Big events have become the nirvana of marketers: The perfect target audience, the perfect setting, minds being to open to marketing messages.
Most marketers waste that opportunity with big billboards, crappy giveaways, fly-over planes – you name it. Heineken did it right: Coachella is an all-age event in the Southern California desert. They have gated beer gardens to ensure that the pre-21 crowd doesn’t get the promoter in trouble. In order to gain access to the beer garden, you need to go to various ID Checks to get your prized wristband. As you can see on the picture above, the white wristbands include the Heineken logo. So what, you might say.
Think about it: Every time when 21+ attendees think about alcoholic beverages they see the Heineken logo, they have to show it to security to become part of the drinking crowd. And the under 21 crowd who desires to be part of the beer garden crowd regards the Heineken wristband as a symbol for their desire.
Does it work? I don’t usually drink beer at home. Back home Sunday night, I was looking through the fridge to find a Heineken. Worked for me.
Businesses have become obsessed with the blogosphere: They task companies with buzz/trend/blog conversation reports. They read them daily, trying to gain a better understanding of people. And then they’re struggling with the question: “How do we join the conversation?” And: “What conversations are we joining?”
Let’s focus on the second question: Most businesses are immediately drawn to the blogosphere because it’s so easy to lurk and find out what the public thinks about their brand. But they often oversee the most important opportunity right in front of their eyes: Their customer service department.
People try to initiate conversations with businesses all day long: They have problems with the product, they have questions about the product, they want to connect with someone that speaks for the brand. Changing the paradigm of customer service from processing as many people as possible to solving as many problems as possible is the first step to join the conversation. Empowered people will put increasing demands on consumer affairs. Divorcing consumer affairs from marketing divisions doesn’t make any sense in the new marketing reality. Increasingly empowered people want to speak with the brand itself and consumer affairs will have to become part of your marketing strategy.
It should have been this way all along.
and the demands on consumer affairs will
“Claire Bennett, SVP/Advertising, Marketing and Media at American Express, threw down a gauntlet at the outset: digital, traditional, grassroots–it doesn’t matter if consumers don’t want it. Paraphrasing Einstein, she said any marketing fool can overwhelm consumers with meaningless information, but it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
Her message, delivered through a rundown on her own company’s efforts, was that the opposite direction means moving from intrusion to invitation. “Are you making something better for your customer or intruding on an experience they are having?” she asked, rhetorically. “We want to be invited in by the consumer: from transaction to relationship; from disrupting to empowering.”
Facilitating conversations, making people’s life better. Bingo.
American Airlines is on everybody’s mind right now: Thousands of flights cancelled, more than 100,000 passenger stranded and millions of dollars lost.
How did AA react to this crisis?
Sure, they put up a link on the corporate site, summarizing the situation. Very White House press statement of them. The press statement from Gerard Arpey was uploaded on their YouTube page. They covered the bases. But did they join the conversation?
Top-down statements might have been good enough a decade ago, today they just cause a shrug. CEO’s tend to apologize on a daily basis and links on sites to a press release are almost an insult to seething customers. Instead, American Airlines should have explained the situation in full: Why were the planes grounded? What is the benefit for the customer? How are they going to make sure this won’t happen again? Are they willing to accept that customers are so fed up with their product? How are they going to change it?
Encourage people to converse with American Airlines. Let them express their feelings. Passengers feel helpless when dealing with airlines. Give them a channel to communicate their feelings.
And, most importantly, give the staff on the ground authority to treat people like they should be treated: If they have to spend the night, offer them luxury accomodations. If their flight is delayed, offer them a generous voucher for food and drinks. Give everyone affected a free flight within the US. People that had to stay overnight should receive a transcontinental flight.
Currently, American Airlines is hiding and hoping another airlines will mess up and their mistakes will be forgotten. People don’t forget days of delays. They will talk about it. Write about it. Share it with others. American Airlines should consider the crisis as an opportunity. It’s not too late.