It’s easy to say that something isn’t working.
We hear it all of the time (or, at least I do). I can be in a boardroom or just off to the side of the stage at an event, and someone will challenge something I said by implying that they tried it, and it didn’t work. “Trying it” and “trying to make something work,” are two very different actions. Especially when it comes to marketing. I saw one sponsorship marketing program this morning that’s not going to be renewed. I was at the airport grabbing breakfast in the lounge, and sat down next to the large flat screen TV to catch the morning news (sidebar: my heart goes out to the people of Nepal… really tough to watch). It was an old TV, but the brand had a clear (and large) plaque next to the TV along with a note about how the experience was also being presented by one of the major television cable carriers. But, here’s the thing: that TV was about ten years old and the channels weren’t even coming in HD format. In short: it was a terrible experience. It didn’t make me think positively about the TV or the cable company. In fact, I found myself muttering something akin to, “this sucks.” I wasn’t thankful that this company had TVs placed in the lounge, nor was I impressed by the cable company. It was just… bad.
It’s not working anymore… and it’s too expensive.
That’s probably what’s being said right now in the boardroom. My guess is that the airline has approached these brands to re-up on the lounge experience and some brand leader (who probably inherited this initiative from their predecessor) is shaking their head wondering how they’re going to find budget to upgrade all of these TVs, get the cable company back in and execute on what must be a complicated initiative (even from a logistics point of view). It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but as time passes on it’s just left out there. The initiative isn’t nurtured or leveraged and then, several years, later it all feels like some kind of liability created by someone else who had ulterior motives.
It’s all so sad.
We see this in marketing all of the time. Something that makes perfect sense, but is left to neglect and it becomes a budgetary issue, instead of what it could mean to the consumer. The audience for airport lounges are – without a doubt – a lucrative one. They are individuals with disposable income and probably rank highly on the scale of those always in the market for something like a better television… or a better television experience from their cable company. It’s not that complicated. We sit down with a coffee and muffin and think to ourselves, “wow, that’s a nice tv!” or, “wow, those shows look great in HD!” In its current state, it’s serving no one. It’s not a good consumer experience. It’s not a good brand experience and, it reflects poorly on the airline that is trying to impress their most loyal customers.
It’s not just the lounge.
There are a handful of things that can be done to turn this around. That’s not the real issue. Think about your own marketing. Is it tired? Is it tried and done? Now, is it that way because there is nothing really unique about it, or is it that way simply because the marketing and brand team have not committed to the initiative for the long run? I’ve seen brands fail at Facebook, Pinterest and more not because what they’re doing isn’t working. It’s failing because they’re not committed to it. Maybe they’ve dipped more than their pinky toe into the water, but they have not jumped in and gone for a swim… and then, come back tomorrow for another swim. Saying something didn’t work because you tried it, implies that you really planned, committed, iterated, optimized and kept at it. More often than note, this is not the case.
Remember: marketing success has a correlation to the effort and time spent making it work. And, it’s a lesson that doesn’t just apply to marketing.