People-to-people Marketing and “Small Data”

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight.

Human insight combined with “Small Data” provides a better customer experience

Devin Wenig, President of eBay Marketplaces recently spoke with McKinsey & Company about how digital technology was transforming the retail marketplace. One of his insights that can apply to companies serving the aviation industry was his take on the importance of “small data” vs. “big data”.

For definition purposes, let’s identify “big data” as data sets that represent large groups of people and certain types of behavior associated with their purchasing habits. This data is gathered from transactional data, website analytics and social insights, and usually requires the service of a data scientist to interpret trends and connections.

“Small Data,” on the other hand, is about putting the customer first. Engaging the customer with information and tools organized and packaged to be easily accessible, understandable, and actionable to accomplish the task at hand (think apps). Companies that understand small data can use it to their advantage by creating relationships leading to increased brand loyalty and repeat business.

“Small Data” leads to actionable strategies

Actionable marketing strategies come from looking at the “small data” sets and applying human insight, resulting in knowing your customer base as individuals – their likes, dislikes, purchasing history – and providing an easy to use, relevant online user experience.

Long tail data – a complete customer picture

A search engine can sort through millions of bits of data from a keyword query and provide an exact match, but it cannot provide additional queries for items that may be related. For example, say your website has a search feature and the customer has entered a part number. The part number query will take them to the requested part configuration but is incapable of identifying additional parts that may be needed for installation in a specific airframe or for a retrofit of a new digital component. Using the “small data” approach, the search query could also display a complete view of additional components associated with the original query, assuring that the customer gets all they need the first time around.

Relevant online experiences lead to loyal customers

People-to-people marketing requires engaging with customers by providing useful information. Thinking beyond a single data set and applying insight such as including installation tips and additional component selections creates customer loyalty. Thinking of “small data” as the “right data” will help marketers build better customer profiles, leading to a better online experience for all involved.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Is your website attracting customers or sending them away?

Using social media to gain customer insight.

B-to-B social media strategy: Quality not Quantity

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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The challenges of “Big Data”

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution

Big Data is a tool and should be used as a means to an end

“Big Data” is a misleading term. It’s not a technology, but rather involves using data to gain insight. Big Data helps you visualize structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. This visualization of combined data provides a multi-dimensional view of the ecosystem your product or service resides in.

Types of data

Structured data, also known as Business Intelligence (BI), is transactional data.  Examples include addresses, SIC codes, point-of- sale data, customer resource management data, phone numbers, emails, loyalty card use, and energy consumption data. Data of this nature can be accessed and viewed in Excel spreadsheets.

Semi-structured data consists of web server click stream data, such ad web logs, IP addresses, page visits, time on page, cookie tracking, geo-usage patterns, customer behavior while on site, and the development of user profiles. The primary characteristic of this type of data is that it does not lend itself to display in rows, columns, or text.

Unstructured data is the content of documents, natural language, Tweets, Likes, comments, blogs, phone calls, emails, audio files, and images. These are the elements of human communication recognized as content but completely foreign to machine language.

How to use the data “Big Data” provides

From a marketing perspective, Big Data can be viewed as three segments:

1. Big Data when viewed properly can provide better insight

This was once the domain of a “gut feel.” Now when combining the three aforementioned data types, a panoramic view can be created of the acceptance and use of the product or service.

2. Better insight helps in making better business decisions

All of this data crunching provides a granular to global view of the acceptance of your product or service offering.  It is in this context that better business decisions can be made with regards to where to geographically expand, identify the most desirable product features and attributes, and which marketing efforts are delivering the anticipated results.

3. Better business decisions lead to better creative solutions

Big Data, when represented properly, can complement a creative brief by acting as a wall of information that can be prioritized, moved, and reconfigured for actionable items and measured for results.

“Big Data” challenges

Don’t be a slave to the data; rather, use it as a tool to sharpen the creative solution, extend the brand engagement, and think beyond the current place in time that the visualization represents.

In addition, be aware that small brands may find the results disappointing because of an insufficient amount of semi-structured and unstructured data that is available.

And finally, management has to be committed to Big Data by providing resources and direction. Big Data offers marketing accountability, but it is incumbent on management to decide the following:

  • What to measure
  • What data has the highest priority to aid in business decisions
  • Where to invest resource and capital
  • What to do with the data – how does it shape the business outcome

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Big brother and marketing ROI

Big data and creativity

How to build a connected brand

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.
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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: Ryanair, the marketing brilliance behind the commodity-priced airfare

Call it what you may, Ryanair’s marketing is shrewd and laser focused

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary recently called his customer “idiots.” Having never had the pleasure to fly Europe’s largest low cost carrier, I was glad not to be classified as one of the above. Yet from the decidedly colloquial North American viewpoint, it is a revealing look into Ryanair’s branding strategy.

Ryanair at a glance:

  • Founded: 1985
  • Current fleet: 294 Boeing 737-800
  • Passenger traffic: 75.8 million
  • Revenue: €4,325m
  • Profit after tax: €503m
  • Number of routes: 1,500+ per day operating from 51 bases in 28 countries

Ryanair practices marketing known by such names as gotcha marketing and aggression marketing. Gotcha marketing is based on pushing the boundaries of acceptable advertising in both truthfulness and taste, and penalizing customers that don’t follow the rules.

The penalties for not following the rules come in the form of additional fees such as:

  • Administration fee,  €6
  • Boarding pass fee,  €6
  • Reserved seating fee, €10
  • Airport boarding card re-issue fee, €60
  • Infant equipment fee, €20
  • Sports equipment fee, €60
  • Musical instrument fee, €60
  • Flight change fee – based on season, €30 – €90
  • Name change fee, €110 – €160
  • Government tax refund administration fee, €20
  • Oxygen reservation fee, €100
  • Checked bag fee, €15 – €150
  • Missed departure fee, €110

Advertising plays a critical role in these forms of marketing, starting with media placement. One-color ads are placed in tabloid newspapers. The fare prices are misleading because they don’t include the multitude of gotcha fees and usually include provocative imagery that is associated with tabloid journalism.

Because the ads are offensive to some, what follows is a formal complaint to the British Office of Fair Trading or the European Commission for Mobility and Transport. Interestingly enough, O’Leary has called the commission an evil empire populated by morons.

Which leads us back to the brilliance of Ryanair’s marketing. The formula starts with aggressive advertising, which leads to a complaint. Then CEO Michael O’Leary, stokes the fire with an inflammatory remark, escalating the pitch of the conversation while gaining free PR in the press and attention for the low cost carrier. This ultimately turns a $30,000 ad campaign into a million dollar public relations bonanza.

Ryanair understands its customers – price sensitive travelers. Ryanair’s brand promise is cheap fares and on-time service. Their customers understand the value proposition – do it yourself, follow the rules, and get from point A to B for as little as possible.

Ryanair and O’Leary are comfortable in their own skin. Each knows what they are –  the premier low cost carrier with a master marketer who knows how to differentiate his product and turn a profit in a super-competitive business.

Aviation Marketing: Don’t rule out emotional connections in the purchasing process

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.

Commanding a premium price point requires brand loyalty. Loyalty stems from the customer’s emotional connection with the brand.

Assuming a product meets the standard performance specifications, as well as the price point, the purchase decision is then left to the customer’s personal preference. People become emotionally connected to a brand for different reasons:

  • Does the brand stand for something important?
  • Can we relate to it?
  • Is the brand intense, vibrant, or innovative?
  • Does the brand benefit society?
  • Is the brand unique?
  • Does brand interaction make us feel good about the purchase?
  • Are the front line people representative of the brand values?
  • Does the brand give us peace-of-mind?

Emotional decision-making is a unique process rooted in individual experiences, beliefs, and temperaments.  Even though emotions are unique to each individual, there are several common dominator emotions:

  1. Joy
  2. Trust
  3. Fear
  4. Surprise
  5. Sorrow
  6. Disgust
  7. Anger
  8. Anticipation

We react to marketing messages and build emotional brand preferences based on how we feel about the brand, and how it fits into our web of emotional decision-making criterion.

If a brand’s marketing portrays unrealistic expectations of how the choice to use their product will improve the customers’ lives, the trust emotion leads us to question the integrity of the brand promise.

On the other hand, successful brand marketing leads one to personally identify with the brand, building trust, and ultimately securing a long-term customer relationship.

As aviation marketers, we are challenged to drive brand marketing and create brand loyalty. One source of rich brand insight comes from social media platforms. The process of writing on these platforms clarifies human emotion, providing aviation marketers with a tapestry of raw customer insights gained from unfiltered blogs, tweets and other posts.

The emotions expressed in these threads expose the customer’s level of emotional attachment to particular brands. This gives us insight into which manufacturers deliver on their brand promise, and which ones come up short.

Learning to utilize data on social media platforms provides companies with a stream of free market research, endowing savvy aviation marketers with valuable insight regarding the brand’s emotional appeal. Manufacturers can then leverage these connections to help increase market share, demand premium prices, and ultimately improve sales.

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

Captain Obvious

Insights are not shiny objects. Many times insights are buried in the customer’s emotional connection to the brand.

Good aviation marketers believe that customer insights form the foundation for brand strategy. Being able to identify insights about product functionality, user preferences, and emotional connection to the brand help to formulate the brand promise and gives the brand its “reason for existence.”

5 questions to ask when determining true insights:

  1. Does product/service use reveal something about the target audience’s mind set?
  2. Does the functional benefit of the product/service provide the greatest value to the customer?
  3. Does the product/service make customers feel better about themselves?
  4. Does the product/service create lasting value?
  5. Does the product/service act as an internal point-of-view for the brand?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, odds are you have insight for building a strong brand.

5 ways to differentiate insights from merely interesting information:

Insights reveal more about the target audience than about the product or service.

Does the insight identify a particular lifestyle or point-of-view?

Can the insight be traced back to social cause, use a technology or a political leaning?

Insights are more about the category than the brand.

Owning the category benefit is considered an indication of brand leadership.  United Airlines positioning, “Fly the Friendly Skies,” used until 1996, helped to drive category leadership.

Insights reveal more about how people feel than what they think.

Feelings connect to our deepest needs and values. Find an insight based on an emotion and you can build a brand with which people connect. Virgin American continues to demonstrate this approach with mood lighting, advanced cabin technology, and a hip attitude.

 Insights focus on what is enduring, not the latest fad.

Fads come and go. Successful brands focus on staying true to their core values and articulate these through employee/customer interactions. Southwest Airlines’ core value of on time departures and arrivals has not changed in over 40 years.

Insights stimulate new ideas.

Real insights challenge companies to act in new ways. What a frequent flyer considers important is different from what a vacation traveler considers important. Insights can lead to improvements in specific customer segments.

Being able to determine the difference between what is an insight and what is just interesting affects brand leadership. At the same time, don’t reject an insight just because it seems obvious.

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