The Six I’s model (McDonald et al 1999)
Nearly all forms of digital media can facilitate interactivity whereas no traditional medium can facilitate what Lewis (1999) defines as “true interaction”. Today a successful campaign should incorporate at least some form of interactivity where possible, but, not just for the sake of it [note that being able to facilitate interactivity does not mean that it is always used in a constructive way – according to Marden (1997) 30% of all advertisements in the US damage the brand].
Interactivity is one of the most powerful tools available to markets when exploited correctly. While a user is involved with an advertisement [interacting with it] the promotion holds the user’s undivided attention, Chaffey et al (2000) refer to this as being “lean-forward” as opposed to traditional “lean-back”. According to Smith et al (1995) interaction gives more generic advertisements a personal feel and promotes a more positive response from people who “use the advert” as opposed to simply watching it. Traditional non-interactive commercials are too easily ignored.
Deighton (1996) also highlights the fact that on an interactive media the [potential] customer is the one who initiates the communication therefore they are showing an interest in the area which means that the commercial is always shown to someone appropriate. This is described as the “pull” marketing model which is explained in section 2.1.
The intelligence aspect of this model, sometimes called market intelligence has very strong ties to the more traditional idea of market research. While most people recognise market research as the first step in a marketing project [identifying a want/need that can be met] market intelligence is increasingly becoming an alternative/supporting first step. Marketing intelligence is the information that is gathered through the website. This information could come from an online questionnaire or other internal method of data capture on site or alternatively it could come from an analysis of the way in which people use the site [through the web logs]. Marketing intelligence is also a way of testing/evaluating user’s opinions on a campaign as their reactions to it can be monitored allowing changes to be made to an online campaign almost in real time.
The Internet enables affordable personalisation and mass customisation [mc] which were previously impossible or at best very expensive; these are both important aspects of customer relationship management [CRM] which is addressed briefly in section 2.2. Chaffey et al (2000) define individualisation as the tailoring of commercial communications to specific individuals while mc is tailoring of advertising messages to specific groups of people. An example of mc is Amazon sending out emails informing people of a new book that has been released if the person has been put into a category [derived from their previous purchases] which makes the people at Amazon believe they would have an interest in it.
Today’s successful marketing campaign no longer depends on a single successful communication by means of a single medium but instead relies on several media acting in harmony to support one another (Smith et al 2002) to cover the weaker areas of one by using the strengths of others. An example of this is using the “push” method to support a “pull” strategy as explained in section 2.1.
Yorkshire Paintball Centre is a good example of an organisation with a successful marketing strategy [www.ypc.com]. They advertise using traditional media such as newspapers and magazines and they include their web address at the bottom of each advert with the intention of “pushing” users to their site. The site itself contains a wealth of information regarding their facilities and also offers users the option to book online or to request more information in the form of a multimedia CD which features live in game action for people to view on the PC’s. The site also enables a “call-back” feature whereby an employee will get in touch with a [potential] customer by telephone if requested.
5. Industry restructuring
Today, especially with so many virtual intermediaries, industries that had previously established distribution channels are having to re-establish these channels (Chaffey et al 2000) in the light of the reputation and publicity that various intermediaries have built up. This means an organisation may be better off going through a reputable intermediary to exploit its reputation. On the flipside there is also the opportunity for some organisations to supply direct therefore “cutting out the middleman” (Smith 1998) and the costs associated with him.
6. Independence of location
The Internet has enabled marketing messages to reach a wider range of people in different locations quicker than any other media before it. People all over the world can be targeted relatively easily. Smith et al (2002) state that the web has facilitated a global marketspace (Rayport et al 1994).
The stage model follows:
The paraphrased transcript of the interview which too approximately 40 minutes:
Establishing a rapport:
The first ten minutes of the interview did not contain any specific details that would be of use to a researcher. At this stage the interviewee and interviewer were getting to know a little bit about each other and becoming comfortable with one another.
Introducing the topic:
It was necessary to provide a context for the research without influencing the interviewee’s responses. The interviewee was told that the research was to test the validity of an old-established theory in an organisation that appeared to have modern values and a modern approach.
The interviewee was prompted to discuss product planning; the phrase had to be clarified as there was some confusion. The given definition of product planning was “research into a new product or service before its launch”.
The given answer was that International Aviation very rarely launched new products or services, but when they did expert planning was essential. At the moment there are no plans for the launch of any new products and therefore there is no product planning underway, however, the following example was given: –
International Aviation has recently started to offer helicopter training alongside aeroplane training. This decision was not a “leap of faith” and there was a considerable amount of research into the market before making the decision.
The initial idea spun from an old web-based message board [which was replaced as it was being abused] on the International Aviation website. Since, at the time, there were few aviation training message boards, people interested in learning to fly helicopters were making posts on the International Aviation message board enquiring if helicopter training was available. After approximately six months of this the management at International Aviation started to consider the idea.
The management looked at the various training schools within a specified distance and made notes of exactly what services they offered. At this stage [late-1997] the management calculated the setup costs that would be incurred and did a massive amount of financial planning. The general consensus of the majority of people within the company at the time was that it was a “pipe dream”. The idea was discussed and researched intermittently over a three year period taking the date to mid-2000 when it was finally decided that it was not something the organisation would benefit from. However, at this time there was debate over the success such an idea could bring. Finally in 2001 the idea, after again being re-researched and costed, was given the go ahead.
In October last year, when the service was launched it was only offered locally for several months, however, it has recently been offered internationally in the same manner as aeroplane tuition. There is currently a plan to attempt to separate the helicopter and the aeroplane brands as will be examined in the branding section.
The prices displayed on the International Aviation website were then read back to the interviewee and he was asked to explain how these prices were decided upon. He was also asked how important correct pricing was to International Aviation.
The pricing of flight tuition and the accompanying groundschool is a vitally important aspect of the business. It was said that ultimately if the price is too high or too low then the business would fail, thus highlighting the importance of getting the pricing strategy exactly right. If prices were too high people would go elsewhere and if prices were too low then International Aviation would lose money, eventually leading to closure.
The pricing strategy idea was quite simple. Originally the idea was to recuperate the expenses of setting up the aviation training facility over X amount of years [the number of years was kept confidential], after this period of X years the company would generate steady profit. While the idea is simple it is not as straightforward as it initially appears due to the management having to work out the cost of depreciation on aircrafts which is quite a complicated process, especially when some aircrafts are owned and others leased.
The interviewee was then prompted to elaborate upon what is included in the price, not just the obvious but also things such as guarantees or “free” gifts.
It was difficult for the interviewee to give an answer on guarantees as, due to the nature of the business, International Aviation could not give afford to guarantee all students that they would pass as everyone is different and some people take longer to learn than others. After students have trained with International Aviation they are eligible to receive a magazine twice yearly [this is covered in more detail later under the section on “servicing”] and if someone is genuinely unhappy with the service they would take their specific cases on merit, however, the interviewee stated that they have never had a “serious” complaint.
The pricing structure is kept as simple as possible for the benefit of the [potential] clients. There are no pricing plans or fancy options. The client simply pays the total cost of their training either entirely upfront or in two instalments, one at the mid point of training. Depending upon what the client wants to learn the prices vary with stunt rating being one of the most expensive course packages. The total cost includes everything that the student would need from the groundschool to the actual practical lessons to the cost of the test and flight manuals. When International Aviation first launched their website they had a different pricing strategy which seemed to confuse a lot of potential clients leading to time being wasted answering the same questions about what was included in the price and how payment should be made. The interviewee was of the opinion that a lot of potential business was lost because people were going elsewhere after having difficulty trying to calculate the total cost of their training.
Because the interviewee had earlier referred to separating the helicopter and aeroplane brands, when talking about product planning, the subject of branding was easily returned to.
The International Aviation Brand is one that carries a lot of weight within the industry and it recognised as one of the premier names offering a quality service. It is often recommended by experienced pilots to novices and people who are “taking their first steps” it is, however, recognised as an aeroplane brand. The name has been established since 1994 and never, to the knowledge of the interviewee, had any negative press unlike many training facilities. One of the main advantages that International Aviation has over its competition is that its website is very easy to find as it is simply its name.com.
The idea of setting up the helicopter brand as a separate brand was to attempt to promote it as a helicopter specialist facility and over time build another reputable brand that would be recognised as an industry leader. International Aviation’s product research has shown that a specialist helicopter brand is more likely to be taken seriously than a generic “flight training brand”. There is also the potential for damage limitation. If the helicopter training should fail [in a worst case scenario] then it would not damage the International Aviation brand. Furthermore, International Aviation hope to exploit the friendly but competitive rivalry between helicopter and aeroplane pilots which is predominant in rookies.
The helicopter spin off brand will have its own office within the International Aviation complex but will soon have its own website and URL in an attempt to totally separate the brands online. The website will be similar to the existing aeroplane one in that it will facilitate online ordering, however, the payment will still be made to International Aviation because the management see the opening of two separate merchant accounts as wasteful due to the fact that when payment is made the client has already made their decision.
Channels of distribution
While it seemed unlikely that this section of the model would apply to International Aviation due to the fact they have nothing to distribute the question was still posed, “How are your products distributed?”.
Since International Aviation’s only service is flight tuition they are an industry which cannot really distribute a product and all lessons must begin at the airport therefore the students must always come to the school; there is no alternative.
Supporting aspects such as receipts are sent out via email if the order is placed online [which is becoming increasingly common] and via traditional mail if the order is placed through a non-electronic method.
Personal selling was another area that needed clarification as the interviewee found the term to be vague. It was explained that it referred to treating each user as an individual and providing a personal service, be it online or face to face.
Initially the interviewee clung to the “personal service” aspect of the question:
International Aviation provides a personal service by allocating each student with a specific instructor who would take them all the way from their first lesson right up to their test, the idea of this is that the student and instructor can build a relationship and get to know one another in such a way that they enjoy the experience.
It was necessary at this time to re-direct the interview and highlight that while this was personalising the service, it was not actually personal selling as the relationship building process came about after the customer had paid for the service. An enquiry was made as to any attempts to personalise the service at an earlier stage and also to personalise the actual selling process and not the tuition process.
The interviewee presented an argument that since International Aviation were marketing a service with no physical product attached the providing of a personalised service was an essential part of the personal selling process [which totally avoided the question].
The interviewee highlighted the fact that the personal service that each student got was marketed to potential students as one of the differentiating aspects of International Aviation’s service.
At this time the interviewer again made an attempt to redirect the discussion to actual personalised selling.
It was said that while there were no formal guidelines in place at the moment all person-to-person interaction had, by nature, a degree of personalisation to it; therefore all telephone and face to face sales were to a degree, personalised. When people made enquiries they were given the name of the person that they spoke to and any further enquiries could then be directed to this same person [who would hopefully remember them] thus adding a degree of personalisation to the selling process.
At this time the website was generic in its displaying of information because everyone saw the same screens regardless of who they were. The interviewee did comment that it was a good idea to attempt to introduce a more personal interface to the website and it would be something to consider in the future.
The interviewee was asked what kinds of advertising International Aviation has participated in over the years and about the intended goals of that advertising.
Originally the main goal of advertising International Aviation was limited to attempting to make people aware of the organisation’s services and therefore encourage people to train with them. At its inception the organisation was 100% financially motivated. The main reason for this was that the person at the top, at that time, had an accounting background and wanted to see his own targets met. The main target at that time [as is stated in the section on pricing] was to recuperate all of the organisational set up costs over a specific amount of time. After this goal was met, then the advertising would be maintained in order to continue to generate the same rate of turnover. It was thought that a steady profit would be made and the company’s bank account would be left to grow. At this stage of the organisation’s life, advertising was viewed as “a tool that could be used to support the organisation’s main goal” [to make money]. At that time in the organisations life the only “paid for” marketing was the placing of box adverts in aviation press and the distribution of brochures [quite expensive to print] to people who expressed an interest. However, there was a little free promotion as a local newspaper produced an article on the “new local flying school”
When the organisation launched its website in 1996 the advertising method changed slightly as shortly after the launch the site incorporated a cut down version of the brochure that spanned several HTML pages. By today’s standard, it was graphically retarded. The idea was that this move would cut costs dramatically as people would ultimately be able to access the brochure with no production costs to International Aviation. The paper copy of the brochure was still available and in fact has been up until the start of this year .
In late-1996 the managing director was replaced and the direction of the organisation’s advertising was changed. While making profits remained the focus and advertising was seen as a “step towards achieving profit” it was also seen as an opportunity to establish a brand and increase market share. From 1996 onwards the advertising campaign became much more aggressive. One particularly aggressive tactic given as an example was a direct comparison between the prices charged by International Aviation and several of its competitors who were charging “more for less”.
It was repeatedly stressed through the interview that the only paid for advertising, excluding the company website, was in various aviation magazines. In the year 1999 International Aviation started to target a wider, international, market by advertising in aviation magazines across Continental Europe in an attempt to have an impact on the international marketplace. In an attempt to reduce the cost of overall advertising while targeting a wider market International Aviation altered the design of its advertisements. The overall size was reduced to a very small box [3cmx4cm] which contained the catchphrase “learn to fly for less”. The advertisement also contained the company name and phone number with the second largest percentage of the box advertisement taken up by the URL [the majority by the slogan] of the website. The intention of this advertisement was that it would draw traffic from interested parties to the website where they could find out anything they wanted to and also download a brochure; the strategy at the time came about because the web advertising was cheap whereas the magazine advertising was expensive but seemingly more effective.
At this tine the interviewee had not mentioned search engines so was asked whether International Aviation had submitted its website to any search engines.
For as long as the interviewee had been with the company the website had been on the major search engines. However, no one could state a specific date as to when this first happened. The interviewee did not mention the search engines when initially asked about advertising as he overlooked it as a form of advertising.
The promotions aspects of the twelve point framework were discussed by the interviewee while he was talking about advertising in the preceding section, so the interviewer passed over the promotion aspect to look at packaging.
The interviewee was asked how International Aviations products were packaged
The given explanation was not regarding packaging as in the physical materials that would be used to wrap up a traditional product; instead the interviewee explained how International Aviation sold packages of products, meaning many different services bundled together to form a “package” such as in the following example:
The private pilots licence [PPL] package contained everything that was required for an individual with no previous flight knowledge or experience to go from that level to the level of a qualified pilot. The package included the 45 hours flight time, the aviation medical, the groundschool tuition, the practical test and the written tests. This bundle is marketed as the most straightforward way to get someone who is interested in flying with no previous experience into the air as a qualified pilot; there are scores of different “packages” available.
After the interviewee paused during the discussion of their “packages”, the interviewer asked of any way in which they may package their products in a more traditional sense.
Since the service offered has no physical attributes it is impossible to actually place it into a package.
The interviewee was asked to explain how International Aviation’s Products are displayed.
As the “product” which is in actual fact a service has no physical attributes [again] then it is impossible to display it in a rudimentary sense, however, it is displayed on the company website and since International Aviation are the only people who sell their service it is their website alone where the service is displayed. Each “package” [see preceding question] has a clickable link which takes the site user to a page or collection of pages on that product. The service specific pages all contain similar information, the total price [with and without tax], exactly what the package includes, how to order and any further necessary information [for example some advanced courses require people to have completed more basic courses to be eligible].
The interviewee was asked what if any servicing or after sales service they provided.
There is no after sales service offered as such because the services that are sold are not something that can be examined or taken back; however, both current and ex-students are sent an International Aviation magazine twice a year that contains useful information about the industry [changes to international law etc] and also has some promotional information about International Aviation.
An enquiry was made as to the further content of the magazine
Each publication has articles on the state of the industry at the moment, at this time a popular subject is still the recovery of the aviation industry after September 11th. Each issue also has a collectable page which features a [usually famous] aircraft with some information about it, the idea of this is so that people will save the issue and not discard it as it contains promotional information from International Aviation such as new course offerings, current prices and details of any changes or improvements. A recent improvement was the appointment of a well-known local instructor who was taking charge of the organisation’s groundschool.
The interviewee was asked if there was any physical handling of products.
There are no physical products that make up a part of the service, however, the aircraft do need to be “physically handled” in order to check that they are in suitable condition to be used as a part of a daily routine examination, it is not uncommon for students to participate in this process as part of making a safe and proficient pilot is introducing them to their aircrafts and showing them how to carry out pre-flight checks. As part of this familiarisation process the students often take the planes for re-fuelling or into and out of the hangers after use for cleaning.
The concept of physical evidence was applied for the reasons explained throughout the earlier sections of the study [applying the old model to current times]. The interviewee was asked what, if any, attempt International Aviation had made to assure people who may have discovered the organisation online of a physical presence. It was explained how this can possibly dispel people’s concerns that an online organisation may be fraudulent.
International Aviation include a phone number on site which people can use to get in contact with a person rather than just viewing a website – alternatively there is also a callback feature whereby people enter their phone numbers and an administrator from International Aviation calls them back. As a further step they also include actual photographs and testimonials from past students and have a considerable amount of positive feedback on the Better Business Bureau in an attempt to put potential students at ease. The company brand is also very strong within the industry so people “in the know” usually only have positive things to say about them.
Fact finding and analysis
The interviewee was asked if at anytime anyone within the organisation participated in any fact finding or analysis and if anyone within the company had this as a specific roll.
The interviewee referred back to the example first mentioned in the product planning stage explaining how, when the organisation is likely to benefit from some research, it is carried out at that time. There is no on going research process nor is there anyone who has the specific job roll of a “researcher”. Any fact finding that needs to be done is usually done by a single individual from upper management.