“The coronavirus” is all people are talking about these days, in airports, FBOs, coffee shops, flight schools  . . .

So, we’re talking about it, too!  Hopefully in a more helpful and productive way than most of these conversations are going.

The Bad

The Not-So-Bad

And three things you can do right now to “boost the immunity” of your company’s sales and marketing process, against this virus or any other pandemic, weather disaster, or other situation.

And we’ll share a few of our favorite funny memes, as well.

 

Paula Williams:

Welcome to this week’s episode. Today we are talking aviation marketing in the age of COVID-19-

John Williams:

Or any other virus.

Paula Williams:

Or any other crisis or any other pandemic or hurricane or-

John Williams:

whatever.

Paula Williams:

Exactly. So we’ve had a lot of people talking about this and almost nothing else for the last week or so.

John Williams:

So we thought we’d try it.

 

Paula Williams:

Exactly. So this episode has been brought to you by our Aviation Marketing Lab where we are all talking about this among other topics. And it’s actually a really great group of people because we’re all in the industry. So all of these folks are doing things that are either working or not working. We’re all suffering through the same cancellations and the same stuff and everything else, and talking about what to do about it and running ideas by each other. So that’s nice.

John Williams:

Got nothing scary to say.

 

 

Paula Williams:

Okay. All right. So we always try to make these sort of evergreen, meaning that if you listen to this podcast six months from now, you’re still going to get something valuable out of it. This is the only really, really, I guess current events centered podcasts that we’ve done and we thought that it was worth it to do this because it is such a big deal or it is being made such a big deal by some of the changes in the industry. But also because there is always something whether it’s COVID-19 or whether it is a hurricane in Florida or whether it is a tornado in the Midwest or-

John Williams:

It’s not like this is the first thing. Realize this is the 19th version of this same virus.

Paula Williams:

That’s true. SARS was number two.

John Williams:

Yeah, but I mean, it just happens.

Paula Williams:

Yeah.

John Williams:

We’re not going to get away from it.

 

Paula Williams:

Right. So what we’re going to talk about is the bad. There is some stuff that’s happening in the industry that is going to impact you and you need to know what that is and you need to have a plan for how to work around it. We’re going to talk about the not so bad and we’re also going to talk about three things that you can do to improve the immune system of your marketing and sales so that you will survive this and the next and the next and the next and the next thing that comes along. Right?

 

John Williams:

Of course.

Paula Williams:

Okay. All right. So the bad is that-

John Williams:

You’ve got to see the picture of why we’re laughing.

Paula Williams:

Right, exactly. To listen to some of the folks talking and every single headline and every single conversation in every single coffee shop and every single FBO and every single whatever is about this virus. You would think it was the zombie apocalypse. Right?

John Williams:

Right.

 

 

Paula Williams:

And there is a lot going on that is really impacting people’s lives, jobs, whatever in the aviation industry and a lot of people are concerned, economically or otherwise. So a couple of things that we pulled out of social media in the last few hours anyway, one is John Ostrower, he’s one of our very favorite people, right? He used to work for Wall Street Journal. Now he has a very excellent publication called the Air Current and one of his tweets is, “I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but this is like Apollo 13 except in the airline industry and the American economy. We’re going to have to power everything down, hang together in a frozen lifeboat and figure out how to power it back up when it’s time to go home.” And of course, one of the comments to that is, “I wonder what the Omega Speedy is going to be that saves the day.” Right? There’s always something. Life is an adventure and this is just part of it, right?

John Williams:

Oh, yeah.

Paula Williams:

Okay.

John Williams:

It’s been going on since the start.

 

 

Paula Williams:

Right. This is talking in the women aviators group, let’s see, Female Aviators Sticking Together (FAST) talking about what’s going on in your planes, what’s going on in your situation. Marissa Gulford says about a fifth of what it used to be, in terms of the passenger counts; medium, for an airbus; yesterday, Miami to LAX was completely full; DTW to MSP yesterday, all direct flights on that route are oversold. So there’s been some seats open. We actually flew on Saturday and had an empty seat between us, which was fantastic because-

John Williams:

We used it.

Paula Williams:

One of us has a broken leg.

John Williams:

One of us, listen to this talk. It’s not me.

Paula Williams:

One of us that is not him has a broken leg and so we could use the extra space so it worked out nicely for us. And also the airplanes are squeaky clean, which is also very nice for us. And if you’re in private aviation, of course, this story is completely different or if you’re in aviation training, or aircraft training.

 

 

Paula Williams:

So there are some people who are saying my flight school isn’t offering lessons right now due to the virus. We’ve heard from some flight schools who have students who are being funded by the Chinese government who didn’t get paid. I mean weird things happening, things like that. Some schools are full strength, they’re just business as usual. Some are having different things happening because of funding, different things happening because of social distancing, different things happening because of different states and counties and things are closing down various businesses. So in fact, in our local area, the next county over, Summit County, has shut down all restaurants. You can do curbside delivery or whatever and stuff like that, but you can’t go sit in a restaurant.

 

 

John Williams:

You can’t pay with cash, you can’t pay with a credit card. You pay by phone only.

Paula Williams:

Pay with your phone or online only, exactly. So crazy stuff. Events are getting canceled.

 

This is NBAA to reschedule IOC 2020. And a lot of our clients especially, we like to sign people up as speakers at these kinds of things. We like to apply for every speaking opportunity we can possibly find because that is great marketing. You’re able to speak to a captive audience and a lot of really cool things that come from that. You get to establish your authority and your expertise and all of that stuff, so it’s a great opportunity. The problem is if the event gets canceled, in some cases they’re turning those into virtual events so they will still do webinars and things so those opportunities turn into something else. But it’s not the same as standing in front of a room with a bunch of people.

 

Paula Williams:

So there is some bad stuff happening. I love this meme. This is from one of the, I’m not sure which movie this is from. This is Peter Parker talking to Robert Downey, Jr., the Iron Man, and they replaced the words from the conversation. “Don’t be an idiot and say that Coronavirus is nothing serious. Also don’t overreact to say as the end of the world because sports were put on hold. There’s a gray area in the middle and that’s where the reality is.” So it’s not nothing, but it’s not the end of the world either. Right?

John Williams:

No, not at all.

 

Paula Williams:

Yeah. So one of our friends, Brian Chase, very active on this topic and he just says stop licking handrails-

John Williams:

And you’ll be okay.

Paula Williams:

Exactly. So if you’re not following Brian than you should be because he is very, very witty and educated on the subject. So my favorite perspective is very old on this topic and I’m just going to read a very short part of this. And so if you’re watching, I apologize because I hate it when people’s read slides, but I’m not going to read the slide. So-

John Williams:

This is a quote from C.S. Lewis.

Paula Williams:

Exactly, 1948.

John Williams:

Yeah, 1948 and I get that and then listen to what she’s got to say, what he’s got to say,

Paula Williams:

Right. “In one way, we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. How are we to live in an atomic age? I am tempted to reply, why as you would have lived in the 16th century when the plague visited London almost every year or as you would have lived in a Viking Age, when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night or indeed as you were already living in the age of cancer, the age of syphilis, the age of paralysis, the age of air raids, the age of railway accidents, the age of motor accidents. In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam and you and all whom you love are already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented and quite a high percentage of us are going to die in unpleasant ways.

Paula Williams:

We had indeed one great advantage over our ancestors and aesthetics and we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of a painful and premature death to a world already bristling with such chances in which death itself is not a chance at all, but a certainty. This is the first point to be made. The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we’re going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it finds us, find us doing sensible and human things, praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts. Not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies, a microbe can do that, but they need not dominate our minds.”

Paula Williams:

So C.S. Lewis is actually one of my very favorite people. I really wish he were around today because we really need this kind of sanity and this kind of perspective. So some of the people listening to this podcast are probably very young and may not have a lot of perspective and I totally get that. This seems like a big deal if you’ve not been through other things. John and I, of course, have been around the block a time or two.

John Williams:

At least once.

Paula Williams:

Right. So I mean there was 9/11, there was SARS, there’s been a million different things. There’ve been the two-

John Williams:

Ebola.

Paula Williams:

Asian airplanes that went down, there was the 737 thing more recently. There’s always something in the aviation industry. We are in the risk mitigation business. Right?

John Williams:

Exactly. So mitigate the risk.

Paula Williams:

Mitigate the risk. That’s what we’re going to do. So three things you can do, right?

John Williams:

Yep.

Paula Williams:

Okay. If you could take all of the energy that we heard this morning in a coffee shop… We went to breakfast actually at a local restaurant. Oh heaven forbid, I know it’s a yellow activity. There’s the red, yellow and green activities. This is a very small town that we live in and the tables are more than six feet apart. So anyway, the number of conversations we overheard, 99% of them were about the virus. It’s unbelievable. Okay, so here are things, if you divert all of that energy and attention from Fox News and whatever else you’ve been doing, turn that off and start doing this instead.

 

So number one, diversify your marketing tools.

Paula Williams:

Number two, shift to digital and print through July 2020 at least and then we’ll reevaluate and think about things. And number three, develop and use media that you own. And we’ll talk about all of that momentarily.

So if your marketing system looked like this, you’ve got a problem. Okay? Because of all of the events that are being canceled and what this is is we’ve got a really big box saying trade shows, which lead into consultations which lead into needs analysis which lead to an onsite demo.

John Williams:

As an example, we talked to folks who went to the San Jose Regional.

Paula Williams:

Yeah.

John Williams:

Total of about 80 people showed up, including the vendors, the ones that did show up. So it was a complete bust with respect to marketing.

Paula Williams:

Exactly. And a lot of people do, they are very, very successful with trade shows. That’s where they get the majority of their prospecting done and the majority of their consultations booked. And then that leads into their sales process, which also includes an onsite demo where you go to your client and demo your product. So there’s a couple of things that are impacted if we look at that in yellow. So the trade shows, if that is your primary prospecting activity, you’re going to need to make a shift over the next couple of months.

John Williams:

How about the next week?

Paula Williams:

Well, yeah, hopefully you’ve already thought about this because you know these things are getting canceled or postponed. So that is-

John Williams:

There’s got to be a recovery period.

Paula Williams:

Right. And in terms of the onsite demos, we are still traveling to visit clients. We are still doing all of those things. Of course, every travel decision is a risk management exercise. Are we going to be able to go? Are we going to have delays? Is our flight going to be canceled? There’s a lot of things about that. Once we get there, are we going to be able to get back?

John Williams:

We can always rent a car but don’t want to.

Paula Williams:

Right. So you do your risk analysis on those bits that are affected by this epidemic. So here’s an alternative.

What you can do is add additional, and this is actually a good idea regardless of what’s going on in the world, to have more than one input into your sales and marketing process. So in addition to trade shows, if people are finding you when they type your product or service into Google and find your website and then contact you, those are what we call inbound leads. Right? Okay. So that’s another thing.

John Williams:

And by the way…

Paula Williams:

Yeah?

John Williams:

I’m interrupting.

Paula Williams:

Okay fine.

John Williams:

But you said just not to put too fine a point on it to quote somebody.

Paula Williams:

Okay.

John Williams:

You said epidemic.

Paula Williams:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Williams:

Technically it’s called a pandemic now.

Paula Williams:

Oh, I’m sorry.

John Williams:

Just so we’re accurate in what we say.

Paula Williams:

Okay. Cool.

John Williams:

Not because it’s of any significance.

Paula Williams:

So we don’t get any hate mail saying we’re not taking this seriously enough. It is a pandemic.

John Williams:

Anyway, so the trade shows, the websites, the LinkedIn, the postcards is what you need to be doing now.

Paula Williams:

Well and this is just an example. So you know you need to have more than one is what I’m saying.

John Williams:

Yes.

Paula Williams:

So it could be SEO and your websites, It could be LinkedIn. A lot of people are using that very successfully to connect with people in the right companies, your top 10 most wanted companies. We did a podcast just a couple of weeks ago about prospecting using LinkedIn.

John Williams:

Right.

Paula Williams:

And postcards. Postcards are fantastic and I’m going to show you an example of how one of our clients is using that in just a minute. So if you use those four things to get your consultations, then you can continue that process and then just do your risk management before you do your onsite visits. So you’re not impacted nearly as much as if your whole top of your funnel just disappeared. Right?

John Williams:

Which is what happened if all it was is trade show.

 

Paula Williams:

Exactly, right. So this is the example I promised, and that is a postcard. This is one that Gene Clough, Great Circle Aviation did just recently and had this a postcard made and sent out to people that he was planning on meeting with at San Jose who didn’t make it. So we do 100% virus-free consultations. This kind of breaks into the conversation that’s already going on in people’s minds, right?

John Williams:

Definitely.

Paula Williams:

That darn thing was canceled. Some people are upset about it because they think it was an overreaction. Some people are really worried about this. Either way, using a little bit of humor puts you in the middle of that conversation so that either side is going to resonate with it without getting upset.

John Williams:

Exactly.

Paula Williams:

Okay. So this has a cute little airplane with a mask-

John Williams:

On the nose.

 

Paula Williams:

Right. And 100% virus-free consultation. So it’s a little bit tongue in cheek, a little bit of a lighthearted treatment of a very serious topic, and if you know Gene’s personality, you know that this works really, really well with the type of client that he is likely to resonate with, right?

John Williams:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paula Williams:

Okay. Back of the postcard says 100% virus-free consultations via Skype or telephone and then it goes through some of the details about aircraft transactions are traditionally done face-to-face, onsite negotiations and inspections are integral to the work that we do. So he’s saying he’s continuing to do this kind of work. He’s still in business. He’s still doing things the same way, but he’s adapting to helping people make that first step with him in a less risky way.

John Williams:

Exactly.

 

Paula Williams:

Okay. All right. So a couple of things you can do to shift to digital and print over the next couple of months. You can refresh and optimize your website. So a lot of people are not going to be as busy over the next couple of months, especially if you are in a county or a state where some of your activities of product delivery… If you’re in a flight school, you had to shut down your dorms, you got a problem. So you’ve got some time on your hands. Now is a great time to redo your website. Right?

John Williams:

Yep.

Paula Williams:

In fact, the coffee shop owner that we talked to this morning said, “Well, if the county shuts me down, I’m just going to use the time to remodel because my insurance will cover me for up to three weeks.”

John Williams:

30 days.

Paula Williams:

“30 days. Great time because I’m not having customers coming in so I can make a mess of the place and have it redone in 30 days,” and you need to think the same way. If things are not going the way you want to, how can you use this time to your benefit? And it might be time to redo your website.

John Williams:

Yep.

 

Paula Williams:

All right, make sure you can get found on Google. That’s the number one thing for prospecting using your website.

John Williams:

In fact, we saw a quote the other day, “If life isn’t going right, go left.”

Paula Williams:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly. And this is a great way to do that. So another thing is to start to improve your social media, if you’ve got some time on your hands to maybe learn a social media. The two that we kind of recommend for the aviation industry just because of the demographics and because of the preferences of most of the thought leaders that are making financial decisions and things like that are LinkedIn and YouTube. Facebook is also a great choice, but those two, LinkedIn and YouTube are the highest scoring as far as respected venues for finding information. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. YouTube is owned by Google. So they’re backed by very large, very stable companies. They’re not swamped with COVID-19 memes and hysteria and everything else. There is some of that going on on LinkedIn especially, but for the most part people are still searching on the topics that they’re interested in and finding your product demos or your concept videos or your whatever it is that you’re putting together, your behind the scenes origin stories and other cool things.

John Williams:

Yep.

Paula Williams:

Okay. Start or improve direct mail marketing and we did this just recently. We just started a newsletter again. We had done one in the past that was a monthly and it was just taking way too much of her time and we had enough clients that we didn’t really need to be prospecting to that velocity. So now we’re going to do that quarterly and we just got our first one from the printer just recently and I’m actually really happy with it.

John Williams:

I’m glad.

Paula Williams:

Are you happy with it?

John Williams:

It looks pretty good.

Paula Williams:

It looks pretty good. Exactly. So newsletters, postcards, other kinds of things are still really effective. As people are moving to digital, there is less mail hitting their mailbox and so those things are always good and they are virus free, right?

John Williams:

Absolutely.

Paula Williams:

Or can be made virus free. If somebody’s really paranoid, they can fumigate their mail before they read it. Right? Okay. All right. Next thing, become your own publisher.

John Williams:

Why the heck not?

 

Paula Williams:

Well, everybody’s complaining about the media and the choices that the media is making. You know what? Nowadays you are not reliant on the three networks, right? Like we were in the fifties. Anybody can become a publisher. That’s the good and the bad thing, but you might as well use the good thing to your advantage, right?

John Williams:

Yep.

Paula Williams:

Those who tell the stories rule the world. That’s been true since Plato’s time, probably since before that, but he was probably the first person that really said it. And so to go super old school with new media, if you control the media, you run the planet. You have seen how powerful the media can be. Right?

John Williams:

And old school isn’t always bad.

Paula Williams:

That’s true. That is absolutely true. So to remain with the old school theme, Benjamin Franklin, part of the reason that the United States became the United States was because he was publishing Common Sense and he was publishing a lot of materials. I mean, just imagine what would have happened. We were watching a series on-

John Williams:

Washington.

Paula Williams:

Yeah. Was that on Netflix or was that an HBO or something else?

John Williams:

I don’t know where that was.

Paula Williams:

History channel.

John Williams:

History channel.

Paula Williams:

Right, exactly. It was a three-part series on George Washington and talking about some of the things that were going on at the time, just imagine if the United States had not had an independent publisher, if there had not been a printing press on this side of the Atlantic, if great Britain had been controlling the stories that were being read by the colonists, it never would have happened. So Benjamin Franklin, he’s one of my favorite people, is one of the reasons that we have a United States because he was able to.

John Williams:

Disseminate printed material.

Paula Williams:

Exactly. He knew how to write well. He knew how to tell a good story. He knew how to manipulate the media and he was the media. He was pretty much the only media at that time that the colonists had access to other than the newspapers from Europe. Right?

John Williams:

Right.

Paula Williams:

Okay. So, and here’s another of my favorite quotes from Benjamin Franklin. “Many people die at 25 and aren’t buried till they’re 75.” So whether that’s really relevant or not, it’s that risk management and the reason that we’re in aviation is because we love this sort of thing. We are all alive at age, whatever the heck we are. Right?

John Williams:

Due to risk management.

Paula Williams:

Due to risk management and due to the fact that we are willing and able to change and adapt and do things differently than we were at age 25, right?

John Williams:

Exactly.

Paula Williams:

Okay. So here are some of the ways that you can become your own publisher. Your website, you can publish a blog, you can publish your opinion on COVID-19, you can publish any of those things, right?

John Williams:

Yep.

Paula Williams:

Okay. You can do a podcast or a limited series. Maybe you want to do a three-part series on a aircraft insurance and the things that you should be doing differently than everybody else is talking about. You might want to do a 10-part series on your topic of interest. So that’s another way that you could become your own publisher and start telling your own stories. Anyone for free can start a YouTube channel and that’s owned by Google. So if you can produce some explainers on, this is how… In fact, [Tirbin Zinc 00:24:00] does a really good job of this. This is how we do dye penetration tests. This is how we do some of the inspections that we do. This is how we do the borescoping. And a lot of people don’t know the details of those things and it’s really fun to see how that all works.

John Williams:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paula Williams:

So yeah, there is no reason you can’t have your own YouTube channel and you don’t have to be a Hollywood star to to make all this work. We’re pretty good.

John Williams:

As a matter of fact, most people are not Hollywood stars.

Paula Williams:

Right? Pretty good examples of that. In fact, if you are not a Hollywood star, it kind of adds to your credibility in a way because you’re real people.

John Williams:

Yeah, you’re just trying to make it work and it shows.

Paula Williams:

Yeah, so a lot of the people that we talked to about marketing consulting, they know that we are not doing the Madison Avenue super slick marketing. We do really effective marketing, but we’re not Gwyneth Paltrow and-

John Williams:

Yeah, we’re not out to win awards.

Paula Williams:

Tom Cruise. Right? Exactly. Okay. Newsletters or postcards, once again, you can print anything you want to. We are now the Benjamin Franklin and we really don’t take advantage of that power as much as we should. And in the United States we have a lot of people complain about the post office, but it is a much cheaper and more reliable way of delivering paper things to other people in the United States than anywhere else on the planet really has.

John Williams:

Yeah, exactly.

Paula Williams:

It’s super efficient and super cheap compared to anywhere else in the world. Sometimes when we send postcards and newsletters internationally, it takes six months for them to find out it was the wrong address and we get it back from Singapore six months later.

John Williams:

We’ll say, “What the heck?”

Paula Williams:

Exactly. So things do tend to get lost worldwide, but within the United States, postal mail is still a very good deal.

John Williams:

Ask us sometime privately about our tour of the Pakistani Post Office.

Paula Williams:

Oh my gosh, exactly. Books, we’ve published a couple of books and we use them as expensive business cards basically. We hand them out to people that we think are good prospects just so they get an idea of how we think and how we work and give them some more information about us and how that all works. And it’s really impressive when you hand somebody a book as opposed to a business card.

Social Media Guide for Aviation Professionals

John Williams:

Oh yeah.

Paula Williams:

Yeah.

John Williams:

Because you actually did write a book on marketing.

Paula Williams:

Right, exactly. And-

John Williams:

Aviation marketing.

Paula Williams:

Aviation marketing. And another thing about books is that you get listed on Amazon. So that’s another way of advertising really, really well. If somebody is on Amazon, which is a really large search engine looking for aviation marketing, they find us.

John Williams:

Yep.

 

Paula Williams:

So that’s cool. All right, so final thoughts. Couple of things, “That which does not kill me will make me stronger.” Right? Whenever we run into a challenge, whether it’s a challenging customer or a challenging situation, our business improves. So I always have to thank our pain in the butt customers or our pain in the butt circumstances because they forced us to create a process that maybe we didn’t have before or think about something we hadn’t before and then we’re able to help our other customers better.

John Williams:

Yeah.

Paula Williams:

The second quote is, “You win in the turns.”

John Williams:

Oh man, I’ve known that ever since my street racing days.

Paula Williams:

Yep. He was Mario Andretti. So in the straightaways you pretty much, if you watch car races, and I’m not a NASCAR freak or anything else, but in the straightaways, everybody pretty much maintains their position. But it’s in the turn that people change-

John Williams:

Yep.

Paula Williams:

And overtake each other either going into or coming out of those turns. So this is a turn. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to let everybody pass you? Are you going to just sit there and ride it out? Or are you going to-

John Williams:

Accelerate through it.

Paula Williams:

Accelerate through the turn, which is actually more stable than-

John Williams:

What is the other one? Over-accelerate.

Paula Williams:

That’s true. So risk management, right?

John Williams:

Yep.

Paula Williams:

Okay. All right. So this episode is brought to you by our Aviation Sales and Marketing Lab, which is where, once again, we go through all of these things with you and develop a custom plan for you depending on what’s going on in your life, like COVID-19. Some of our clients have had speaking engagements postponed or deleted, right? Some of our clients are having to manage some public relations stuff with having their flight school closed and other kinds of things are going on with some of our clients and this is where we can really dig in with you and create custom plans and you can run them by other people in the industry-

John Williams:

Absolutely.

Paula Williams:

And get some really good information. So these are the coolest people in the industry and they’re all super supportive of each other and very helpful. So-

John Williams:

Yep.

Paula Williams:

Yep.

John Williams:

And they’re straight shooters. You run an idea by them and you’re going to get exactly what they think. It’s not going to be sugar-coated.

Paula Williams:

Right. They’ll tell you if they disagree. All right. So thank you for joining us and we will see you again next week. The world is not going to end, I promise you.

John Williams:

Exactly.

Paula Williams:

We’ll see you next week.

John Williams:

See you next week.

Aviation Marketing in the Age of Covid 19

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