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Aligning Your Messaging with Customer Needs

9 Jan 2020
Sarah Marks

Brand messaging is the term used to describe any communication through which a customer relates to a brand. It’s pivotal to consumer buying decisions and acts to motivate, inspire, inform and incentivise.

As airports expand to embrace ecommerce and engage a new generation of digital consumers, brand is more important than ever. Strong brand messaging is an essential part of brand strategy and positioning. Without it, it is difficult to differentiate your airport’s offering in an ever-more competitive market.

What is brand message?

Not to be confused with social media messaging (which is an important but entirely separate function of modern customer service) brand message refers to the central idea around which all of your other marketing content orbits. It informs your taglines, mission statements, logo, ad slogans, headlines, sales pitch and copy, ensuring consistent communication with your audience.

Some of the taglines used by well-known brands can also be defined in terms of messaging. Think Kodak’s Share moments. Share life, eBay’s The world’s online marketplace, and Nokia’s Connecting people. These might just look like snappy one-liners, but they each also sum up all of the ideas that connect the brand with its customer. In a few simple words, the message encapsulates the brand.

According to Lucidpress, “A brand is the sum total of impressions a customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company, and your products.” That’s why 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to promote brand awareness and 70% of brand managers believe that building an audience is more valuable than direct sales.

Deciding your airport brand message

It may seem a simple enough task to decide on your airport’s brand voice, but there are many factors to consider. Your messaging will provide the words that help your passengers to understand your services, values and ambitions. It will underpin every single marketing campaign across platforms.

In order to begin consolidating your messaging it’s important to look at your airport brand from three perspectives – as a customer, an insider and a competitor.

Customer insight: The best way to gain clear knowledge of what your customers need is to ask them. Your airport should have data from surveys, market research, feedback emails and reviews that help you to identify customer pain points. This makes it possible to look at messaging from a customer-centric viewpoint.

Insider information: As an airport insider, where do you see your brand in one year, five years, or ten years? Use this vision to inform your brand messaging.

The competitor’s viewpoint: Identify the key aspects of your airport brand that differentiate it from its nearest rivals. Do you have something of value to offer that nobody else has? How do you provide value to your passengers?

Strong brand messages are always concise and convey key aspects of the airport’s identity. They often win awareness by communicating complex concepts in a very simple way. The idea is to get inside the minds of potential passengers; to make them sit up and take notice. This means refining your message until it’s needle-sharp. Unless your messaging gets you seen, remembered and desired, what’s the point? What’s more, it is vital that all of your airport messaging portrays aspects of your brand that are relevant to the customer.

Creating killer messages

If your airport is struggling to differentiate from others in the industry, design your tagline or campaign to highlight your uniqueness. Take for example, comparative slogans like Kwik Fit’s You can’t get better than a Kwik Fit fitter, or Avis’s We try Harder. These taglines tell a coherent, powerful story in just a few words.

Not all messages need to take the form of ad slogans. You could use website headlines or content to communicate specific benefits or characteristics central to your airport services.

If you have several audiences, for example your B2B customers and your B2C customers, create messages that address the needs of each group. Be aware that while these may overlap, there will be aspects of your operations that are meaningful to one audience and not the other.

Aligning your messaging – Tips for airport brands

Although it resonates throughout your brand, messaging is distinct from your page copy. In essence, your message is a way of communicating concepts, not facts.

You can do this overtly, using headings, ad slogans, taglines or text, or imply it with visual imagery and context. You can also convey your messaging by fulfilling your brand’s promises, guiding passengers and prospects through a targeted customer journey, meeting them on their own terms and informing and consolidating their buying decisions.

As you will know from your destination marketing campaigns, travel customers make buying decisions based on emotion as well as facts. Your messaging should appeal to both of these elements as your customer moves through his or her booking journey.

When designing your messaging, consider the following things:

Emotional messaging is what makes the customer feel excited about booking with your airport. Exeter Airport’s slogan, Wish you were there? is the perfect example. It’s aspirational, and it already hints at the world of destinations available from the regional hub.

  • What is important to your airport’s customers?
  • Why do you offer the particular services you offer?
  • What are your core values?

Product messaging communicates what your airport does on a day-to-day basis, and the value that you offer. Exeter Airport encapsulates this with the slogan, *Fly Local, instantly conveying its offering of convenience, personalised service and a whole raft of available destinations.

Intellectual messaging is generally specific to your airport’s products or services. These messages are your way of conveying how your airport will meet the customer’s needs, and what differentiates you from the competition. London Gatwick’s tagline, Your London Airport, communicates so much in three words. It says, “We’re better than the competition; we offer a personal service; we meet the needs of everyone in London and there’s nothing you could possibly want that we don’t offer.”

Problem-solving messaging is designed to help customers identify and resolve any barriers they’re experiencing. These messages can be used to highlight the value of possible solutions in terms of a product or service you can offer. They inspire people to try something different. London Gatwick suggests that passengers, Breeze through security with ease, with Premium Gatwick, predicting and offering a solution to a common airport pain point.

Messaging at different stages of the customer journey

In order to communicate fluently with your customers, and to present them with a streamlined experience of your airport, it’s important that your messaging is consistent throughout the booking journey. But that isn’t enough. It should also be helpful, supportive and useful. Let’s look at a simplified booking journey to see how messaging can be integrated:

Brand messaging should be integrated into all of your content so that prospective customers get a real sense of your brand without it being spelled out. Consider which emotions your customers are experiencing at this point in the booking journey and incorporate emotional messages that trigger positive feelings. The ‘I want to get away’ moment is key to the travel booking journey, and a feeling that it’s easy to build excitement and narrative around. You can include problem-solving messages for all sorts of dilemmas including holiday destination, parking, travel to the airport. Avoid references to specific solutions: This is the moment to show that you have all the answers!

During the consideration or research stage of booking, integrate your brand messaging into content in a visible way; ensuring your customer has a clear understanding of your airport brand. You can use emotional messaging here too. Use market research and customer feedback to target emotions such as trust, confidence, anticipation and aspiration.

Although your focus is on product messages here, you can still solve problems for your customers during the research stage. There should be a smooth transition from problem solving to product messaging, demonstrating that you understand your customer and have their interests at heart.

When the customer comes to the all-important booking stage of their journey, your brand messaging should still be visibly integrated into content. This helps your audience to understand your brand, and it adds reassurance too. After all, we all want to know what to expect.

Your emotional storytelling here should be directed at making your passengers feel good about their decision to buy from your airport. They should come away from the experience feeling confident in the services you offer, and happy with the product. Customer feedback, market research and online reviews can all help you to understand your customers’ needs, worries and expectations. With this knowledge, you are well armed to address customer concerns during the booking process. The customer feels cared for and so brand loyalty begins.

You can still use problem-solving messages at this stage, but use them to support the buying decision and underpin the emotional messaging. By the time the customer has committed to buy, it’s likely you’ve already addressed their problem.

A messaging checklist for airports

If you still have questions about where to start with your brand messaging, check your ideas against the following list:

  • Is your messaging simple, engaging, compelling and easy to read?
  • Is it written to resonate with your target audience?
  • Do you offer anything that differentiates you from your competition?
  • Do your messages reflect the reality of your brand (can you fulfil your promises?)

If you’d like to read more about placing your airport’s customers at the heart of everything you do, check out this article.

The Rezcomm team has unparalleled experience guiding its airport clients in successful ecommerce ventures, optimising non-aeronautical revenue and creating world-class customer experiences. If you’d like to read more top industry tips on topics including branding, check out our Ecommerce Goldmine today.

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