Some time ago there was a bit of a stooshi over in one of the Facebook Groups I’m a member of. It all started with a question about whether a budget airline should be obliged to sit small children with their mother, even though she hadn’t paid to reserve the seats in advance.
After some debate, this argument boiled down to whether budget airlines have the right to charge for booking specific seats, or whether people are entitled to cheap travel with the ‘frill’ of choosing their seats for free.
And of course the answer is that the budget airlines have the right to charge travellers for whatever they like, because they get to choose their business model. The fundamental concept behind budget travel is to deconstruct the air-travel experience, and separate out all the elements until you get to ‘a seat on an aeroplane going from A to B’. After that it’s up to the individual traveller to choose what else they want to pay for in order to enhance their experience. So why are so many people finding this basic concept so hard to grasp?
I think it’s how the budget airlines sell their service. Because they compete on price, they promote the cheapest price they have available, thereby setting expectations that will rarely be experienced by their customers. Instead of clearly setting out what it costs for baggage, reserved seats, etc in advance, you don’t get any of that information until you’re halfway through the often painful booking process, which can lead to buyers remorse before you’ve even made a purchase! And if you want to find out how their price really compares to other airlines, you have to go through their booking process too! It’s a hardy bargain hunter that doesn’t just sod it and book BA.
By only producing content that focusses on the base price, rather than what it costs in ‘real-life’ situations, the budget airlines are overselling and under delivering, and there are some really simple steps they could take to resolve the issue. But when your business model revolves around competing on price, perhaps it’s seen as a waste of time to think about relating your content to your potential customers’ service needs?
For many businesses though, competing on price alone is the road to ruin and despair. People buy people, and they buy from people who get them, get what problem they want solved, and provide them with the best solution. Every business has something unique that they can highlight, that they can make their thing to be known for. The best thing you can do for your business is find that thing and then sing about it from the rooftops.
Be clear about what you do, who you are, and what your special thing is. Use your website copy, your business practices, and your weekly content to reinforce that, clearly, to your customers, your advocates, and yourself. Every time you produce a piece of content, whether it’s a blog post, a video, a podcast episode, a newsletter, a social media post, or an update to your website, you have another opportunity to show the world why they should choose you. So be clear about why that is, and keep being clear. And of course, the more content you produce, the more opportunities you have to enhance that clarity.