December 9, 2011

Targeting Can Be Sexy. Seriously.

Recently I was asked for my favorite or most creative campaign that I’ve led. Leading marketing with start up budget, my most recent successes have been surgical in precision with my target audience and the business objectives. Unless you’re a mother in one of my key target markets with a strong interest in what you feed your family, you may not have seen our campaigns. If you have, it’s likely been in your grocery store or while you shared photos with your friends on Facebook. A bit unsexy, perhaps, but extremely effective.

But targeted marketing can be sexy, too. At Virgin Atlantic, we discovered the campaigns we ran to make air travel glamorous made us seem unapproachable to business travelers. Of the few key factors that drove choice in airline, flyers wanted to know that an airline cared about them. Not surprising when you’re trusting a company to launch you to 30,000 feet, I suppose. The irony was in striving to differentiate ourselves we had drifted a bit from our roots as a customer champion – the difference that mattered to our target.

Since our flying experience delivered plenty of thoughtful touches- I partnered with a great agency to help us change our target’s perception. We focused on bringing the in-air experience to the ground for a very specific group of people: UK corporate travelers based in our two key markets. And understanding their value to our company, we invested to bring innovative, interruptive experiences to their doorsteps- both virtually as they traveled the web, and literally in front and around their workplaces. We invited their corporate travel managers to pub quizzes that snuck in an occasional product feature and assured we delivered on our brand promise to the gatekeepers as well as the travelers.

Here’s a video of the work:

We didn’t bet the bank- we invested significantly less than we would have in traditional media, and maintained our proven workhorse programs. We used the best available technology at the time to micro-target our prospects at their workplace and on the web. And the results in terms of bookings, marketshare, and revenue growth were staggering and paid off well beyond the campaign period. But the best return is something I’m not sure anyone has coined yet…it’s the energy and enthusiasm from employees when your marketing resonates with the brand and their values, and inspires them to continue delivering the brand promise in their own work everyday. It’s better than viral, it’s….?


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