Friday, April 3, 2009

Disciplined, long-term really good marketing

This post appeared on Seth Godin's blog this morning.

He is great by the way, if you don't subscribe, or cruise by once in a while you are missing out on some honest real discussion. Read his post, then meet me back at the bottom for something that occurred to me, then really irked me on a plane home from Houston last night...

Seth says: "Judith comments on her frustration in joining a new website, "Sorry I do not provide passwords or birthdate. I would have like to have joined otherwise." Obviously, there's a trust problem here.

Frank won't read the instructions that come in an email from a trusted company, because there's always so much noise and clutter and legal garbage in the text that it doesn't pay to read it anyway.

Tim is in a bad mood the moment he arrives at the airport, because every other time he's been there, a marketer tries to rip him off, a security guard treats him like a criminal or an airline doesn't keep its promises.

Sarah won't give money to charity because the last two times she discovered that it was a false front for a high-overhead scam operation.

Emily got the three thousandth automated call giving her a second notice that her factory warranty had just expired... and she doesn't have a car.

Marketers have spammed, lied, deceived, cluttered and ripped us off for so long, we're sick of it.

Which means that even if you have a really good reason, no, you can't call me on the phone. Which means that even if it's really important, no, I'm not going to read the instructions. Which means that god forbid you try to email me something I didn't ask for... you're trashed. It's so fashionable to be skeptical now that no one believes you if you attempt to do something for the right reasons.

Selfish short-sighted marketers ruined it for all of us. The only way out, I think, is for a few marketers to so overwhelm the market with long-term, generous marketing that we have no choice but to start paying attention again."

Ok, this is tst again, let's pick it up here. He is so right. We have a responsibility to think about the consequences to people of our latest greatest marketing effort. And to think outside-in, not inside-out. It's the customer stupid. And it's more than just you who has a latest greatest marketing idea, so how will they all play out and play together when people are fed up, distrustful and taking back the media communications channels faster than ever?

So often I see folks who dream up their idea, or promotion, take it to market, and then forget to check back with it, letting this thing run on and on on auto-pilot.

Last night, flying home from Houston to San Diego after a week on the road (Tampa - Houston - San Diego) on Continental 1689 I'm sitting in the bulkhead seat, the light above my head doesn't work so I am forced to read my book by the light emanating from the "Lavatory" sign above the bathroom beside me. No biggee, I can improvise. The movie was "Yes Man", which was perfect mindless fare after a busy week. All good so far right? Typical airline experience.

That's just it - typical airline experiene - one with some nutty outdated things that would be simple and cost nothing to update. Let's start with the lexicon of the announcements you hear on every flight on any airline:

"The captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign indicating our initial descent into San Diego, please ensure your seatbacks are in the upright and locked position, and your tray tables are stowed and locked. Please fasten your seatbelts and remain seated for the duration of the flight"

Ok, do you know anyone who actually speaks like this? C'mon! Someone, 40 years ago, wrote that script that every flight attendant reads multiple times on every flight. How hard would it be to update it? SWA took it one step further, and somehow still managed to meet TSA regulations while allowing their team to actually share a personality with the passengers trapped in the steel sausages as they fly around the planet.

How about: "We're about to land in San Diego. Please take your seats if you are up and about, and buckle your seat belt for landing. Make sure your seat is upright and your tables are put away."

Really. Who uses "descent", "stowed", "locked", "fasten", "duration". I could go on. When I recounted this to my travelling companion last night she told me it was proof I had lost my mind.

But seriously, it's the little things that matter to the customer, stupid. There's space to be had for every airline to differentiate themselves, and offer that little better, customer-focused experience by upgrading their lexicon. Better yet, create one that relates to the experiene their particular brand strives to deliver. Or is that the collosal oversight, that maybe they don't really have a particular experience in mind? Just ticket and cargo revenue? Remember, at the end of every wallet is a customer whose experience matters more than ever today. Take the time to focus on the details, and think deeper about what you do.

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