Kids on Planes—Four Things to Make Your Brand Scream

What you can learn from Southwest to help your brand fly. We’ve all been there. Dreading that flight packed with strangers’ children. They cry. They laugh. They generally annoy those of us traveling without kids. The way I see it, we kid-free travelers have two options:

  1. Cringe and complain like a grumpy old man glaring out his window when a dog walks on his perfectly primped lawn
  2. Figure out what might be beneficial or insightful about kids on planes

Perhaps it was the Excedrin-coma I was in because of a migraine. Or, maybe it was because some day I know I’ll be the one with the annoying kids on the plane. Whatever it was, during my recent flight to San Francisco, I embraced option 2 (and no, I didn’t even have wine on the plane).

I had the pleasure of sharing row 22 with two young girls from Nebraska. Of course, I immediately felt a connection—not just because they were fellow Heartlanders, but because they gave me a new perspective about kids on planes. The two wide-eyed girls were everything I had wanted to be when I was their age—brave, personable, well-behaved, and thoughtful. And … they were excited—not about where they were going or their impending vacation but merely because they were on a plane.

Then it dawned on me. Southwest Airlines might just be the best marketer on the planet right now. Why? Because Southwest had these girls wrapped around its big corporate finger. From picking out their own seats, to snacks, to free beverages, these girls had totally forgotten about anything else they had ever wanted once they stepped onto the plane.

Isn’t that the ultimate goal of any business?

While I could go on about how the two little girls taught me more in two hours than I have learned in the past year, here are four things you can do to make your brand scream without annoying your clients:

  • Exceed Expectations: It doesn’t have to be much. Seriously. So many brands, and people, are dropping the ball these days, all you have to do is try … just a little. What can your brand do that’s just a little step up from the competition? Southwest Airlines has a lot of differentiators, but I would argue the free bags top most customers’ lists of perks. You don’t have to just “think free”—you can stand out through quality, customer service, offering something your competition isn’t, etc.
  • Focus on the Little Things: Crackers and free bags are minimal when you look at the big picture of airline travel, but in today’s pay-for-everything-on-airlines model, little things matter. Southwest knows this, and its philosophy has paid off. My chiropractor checks in on me after long runs and races. She cares, plus, it’s a nice reminder that she’s there if I need an adjustment.
  • Think Like a Kid: There is nothing better than seeing excitement through a kid’s eyes. Whether your target market is kids or adults, create some hype or surprises along the way (not too many of course). Sprint and Spotify have a nice cross promotion right now. Sprint customers get either three months or six months of premium Spotify for free (based on their agreement). While I realize that I’ll get charged after the trial period, I appreciate that Sprint was thinking about how I use my phone beyond texting and calling. Adding icing to the cake, Spotify sends me suggested playlists now, taking the work out of my music hunting.
  • Don’t Always Sell: Sometimes people don’t want to be sold to—they want to be inspired. So inspire them! Even financial planning commercials can be downright motivating, so, chances are, you can come up with something to add some spark to your messaging once in a while, too. The new Always commercial has people talking (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs) and feeling inspired. It might not turn into immediate returns for you, but people will remember your brand.

photo credit: Visualist Images via photopin cc

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