By Paul Weber.
We were recently paid the highest of compliments. A person with great knowledge of both EAG Advertising & Marketing and the airline said that EAG was the “Southwest Airlines” of advertising agencies in Kansas City.
This comment came the same day as the news of Southwest Airlines’ founder and iconic leader, Herb Kelleher’s passing.
Although very flattered, we wondered how we might be similar to the iconic brand that we hold in such high regard. And, if we don’t meet the standards that drives Southwest’s success, can we aspire to it?
Expanding the Category
In the early years, Southwest Airlines’ goal was to get people out of cars and into airplanes for short trips between cities in common regions. This is called expanding the category, getting people to buy your product or service who had not done so before. Southwest changed mindsets.
Southwest also was successful in expanding the category by getting families on airplanes rather than just business travelers. They perfected the hub system, developing many short hops from city to city and making airline travel affordable for families. It became a viable option to fly instead of drive from Kansas City to St. Louis. Southwest created and perfected a viable system.
EAG Advertising & Marketing has expanded the category of businesses that engage with an advertising agency in Kansas City. Of the 350 clients we’ve provided advertising and marketing services to over our 15 years, nearly 85 percent had never used an advertising agency before. EAG is changing mindsets.
We’ve expanded the category of companies using an ad agency by simply modifying how our advertising and marketing services are provided. Like Southwest Airlines, we offer a lot of “short hops.” A small business owner is more receptive to launching into an advertising campaign if they know they can do so with less initial financial risk. By packaging our services in a more palatable way, more business owners can afford to slowly and steadily improve their search optimization or grow lead generation with direct mail. EAG created and perfected a new service delivery system.
More Cities. More Services.
Southwest Airline’s continuing success after 50 years has as much to do with how they operate today as when they disrupted the airline industry back in 1967. Southwest continues to add cities and stops in attempt to go wherever the traveler wishes to go.
The short hop, hub model would never work in 2019 if you couldn’t affordably get from Kansas City to Albany or Abilene. It’s not enough to travel to Chicago and St. Louis. Today’s traveler needs to know they can get from Point A to Point B with one, efficient airline.
Similarly, EAG’s advertising for small companies as an outsourced marketing firm would never work if it weren’t for the fact that we are all-inclusive. We are the opposite of marketing specialists. We are general practitioners, the utility infielder, the doer of all. Whatever the small business needs to advance its marketing is what we deliver.
If an EAG client has a need, we can serve it with highly-trained professionals. Whether it’s digital marketing, traditional advertising, design, content, research, branding… it doesn’t matter. We’ve done it and will continue to offer the most complete array of advertising and marketing services because what a small business needs most from their provider is consistency and continuity.
If our client needs to get from Kansas City to Albany or Abilene, we can do it and have done it before.
Not Cheap. Priced Right.
Southwest Airlines is not the cheapest seat on every route they fly. Their pricing model is much like other airlines, based on demand and seat value. What is important and successful about Southwest’s pricing is what impact it has had on the entire industry.
If it were not for Southwest’s innovation and expansion back in the 1970s, you would not be able to fly affordably from Kansas City to Tulsa. People would still be driving from MCI to DFW, OMA and DSM. Southwest made short trips affordable to a new, expanded market – the family traveler.
Similar to Southwest Airlines, EAG has studied our pricing model very carefully. We are not the cheapest advertising agency in Kansas City and we are by far not the most expensive. We know because we compare.
What we have done is carefully price our services somewhere between a freelance marketer and a general advertising agency. More importantly, we’ve packaged our advertising services in a manner that makes it affordable for any business. Through our scalable services, any-sized business can begin to create an organized marketing relationship with a full-service advertising agency.
The Customer Isn’t Always Right
Colleen Barrett, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, famously said, “The customer isn’t always right.” She explained that sometimes the customer is just wrong or misinformed and to assume they are always right is to dismiss the importance of airline employees.
Barrett went on to explain that Southwest employees are empowered to make the best decisions on behalf of the airline and the customer, not one over the other. To do anything else would show disrespect for the employees and diminish one of Southwest’s greatest assets – the team.
We love our clients at EAG Advertising & Marketing, but they aren’t always right. We have learned how to speak truth to power with respect and honesty. Our employees are empowered to “do the right thing, despite the cost.” In fact, it’s one of our core values.
Small business owners are demanding and rightfully so. We are representatives of their brand and by extension, their business. Many of our clients’ companies are multi-generational, in business for one hundred years or more. We must be honest with our clients. No, they aren’t always right, but they are always the boss.
It’s Just Advertising. Lighten Up.
Southwest Airlines makes what is routine and mundane for most airlines, humorous and fun. They are famous for the light-hearted manner in which they deliver the most boring part of any trip, the safety guidelines. Adding this little bit of self-effacing humor makes a trip just a bit more pleasant.
Our clients come to us from all walks of life and from every industry you can imagine. We work with scientists and school teachers, engineers and artists. The one commonality among them is their willingness to laugh with us. Potential EAG advertising clients without a sense of humor, need not apply.
Humbled and Honored
The comparison of our small advertising agency to one of the most successful and recognizable brands in the United States is humbling, and we are indeed honored. It was just a passing comment, but we’ve taken it to heart and spent the time to challenge ourselves to be even more like Southwest Airlines, a brand we LUV.