As a speaker I am fortunate to address audiences all over the world from various backgrounds on innovation and the impact of disruptive technology.
One of my favourite verticals is travel, and a subset of travel is airport retail and catering. I was fortunate to be invited to speak at the #FAB2014 (Food & Beverage Conference) when over 100 of the world’s top airport management teams, travel food & beverage operators and service suppliers converged in Copenhagen, Denmark. No only were there awards to be given at a distinguished gala dinner hosted by SSP – The Food Travel Experts, but two jam-packed days of thought leadership on the changing landscape of travel food & beverage with this debate curated by Martin Moodie of The Moodie Report and his brilliant team.
My presentation followed the very articulate and knowledgeable industry journalist, Matt Wiley (The Moodie Report). He articulated the fundamentals of social media and its business implications with rich statistics and figures that had a few mouthes agape at the sheer volume of conversations taking place online. Completely unrehearsed, I tag-teamed Matt with the following presentation:
The quick list of my digital, mobile and social secrets is as follows:
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is developing three to five year plans with rigid inflexibility. These are a complete waste of time. Digital and the internet of things is giving rise to innovations as speeds we human can’t mentally process. As hacking becomes a thing of beauty and a skill worth hiring, nothing is safe or sacred. Instead, plan for innovation. Apply part of your budget to funding innovation studies and get external eyes to hack your marketing ideas and programs. Ask yourself the questions, where will our audience be in three to five years? What will be disrupting them? If you don’t know the answer to this, find someone who does and brave enough to tell you.
One of the key mistakes I see marketers making is that they spend all of their time staring down at their marketing plans, owned media assets and their social media brand pages. A real missed opportunity occurs when you fail to actively and carefully review off-page comments and interest, especially on peer and review websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor. Consumers will post and talk about you and its a true opportunity to respond in earnest and thank customers for their feedback. For travel retail and related services like airport catering, good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster and further.
It is astonishing the number of loyalty programs in food service today that have not innovated. If you are not spending your retention dollars trying to build an influencer army, you are not managing your company’s investment wisely and I hope your boss reads this blog and calls you in his office tomorrow. The fundamental difference between advocates and loyal customer is the size of their mouths and the power of personal endorsements at the ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth). A loyalty card that lives in the dark recesses of my wallet and is not associated with behaviour data is archaic and a waste of a piece of plastic but that’s not what the real problem with most loyalty card programs, read on.
Here’s an exercise in the loyalty vs advocacy thinking. Which is likely to yield more customers, social signal, and real time customer feedback — a customer who swipes their loyalty card and gets the 10th coffee free anonymously, or the person who buys a coffee every day, Instagram’s a picture of the cup, checks in on Facebook and Swarm and talks about their coffee moments daily on Twitter? If you guessed the second, you’re right.
Find those people who are sharing and talking about your product on social channels. Invite them to celebrate their brand passion with you. This is “earned media” and for ROI, it is pure gold and returns exponentially. Think deeper into the social graph beyond that “1” that your loyalty cardholder represents on your CRM database and expand your marketing creativity. Design content so good that sharing its a knee-jerk to the true brand fan. Create unique friend-of-fan offers like the Uber model. Social outreach and influencer programs take time, but they are worth the investment.
When your business was created, if social media and mobile was not where it is today and you haven’t created a new project that is developed to be delivered on these platforms and as a result of disruptive tech, there are gold bricks in your floorboards — you just don’t know it.
As a consultant and reviewing travel and related businesses, this is one of my favourite tasks. It does take some creative thinking and tedious introspection, however, there are probably certain digital products your customer would buy from you but is not because you are not yet creating the content to sate their digital intake and appetite. Quality of information, delivery medium and immediacy all play a significant part in pricing digital goods, but Apple’s 800,000,000 iTunes account holders are spending money inside applications and on tablets and smart phones every day. Ask yourself what portion of the $38b digital goods purse is to be yours in 2015 and beyond and start developing products. If your business is not employing an expert to review and identify these needs, do a cost benefit analysis and think about what your customer is searching as it relates to information and leverage what you do, make and sell. The book REWORK is a prime example of a bi-product of a service and software company. Without spoiling why you should read it, you can explore the content here.
Social, digital and mobile technology and platforms are end points to enable the strategic approach to becoming a social business. In many instances we have observed how apps, digital magazines and games are driving employee engagement, reducing the cost of consumer feedback, and helping to improve customer experience. Whether it is to create public FAQs based on social media mentions and questions, or become currators of brand discussions, the implications of investing in time, talent and technology to reach out to consumers will pay off in call deflection, improved intimacy with customers, and offer the ability to respond in real time.
Finally, once your brand has launched in social and digital, know that it is not a one hit wonder, and your social customer expects you to show up, entertain and be consistent. Your online brand and store never sleep or close. Your customer will get frustrated and feel ignored if you are inconsistent in your approach to messaging. To not say “Thank you” or “Nice to Tweet You” as a brand is amongst the rudest blows a brand can deliver. You have basically ignored a brand-aware individual at an especially vulnerable time — when they are saying your name. Make it someone’s daily job to thank social fans and respond to their questions. Your fans and followers know a brand cannot get sick, have a bad hair day or have sore feet and social media channels. Don’t let them down.
Got another innovation insight I should have listed? Tell me your dirty, pretty secrets of digital, mobile and social in the comments area below.
About the Author
Stephenie Rodriguez founded Mighty Media Group, a leading data-driven digital, mobile and social marketing strategy and solutions firm, in 2004 and is currently the company’s Chief Enabling Officer. She is also the former publisher of Ocean Drive Magazine (Australia), a speaker and futurist on all aspects of social technology, an evangelist of engagement, and has advised companies including SSP – The Food Travel Experts, Club Med Asia Pacific, Austereo, JR/DutyFree, Radar Group of Companies, Transfield, Allied Mills, Mavi Jeans, Camilla, and many more. You’re likely to find her Tweeting here @digitalgodess or present at events such as #SXSWi, #TFWA, #TedxSydney and #SocialBiz.