Stuck In The Middle…Delta Makes It A Remarkable Journey

Last week I started my trip to Boston on a packed flight in a middle seat. If you travel as often as I do and have been stuck in the middle, you know how unpleasant it can be. 

So, you can imagine my surprise when Delta turned my stuck-in-the-middle experience to a remarkable one of customer delight.   

Delta exceeded my expectations by delivering on the promise of what Forrester calls a TRUE brand — trusted, remarkable, unmistakable and essential. In our 21st Century Brand Marketing Playbook, we discuss how these four traits will strengthen the brand pillars that support consumers' new expectations of brands. And how brands that can forge an emotional connection with their customers will enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage. By delivering a remarkable brand experience, Delta strengthened its brand promise, created a strong emotional connection with me, and more.

Here’s how Delta changed my unpleasant travel experience to a remarkable one:

  • I was sitting in a middle seat on a flight from Atlanta to Boston on Monday afternoon
  • First thing Tuesday morning, I received the email below from Delta apologizing that my travel experience was not as comfortable as they would have liked.
  • And, they didn’t stop there. They deposited 500 miles into my SkyMiles account for the inconvenience.
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Shaq Admits: The Game Has Changed. If You’re A B2B Marketer, Your Game Has Changed Too.

Ever since the mighty three joined the Miami Heat, the great Shaquille O’Neil has been relentless in his criticism of head coach Erik Spoelstra, Chris Bosch, and the Miami Heat’s ability to play with the “big boys.” Even an NBA championship didn’t seem to make a difference. This weekend, Heat fans across South Florida were rewarded with Shaq finally admitting he was wrong. In Sunday’s Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Shaq was quoted as saying “I was wrong. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was wrong. The game has changed.” Finally, Shaq was acknowledging that there were more ways to approach winning in the NBA than having “bigs” in the paint. He understood that the Heat organization had changed the paradigm of the game by playing small and nimble to reach the finals last year and to win it all in 2012 . . . with more to come in the future as this new paradigm quickly becomes an NBA reality.

Being such a huge Heat fan, I loved reading this over the weekend. But what does this have to do with B2B marketing?

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A Brand Crisis Is A Terrible Thing To Waste . . . What’s Your Crisis Management Strategy?

While I’m not usually a political or news junkie, in looking at the activity of the past few weeks, it’s been quite a few weeks! It ranged from the saga of David Petraeus to the absurdity of a famed Nascar driver intentionally crashing a competitor (resulting in fist fights between the crews), brands' use of Twitter during Hurricane Sandy (the good and the not so good), and finally the culmination of BP pleading guilty to 14 criminal charges and paying a record $4.5 billion in fines and penalties resulting from the 2010 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Each of these stories highlights how important it is to have a strategy in place to protect your brand in times of crisis. While every one of these examples is interesting, in this post, I’ll concentrate on the insights we can gain from the Petreaus and BP incidents to manage brands effectively through a crisis. 

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Data Elected Our 44th President . . . B2B CMOs Must Make The Right Data Work For Them

No matter what your politics, from coast to coast, the country is breathing a sigh of relief that the 2012 election season is finally behind us. Already, quite a bit has been written about what marketers can learn from the election. So, in this post, I won’t be talking about the huge dollars spent on advertising, how social, digital, and mobile communication continued to be important touchpoints, the impact of grassroots marketing, or how important effectively communicating the candidate’s message or brand affected the outcome. No need for another political pundit in the mix!

While all of these areas have something to teach B2B marketers, what I found the most fascinating is how the use of data, the right data, served as the foundation for Obama’s successful re-election. Starting on election night, the analysts on the best-known news shows were already talking about how calm and confident the Obama team members were. And, why were they confident? According to Obama’s team, it had the data to back up its march to a second term. The team members believed that data and how they used it was one of the biggest advantages they had over the Romney campaign. Think about that for a minute. Obama, traditionally seen as the image and message guy, ran his re-election campaign based on using the right data effectively. And, it worked. 

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At The Starting Line . . .

Following a 25-year business-to-business (B2B) executive marketing career, I joined Forrester’s CMO & Marketing Leadership Team as VP, Principal Analyst, less than a month ago. And, what a month it’s been! A whirlwind of meeting other Forrester analysts, attending the Seizing Opportunity From Digital Disruption: A Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago, leading a session on rebuilding brands at the CMO Club Summit in San Francisco, and meeting with as many CMOs and marketing leaders as I can.

I’m not sure exactly what I expected my first month to be like, but I will tell you that I’ve quickly learned that as CMOs, we all share strikingly common concerns that will form the basis of my research at Forrester. When asking what keeps you up at night, the CMOs I’ve met with so far from a variety of industries confirm my practitioner experience. We are all trying to effectively understand and respond to the significant marketplace and customer changes happening as we enter the always-connected and empowered age of the customer.  

With this in mind, over the next year, I will be exploring the following areas that have consistently emerged from my discussions with you:

  • Aligning marketing strategy to the newly empowered customers with an emphasis on understanding the buyer's journey.
  • Helping CMOs understand how to think about technology, make sense of the ever-expanding technology options, and then partner with their CIO to create a robust and flexible technology infrastructure for marketing.
  • Understanding the evolving role of the CMO and defining marketing organizational design and associated skill sets required for the future.
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