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Video Marketing

How Westjet Airlines Can Teach Financial Institutions an Important Marketing Lesson

April 5, 2016


Banks and credit unions have always been viewed as outstanding pillars in the community. Financial institutions are looked upon to help homeowners in need, increase businesses in the area, and assist towns to be recognized and rebuilt. This is a part of their social responsibility. However, they have no idea how to show what they do. This content should be shared with the community and beyond. WestJet airlines, although a very different industry, yet does provide a commodity, has captured the true essence of packaging and distributing great and emotional content.

WestJet and Their Miracle Campaign

December 2013, WestJet airlines planned a holiday surprise for their travelers. At the airport, travelers were presented with festive decorations and a Santa who interacted with them virtually, finding out their most heartfelt wants and needs for this Christmas holiday. WestJet's staff dashed off to the mall and found each traveler's gift, from socks and underwear, to an Android tablet, to a train set, to a huge flat screen TV.

Once the passengers landed, they were directed to the baggage carousel and surprised with their personalized gifts. Tears flowed from many eyes as people received just what they needed this holiday, including a free flight home for the holiday. Unclaimed gifts were donated to charity as well as a cash donation to the Ronald McDonald fund.

The Impact That WestJet Has upon the Community

Some call this a marketing stunt, but to the passengers of WestJet, their family, friends, and other online viewers, this was nothing short of a miracle. WestJet now has developed a relationship, encouraging brand loyalty.

As much as industries want to believe that the positive experiences our customers have will be shared, usually this does not happen. We are used to the negative experiences being shared by our customers. There needs to be a positive significant impact that affects more than one customer. Once that content is made available, it will be recognized. WestJet now has loyal flyers, who more than likely will not price shop with their competitors any longer. At the very least, they will have other customers hoping for their own miracle with WestJet.

That is what the financial industry needs. Banks and credit unions need loyal members who will bank with them even with a higher mortgage point or smaller credit line because in the end they feel they will be taken care of.

Why Financial Institutions Need to Create and Share Memorable Content That Relates to the Community

WestJet promoted this video feed through Twitter and Facebook and it became a viral sensation in only a few hours. These videos captured the true authentic reactions of WestJet's passengers. Who will be able to forget the smiles brought to the children's faces, tears flowing from parents' eyes, and even the humorous gestures made by viewers commenting how one passenger should have not asked for the socks!

This memorable content will be talked about for years. Financial institutions should have this. As banks and credit unions do so much for the community, it is important that they be recognized. Moreover, what better way to be recognized than by the community itself? This is one of the most recognized marketing campaigns now and cost less than the average television commercial. It is a Community Relationship Managers dream to get that type of engagement. Social media is huge and important in any industry. Not many banks can say they have shared such touching content with their community.

The True ROI is in the Loyalty and Brand being Established

It is not about the financial impact on a bank's marketing budget; it is about how customers and the community feel once it is done. The content should be unexpected and never before done. When building upon a marketing strategy used by another company, look for ways to innovate it, to make it better. How can we bring an innovative and emotional response to the community and other viewers? It should be genuine and not a fake story. It should be something real and that everyone can relate to.

The content of a marketing message should not be about a calculated ROI. Trying to sell their products and services is not the way to go. What should be done is reaching the community's hearts so there is a positive impression embedded in their minds.

How Financial Institutions Can Integrate This Content within Their Organization

The underlying message is corporate social responsibility. WestJet did more than put smiles on their passenger's faces. It is as if they knew some would say, well lucky them. They went further, donated to other causes, and got the public involved. WestJet stated they would donate flights to needy families once they have hit 200,000 views on YouTube. They are also running a contest for those tweeting their videos.

Actions must be done for the environment or community's behalf. Financial institutions are expected to unify. They can unify the public, industries, and government. Through volunteer programs, grants, and donations, this becomes a part of their organizational culture. This is always worth sharing among employees and customers. People are going to give back and support those that invest in the community.

Financial institutions can get great exposure with this type of campaign. As many may try to win a contest, many others will find out about a service they were unaware of the bank offering. Maybe someone was unaware of a particular credit union in his or her area. Others may have been torn between which financial institutions to use, but then the heartfelt moment helped them make up their mind.

Some of the content banks create are extremely dry. They may run a contest and place it on their news feed, however, who reads that? If it has not been read and recognized, it will not be shared. There are no human reactions or emotional responses. That is what moves customers.

Financial institutions need to keep the momentum. This should be a part of whom they are for years to come. This is not WestJet's first touching moment. In 2012, they had their very first Christmas miracle for those flyers from Calgary to Toronto with a surprising blazing crowd of singing and dancing elves.

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