March 5, 2013

How to Build Interest (Part 2 in a Series): Honesty

published this at 8:18 am

By James Ellis

(This is Part 2; you can find Part One here.)

I recently flew to NYC (in a plane) and I was reminded of how bad air travel is. I used to be a full-time business traveler. I know plenty of business flyers. And the simple fact is that there is no such thing as a good airline.

Oh, there are people who work in airline companies who can, on occasion, do good things. But usually they don’t. They don’t care that your luggage went missing, that your guitar got smashed, that your child traveling alone never met the airline rep you paid to make sure your child got somewhere safely. On time means pushing off the jetway, not getting where you want to go. Customer satisfaction means you only feel semi-violated getting somewhere.

But I have a way of fixing modern airlines: Honesty.

The worst part about flying is the lying, the lack of understanding how passengers/cargo are treated, the gamesmanship, the arbitrary and hidden rules. You spend a few hundred dollars to be told you will be treated like kings and then get treated like traitors.

Marketing teams think that if they tell us the truth, no one will book tickets. But I disagree. I hate being told that two airlines are merging “for my convenience” and not to lower operations costs by 0.2%. I hate being told that it is time to board passengers in Group 3 when no one actually looks to see if I’m in Group 3. I hate that we all pretend that my iPad will cause the plane to crash if I turn it on during takeoff (um… the entire plane is an electronic device, people).

My new airline will simply be called SucksAir. At no point will any of the marketing lie. I will flat out say that the seats are cramped, there’s no food for free, the air as healthy as your average flu vaccine, the drink cart will mug anyone with an aisle seat, the pilot will always sound hopped up on Valium, and the in-flight entertainment will always be commercials. At no point will anyone who works at SucksAir ever treat any paying customer like a human being. Flights will be coming and going on a schedule closer related to a Roman orgy than a German train station.

Being honest is the unique selling proposition. You know that SucksAir is a crappy airline that just happens to get you where you want to go. No more, no less.

What if you were equally honest? Painfully honest. Brutally honest. About your industry, your customers and yourself. If you can’t be stand-up comedian honest in your blog, you should stop blogging.

What’s the fear? That everyone will realize that you’re making it all up as you go along? That you think some of your customers are idiots? That there are shysters in your industry who make a pretty good living? Trust me, we already know that. It might just be enlightening to hear you say it.

Author’s Bio: James Ellis is a digital strategist, mad scientist, lover, fighter, drummer and blogger living in Chicago. You can reach out to him or just argue with his premise at saltlab.com.

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