By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
Trap: Companies thinking they've got a captive customer, with no choice, so they treat those customers like walking magic money jars.
Example: Airlines. Their customers have to fly, right? They've got NO CHOICE! Hmmmm...not so fast there, fellas.
Headline: Less flying costs American economy $26 Billion. "Many travelers believe their time is not respected and it is leading
them to avoid a significant number of trips," says Allan Rivlin, a
partner at Peter D. Hart Research Associates. "Inefficient security
screening and flight cancellations and delays are air travelers' top
Question: Have you ever tried to travel for more than a couple of days with only 3 ounces of anything? Even us less frou-frou femmes need things like hair gel and hand cream. And, I've got contacts so that means another bottle. And so on and so forth. So, if it's more than a weekend trip, we're probably going to have to check at least one bag, maybe two if we've got multiple types of events to attend. (After years of travel, I'm a super power packer, but three ounces is - well - three ounces in a little plastic bag. Not much I can do with that. You can't roll up a plastic bottle of saline solution.)
Which brings me to the announcements that the airlines are starting to charge for everything from checked bags to pillows. Most recently, American Airlines announced it's charging $15 a bag for one checked bag.
Of course, the airlines are assuming that we'll grumble and keep flying. We've got no choice, right?
1. We can decide the face-to-face meeting really isn't needed. Sure, face time is important - but if you're already working with the other people and have met before, you can handle the discussion via some phone calls, emails and file sharing. I've done full-blown multi-million product launches using the good old-fashioned telephone and email. If you're working with seasoned pros, it doesn't matter if they're sitting across the table from you or are across the world.
2. We can choose to handle the meeting via videoconferencing. If it's a small group and you've all got Macs, this is as easy as enabling your nifty little camera. And, there are more options every day for PC screen sharing and webinars. So, we can choose to stay home and save both money and aggravation.
3. We can choose to drive. Yes, even with the rising gas prices. For example, by the time I drive to the airport, pay for parking, go through security, get on the plane, fly, get off the plane, take the shuttle to the rental car agency, check out my car, and drive to my Mom's house...I might as well just drive, period. Takes about the same amount of time and while it may cost a bit more at the pump, I've also saved a lot of aggravation. And, I control my schedule and can stop whenever I want to along the way.
4. We can choose to just not go. Sure, the kids would love to go to Disney World, but I'd bet there are plenty of things to do within 50 miles of your house. And, you can sleep in your own bed at the end of the busy day.
So, remember - your customers always have a choice! It's not even a matter of competition. They can simply choose to not buy from anyone.