Colin’s latest blog got me thinking, coupled with a very interesting conversation I had with our CEO John Roberts yesterday.
In this economy, price wars are bound to happen – so those organizations counting on price as a differentiator have to look elsewhere. And where else does differentiation come but by offering a unique experience.
Colin made a good point about the airlines. And while Southwest and Jet Blue are able to offer lower prices by limiting the types of planes – I would argue that these airlines are sought out by consumers not because of their prices, but because of the superior experience. Or at least the consumers’ perception of a superior experience.
Jet Blue has an irreverent approach to flying, more seat room, and I can watch live sports while at 35,000 feet in the air. I will admit that the times where my travel conflicted with some nationally televised Eagles games – I did everything I could to get on a Jet Blue flight.
Southwest has a similar experience going – promoting no baggage fees, open seating, etc.
Both of these unique experiences complement already low fares for both airlines.
Now, if I’m any good at using the internet, I can always get a pretty cheap flight to anywhere. But will my experience be consistent with what I like about any of the airlines I seek out if price is not the issue? No. I PREFER to fly with certain airlines.
Other carriers bind consumers into loyalty using frequent flyer programs. And even then – rewards are a headache. (When is the last time you booked a free award flight and your first choice of dates and flights was available?) It takes a long time to get to the perks levels of free upgrades, etc. with these airlines, while with jet Blue and Southwest, a slightly preferable experience is just business as usual.
In B2B sales – there is a lesson here. While many look at B2B selling as a numbers game, or selling based on relationships (the golf and client dinner mantra) – the economy is forcing changes. Coupled with the internet bringing more educated buyers to the table, B2B sales teams need to differentiate on experience as well as price. The one-two punch is a must have in this economy…