Holiday campaigns are not just for consumer retail products- aviation marketing professionals can use them too! We talk about some great examples for charter companies, MRO companies and others, as well as how to plan for seasonal variations in your sales cycles so they don’t catch you off-guard.
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Paula Williams: 00:00:47 Welcome to aviation marketing Hangar Flying, episode ten. Today we are continuing our series on marketing calendars and we’re talking about expenses and holidays.
So, I’m Paula Williams.
John Williams: 00:01:02 I’m John Williams.
Paula Williams: 00:01:03 And we are ABCI. And ABCI’s mission,
John Williams: 00:01:07 Is to help to help you folks out there sell more products and services in the aviation industry.
Paula Williams: 00:01:13 Exactly. Now, John and I do these podcasts together, and this one is actually going to have more John and less Paula.
So that will be fun. [LAUGH]
John Williams: 00:01:23 We’ll see about that.
Paula Williams: 00:01:23 Right, so, we belong to a bunch of different groups in the aviation industry and other places. And John’s expertise is actually in business and finance, he’s our CFO. And he does a lot of work for us to help us make things actually work in the company, which is not a small task because any company has some fluctuations in expenses, cash flow, income, outgo, all of that stuff.
And all of that adds up to some complexity that needs to be handled. So, the two things we’re gonna be talking about today are planning expenses and taking advantage of holidays. Now in previous episodes, we also talked about how a marketing calendar will help you work together with other people, do that coordination, helping you educate rather than sell.
How you can create urgency in your marketing with seasonal campaigns and offers and also planning trade shows and events into your marketing calendar. But today, we’re gonna be talking about planning expenses, and we’re also gonna be talking about taking advantage of holidays. So, first of all, planning expenses.
When you look at our typical year at ABCI, and I’m sure other companies in the aviation industry are pretty similar, there are some months that are more expensive than others. Would you agree?
John Williams: 00:02:52 [LAUGH] Absolutely.
Paula Williams: 00:02:54 Cool. What can you tell us about how that works?
John Williams: 00:02:57 Well, some of the marketing seminars that we attend we have an expense quarterly that is multiple thousands just in fees, not to mention travel.
Paula Williams: 00:03:12 And those are for the mastermind groups that we belong to.
John Williams: 00:03:15 Yeah, exactly.
Paula Williams: 00:03:17 Okay. Right.
John Williams: 00:03:17 So we tried to project and other expenses to be lower those months and higher in the other months to flatten out the overall cash flow. Now depending on your accounting systems and capabilities, if you’re doing accrual, that works better.
Most of us are on cash basis, unless, of course, you get into larger firms with more people and more suppliers and cash flows when you’ve got large numbers of days and receivables and so forth. So to keep it simple, our assumption is that we’re talking about cash basis accounting.
Paula Williams: 00:04:00 Excellent. So there’s those quarterly charges that we have for those mastermind groups. And then there’s also some big expenses that come at certain times of the year for trade shows.
John Williams: 00:04:15 Obviously MBAA is one, and then since I also have an aircraft leasing company and because we’ve been advised to group together the two companies for accounting purposes, then there are taxes due on aircraft in various states and so forth.
So we have a lot of that stuff that has to be planned for annually.
Paula Williams: 00:04:37 Exactly. So, how do you do that exactly? You have a spreadsheet, right?
John Williams: 00:04:42 I have many spreadsheets. [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: 00:04:44 So, tell us what your spreadsheets look like, just in general.
John Williams: 00:04:48 How do you mean that?
Paula Williams: 00:04:50 Well, okay, if someone were starting a new company and trying to plan these big lumps of expenses on their calendar, how would they do that?
John Williams: 00:05:00 With great care and vigor.
Paula Williams: 00:05:02 Exactly.
John Williams: 00:05:03 I put a projected spreadsheet together and then I put in actuals, and I do comparisons along the way.
And then, to get the actuals, I typically will download from the various, well like American Express, which is primarily what we use because they’re the most trustworthy. But nonetheless, we download that and see what we did based on what my projections were. And then look at the pay and see what the projections were, and our contracts for various companies and see what our projections were versus what we ended up spending on those guys, and so forth.
Paula Williams: 00:05:50 Right, so once you have a year’s worth of spreadsheets, it’s much easier to just take that, make a copy.
John Williams: 00:05:57 Yeah, and then you go back and tweak it a little here and there because you know what’s going to change.
Paula Williams: 00:06:02 Exactly, and also, we know what we underestimated and overestimated cuz you got those actuals too.
John Williams: 00:06:07 Exactly.
Paula Williams: 00:06:08 Cool. All right, so we’ve got our calendar, we’ve got our trade shows planned in. We’ve got our big quarterly lumpy expenses planned in. There’s also a bunch of other things that we do with marketing, like we put out our social media guide at the end of the year.
We send binders to all of our master class folks, which increases our mailing costs. What other things might we look at when we’re looking at a new, blank, shiny calendar?
John Williams: 00:06:39 Calendar? Well, when to purchase capital equipment, and we do that frequently and regularly. We have to plan when we do it, so this end of the month when expenses are typically low.
Paula Williams: 00:06:53 Right, so if we have a printer that’s limping along, we may just take stuff to Alpha Graphics for a month so that we can get through that month, a high trade show expense as an example.
John Williams: 00:07:07 Or a microphone or a recorder and you may think that’s not pretty much of an expense.
But a good microphone, such as what we’re using now, these days is in excess of $1,000.
Paula Williams: 00:07:19 That’s crazy, but inflation, you know? [LAUGH] Okay, so I think that gives us a pretty good idea. Any other words of advice for someone when they’re looking at their marketing calendar and planning for expenses?
John Williams: 00:07:36 Not really, because that calendar is what you use to base where you’re gonna spend money and hopefully where you’re gonna have your revenues come in.
Paula Williams: 00:07:46 Absolutely. Okay, great. So, and let’s talk about holidays and observances. A lot of folks plan campaigns around holidays. And they do this more in retail.
I mean everybody complains about how Christmas keeps getting earlier and earlier every year. This year they had Black Friday ads on the Monday before Thanksgiving.
John Williams: 00:08:12 Like it was a Black Monday.
Paula Williams: 00:08:14 [LAUGH] Exactly. It’s almost like Christmas is encroaching on Halloween. It’s crazy the way things are blending together.
But the reason that they’re doing that in the retail environment is because it works. If you get people thinking about things that are already in their mind, it’s much easier to continue that conversation in a direction you want to go. So if you meet them where they are and then take them where you want to go, that’s much easier than just coming out of left field with you need this product or you need this service.
So holidays and observances are just kind of a fun way to add some, and sometimes we have what we call artificial urgency. We may need to create some urgency in the mind of a customer so that they get a purchase made.
John Williams: 00:09:18 That would be prospective customer.
Paula Williams: 00:09:20 A prospective customer, exactly.
We talk about the fact that we have a long sales cycle in aviation. And a lot of times, those purchases take place more on the customer’s time frame than on ours. But if we can put together some of these seasonal or holiday based campaigns, that can really help us put a deadline on some of these offers in things.
And we can put together something that makes sense, enters the conversation that’s already going on in their head because they’re already thinking about Halloween for their kids. Or they’re already thinking about Christmas or they’re already thinking about Valentine’s Day and what am I gonna do for maybe a romantic weekend or whatever and stuff like that.
And you may think well, that’s not really relevant to aviation or that’s not really relevant to business to business. But there’s a lot of different ways that you can do different themes that work for your calendar. And you can do this with postcards, you can do this with email, you can do this in your newsletter.
You can do this in a lot of different ways, and in fact, if you do what we call a multimedia campaign, that’s even more effective than any single media. So, for example, we just go through the the year. January, there’s not a whole lot you can do other than maybe like New Year’s Resolutions, or maybe you just got killed on taxes last year, so you should do something different this year.
Things like that, where you can say through January 30th, you will throw in an extra something in order to sweeten the deal. Extra training or extra time, anything that doesn’t cost you money ideally that adds value for your customer. February, Valentine’s Day is a great one, you can talk about customer loyalty.
We love our customers, you get an extra service when you make a purchase. Any kind of number of things like that, where you’re just showing appreciation for customers. Customers are just like everybody else, whether they’re business to business or business to consumer, they like to feel appreciated, don’t they, John?
John Williams: 00:11:35 Of course.
Paula Williams: 00:11:37 Of course. So even if you’re making a business to business transaction, you really do want to feel like you’re special and like you matter to the person that you’re buying from.
John Williams: 00:11:49 Business to business still means you’re talking to a person.
Paula Williams: 00:11:51 Exactly. Still a human being.
March is a great time for contests. We talk about St. Patrick’s Day and you can talk about the luck of the Irish, enter our contest. Or if you have something, maybe a product that’s green or that saves fuel or that is good for the environment, like a hazardous waste product or something along those lines.
You can do the green thing, the Earth Day thing, lots of things like that, lots of cool themes there. April, Easter sometimes falls in April. [LAUGH] And you can give away Easter baskets with every purchase. And that Easter basket might just be, let’s say cleaning products or something, for their new airplane.
I mean, there is a lot of different things you can do instead of cleaning products if you’re a detailing company. You can do Easter baskets in a charter flight, where you have a little Easter basket for every passenger. Lots of things you can do there. It’s kind of skipping forward to July.
In the United States, aviation tends to be very patriotic. We’ve got a demographic of people who have a really high percentage of former military folks, very patriotic demographic. So you could do a Flag Day event where you provide a flag with every purchase or make a donation to the Special Operations Warrior Fund, or something along those lines.
Independence Day, that’s another thing in the United States where you could talk about independence from security lines if you’re a charter company. Or independence from a particular service if you’re providing some kind of a part or things like that, you could have a warranty that makes you more independent.
Military discount services, things like that. Halloween is one of our favorites, especially if you have a product or service that reduces risk for your customers. Reducing risk is a hard sell, and a lot of us in aviation have a product that is about safety or is about risk reduction or is about insurance or legal risks and things like that.
So, don’t be scared or risk reduction, free trial offers to reduce your risk, other things like that. Halloween’s a great time to enter that conversation in people’s heads. So you really just need to use your imagination. Thanksgiving is one of our favorites because you can do loyalty campaigns at that time, you can send your thank you gifts, do customer appreciation events.
Other kinds of things, just letting people know that you’re thankful for their business. Christmas, of course, there’s Black Friday. Buy yourself a Christmas present or buy your plane a Christmas present. [LAUGH] Buy your crew a Christmas present. All of those things, there’s no reason why you can’t jump on that bandwagon that’s already going down the road and jump on all that inertia.
Decembers are typically really hard to get those sales, so you may want to do a small product or a big discount, something like that, and start advertising it in November. There’s no reason you can’t back that up a little bit. Anything else about holidays?
John Williams: 00:15:38 I think you covered it in nauseating detail.
Paula Williams: 00:15:41 In nauseating detail. [LAUGH] Well, I mean and all of these are US holidays for the most part. If you’re somewhere else, you have your own set of holidays. And what you can do, and this is all about time. If you’re thinking about it ahead of time, it’s so much easier to be creative.
If you’re looking at a calendar, sitting here in January, going hm. I have a bunch of different products to sell. What can I do that’s different each month to make this product more appealing or approach it from a different angle or emphasize a different aspect of this product or make a different offer that I can test?
So holidays are a great opportunity for that. We love that. All right, so, this kind of concludes our series on what does a marketing calendar do for me. We talked about goals and objectives. We talked about working together with other people. We talked about educating rather than just selling.
Creating urgency in your marketing with seasonal campaigns and offers. We talked about trade shows and events. And again, with this episode, we finished up the series with planning expenses and taking advantage of holidays. So, once again, you can get our marketing calendar template by going to aviationbusinessconsultants.com/calendar and downloading that template.
And the template includes a guide that goes into more detail about everything we talked about on this podcast and the others in the series. We include a sample completed marketing calendar because once again, if you’re looking at a blank sheet of paper, that’s the hardest thing in the world.
So, looking at what someone else is doing is the best way to save time. We also included a blank calendar template in Microsoft Word that you can customize for your company by putting in your trade shows and your holidays and your expenses, and making that unique to you.
And we advise you to do that early and often, hang it on your wall, and keep referring back to it. So, is this a free download? No, it is not, we offer a lot of freebies during the year, but this one we are actually charging you $1 for.
Because we want you to actually consider spending the time as well as the money. So if you pull out your wallet and you have to enter your digits, that makes you think about this a little more seriously. There’s a concept in marketing called perceived value, right. Things that you get for free are not worth anything.
And it doesn’t matter how great the materials we put together, if we offer them for free, people tend not to take them as seriously as if we make them pay for it. So hopefully this will not take the coffee out of your afternoon. But we are asking you to pay $1 for that.
So, subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, and please do leave us a review, we’d love to hear what you’d like to hear more of, what you’d like to hear less of. And how this is working for you and if you have done some of the things that we recommend, how it worked out for you.
Let us know, we’d like to hear. And please do, again, leave us a review, it’s a new podcast so we’d love to hear how we’re doing.
John Williams: 00:19:08 Have a great time. See you next time.
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