Integrity Languages


Edinburgh Airport and the Art of Subtle Marketing

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: October 13, 2016

I fly a lot. In fact, between September and early December, I will have visited Denmark, Belgium, England (London and Milton Keynes twice each), the Netherlands, and Northern Ireland. That means I spend a lot of time in Edinburgh Airport. And I also learn a lot from both its plusses and its flaws.


First, the big plus. When it works (which is usually does), good old EDI has some of the most reliable. longest-lasting and fastest free airport Wi-Fi in the UK. I am one of those people who often needs to work in the departure lounge, this means sitting with a laptop open and connected and a warm beverage in one hand. In fact, I would dare to suggest that since the airport brought in Wi-Fi, their sales of food and drink will have increased.


Work and caffeine seem to go together. Offer free Wi-Fi and people will be able to work. Give people the ability to work and they will buy some liquid sustenance to go with it. Subtle marketing: done. Profits: creeping up.


On the other side of the equation is the airport’s biggest flaw. In their hurry to redesign parts of the terminal, the architects forgot that the main purpose of an airport is to allow people to get to their flights. Now, instead of the old route, which took you from security to the gates within a few steps (and gave you more time to do work and drink hot chocolate), there is a long-winding route which forces you through the oversized Duty Free, with its chicane of perfume profferers, whisky dram holders and people whose only job seems to be to stand and stare at the crowds going by.


From a business point of view, it kind of makes sense. Greater footfall should equal greater sales. And it might well do. From the point of view of passengers, especially those either a) in a hurry or b) travelling with easily distracted children, it is a total pain in the proverbial. Marketing, it is; subtle, it ain’t!


What does this mean for us? Well, the more we force clients who want events management or conference interpreting to wade through a winding route to book us – full of up-selling, cross-selling and flashing new offers – the more we will just annoy them. Sure, they might click a button by accident and sign up for something, but the reputational damage will be done.


If your every blog post aimed at clients ends with a flashing Call to Action and a demand to subscribe to your newsletter, count on your potential clients getting fed-up. If, on the other hand, you give away something for free that acts as subtle marketing, you are onto a winner. Even something as simple as inviting people to contact you if they want to know more on the odd post is better than a stupid banner that won’t go away.


We should absolutely be showing our clients what they can gain by working with us but we need to be doing it in a way that is much subtler than forcing them through the Duty Free. Just as the point of an airport is letting people catch their plane, the point of your business is helping clients fulfil their goals. Get that right and they will be all too happy to help you fulfil yours.

One comment on “Edinburgh Airport and the Art of Subtle Marketing

  1. Pingback: MyOpportunity And The Death Of Mass Selling | Integrity Languages

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