Aviation Markeing - Honda's humanoid robot ASIMO

Honda’s impressive humanoid robot, ASIMO, did a song and dance show at the top of every hour.

Two booths at the NBAA convention in Atlanta last week that got a LOT of traffic included the Honda booth, where ASIMO the (impressive!) humanoid robot performed every hour on the hour– including a song and dance.

And then there’s this:

NBAA attendees stopping by the Jet Works Air Center booth inside the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta could get a free sketch of their – er –  bottoms, according to FlightGlobal.

An artist from Dallas, part of The Original Butt Sketch group, travels to trade shows and conventions sketching visitors’ backsides to attract attention to an exhibit.

aviation marketing - Butt Sketchers

One of the “Butt Sketchers” who drew sketches of the backsides of booth visitors.

So, do publicity stunts  (blatant attempts to garner attention with a activity that may be unrelated to what what you’re selling, or even unrelated to aviation) actually work?

Yes, they do!

They do get attention, which is key to expanding your “list,” or the number of people who are exposed to your marketing efforts.

So, what makes a good publicity stunt?

It sometimes appears that “the weirder, the better,” and to a certain extent, that’s true. You have to protect the reputation of your brand, but we’ve seen many examples of even outrageous publicity stunts done by respected brands. Here are the guidelines:

  • You shouldn’t irretrievably offend your primary target customer base. Although every group has their “hot buttons,” it’s hard to offend aviation people. They’re an educated, well-traveled bunch, so you don’t need to worry too much about this. Controversy is fine, offensiveness is not.
  • Stunts should be targeted to attract your ideal customers. If you’re  attracting a general audience to sell a very specific product or service then you’re using the wrong “bait.” Offering free pedicures to aviation industry professionals (whose demographics are largely male and over 30) would be an example of using the wrong bait.
  • You need to have a great campaign (list, offer, and presentation) to keep the interest of the people you attract.
  • You need to have the other elements of a great marketing plan in place to ensure you capture and follow up on your leads – their attention on your stunt will be short-lived.
  • Don’t do it half-way. The worst thing you can do is appear timid or unsure.  Once you’ve committed to a stunt, carry it off with confidence and self-assurance.  You won’t damage your company’s reputation if you do this right.  Being genuinely passionate about your product or service can’t be faked, and no matter how “cheesy” your stunt is, your company’s class and polish will show in the way you handle the details and follow up on leads and customer service.
Aviation Marketing Plan

Publicity stunts can be used anywhere in the first phase, although trade shows are traditionally the most effective. You should have a great marketing plan in place to capture and convert the leads that your stunt will generate.

The best stunts we’ve seen have these things in common:

  • They are fun. Of course.
  • They are harmless.   Causing serious embarrassment or any kind of harm to any person, group or animal will lose you more business than you will gain.
  • They are highly visual and simple.  Aviators take in a ton of information at a glance, and are very busy people.  Your stunt should be instantly recognized and understood from visual clues – reciting poetry, no matter how witty, is not likely to have the same impact as a very visual stunt.
  • In-person settings with a lot of people are best, so the stunt will get talked about and become a shared experience.

Publicity stunts involve more imagination than money, so they are not only in the realm of the huge companies with huge advertising budgets.

There’s often a tradeoff- the less cash you spend, the more imagination and personal hard work or personal embarrassment you have to invest.  It helps to have a CEO who is willing to wear a chicken suit. Of course, that one’s been done before, but keep thinking . . .

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