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8 Marketing Lessons from United Airlines

United Airlines has been getting all kinds of free publicity in the news and on social media lately. Unfortunately, that old saying of, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” has proven to be a farce for United.

8 Marketing Lessons from United Airlines

Last month United overbooked a flight, and then demanded that several passengers relinquish their seats so that United employees could fly instead of paying customers.

Now, we probably would have never heard about this incident if United wasn’t trying to save a penny.

They did offer a small sum if people would volunteer their seats. No one took the offer. So did they then offer more money? Nope. Instead, they sent in thugs to physically drag a 69 year old doctor off of the plane, knocking his head against the armrest before dragging his limp and bleeding body down the aisle by his arms and legs.

The video of this went viral, as did as second video of the passenger returning to the plane, dazed and disoriented, his face covered in blood, mumbling “just kill me.”

Wow. Just… wow.

The internet went crazy, and rightly so.

People the world over are vowing to never, NEVER fly on United again.

The people of China are especially upset, saying this was racial profiling, discrimination and so forth. In fact it was the number one trending topic on Chinese social media. And China is a big market for United.

So how did United’s CEO Oscar Munoz, winner of an actual P.R. award for “Communicator of the Year,” handle the situation?

By offering what might be the lamest excuse for an apology in history. He said, “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” He made NO mention that a human being was dragged off one of their planes by the arms and legs.

But Munoz had more to say, writing a letter to employees extensively blaming the victim for what United did.

Victim blaming? Really Mr. CEO?

The first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.

– Molly Ivins

Gee, if only an incident like this could be prevented.

Oh wait, it can be!

All United had to do was:

Remember their customers are HUMAN BEINGS who deserve respect. Really, why does anyone need to remind them of this??

Continue to increase the financial incentive to book a later flight. Raise the offer enough and people will say yes.

Or, United could have simply booked their employees on another flight.

Best solution of all – DON’T OVER BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS, UNITED.

Now would any one of those been so hard?

But instead, United decided on a whim to anger the world by assaulting a passenger.

And this isn’t a first for United, either.

Singer/songwriter Dave Carroll was waiting to deplane a United flight when he and other band members saw their guitars being hurled through the air by airline workers.

He later discovered his $3,500 Taylor guitar’s neck was broken clear through.

So did United apologize and pay for a new guitar?

No, because that would have cost money. Instead, they gave Dave Carroll excuses for months, insisting they weren’t liable for breaking a guitar they broke.

In frustration, Carroll wrote a song, “United Breaks Guitars,” which went viral, gaining over 17 million views as of this writing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

Then he wrote two more songs to go with the first, both of which also went viral. And he even wrote a book, “United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media.”

United’s response? After the first 150,000 views of the first video, United offered to pay Dave Carroll to remove the video. By then Carroll had enough of United’s attitude and flatly refused their offer.

As the video went viral, news media picked up the story. Soon newspapers and broadcast media across North America were doing stories about the song. Carroll did over 200 interviews in just a few months.

Then the copy cats came in and did parodies, adding even further views. Really, is there anyone who hasn’t heard that United breaks guitars?

United also recently incurred negative publicity and a severe backlash when they refused boarding to two young passengers because they were wearing leggings.

In 2015 United made an emergency landing in Salt Lake City to eject an entire Oregon family from the plane because the daughter was autistic. Which begs the question – wasn’t the daughter autistic when they allowed her to board? And why do they discriminate against the autistic anyway?

There’s even a consumer rights advocacy website called Untied.com that was started 20 years ago by a Montreal engineering professor. The site has collected 30,000 complaints and one lawsuit from United, presumably trying to silence dissatisfied customers by shutting the website down.

So… what marketing lessons can United teach us?

    1. Treat your customers like human beings. This should be easy for United, since they see their customers face to face. For us, we generally only know our customers by email addresses and names. Yet I think many internet marketers are already better at treating their customers like people than United.

    2. Value your customers. When you treat your customer right, they will be back time and time again. Treat them poorly and not only will they not return – they’ll also tell the world via social media what you did.

    3. No matter what, be nice. The doctor explained he would not leave the plane because he had patients to see the next morning. He was being nice and explaining his position. United could have been nice, too, and offered to book him on another flight in first class to get him home on time. Instead, they knocked him unconscious and dragged him from the plane. No paying customer – even if they aren’t nice – deserves to be treated like that for their patronage.

    4. If you screw up, or your employees screw up, ADMIT IT IMMEDIATELY. Half the backlash against United right now and all of it during the guitar throwing incident happened because United didn’t take responsibility. Never forget, in your business the buck stops with YOU.

    5. Follow rules and regulations. Airlines can legally take your money and then deny you a seat if they have overbooked a flight. What they cannot do is remove you once you have boarded, because there is nothing in the rules that allows United to remove a passenger already on the plane. The lawsuit that is sure to be filed will be slam dunk, as United has no defense for what they did, regardless of what their PR spin might be. Your life and your business will be so much simpler and you’ll save a fortune in fines and attorney fees when you follow the rules and obey the laws.

    6. Know who your business partners are. The United flight in question was operated by a regional partner called Republic Airlines. You are responsible for the actions of your partners. If they give your customers a poor experience, then YOU are giving your customers a poor experience. Be choosy and careful when partnering or joint venturing with anybody.

    7. Video and social media are game changers. If this incident happened 20 years ago, it would have been a blip on the radar and a small news story for one day at most. Instead, it’s a viral video with millions of views and a non-stop story in the news. Not to mention the huge and relentless social media firestorm created with a single one minute video. Video and social media can make or break you and your business in a heartbeat. Be wicked smart when using either one.

    8. Past mistakes will haunt you. With this new story comes a dredging up of the United Breaks Guitars story. And guaranteed, the next big mistake United makes will bring both of these stories back into the public eye, and so forth. If only United had paid for a new guitar. If only United treated people like… people. Once done, mistakes cannot be undone. So always err on the side of caution and do the right thing. Always.

    Bonus Lesson: You can capitalize on the mistakes of your competitors. Shortly after the United debacle, Delta Airlines announced its employees are now authorized to offer up to $10,000 in incentives to give up seats on overbooked flights, resulting in front page news stories and plenty of free, positive publicity.

If there is one big lesson in all of this, it’s this: Treat your customers the way you would want to be treated.

Think of them as your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, children… whatever it takes to see them as real people, with real problems, hopes, desires and dreams.

At the risk of sounding corny, I can sum it up in three simple words:

Love Your Customers

Do this and everything else – including the money – will fall into place.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 10 minutes to ruin it.

– Warren Buffet


Simple Money Making Method Never Fails

Marketers have used this technique for years to make a nice little side income.

Simple Money Making Method Never Fails

And you can do this as often as you like, too.

All you do is register promising sounding domain names.

Or snap up existing domains when they’re dropped, using one of the expired domain tools.

The trick is to offer them to your own list. Don’t try to sell them on Sedo or GoDaddy because you probably won’t do all that well.

But if you offer them to your list, or even run a WSO for them, you’ll probably sell more easily.

Let your readers know these are domains you’d planned to develop yourself, but now you’ve decided to sell them instead.

And YOU set the prices.

You can use a domain valuation tool, or just decide on values yourself.

Set them at different prices, based on how valuable you think they might be. Your readers will seldom try to negotiate, but if they do, that’s fine.

A domain is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for it. And the beauty is, scarcity is built right in. After all, there is only one of each, period. So selling them is pretty easy.

You can buy aged domains for $10 when they’re dropped, and sell them for hundreds of dollars.

The trick is to sell them to your list or in a place like the Warrior forum.

Choose domain in all kinds of niches, not just Internet marketing.

Just about everyone will read a list of domain names to see if there’s something in there they want. Buying domains is often an impulse purchase, and marketers just can’t help themselves.

Here are three domain valuation tools that are free:




Just keep in mind that these tools are only guessing. Frankly, your guess might be better than theirs, since you know your list and what they value.

When you email your list, let them know the email is going out to thousands of readers (if that’s true) so they know they better be quick. First come, first served.

You might also make suggestions for the types of websites that could be built on each domain. Not everyone has the imagination or business acumen to figure out how to use a domain.

You can either send out one big list of domains a few times a year, or send out smaller lists more often.

If you’re only offering, say, 5 domains at one time, you can write a good paragraph or two on how each might be used, what similar domains have sold for and whatever you think will help sell them.

Or take the easy route and just make a list and get it out there.

And don’t be afraid to ask for premium prices, either. You might be surprised at how much people are willing to pay for a domain they just have to have.

True value is always in the eye of the beholder.


How to Double Conversions on High Ticket Items with One Sentence

Believe it or not, a single sentence can literally double the conversions you get on your higher ticket items.

How to Double Conversions on High Ticket Items with One Sentence

Yes, this sounds too good to be true, but once I reveal what the sentence is, you’ll understand.

Now mind you, do not try this with low ticket items. You’ll hate yourself in the morning if you do.

Then again, if you have a lot of time on your hands, it’s your decision as to whether you try this on a $50 item or not.

In my experience, not many marketers are doing this – probably because they’re either too lazy or they simply have no clue how powerful this can be.

Okay, are you ready for the sentence?

Here it is…

“Please get in touch with us personally if you have any questions.”

That’s it.

Simple, right?

Then you give them options. It could be a dedicated email address, a phone number or a chat box.

The key is to make it a soft invitation, no strings attached. You want to be clear you’re not going to strong arm them once you get them on the phone.

Here’s why it works so well:

You’re asking for a lot of money for your high ticket item. Maybe that’s $300 or $3,000, I don’t know. But whatever it is, it represents a sizeable investment for your customer. It’s not like they’re buying a $10 ebook.

So naturally they’re hesitant. They need just a bit more of a push to take the plunge.

And for some of them, simply knowing they can get in touch with you is enough. This tells them you are indeed a real person with a real business and this is a real product.

They relax. They have more confidence in you. And they order.

For others, they have a legitimate question that you either forgot to answer in your sales material, or you did answer it but they didn’t see it.

In either case, they really want that answer before they buy. With these folks, you will often be off of chat or email or the phone in less than 5 minutes. Sometimes in less than 2 minutes.

Then there’s the third type of person. Their only real question is, “Are you for real?” because they want to know what happens if they have trouble with your product. Are they going to be able to get in touch with you? How quickly will you answer? And so forth.

They need reassurance that you’ll still be there in a month if they decide to use your guarantee. They might even get in touch with you more than once just to make sure.

There is a fourth type of person in this scenario I need to warn you about. This is a tire-kicker, and they will likely waste your time. The problem is, you don’t know at first if they simply need reassurance, have real questions or they’re just bored and looking to chat.

If you suspect they’re just wasting your time, you can politely tell them you have another caller and you have to go. But generally this isn’t a problem, especially when you check your numbers and realize your sales have about doubled since you offered customers the opportunity to get in touch with you.

One last thing – which communication method should you offer them to get in touch with you? That’s totally up to you. Ideally you want to offer all three – phone, chat and email. And if you have a virtual assistant helping you out, you can do that.

We’ve found that offering all 3 choices has the biggest impact on sales.

But if it’s just you, then you might want to limit the choices to just the one or two you’re most comfortable with for now. You can always add another method later.

The main thing is to let your big-ticket prospects know that you are in fact reachable. Even adding just a dedicated email address with the invitation to get in touch can make a definite impact on improving your sales.

And if you make just one more $1,000 sale per month, it’s worth it.

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