be successful. The pay-off is a stream of authoritative content that can be used across social media platforms, publications and customer service that supports brand leadership.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Social media content strategy?

How inbound marketing can help drive lead generation

Inbound marketing essentials?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo

Airlines Embrace Mobile Marketing

Airlines are relying on mobile marketing to build brand loyalty with the connected traveler

Airlines are relying on mobile marketing to build brand loyalty with the connected traveler

Airlines are experimenting with mobile marketing strategies to engage and connect with their customer base.

The State of Airline Marketing 2014 report published by SimpliFlying and airlinetrends.com identifies seven trends that airlines are exploring to increase brand preference and customer engagement. It’s not surprising that the tactical execution of these trends rely heavily on the connectivity of mobile marketing using social media networks and mobile devices (smart phones & tablets) combined with promotion. Some of the trends mentioned have merit. Others could be considered annoying in a confined space. One thing for sure is that airlines are beginning to understand the connected traveler and are looking for innovative ways to create brand loyalty.

7 airline marketing trends in 2014

1. Micro events – Organized onboard events, ranging from mid-air fashion shows to golf putting challenges and product giveaways. Airlines leading the way include Virgin America, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, and Air New Zealand. Check out the Air New Zealand putting challenge event video.

2. Cool tech – Airlines that embrace their inner geek are sponsoring hackathons to dream up new travel apps for your mobile devices. Emirates Airline sponsored a 24-hour travel hackathon and is forming a technology and creative community to keep up with mobile marketing technologies and to co-create travel apps.

3. Visual culture – Tapping into the ability of our mobile devices to capture, enhance, and share visual content on social media channels, airlines are encouraging the ultimate “selfie.” Turkish Airlines YouTube channel racked up over 135 million views in a single month for their “Kobe vs Messi Selfie Shootout” video.

4. People Power – Airlines are attracted to the size and power of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Several have offered special rates on airfares outside of traditional distribution venues on platforms like Groupon. This is a form of “Crowd Clout,” where airlines have the ability to create customer frenzies with the offer of deep discounts and viral sharing using mobile devices.

5. Emerging markets – Creating travel stories using emotional connections, airlines are promoting destinations and international travel to and from emerging countries. These include the “BRIC”s (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the “Next-11” (including South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico). British Airways is promoting their North American flights to India with “A Mother’s Wish” web posting.

6. Innovation is the marketing – This is a low cost entry approach into product and service marketing. Examples include wireless chargers found in customer lounges, RFID tags that let you track your luggage, and “meet and seat” experiments that let you check out your seat mates’ social profile before selecting a seat.

7. Outdoor creativity – Unconventional advertising in the form of digital billboards, kiosks, and point of sale floor graphics. British Airways #lookup billboard in Piccadilly Circus was wired to detect BA flights flying below the clouds and would display the flight number and destination along with a URL flight booking and price.

To register to download the full report, click here

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Dynamic customers require quality content.

How emerging technologies will impact the differentiated brand.

Digital adoption and content creation

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Copyright: buchachon / 123RF Stock Photo

Differentiating your brand from the competition

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences.

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences.

Brand differentiation comes from the user’s perception

There is not a huge amount of difference between leading brands. Depending on the category, almost all brands offer the same feature, function, and benefit to the user.

What makes a differentiated brand?

First, let’s explore the idea of a brand.

 Brand: noun

1 a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name: a new brand of detergent.

• a brand name: the company will market computer software under its own brand.

• a particular identity or image regarded as an asset: you can still invent your own career, be your own brand | the Michael Jordan brand certainly hasn’t hurt them.

• a particular type or kind of something: his incisive brand of intelligence.

The emphasis is to stand apart and stand for something.

A brand also allows companies to manufacture different models under the same brand name.

For example, Gulfstream Aerospace manufactures the following aircraft: Gulfstream G150, Gulfstream G280, Gulfstream G450, etc.

The intent is for the brand to offer more features and better performance as you move up the price chain.

Which leads us to brand differentiation

The simplest explanation is one of branding cattle. Each cattle ranch burned a unique mark into the hide of the cow or steer it owned. This was done to separate specific animals from the herd in the early days of open range grazing. This basic concept is the foundation for trademarks, which leads to brand differentiation.

Brand differentiation in the digital age

Branding strategy has expanded to include digital platforms and social media networks. The primus of the expansion was for brands to interact with individual users who in turn would become brand advocates, spreading the gospel about how wonderful the product performed and why all their digital friends should try it.

And for a while, this was the thinking behind investing in social media networks and spreading tweets and likes.

The reality

Brand differentiation comes from the user. It is the user’s value system that determines brand preference.

The user’s value system is found in their DNA of experiences. Their value system can change based on aspirational goals, financial conditions, or maturing of values that come with age.

Marketers that strive for brand differentiation must appeal to the user’s emotional needs and fulfill these needs by brand association that serves a higher calling than feature, function, and benefit.

This is not an easy task. It is the job of marketing to uncover what is unique to the brand and communicate in such a way as to create an emotional connection with the user.

It can’t be automated, digitized, or replicated. It has to be unique, authentic, and reach the user on a personal level that melds into a lasting connection. It must be “lived” by those in care of the brand and treated as an ember that will be extinguished if left unattended.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Investing in your brand perception

Connecting decision makers with your brand

Why bother with branding?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Image credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

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.