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I’ll admit to being a very pre-meditated traveler. The night before a trip where I’m speaking to a conference or facilitating a Brainzooming strategy session, I spend time visualizing key events during the trip, thinking through what needs to be packed and what unusual situations to prepare for, just in case. Part of the pre-trip strategy involves identifying what absolutely has to be addressed before leaving and what can be handled while traveling.

As a result, it was a welcome surprise the night before my recent trip to speak to the Milwaukee Business Marketing Association when the following email arrived from Southwest Airlines.

Just as I was trying to anticipate what emails could get sent prior to leaving, the Southwest notification provided an alert that the next day’s flight would have Wi-Fi. How great to be able to incorporate this foreknowledge into planning for what could get accomplished while on the early flight the next morning.

Southwest Airlines successfully nailed what’s typically a big challenge for brands: knowing its customers well enough to understand when they’ll already be thinking about its brand. By anticipating this situation, Southwest increased receptiveness to its message since I already had its brand on my mind.

The challenge? While this is an ideal situation for a brand (talking to customers when they’re already focused on you), there’s no easy formula for doing it well. It really does take intense understanding of your marketplace, perhaps through ethnographic research where you have an opportunity to observe how your customers function and interact with your brand even when your brand isn’t formally present.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategy options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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10 Responses to “Talk to Customers When They’re Thinking about You”

  1. Great point! I think Voice of the Customer is much more natural (and welcomed by customers) when it’s tied to the customer’s timing. I just wrote 5 tips for much better VoC: Fall in Love With Your Customers for Best Customer Experience at http://customerthink.com/user/clearaction. I’d welcome your thoughts!
    – Lynn

  2. Karen says:

    Southwest totally “gets” it! They continue to be profitable by staying in touch with their customers, wonder why other airlines don’t take more lessons from them.

    • Mike Brown says:

      That’s an interesting question Karen about why more airlines don’t go to school on Southwest.

      In part, it’s a difference in operational models (although when other airlines tried the model, they’ve tended to fail at it). I think the extension to that is it’s a cultural chasm traditional airlines can’t cross. The things Southwest does simply aren’t in the DNA of the Americans, Uniteds, Deltas, etc.

  3. Beth says:

    This is really helpful. Thanks!

    I have been focusing my attention on WHERE to connect with my audience, which has been a really tough question to answer. Thinking about WHEN to connect is much easier and will probably help me figure out where to focus my attention.

    Super helpful!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Glad this one resonated with you Beth! If you have a good understanding of your target audience (ideally formalized in a persona), both where and when questions become easier.

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