I’ll admit it. I was one of the 28,782,000 people who watched WestJet’s viral Christmas video. And yes, I teared a little bit. If you haven’t seen the video yet, you should watch it right now.

Basically, 250 people on flights to Calgary spoke to a digital Santa (filmed live in a separate location) who asked them what they wanted for Christmas. While the weary passengers were in the air, WestJet elves ran out to buy the gifts. A Santa at the baggage claim in Calgary gave each passenger exactly what they wanted. The end result was a feel-good Christmas ad that, according to some professionals, won’t do anything in boosting sales. As a Queen’s School of Business professor told NPR, “Typically we shop, when we travel, on price — as opposed to brand”.

Ad for a BMW Jeep

BMW Brand Recognition

Brand Recognition

For a freight professional, there is much to learn from this ad. The first is the brand marketing. Even though WestJet might not be expecting higher sales from the video, brand recognition among about  30 million people just shot through the roof. Mercedes and BMW do the same thing. You see there ads everywhere. You probably aren’t planning on buying a beamer, but if you do, it’s because it is now synonymous with luxury. How do you improve brand recognition for a freight forwarder? The best way to improve consumer’s association with your brand is to create a killer user experience:

1. When you get an RFQ, respond as accurately as possible. A Maersk senior officer told JOC that 12% of all invoices are inaccurate, which means you are either overcharging your customer or losing money yourself.
2. Not to be repetitive, but when you get an RFQ, respond quickly. A consumer who is shipping with you has an entire supply chain to worry about. Getting him a quote within 5 minutes, instead of a day, can make all the difference. And you could do that today.
3. Embrace eCommerce. At home, customers are used to logging into Amazon and order stuff in seconds. B2B sales are getting closer to that point too. Provide an beautiful web interface that lets users quote instantly and you’ll be sure to see sales rise. Check out a web demo of what your site could look like here.
4. Deliver the bad news. When you are dealing with multi-modal shipping, things are bound to go a little haywire occasionally. But when they do, make sure that you tell your customers about problems before they figure it out themselves. Transparency can make or break a relationship in bad situations.

Stay tuned for part two of what you can learn from WestJet’s Christmas Miracle: The Supply Chain.