How does company culture affect your brand?

Employee actions reflect the brand culture

Employee actions reflect the brand culture

Employee actions mirror your brand’s values and beliefs

This year, we have witnessed several prominent brands take a public media hit due to action of their employees. For all the time, treasure, and talent that’s invested in creating a trusted brand, it only takes one careless action to reveal a corporate culture that has lost its way.

Brands that lost their way

UBER – executive at a private dinner floated the idea of digging up dirt on selected female reporters and their families as a way to control what was reported on the company’s activities. The comment was leaked and a firestorm ignited, resulting in intense scrutiny from national news media and women deleting the UBER ride-sharing app from their smart phone.

National Football League – dressing their players in pink to support breast cancer research did little to cover up a disturbing pattern of violence towards women as captured on an elevator security camera when a star running back threw a wicked left hook that connected with his wife’s jaw. The YouGov Brand index score for the NFL fell from a yearlong high of 36 to 17 in a short four-day period.

General Motors – Congressional hearings and recalls of over 6 million vehicles did little to instill faith that GM has turned itself around. What it did demonstrate is that CEOs of large corporations can take a plausible deniability position and get away with it.

Brands that lead by example

TOMS Shoes – founded on a belief that brands should give something back to the community, TOMS created One-to-One®. With each new shoe purchase, a new pair of TOMS is given to a child through one of their 100+ shoe giving partners. TOMS has given away more that 35 million pairs of shoes to children in need.

Southwest Airlines – one of the first companies to recognize that their employees are front line brand ambassadors. SWA’s Adopt-A-Pilot is a four-week program where over 1,500 pilots participate in classroom activities bringing science, geography, and math to life. SWA foots the bill for all classroom materials as the students track their adopted pilots’ travels from flying the plane to interacting with other aviation professionals. This and many other community outreach programs make SWA one of the most respected brands in the industry.

Brands are known by their point of view

While brands may not be human entities, they are known by their actions. There are many ways that brands can lead by example, from reducing their carbon footprint by investing in cleaner technologies to supporting their communities through the volunteer efforts of their employees. Today, people want to support brands that have a social conscience and are working towards a greater good.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

What’s your brand’s reputation worth?

What’s your brand’s point-of-view?

Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Copyright: egorr / 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

Aviation Marketing: Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Aviation Marketing: Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Do customers want brand engagement or a moral cause to support?

Social marketing tactics are designed to engage the customer on different levels and extend the relationship. However some argue that engagement is not that important and that brand loyalty can be achieved by supporting causes or organizations that make the world a better place.

The aviation industry is comprised of thousands of companies that work together to keep aircraft flying, people moving, and the wheels of commerce spinning. Airlines, airports, and a few manufacturers have adopted social marketing, Which begs the question: if the majority of related businesses do not practice some form of social marketing, are they missing an opportunity to grow their business and their legion of brand advocates?

Brands can only engage when the customer is open and receptive

The digital era has disrupted the traditional strategy of branded communication. The customer now chooses the time and place for brand interaction. Considering that the customer is subjected to over 3000 advertising messages per day, one can rationalize that engagement is overrated because the customer has built up a subconscious resistance to responding because of sensory overload. Do you really want to interact with a widget manufacturer or MRO facility? Perhaps, if they have something of interest to offer or a service that makes my life easier.

Enter the idea of the cause branding

The strategy of rallying the troops around a cause can be traced back to Chinese military treaties which existed during the period of the warring states (476-221 B.C.). In the Art of War, 5 principles were identified that should be considered before entering into a military campaign:

The moral cause

The climate

The terrain

The command

Organization and discipline

Although well over 2000 years old, these principals can still be applied to aviation marketing in the digital era.  Marketers practicing people-to-people engagement may want to consider linking their brand with a cause.

Recent studies have indicated the following:

  • A shared passion can create a shared relationship between a brand and its target consumer
  • Consumers may reward or punish a company depending on its commitment to social or other causes
  • Cause marketing should be considered as a loyalty strategy for customer engagement

Leading by example

Southwest Airlines walks the talk when it comes to cause marketing. One cause they support is the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant program. Through this program, SWA provides complimentary round trip tickets to nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation programs. To date more than 26,200 tickets in 24 states have been distributed.

I’d like to hear from other aviation marketers. Have you aligned your brand with a cause? Was it beneficial? Did your customers treat your brand with a preference?

Comments welcome below.

To lean more about SWA’s Media Transportation Grant click here

To view research on cause marketing click here

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: Digital’s impact on the 4 marketing P’s

Extending brand engagement through digital services

Technology can enhance and solidify the emotional connection to the brand.

Digital technology is affecting the 4 marketing P’s – Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion – by extending brand engagement. Adept aviation marketers are adding value to their brand by providing digital services that complement the user’s life style and the core product offering.

The digital side of the marketing 4-P’s:

Product – the nature of what a brand can provide for consumers has been transformed by technology

Brand interaction is not limited to a specific time and place. Mobile platforms are providing access to the extended brand offering when the consumer has the greatest need.

Digital stickiness

  • Digitally delivered services bolster the brand’s value proposition
  • Opportunity for mass customization by personalizing products
  • Ability to service niche audiences with specific product offerings
  • Digital channels can involve customers in product development and design

Examples:

  • Southwest Airlines App
  • Nike Training Club App
  • Starbucks App to pay with iPhone or iPod
  • Customizable M&M’s – mymms.com
  • Starbucks crowd sources R&D – my Starbucksidea.force.com

Price – price transparency is transformational in many product categories

Pre-digital, business controlled the information and shared it on a one-to-many communication model.  Now information is everywhere, ushering in price transparency.

Examples:

  • Jetcost  – cheap flight comparison app
  • Liligo – flight search engine app
  • Travelocity.com
  • Esurance.com
  • Google price comparison
  • CouponcodesUSA.com
  • Mobile coupons that allow stores to appeal to customers in the immediate area
  • Bulk purchasing on Amazon.com

Placement – Electronic (e)-commerce, Mobile (m)-commerce and Social (s)- commerce are changing the purchasing habits of consumers.

Digital connectivity in media turns media channels into commerce channels.  Consumer purchasing behavior has changed where online purchasing is an accepted form of commerce. Because the supply side is now well developed, there is less fear of purchasing online due to improved online security and widespread broadband access.

Promotion – the nature of “promotion” has fundamentally changed because of new places to influence consumers and new ways of influencing

The biggest influencer on promotion is search. Now through behavioral targeting, brands can present relevant content at the time and place when consumers are the most receptive to special offers.

To this, add location-based promotion via mobile platforms and in the not too distant future, connected TV. All of this will require a content-centered strategy not necessarily promoting products, but providing content relevant to the viewer’s life style.

photo credit: Robert Scoble via photopin cc

Aviation Marketing: Emotional ties create strong brand loyalty

Differentiating your brand starts with making personal connections

Those involved with aviation services and product manufacturing pride themselves on providing flawless products that perform to the highest of specifications. In their eyes, the functionality and reliability of their products define their brand promise. However, looking through the perspective of the purchaser reveals a different picture.

As the purchaser, the product’s true “reason to be” is revealed by looking past the distractions of technology and engineering, and instead looking through to the core reason the product was invented. Each product was created to help the customer solve a problem, or make their life simpler, safer or more efficient.

People-to-people aviation marketers understand that the inspiration of the product’s development greatly attributes to the feel of the brand story. This can be the point of differentiation that is remembered by the customer, and thus gains the potential to be passed onto their circle of friends.

Competitive advantages gained through functionality are short lived. Telling the brand story through the perspective of the designer, engineer, or service representative brings emotion and recall to the brand story.

As I write this, I am currently waiting on a Southwest Airlines flight to LAX. It is the first flight out for the day, and the airport is packed with college students and families trying to squeeze in vacation during the last weeks of summer.

The baggage check line was overburdened with strollers, car seats, and other necessities of modern day family travel. The kiosk attendant was hefting big suitcases with a smile on her face. As I scanned my boarding pass, the attendant confirmed my destination and lightheartedly told me she wished she were going somewhere. I told her of my reason for travel was to assist my son move into his new apartment, but that really meant I was going to help assemble IKEA furniture. She related to me, telling me that her last trip was with her daughter to perform the same function. She shared with me first hand knowledge about assembling the bed frame and how to do it right the first time.

I thanked her for the insight and continued onto the security line check-in. Thirty minutes later, I arrived at the gate with a good attitude, ready for the journey ahead. Traveling on Southwest can be challenging under high load conditions. However, the baggage attendant articulated, and thus emphasized, SWA’s brand promise by sharing her experience in an effort to make my life a little easier.

An empty airline seat is a commodity that instantly loses value when it leaves the ground. SWA does an excellent job of communicating their brand story through their employees, ensuring that when I need to travel again, their airline will be one of the first considered.

photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via photo pin cc

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.

photo credit: g4r37h via photo pin cc