If a visitor to your website has invested the time to read more about your company, shouldn’t you reward his curiosity with something more interesting than the usual corporate-speak litany like this:

“Initially incorporated in 1976 as a management consulting firm, <<company name withheld to protect the guilty>>  offers a unique blend of consulting services to both business and commercial aviation markets. The background of our management and staff provides a solid foundation of knowledge and experience allowing us to offer our clients both insightful and informative advice and counsel.”

While this is (possibly) informative, it’s frankly not very interesting, nor does it really make an effort to identify with target potential clients or strike a chord with them about why they should be doing business with you.

Building Your Brand

When I see the Coca-Cola logo, especially on a hot day when I’m thirsty, associations come up in my mind – fizzy, sweet, icy associations strong enough to make my mouth water.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have Coca-Cola’s ad budget or long history. In aviation, it’s likely that our customers typically don’t have childhood associations with us.   Our logos don’t automatically conjure these associations – we have to CREATE them.

Since building your brand is all about creating associations in the mind of your prospect or customer, a good story is a good way to start.

We’re all hard-wired to love a good story – they grab and keep our attention, and those associations stay in our mind longer than any dry list of facts or figures.

A great core story, or origin story, told in the first person, is a great starting place for building your brand. What do you want people to know about your company or your brand?

Storytelling, as we’ve often said before, is the most powerful way to politely acquire and retain the attention of a potential customer.

Want to see an example?

Here’s ABCI’s core story:

Who says you can’t have both love and money?

You know what they say –

“The best way to be a millionaire in aviation is to start as a billionaire.”

It’s true that most people in the aviation industry are here for love, rather than for money.   This is true for me, too.  But experience has shown us that love and money are certainly not mutually exclusive!

I married John Williams in 2006.


John has aviation in his blood – he started flying as a child and flew many fixed-wing and rotorwing aircraft in a long civilian and military career.   Naturally, he introduced me to another great love – aviation.

I obtained my Private Pilot’s license soon after, while John was in the business of leasing aircraft to flight schools at the time.


Paula and Charlie (N6208C)

My professional background of direct response marketing and copywriting for Fortune 100 companies was vastly different than most of the advertising and marketing we saw in aviation at that time.  Where I came from, advertising and marketing were mostly of the “direct response” variety – managed with a considerable amount of discipline and organization; where each marketing step led to a next step in a rigorously-observed and obsessively-refined sales cycle.  In aviation, however, it seemed that all that was important was to “get the name out there,” and to make it look good.  Marketing professionals working for large aviation companies spend tens of thousands of dollars with no possibility of measuring the return on investment  (ROI.)  For someone from the obsessive-compulsive world of the finance industry, it looked as though the laws of finance, as well as the laws of gravity, did not apply to aviation.

But then, in 2008, something strange happened.

The aviation industry was hit by an epic financial recession, and again by a public perception problem when the Big Three automakers were lambasted in no less than a special meeting of the House Financial Services Committee in Washington DC.

Subsequent to that meeting, the phrases “corporate fat cats,” “executive privilege,” “criminal excess” and “private aviation” were somehow bundled together by an oversimplified, sound bite-crazed press and lampooned on the major networks and news outlets.

Weirdly, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that the economics and perception of the industry had changed, (and hence that it might be a good idea to start observing the laws of finance, as well as the laws of economic gravity!)  the largest aviation companies kept running glossy “brand based” advertising.

They continued to advertise as recklessly as if nothing had happened.  Aviation magazines kept charging the same high rates for advertising space, although their readership had diminished significantly.  Trade shows charged the same high booth rates, although shows had proliferated and attendance had dropped.

Of course there were heroic efforts by NBAA and other organizations to tell private aviation’s side of the story, and aviation companies struggled valiantly against the economic impacts.  Business owners in the aviation industry were forced to pay more for advertising opportunities; while realizing diminishing results.

We observed friends and partners in the aviation industry struggling with advertising, marketing and sales structures.

 The practice of marketing without accountability had become untenable.   

The efforts of marketing professionals in aviation companies seemed to gravitate to one extreme or another.

Some continued unrestrained excess in the pre-2008 style in limited, somewhat erratic “random acts of marketing;” hoping that an expensive social media “splash,” email “blast,” magazine ad or trade show appearance would prove to be the “magic bullet” that would bring in lots of customers and save the day.

Others abandoned sales and marketing altogether as “ineffective.” – They cut advertising and sales budgets as their revenues shrank; resulting in a downward spiraling loss of revenue.

The results from either extreme were disastrous.

John and I started our aviation marketing company, ABCI  (short for Aviation Business Consultants International, LLC – you can see why we use the short form!)  with the idea of bringing scientific, disciplined, direct-response style marketing to the aviation industry.

Our first clients, including Dallas Jet International, Special Services Corporation, and AeroStar Training Services, were surprised by the number of  “inbound” leads they acquired.   These leads found our clients through high-quality “information bait,” such as ebooks and articles that we had carefully set up in custom, campaign-based marketing systems. Their salespeople had a reliable inflow of leads acquired through advertising with measurable “calls to action.”

ABCI now includes a systematic approach that combines the most applicable practices and tools from several partners, including

  • GKIC (the Glazer-Kennedy Inner Circle – an innovative marketing group specializing in “Magnetic Marketing.)
  • Sandler Sales – the leader in low-key but effective business-to-business sales training and systems.
  • Infusionsoft – the best customer relationship management (CRM) system for small and medium-sized businesses.

We control and change the odds for aviation companies that implement our systems.  There is no magic here – it logically follows that if you consistently acquire a reliable pipeline of prospects interested in your topic, educate them and treat them respectfully by providing them with an array of intelligent content delivered in ways they like and appreciate, you’ll have more opportunities to make sales.

This approach is proven in other industries, such as finance and education, but it’s still considered innovative in aviation. And we’re the only company that provides the whole array of services required. Depending on the client, this might include website development and implementation, search engine optimization, email marketing, books, articles, press releases, trade show appearances and more.

Through limited consulting engagements with selected aviation clients, and through our Insider Circle, we engage in our mission:

 To make business aviation profitable again, one company at a time.

Put even more simply, we help people sell products and services in the aviation industry.


More About Aviation Branding Topics:

Branding Mishaps – and the Insider Circle

Brand Advertising versus Direct Response Advertising

Aviation Marketing Master Class – Genaro Sanchez, Cutter Aviation talks about images, video and branding.

Use Your Company (Or Product’s) Core Story to Build Your Brand

I’m not Boeing, Coca-Cola or NetJets. Can I Afford a “Brand?”

Building Reputation and Credibility with Aviation Branding