The need to be agile and reactive to trends could have marketers thinking: 'been there done that' but there is more to it than meets the eye, writes Ritesh Gupta.
Can Edward Snowden fly from Moscow to London by private jet? It was a question that appeared on the Twitter feed of private jet company Private Fly in response to a story of the American national security fugitive that was being covered globally. “The story held great interest for our target market - as a global news agenda. He was stranded in Moscow, seeking asylum and the media were all looking at his escape options,” says Carol Cork, marketing director of private jet booking service, PrivateFly.com.
This is a good example of how agile marketing is not merely about being responsive to what is relevant to your audience, but rather it’s about adding value and strengthening your brand seamlessly. This is especially true given that today’s digital audience tends to be quick to discard what appears as obviously commercial messages.
Let’s take a closer look at the team’s reaction to this unfolding story?
“By reacting quickly to a story that was high on the news agenda, we were able to achieve strong media exposure and deliver interesting information for potential customers,” explains Cork.
By giving pricing examples, aircraft detail, specifics of the permits and route options, this gave both journalists and PrivateFly.com’s target audience technical information that they were lacking. There were also updates on the company blog.
For instance, the estimated cost to charter a private jet from Moscow to Ecuador was analysed. It was mentioned that it would be possible for Snowden to fly from Moscow to Ecuador on a private jet. However ‘using legal safety limits a fuel stop would be required’.
According to Cork the campaign was was successful because it drove targeted but significant customer interest, and valuable brand exposure. It also built relationships with media such as CNN, Bloomberg, Forbes, Daily Telegraph, “all of which are highly influential media with our target customers”.
A word of warning though. One shouldn’t necessarily bombard customers with messages or blog posts every day. The trick is to make a strong impact whenever one participates or suggests something. “It’s about being able to juggle several things, but in a controlled way, at the same time - quality is key,” stresses Cork.
Marketers need to be creative but, importantly, have adequate knowledge of whatever they are focusing on. Cork has the following recommendations:
· Understand that a strong campaign will not sell itself: It will be much easier to deliver and engage with your customers, if you have good insight.
· Manage creativity with informed analysis. Today’s environment is exciting and fast-paced, so you need find the right balance.
· Take calculated risks and measure: Sometimes creativity can be stifled by the need to have exact answers, or be able to get a direct measure or response from it. “Within reason, we take the approach that it's ok to take risks and test new ideas, but we take every step possible to analyse the outcomes, to see if this is where we want to continue to invest or not,” says Cork.
Cracking the code
Snowden-style campaigns definitely add more value to your content-related initiatives, be it for social media or media coverage. And an added bonus is that your SEO strategy gets a boost, too.
So how do you attract the attention of your target audience on an ongoing basis?
· Be alert: One way is look around and see what is trending? Twitter is one option to consider, but it’s important to assess if it is just a short-lived fad or not. Consider whether there may be a bigger or longer term impact. For instance, a hot topic may result in a tweet every second for five hours, and then disappear in no time from Twitter. But then online media picks up the issue, digs and gets to the core of it. And then the story is everywhere for next two weeks!
· Don’t be afraid, be responsive: Don’t be afraid to give your opinion and share those with your customers via all available channels. All of this can help marketers to engage with potential buyers as early as possible in the booking funnel. “To influence customers in the planning phase you need to think laterally about your own sector and your customer base. Where and how will they do their research? What will impress them or influence them? What information can we give them to get their attention? “I think it’s about a combination of having a very visible digital presence, with building strong brand credentials and referrals,” explains Cork.
· Be authentic: Transparency, especially in social media, is very important. Brands need to develop an appropriate online voice. “Yes, online reputation management is important, but it must be ‘real’. Engaged online audiences know when they are reading a template or ‘canned’ response,” Michelle Heston, regional director of public relations at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts told EyeforTravel.com recently.
Clearly, if agile marketing is going to be all about a product’s attributes or promotions then the brand isn’t going to make headway. The key lies in spotting a story angle or a trend, and shaping content, messages or campaigns in a way that catches the attention of an audience.