A business owner asked me the other day, what was the best marketing strategy ever? I did not have to think very long. To me, the answer is Southwest Airlines in its early days. In a day when Southwest was competing with industry giants to launch a new airline, they broke through and succeeded by demonstrating that they were the airline you wanted to fly by doing the following things.
- They offered an affordable and valuable service.
- They put their employees first and let them know it. The Employees became their marketing ambassadors on EVERY flight and at every gate.
- They empowered their employees to do what ever it took to make the customer experience both safe and enjoyable. The employees felt good about being part of Southwest and that spirit was contagious.
- They got people fired up about the service they were offering and encouraged them to tell a friend. They mastered the art of the testimonial!
Combining silly slogans by peppy flight attendants with little things like birthday cards or free drink coupons, and ads that made you smile, Southwest integrated the customer experience into every step of what they did and how they marketed. The rest, as they say, was entrepreneurial history. One friend told another – and they told someone else. People chose to fly the fledgling airline to see what all the buzz was about. They liked the experience, kept on flying, and kept on telling their friends.
I’ve been thinking about this – the creating of an experience – a lot lately for two reasons.
One is a company that I am hoping to become much more involved with. They have an offering that will revolutionize their category in a way similar to what Southwest did to the airline industry. As I look at what would be needed to do just that, I start to get really excited. (You’ll have to stay tuned to learn more about this project….it’s a developing story.)
But the other project, is one that I can tell you all about. It’s the Fourth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference or AZEC09. For the last 4 years, I have worked with the team at OTEF (The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation) to provide entrepreneurial training, support, and inspiration to at risk populations here in Arizona. Programs have included helping women, who have faced huge challenges, start over and launch a new business. Teens got a fresh start in their own entrepreneurial venture and now, through Blue Print for Survival, displaced workers are finding a new purpose through their own businesses. The funding raised each year at AZEC09 makes this possible!
So, how could I apply what I have learned through the years from studying Southwest make AZEC09 better?
Valuable and Affordable – at $99 for early registration and $150 for the regular conference rate, it is probably one of the best full day conference values you can find. And the learning you can gain is invaluable from both the speakers and the people you meet.
Our team is first rate from our sponsors and community partners to our volunteers. It is important that we make the experience as good for them as possible so that they will make the conference great for our guests.
And it’s time to get folks fired up and to do something different to make things more fun. So I asked out great partners at the Phoenix Business Journal for help and they came through with the perfect gift to give away at different times throughout the day – I love presents! Another friend has gotten into the spirit of this and is also helping to bring other surprises. So now, on top of great speakers, the opportunity to connect with thought leaders, and some of the top exciting entrepreneurs around we have presents to. How cool is that!
So all I needed was a few testimonials. I went through the conference file and asked friends for permission to share their words with you. Here are a few…
“Dollar for dollar the 2008 Arizona Entrepreneur’s Conference was the best money and time spent on any conference. Period! I’m expecting even more on Nov 12th 2009!”
Eric Keosky-Smith CEO, Co-Founder, Shwaag ™
“… this is the best educational and networking opportunity in the state…. It’s an opportunity to network with and learn from people who have achieved entrepreneurial successes in health care, digital media, sustainability and cloud computing PLUS lots of ideas shared by CEOs on the front lines who are making things work!. ”
Pat Elliott, Western Marketing Group
See, the thing that makes testimonials from delighted customers the best marketing strategy ever is that what THEY say matters most.
So, I have a favor to ask. If you have attended one of the last three Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences, leave me a comment and share your experience. And if you are coming this year, tell me why so we can work on making sure you have the best experience ever!
I’ll be watching for your ideas!
Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…
P.S. Remember those great Sponsors and Community Partners I mentioned. Here is who they are:
The Business Journal Phoenix and Infusionsoft – who have generously stepped up EVERY year, as well as Mashable, Microsoft, Affordable Image, The Town of Gilbert, Metro Studios, Pour Masters, Gangplank, Stealthmode Partners, CorePurpose, Brent Spore, Chuck Reynolds, The Performance Magazine, and The Social Media Bible.com, PLUS our great friends and community partners at The Knight Center for Digital Media, EO, TiE-Arizona, and The Arizona Technology Council, Social Media Club Phoenix, The Phoenix Innovation Foundation, PodCampAZ.