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.

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The changing role of Public Relations in aviation marketing

Jet Blue external communications

Public Relations should be viewed as a tool for engagement and brand building.

At the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (4As) PR conference, industry thought leaders and influencers came together to provide their views on emerging trends influencing PR in the digital age.

I want to recognize 4A’s information specialists Rebecca Samson and Christine Pelosi for pooling their impressions from the conference and drafting their original observation document. Below is my interpretation of these themes and how they could affect aviation marketers.

From Jet Blue to Google to IBM, three areas emerged that aviation marketers should consider when developing public relations and social media plans.

The power of the influencer

Thomas Gensemer, Managing Partner, Blue State Digital, focused on changing role of today’s influencers. No longer are celebrities and urban cities setting the trends. Influencers can come from anywhere, aided by accessibility and quick distribution models of social media.

Gensemer cited 3 factors involved when conducting a campaign to embrace influencers:

  1. Participation: Encourage supporters to become involved in a campaign using real-time and digital events.
  2. Integration: Integrating both traditional and digital media into the campaign allows the brand message to reach the largest possible audience.
  3. Celebration: Social media has given fans a chance to enter the conversation and have a hand in trend-setting.

Transparency builds the brand

Jet Blue communications team attributes the airline’s focus on transparency, both internally and externally, as one of the key factors responsible for building the Jet Blue brand.

Externally, Jet Blue has an excellent crisis management strategy in which it responds quickly and truthfully to issues while updating information frequently, using multiple social media platforms and networks.

Internally, Jet Blue practices open communication between management and employees. By implementing companywide email, internal Facebook pages, and having a CEO actively posting to his Twitter account, Jet Blue engages employees in day-to-day issues. Such transparency enables employees at all levels to become brand stewards.  They are trained on the Jet Blue brand story, empowering them with knowledge to serve their customers as the company serves its employees.

Telling your story through brand journalism

Ingrid Bernstein, Director of Experience at J. Walter Thompson (JWT), touched on the theme of brand journalism. Digital distribution has created a world of fast news cycles, decreased attention spans, and brands have less control over their story.

Ingrid suggested that, in response to these factors, brands practice brand journalism – an editorial approach to brand-building that uses journalistic practices and assumes non-fiction stories can be more interesting than fictional ones. The goal of brand journalism isn’t to sell products but rather the brand’s expertise.

9 rules for brand journalism:

  1. Access = success. Give people access to the story behind the scenes.
  2. Don’t be afraid to show difficulty.  Obstacles can be framed as opportunities for transformation.
  3. Drama comes from conflict. Setting up tension gives people a stake in the story, driving engagement.
  4. Transparency is powerful. Transparency is a storytelling device influencing the emotional connection with the brand.
  5. Embrace the trolls. Listening to and engaging your detractors can help develop the brand story.
  6. Identify and follow characters. You may not know who they are, but always be on the lookout for them.
  7. Show passionate customers. Integrate brand advocates into your story.
  8. Leverage good news. Connect with the news cycle and be responsive.
  9. Create an empowered approval team. Develop a rapid approval process with high-level executive involvement.

To view the research insight report, click on the following link: “Observations from the 4A’s 2012 PR Conference.”

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Aviation Marketing: Why marketing fundamentals are important in social media marketing

Airline Social Media Scorecard

Point-of-view marketing through social media can very effective when supported with proper brand positioning.

Successful aviation brands at their core hold a philosophy about how they will conduct their business, treat their employees and customers, and contribute to the betterment of the aviation industry. In social media terms, this is the brand’s point-of-view.

Just as the brand’s point–of-view provides a rich area for social engagement, aviation marketers must identify the brand’s value proposition and unique selling proposition (USP) to create a sustainable, healthy brand.  For aviation marketers this represents a convergence between brand positioning, product & service attribute/benefits, and brand beliefs and philosophy.

Value Proposition – The benefit your product or service delivers to your customers. The value proposition is the fundamental positioning of where your product or service sits on the spectrum of customer needs. In analog terms, it’s the 60-second elevator speech that explains your company’s offering.

Value proposition positioning:

  • Quality leader – brands that set the quality standard for that business segment
  • Low cost producer – brands that demonstrate best quality-to-price ratio
  • Service leader – brands that provide the longest warranty or most desirable return policies

Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – A description of your product or service that differentiates it in a way that will make customers prefer and purchase your brand over the competition.

Unique Selling Propositions are based on attributes and benefits of your product or service that set it apart from the competition. Examples include:

  • Small size – uses less cockpit real estate
  • Lightweight – fuel efficient
  • Solid state technology – reliable
  • Delivered on time – meets your production schedule
  • AOG service capability – global service centers

Point-Of-View Marketing

Point-of-view marketing is about communicating your brand story. This is important in social media because it invites engagement, opening dialog between your brand, customers, and prospects.

Point-of-view is about what your brand believes and your philosophy on how a market should best be served. An ideal document to lay the foundation for point-of-view marketing is your company’s mission statement.

Point-of-view marketing can take many forms. These may include:

  • Social causes – Veterans Airlift command
  • Environment – biofuel, sustainability, green building practices
  • Product design – aesthetically pleasing, recycled materials
  • Integration – open source code compatibility
  • Simplicity – intuitive use sans complexity
  • Best-in-class – we produce one product and do it well

Interesting point-of-view marketing can drive social engagement. However, one should take into account that brand authenticity and a differentiated, unique selling proposition form the foundation for a brand’s success in the battle for brand supremacy.

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