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

Square Ad - Design Brief Template - pencilsPaula Williams:  Genaro, if we could start with Cutter Aviation, I just pulled up a few things from the Cutter website, and some of the things that really stood out to me. Here we’ve got some images on your website, and we also had a chat window that pulled up, and you have great pictures of people on the Cutter website all over the place, and that’s something that I think is kind of unusual but I really like it. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about how you do that and why you do that.


Genaro Sanchez:      Sure. Recently we wanted to have a human element to our advertising. It is really nice when you see people’s faces and then you go to a place and then you’re, Hey, you know what, I saw you on the website. I was looking for information and I saw you there, and hi, my name is so-and-so. It gives you a more familiar experience, more warmth for your company. Now, this is from a new feature on our website, the web chat. This has been a very successful experience. We are always trying different and new ways to our website and to our marketing efforts. And this has been really successful. What this has done, it has increased our conversion ratio dramatically. Before, we were getting a lot of visits to our website and they were just getting to the website and just leaving the website. They were not leaving their information, they were not asking for more information, they were not filling out our contact forms, probably they were calling us. I’m not saying that they weren’t getting what they needed from the website. There was no interaction with us. Now with this live chat, every time that you go to our website, you are going to pop up a screen to ask you if you need some help, and depending on the area of the website that you are on, it’s going to ask you, are you interested on aircraft, are you looking to book a flight with us, etc. It’s going to be real tailored to different areas of our website. What this has done, is it has increased the number of leads tremendously, because people feel … If somebody’s approaching you, we say, you know what, yes, I need help booking a flight. How much is to to fly from here to there? Or, you know, we are flying into Cutter next week, we’re going to need to rent a car, can you help us with that? This helps us with our commercial ratio. What we do is every lead that we get from the web chat, it gets logged in our database so we can, later on, talk to these people. So that has helped a lot.

Product - Brand RefreshPaula Williams:  Excellent. I have actually seen those a lot on the web, especially in the last, probably 8 months to a year, but what I have not seen is that this is Meagan, and she wants to help me, and I can see her face. Somehow, when that pops up, it makes me smile. Instead of just dismissing this as spam, I know there’s someone at Cutter and this might be somebody that I know that wants to talk to me, then of course I’m going to respond differently than if this is a robot.

Genaro Sanchez:                 Exactly.

Paula Williams:  It repositioned the whole customer service from automatic to personal, just by adding that photo and probably the name as well. Great. Anything else, other things about the website that I really love, and about all of your branding, is your logo is everywhere and it’s got that forward motion from those arrows, and then you carry that through on the buttons and other things. The bullets on your website and things always have that forward motion which, you know, kind of shows you Cutter gets you on your way. I know Cutter’s had that logo for a really long time, but I don’t know if that’s something that you talked about on a regular basis or if you redesigned that or freshen that occasionally?

Genaro Sanchez:                 The logo was redesigned not too long ago. It was redesigned before I started working here at Cutter. Before, it had an arrow. It was an arrow that was going through the name. Remember that this company started more than 85 years ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so it had a southwest flavor to it. It had an arrow before, and then it evolved into a modern arrow which we use, are the arrows that we have now. Branding is one of my favorite things. I really like branding. I like to see our logo everywhere. I like to see our colors everywhere. It creates an identity. It creates a sense of belonging. It’s an imprint in people’s minds. They’ll see red and they’ll see the arrows. They’ll associate it with Cutter if we have done our job correctly. We try to carry those trademarks across all of what we do. If it’s going to be a tent for an outdoor event, the tent is going to be red and it might have a variation of the logo. The logo might be white or red, but still it’s going to be the logo exactly as you see it everywhere else. So we try to carry our brand exactly the way it is with everything we do, if it’s print, if it’s e-mail blast, if it’s going to be something online, everything is going to look exactly the same.

Paula Williams:  Fantastic. Also, whenever we see the Cutter guys at any event, they always have the cowboy hats, the white shirts, and the black jeans or some variation of that, which is a great photo opportunity for one thing, and also it carries your branding from your booth to the bar, to wherever you guys go.

Genaro Sanchez:                 It is funny because we thought about doing the cowboy theme because we are located in the southwest, so we said, you know what? What is appropriate for southwest? We said, Well, it might be cowboys. We started doing that a couple of years ago, and we started wearing boots, and then from the boots it evolved to, okay, let’s wear boots and a cowboy jacket and let’s get our hats on. So every time that we go to events, they are expecting to see the Cutter Cowboys. It’s become like a trademark of us.

Paula Williams:  Exactly. That’s another thing that is just absolutely amazing about you guys. I don’t know how serendipitous this was or if this was planned, but the Honda logo is also red, you guys have a joint marketing effort going on with the Honda Jet, and your branding seems to mesh really, really well, so of course I have to ask: Was that intentional, and how did you pull that off?

Genaro Sanchez:                 It was that serendipity, you know, the stars aligned, and we are Honda Jet dealers in the southwest. We sell the Honda Jet. So we share a close relationship with Honda, and we said, okay, we came up with this promotion, and what we were trying to do with this promotion is to increase the upload of fuel with our customers. So, whenever a customer comes to us, we ask them if they want to upgrade and if they are just putting 80 gallons of fuel in their airplane, we’ll ask them, Would you like to go to 100 and get an opportunity to win one of these great prizes that we are giving away every month? We said, okay, who is our best partner for this? Let’s go with Honda, we have a close relationship with them, we are a Honda Jet dealer, so it’s a cross-promotion, it helps us to increase fuel sales, it helps us for brand awareness with the Honda Jet, and then we have really nice prizes through Honda. Everything lined up and worked out very well because we are now have a very successful campaign. It also gives us the opportunity to go and knock on doors and talk to people and say, Hey, we’re doing this, would you like to participate?

Paula Williams:  Right.

Genaro Sanchez:                 I mean, if you have not been to Cutter lately, give us a try, we have this going on, and then we enter them to win, and we also increase the number of records in our CRM. So it works very well in many different ways.

Paula Williams:  Excellent. Great. I think that’s a wonderful thing, and then another thing, you look at your Twitter account or anything else, also you use some verbal branding, energetic and knowledgeable, are the two things that I think people notice about your folks, but the way that you present visually, you’ve got a lot of photos and videos even on Twitter and I didn’t pull those up, but that’s also an interesting thing. One thing we’ve recommended to our customers is to look at your partners’ branding so that kind of goes back to that Honda Jet, you also have the TBM 900 and the Piper as your partners. Since you’re going to be displaying all those together and you want people to kind of connect those in your mind, what can you borrow as far as color response elements, visual things from your partners? If you’re working with MD Helicopters, you may want to use their big square blocky prints. Other kinds of things that kind of kick those triggers in people’s minds and think, you know, these guys are associated with those guys. Maybe not consciously but subconsciously.

Genaro Sanchez:                 Exactly. These are very well recognized brands in our industry. We are very careful also how we utilize their brand because there are guidelines for logo utilization. We are very, very careful about that. We also send most of the stuff that we do through the right channels so they can take a look at them and make sure that everything is up to par with their guidelines, but I think that the association with these recognized brands that have so much power, it also helps our brands, knowing probably they are okay being associated with us as well.

Paula Williams:  Right. Then another visual element of this, the map, I think, is a great image. It shows people oriented in space. Here is where Cutter does business, and you can say that in words, but it doesn’t hit the same spot in your brain.

Genaro Sanchez:                 It also helps a lot for branding. We use the same map in different forms but it’s exactly the same map. Sometimes we use some states depending on what we’re talking about. Here, it’s showing all of the locations. Now, some of the locations are FBO full-service. Some of those are just sales offices, some maintenance and sales. Each location has different services. Depending on what we’re doing, we will either show the map with all the states, in all the locations, or probably you’re just going to show three states in two locations or things like that. Depends on what we’re doing, but the fact of the matter is it’s always the same image. If you can see the full map, you’re going to recognize it if we use just one state. Let’s say we’re just talking about Texas and our three locations there. Your map is just going to be about the state of Texas, but it’s going to look exactly the same. That carries on our brand as well throughout all of our products.

Paula Williams:  Fantastic. One last slide for Cutter here. You have a staff directory that is more extensive, I think, than any I’ve seen on the web, with rare exceptions. You do a full biography, contact information, and a nice portrait of each of your folks, and I think that just shows a lot of investment in your staff. You obviously can’t do that if you have a huge turnover. Some of our clients are reluctant to do this for any number of reasons, but what’s been your experience with doing that and how does that work for you?

Genaro Sanchez:                 I can agree that you have brought up a very good point about it. We have employees here that have been with the company for more than 40 years. Our turnover on the key positions is really low, I mean, we don’t have turnover. People like working for Cutter, so yes, we can invest in them and create these nice pages with all their information. Something else that is unique and I also noticed this when I started working for Cutter, is that we have all the information available for people to contact you. We have phone numbers, we have fax numbers, we have e-mail addresses, and full bio. There’s a lot of companies out there that for some reason they don’t want to share that information or their contact numbers of their employees, which I think is a mistake. We are really open to this and we have an open channel of communication with whoever wants to talk to us.

Paula Williams:  Is part of your – maybe you don’t have a process for this because you don’t hire very often because people don’t, uh, you’re not running people through the mill like a lot of places do, but is it part of your onboarding process to get pictures taken, do that kind of thing, do you do group pictures as part of your events? How do you herd people into getting that done?

Genaro Sanchez:                 It is a process. It is a process, what we try to do is to get as much information as we can from the employee before they start. There’s a couple of reasons for that. I need to create these pages to put them on the website. We’re proud of the people that we hire. We’re proud for them joining our company, so we want to share with the world. What we do is not only put them up on the website, but also we send press releases about our new key positions that we hire. This obviously helps us to get our brand recognition out there because it’s free advertising. If somebody from the media picks up the article, they write a little note about it and it gets broadcast to more people. It helps us a lot. What we do is, prior to them starting with the company, we get their bio, we get it ready, and we take their picture when they are here, when they accept the offer. We have a set-up here to take their picture, so we have everything ready by the time that they start.

Paula Williams:  Excellent, and so that’s just part of your culture that everybody there seems to be very open, transparent, and friendly, and if they are not they wouldn’t be working for Cutter.

Genaro Sanchez:                 Exactly. If they don’t fit our profile, they don’t get hired.

Paula Williams:  Excellent. If I were to quickly summarize just a couple of key points that people can take away from Cutter, that you could do better in your businesses, a lot of people could do better in their business, we could do better in ours, those would be:

  1. Use pictures of people everywhere.
  2. Use those images consistently.
  3. Consider your partners in your branding and consider how you’re going to visually represent that partnership.

Was there anything else that I missed, as far as …

Genaro Sanchez:                 No, I don’t think so. I think the only thing that I will add to that is just remember that different people understand information in different ways. Some people like to receive information via e-mail, some others will get a text message, some others would like to be called, so you just need to tailor your communications to those different avenues and try to reach as many people as you can.

Paula Williams:  The videos that you guys use on YouTube and other places all look like Cutter videos, and you’ve got a couple of elements here that make that happen. One, is you’ve got the logo in the upper left and you also have the subtitles and things, the little notations across the bottom are in red, using the branding and the forward arrows, which looks really good. But anything you want to mention about videos, or any suggestions for people when they do those?

Genaro Sanchez:                 Videos are great for a couple of reasons. We have target people. People understand communication in different ways, so if you are a video kind of guy, we have something for you, too. Videos also help your search in an organization. As we talked before, people like to make informed decisions so videos are a great way to do an extensive presentation utilizing video and then probably still photography, we also use some time lapses, voice overs, etc. This is an amazing tool to showcase any kind of product or service that you might have. Right now we are producing videos to showcase our aircraft. We’re creating 3-minute videos and different shots of the aircraft, combined with some still photography, voice overs, and information on the screen. So, if you go to our page and you see anything that you like, you might be miles away from here, but you can still see the video and take a look at the aircraft to see if it’s worth your time contacting us and calling us or even flying to see it. Those have been a very good tool for us.

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