CEB’s 2012 Small Business Marketer of the Year award goes to American Airlines for their Flights Camera Action video contest. The AA contest, in its second year, launched in July 2012 and encouraged small business owners to submit 1-minute videos that communicate how travel enables them to make connections that impact the future of their businesses. In addition to great creative execution, the American Airlines campaign was recognized for addressing two key pain points among small business owners: promoting their own businesses and networking with others.
Specifically, the contest allowed many small businesses to reach potential customers through the campaign publicity and to earn reward points that would allow them to travel and take advantage of new networking opportunities. In total, American Airlines gave away the equivalent of more than 300 round-trip domestic Economy Class tickets, as well as several annual Admirals Club memberships. Additionally, the winner (a non-profit business called Convoy of Hope) received the equivalent of 50 domestic round-trip Economy Class tickets, as well as a full-page ad in American Airlines in-flight magazine, banners on AA.com, and an in-flight TV testimonial.
AA’s campaign representative notes:
“Knowing that the right connections can make all the difference for a small company. We endeavored to create a contest that would facilitate connections for many deserving SMBs, and enable them to take that extra flight to visit that next prospective customer or supplier. We also built this contest to provide additional visibility for the participants to get their message out to a larger audience during the voting phase.”
CEB Small Business Marketer of the Year award accepted by Jerry Challender, Marketing Manager, SMB Loyalty, American Airlines (second from right). Other finalists include Leigh Tynan, Director Small Business Marketing, TELUS (left) and Sarah Richards, Business Banking Marketing Manager, PNC Bank (second from left). The award was presented by Haniel Lynn, General Manager CEB Sales, Marketing, and Communications Practice (right).
This year, CEB’s research found that video testimonials are an important (and growing) resource in the online research process for owners and a leading contributor to making online information easier to understand. For those enterprises interested in pursuing online video strategies, we found that video testimonials win out over product videos in terms of effectiveness because testimonials tend to provide experiential feedback as well as hard facts, and they make it easy for owners to visualize their own use case. Conversely, product videos can be viewed as fluffy or promotional, often contain too little information for the time required to watch them, and tend not to provide different information than what’s already written in web copy.
But, creating a video contest and gathering video testimonials can be challenging for marketers. To promote their campaign, AA emailed its customer base and ran promotions through its national network of incubators and accelerators, including Startup America. They complemented these efforts with social media messaging on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. In doing so, the company exceeded its previous year’s submission total by more than 75%, and increased campaign-triggered enrollment in its rewards program by a similar percentage. The contest also succeeded in raising awareness of AA’s offering for small businesses via both online media and viral spread. The company saw traffic to the contest voting site increase to 175,000 visits during the 3-week voting period, resulting in more than 93,000 votes (or more than 4,000 votes per day).
Later this summer, CEB will publish a report for members outlining the campaign details and best practices learned from the top-5 finalists of the 2012 CEB Small Business Marketer of the Year. To learn more about the CEB Small Business Marketer of the Year award or to submit a campaign for the 2013 award, please contact Ava McDonald.