B2B Trends: Ideas you can apply to your aerospace marketing now

Imagine sitting in a room with some amazing marketing minds from various companies around the world on Pier 27 in San Francisco, California. Not your idea of a good time? It was for me.  I recently attended the Account-Based Marketing Innovation Summit, where the networking and ideas had me engaged on all cylinders and further fueled my love of marketing.

lisa sifuentes account-based marketing summit

There is much to learn about new marketing ideas and trends, and my goal is to bring them into our world of aerospace & defense. What does that mean? It means applying marketing ideas and insights from some of the top brands in the world to aerospace; bringing some nontraditional concepts to a very traditional industry. Don’t think it’s possible? Entertain me for just a few as you read this and let it sink in.

To start this journey, I am going to summarize key insights from an incredible presentation by LinkedIn. BDN will be utilizing some of these ideas in our own marketing and sharing the results with you so you can see firsthand if it works for aerospace marketing. More to come in future blogs – stay tuned!

Trend Thought #1: Be truly Audience-Centric by leading with data

As marketers, we know it’s important to be customer-centric in our approach. But as hard as we might try, would our customers believe it? Let’s take Netflix for example. Every interaction with Netflix is personalization at its finest. They compile unbelievable amounts of data to deliver the best possible experience to each individual customer. They know more about your viewing habits than you can ever imagine. I often speak with aerospace marketers who assume they know their customers' desires, needs, wants. . . and truth be told, they probably do know quite a bit. Years of being in this industry provides unmatched information and experience that can’t be read in a book. Yet, at the same time, BDN has conducted numerous customer and prospect interviews that continue to uncover insights that are new and unexpected.

Takeaway: Build personas based on data, not assumptions. Talk to customers. I would encourage hiring a third-party to conduct the interviews since customers may not be as open and honest with you as you ultimately need for maximum effectiveness.

Trend Thought #2: Focus on being “First to Mind” not “First to Market”

The nature of the aerospace and defense industry is to be competitive and strive to be first to market on everything – not unlike other industries. As most of us already know, we can’t always be first since many ideas already exist. One way around this is to create our own niche category by defining what makes your product unique. But more importantly, how can we shift the focus on building awareness with first-to-mind opportunities? How do we get your audience to think of your brand first?

Takeaway: When thinking about a new product or service launch, create a list of factors to determine whether your product is first to market. If not, how can your product be unique in the space? Is there a way to position the product differently? This can often be hard to determine since we easily get caught up in thinking our product MUST be the best because we made it. Try a small focus group or call your top three customers and get their insights first. Try a different perspective to truly see the right way to market.

Trend Thought #3: Old Ideas are not bad ideas

Marketers are obsessed with coming up with something new and original. Yet new isn’t what sells. New isn’t proven. Customers like relevance and familiarity. Think about your own buying behaviors. Some embrace being first adopters and like the idea of trying new and untapped things, but that’s a small percentage. Customers are not comfortable with abrupt change – they want things to evolve slowly over time. We’ve definitely seen this in the aerospace industry. Think about the recent Bell rebrand effort. And what about when Airbus changed the names of the Eurocopter aircraft? Many customers did not respond well. 

Takeaway: Are there things your business has done really well that could easily adapt by changing some ideas and repurposing but not reinventing? Put your twist on a borrowed idea. It’s time tested and proven to be successful to some extent already. A great example to consider is Old Spice. Known for many years for its appeal to a much older generation, and a very competitive market, Old Spice was up for a serious rebrand in order to sustain market share. They knew the brand needed to be about more than just deodorant. What did they decide to do? They kept their logo, which they didn’t have rationale to change, hired an NFL spokesperson, and worked to change the impressions people had of the brand. They now incorporate young, fun and attractive people in all of their marketing while showing deodorant as a “scent vacation.” The result? Increase in customer awareness and sales.
Trend Thought #4: We can all make blockbusters

One of the most intriguing ideas I heard about embraces the way Hollywood creates profit. The past few years have been all about reboots of top movies. Since 2016, Disney only made 13 films, with the top four being the highest-grossing films of the year. . . and only three of these were new ideas for movies. Then think about how they market for these movies. They focus on merchandising in every possible way they can – hats, cups, blankets, thermos, lunchbox, toys – you get the idea. What does their profit model tell us? Reboot successful ideas with a slightly different twist and market through as many channels and formats as you can. This approach builds brand and demand at the same time.

Takeaway: Check out the LinkedIn Sophisticated Marketer series. Hubspot also offers lots of content in a similar manner with their “Ultimate Guide” concept. Each one offers up the same idea in different formats and slight twists each year but the core ideas stay the same. You will also notice that they reformat the content through different formats – webinar, how-to guide, ebook – this is “merchandising” at its best.

Trend Thought #5: Reaching your audience shouldn’t be cheap

As marketers we often focus on the creative and try to spend the least amount possible to push our message out. Having been in aerospace for over 15 years, I have seen the reality that marketing value – and budgets – are second to engineering efforts. What we are missing is when a product is heavily advertised – regardless of the message – we are communicating to the customer that the product is quality and the company is healthy. We are proudly saying that we believe so much in our product, that we are investing heavily to bring it to the customer and make them aware of it. We are communicating so much more than just what the creative says and looks like. This is why Apple, one of the most valuable brands in the world, locks up the most expensive advertising inventory for up to 10 years at a time. They want to communicate to their customers that they are the brand to buy from. 

Takeaway: Think about where you run your advertising. How about where your brand gets seen publicly? Are you in the top premium positions? Why not? What message are you sending your audience? Are your ads reassuringly expensive or worryingly cheap? Focus on quality, not quantity. If you are going to buy a position on an industry website to advertise, get the premium spot. Not the spot below the fold that doesn’t get seen and does not reflect the brand position you want your customer to see. 

Trend Thought #6: Build your brand and build your sales

Marketing expectations are higher and harder than ever to achieve. With digital channels and never-ending technology being developed there is constant pressure to deliver direct response – whether it's leads or immediate engagement in a shorter time. Meanwhile marketing to support the brand takes much longer to see an effect. Instead of fighting this battle, we should negotiate a truce. We should synchronize brand and demand to optimize overall performance. Think of the 60/40 rule here -- 60 percent spend on efforts to support the brand and 40 percent on demand marketing. 

Takeaway: You want your customers to buy into your company. Build trust with the brand. The aerospace industry continues to be relationship-driven, therefore people continue to buy from brands, and people, they trust. With trust established, the sale will be that much easier.