Last fall, I was hunting for flights on the usual discount sites when I found the perfect one on British Airways and got very excited. I had never flown them before nor had I remembered any of their commercials. And then I realized the calculated events that caused my positive reaction.
Several months prior, I had seen an e-mail about a Face-to-Face essay contest where you could win a free British Airways flight to anywhere in the world. Although I did not participate in the contest or flight, I had several friends who were among the hundreds of business leaders that had an amazing experience and subsequently shared it with friends and colleagues.
Faced with a business environment at the end of 2008 that was less than friendly to overseas business travel, Anne Tedesco, the North American vice president of marketing for British Airways, was charged by Simon Talling-Smith, the company’s executive vice president of the Americas, with finding a way to make flying overseas for face-to-face contact important and, of course, make British Airways the first airline of choice. Their approach was an excellent example of using creativity, intensity and revelation.
Creativity Talling-Smith, Tedesco and their team figured out the best way to convince the business world was to show business leaders firsthand what face-to-face contact was all about. The team decided they would reach out to business and entrepreneur organizations across America and invite them to fly for free anywhere they wanted. An essay contest was established and broadcast to the business community. A content rich website was established at www.faceofopportunity.com to handle the applications. Winners could go to any British Airways serviced city on a fully paid round-trip ticket. Very quickly, 900 entrepreneurs were selected from more than 3,000 applicants.
Intensity The British Airways buzz began within the organizations. The only thing entrepreneurs love more than “free” is competition, so bragging rights for the flight winners did not go unused. To make sure the program would have the desired effect, the marketing team promoted it as “Networking in the Sky” and created an atmosphere in the lounge, on the plane and at the Sofitel in London that encouraged socializing with a learning component. Experts and dignitaries in business and politics were lined up to make sure participants received value at every turn. Gourmet food and champagne flowed freely. Not a minute of the experience was left to chance.
Revelation Participants in the British Airways program talk about it being a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Relationships were made on the planes that were unexpected and more fruitful than even British Airways executives had planned. The company had succeeded in making itself top of mind not only for the selected entrepreneurs but also for those connected and impacted by their stories. The successful program resulted in increased business and a newly established social media business community for British Airways.
The Face-to-Face program was such a success it’s being repeated; this time with video pitches as part of the application. Always looking to improve their program and create more impact, British Airways has made it more exclusive with only 250 winners and they enlisted a number of consultants, including yours truly, to advise participants how to get the most from their pitch technique and be memorable to the connections they’ll make if selected. Here are some thoughts I will provoke with participants in those sessions.
1. Have you considered every aspect of your presentation, including content, look and feel, clothing, etc.?
2. What are you pitching that is important for the listening party rather than what is interesting to you?
3. How will you connect in an intensely empathetic manner?
4. What is the “aha” takeaway from your pitch or presentation that your competitors won’t or can’t create?
5. What is the last image and thought you will leave at the end of the pitch or presentation?
Whether you are creating a branding impression like British Airways, pitching for a contest opportunity or presenting at a face-to-face meeting, the opportunity is limited to make a lasting impression.
KEVIN DAUM is the principal of TAE International and the best-selling author of the Amazon #1 Best-sellers “ROAR! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle” and “Green$ense For the Home: Rating the Real Payoff on 50 Green Home Projects” both on bookstore shelves this month. He is a speaker and marketing consultant. Reach him at [email protected]. Check out Kevin’s Quest for the Jewish Super Bowl Ring at www.AwesomeRoar.com.