Why it’s better to be with a virgin

virign logoFirst, my apologies to all you filthy-minded folks out there who are mistakingly reading this article.

My second apology is to Virgin America for not flying you sooner.

I rarely have good things to say about businesses from a service standpoint. Frankly, I think most companies are in business despite themselves, especially airlines. Which is why I had to write an article about my experience with Virgin America over Labor Day, and why, for the life of me, I can’t understand why other airlines simply don’t get it.

virgin check inRight from the moment we checked in with Virgin America we felt like we were in for an atypical experience. The check in counter was, for the most part, free from the clutter of bewildered humans wondering what to do next (automated check in, old school check in, etc.). In fact, it was relatively empty of customers altogether, which might say something about Virgin’s processing ability.

Anyhow, after a one-minute wait we were greeted at the counter by a smiling woman who welcomed us to Virgin and asked us about our destination. I have to admit we probably looked a little strange to her after staring, open-mouthed at her for about 10 seconds trying to process the fact that she was actually smiling. “Maybe she just got engaged,” whispered my girlfriend. When we got to our gate we realized that other Virgin employees had adopted this strange facial quirk as well.

virgin_planeOur experience into the atypical continued when we got on board. The interior of the cabin was bathed in a pink and purple glow, giving the entire aircraft the feel of a hip, boutique hotel. It’s a very cool effect if you’ve never been aboard before, and from the look of it, seems pretty easy to do. You replace white bulbs with pink and purple ones.

We were actually able to watch a bit of a movie on our personal screens before the plane took off, giving us something to occupy our time while waiting for the aircraft to board. And when we got airborne, we could resume watching our movie where we paused it.

And here’s the real kicker – it seems that Virgin is the first airline that isn’t just talking about WiFi, but actually offering it.

But here’s the real interesting thing about our experience with Virgin. We didn’t really know about Virgin through marketing or advertising before we booked our trip with them. Everything we knew about Virgin was through other people who have flown them before.

So it seems that instead of spending heaps of money on advertising, sponsorships and marketing, like their competitors do, Virgin America is spending money on making your travel experience better than the competition, and then letting you spread the good word to others.

Like I am doing.

And to me, this methodology emphasizes the Virgin brand, which is ‘forward thinking’. Don’t trust a commercial or ad to tell you about the benefits of an airline, trust your neighbor, or colleague, or friend, or social media site instead.

So to other airlines out there, stop talking to us about your differences (which are minimal, at best) and start doing something different to make us want to choose you above your competitors. Believe me, it’s not always about price when you can offer us a priceless experience.

How pigs can teach us good branding

pigThank god they changed the name of the Swine Flu to H1N1 Virus. I was scared to death to walk through the grocery store, let alone contemplate eating bacon or pork for the foreseeable future. But now that they’ve switched the name, I feel much better about the whole situation. Heck, I even had a BLT for lunch.

But don’t ever – EVER try to serve me chicken. I’ll throw it back in your damn face. After all, did you know that you can catch a pox from it?

And while we’re on the subject, you’ll never get me to travel through Germany. That’s where everyone gets measles.

In fact, you can scratch a bunch of countries off my list. You can forget Japan – you encephalitis-spreading jerks. And you can keep West Nile to yourself, you virus-loving bastards.

The worst thing about living close to the ocean though is that I can never go into the water. After all, don’t want to catch crabs. That’s nasty business, I hear.

You’ve got to admit, we really do live in the age of communication, when the pig farmers’ lobby can get the name changed of a worldwide disease that’s already on the tip of everyone’s tongue. The switch from Swine Flu to H1N1 Virus is timely, but if anything, it only demonstrates very short-term thinking. Once the furor around this flu dies down, it will fade into obscurity, just like all the other famous diseases and pandemics we know.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to a bbq. They’re serving insane bovine!

Women rule the world

75% of the total wealth in the world is controlled by people over 65 years old. And the defining trait of people over 65 is that they are women (65% of them). I pulled this clip off of the Future of Marketing Blog. It’s spot on. What is your agency doing to adjust to this growing audience?

Does Gizmoz want my business?

After a very interesting morning at our agency, I think I’ve got an answer to help cure this ailing economy of ours. Online companies, you’d better be listening.

We came up with a fun concept for a client of ours, where people would be able to personalize some video content and send it to friends of theirs. Trouble is, we don’t create that kind of software at our shop. So, we need to partner with an agency that does.

With the client desperate to get an estimate from us, we searched and found several companies that do this kind of work. Here’s where the issue is: Only one of them had a phone number to contact them. Everyone else had an email form. I should mention that after 24 hours, still no one has responded to our emails.

So, here we sit, with a sold idea and big job begging to be serviced, but no one to service it for us. In fact, we’re so keen to get this job done that we spent an hour trying to find phone numbers (I’m looking in your direction, Gizmoz).

So, if you’re an executive at Gizmoz, Jibjab faceinhole.com or evb.com, I have a suggestion that just might make your quarter – add a phone number to your site.

I am going to hand out props to Big Stage, who does amazing video rendering work and also happens to have a phone number on their site.

5 Tips For Recession Marketing

deathWith the current state of the economy, many companies are bracing for the worst and are adjusting their expenditures accordingly. Typically, the first casualty is the marketing budget. While common sense is what CEOs and CMOs cite as their reasoning for a reduction in advertising and marketing (less share of wallet available from consumers), prevailing research supports just the opposite. In fact, studies show that a recession is the ideal time to increase marketing budgets and augment market share and sales versus competitors.

A McGraw Hill/American Business Press research study of business practices during the 1981-82 recession reveals that companies that maintained or increased their marketing and advertising spend during the recession experienced an average of 256% higher sales than their competitors who reduced their marketing over the same period. What is really telling about this research is that the sales figures quoted stayed constant for three years after the recession had ended.

A similar study conducted over same period by research firm Meldrum & Fewsmith concludes that aggressive advertising did not only grow revenues; it even increased profits.

In 2001, a study comparing marketing practices during the 2001 recession determines that aggressive recession advertisers increased market share 2 ½ times the average compared to all businesses in the post-recession.


For the full text of this article can be read in the PDF found at the following link:

5 Tips For Recession Marketing

How to get into advertising

If you’d like to work advertising, but have little idea how it works, you may want to watch a few of these videos. They’re from a recent presentation I made to the communications undergraduates at Royal Roads University.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Learn CRM from Grandma

grandmaEver wonder how to implement an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program in your company? Your grandmother is a great person to learn from. Grandma always knows when to reach out to us. It’s usually during Christmas or your birthday, but that’s when you’re expecting to hear from her. To not hear from her would raise questions like “Does she care anymore?” or “Does that mean no $18 cheque?” But grandma is also savvy about when she contacts you when you’re not expecting it. Sometimes it’s just to say hello or to send you some cookies she’s baked. But her contact with you always leaves you in a better place than where you were.

The reason why grandma is such a good example of CRM is that she contacts you when you need to hear from her, and when she contacts you unexpectedly, it’s always in your best interest. It’s what we call: the right offer at the right time. That’s great CRM. And that’s why we love hearing from Grandma.

Often times we lose sight of what’s in our customers’ best interest. We contact them because we want to squeeze them for a few more dollars (read: our best interest). If you want to create loyal customers and brand advocates, take the time to learn about them. Figure out when they need to hear from you and when they’d be delightfully surprised to hear from you. Don’t always sell to them. When you do that I guarantee you they”ll think of you when they receive Grandma’s next $18 cheque.