How Today's Marketing Should Take Notes From the 1950s Air Travel Experience
January 26, 2023
My pre-teen nephew just started debate club and I'm itching to get some practice rounds in with him. Many, many moons ago as a teen I considered myself quite prolific in the subject of debate in the form of arguing with any form of authority, the target - of course - so often being my parents. Thankfully, I've grown out of that (as the CEO of SI EQ and my boss laughs hysterically at this statement). However, I still find myself wondering what can and cannot be debated in the marketing space. What is true. What is fact. There are so many things about marketing that are subjective and up for debate: campaign effectiveness, creative aesthetics, innovation, etc. but I think I'd have a hard time finding anyone who could debate the following things about the state of marketing as it stands now in January of 2023.
1. It's crowded up in here
When I think of how marketing has changed over the years, it immediately brings to mind airplane travel. The image below shows the lifestyle differences in traveling in the 50s vs now.
📷 : Douglas Miller | Stringer | Getty Images
1950s air travel was all glam and luxury with attention to detail, comfort, and style. Anyone who's traveled in the last decade couldn't possibly use those words as a description of air travel today. If we took a poll, I think the majority might use language like 'cramped, efficient, unreasonable, cattle, strict'.
That's what the marketing space can feel like now. Ads upon ads overlapping like elbows trying to steal the arm rest. Now, it's not all bad. With more businesses in the space, there are more options for consumers to choose from at their price point, their specifications, their expectations. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Keep reading. We're not even mid-flight yet!
2. Consumers have lost their confidence in decision-making
I once heard from the ever-so-credible source of Instagram that some people - parents in particular - can make up to 1,000 decisions and micro-decisions a day. That coupled with the aforementioned plethora of options of products and buying platforms has altered the customer journey. As we watch their behavior through heat maps and workflows, we see dropoffs on pages and post-conversion hesitations. I blame Amazon - particularly those comparison charts that show you the features of the product you're looking at vs 8 other options that I now have to go research because I want to buy the best one and not regret my decision.
Recently, while booking a flight, I experienced paralysis by analysis. An inability to make a decision for fear I would make the wrong one. I stared at the seat map with no forward movement for half an hour. If I sit in 26E I could get an aisle seat, but it's by the bathroom. If I sit in 8E, my husband can get more legroom, but it's $65 more a ticket. Should I preorder my snacks? I always freeze up when they ask if I want pretzels or cookies. Uh both please! If I preorder the cheese tray, will my neighbor get mad at the smell? Throughout this process, you can see my confidence waning. I'm about to give up and buy an RV. So how can you in your marketing/business plan prevent this scenario? What can you do to provide your consumers confidence in their decision to purchase from you over anyone else?
Let's Talk Solutions
Provide Confidence. You are the guide, not the hero*
Yoda. Gandolf. Dumbledore. Maverick. All guides to the heroes of the story. This is the role you and your marketing agency together play for our heroes of the story. Luke. Frodo. Harry Potter. Rooster. They are your consumer. They need to be led. Your brand, your product and the way you market your product all need to make the consumer the focal point of your story. Not you. Don't talk about your benefits, your features, look at us. When you do that, all I'm hearing is how my purchase is going to enhance your sales, your bottom line. Point the arrow back at the consumer. How will your product enhance their lives? Make their dreams come true? Dreams they maybe didn't even know they had but you've now led them there and they can't imagine lives without your product in it.
Two (2) main things can help you achieve that level of loyalty.
Empathy and Authority.
When a pilot tells you there's going to be turbulence, there's multiple ways it could play out.
No empathy: "There's going to be turbulence. I can handle it."
No authority: "There's going to be turbulence. I bet you're feeling nervous."
The pilot SHOULD say:
"There's going to be some bumps and some movement (create expectations), and I know some of you may feel nervous about that (empathy), but I've been flying for over 20 years now and can fly at a higher altitude to avoid the rough patches (authority). One tip that helps many flyers is apply pressure to the inside of your wrists. It relieves nausea. I am here to ensure you have the smoothest ride possible because you have gotten up early, packed, ensured you got here on time, found your gate, and provided enough coffee for yourself and entertainment for your child to get through a 5 hour flight. You deserve a comfortable ride."
Notice how many times I said "I" and focused on myself (in yellow). Notice how many times I focused on the consumer (in orange)
Landing the plane
Your company should be practicing the same in your marketing. 30% about you and how you are guiding me to the right decision and 70% about me and how I am confident I making the right decision. Not everyone has caught on to this. This will help consumers choose you and choose you quicker every time, thereby reducing the need for more marketing dollars to stretch over longer consideration times and increasing your ROI.
As far as standing out even further? Make your marketing worth talking about. I always hear talk of the ideal customer, but ultimately, I'm not just trying to reach you. I'm trying to reach you and everyone who influences your decision - your spouse, your children, your community, your top followed accounts. What achieves this? User generated content. When I'm in the Research phase of the funnel, where am I going to help solidify my decision? Other people like me who have already experienced the product and can tell me what to expect. It's such a powerful tool to wield and SI EQ knows just how to stick the landing while making your experience with us like air travel in the 1950s; luxe, personal, and delivering what was promised.
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*if you don't know who Storybrand is, you should go follow them pronto