Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying Episode 15 - working smarter rather than harder!As Perry Marshall explains in 80/20 Sales and Marketing, sometimes the answer is NOT about working harder, and adding MORE things to your to-do list.

Sometimes it’s about things to take OFF the list.

Most of the aviation professionals we know work pretty dang hard.

And unless something pretty dramatic happens, this week isn’t going to have any more hours in it than last week, and this year isn’t going to have any more hours in it than last year!

So, it becomes an exercise in deciding how to work SMARTER, rather than HARDER.

For our part, ABCI has decided to completely eliminate a fairly substantial component of our business.  We’ll tell you all about what it is, and what we’re doing instead, in this week’s episode.

Transcript – When NOT to Bother with Marketing

Announcer 00:00:00


You are listening to aviation marketing Hangar Flying. The community for the best sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry. You can’t learn to fly just from a book. You learn from other pilots who know the tools, the skills, and the territory. Your hosts, John and Paula Williams: , are your sales and marketing test pilots.

They take the risks for you and share strategies, relevant examples, hacks and how to’s. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes so you won’t miss a thing.

Paula Williams: 00:00:46 Welcome to aviation marketing Hangar Flying episode 15. When not to bother with marketing. Now we’ve been working with several books about sales, marketing, business topics and so on.

Some of our favorites are The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and the 80/20 Sales and Marketing book by Perry Marshall. Now, one of the key points in both of those books is that most of us are doing too much work. Not that we need to work harder to get better results.

It’s that we need to figure out what we should be concentrating on and what we should be focusing our efforts on, right?

John Williams: 00:01:25 Which means working smarter.

Paula Williams: 00:01:27 [LAUGH] Working smarter rather than harder, exactly. So what can we eliminate? What can we automate? What can we delegate, and what do we just have to do ourselves?

And ideally those will be the things that get the maximum bang for the buck, right?

John Williams: 00:01:43 Absolutely.

Paula Williams: 00:01:44 Okay. So with that said ABCI has decided that we are no longer going to be providing marketing consulting services to flight schools.

John Williams: 00:01:54 How about that?

Paula Williams: 00:01:58 [LAUGH] As of February 1st of 2016 that will be true, and all of the flight schools that we have been working with we have talked with them already.

They already know how this is gonna work and they are thrilled.

John Williams: 00:02:09 Actually they are quite surprised.

Paula Williams: 00:02:12 [LAUGH] Which is great, so. It’s good news all the way around. Less work for us to do, and we’re gonna get better results for them, and we’ll tell you all about how that works and what’s gonna happen with that.

But first, I’m Paula Williams: .

John Williams: 00:02:26 And I’m John Williams.

Paula Williams: 00:02:27 And we are ABCI, and ABCI’s mission is.

John Williams: 00:02:30 To help all you folks out there sell more products and services in the aviation world.

Paula Williams: 00:02:35 Absolutely. So we belong to a whole bunch of associations and groups, and use information that we get from a lot of different places including a lot of marketing automation, software groups, user groups, project management.

John’s got an MBA from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and lots of other places. We use a lot of Sandler training methods, we use a lot of GKIC marketing techniques if you’re familiar with Dan Kennedy and Bill Glaser, those are the kinds of things that you’re going to hear from us.

Put together and applied to the world of aviation, right?

John Williams: 00:03:17 Of course.

Paula Williams: 00:03:18 Okay, so first we’ll talk about a couple of housekeeping things. If you’re new to the podcast, we had just finished up a series of four podcast episodes about advertising and prospecting, and we’re going to start next week a set of four episodes about phase two which is building credibility and closing sales.

And then following that we’re gonna do another set of four episodes about repeat sales, recaptures, referrals, testimonials, and other kinds of things. So there’s a great way to remember this that somebody just told me the other day, and I told her I was gonna steal it because this is great.

Phase one is reach, phase two is revenue, phase three is repeat, and the vast majority of marketing companies, I would say spend about 90% of their time and effort and your money on phase one, which is reach. And what’s wrong with that John?

John Williams: 00:04:17 Well that’s all nice, but if you got all these imminent prospects calling you and communicating with you, you have to build credibility, show that you really know what you’re doing, and best of all, you need to close sales.

Paula Williams: 00:04:32 Absolutely, and then you need to get repeat business, which is really where the money is made in the aviation industry. So, a lot of companies think that they need more leads when they’re really just not making great use of the leads that are coming in. Most of the time these sales take a lot longer then they do in retail or any other part of the world and other advertising and marketing companies don’t realize that.

So they’ll just tell you advertise more, advertise more, advertise more, and you can run out of money before you run out of runway, right?

John Williams: 00:05:03 Exactly.

Paula Williams: 00:05:05 [LAUGH] So that’s why we do things the way we do. We call it long cycle marketing, and once again phase one reach, phase two revenue, phase three repeat.

So that’s what’s going on. If you do need to do more advertising and outreach, if you need to focus on prospecting then you might want to listen to episode 11, which was advertising and prospecting, episode 12, which is calls to action, episode 13, six digital prospecting methods, and episode 14 for traditional prospecting methods.

So, those are all out there for you. Enjoy, help yourself, and focus on the pieces that are the most helpful for you. Okay, so, next week we’re gonna start our four part series on phase two, building credibility and closing. Next week starting with episode 16, and then after that we’ll do our four part series on phase three.

So, join the marketing master class. I cannot advise this strongly enough, and it’s not just that we’d love to have you in the program. It is that if I were in the aviation industry trying to sell something, it would be so much easier with the help and assistance of the people in this group.

We have got the coolest group of people that I have seen in a very long time this year. We have got a lot of activity going on with people helping each other. So in addition to the materials and the information that you get from the marketing master class.

You also get this network of people who is really going out of their way to help each other, and I just wanted to mention a few of the things that happened just in the last week with some of the people in the group, and now these are people who are aviation writers.

We’ve got Software companies. We have got flight schools. We have got everything from soup to nuts in the aviation industry, but I’m just gonna tell you first names. You guys know who you are if you’re one of these people, but things that happened just in the last week.

Bert interviewed Shane for one of our member highlight articles. Jeff skewered a bad advertisement that happened to be one of mine, which actually was a wonderful thing. Sometimes it’s great to know what is not working and why. Jeff helped Burt to find people with a very particular set of skills if we want to quote the movie, quote Liam Neesan, right?

John Williams: 00:07:31 Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: 00:07:32 Gene helped Jerry work on a sales strategy for a very specific type of prospect. Sometimes that’s exactly what’s missing, is you can’t step into the shoes of your prospect unless you happen to do that everyday, and you don’t know the exact words to use. You don’t know the exact techniques that are gonna resonate, but if there is somebody in the group that is in that category, they can really provide some invaluable help.

Norm and Shane started brain storming ideas on how to work together. Shane helped us find a headphone jack. Katherine shared some really fantastic tips for calls to action from some design materials that she ran across, and Brian shared a six month campaign that he’s been using with really great results.

So, if you don’t want to do everything from scratch, and you really are interested in doing less work with better results, the best way to do it is to see what other people are doing and see ways to adapt it instead of reinventing the wheel for heaven’s sake, right?

John Williams: 00:08:32 And all those people save two were from different companies helping each other.

Paula Williams: 00:08:38 Exactly, so very important and I just can’t stress enough, that this is the biggest bargain and the biggest secret in the aviation industry. If you sell anything or market anything you really owe it to yourself to check out the class.

You can join at any time. You can drop out at any time so there’s no obligation. There’s really no reason not to check it out. Okay. So, three things have happened, to get back to our story about why we are not doing marketing for flight schools. The first, we’re gonna talk about why we started marketing for flight schools in the first place.

We’re going to talk about an idea that we had with some cohorts or colleagues about a thing we call the Aviation Better Business Bureau, and we’re going to talk about a third conversation that we had with a completely different group of people where we made some connections with airlines and manufacturers.

John Williams: 00:09:33 The Aviation Better Business Bureau is nothing more than an idea right now. It needs to happen, but its time isn’t yet.

Paula Williams: 00:09:41 Exactly. Okay, it all started with November 6208 Charlie, which is my favorite airplane on the planet.

John Williams: 00:09:48 And your airplane. It should be your favorite.

Paula Williams: 00:09:51 [LAUGH] Exactly. It is a Cessna Skyhawk with the glass panel, the Garmin, the whole toy box and everything else. We flew it home from the factory and so on. I was not a pilot at the time, and actually this is the airplane that I learned to fly in, and got my license.

I took the check ride in Charlie, so I have lots of warm fuzzy feelings for Charlie. So, Charlie and I [LAUGH] spent a lot of time at a flight school strangely enough. We did a lease back arrangement with a flight school, so we were working with the flight school owners, and ended up doing a lot of conversations and things with them.

And we got to know their situation and their problems pretty well. Since we were on a lease back situation of course, we had an interest in making sure that Charlie was flying as much as possible, and that the flight school was getting as many students as they could get to keep their roster full and their schedule full, and making sure things went well.

And in the process we learned a lot about how flight schools do marketing. And at the time I was doing marketing for a financial institution, and started thinking about how we could help this flight school by using some more modern techniques for marketing their service. At the time they were doing a thing that we call a radio remote to advertise their services, which really is a very expensive and inefficient way of marketing if you have a limited capacity.

If you know how a radio remote works you can skip forward five minutes. If not [LAUGH] this is the basics. You make a deal with a radio station. You pay them a lot of money. They show up on a Saturday morning with their trucks and their inflatable animals, and all of their sound equipment and everything else, and they set up and broadcast their show from the flight school, and so then they’re doing interviews with people and they’re talking with folks and doing all of these things.

And telling people come on down, have a hamburger, take a discovery flight, we’re having a great time here, and so on. And that attracts people from the neighborhood. And from the city who have an interest in in flight training, and some of them just have an interest in the radio station and some of them just have an interest in free food, [LAUGH] but one way or another they get a lot of people in the door and some of them become students.

A lot of them do discovery flights at cost or near cost and things like that so its quite a project on the part of the flight school. And in the process they end up signing up let’s say 20 students for a successful-

John Williams: 00:12:46 Can’t get that much.

Paula Williams: 00:12:47 For a successful.

That might be a goal for a successful radio remote, which would provide a return on investment for that marketing activity. The problem with that is even if they did meet their goal and sign up 20 students, they only have four airplanes and six instructors. So with those kind of numbers they’re gonna end up with some people unhappy and some people with this unable to meet their schedule, and things like that.

So they’re gonna have a high attrition rate. More than 50% of the people that start flight training don’t finish. That’s the result, that’s just the statistics from several years ago and I don’t know if it’s improving, but that was a number that I’d read from Prasana materials, but anyway traditional marketing techniques produce feast or famine results.

And you’re dealing with a limited capacity, and you’re dealing with thin margins, so you really don’t have a lot of money to waste on marketing, and also the students want understandable, but impossible guarantees.

John Williams: 00:13:50 Well those that are proceeding in a career direction.

Paula Williams: 00:13:55 Exactly. Now if you wanted to become a doctor and you went to a medical school, I don’t think you would insist that as a result of proceeding through medical school that you would get a job as a doctor.

It just doesn’t work that way. That’s not a guarantee that they can provide, but a lot of students and parents are looking at career options and saying hm, this seems like an awful lot of money without a guarantee. So that’s the sales challenge in a flight school. So we did a lot of different things like started doing inbound marketing, social media, other kinds of things to get a more normalized flow of leads coming into the flight school.

And also qualifying those people so that you’d end up getting people who are more likely to stay and finish the programs, so kinda reducing that amount of churn. We also worked on retention programs and other kinds of things, so it was a lot of work, but there’s a lot working against us in a flight school.

Would you agree?

John Williams: 00:14:51 Yes, their attitude mainly.

Paula Williams: 00:14:55 [LAUGH] It’s just not a great environment for these kinds of cutting edge marketing techniques. So, that’s thing number one. Thing number two was a conversation that we had with an associate of ours who owns property on several airports, and also owns several flight schools.

And he was running into situations. In fact, on one of the properties that he owned there was a flight school that closed its doors and disappeared leaving a whole bunch of students in the lurch, and this was absolutely shocking to him. He ended up having to really brainstorm some solutions to make this work because it was something that happened on his property even though it was not anything that he had any influence over.

And this is not the first or the last flight school that just closed its doors after taking the money of a bunch of students foreign or domestic, and disappearing off the face of the Earth. There was one in Salt Lake City around the same time, and there were a bunch in different places around the United States.

So what happened was that the flight school takes peoples’ money on the pretense that you’re going to begin your program. You’re going to finish your program. You’re going to get at least an opportunity to get a license and proceed with your career.

John Williams: 00:16:24 I don’t think that’s a pretense.

I think it’s a presumption. I think everybody plans that to happen.

Paula Williams: 00:16:28 Exactly, so we can assume that everybody had the best of intentions and still ended up with the same result, but the problem is students and parents want their money to be safe. Flight schools want to be trusted, but the flight schools don’t necessarily have the economies of scale, or they don’t have somebody who’s experienced or knows a lot about the finance situation, and is able to set up an escrow account, which is not a trivial thing to do, right?

John Williams: 00:16:58 Escrow or trust accounts for businesses are difficult from several perspectives. One, most banks themselves don’t even know how to do it. There may be one or two people, and you have to ferret out that person who can actually sit down with you and provide a list of things to do to actually initiate the trust account in the business name.

And then you’ve got to get with an attorney to put together appropriate documents for the student to sign and so forth so that the trust account works as identified, and the money can’t be taken unless it’s used to pay for the student’s education, and if they fail, drop out, then the rest is returned to them.

All that is a lot of process and procedure, and most banks, financial institutions, and others don’t know how that works for non real estate related entities.

Paula Williams: 00:17:58 Exactly. So this is a daunting task for flight schools who are already busy, overworked, underpaid, and understaffed, right? And then the last part is there really isn’t an agency that regulates the business practices of these flight schools.

There are of course the FFA regulates the training, that is the training programs that are delivered and the quality of training, and of course students get their check rides and things like that before they get their ratings and things, but there is nobody that is making them escrow cash or any other kind of thing, and there’s nobody saying whether they’re credit worthy, or whether these people have filed bankruptcy 47 times or anything else.

So these things are all problems that are out there in the world that people have to deal with. The third thing again, first was November 62008 Charlie. The second thing was the conversation about the ABB, which is actually a dinner we had that lasted about four or five hours [LAUGH] while we were talking about these problems and how to resolve them.

And I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten into those fantastic conversations where you solve all the world’s problems, but then have to go home on Monday and face the reality of how are we gonna make this happen? So, nothing really came of that conversation except some really good ideas.

The third thing was, we were approached by a group of people who had an interest in setting up an entity.

John Williams: 00:19:29 You were approached.

Paula Williams: 00:19:30 [LAUGH] By a group of people who had an interest in setting up an entity to solve some specific set of problems.

John Williams: 00:19:38 They actually wanted you to start and run this company.

Paula Williams: 00:19:42 Exactly, because of our position, our situation, and the scales that we had and the relationships that we had. So this idea was based on the fact that there are a lot of pilots who are retiring. Internationally there are a lot of airlines that are going out of business because they’re not able to fill their rosters.

There are a lot of specific requirements for training among different airlines throughout the world, and they are not able to find among flight schools in the US enough seats to get done what they need to get done, and they’re also not able to deal with the bureaucratic problems that we had talked about earlier.

So airlines need what they call avenicio programs where they basically take their candidates, in a lot of cases these national airlines and other folks are required to hire their own citizens preferentially, or even exclusively. And they don’t have enough trained pilots, so they find ideal candidates, and then they want to put them through flight school from first lesson to first officer all the way through the program.

And this is a daunting thing to do if you are a very small airline in a very small country somewhere in the world, and you’re looking at the prospect of working with four or five different flight schools to get the number of pilots that you need.

John Williams: 00:21:12 Not only that, but you need to know enough to get a 141 school and then even after they graduate that, then you need a 142 school to put them through to get their type rating.

Paula Williams: 00:21:23 Exactly, and any other specialized training that they need to meet the regulations in your country.

John Williams: 00:21:28 And most of these schools are full and trying to figure out schedules so that they don’t sit for three months before they get their type rating, and putting that whole thing together to go from soup to nuts in one package is just something that they can’t do.

Paula Williams: 00:21:44 Right. So it takes multiple flight schools to train a crew of pilots, and then there’s also the housing, the bureaucracy, the paperwork, the money, all of those things that need to be managed. So the idea behind the airline pilot gateway is to build a network of airlines, flight schools, and students, and pilots who need different things from each other, and to provide a set of shared services including logistics, financial services, legal services, sales and marketing, and quality assurance to make that whole process a lot less painful for everyone [LAUGH] involved in the process, right?

John Williams: 00:22:24 Yes absolutely.

Paula Williams: 00:22:26 Okay. So it’s not just a marketing problem, but it certainly does take the marketing off the table if this pipe line can provide all of the students that you need all you need to do is create the program that Trains these pilots in the most efficient and safe possible way.

We had talked before about the three elements of successful campaigns. The list, the offer, and the presentation. If you can take two of those three items off the table you don’t have to worry about the list because the network will take care of that list for you. And you don’t have to worry about the presentation, because the network will take care of the presentation for you.

All you have to do is worry about your offer. What programs can you offer, how many students can you manage well, and how can you improve the quality of your programs so that you’re producing the highest quality pilots and you have the best offer that you can produce?

That really takes 80% of the work out of the way, and leaves you with the best results, right?

John Williams: 00:23:41 Absolutely.

Paula Williams: 00:23:42 Okay, so that is why we are not providing marketing services for career minded at least, flight schools, and if you’re a recreational flight school that’s a different scenario.

You’ve got a different market, so we’d be happy to talk with you, and also if you are a flight school and you have personnel that you would like to have in our programs that is just fine, but we are not going to do consulting services for you because there is no need.

If you can bypass an entire set of tasks, then it would not be ethical for us to take your money to do something that there’s a better way to do, right?

John Williams: 00:24:18 And we won’t.

Paula Williams: 00:24:19 Exactly, right. So that is the basics of the Airline Pilot Gateway. If you’re interested in that you can go to AirlinePilotGateway.com and if you’re an airline you can click that button, fill out a little form.

If you are a flight school and you’re interested in being part of the program you can click that button, and let us know a little bit about your program and we;d be happy to let you know more about ours and see if it’s a good fit. And if you’re a student or student pilot, or a pilot that needs a type rating or anything else, you can go ahead and fill out that form and we’d be happy to see if we can plug you in and find ways to make the network work for you.

And speaking of making networks work for you, let’s go back to the aviation marketing master class. If you are listening to this in January we have what we call our buddy pass going on. Basically two members of your organization can join the marketing master class for the price of one, and as long as you remain a member then both of you get copies of everything.

Both of you get log ins. Both of you get invited to all of our events and everything else, and we’re asking that those two be at the same address for obvious reasons, but then you can study together and there’s lots of advantages to that, so that’s a great deal, and we really hope that you’ll take advantage of it.

You can download our tip sheet. We don’t have a new one this week since we just did the announcement of the Airline Pilot Gateway. We don’t have any new marketing material, but we do have our calls to action tip sheet from last week still available if you go to AviationBusinessConsultants.com\CTAS.

C-T-A-S. You can download that tip sheet, which is actually a really good one. It tells you how to track the effectiveness of your ads, and 17 different things that you can do to get people to respond to you. So please do that, and please also subscribe to our podcast again, it’s brand new this is our 15th episode.

So subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, and we would love it if you would leave us a review or leave us a rating, and let us know what you’d like to hear more of, less of, and so on.

John Williams: 00:26:38 And we’ll see you next time.