Let's talk!

Call Us Today! 1-702-987-1679



About admin

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far has created 118 blog entries.

April 2017

  • Getting your marketing process to rotation speed

AMHF 0080 – How to Get Your Marketing Process Up to Rotation Speed

In aviation, you have to achieve a certain velocity to take off. In sales and marketing, the same principles apply – unless you are performing sales and marketing tasks quickly enough, you won’t make enough sales to support your business or meet your goals for expansion.

We talk about factors involved in marketing velocity and how to achieve “rotation speed” in this episode.

Transcript – How to Get Your Marketing Process Up to Rotation Speed

Getting your marketing process to rotation speedPaula Williams: Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying episode number 80, Random Acts of Marketing and the Rotation Speed for Marketing. So I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: I’m John Williams.

Paula Williams: And we are ABCI and ABCI’s mission is-

John Williams: To help all you guys out there sell more products and services in the aviation world.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, so if you’d like to comment on this or any other of our podcasts use the hashtag #AvGeekMarketing and we will reply to every tweet or post or anything else that we find. We are on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all the usual suspects and so on. So, you can also leave comments on our blog or on our YouTube channel, right?

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: Of course, okay. So today, we are going to talk first about rotation speed. [LAUGH] And why it’s important for airplanes, and why it is important for marketing as well.

John Williams: Well anybody in aviation knows why it’s important for airplanes.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: You are going to talk about marketing.

Paula Williams: Right, so assuming that you have had any flight training at all, and I know there’s a lot of people in aviation who haven’t, because there’s a lot of people who work on the ground in one capacity or another. But basically, when you’re flying off the end of an aircraft carrier, you need to be going fast enough to not fall in the water, right?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Yeah.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Okay, the rotation speed really is a, an idea that we had, because we had a conversation with someone in our consultations. And there’s a lot of people that do this. This is not the only person, [LAUGH] that we’ve run into. In fact, there’s probably been three.

John Williams: To do what, go off the flight deck?

Paula Williams: In the last month that have falling in the water, [LAUGH] for one reason or another. They’re just not doing enough marketing, they don’t have the velocity, they don’t have the planning, they don’t have the system really to sustain sales.

And so, they’re doing all of this activities that really doesn’t amount to enough to get them off the ground, right?

John Williams: So then as they say is they taxi at the end of the flight deck and they think they’re going to fly and they go broke?

Paula Williams: Yeah or else they just taxi to the end and then they turn around and taxi and taxi and taxi.

And we’ve seen companies go years, literally years, without making sales, especially startups, because they just never quite get to the velocity that they need to get to, to get off the ground and to actually make a sale, right?

John Williams: That’s crazy.

Paula Williams: Yeah, and they do a lot, but they just don’t do quite enough.

And doing 80% of VR is not going to get you off the ground. It’s just going to burn up a lot of gas, right?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Among other things, yes.

Paula Williams: And be dangerous, right? Okay, so the big ideas from this episode, there is rotation speed required for successful marketing and sales.

If you don’t reach that rotation speed, you’re just wasting time and resources and you’re also taking risks, right?

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: Okay, so let’s talk about how this works. We’ve talked a lot in the past about what we call random acts of marketing, or things that are not connected with other things.

And just about anything that isn’t part of a system would fall into this category. Things that aren’t part of a marketing process. So, these activities that are one offs are kinda like starting and stopping, and starting and stopping, and starting and stopping. It just doesn’t give you what you need to get you where you want to go.

Okay, so rotation speed when we talk about that it’s kinda like in an airplane, it’s the beginning of lift. It’s where you start to feel the wheels come off the ground. And in sales and marketing, it is when you start to actually get the interest of people who are qualified to purchase from you or actually you start making your first sales.

And you start feeling that little rush of joy that comes from having made sales. And also you get that little rush of revenue that comes from making sales. And revenue from sales is a 1,000 times better than revenue from investors for a lot of reasons, right?

John Williams: Yeah.

Paula Williams: First of all it’s your money, [LAUGH] you can do what you want with it. You don’t have to pay it back. And you can use it to reinvest in the company, or you can take salaries and pay your people and all those wonderful things. And there’s no conditions on sales money as opposed to investor money where they’re telling you every little thing, right?

What you can do and can’t do with it. So getting that lift quickly is really, really important. And the way that you do that is with frequency and velocity of sales and marketing activities, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Okay, so every time you stop on a runway or taxiway or anything else, you lose momentum.

So, if you’re in one of those big airplanes where there’s a passenger or a pilot, it takes a lot of engine power to move that big hunk of metal down the runway the first time. And then every time you stop, it takes quite a bit of thrust just to get moving forward again.

So, what this looks like when we talk about sales and marketing, in aviation, you wanna make sure that every step in your sales cycle leads to the next step with no stop signs, right? So, you do a social media post a lot of the time that should lead to the next step which might be a free report, or a lead magnet of some kind.

Some next step in the sales cycle, and that should lead to your next step, which might be a consultation. And that should lead to your next step, which might be a sales presentation, which would lead to your next step, which might be a proposal. And proposal is never the end of the story because there’s always amendments and other crazy things that you go through as you learn about that particular client.

And this may have, your particular process may have four steps or ten steps or 20 steps, but it’s something along these lines, right?

John Williams: And sometimes, this is a bare skeletal form of what goes on. I’ve been involved in processes that take years and take lots of steps to get there.

But then, that’s there is more money in those than there is in the smaller stuff.

Paula Williams: Right, yeah, the larger the transaction and the larger the company you’re selling to probably the more steps there are going to be in this process.

John Williams: And the longer it takes.

Paula Williams: Right, but the key thing is you just never leave a step without connecting it, having some kind of a connection to the next step.

So in some cases with social media posts what we see is people say, here’s an insightful article. Well that’s fantastic, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. And as a list building activity or just as something to do, to keep people amused and entertained and everything else. There is nothing wrong with doing that, but it doesn’t contribute to the sales process.

There’s no connection there between your social media post and your next step in your sales process.

John Williams: Sorta like a, we see on Twitter a lot people just send out random quotes-

Paula Williams: Yep.

John Williams: With no connection at all-

Paula Williams: Yep.

John Williams: To anything.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and there is nothing wrong with that unless that’s the only thing you do, right?

So, you put out an interesting quot, an insightful article, another insightful article, another insightful quote, whatever you do. It doesn’t matter how fantastic it is, [COUGH] unless that leads inspires some kind of action. Is putting a stop sign in your sales process.

John Williams: And no matter how highly educated you are or what your position is, if you don’t ask them for a sale, don’t connect them to a sales process, it isn’t going to happen.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, that is absolutely correct. So one thing that you can do is put in something like download our free report. And this doesn’t have to be every post, but maybe every third post or every other post. Put in something that contributes to the sales process and actually makes that connection and says okay.

So, you’ve seen our social media posts, now get more information, download our free report, download a checklist. Request a free consultation and that will kind of bypass that first step in your sales process but take you to the second step. That’s okay too.

John Williams: It’s frustrating for us reading this stuff.

It’s actually frustrating as hell for all these people out there.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: That aren’t making any sales and don’t get it.

Paula Williams: Exactly, yeah they’re putting an awful lot of work into a social media channel without effectively getting anything done. It’s gotta drive you crazy right? Okay, we’re going to go into more detail about this in a future podcast and talk about what you should put on your social media, in a good ratio of list building versus sales process activities and things like that.

But for now, just understand, [LAUGH] but if it’s not connected to the next step on your sales cycle and if you’re not measuring the effectiveness of your social media, you really are wasting a lot of time. Another place where people have blockages is between their, if they have a lead magnet of some kind, if they don’t follow up on those quickly enough or have a really strong call to action in there for your report, that leads to the next step in their process.

So let’s say you have a free report about ten things you should know before you get your art graph interior refurbished. But there’s nothing on that article that leads to the next step and says, request of free consultation about your project today. And here’s a phone number and here’s how you schedule that and here’s the exact steps of what you do next.

Then you’re leaving that person to stop of their own inertia, and not build up that thrust again so you’ve wasted a lot of energy. Another place where there’s a roadblock is between your consultation and your sales presentation. So, you might have a consultation that’s really not a sales, salely couple, which is great.

But you do need to have something at the end of that, that goes to the next steps. Are you interested in talking further about our products and services? That’s not sales, that’s just finding out if they’re interested in becoming part of your sales process, right?

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Yes, no or there’s three possible answers to any activity, right?

Yes, no or not now, right? And the not nows you have to have a pretty good reason for the not now and a date for a followup. Okay, so sometimes the sales presentation people are afraid to ask for the sale or are afraid to say should we write this up as a proposal?

Afraid to take that next step, they just stumble, or they pull their punches, or they just don’t do it, or they forget to set up the next sales column. And I said, wow that was great. They loved it. They agreed with all of our points. Everything is cool but nobody knows what to do next.

That happens a lot in sales presentation, right?

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: Okay, don’t leave that to chance and don’t.

John Williams: And once in a while in a sales representation you’ll pause for a breath and the perspective client will say, so great, what do we have to do to make this work?

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: And your answer is, write me a check, give me a credit card number, or transfer some money.

Paula Williams: Exactly, you don’t wanna talk yourself past the point where you made the sale.

John Williams: That’s right.

Paula Williams: Okay, cool that’s another road block there. Another one is after you do the proposal, there’s always some customizations or amendments or follow-up, or something that needs to be done.

And once again, the bigger the company, and the more money involved, the more rounds this is going to have to go through to get all the way to end, right?

John Williams: Yes it is.

Paula Williams: You’ve been involved in some of these that had many rounds of amendments right?

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Cool, and then last is of course pulling the trigger, making the sale collecting the money and moving forward from that point. And we could go on and talk about post-sale activities, following up, making sure they’re happy, getting referrals, and so on. But for today’s purpose we just wanna make sure we’ve got no road blocks, and we’ve got a complete system, and we’ve got all of our steps connected, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Okay cool, so why do people create road blocks?

John Williams: So they can buy stuff and roadblock people, I don’t know.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] It is pretty counter productive. But people do it because either they don’t have a complete process. Some people don’t have a process at all, they just think sales are going to magically happen.

Which is not true.

John Williams: I think a lot of the time maybe that people don’t realize that everybody is a salesperson.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: And then every time you’re trying to convince somebody of something, you’re selling.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: So then all you have to be is straight-forward, and if you’re trying to help somebody, rather than doing anything else, then you’re selling them on your ability to help.

And then once that’s done, then here’s the price tag.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and I think people think will this product sells itself. [LAUGH] That is never quite true, and once again, you may accidentally makes some sales, which is great. Take a [COUGH], by all means, but a lot of people think that that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Unfortunately, the way that society has evolved, and the way that people have developed a really strong resistance to sales. It’s really necessary these days to have a pretty good organized process for making those sales.

John Williams: There’s actually three different kinds of people in the sales game.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: Let’s see, one of them is, they’re afraid to make a sale, afraid to actually step out there and make a sale. And the other one that are trying to make a sale and then there is the order takers.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That’s true, but if you have a good process then you even order takers can fulfill part of that process and they could work.

John Williams: Yeah, they’re all the way at the tail end after the sale has been made.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, right. So reason number one that people make roadblocks is because they either don’t have a process or their process is broken. So they don’t have a next step. Reason number two, is there is too much space between one step and the next.

So, a lot of people will like a free report and then expect to make a sale right away. And depending on how complex your product might be, that might be asking too much of people. You might wanna have a consultation in there. You definitely want to have a sales presentation and some other steps in that process to bridge that gap so that you’re not saying, okay, you gotten our one page free report, now make a $10,000 investment in our product.

John Williams: All right.

Paula Williams: That’s just asking too much. So if you’re not making sales, you wanna maybe look at some of those gaps between the steps and think, do we need an interim step here? Where are we losing people and what can we do to add some stepping stones in there, so that it becomes easier to take that next step?

And the last thing is sales phobia, which John kinda talked about already. [LAUGH] I think this is a natural thing for a lot of people. Nobody is really born feeling super confident about making sales. Our culture kind of sets up a bunch of boogie men in the way of making sales.

And a lot of people will tell me, on the phone, I’m not trying to sell you anything but and you know what happens when people say that?

John Williams: What?

Paula Williams: Your BS reader goes off. Bells and whistles and clanging noises and everything else. They are not trying to sell you something, they are so full of owie.

John Williams: That’s why they say when people says not about the money. Right, exactly.

Paula Williams: No, I mean there is nothing wrong with saying darn skippy I’m trying to sell you something [LAUGH] right?

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: I absolutely would love to have your business, there is nothing wrong with saying that on a phone call and that takes that fear away and just gets it right out of the out of the conversation.

And then it just becomes a, it would be good for me to sell you something, would it be good for you to buy this something? Let’s talk about that, and then you’re being honest and it just really disarms the whole conversation right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Okay, one thing that we’ve done that reduces fear a whole lot is rehearsing sales calls.

So, we’ll work with clients that maybe feel a little weird about making sales calls, especially maybe product developers or founders or other people who didn’t really get into this to do sales, it’s not really their forte. But if we work with them and play customer and they play sale guy and we go through this a few times, then it really takes the sting out of the whole scenario and it makes them feel a whole lot better about it.

So action cures fear, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Whether that action is rehearsing.

John Williams: Not just in sales.

Paula Williams: Yeah rehearsing the next step, taking baby steps, maybe reducing the amount of space in your sales process so that you’re only closing for an appointment. That’s easier than closing for the sale right?

Especially if you feel weird about it. Closing for a smaller product to start with if your not at all used to sales. There’s ways to work up to making big sales for big dollars and closing every sale every time, and developing that skill is just like developing muscles.

You don’t expect four year old to do 20 push ups perfectly. It takes some times to build up. You can expect a four year old to do one push up perfectly. I’ve seen it.

John Williams: When I went to business school, I’ve been out of school for 25 plus years, and there was all these things in the back of my mind.

I went, well, I’m not sure if I can, well, and it all runs down to the point of either do or say you’re not going to do it, but don’t be afraid of it.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: So I did it and things just seem to work out when you do action.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. And if you really feel like you’re not ready or something like that then take a smaller step. Whether that’s rehearsing or working with somebody who can help you whatever that next step is, a really good next step is our insider circle, right?

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Improve your marketing process with the Insider Circle!Paula Williams: We do office hours every month with every one of our insiders.

And some of the things that we do, everything that we do is confidential. Unless they allow us to share that with people outside the group. But one of our really popular requests is, I have a sales presentation coming up. And I’m really nervous about it, because I understand this guy’s really tough.

Can you help me work out what his objections are going to be? Can you rehearse a sales call with me? And, or rehearse the sales presentation with me? And that works out really, really well for everyone because if you’ve gone through this with John being Mr. Grouchy customer. Then, by the time you get in front of the real customer, you’ve already done it once, you know exactly what to say when some of these things come up.

John Williams: Yeah, they’re not as bad as I am.

Paula Williams: [Laugh] They’re not as hard John. So, it really helps you prepare and get confident and be ready to take the next step, right? Okay, so that’s pretty much it for random acts of marketing and getting to rotation speed.

What’s up with the Insiders? Paxton Calvanese and Ken VeArd just got back from SUN’nFUN, which I understand was a lot of fun and a lot of really good things happened. We’ve talked last couple weeks ago about all the publicity that Ken was getting, right?

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: Paxton also got some pretty good publicity.

He was mentioned in a podcast on AVweb and had a mention in Flying Magazine. So good stuff happening there, they are meeting people and going places and the Wx24Pilot app is something that I really recommend that anybody having anything to do with aviation. Download and spend 15 minutes playing with it.

You really kinda have to go through some of the tutorials and things like that because it is complex. There’s a lot to it, you can add your personal minimums, you can add a lot of different things so that you can see just what you wanna see. And it really is a very cool way of looking at weather.

And the Pilot Partner App is a really cool way of keeping track of your log books. I had my log books in two different places and I actually lost a log book from back home we were flying in Georgetown, Texas. That was when I first started taking lessons a million years ago.

John Williams: Still haven’t found it?

Paula Williams: Still haven’t found it. I found the other one, but if I had it in electronic form, then there it would be, right? But of course, you can always carry over the numbers but it’s still nice to have all of those details. Pat Lemieux did a really cool video [LAUGH] to the theme of Annie.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] I don’t know how he gets the folks at CLA Arrow to do everything he says [LAUGH]. It’s really neat. They’re fearless, fearless people and they produce really fantastic videos. There’s also another really good one about how to know if you have a really high quality air craft interior or if they’re cutting corners on you, doing the upholstery and other kinds of things.

So look out for those videos and other kinds of things on YouTube and social media. Those are really good. Joni Schultz just finished up an event with Whirly Girls. They have an event in conjunction with HAI where I understand it was a really, cool, really big success and so on.

And Kathryn Creedy, who’s been curating and creating news most recently, has been providing some really insightful comments on the whole United dragging the passenger off the plane deal. So that’s kind of cool. And she’s really fun to listen to because she knows a lot about airlines. So do tune in to her Twitter feed especially and she’s also on LinkedIn and Facebook.

So that is what’s going on, so go sell more stuff.

John Williams: America needs the business.

Paula Williams: Yup.

John Williams: Zig Ziglar.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, and now you know how, so also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play. And please do leave us a review and let us know what you’d like to hear more of.

We had a request actually for MRO marketing, maintenance services and things like that, so that will be coming in a future episode. We love hearing from you guys and we love those reviews. So we’ll talk to you next time.

John Williams: Have a great rest of the day, ciao.


AMHF 0079 – Aviation Software Marketing – Ken VeArd and the Pilot Partner App

Our Insiders are the smartest people in the aviation industry – so we like to introduce them to each other, and to our podcast listeners and blog readers. Today, we’re talking about aviation software marketing with Ken VeArd, the developer of the Pilot Partner software. Pilot Partner is an electronic pilot logbook – I’m in the process of converting my paper logbooks myself!

Aviation software marketing is a little different than marketing any other kind of software, and it certainly helps that Ken is a pilot who developed the software for his own use, before polishing it for other pilots, flight schools and flight instructors.

In some ways software development is kind of  like marketing, you can only really be successful if you first understand what your customer wants and needs!


Transcript – Aviation Software Marketing – Ken VeArd and the Pilot Partner App

Paula Williams: Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, Episode 79!

Today, we’re talking with Ken VeArd, the developer of Pilot Partner, and an ABCI Insider.

We always say that our Insiders are the smartest people in the aviation industry, and Ken is a real live software developer.

aviation software marketing with Ken Veard and ABCISo, it all started in 1997 when a software developer, Ken VeArd, showed up to a local flight school to learn to become a pilot. Before his first solo, Ken was frustrated with his paper logbook and knew there had to be a better way. He started developing his own Software Database to track his own flight. Ken built it just for himself and never thought about making it public. His instructor, Carl Lindberg, saw the program and said, “This is pretty good, you should clean it up and sell it.” Pilot Partner was born. Over the next couple years Ken continued to upgrade Pilot Partner and sold it on several aviation related shops. Over 2,000 copies were sold. So, I asked Ken to pick up the story from the basics.

Ken VeArd: Basically, from a high level, I started writing software for my dad’s company while I was still in high school.

Then spent a lot of time at different dot coms in Austin, Texas, and just really working on different technology for my entire career. But I have always been an avid general aviation pilot as a hobby. And now we’re looking to marry those two things together into a profitable business that brings value into other general aviation pilots.

Paula Williams: Fantastic. So how do you find Austin actually, that’s the place that we’ve spent a little bit of time because John was stationed at Fort Hood for a couple of years.

Ken VeArd: My dad ran a company out of Austin, I moved here when I was three months old so I didn’t have much say in that move [LAUGH] Right when I started college, when I started high school, my dad wanted to set himself up for retirement and move to Florida.

So we packed our bags and moved to Florida. So I finished high school and college in Florida, spent eight years out of Melbourne, Florida. And 2000, I decided to come back to Austin, to get back into  dot coms, and there’s more technology here than there was in Florida. So I made the move back.

Paula Williams: There you go. I remember the “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers and those kinds of things.

Ken VeArd: Yup.

Paula Williams: That’s kind of cool.

Ken VeArd: Yeah, they are successful. Austin is still weird.

Paula Williams: That’s fantastic. Great, okay, so after moving back to Austin, did you start flying at that point or were you already?

Ken VeArd: I actually started flying in Florida.

Paula Williams: Okay.

Ken VeArd: So right when I was in college, starting college, my parents made it, gave me the opportunity to do something. They just wanted me to pick up some sort of passion or hobby, something constructive, and I chose flying. Which I had a real interest in first general aviation experience where one of my dad’s friends was a GA pilot and he brought his plane down to take us for a ride in it.

I didn’t think anything special of it, I went like hey that’s a pretty red airplane let’s go for a flight. Got hooked and really enjoyed it and got out of the airplane, and walked into the flight school and decided that I wanted to sign up for flight lessons.

And my flight instructor had this look in his face, and I was like what’s that? He’s like you just got out of a Beech Staggerwing.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That’s fantastic.

Ken VeArd: I had no clue how special that opportunity was. And I wish I could go fly in that plane again, cuz I’ve never been able to get back into a Beech Staggerwing, in a frame of mind that I could really appreciate how special that was.

Paula Williams: Man, remember your roots kid!

Ken VeArd: Yep.

Paula Williams: That’s fantastic and then well actually I remember my first flying lessons were in Georgetown Texas so that was a pretty familiar territory. There’s a lot of aviation and a lot of general aviation in Texas.

Ken VeArd: Yep. Austin is a hot spot for general aviation, and it amazes me how active the local pilot community is.

When we say hey, I’m gonna go to insert airport within 16 miles from here for lunch, one day we had 60 something airplanes show up.

Paula Williams: Wow, that’s fantastic. Well your parents were really smart what the saying if you get your kids involve in aviation they’ll never have money for drugs or alcohol or anything else.

Ken VeArd: Yup It is very true.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That is true.

Ken VeArd: Aviation is just like crack cocaine just far more addictive and far more expensive.

Paula Williams: Far more expensive that’s true, and I know there’s a story behind Pilot Partner. You basically got frustrated with the logs that were available at the time.

Tell us about that story.

Aviation Software Marketing - Pilot Partner Announces Aircraft Maintenance TrackerKen VeArd: So when I first started taking my private pilot lessons, I decided that I wanted to log my flights electronically, because I’m a brand new software developer working for my dads company. And I first went and looked around what little internet there was at the time to see if there was something that could do it for me.

And there’s one or two options that were just not as full-featured as I wanted. So I decided to write my own database application, and I wrote it for me. I didn’t write it from the standpoint that I was gonna make a software package out of it. But I started logging in it and get the business logic in it so it calculate my currency and this is about the time I was starting to sell well.

And then I showed what I did to my flight instructor and goes, this is really good you should probably polished it up a little bit and try to sell it I bet people will buy it. So I was too young and naive to know that that was a tough thing to do, so I went ahead and did it.

[LAUGH] And I started selling it, I found a couple aviation like magazines that are online shops that were interested in selling it in their store, so I worked out a deal with them. And back then in 1997, it was one of those things where I would get an order, and I would pull out four blank floppy discs, put them in my drive, copy the files to it, put the label on it, put it in an envelope and mail it to whoever just ordered it.

It’s a whole foreign concept to what goes on today.

Paula Williams: I remember loading software that way. That kind of shows our age there, [LAUGH] but [LAUGH] That’s cool.

Ken VeArd: And actually, my last trip back from Florida, I stopped in Louisiana for fuel and dinner, and there was a King Air pilot there I started talking to.

And of course, I mentioned, hey, you should try out electronic log books. And he’s like, I did way back in the day, I used it for a long time, and I finally had to give up on it. And I started talking to him, and I was like, this is sounding familiar.

And it turned out that he was one of my original customers from back then, that he bought it. And he thought it was funny because he’s like, yeah, I got the disks in the mail, and it was from some town like Indialantic, Florida. I was like, yeah, that’s where I lived and sent it to you.

So 20 years later, I ran into a customer who used my software for a long period of time, it was pretty interesting.

Paula Williams: Wow, aviation is a small world.

Ken VeArd: Yep.

Paula Williams: So, yeah, as you went through this, and you started marketing, of course, you got a little bit more sophisticated and things like that and ran into possibly some other folks who were in the business.

What are some of the advantages of Pilot Partner, and did you plan those, or were those happy accidents?

Ken VeArd: Well, Pilot Partner, the new iteration of Pilot Partner that started about two and a half years ago, started from the core of what the original Pilot Partner was. And it actually amazed me that after I had 20 years of experience as a software engineer and really understanding how to properly do the engineering task that you need to do.

That I definitely didn’t understand back in 1997 as a college student that my design remained remarkably similar to what I original did in the original Pilot Partner. So the first feature set was almost an exact clone, just make it web-based and Cloud-based software instead of a locally installed database on your computer.

Of course, I set out to make it more scalable and handle more users, and all those things. Then I started thinking about, all right, we can’t just reinvent 20-year-old technology and sell it. What is the value add? So what features, because we are cloud based, can I do now that the old platform would not allow me to do?

And since there’s a lot more competition now, what is it that other software packages are not doing that I can do differently and better? So then, I went to work on some of those features, and the first thing that we did is put together an integrated aviation blog.

So with Pilot Partner, every flight that you do, you can turn on an editors that will allow you to write a blog about that flight, and then post it online. And we did some work to make it SEO-friendly so that Google search engine will see your blog post, and you can control some of the keywords that it looks like, and things like that.

And then integrated it with Facebook to make it really easy to share that post on Facebook. So that was the first new feature that we did, because we’re online, that no one else was doing is making it social friendly.

Paula Williams: I love that part because you can share slides if you want to, and then you also showed me how you can make sure that your images and other things are private as well.

So you can either share them or not, as you see fit, and I think that’s really an important feature of that product.

Ken VeArd: Yep, you’re gonna find there’s a theme with Pilot Partner about the privacy of log books. Because talking to so many different pilots, there’s a wide range of different opinions on how private people wanna be with their log books.

Some people don’t care. It’s like, yeah, I’ll write my log book on the side of the wall next to the highway, and everybody can see it. And other people think it’s top secret information that no one should be able to see, and I don’t think there’s any real rationale between being on either end of that spectrum.

So in Pilot Partner, you’ll notice that there are different safeguards that enable public sharing, and none of the information will be publicly available unless you choose to do it. And you’ve got different levels you can do it, whether sharing a specific image or sharing a portion of your blog that you type in.

And then only summary information on that flight get shared, but regardless of what settings you choose in Pilot Partner, the actual contents of your logged flight is private to your account only.

Paula Williams: Got it, that makes perfect sense. That’s a great feature. Any other differences between Pilot Partner and the other folks out there?

Ken VeArd: So the big one that we really spend a lot of time focusing on is what we call the CFI dashboard. And because we are a web-based tool where selected data can be shared amongst other people, since all the data resides in one place, we have this opportunity for a flight instructor and a student to formalize their relationship inside the log book.

And the student can allow their flight instructor to actually have access to their log book to see all the flights that they’ve done, where they currently stand in their training, and improve that instructor-student relationship. So then, we added a tracking system on top of it, called the aviation training dashboard, which takes the ACS standards.

The Airman Certification Standards that the FAA published about a year ago now, and turned it into what we call a board where you have four different columns. Not introduced, introduced, progressing, and ready for check ride. Each skill that you’re required to demonstrate on your check ride is listed as an individual card.

And your flight instructor, or yourself, depending upon the security permissions that you choose, you drag them across that progression at the different columns until you get all those columns into the ready for check ride column. Then your instructor in signing you off for your check ride. And I firmly believe that if used properly, an instructor and a student can more efficiently do a training program and probably save anywhere between one and five hours of flight time to earn a private pilot’s license, saving the student a lot of money.

Paula Williams: Exactly. I was looking at that and going back over my logs from a million years ago when I got my private, and I spent a lot of time that I did not probably need to stand because I would go with different instructors because of the way my schedule worked.

And the last instructor didn’t necessarily know in detail. Of course, there’s a big white board at the flight school, but I think we probably spent at least 10, 15, maybe 20 hours easily on some different skills that I didn’t need to have spent. Just thinking, this would have saved me so much money in that initial training.

Ken VeArd: Yeah, so you take that same experience, and if you had Pilot Partner available to you, what you would do is you’d have your first flight instructor that you’re flying with would actually be making detailed comments about each flight and each skill that you’re working on inside of Pilot Partners.

And then when you change instructors, you would just Add them to your log book and grant them access to your logbook, and then your instructor can review flight by flight all those detailed remarks to see exactly where you were. Reference the aviation training dashboard to see specifically which skills your, have been working on and where you stand and pick u without taken very many steps backwards.

Paula Williams: Exactly, that’s fantastic. Any other differences that you wanna talk about?

Ken VeArd: The list has gone on and on with the different things that we do. Really, the last year we’ve been focused on creating a long list to answer this question. We’ve done a lot with the social media sharing, and I’m a firm believer that sharing different flights, and flight summaries on social media is very important.

It’s not, a lot of people feel that It’s very selfish, is a very selfish act when you share on Facebook that I just did this flight. You’re just trying to show off. But, a finders a much more important aspect to that for all the aviation community. That when you share in Facebook, several of my shares that I’ve done have inspired people who weren’t thinking of even becoming a pilot.

And they would reach out to me in a private message saying I keep seeing these fun adventures that you do with flying, and I see your social media post and your blogs that you post about flying, how do I get started. And I know of two to three private pilots today who got their inspiration from a social media post that I made, and with the decline in numbers that a lot of people talk about in the general aviation community.

It’s a small thing that each of us can do to bring new pilots into the community.

Paula Williams: That’s fantastic, because in a lot of cases kids don’t get exposed to aviation like they did years ago because they don’t have access to the airports, and the pilots in the cockpits when they’re on an airliner.

There’s a dozen things that you can’t do. Today that you could’ve done five or ten years ago and one of the things that you can do and just like you said, this is not a narcissistic thing, this is how people share now, because you can’t share in those ways, right?

Ken VeArd: Yeah exactly, and not everybody has a Beach Tiger Wing to come down, and pick you up, and take you for a ride and get you hooked.

Paula Williams: Dude, [LAUGH] As the kids would say, that’s fantastic.

Ken VeArd: It is, I do feel it is every pilot’s responsibility to help groom the next generation of new pilots.

And that’s why I’ve spend so much time in doing the social media sharing. We’ve started at the end of 2016 with a year in review graphic that every pilot gets automatically generated based upon the information in your log book and it generates a nice infographic of. Some interest and statistics if you’re flying.

And we’re about to continue this tradition, and April 1st we will be running another version of that for the first quarter of 2017. We make it super simple to click a button, share it to Facebook, it’s optimized for Facebook and Twitter. And you share it and it will tell you things like how many hours you’ve flown that year, how many different aircraft you’ve flown, what was your longest day of flying and how far did you cover it.

And even my own infographic, when it came up, it was some interesting statistics that I hadn’t even thought about, and a paper log book would never tell me that.

Paula Williams: So, there were some surprises there.

Ken VeArd: Every time I slice and dice data in a different way then my log book, I’m always finding surprises.

Paula Williams: Right, so just like a Fitbit can make you run more, [LAUGH] Using this can make you fly more, maybe try some new things.

Ken VeArd: Absolutely, I ran my insurance report after I developed it, and I looked at it. And one thing it tells me how many hours with an instructor have I had across different categories.

Including how many landings have I done with a instructor on board? And I looked at it and realised only had one landing with an instructor in like the last 12 months. And I started to thinking to myself, am I doing everything that I should be doing as a pilot, to stay current and do that continuing education that I feel is important.

So, it inspired me to go find an instructor to go fly around with me for a little bit, and help me push my limits. And help me practice those things that I don’t do on an average flying mission.

Paula Williams: Right, that makes perfect sense. This is an aviation software marketing podcast!

So I have to ask you, and this is something that we’ve actually been advocating to a lot of folks doing marketing in the aviation industry, is the subscription model. And of course your software really lends itself well to that, how has that worked out for you? Have you ever tried selling anything not using a subscription model or what’s the difference in your mind?

Ken VeArd: So, the original version of Pilot Partner was a one time fee, you purchase a piece of software and it gets installed on your system, and it’s your forever, and we offered free updates. I think if I ever did a major version, I was gonna charge a little bit for it, but never got to that point.

And then, in my professional career, I’ve done all kinds of different price and models and worked with all kinds of different setups. But, primarily subscription has been what I have specialized then, and I whole heartedly believe in a subscription model. But in the aviation community I find it to be a specific challenge, because the aviation community has condition themselves to getting things for free.

Which I find is a very interesting observation considering how much money goes into aviation, and how expensive every little thing is then all the sudden you come down to. Yeah, the value add of your log book and have them advance in analytics and at the end of the day your entire career is captured in your log book, it’s one of the more valuable things that people have.

And if I were to still someone’s log book it would be devastating to most pilots, and they expect it for free.

Paula Williams: Right.

Ken VeArd: So, and there are some providers out there that are providing various level of quality log books for free. And they a lot of pilots just say that’s good enough for me.

And then, I ask well do you ever think about the person providing it for you, and what it cost them to provide it? And what it cost them too maintain it and keep it available to you? If it’s free, what’s in it for them? Why would they put new features and updates and maintenance in their priority list to keep your log book which is very important accessible to you always.

Paula Williams: Right.

Ken VeArd: So, and I’m working with the customer right now, who did purchase a log book app out of the app store. And the app is no longer available, it’s no longer supported, and he spent. Months, and turn 20 years of flying into this app, on an iPhone, hand-typing in every flight that you did in 20 years and he contacted me out of the blue and said hey I’m interested in your product but here’s my challenge.

So I helped him kinda get to. We were lucky we were able to contact the original author and he made his data available to him. And he imported it into Pilot Partner. But for a little while, he was afraid that he lost all that data. That he was either stuck on this app that one day wouldn’t work on the iPhone.

And he could not get his data back. So we make sure that your data is always available to you. We have an export option that will export it in a machine readable format that is designed to be imported into a wide range of different options, and this export functionality is available to you even if your subscription is expired.

Paula Williams: Right. I know a lot of the folks in our group, and a lot of the folks that I’ve talked to, would just be nodding in agreement right now, that there are so many things that people expect for free. And I blame [LAUGH] bad marketing. There are so many people that do inferior products and give up on them and then just leave them out in the iPhone store, or on the web in general as downloads, wherever and they don’t maintain things and it degrades the whole community, really, when people come to expect poor quality and come to expect things for free.

So the nice thing, I think about the subscription model is that attract the type of customer that’s willing to pay for a service and that is a specific kind of person that has, usually it’s a person that gets paid for their work, they understand craftsmanship, and they have a really high expectation of you, because they’re paying you.

So it keeps you on your toes, right?

Ken VeArd: Absolutely. And I love that pressure and I love that sense of responsibility that I have, because people are paying money for this service, and customer service is the number one important thing at Pilot Partner, if we have a problem, one, we fix it but before we fix it we communicate with the customer who reported it.

We make them feel that their concerns are important, that we care about that and that we will take care of it for them.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm. Right. Cuz they are paying customers. They’re not just freebie seekers and riff raff on the internet. So that’s a different category of people.

Ken VeArd: And the interesting thing is I have made some really good friendships out of people who initially emailed me for support.

Paula Williams: Wow.

Ken VeArd: And I’ve got one or two pilots from the original Pilot Partner that we stayed in contact with and through this version I’ve already got four or five people who are now in my friends list just because it started with a support request.

Paula Williams: Fantastic! I know sometimes they make the best advocates as well, sell something for them. So what is your favorite marketing activity so far?

Ken VeArd: Marketing, and I’ll be honest, aviation software marketing is a challenge. As a software engineer trying to do all my own marketing, which I’ve been doing for the past year and a half pretty heavily.

Across the board, it’s been a challenge to do things that have measurable results. We spend a lot of time on Facebook. There’s a lot of good Facebook groups that we find unobtrusive ways to make posts. So it doesn’t look like we’re spamming people, but still trying to get the message out.

And I’d say Facebook is a big one. I really enjoy our YouTube channel. I mix our YouTube channel with training videos and we’ve got some people in the aviation history including Rob Mark helped  with some voice over work and make the training videos more professional.

But I really like some of the ad-hoc aviation videos that I’ve produced and put on the channel. That’s one of my more favorite spots, and that’s more along the lines of inspiring people, whether you’re already a pilot and get to see something that pilot partners are doing, and maybe that’ll transfer over to someone who wants a log book software.

But also inspiring those new pilots who didn’t think aviation was in their reach but they start seeing these cool things and then they become a pilot and maybe they’ll also become a potential customer of Pilot Partner.

Paula Williams: Great so they find a way to make or make a way and I really like that channel as well because I think you do a really nice mix of here’s some nuts and bolts about Pilot Partner and here is why I fly.

Ken VeArd: Yeah.

Paula Williams: Which is really what it’s all about.

Ken VeArd: Yep.

Paula Williams: So it’s not just the cut and dry, I think people tend to get kind of features and benefits and features and benefits and features and benefits. And that’s not what it’s about. It’s about flying, you know, and getting out there.


Ken VeArd: It helps that my passion before computers was producing and directing live television. So I’ve always had that bug in me about producing video content, I just love doing it.

Paula Williams: That’s fantastic. Yeah, and you can tell because those are high quality videos, as well. So great stuff.

Favorite book. You always like to ask people that even though aviation or, sorry maybe aviation or marketing related or something off the book.

Ken VeArd: You know book wise, with as busy as I keep myself I don’t get enough time to read good books, if it’s a book it’s usually technical manual of some sort or something in the engineering process.

From a software development side, Joe Celko has written a series of SQL books about the theory behind relational databases and some of the challenges there, he’s one of the probably the smartest people on databases that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. So I’m gonna give Joe Celko a plug here and say this his series of SQL books are my favorite.

Paula Williams: Wow, a little bedside light reading there [LAUGH]. That’s fantastic. How about a favorite movie?

Ken VeArd: Favorite movie.

Ken VeArd: All-time favorite movie.

Ken VeArd: I don’t want to do anything cliche, like any other software engineer and say Star Wars although that is definitely up there. One movie that absolutely blew my mind and I have watched it probably 20 times and I see something different every time I watch it is Inception.

Paula Williams: Yeah. I had to watch that more than once as well, just to figure out where I was. What level of movie am I in.

Ken VeArd: It’s an incredibly well-made movie, and even after, like the 15th or 16th time through you’re picking up on a clue that you didn’t see before, I’m just very impressed with how that movie was written, produced, and delivered.

It was amazing.

Paula Williams: Right, it’s like an Escher painting in a movie.

Ken VeArd: [LAUGH] Yes.

Aviation Sales and Marketing Insider Circle - Join Us!Paula Williams: Cool, all right so I know you just started with our Insiders Group. Do you have any first impressions of that group and how it’s working for you?

Ken VeArd: And so far I’m really just impressed with the whole Overall process of the approach to marketing, since I first contacted you and your company, and the different people on the Facebook group and the Insider’s group.

I’m looking forward to spending more time in some of the other groups settings that you offer but it’s, at first I’ve been a little leery of bringing outsiders in to do marketing. I’ve had a few people offer to do marketing before but knew nothing about the Aviation industry.

I’m a firm believer that you have to be an aviator to market aviation stuff because the industry is just so specific and the techniques that work. And the day to day stuff just don’t always carry over. So, I’m very excited about the industries specific marketing help that this group represents.

Paula Williams: Fantastic, we do have some of the smartest people you’ll ever meet in that group and then privilege to work with you and with them. So when you put great minds together in a room, really fantastic things happen, but yeah, and that’s totally selfish, like I said. Because a lot of people have a weird opinion about sales and marketing so the more you show of the process and of other people in the process, I think the less suspicious people get [LAUGH]

Ken VeArd: Yep.

Paula Williams: Of the industry and things, my gosh you’re in marketing, let me go to the other side of the room and hang on to my wallet, so. Totally understand that sentiment and we’re trying to overcome it but anything we can do to improve our on boarding or experience with you or anything that you’ve seen so far that you’d like to see different?

Ken VeArd: At this point, we’re pretty early in our engagement.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

Ken VeArd: I like the time that you spent. I’ve worked with other companies before, where you get a time to talk and it’s just like, all right, we got 30 minutes. And how quick can we hit the hang up button on this.

Now, I got the complete opposite sense of this, it’s like no we’re in this to win, we’re in this to do great things and let’s make sure we explore at the right level. So, so far, I’ve got all positive feedback. As we start executing on some of the initiatives that we’ve laid for now.

We may have some other feedback but I’m really optimistic and eager to see what results we get from it.

Paula Williams: Fantastic. Yeah, we’re looking forward to moving forward as well. So how can people get hold of their very own free trial of Pilot Partner?

Pilot PartnerKen VeArd: The best way to find us is pilotpartner.net.

It’s available on any web browser on Macs and PCs. You can also find us on Apple Appstore for the Google Play Store, if you have an Android, so we support both platforms. We do recommend, unlike some of the other apps that are out there, spend time on the web base version on your desktop to get all the events, features and the detailed reports.

And then the mobile version is used for the information that you need when you’re on the go such as log in flights, check-in totals, check-in currencies and doing those types of activities. But a lot of pilots tend just stay only on the app.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

Ken VeArd: And they’re missing the whole power that’s behind it.

Paula Williams: Right, and that, honestly, was my first impression when we started talking about what this was. I assumed that it was just an iPhone or maybe iPad app and, until I started exploring it, I didn’t really realize how rich the desktop was. There’s so much you can do with this thing, it’s really crazy.

Ken VeArd: We actually started off with the notion that we would not gonna have a mobile app. And as I have done a lot of mobile app development in the past, and I know how painful it is and how much overhead’s associated with a mobile app. So I optimize the website to work on an iPhone and an iPad, but it just was not producing the feeling and the flow that I wanted.

And one of my partners at the time, Dave Allen, really challenged me to do an app. And I kept telling him, no. We’re never gonna do it. It’s too expensive, too challenging. And then I found a technology that really unlocked the ability for us to provide an app.

I didn’t tell him I was doing it and I went to work for about three weeks without talking to anybody and published the app, and asked them to download it. And I think he fell out of his chair when I sent him the email to download the app.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. So this is a real far cry from those, just iPhone app that maybe add a few features on the desktop, and go backwards and, that’s why they’re free. [LAUGH] There you go.

Ken VeArd: We built this from the ground up using some techniques and technologies that you’ll find in a lot bigger software shops.

Things that I’ve learned over my professional career in the 20 years that really packs a lot of power behind every action that you do and. The web version and the mobile version, it’s just a window into that power. The power is the logic that’s in the cloud that actually stores and processes all the data for you.

Paula Williams: Fantastic, well thank you for spending some time with us today Ken and I really appreciate you sharing your story with us.

Ken VeArd: You’re welcome, thank you for the opportunity.


  • Book Club - Content that Converts

AMHF 0078 – Book Club Discussion – Content that Converts by Laura Hanly


We’ve been so fortunate to have great authors come on the podcast – Shashank Nigam who wrote SOAR, the famous book about airline branding, and Kim Walsh Phillips, our go-to expert on Social Media Marketing.   And in this episode, we got to speak with Laura Hanly, the woman who wrote the book on Content that Converts!

We talk about when you should (and shouldn’t!) write content, and our favorite places to travel, and lots of other topics.



Transcript – Content that Converts by Laura Hanly – With Laura Hanly!

Book Club - Content that ConvertsPaula Williams: Welcome to today’s book club conversation. Today we are discussing Content that Converts! And this actually was one of my favorites this year.

Paula Williams: So, I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: And I’m the guy, I don’t know if you could see us from out, but I’m John Williams.

Paula Williams: And we are ABCI, and ABCI’s mission is?

John Williams: To help everybody in the aviation world sell more products and services.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, and today we are actually really thrilled to have the author of this book, Laura Hanly, with us. It’s not very often we get to talk to the lady that wrote the book about content, right?

John Williams: Exactly.

Laura Hanly: Thank you very much for having me.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Yes, it’s great to have you. I’m really happy that you were able to join us this morning from Lisbon.

Laura Hanly: Yeah, it’s evening now. We’re just watching the sun go down over the river. So it’s a pretty nice way to put in a couple of hours.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Fantastic, so you were born in Australia and then moved to Lisbon? And what are some of your favorite places to travel to? Just to get an idea of you.

Laura Hanly: Well, I mean, Australians love to travel. It’s so far away from everywhere that if you go, you’ve got to go for a long time.

So I spent quite a lot of time in Thailand and Bali. Brunei was probably one of my most unusual trips. It’s this tiny, tiny little island. It’s a right by Indonesia, and it’s an incredible place to visit. Croatia is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Berlin is an amazing spot as well and I have spent quite a bit of time there.

But very happy to be living in Portugal now. It’s Beautiful, whether it’s sunshine 300 days of the year, so that’s pretty nice. And yeah, it’s a beautiful healthy, lifestyle here, and the people are lovely. But the language is a little challenging, but we’re getting there, so. [LAUGH] It’s nice to have a base now.

Paula Williams: Fantastic, it’s really fun to hear your accent. Your writing actually, I was kinda thinking it was British at the time I was reading the book. I was thinking that maybe you were a Brit, but that turned out to be incorrect.

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH] It’s funny, actually I was going back over the book this afternoon to prepare for the call and I could hear my own Australian-ness in it.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] So funny, how interesting.

John Williams: So I’ve got a question for you about the book.

Laura Hanly: Okay.

John Williams: Just a general thing, why did you not put page numbers in it?

Laura Hanly: You know, I didn’t think about it and self-publishing is not a very well documented process.

And I’m actually having a book reformatted as we speak to put in page numbers and make the margins a little larger so that the body is a little more accessible. Yeah, page numbers will [LAUGH] definitely be in the second edition.

John Williams: Well, I was just curious, I thought maybe you had [LAUGH] a reason for it.

Laura Hanly: There’s no sneaky marketing strategy for leaving off the page numbers. [LAUGH]

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: But it did, I think, make us work a little bit harder. Because one of the things that we do in our book club is we make bookmarks for each of the books. And usually with some of the key points that we think are particularly interesting to people in the aviation industry.

So we had a really hard time putting the bookmarks [LAUGH] in the right places.

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH] I’m sorry to make you work harder.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That’s all right, it was actually, we got to know the book pretty well I think as a result of that. So we were wondering if that strategic.

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: All right, I would say probably the thing that stood out the most for me is we’ve read a lot of marketing books and a lot of content books. But the thing that was really cool about this one is it was focused on business to business, which of course is where most of our clients are.

And I think that was a really nice focus. Is that something that came from your business, Laura, or from your consultancy or?

Laura Hanly: Yeah, primarily I work with business-to-business company, so people who have service businesses, particularly. So I have a lot of marketing consultants, life insurance agencies, people who sell physical products to businesses.

Web development agencies, that kind of thing. So people who are not necessarily selling directly to consumers. And while there is a lot of overlap in how content particularly works with those different audiences, you do need to tailor it a little bit. And I think there was something really lacking in the material available.

Everything is very customer and consumer focused. And so I thought it was a good opportunity to sort of share what I’ve learned working with B2B companies directly. And what I found works and doesn’t work in that slightly different space.

Paula Williams: Excellent, so, John, what stood out to you most as far as first impressions or general overview of the book?

John Williams: Looks like something we could’ve written.

Paula Williams: Very similar to you?

John Williams: You pretty much espouse what we do with respect to content. But you break it down a whole lot nicer, and we are probably going to write some things and attribute it to you, of course. Cuz there is stuff in here that would be good quotes.

Paula Williams: It would be.

Laura Hanly: Well, be my guest. [LAUGH]

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Very inspirational for us, and also I think very, very relevant for our audience. A lot of times we have to take books, and part of the reason for our book club is because a lot of the marketing literature can do almost more harm than good when people take a Coca-Cola strategy or something like that.

And they apply it to something that’s really niche-y, really general retail product. And then they apply it to something that’s really niche-y, they could spend a lot of money accidentally. Without getting a really great return. So, I think your book was really focused on that.

And that was nice for us. We didn’t have to put any disclaimers in there about be careful about this part, because this doesn’t apply to us. So, that was nice.

Laura Hanly: Well, that’s great. Thank you.

Paula Williams: Yeah, all right, so carrying on. The first bookmark that we put in the book was on the section that talks about customer avatars.

I thought the description that used there was really helpful. And the exercises in that section of the book were really helpful as far as developing your customer avatar and why that’s important.

Laura Hanly: Yeah, I think a customer avatars are something that gets talked about a lot. But a lot of people kind of skim over the top of it.

It’s one thing to say, okay, I work with B2B businesses. But there are any number of different types of B2B business, and the people that make up those businesses are equally complex. And I think it’s very shortsighted to skim over this part. It can be a bit of a grind and it means you actually have to go out and talk to your customers and get to know them and do quite a lot of research.

It’s quite an in-depth process to really develop a good avatar. But it’s something that will pay off in droves in the long run. And as I was looking through the book earlier on sort of thinking about, most businesses have more than one avatar. There’s the primary avatar who is the person that focus all your marketing towards.

And there are often a secondary or tertiary set of avatars that are going to want to buy your product or service. But who can do that without being directly marketed to. And I think the key with all marketing is to have clear message, a very focussed message in to be delivering into a specific avatar.

And to be try to be all things to all people just is going to make every campaign fall flat. So while there will be other people, people who fought outside of your defined avatar that was to buy from you, that’s fine, let them buy from you. But don’t market directly to them.

Just focus on that primary avatar with all of your marketing.

Paula Williams: Love that. I think Kirk Vonnegut said, every great writer writes to an audience of one.

Laura Hanly: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: And of course, he sells [LAUGH] millions and millions of books that each person is reading is an audience of one.

And feels like you’re in a one on one relationship with the person that did the writing. And business to business especially, there’s so much terrible writing, and it’s because people are trying to write to many, you all.

Laura Hanly: Yes.

Paula Williams: In Texas, they call that y’all. [LAUGH] It just doesn’t work.

You really have to establish a one on one relationship, even in business to business marketing, right?

Laura Hanly: Yeah, and it’s a great way to differentiate yourself as well. Because as you say, there’s so much sort of generalized language used, and such indiscriminate content put out, that to be able to speak really specifically to somebody’s interests or needs.

And make it seem like you are speaking specifically to them, that you’ve really putting the work to get to know them. Even though it’s quote, unquote just business, I think that’s really profound way to connect with somebody. And it sort of shortcuts a lot of the trust-building and rapport building that you might otherwise have to do.

Because they instantly feel at ease with you and feel like You’ve got their best interests in mind.

Paula Williams: Exactly. John, did you have anything to add to that?

John Williams: Nope, you guys are doing good.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] I think you edit a lot of bad writing, [LAUGH] because a lot of this stuff that you edit out, a lot of times, is that generalized language.

John Williams: You’re being nice, calling it language.

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: There we go. All right, we’ll move along then. Okay, our next bookmark was, a few sections later, it was about developing the right offer for your audience. And this, I think, is another place that we see in our consultancy, a lot of work that can be done.

And as far as sharpening your offer, making that more specific and more tailored to your avatar.

Laura Hanly: Definitely, I mean, ultimately, the businesses that are most successful are the ones that are developed to scratch somebody’s own itch, a lot of the time. And so, you can think, well, I have this problem, therefore everybody else must have this problem.

And while that might be the case in some industries, in B2B, that is less frequently the case. So I think it’s really important once you got a clear grasp on who your primary avatar is, to really get deep into their problems before you start throwing out solutions. Because, again, it’s easy to think well, I’m familiar with this industry, I have served this type of person before.

But industries change very quickly, the demographics within an industry change very quickly. And I think it’s a lost opportunity not to involve your customers in your product development. Making the right offers is very much about identifying what they made, and what they want, and being able to blend those two things effectively.

And so there’s no way you can do that without knowing your customer. So this is something that I come back to over and over again, so that it all comes back to understanding the position of your customer, the mindset of your customer. And there’s always gonna be a degree of, you have to sell something, so obviously, you need to start with what you have.

But being willing to take feedback and iterate over time to develop the products and services that your customers most need and want is ultimately going to put you far, far ahead of where you would be if you just decide okay, this is my product, this is the only thing I’m selling, that’s it.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm, exactly. In fact, I think just about every offer that we’ve made has come from a request from a customer. And I think the procedure that you kinda outlined in the book is a really good one for making that happen.

Laura Hanly: Yeah, I think that, again, it’s an in-depth process.

You’ve gotta do a lot of research and spend a lot of time talking to people. I think especially businesses, as they go more online, people are becoming resistant to talking to other people. And that makes it really difficult to get a clear grasp on what people really want and need.

Because you can’t get the facts just from staring at a computer screen. You have to be able to hear the language people use to talk about the problem and see their facial expressions and hear their tone of voice. And all of these things can kinda give you a really clear picture of what’s truly driving them and what the core of the problem is.

And especially in business to business, if you’re dealing with the people who are in the company or founded the company, oftentimes, their problems are really tied up with their sense of themselves. And they have this deep sense of responsibility to their company and to their teams. And so, to avoid that resource is really to shoot yourself in the foot.

So, while it can be hard work going back to something that you think is finished or realizing that maybe you need to change what you’re offering, I think it’s always worth the effort.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, right, we all know that data can lead you astray. We’ve all seen-

Laura Hanly: Yes.


Paula Williams: Some really obvious cases of that recently. So there is no excuse for not getting out and talking to your customers one on one on the phone at least, if not in person. Seeing all that emotion and getting behind the reasons and things is important.

Laura Hanly: And I think customers feel really valued when you go out of your way to do that as well.

If you seek somebody out and ask for their opinion, it’s a really great way to establish, again, some rapport with them and to show them that you really are thinking about them and their problem. And it makes people wanna trust you, and I’m always gonna buy from the person who has asked me what I think, compared to the person who has just told me what they think I should think.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Absolutely.

John Williams: Well I learned the difference, also, is between being there or being seen is that people will say anything in a text or an email that they wouldn’t say if they were face-to-face.

Laura Hanly: Mm, very true.

Paula Williams: Yeah, absolutely.

Laura Hanly: Very true.

Paula Williams: It’s a different kind of communication, different depth, I guess, of communication.

Love the section on recurring content, and a lot of our folks are working on either article series or podcasts or YouTube video series, those kinds of things. And I think this section was really helpful to those folks.

John Williams: Well the thing that I, excuse me.

Laura Hanly: Sorry, go ahead.


John Williams: There’s a line that you have in bold face that says let me lay this out here. If you use content creation productive, or you avoid selling, you will go broke.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: We’ve done that actually [LAUGH].

John Williams: We have no group, but we stopped.

Paula Williams: Exactly, I would so much rather create content than sell. But it is so easy to get caught up in this. So you really have to have a system that makes it easy for you, right?

Laura Hanly: You do, and it’s a difficult balance to strike. Especially if you’re a creative person and you like producing content, and you’ve got lots of ideas about great material that you can put out for your audience.

It’s very easy to sort of just focus exclusively on that when, unfortunately, most of the time, a blog post is not going to directly make you money. It might get somebody into your email funnel, at which point you can make them an offer, and that’s what makes the money.

It’s the book versus the front end piece of content that gets them into the ecosystem, so that you can make them that offer. But if you’re not making those offers, then you can spend a whole lot of time and never get paid, and that’s a problem. And I see a lot of people, who are uncomfortable with sales, hide in content creation.

And they can sort of justify it because well, I’m creating value, and I’m building up goodwill, and over time, I’ll find a way to monetize this. And I think that phrase, monetizing something, it’s very deceptive, because it sort of strips away the fact that you have to sell something.

It’s easy to think, well, maybe I’ll just put an ad on the side. Or someone will wanna do guest posts on my blog because I have lots of traffic or whatever. And it’s avoiding the hard thing, and I think selling, it’s the only thing in business. If you’re in business, you have to be selling, and if you’re not making sales, you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.

And so to avoid sales by just focusing on content is really shortsighted. That said, you do need to be producing content consistently and making sure that your business is visible, and trusted, and You’r providing great value to your audience, but it does have to be a balance.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, it’s always a means to an end, no random acts of content.

Laura Hanly: Exactly, [LAUGH] that’s a great way of putting it.

Paula Williams: Exactly, love that, okay. Great, so and then of course, besides the recurring content, and you also have a nice description here of Content Assets and why you need some of those larger pieces of content. And John being the finance guy, an asset is a thing in your business, a fixed item that, just like a printer or a desk, that you use to make money over, and over, and over again, right?

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

Laura Hanly: Yeah, the way I think about it is blog content and podcast and video are all great. They’re all really valuable forms of content. And particularly, podcasts and video are even beginning to outstrip blog posts for performance these days. Because there’s so much blog content out there, whereas the other two platforms are not as saturated yet.

But all of that content tends to be reasonably short. You’ll get some podcasts that are an hour or more, and that’s fine. People will just listen on double-speed or whatever to sort of save the time if they’re that way, inclined. But there’s not a lot of really long-form content being published, except by a handful of very well established experts.

And those people are producing exceptional pieces of work, and it’s long. And for a long time online people were like, no one’s gonna read a multi-thousand web blog post. People just don’t have that kind of attention. Everything on the Internet is a click away. But I think now that there is so much short-form content available, people are a little bit sick of these very short pieces of content.

And I think especially in the B2B space. If you can provide a long-form piece of content to somebody that completely solves the problem, it’s so valuable. If they don’t have to click back to Google and search for three more blog posts to find the complete picture of what they’re telling to solve.

If they can just go to your one really long piece of content, then, one, that’s gonna be great for your SEO. Two, it’s gonna be great for your customer trust. Three, it’s gonna give you multiple opt-in opportunities. It’s just a much more effective way to do your content.

And so, while not all of us are going to be writing 5,000 word blog posts every week, and most of us won’t. Even if you do that sporadically, along with some shorter content, then that’s gonna be really valuable. But of course, then the other end of the spectrum, the long-form content, is books.

And so I’ve seen a lot of B2B companies write books that define how to do things well in their business or in the industry. So for example, I recently worked on a book with a life insurance agent who basically his business is helping other life insurance agents, which is quote unquote a legacy industry.

It’s been around a very long time, and it’s mostly all happened offline. But he’s helping life insurance agents convert to digital. Helping them get online, get their websites set up, learn how to manage lead generation tools, and all of those kinda things. And so, he wrote this whole book, giving away the entire process that he’s used to do that.

And now he’s able to send that to other life insurance agents, and invite them to use the services. So, it’s a really great way to demonstrate your authority and your expertise in your particular industry. To put your spin on what’s happening in your business and the industry you’re working with.

And to really define how your customer thinks about their problems. It’s a really, really valuable piece of content because it increases over time. You might see a stream of revenue from sales. It’s not gonna be particularly high revenue, I would say in most cases. Particularly if you’re in a very niche industry.

But over time, you’ll start to see speaking events sent your way. You’ll start to see more clients come in. And I think that’s kind of a big one, particularly if you’re working in a service business. If you can send somebody a copy of your book and say, chapter seven is gonna be really great for the problem that I know you’re trying to solve right now.

Let’s talk about this next week. It really interrupts people’s kind of monotony. It gets inside their loop a little bit and can show them that you’re serious about helping them and that you know what they’re talking about. And so it becomes an asset because you can pull bigger and bigger clients because you have this authority.

Because it still takes a lot of resources to write a book. You’ve really gotta be committed to it, and if you get it done, there’s still a lot of cache in being an author. There’s still sort of an air of that authors are a little bit different to the rest of us.

And I used to work in publishing and I would see this all the time. People are a little bit awed by authors. And so if you can get it together and put a book out, it can be a really revolutionary thing for your business. So I think while it’s a big undertaking for a lot of people, it can be the thing that sets you apart in your market.

Paula Williams: Right, maybe using the example of your business, before and after the book, is there a difference that you’ve definitely noticed before you had this book completed and for sale on Amazon? Versus Laura Hanly, author of the book on Content that Converts?

Laura Hanly: Yeah, there has been a really marked difference actually.

One of my motivations writing a book was to add a stream of leads that was not reliant on referrals. So up until the point that I had written a book, probably 80% of my business was coming through referrals, and that’s fine. But it’s not a predictable source. And I wanted something that was a little bit more predictable and that was going to happen a bit faster than if I just stuck with blogging and gradually building up that content base over time.

So since the book, it’s more than paid for itself in terms of the time I spent writing it. I have been able to bring on several much bigger clients than I would’ve been able to had I sort of continued unproven. Having, has also opened up a whole lot of interview opportunities.

So, obviously this is one of those interviews. But I’ve been able to get in touch with some pretty big podcasts in the marketing space. And those things are starting to happen more and more frequently. So this is what I mean, that it’s increasing in value over time. The more interviews I do, the more interviews I get offered.

The more clients I take on, the more clients wanna work with me. So it’s been probably the most significant turning point in my business to date.

Paula Williams: Right, yeah, we have a book that we published a couple of years ago. And certainly, we’ve started doing that annually, doing an annual guide to social media for aviation professionals.

Laura Hanly: Great.

Paula Williams: Which is a nichey book. [LAUGH] It’s never gonna be a New York Times best-seller, that’s not our intention. And we honestly, if anything, probably lose money or invest money, I should say, on the production of the book. Because we do send it to clients and so on and don’t make a whole lot.

Writing a book is not a great way to get rich but it certainly is a great way to establish the authority credibility and expertise that you talk Talked about this one. [CROSSTALK]

Laura Hanly: Absolutely, and you will not get rich off the book but you might get rich off the stuff that happens off the back of the book.

Paula Williams: Absolutely.

John Williams: The trick here is for us with our clients is to convince them of what you say.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

Laura Hanly: Mm-hm. [LAUGH] That’s a whole other thing, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

Paula Williams: Right, absolutely. So I also loved the, I do have to say that the first time I read the book I kinda skimmed it really quickly, but then I went back.

And did all of the exercises because I thought, well, we’re in the marketing business. I don’t need to do all this stuff. But then after getting through the book I went back and did all the exercises because I realized this systematic approach was actually pretty valuable. And yeah, I also really love the round up at the end.

Number one, give away the farm. This is something we get a lot of resistance to because our customers are very concerned about their competition.

Laura Hanly: Mm-hm. Yeah, I think that’s a really common thing across a lot of industries, but. It’s unusual, if you go to the effort of documenting all of your processes and putting down how you approach things, your competitors are so far behind you.

Or they’re so entrenched in a different way of doing things that to steer the ship in a completely new direction is often more effort than is possible. And it, change is expensive, it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of buy in from everybody on the team.

Everybody really has to be on the same page if you’re gonna change how you do things. And so I think while they might get a few valuable bits and pieces out of what you’re talking about, let them it’s, most of the time, it’s not going to be enough to make a material difference.

And in some industries, that’s probably not true. If you’re Elon Musk and you’re building, all of your rockets to go to Mars and there is another space company coming up along side you, then yeah, you don’t wanna be giving away your secrets. But most of the time it’s so much work for a business to change how they do things that they will read what you are doing and think.

Aw man, I shouldn’t have done that way.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

Laura Hanly: But not here so we are going this way.

Paula Williams: So we should hire Laura to do it for us [LAUGH].

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH] [CROSSTALK] I know.

Paula Williams: Acknowledge you for that is, Emeril Lagasse or Jamie Oliver some of the thing that shafts.

They give away the farm. They write cookbooks. They tell people how to do. They even do videos and show people exactly how to do what they do, but people still flock to their restaurants.

Laura Hanly: Hmm. Yeah, people don’t want to do it themselves.

Paula Williams: Absolutely! Okay. Then the second point, forget tactics, you need strategy and systems.

A lot of people are looking for tips and tricks and easy buttons. And I think this really gets into the depth of content that you talked about when you talk about those content assets. And also in your recurring content you need to go deeper than most people do.

Would you agree?

Laura Hanly: Yeah, definitely, and I think it’s very easy to get distracted by little tactics and the latest hacks and shortcuts and all this stuff. But there’s no replacement for doing the work, and I think thinking really carefully about what you want your content to do for your business overall.

And then, working backwards from that. Working out exactly what function it’s going to serve and how you’re going to leverage it before you ever publish a piece of content, that’s where the real value is. And if you’ve already been producing content and you haven’t been strategic about it, now is the perfect time to step back from it and think okay, what do I need to do to make this really serve my business?

Serve my customers and provide me with a vehicle to make sales off this.

Paula Williams: Right. Yeah I think I just listen to a podcast by Pat Flynn he’s talking about content audits. And this really goes back to, a lot of us maybe started producing content back when it was effective to just sorta do things.

But now we do have to be a lot more strategic about it. So you can go back through all of the stuff that you’ve built, not throw anything away, but think is this still relevant? If so, can I update it, or combine it with something else, or do something else to make it valuable again?

And they could fit the strategy. And having a system to audit your content on a regular basis, that’s one example of that that comes to mind.

Laura Hanly: Yeah, I think that’s a fantastic approach.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: Yeah, I sit here. I listen to you two, you know. It’s too bad you’re not working together on something.

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Well it’s really neat to find somebody that thinks a lot like us. So, that’s really refreshing. Content is your ambassador. So you send your book out to a prospective costumer, and they get a pretty good idea of how you work, and what you do, and how you.

Just like John said, it sounds like it would be really great to work together. It also probably weeds out the ones that you don’t wanna work with because they’re a different style from you, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Laura Hanly: Very much so, yeah. It’s a really powerful way to get somebody’s attention and to as I said earlier to differentiate yourself from other providers in your market.

But it’s also a good way when people come back and they say no I didn’t like this give away farm ideas or I’m not interested in, trying to build a very complex sales strategy. I can say okay, that’s fine. No hard feelings at all. We probably not gonna be the right fit to work together and you know, it saves a whole lot of miscommunications and misunderstanding later on.

If people have been consuming your content and it’s the same with book content or broadcast content. People get to know you through your content and. They get a sense of whether they like you, whether they would wanna work with you, whether they like your style of doing things.

And so it’s a really great way to sort of for your customer to get to know Before the getting to know you.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, exactly. And saves probably a lot of frustration on everyone’s part in that.

Laura Hanly: Yeah, it does. [LAUGH]

John Williams: But it’s only an initial step in the sales process.

Laura Hanly: Very much so. You’ve still gotta get them into conversations and really engaging with you. It’s not enough to just send them a mass of content and have them wade through it.

Paula Williams: Right.

Laura Hanly: I think people are really keen to automate as much of their business as possible.

But the longer I am in business and seeing how different businesses function through my clients, the businesses that are doing really well are the ones who are engaging personally with their customers and haven’t left their sales to automation.

Paula Williams: Agreed, right. And the content is not a refuge from sales that point four is a really good segue into that.

I have to literally kick myself out of this on Mondays and make those sales calls. So that I’m away from the computer, and I can’t get involved in content creation, or other people’s content. And content of clients and everything else, you have to get away from it for some balance and make sure that you’re actually spending the time on the phone or in person, right?

Laura Hanly: Absolutely, and I think one thing that’s easy to forget as well is, if you don’t make sales, you will go out of business. And if you go out of business, you will have no content to be making. [LAUGH] The things you enjoy doing so much will go away because you have no audience to give it to.

So it’s really critical from both sides, from both viewpoints, that if you wanna keep making content, you have to make sales to fund your content habit.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

Laura Hanly: And if you wanna stay in business, selling is the only way to do i. And I see so many business people who are so afraid of selling, and there are so many things that can cause that fear.

They don’t wanna come across as really pushy or mercenary, and they don’t want people to be upset with them that they’ve made an offer. Or they feel like they’re gonna be judged or they feel like they’re not worthy, or they have some self-esteem issues that are tied up in this stuff.

And it can be so complex, there are so many different things that go into this. But getting comfortable with selling is the most important thing you can do for your business. And I think use your content as a way to practice getting comfortable with selling. If you can sell in the written word, then you can sell in the spoken word.

And it’s a steep learning curve for a lot of people but you’ve gotta do it.

Paula Williams: You’ve gotta make the leap, absolutely, right. And then the last one, recognize when you’re not the best person to create the content. We have a lot of folks who are, I’m gonna say kind of the engineering types.

Laura Hanly: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: They’ve invented a piece of software, or an aircraft component, or something of the sort. And they’re brilliant, brilliant people. I just am in awe of a lot of our clients, because they are so smart. But they are not necessarily the best person to explain the thing that they created to mere mortals.

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: And I think bridging that gap between the two is a leap of trust to say I have to explain my product to customers. Because it has to be accurate and it has to be helpful. And you can’t over simplify too much but you absolutely do have to simplify to the point where people will get it within the first couple of seconds.

Or no one’s gonna spend 20 minutes to understand a component or a piece of software or anything else. They have too many things to do, or too many options.

Laura Hanly: Absolutely, and this is a really common problem. It’s a difficult one to solve. Because there are so many people out there who market themselves as writers.

But who, speak the language and are capable of physically writing, but that doesn’t make you a writer. And so a lot of people have a lot of trouble finding someone who can extract the information that they need from the inventor or the person who is leading the business.

And then put it back out into words with a structure that the customer base is going to engage well with. And so I know several people who have gone through three, or four, or five, or even more iterations trying to find a writer who can get it. And they just end up thinking no one can do it.

I have to be the one to do it. But if that’s a position that you have found yourself in, I really encourage you to keep looking. Talk to me, send me a tweet, I will send you some people. [LAUGH] There are really great writers out there. And more often than not, the person who has been the technical brain behind the product or the service is not the person who should be explaining it to the buyer.

It’s so complex and they have so much background information, that they can never simply explain it. And so the role of the writer in that situation is to be the advocate for the audience. To extract all of that information, to get it from the technical mind, and then digest it.

And then synthesize it into something that a layperson can understand and engage with. So there definitely does have to be a strong sense of trust between the technician and the writer. There has to be rapport and there has to be trust and there’s gotta be a deep understanding on the part of the writer around the technology or the solution that is being provided.

It’s a real advantage to understand where the technician is coming from. Because that way you can kind of straddle both sides of the content. You can see it from the technical point but you can also see it from the layperson’s point. So it can be a mission to find that person.

And I totally respect the people who grind through trying to do it themselves because they haven’t found the right writer. But in the long run, it will hurt you not to have a writer onboard, so-

Paula Williams: Right.

Laura Hanly: Particularly, as well if you’re thinking about writing something long form.

Like if you’re thinking about writing a book, for most people running a business that is just so far out of what’s possible because they’ve got a whole business to run. It takes months to write a book. And so to do that themselves, even though that might be something that would be really valuable for them in the long run, they just can’t make the time.

And so in that situation I think as well, get somebody onboard, have someone come and help you out. And get it done without having it take over your life.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, John, I think you were a skeptic at one point, of writers.

John Williams: Well, that’s because I had to redo everything.

I came up in an era when there were technical writers, right? And I would give them a few points, they’d go write a document, and I ended up having to rewrite all those documents. So I said, to heck with it. So I refused technical writers, I wrote it myself.

And it was better than they could have done. And the problem I see today is an awful lot of folks don’t recognize that they need a writer. They don’t recognize the need for content when they’re trying to do marketing. Because the attitude is, well, anybody can tell this is a good product.

Laura Hanly: Yes. [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Especially the inventor. This is so obvious that somebody that doesn’t understand it just doesn’t have a brain. But it’s just that everyone is so busy. That they need to have it explained in a way that they can understand quickly or you can’t get their attention.

John Williams: Yeah, what really brought that [INAUDIBLE] my mind was, I went with my daughter to look for a new car. And we were visiting the dealers that she was interested in, and the Audi dealer, who shall remain nameless.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: We walked in and I got a sales guy and we sat at his desk and she started asking him questions.

He said, well, these cars just sell themselves. And I didn’t say it but I almost said, if that’s true, where’s the kiosk with keys, we don’t need to talk to you.

Paula Williams: We just needed a vending machine.

Laura Hanly: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: To put the money in and get the car keys out, then drive away.

Laura Hanly: Yeah. [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: There’s someone to explain this, it is complicated.

Laura Hanly: Yeah, and I think a lot of the time, audiences don’t realize that they have a problem. Earlier in the book I was talking about stages of sophistication in the market. And understanding how sophisticated your customer base is in terms of how they think about the problem is really critical.

So if there are any And they are [INAUDIBLE]
back of their brain [INAUDIBLE] something is bothering them and they can’t quite put their finger on it, and you know what that problem is and you have that solution to it. And you just sort of hand it to them and say, here you go, this is what you need.

There’s a huge divide between their perspective, and what they perceive to be their problem, and what you perceive to be their problem and the solution that they need. So content is going to bridge that gap, and so that’s why it’s so important to get somebody who can understand where both parties are at, and sort of translate between the two.

Paula Williams: Exactly, that is the bridge, for sure. All right, so next steps. Like I said, I went through the book, thinking I didn’t need to do the exercises [LAUGH]. But then I went back and did them. Because we have a fairly sophisticated business. We understand content but, I think it was very well worth it to use your systematic approach and I can tell those exercises were really well thought out in order, in a really good use of time.

Laura Hanly: Great-

John Williams: I read a lot of books myself, and I have to tell you that I was not looking forward to this one but it was right, it was well written and it was one that kept me interested and going.

Laura Hanly: That’s great, I think [LAUGH] people who don’t wanna read it are the ones that I value the compliments from the most.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: The book club, incase anyone is new listening to this is kind of my darling. Not necessarily John’s, as far as a means of getting our folks to discuss books and things. And also to share ideas and so on. So, I understand books aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I think they are so valuable.

Anybody who’s in business should, even if they’re not crazy about books, read one book a month in your line of work, and do what you can to understand it and apply what you learn.

Laura Hanly: Absolutely.

John Williams: Interesting thing that I came across [COUGH] .
I heard about it first before business school.

And then at the business school, they reiterated the fact. And that is, the higher up the organization you are, the more time you need to take, thinking and reading.

Laura Hanly: Yes, I absolutely agree.

Paula Williams: Right, yeah, do the exercises. Take notes, also review the book on Amazon. You can find it on Amazon.

And I think the easiest way to find it is just look up Content that Converts Laura Hanly, and it’ll pop right up. And then also visit LauraHanly.com. You’ve got a great blog and a lot of social media connections there that you can connect with, whatever your favorite channel is, and anything else Laura that we should know?

Laura Hanly: No, I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you guys, it’s been great. And if anybody has questions or wants to get in touch and ask about anything that they read in the book, please hit me up on Twitter, I’m @LauraHanly. And more than happy to chat with everybody. Or send me an email, my email is there on the website, so I’m pretty easy to find.

But yeah, I hope that it’s been helpful for everybody reading, and I promise next edition we’ll have page numbers.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That’s fantastic. And next month’s book of course is Tribes by Seth Godin, and that’s one that I have read before. And Laura what’s your favorite book before we leave you?

Laura Hanly: Favorite book that’s a tough one [LAUGH].

Paula Williams: I know like, pick your favorite child!

Laura Hanly:  I’ve recently been on a tear with reading. One of my goals for this year was to read a whole lot more. So let me just quickly pull open my list and see which one is gonna jump out at me the most..

Laura Hanly: You know what, I’ve read Robert Cialdini’s most recent book, Pre-Suasion. Cialdini wrote the book called Influence, which is one of the most well-known marketing books ever written. And Pre-Suasion I think is just as good and just as valuable. I’ve written a blog post about it recently.

If you’re making a lot of proposals, putting out a lot of deals and contracts and that kind of thing. I think it’s really, really valuable to read. Because it talks a lot about priming and anchoring. And there are two mental processes that you can take advantage of with when you’re dealing with negotiations and that kind of thing, to help people come around your way of seeing things.

I think it’s super valuable, so I gonna say Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini.

Paula Williams: Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini, we’ll link to that also from the show notes on this. Yeah, we do a survey once a year to narrow down to the 12 books we’re gonna read next year so I think that’s gonna go on the list.

Laura Hanly: Great!

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That will be a nominee, so that’s fantastic, I appreciate that.

John Williams: Thanks for staying up late Laura.

Laura Hanly: Not a problem at all.

Paula Williams: Go sell more stuff, America needs the business, and so does Portugal.

Laura Hanly: Portugal definitely does [LAUGH]. We’ll see you guys here next summer!

Book Club Discussion - Content that Converts     

AMHF 0077 – Aviation Service Marketing – Consulting, Insurance, Technical Services, etc.

aviation service marketingSelling a service like consulting, insurance, reporting, medical services, training, or catering to aviation customers?

As diverse as these fields may be, they have several things in common:

  • A limited prospect pool. There are only so many business jets flying around!
  • A high trust barrier. Our customers have a high threshhold for trust, since they’re responsible for the safety and regulatory compliance of their plane or their fleet!
  • A long sales cycle. Mostly for the reasons listed above, but also because of the demographics of this group tends to be older, conservative, and consult many people for opinions before making a decision.

So considering all that, how to you make more sales and become more profitable?   John and I discuss this, among other things, in this episode.


Transcript – Aviation Service Marketing – Consulting, Insurance, Technical Services, etc.


Announcer: You’re 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: Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, Episode number 77. Today, we are talking about aviation service marketing like consulting, insurance, training, medical, etc., etc., etc. So I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: And I’m John Williams.

Paula Williams: And we are ABCI, and ABCI’s mission is?

John Williams: To help you ladies and gentlemen out there sell more products and services in the aviation industry.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, and today our mission is?

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] To help you sell more consulting, insurance-

John Williams: Services.

Paula Williams: Training, medical, whatever service it is that you offer, right?

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Okay, so if you have questions, comments, concerns, anything like that, and I know there’s a lot of really specific niches in the aviation industry.

I mean people think the aviation industry is one thing, but it is not. There’s a lot in here. Even in this episode we’re going to be talking about a lot of different types of services. If you’ve got questions about your specific specialty or service that you’d like to ask us about, go ahead and ask us on our blog or on Facebook or Twitter, or just pick up the phone actually and [LAUGH] give us a call.

We love talking to people about marketing [LAUGH].

John Williams: Well, I wonder why that is.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and we promise we will reply to any questions that have the #AvGeekMarketing. That’s one way to talk with us really quickly if it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and we’re not going to answer the phone, right?

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Okay, [LAUGH] all right, so once again, we’re going to break this down into obviously the big idea here is to sell more services in the aviation industry. But to break that down into a step by step process, we use a three phase approach. Phase One being advertising and prospecting.

Phase Two being building credibility and closing. And Phase Three, resells, recaptures and referrals. And what is unique about the aviation industry is that we have a long sale cycle, especially for services, right?

John Williams: Well, especially for anything, gas, syphon gas, and your wearables but yeah, everything else is long sale cycle.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, so it’s really important to get this right and also to spend at least 50% of your marketing budget on Phase Two and Phase Three. Most marketing consultants who do not specialize in aviation are going to tell you that most of your money needs to go into advertising, right?

John Williams: That’s what they say.

Paula Williams: But we’re going to tell you the opposite, that at least 50% needs to go into building credibility and closing. We’ve got a fairly limited number of people who are prospective customers for us, which is good and bad. [LAUGH]

John Williams: Well, but if you’ve ever been with any of the other guys and spent all your money in Phase One then [COUGH] you’ll understand what [COUGH] excuse me, what we’re talking about.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, so depending on how specific the service you offer is, you might have a possible universe of customers of 67 people. So if that is the case, you need a fairly large number of those 67 people, or you need to charge them a whole lot of money.

John Williams: Or both.

Paula Williams: Or both, but it doesn’t cost you a whole lot to reach those 67 people.

John Williams: Nope.

Paula Williams: Or it may be 1,000 or 5,000 or 10,000 but we are talking a very specific audience, right? Okay, so let’s talk customer avatars. Who are the kinds of people that you may want to sell to, depending on the service that you offer?

So you may offer a consulting service where you’re helping owner/operators fly safer. As an example, you’re offering, let’s say, a software solution or a service that allows them to save money or be safer or cause them some kind of a benefit. You might be selling to corporate fleet managers who need to manage their fleet more efficiently.

All of this really varies quite a bit in this phase so this is something that we may need to have an individual consultation about. And you can get one of those. [LAUGH]

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: On our website you can just go to the gold button on the left-hand side and click Let’s Talk, and it will set up an appointment with us.

You can just pick a time on our calendar where we’ll talk to you about your specific situation. So other consultants may need to talk with airline executives in specific positions, maybe the HR people, about how to hire safer pilots, or how to do psych evaluations for pilots, or whatever the situation is.

They’re all very, very specific. But some aviation professional in some kind of role is probably who you’re selling to, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Okay, that was not very specific. But we want to cover all the bases and make sure that you’re doing this right. And as long as you understand specifically who your customer is, and we’re not talking about a company here, a lot of people will say, well, my customer is this company, my customer is Boeing.

No, [LAUGH] Boeing is not your customer.

John Williams: Boeing is made up of people and people within that company are your customers.

Paula Williams: Exactly, in fact, that’s one of the ways that this goes badly is if you are either selling too low on the totem pole, you’re not selling to the right person at that company.

You may be selling to the person that could benefit from your product or service but it’s not the person that is making the decision about making the purchase.

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: Another thing that often happens is people kind of generalize and they think, okay, well, Signature Flight Service is my customer.

But if your specific advocate at that company leaves, Signature Flight Service is no longer your customer, because your customer actually just left the company. So you really want to think deep and wide and think about the specific people that are making the decision to buy your product or service.

John Williams: Of course, nobody out there has ever experienced that where somebody leaves and they lose a customer.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] I think if you’ve been in business for more than three months in the aviation industry, you’ve had [LAUGH] a situation where somebody’s left a company and things have changed.

John Williams: You lost a customer.

Paula Williams: Yep, absolutely. Okay, so your customer avatar is something that we really can’t go into a lot of detail in this, but the main thing is that you identify the human beings who have the money, the authority, and the need to purchase your product, right?

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Okay, now let’s talk about your customers’ concerns and these are kind of in order of priority. I was actually listening to another podcast, the event selling podcast, which is actually a really good one, it’s not specific to aviation but it’s a pretty good overview of things.

And the person that called in was complaining because he had a product or service that would guaranteed save people money, and people still weren’t buying. And he just couldn’t understand why it was that nobody was buying his product, even though he could demonstrate that he would save them money.

There are a lot of things that are more important than saving a little bit of money in the aviation industry.

John Williams: And was he in aviation?

Paula Williams: No, he was not in aviation.

John Williams: Okay.

Paula Williams: But I thought, wow, we need to talk about this [LAUGH] in our podcast, because it was pretty obvious to the two people that run that podcast and they did a really good job of straightening him out.

And telling him, look it’s not just money that people are concerned about. In fact it might even not be their own money that they’re spending, so they really don’t care. What they care about is their job, is this going to make their job easier or harder? And several other things, but in the aviation industry there’s one that trumps everything, and that is safety.

So if you can improve the safety factor in a demonstrable way, I love that word, demonstrable. But, if you can provide evidence that your product is going to improve the safety record of a charter company for example, or a corporate flight department, or something like that, you stand a pretty good chance at making a sale.

Even if you’re going to actually cost them money. All of these things are things that people take into account, but that’s going to be a more important consideration. Another item is regulatory risk, and we’re going to talk about all of these in a little bit more detail in just a minute.

But time, effort, inconvenience, opportunities to sell their own services. All of these things are more important to people in aviation than the number of pennies that are going out the door at any given time.

John Williams: Yes, even the small companies.

Paula Williams: Right, okay. So safety, most people in aviation are safety obsessed with good reason.

John Williams: That’s why there’s a checklist for everything.

Paula Williams: Right, that’s why there is a checklist for everything. So, if you can tie your product or service to safety, that’s probably thing number one on that list for a very good reason. And if you can improve the operational safety for your customer that’s probably the most compelling argument that you could make.

Next most compelling argument that you could probably make is-

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: And this is the FAA and the United States. It’s EASA, other places and things like that. But all aviation companies are very heavily regulated, and they do not like being at risk of not being in compliance with the regulation.

John Williams: Even if you’re going to fly overseas and just land at an airport, you have to be very intimately familiar with SAFA in Europe. So, it’s just one thing after another.

Paula Williams: Right, so if you can help someone more easily stay within operational compliance, or regulatory compliance, that is a big deal and something that people will pay money for.

Next one, and I put these all together, time, effort, and inconvenience. In the example I was talking about on that other Podcast, the person that had called in was talking about, he had some software that could obviously save people money. But if it’s harder to use, or even if it’s easier to use but there’s an initial learning curve, that’s going to

Paula Williams: Cause people problems in the meantime, they’re going to hesitate to do that, because it sounds really daunting. [LAUGH] Any kinda change is really daunting. So moving to different software, people in aviation tend to not want to change their behavior unless there is a really, really good reason. And I say time, because people don’t really care about saving time if they are doing something that they love.

But if you can save them from spending time doing things that they hate.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That’s a whole different story. [LAUGH]

John Williams: Make the job easier.

Paula Williams: Make the job easier. So, one example of this is if you’re in any of the maintenance fields. If you can give people less time sitting at a desk behind a computer.

Most of the people who are in aviation maintenance would much rather be up to their elbows in an airplane, or in an airplane flying, rather that being at a desk in front of a computer. So if you can promise them that they will spend less time at their desk in front of the computer, then your product or service has a lot better chance of getting a hearing.

John Williams: Not promise, but demonstrate.

Paula Williams: Yeah, if you can demonstrate that that’s the case using case studies and other kinds of things. And of course you have to prove it to the satisfaction of your expected customer. All right, another thing is if you can give them an opportunity to sell their product or service better

Paula Williams: I think it’s a lot more compelling, and of course I’m on the other end of the spear from John [LAUGH], because in our company my job is sales and his job is finance. So this end of the spear wants to make more sales, and I don’t care if I have to spend more money to do it.


John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: John’s end of the spear is saving money.

John Williams: Well, at least lowering expenses.

Paula Williams: Reducing expense, exactly.

John Williams: Exactly.

Paula Williams: But if your customer is like me and on the front end of the spear, if you can tell them how your product or service can help them sell more of their products and services.

If they can sell more charter flights, if they can sell more seats on their airline. If they can make their customers happier, then that’s something that’s really going to get them excited if they’re like me. If they’re like John, then you want to work on the other end of the problem and work on saving money.

But I would say that more of the people who make purchasing decisions are probably on the sales end, would you agree?

John Williams: No.

Paula Williams: No, more of the CFOs types?

John Williams: Yeah, especially in larger sales. I mean you have to take it all into account, there’s no one way or the other, it’s a mix.

Paula Williams: Right. Okay, so know your customer. I assume everyone’s like me.

John Williams: See?

Paula Williams: See? [LAUGH] There you go. All right, so let’s talk about-

John Williams: And how’s that working out for you? [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Pretty good, cuz I have you to do all the hard work, right? Okay, so let’s talk about list, offer, and presentation.

Every good campaign has those three things, list, offer and presentation. So the list, we like to do services or at least we like to approach services usually as kind of a top ten strategy, as opposed to a really big net kind of strategy. So, you want to think about this more like a sniper rifle than like a shotgun.

So, pick ten companies that you really want to do business with, and focus on them. And you want to pick those because you want people that you can point out to other customers and say, well we’re working with this big company, or that big company. Or really old respectable names in the aviation industry, so you know who those are.

[COUGH] Those should get priority, at least in early days of working together that may even trump the amount of money you would make from any given sale. If you can get a really good customer that you can point to as a reference, that has a recognizable name, that’s worth a lot to you.

John Williams: Like Trump?

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] No.

John Williams: [LAUGH] You just said, Trump blah, blah, blah, blah.

Paula Williams: Man, okay, I didn’t mean to say that, but-

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Okay, if you can work with Boeing or Airbus, or one of the really big companies in aviation, then that gives you a certain amount of reputable cachet that you can’t get from working with somebody that is less recognizable.

So put together your wish list of the top ten companies that you want to be working with. Your top ten most wanted future customers. And then, what do you do from that point? Because I just told you, you’re not looking for companies, you’re looking for human beings.

John Williams: Exactly.

Paula Williams: So how do you find the human beings in those companies?

John Williams: With great diligence.

Paula Williams: Right. Google, or LinkedIn. We actually did kind of a long explanation of how to do this In Episode 18 we talked about infiltrating a large organization. We went in to great detail about how to do this, right?

John Williams: Yeah, actually, we did.

Paula Williams: Okay, so I’m not going to do that again. Other than the fact that you want to take your top ten list and use Google and LinkedIn to find the individuals in that company that you want to work with, and plan your attack from that perspective.


John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: So let’s talk about offers. You want to start by asking about their business, you want to give before you get. So what you might give would be like a lead magnet, a free report, a tip sheet, a consultation. Something along those lines, because you don’t want to start in with your sales pitch before somebody even knows, likes, or trusts you.

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: So thing number one is kind of establishing that rapport. So your opening salvo should be something like a Lead Magnet along the lines of, we have a free report about, or a free consultation about this that and the other thing, can we set up 30 minutes to have a conversation?

And that works really well for selling services assuming you have found the right individual and you also have a really attractive offer. So other things that you can do presenting your offer, we like to offer Lead Magnets via social media. So you can meet somebody via LinkedIn, when you send your first email to them, you can send them a message and say you know we have this free report on this, that, or the other thing.

You can download it here. If they do, then you have permission to proceed. So this is kinda a dance. You take a step, they take a step. You don’t want to chase people and scare them [LAUGH] anymore than necessary. So the first step should be small and not scary and then the second step can be larger and scarier like a phone call.

And again, it shouldn’t be scary, it should be just friendly and once again offering something of value or asking them about their business or their problems.

John Williams: And basically it’s generically what you talked about in the last several frames is how several sales organizations train people and they spend lots of money to get the training so you’ve done a public service.

Paula Williams: Exactly [LAUGH]. We spent how many thousands of dollars at Sandler with the Sandler Leadership Group. [LAUGH] And we just gave you most of it right there, kidding actually it’s a great program and there’s a lot more to it but if you can follow this outline you’ll do really well in the aviation industry.

Another thing we like to do is direct mail, especially for services. Because there’s a lot that you need to explain. And a lot of credibility that you need to build. Before they’re going to have you come anywhere near whatever it is that you’re consulting about. So in this particular package that we’ve got illustrated here is a little folder with a DVD of an interview with a happy customer, it’s got a handwritten note with some of the details from the phone call, it’s got some brochures that outline the program and so on.

So those are all good ways to build credibility for marketing and service right?

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Cool. So that is phase one, phase two is building credibility and closing and this is the same as we talked about for a lot of other. Types of aviation companies except I that I think for services you’re going to have a longer phase two than for most.

John Williams: Well, but the holding patterns will be exactly the same.

Paula Williams: Yeah, a lot of times there’s going to be a lot more people involved in the purchasing decision, there’s going to be. Depending on the size of the transaction and the number of the size of the company that you’re selling to.

This gets incrementally or possibly exponentially bigger.

John Williams: Yeah, but again, you just circle until you get [LAUGH] if it were ATC until you get to expect for the clearance.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: But here, you don’t have to worry about running out of gas, it’s all about you just keeping up with the program.

Paula Williams: Right, and what we’re talking about here in case this is the first of our podcasts that you’ve listened to, a holding pattern is really basically what happens in between your first contact with a prospect and the time that they’re ready to execute a transaction. So sometimes that is days, weeks, months, or even years of you sending them articles or tip sheets.

You connecting with them on social media. Meeting them at trade shows. Calling them on the phone, sending them newsletters, physical newsletters and/or email newsletters and so on.

John Williams: All the while being careful not to harass them.

Paula Williams: Exactly, but you want to use a fairly wide mix of media, but you want to make sure that you’re connecting with them.

At least once a week in some way that’s not intrusive and not the same thing all the time.

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: So in our holding pattern we have our email newsletter marketing Mondays. Some people open every single one, some people open one a month, some people never open one at all, but they do read the direct mail things that we sent to them.

And they do take our calls, [LAUGH] and they connect with us on social media so everybody’s different. And if you have a multimedia holding pattern, then you’re keeping people engaged in a way that’s very systematic on your side and might end up being hit-or-miss on their side. That still works for the vast majority of people in your holding pattern.

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: And another thing, for a lot of people that are selling products or services for the first time, you’re going to be surprised at how long this takes and how many touches and how many phone calls and how many questions you have to answer before the sale gets closed.

So that is a things.

John Williams: Can you hold for a minute?

Paula Williams: Sure.

John Williams: Is that going to work?

Paula Williams: So the things that we are talking about including in a holding pattern. [COUGH] The things that we want to talk about including in a holding pattern for selling Aviation services that work really well.

Things like brochures that address typical questions and concerns that people have. Sales presentations that are customized for colleagues and staff so you may have to do a different sales presentation for the DOM that you do for the CEO. Things like that where you’re providing pretty much the same information but using different data, different supporting data, different language, different levels of detail.

Things like that. So those are good ways to kinda enhance that phase two. Phase three, resales, recaptures, and referrals. Once again probably the best tool to use here is some kind of a customer satisfaction survey. That you can do for services. What we like to do is have a third party, do our customer satisfaction surveys and call to do an article, basically about their experience as a customer.

And you know that turns out being a great testimonial that we can use on our website. Other things that we can have them ask off the record would be, would you recommend this to a colleague? And if they would, then they can ask them for our contact information.

We can go ahead and extend an offer.

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: To them. So that’s one way that we can really help. And a lot of times, we do this for other companies. When we’re doing content marketing they ask us to be their phase three because we interview their satisfied customers or their unsatisfied customers.

[LAUGH] And actually I don’t think we’ve ever had anybody who was entirely unsatisfied.

John Williams: No.

Paula Williams: But usually we get to the bottom of some things and maybe straighten our some misunderstandings. But the real purpose is to, capture it, great testimonials and referrals and cement that relationship and make everyone feel really good about the business relationship.

So, once again, referrers get presents [LAUGH] we like sending chocolates. It’s just a nice little acknowledgement of the fact that someone went to the effort of referring someone and so on. Thank you notes, handwritten is always best, email is highly overrated.

John Williams: For this particularly.

Paula Williams: Yeah, and kinda gauche, shout outs on social media when it’s appropriate.

If you know somebody’s really comfortable on social media and likes to be acknowledged, then that’s a great way to do that. Because that also lets other people know that you appreciate referrals, and that that is what people do here, so. And referees get VIP treatment. So you know you’re offering them a service to begin with so whatever service you’re offering you can make it a little bit extra special by maybe sending them something extra, or spending an extra hour doing whatever it is that you do that offers value in that relationship.

So a one-time extra service with a note acknowledging that they were referred. So therefore, you’re offering them an extra consultation about this particular topic or whatever the situation is. And once again, you want to make sure that you’re setting up the culture and expectation of getting referrals because, even when people are really happy, they don’t always think to provide referrals.

I mean, the people that you provide referrals to, is it because they ask, or do you just remember naturally?

John Williams: Typically they ask.

Paula Williams: Okay right and I know we’ve referred people to some companies that we just can’t stop talking about because they’re so fabulous but most of the time it’s because they ask.

Because it’s not something we run around our day thinking about. So it’s something that you really want to set that expectation by making that extra special. Okay so next steps this is kind of the word from our sponsor part of the podcast. This episode was brought to you by our lead magnet program [LAUGH] .

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: We talked a lot in our phase one about how you should have some kind of a tip sheet or a free consultation, other kinds of things that you can set up as a way that people can begin their relationship with you. So our lead magnet program, what that does is it sets up a landing page where people can request your free consultation or your service or your guide, or your tip sheet or whatever it is that you’re offering.

So we set that up for you so that it captures people’s information on the web, sends you an email lets you know. You know this person requested a consultation, or a tip sheet, or whatever. And delivers any documentation and other kinds of things over the web, so that your customers get it, and then that kinda sets up the relationship in a really professional way.

So we can set that up for you, so that you don’t have to think about it other than what you want to offer, and we can help you talk that through so that it is a really attractive offer and a very smooth way for your customers to go through that process.

Reduce that friction in the purchase process, right?

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: Okay so shout outs this week. Chad Trautvetter of AIN is Aviation International News. Was nominated for the Sapphire Pegasus Business Aviation Awards so I went and voted for him and I think everybody should just go and vote for them.

And the way that you do that is you go for go to spbaa.com/nominees. We will have this in our show notes so you can see where to go see everybody who has been nominated and make your selections. But Chad has actually been pretty fearless in his reporting in the aviation industry and we all need more of that.

John Williams: Yes we do.

Pilot PartnerPaula Williams: Absolutely. All right so what’s up with the insiders. Ken VeArd of Pilot Partner is just starting a new service with us, has a great little application that is a log book for pilots, an electronic log book application. It has a lot of neat features to it, so you can go to pilotpartner.net.

And download a free trial and see if it works for you. Very cool little thing, about time to move into the 21st century. All of my stuff is on paper, so I’m going to try that out this week and see if I can become a little more tech savvy with my old log books, and the other thing is Doug Goldstrom at SSC, they just put a new Cirrus on charter.

And what’s really cool about the Cirrus is that it’s a lot less expensive than most private aviation, but it can fly into very short runways and other kinds of things, and get people where they want to go very economically. So, if you’re in the Southeast United States, and have places to go, and are sick of being in the car, or sick of the airline, you might want to look at that Cirrus charter as an option.

Great way to get where you’re going.

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: All right, so go sell more stuff.

John Williams: And Zig Ziglar said America needs the business.

Paula Williams: And we say it every single week because.

John Williams: And we still do.

Paula Williams: We still do right. So subscribe to our podcast on Stitcher, [LAUGH]
on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play.

Wow I just forgot where we were. ITunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and do leave us a review and let us know what you think and we’ll see you next week. If you have a type of business that you would like us to give some suggestions on in this podcast or if you’d like to talk about your business in particular especially for services you probably want to get real specific.

And you can get a half hour from us for free, just by clicking that gold button on the left side of our website at ABCI1.com.

John Williams: Have a great day.

John Williams: Ciao.

aviation service marketing

March 2017

  • ABCI - FBO Marketing

AMHF 0076 – FBO Marketing – More Planes & More People!

ABCI - FBO MarketingWhen you’re in charge of marketing and sales for an FBO, your job is to get more people in the building and more planes  in your parking spaces, preferably queued up for gas, ground transportation and other services.

How do you do that?

Well,  there are always some things you can control and some things you can’t.

John and I talk through the decision-making processes of some of your key customer types and talk about how to get more of them to turn in at your FBO rather than going next door.


Transcript – FBO Marketing – More Planes & More People!


Announcer: You’re 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: Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hanger Plane Episode number 76. Aviation Marketing for FBOs.

Paula Williams: I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: I’m John Williams.

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

John Williams: To help you guys out there sell more aviation products and services.

Paula Williams: Right, and our mission today is to help FBO’s sell more of their products and services. So hopefully by the end of this episode, you’ll have some great ideas for getting more people in the door, and getting them to part with more of their money before they leave, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, okay. So if you have any questions about today’s episode, or any other episode, or anything else for that matter, having to do with aviation marketing, you can use the hashtag #avgeekmarketing and that way we will find your comments and other things and reply to every Tweet.

Download our free FBO Marketing Checklist! 
Of course you’re welcome also to reply or submit comments, or anything else on social media or our blog, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: All right.

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: [COUGH] Okay, so the big ideas today, we’re going to break this down the way we always do. And that is talk about things in three phases, because it’s always easier to take things step by step than it is to look at the big picture.

Of course the big picture is basically for FBOs to get more business. But we’re going to break that down into three phases. Phase one, Advertising & Prospecting. Phase two, Building Credibility & Closing Sales. And phase three, Resales, Recaptures & Referrals. And the money is always made in the aviation industry.

John Williams: In phase three.

Paula Williams: In phase three. Exactly, it’s a very trust-oriented and very, I’m going to say, habit-driven or routine-driven industry. So once you get people coming in the door, they tend to be really loyal. Which is a wonderful thing. So, carrying on.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Something wrong?

John Williams: Nope.

Paula Williams: Okay. We have strange things going on in the office here, but we’ll [COUGH] carry on, okay. So phase one, Advertising & Prospecting. Of course, this is where most marketing companies spend most of their time. And want you to spend most of your money. But for aviation companies and FBOs in particular, I think our general advice holds true here.

And that is not to spend more than 50% of your marketing budget on advertising and prospecting. Would you agree?

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Okay, and then you’ll want to split the other 50% between phase two and phase three. So, of course phase one is getting people to be aware of you for the first time.

But for FBOs, we’ve got a really limited pool of people that we need to advertise to, which is a good thing and a bad thing, right?

John Williams: Yes this is the way it is in aviation.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, so you can spend less money doing your advertising and prospecting, but really want to make sure that once people know about you, that you really impress their socks off.

And also that you keep them coming back and get them to bring their friends, and neighbors, and colleagues, and everybody else. So that’s the kind of the general theory, and now let’s get into the details of what we mean by all that and how you do it, right?

John Williams: So let’s gor for it.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Okay, so phase one, you want to think about your customer avatars. And we talked about this in a lot of our book club discussions. Just about everybody who writes a marketing book these days uses the term, customer profile, or customer avatar, or something of that sort, where you want to really nail down who your customer is and what their problems are.

And for an FBO, you’ve got a bunch of different customer avatars, depending on the type of FBO and the area that you’re in, and other kinds of things. But the first one is kind of the typical one, or the simplest one, is Owner Operators. People who own their own airplanes and fly wherever they are going, for business or pleasure, and need to park.

They need gas, they need rental cars, they need other services, and possibly lav service, catering, any of the other things that you might provide. Second would be Charter Pilots. Those would be folks that work some of the big charter organizations or small charter organizations. These are folks that fly professionally a lot.

They are not necessarily the passengers, so they’re not necessarily making all of the decisions. But they usually have some influence over, they may not decide which airport to fly into, but they may decide which FBO to visit once that decision’s made about the destination, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Okay, another one is corporate fleet pilots.

A lot of these folks have relationships with fuel companies. So the decision may already be partly made for them, in terms of where they’re going to land and who they’re going to get fuel from, anyway. But there is some room for influence there. And of course, even if you can’t influence the individual pilots, you can always go after the corporate fleet and see if you can influence their decision.

John Williams: Of course, in particular if you’ve got FBOs across the nation.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. So this might be a business to consumer sale. Where you’re influencing the decision of the individual pilot, or this might be a situation where you would need to go to the corporate fleet and make your case that your FBO can provide better service than what they’re doing now.

So that might be a slightly different variable there, but for the purpose of today’s discussion, we’re assuming that you’re influencing the end user. [LAUGH]

John Williams: Or users.

Paula Williams: Users, the people in the cockpits right? Okay, all right, so let’s talk first about owner operators, what do we know about them?

John Williams: Well that’s an interesting question, because owner operators could be guys flying 550’s. Although there are very few of them that own it and operate it all at the same time, although I can think of a handful. So, you must be talking, therefore, for owner operators, the guys that are flying the high end recips, and turboprops, and things like that that fly themselves around for business or pleasure.

Paula Williams: Right, or even the dentist that flies the Bonanza, would be one end of that spectrum. And the rock star that has their own pilots, and their whole flight crew would be another one, another end to that spectrum, right?

John Williams: Well no, because, I suppose maybe.

Paula Williams: They are owning their airplane and they are staffing it themselves.

John Williams: Yeah, and they’re operating it, I guess under a very loosely.

Paula Williams: Yeah, depending on how you define that. But in any case, these are people who have the money to have an airplane. So, and obviously they’re probably one percenters. And there are a lot of misperceptions and misunderstandings about high net worth and ultra high net worth people.

And your FBO staff, a lot of times the folks that work with you, the line guys and everybody else, the people at the desk, and so on, there’s a pretty big income disparity between the folks who are working for you, and the folks that they are providing service for.

And sometimes that can create. Some awkwardness so what we’d like you to consider is having them do some things we suggested in the last couple of books. Read the Rob Report, subscribe to Laurie White’s Luxury Blog, some other kinds of things like that. So that they understand, these are just people.

You’ll have the occasional Paris Hilton or celebrity or whatever you want to call them but the vast majority or high net worth and ultra high net worth people are not necessarily celebrities, they’re not necessarily anything that you would think of and they’re certainly not the stereotype of what people would assume.

John Williams: No, they’re not.

Paula Williams: The ones that we’ve seen are very, very nice people. People’s grandma or grandpa, cousin, uncle, they’re just folks.

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: One thing that you may find that people that are in this profession, there may be in politics, they may be in other professions, they may be in retail or wholesale or manufacturing, other kinds of industries.

They may be in farming or agriculture, or oil and gas. Not so much lately but [LAUGH] those are a lot of the industries and those are not necessarily the diamond crusted kind of culture that you’re expecting. And a lot of folks are families, there are a lot of families who travel private especially lately since the Airlines have gotten so restrictive and are causing such hassles.

A lot of families are finding with a little bit of vacation they have they want to spend it where they’re going and enjoy their vacation and not spend it in the airport.

John Williams: Kinda go when and where they want.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so let’s talk about professional pilots. What do they want?

John Williams: Actually it depends but nice to sell these but a good price on fuel, good price on landing fees, or trade off their owe.

Paula Williams: Exactly, thing number one is they have to keep their passengers happy and keep their company happy. And this includes the charter guys and the corporate fleet guys, they have to stay within the guidelines of what they’re given.

They don’t want to get in trouble [LAUGH] so they want to make sure that the paperwork is done right and all the bits and pieces, the boxes are checked and things like that. Above and beyond that, I think they’re looking for a crew car, a way to get to their hotel fast because they’re tired.

Making sure that their customers are well taken care of, so that they have a good experience, and so on.

John Williams: Airplanes taken care of, so they don’t get any hangar rash.

Paula Williams: Absolutely.

John Williams: And refueled on demand.

Paula Williams: And to their specifications. So there’s no misfueling. Or anything else that’s going to make people sweat and do a lot more paperwork.

So one really great example of this, Wilma’s Sea Cottage. Air Galore has a company that has a fabulous FBO in Mendocino, California. Nice little airport, very beautiful setting, so a lot of people that fly in there privately, will go off and do their Napa Valley tours and tourism things and stuff like that.

But the pilots get to stay  in Wilma’s Sea Cottage. A lot of times there will be a way to arrange that and Mary Fairbanks is really great. Because she is a professional pilot, and a CFI and a lot of other things that she really understands pilots and what they’re looking for and turns this into a really great experience for the pilots as well as the passengers so I think that is a really nice touch.

John Williams: Yeah, it is.

Paula Williams: Not everybody has the opportunity to do that but certainly there’s lodging and restaurants and other things in your area that can make it real easy for your pilots and that’s a wonderful thing, right?

John Williams: Yes, it is.

Paula Williams: Cool, so let’s talk about the list.

How do you find a great list for an FBO? Prospective customers of the types that we talked about? The first one is you need to capture data, so you want to introduce yourself to new passengers and pilots as they come and go and make sure that there’s a way for them to, for you to interact with them and they’re not just transient traffic.

John Williams: They shouldn’t have much problem giving you the information because they’re buying fuel and probably paying a rent fee and who knows what else while you’re there.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so there’s probably lots of ways for you to glam onto that information.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] The important thing is you don’t just let that go.

You want to make sure that you capture everything you can about who they were, what they were flying, who their passengers were, what they wanted, what was important to them, and so on. Another thing that you could do is have a contest, drop a business card at the desk to enter.

Maybe a night at a resort something like that, or dinner, other kinds of things that these guys would love and then another thing that you can do is connect on social media. So connect with pilots, travel coordinators, CFOs for companies that have flight departments. You can use LinkedIn to look for other people at that company that you may be connected to and build your network toward the decision makers.

So in a case where maybe the pilots don’t have a lot of control over their decisions, as far as where to get fuel and so on, you can. Move up the tree. Look for the CFOs and the travel coordinators. And other kinds of people that may have more influence over those kinds of things.

This was actually a really good idea that was suggested by Acc-U-Kwik on their blog. And that is kind of the I-Spy method. You look out the window with your binoculars.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: And you see who’s landing at your airport, and you get the tail numbers. And when you have a few minutes, you can look them up in something like the AviationFiles iPhone app, and see who it is and who the plane is registered to, and put them on your prospecting list, as well.

That’s fair game, that’s public information, right?

John Williams: Yes, it is.

Paula Williams: Okay, the more modern way of doing that, is to use things like TRAQPak or Passur, which are applications that show you who is landing at which airports, and so on, those do require a subscription. So there’s the low tech way of doing it using a free app.

Or the higher tech way of doing it using something a little more-

John Williams: Sophisticated.

Paula Williams: Sophisticated and easier to use that doesn’t require the effort. So up to you. Things that you want to consistently offer. So we talk about a list and offer in a presentation. So you want to consistently offer as low of cost of fuel as you can as far as being competitive with your neighbors and you know who that is and you know what your parameters are.

If you can have low or no landing fees that’s what people are looking for. Once again, control what you can and the things that you can’t control you’re going to have to find ways to make up for. Coffee and cookies, that’s usually within your control. [LAUGH] Do people really go for that, I mean would that actually influence a decision?

John Williams: Maybe not all that by itself, but As a package of everything you’re talking about, yes.

Paula Williams: It certainly would right. Nice crew cars, they’re looking for something that doesn’t smell bad. [LAUGH] Just having talked with some of the pilots and looking at some of the things that happen in some of the group discussions, and things like that.

They like having nice cars that are quickly available and are not awful.

John Williams: They don’t have to be high-end. It can be a Jeep, but as long as it’s nice and reliable.

Paula Williams: Exactly, maybe an area guide has reviews of local restaurants or hotels and other kinds of things that people are going to want.

If you are catering to the pilots, especially you may want to include places where they can get catering. Here’s where the local liquor store is. Here’s where the grocery stores are. Those kinds of things, because a lot of times they end up doing a lot of the gophering. [LAUGH]

John Williams: Yeah, for the 135 and 91, I’m sure.

Paula Williams: Yep, nice pilot lounge. These are kind of in order of importance. So obviously, the low cost fuel is going to be a big draw. The nice pilot lounge is further down on the list, but that’s still important and last thing nasty surprises.

We could almost put that at the top of the list, couldn’t we?

John Williams: Times have changed. I can remember flying 135 operation before we landed in the pasture and dropped people off, and picked them up again in Texas.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: I’m serious.

Paula Williams: So the FBO was basically a-

John Williams: There was no FBO.

Paula Williams: A nice patch of grass.

John Williams: We the two pilots, me being one of them. We’d go to the nearest tree and we’d sit there and wait two hours under the shade tree for these guys to get back while we had a thermos of ice cold water or whatever.

I’m serious I’ve done that a couple of times years ago.

Paula Williams: Wow, so things have definitely changed. These pilots are looking for crew cars and lounges.

John Williams: Well, they were high net worth. Ranchers, Texas and they want to go out there and they have somebody to be there either before we get there as we pull-up as we land to pick them up in a brand new truck of some kind and they go off and come back in two, three hours and we take them back.

Paula Williams: Well, it is interesting. Because a lot of folks, we talk to with the FBOs are very concerned that maybe they’re facilities are rustic. Yours were much more rustic.

John Williams: About rustic until you done that.

Paula Williams: And honestly, I think rustic is not bad. If you’ve got great service and you’ve got a way for them to get out of there, they’re not going to care if the FBO itself is kind of rustic.

As long they’re getting good fuel, they’re getting the service that they need and they have a way to get their hotel. They’re not going to use your showers. They’re going to go to the hotel.

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: And take a nap and a shower, and everything else. And so pilot lounge, that’s why we put it close to the end of the list as opposed to the top.

So, let’s talk about how you can help people find you. So we talked about the list the offer, this is the presentation.

John Williams: Yes, it is.

Paula Williams: Okay, so if we’re outbound marketing, there are things that you can do like connecting on social media. You take your top ten list of companies you want to do business with and look them up and connect with them, plug their stuff.

If you one charter company that we know has an author that is a frequent passenger and they plug his books on their social media, I think it’s great. Other kinds of things that you can do to help them promote their businesses in your local area, just be a good Chamber of Commerce member and a good networker and all of those kinds of things.

You can do post cards. We went into some pretty big detail on that in episode 68. Talking about how to do great post cards to that list that you just created. So, all of those tail numbers that you wrote down and all of those details that you put together.

You may not have an email address and you may not want to send them an email just to, because they’re not all that effective and you may end up getting into some trouble with the canned spam act, but you will never get in trouble sending a postcard. So, that’s often a really great first contact for outbound marketing as a postcard.

Another thing you can do if people are really qualified to your top ten list or people that you think you really want to do business with would be direct mail packages and those could include your area guide, and other fabulous things. Maybe some snacks or something like that to make it three-dimensional mail as we talked about in our direct mail episode and things like that to get their attention, and state your case.

Talk about why you’re the best options and how you offer those really cool things that were on the list that they’re looking for. Cool. Other ways to help them find you inbound marketing, things like Ac-U-Kwik and AirNav. You want to make sure that you’re listing is complete.

John Williams: Accurate.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Complete and current, and a lot of people do really well with advertisements in those things. So, you want to look at those options and test it. Maybe do it one year see how it works. And if it works really well, buy a bigger ad the following year.

There is an annual FBO rating systems that are run by Professional Pilots Magazine and Aviation International News. There might be other magazines and other local publications that have these types of rating systems or contests. You want to enter all of those and influence people to [LAUGH] vote for you, maybe bribe people to vote for you, whatever you need to do to make sure you get good ratings in those things and get as many five star ratings as you possible can.

John Williams: Yeah.

Paula Williams: Another thing you can do to help people find you is search engine optimization. (FBO SEO, to compound the acronyms! !) You want to make sure that it’s not just under your company name, but also people find you when their looking for your airport, for local destinations. Like in Utah, we’ve got Park City.

We’ve got the Sundance Film Festival. We’ve got all kinds of things like that where people who are doing private travel may not think about, I need to land at Atlantic to make this work. I just want to go to the Sundance Film Festival, how do I get there? So, you really want to help them with the right keywords for your local area.

So, that’s pretty much it for phase one. And once again, you are spending 50% of your marketing budget on phase one and dividing the other 50% between phase two and phase three. So phase two is where you’ve made contact with somebody, but they’re not ready yet to make a decision.

So in a lot of cases, this might be people who are planning a trip or people who are working for a flight department that may be using somebody else at this point but is considering you guys, because you’re better. So those are the kinds of things that you want to make sure that you’re accommodating and things that you can do when they’re in the holding pattern, what we call the holding pattern is provide them with things like tip sheets or area guides, other information that’s really helpful to them.

You’re connecting on social media and supporting their business, as well as As letting them know about yours. You may be meeting them at places like conventions and trade shows, NBAA. Other places that you can meet their boss, shake their hand, present your case [LAUGH]. Do all those things that you need to do.

You’re probably making some periodic phone calls, just to check in with people. A lot of times it takes a lot more effort than you think it is going to, to change somebodies behavior, land a sale. So those phone calls might be offering your newsletter, offering a discounted rate on something, or a special offer for an event.

Other kinds of things that will give you a reason to connect with them. Printed newsletters are great, for keeping in touch with people. They have a really high credibility rate, a lot more so than email newsletters, but they are expensive, so we also do email newsletters [LAUGH]. So, all of those things and be included in a cycle that may last for days, weeks, months or years.

Until they are ready to make a different decision then what they are making now. And come to their senses and start using you as their preferred FBO, right?

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: Okay cool, and once again, you want to consistently offer all of those things that we had talked about.

Because offering them once, a one time discount on fuel is going to get people in the door maybe for the first time. But people really like consistency, especially in private aviation. They like convenience and consistency. The FBO should not be the most adventurous part of their trip.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Right?

John Williams: No, that should be at the location they’re going to.

Paula Williams: Exactly, they’re often and coming for business reasons or other things. They’ve got problems to solve, you should not be one of them, [LAUGH] right?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Exactly.

Paula Williams: Okay, other things that you want to offer, of course, newsletters, thank you cards and gifts, as they’re coming or as they’re bringing other people.

Those kinds of things, you want to make sure that you’re staying in touch with them and you have a reason to do that. Birthday cards, I really like this idea, if you happen to know somebody’s birthday. Not very many people get real physical birthday cards anymore. But I think getting something like that from an FBO will make people feel special.

And a lot of times in private travel, and this happened to you, John, the people in the first class cabin that you were flying in all the time became kind of a family, right?

John Williams: Well I don’t know about a family, but very good friends.

Paula Williams: Because you are traveling together all the time on the same schedule, you get to know each other.

John Williams: Yeah we hit the same airplanes, the same changes every Monday morning.

Paula Williams: Exactly and I think with private travel especially with places that people fly all the time, these people become friends and family. So you want to treat them like that. And I think birthday cards are a really nice way to illustrate that relationship.

They may spend more time with you than they do with their own family. [LAUGH] You never know. Okay, Phase Three- Resales, Recaptures and Referrals, we like to do surveys. And in this case, it may be kind of a high end survey, which means you don’t hand them a sheet of paper and a pencil.

This might be more along the lines of a conversation. Call them after an experience and say, I just wanted to ask you three questions about your experience with us, do you have five minutes? And just make sure that you give them a chance to talk about their situation and what they liked and what they didn’t like and so on.

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Okay, and you want to really encourage referrals. So, in that, one of those three questions might be, would you refer if you had friends or colleagues that were traveling to this area, would you refer them to us? Or would you recommend us? And if the answer is yes, then follow up with the question, could I have a name or the contact information of anybody that might be coming in?

And then we can reach out to them and provide them with our area guide and some other information. So that you’re more likely to get the referral number one, and two, you make them feel special as a referred customer.

John Williams: You can set the table for them.

Paula Williams: You can set a table for them.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Exactly, we’ll leave the light on for you [LAUGH] basically.

John Williams: Something like that, yeah.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so referrers get presents [LAUGH]. That is, I think that’s never out of place. A lot of people feel that this is bribery or something like that, and it is but that’s okay.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

John Williams: And there is an etiquette to presents, so that’s another whole topic.

Paula Williams: Exactly, they get thank you notes saying, thank you for referring Bob. We really appreciated having him come in and we think he had a pretty good experience, and we’ll look forward to his future business.

Shoutouts on social media, this may or may not be appropriate, depending on the situation. So, if they are posting a lot on social media and they seem pretty comfortable with it. Then, by all means say, thanks very much to our friends at this company for sending some business our way, we really appreciate it.

That can be done in a way that’s appropriate. Okay, referrer-ees get presents [LAUGH] well they get VIP treatment basically. So you may want to give them some kind of a gift as well or like a fruit tray or free catering or something like that. A one-time extra service with a note, acknowledging that they were referred.

So, because you were referred by one of our best customers, we wanted to do something a little extra special for you, with your first flight with us. So, thank you for that and we hope you’ll continue. So that’s a nice thing. This also sets up the culture and the expectation that you appreciate referrals.

And it gets them thinking, wow, referrals get treated really well here. Who could I refer [LAUGH]?

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: So it sets up that culture and the expectation. And a lot of times, people, even if they really appreciate your service, they may not think to refer someone else.

But this jogs their brain into thinking in the right direction, right?

John Williams: You bet.

Paula Williams: Okay, so next steps, we recommend our content marketing service. This is like the word from your sponsor, [LAUGH] Right? [LAUGH] Our content marketing subscription actually, what we do is we create one article a month.

And that might be about your charter company, it might be an interview with a satisfied customer. It might be a press release about a new aircraft on your fleet. It might be a profile of your employees or a review of your facilities, other kinds of things. It might be a checklist, things that people should look for.

It might be an area guide for your destination, things like that. Whatever you need, but feel like either you don’t want to write it yourself, you don’t have time to write it yourself. Or you really would like it to be professional and polished, we can take care of that for you.

We do have a three month minimum, and that would be three pieces of content, most companies can use more than that. And that starts as low as 879 a month and up from that, depending on the types of services and the writers that we use and things like that.

So people avoid advertising but they seek out information. So this provides great information about your charter service and we’d be happy to help you put that together, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Okay, so shout outs this week. Adam Sipe at the Prebuy Guys mentioned ABCI in their episode nine.

We really appreciate meeting Adam in the last couple of weeks and talking to him a little bit about the Airplane Intel Podcast. It’s actually pretty cool. These guys talk about some of the ads that are showing up in Controller Magazine and other places and the different types of aircraft.

In this episode, they were talking about the Citation Jets. And so some of the smaller business jets, and things like that, and some of the pros and cons of those versus King Airs and other kinds of things. So it was a pretty neat episode, and they always have interesting stuff to talk about.

It reminds me of Car Talk, except airplanes.

So what’s up with the Insiders? We want to congratulate Kasey Dixon on a new job with Cutter Aviation. I think that’s pretty cool. She’s doing a customer service position there supporting the Honda Jet. And Kasey is a rock star AMT, so you know that’s not surprising and we think, we really wish her luck in her new position.

She just started with us as one of our scholarship winners in January, right?

John Williams: Mh-hm.

Paula Williams: So that’s pretty cool. We’ve really enjoyed talking with Kasey and she’s a lot of fun. Yvan Boniface just had a press conference on Facebook Live, one of his first ones. And it was picked up hugely by the media in Latin America.

I was really surprised. He sent us a whole sheet of media mentions right after that live press conference. And I had no idea that Latin America was so into Facebook Live and live press conferences. So that went really well and we’re really happy about that. Looking forward to the Aero Expo Panama Pacifico April 20th and 21st in Panama.


It’s the largest aviation conference between Mexico and Brazil. And really nicely centrally located to the Caribbean, and the Americas and so on. So that’s a great opportunity there if you’re looking at expanding your network into Latin America. And Ivan’s really, really helpful and friendly. And we’ll make sure you get introduced to the right folks.

John Williams: And connected and informed.

Paula Williams: Absolutely.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: All right, so that pretty much wraps it up for this week. Go sell more stuff.

John Williams: America needs the business.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, Zig Ziglar said that. And we keep saying it every week.

John Williams: It’s because it’s still true.

Paula Williams: Because it keeps being true. So subscribe to our podcast on iTunes,  Stitcher or Google Play. And please do leave us a review. And also let us know if you have questions or if there’s a specific type of aviation company that you would like us to profile and do an episode for.

Next week we’re going to be talking about aviation services like consulting, and insurance, and things like that. Last week we talked about marketing for aviation charter companies. So there may be others that you’d like us to do, and we’d love to hear from you what your thoughts are. Have a great week.

John Williams: See you later. Ciao.



  • charter marketing

AMHF 0075 – Aviation Charter Marketing – Getting More Passengers and Planes!

Now is a great time for aviation charter marketing because

  • Fuel costs are lower.
  • Many people are holding on to their older planes and looking to charter companies to help them create an income.
  • Airline inconveniences are pushing consumers away from the airline experience.

in this podcast episode, John and I  go through the whole process from the perspective of a charter company.

  • Phase one, advertising and prospecting,
  • Phase two, building credibility and closing sales; and
  • Phase three, resells, recaptures and referrals.

Transcript – Aviation Charter Marketing – Getting More Passengers and Planes!


charter marketingAnnouncer: You’re 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: [SOUND]
Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, Episode number 75, Aviation Marketing for Charter Companies. I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: I’m John Williams.

Paula Williams: And we are ABCI.

And ABCI’s mission, is

John Williams: To help all you ladies and gentlemen out there in the aviation world sell more products and services.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, and our mission today is to help those of you who are in charter or have anything to do with charter sell more hours of charter and sell more trips.

And make more money, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Okay. Cool, so if you have comments on today’s episode or anything else, you can submit them on any of our social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and so on, or you can submit them using the #AvGeekMarketing and we will find them and we will do our best to reply to every tweet, post, or mention, right?

John Williams: Of course.

Charter Marketing ChecklistPaula Williams: Okay, and once again, today we’re going to talk about our big idea. Our three big ideas. And then, we’re going to talk about shout outs to people in the industry who are doing really cool things. And we are also going to talk about what’s up with the insiders, and the insiders being ABCI clients and others who are doing cool things.

They’re always up to something interesting. So big ideas for charter. We’re going to go through the whole process from the perspective of a charter company. Phase one, advertising and prospecting and give some ideas on how you can do better advertising and prospecting. Phase two, building credibility and closing sales.

As we know, sometimes these things don’t close on the first call. It takes a little bit of time to build those relationships and make things work. Especially in a business to business situation where you’re selling to companies. Or flight departments or travel departments and other things like that.

And third, resells, recaptures and referrals, they say the money in aviation is made in phase three.

By the way, we have a checklist you can download in conjunction with this episode – so visit the show notes and go do that. It’s a list of marketing activities we recommend for charter companies so that you can create your own complete plan.

John Williams: The notorious they.

Paula Williams: They [LAUGH]. But in this case, they are right.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Repeat business is really what keeps aviation palpable, for the most part, for a lot of these companies.


John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: All right. Okay, so let’s get into it and start with of course this is our diagram if you’re seeing this online. There is a three part diagram in a lot of industries, or if you look in a marketing textbook, you’re going to see something that looks like a funnel.

Ours looks more like a fat pipe [LAUGH]. It’s fat all the way down, cuz we do want to put equal emphasis on, a lot of people put all of their time and money in advertising and prospecting, or phase one. And then, their funnel gets skinnier as you go down to phase two and then skinnier still as you go into phase three.

We’d really like to see that funnel remain as fat as possible. And we’d really like for you to spend as much time and energy on phase two and three as you do getting new customers. Cuz of the particulars of the aviation industry, you really make your money on repeat business.

And business doesn’t close right away. So if you narrow your funnel too fast, you’re going to lose a lot of customers.

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: So phase one, advertising and prospecting. Of course, we start at the beginning, and that is figuring out how to get customers to notice you for the first time.

So the first thing we like to do is what we call a customer avatar, or a customer profile. And in this case, for charter organizations, your customer is a passenger.

John Williams: Well, ultimately.

Paula Williams: Ultimately. There are other types of customer avatars that we’re going to talk about as well, but your most important one, or your first one, or the most basic one, we can put it that way, is the passenger.

You disagree?

John Williams: Well, you may sell charter to company X, who will decide what passengers fly.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: So it’s actually not selling to the passenger it’s selling to the company.

Paula Williams: Yeah, so you may be selling-

John Williams: But ultimately they’re going to customers whoever I mean, but the passengers whoever they are will judge you on your performance.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So you may be selling to let’s say a travel director of a company, but your eventual customer is going to be somebody who’s butt is on your airplane. [LAUGH]

John Williams: [CROSSTALK] Exactly.

Paula Williams: All right so customer avatars will start with passengers. But the first thing I want to mention is there are a lot of misunderstandings about high net worth and ultra high net worth people, right?

John Williams: Yes, there are.

Paula Williams: And if you’re in the charter industry, a lot of the folks who are working in the charter industry may not be high net worth or ultra high net worth themselves. And they have kind of a weird misconception or attitude about their own passengers.

And we’ve seen this actually quite a bit in some of the industries that we worth with. Where the people who are servicing the plane, the people who are flying the plane, the people who are doing the marketing are not in that category and they feel kinda weird talking to high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals.

Is that fair to say?

John Williams: Yeah.

Paula Williams: Okay, so a couple of things I’m going to recommend, and this is for you if you own the company and you’re making the aviation marketing and advertising decisions. Or if you work in a company, buy one of these books for every one of your people.

The No BS Marketing to the Affluent book by Dan S Kennedy. It has a lot of statistics and demographics about affluent people that you may find really surprising. Most of them are first generation high net worth individuals, most of them work really hard for their money. Most of them are not exactly what you would think.

There’s a lot more Warren Buffett than Paris Hilton, I guess I would say [LAUGH] in this group of people, right?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Yeah.

Paula Williams: Okay. Another great resource is Lorre White’s Luxury Marketing Blog. She talks a lot about the difference between media about the high net worth verses media for the high net worth.

John Williams: And there’s a big difference there.

Paula Williams: There’s a big difference between the two, most of the marketing that you think of when you’re Is almost making fun, I would say, of high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals, like the Robin Leech Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, that kind of thing.

That is really targeted toward middle class-

John Williams: Who want to be high net worth.

Paula Williams: Or lower that want to be high net worth. Or that want to spend their spare time gaping [LAUGH], or gawking at the high net worth an ultra-high net worth people. So you don’t want to mistake the two, and you want to be in the right category.

The way that you think about people, especially the way you think about your customers, comes across in the way that you talk to them. It comes across in the way you treat them, and you don’t want to make them feel awkward or funny, cuz you feel awkward or funny, right?

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: Okay, enough about that. All right, so let’s talk about some of these folks. Of course you’ve got the celebrities with the cute little dogs. That’s kind of the stereotype of what we’re thinking of, the Paris Hilton type, right? But more often you have regular working folks.

We’re just coming off of an election season where a lot the folks that we know in charter have been flying these guys around, right?

John Williams: Yeah, that includes my son, he’s out there flying. Well, not right now, but he’s out there flying those guys throughout the time that happened.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so candidates who are campaigning for office, they do this every two to four years. And so, this is a really steady market for you. It’s over for the time being perhaps, but you may be thinking about two years from now, three years from now, four years from now.

How can you position yourself with the people who are up and coming in the political parties in your area, to be the one that they call for those kinds of services, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Okay, another one, light manufacturing or other types of industry, especially when they’re far away from airports.

Those are great customers for you, because  they need to get people, parts, technicians potentially. They need to make decisions, there are sales people and other folks, service people, they need to get them places faster than the airlines can do that. Or more efficiently than the airlines can do that.

John Williams: And to smaller places.

Paula Williams: Exactly, farmers and ranchers. There’s a lot of money in farming and ranching in some parts of the country, and in some parts of the world, where charter aviation is a really big deal, a really big part of their business. So depending on where you’re located, you probably already specialize in one or more of these customer types.

Another customer type is families with kids and dogs and whatever, that want to go on vacation. They want to spend more quality time. They get very little vacation time, and they want to make their most of it with their families, and spend that time enjoying their vacation, not sitting in an airport somewhere.

John Williams: A family of four or five and the right charter company can just about be happy with the very little cost increase in pay for the flight. And have no TSA lines, and nobody else on the airplane, and go where they want, when they want.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: They like it.

Paula Williams: So all of these are kind of growing markets that you want to think about appealing to or specializing in. So as you’re putting your ads together you want to think about the three things, of course. And these depend on who your customer is. So you’re going to have different ads depending on what customer profile you’re writing for, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Okay, so every great campaign, or every great ad, has three things.

John Williams: Great, at least successful ones, [LAUGH].

Paula Williams: Right, have three things?

John Williams: Yep, absolutely. It’s L-O-P, list, offer and presentation.

Paula Williams: The list, the offer, and the presentation, LOP [LAUGH]. LOP, I hadn’t thought about that one, but that’s a good way to remember it.

So you want to think about those three things for each ad that you write. So, in a lot of cases, if your user profile, or your customer avatar, is families who want to go on vacation. Then you want to think about destinations that are in your sweet spot, or in your geographical location, that’s maybe too far to drive.

Not far enough to or not really convenient to the airlines. Think about Hilton Head or your woods, places that are not terribly convenient to a major airport.

John Williams: And even if they are, you get your own schedule and you get rid of long lines. You have a car waiting for you the airplane, I mean, it’s just really a nice change of pace.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: Slow down, enjoy your family.

Paula Williams: Right, so that’s a great way to position your ad, is to set up a destination. If you’re advertising to families with children, of course the Disney resorts are always great [LAUGH]. Those are usually near airports intentionally, but there’s a lot of places that are off the beaten path.

Think about what’s in your circle, and what would be really good for your customers, as a great charter flight candidate or a great vacation opportunity. Here’s a couple of other things that are taking into account that customer avatar. This one is for Special Services Corporation, they are near Clemson University.

So one thing that they had noticed is that the Clemson booster clubs, a lot of the away games are within their circle. They’re really great flights, and you get a bunch of parents and other folks that want to go to an away game. They can charter a plane, possibly even cheaper than individually buying tickets.

And have a much better experience going to an away game than they would driving or flying.

John Williams: Sure, because they’ve got different sized airplanes, they can fill it up and charge you one price and everybody splits it.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so think about that. The universities and other folks in your area that have away games, and booster clubs, and things like that.

Can you put a package together that would be ideal for that group of folks? Okay, another idea, if your folks are business people, so that second category we talked about, the light manufacturing, or in sales or services, and things like that Are you more productive at your client’s office or at the airport?

We help you spend more of your time where you need and want to be. And that really helps some of those salespeople or service people sell this to their boss, right?

John Williams: Yeah, these guys had a really great example, mid last year, where somebody left. They chartered with somebody who went four different places, all in the same day, all the way up to Montana and back, and home in time for dinner.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so those stories and those messages really resonate with business people. Okay, and then here’s a couple of other ads that maybe connect with some of the concern that people have. If you know that a lot of your customers, or potential customers, are now flying with the major charter companies and you’re a smaller charter company, you can talk about the differences.

Flying with one of the big charters, ask your next charter pilot how long he’s worked for the company? And SSC, of course, their pilots stick around with them for an average of eight to ten years. Who would you rather have flying your families? Somebody who has a different job every year or every few months?

Or would you rather have somebody that you’re going to see every time or frequently?

Digital Marketing for Charter CompaniesJohn Williams: Sure, you get to know, he almost seems like your pilot after you’ve done this many times.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and they treat their pilots right, so you know they’re not burning them out. Which has become a concern with a lot of these airlines and larger charter organizations.

Testimonials are always good, I’m very comfortable engaging SSC for charter services and absolutely recommend their service to others. Cliff Jenkins of Greenville, South Carolina. That’s a human being, with a name, and a location.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: That is on record saying how much he appreciates Special Services Corporation.

Which is not surprising, cuz they are a fantastic company.

John Williams: But that’s a good example of a testimonial. That’s the kind of thing you want to just ask for. People will give them to you.

Paula Williams: Absolutely! And again, the point of view for this ad is somebody who is chartering the airplane.

They see a luxurious interior. They see that somebody else was really comfortable with the experience, this should really serve that purpose very well. Here’s a couple of other ads. If you’re people are road warriors, right?

John Williams: Heaven forbid.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] There are 675,000 miles of road in Texas, we can help you skip some of them.

Or most of them. So if you’re customer profile is somebody that spends a lot of time on the road for business or pleasure. With the kids in the backseat, that can be an awful lot of a road. Another one that’s solves a common problem flying to and from Mexico.

Skip the lines and stop in Santa Teresa as opposed to El Paso, right?

John Williams: Yeah, they’ve got a lot shorter [LAUGH] lines for the customs guys there in Santa Teresa.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and this is for Francis Aviation, another really cool charter company located right on the border. So this suits their purpose very well.

Another thing you might like to do is use maps. That helps people really visualize, okay, where are you located? Where am I located? Where do I want to go? And how do I get from here to there really well?

John Williams: And in this case, that circle actually will engage, almost exactly coincides with the edge of the circle for another one of our clients up in California.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: Who’s got a place that people can go for vacations.

Paula Williams: Absolutely.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: And another one of our clients in South Carolina, SSC, so between the three of them, I think we’ve got the country pretty much coast to coast, right?

John Williams: Yeah.

Paula Williams: Yeah, so good stuff and that really does help your customer visualize where do I want to go, and is this a good way to get there?

Cuz they may have never considered charter before, right?

John Williams: Yes, it’s something that more and more people are considering.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm, okay, so all of this talk has been about passengers, or pax [LAUGH] as they’re called in the industry. But there are other customer avatars. Of course, there are the charter brokers that you want to do business with.

How you market to them basically, is by having all of your boxes checked. The ARGUS and the Weybourne and the nice photography of your airplane. What else are charter brokers looking for?

John Williams: Well, they need to know they got pristine aircraft, experienced pilots, and experienced firms that are, what is it, and-

Paula Williams: And ARGUS and all of the other ratings that they may require.

John Williams: Those are all the preferred,

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: Companies to work with.

Paula Williams: Right, so most of the charter brokers have a check list that they want to go through. Make sure that you have a safety record of X numbers of years, that your pilots have X number of years or hours of experience in all of the ratings and other things that, that you need, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Okay, so charter brokers, the main thing that they’re looking for is conveniently being able to check off all their boxes. [LAUGH] And get the flight booked, right?

John Williams: Conveniently.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: That’s a good word.

Paula Williams: Yep, exactly. Convenient to them, of course.

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: So if you have all that information in a way that’s convenient for them. Ideally, having it on your website, maybe have a page for charter brokers so that all of the things they keep asking you about are right there listed. So that they have all of that information that can make their lives easier, which makes them more likely to use you, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Okay, another customer that you might have are aircraft owners. A lot of the charter organizations that we work with are also aircraft management organizations that put their customer’s airplanes on their charter’s certificate. So that their aircraft owners can make money when they’re not using their airplane.

So as an aircraft owner, what are you looking for, John?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Well, I want somebody that’s going to take care of the thing and hangar it. [COUGH] Cuz it’s very easy for thing, and I’m not talking just some maintenance almost anybody can perform, FAA maintenance on aircraft. But it’s the cleanliness of the operation, the professionalism, take care of the inside.

Cuz sometimes, either wittingly or not, passengers can at least dirty up, if not damage, the interior.

Paula Williams: Right, and of course, those aircraft owners are varying degrees of, shall we say, detail oriented. [LAUGH]

John Williams: And they should be, they spend a lot of money on these things.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and I know you, for example, and I don’t know if this is typical, like to talk directly to the maintenance personnel.

And you like to get in there, get your hands dirty occasionally, so.

John Williams: Well, that’s not typical.

Paula Williams: Is that not typical?

John Williams: No.

Paula Williams: Okay, well, that’s probably a relief to the maintenance organizations out there.

John Williams: No, the majority of people out there that have aircraft they want managed for broker operations is they are looking at the ROI.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm, as a main thing.

John Williams: Mm-hm.

Paula Williams: And also that they’ll baby their aircraft as much as they can.

John Williams: Well, and that’s part of the ROI because they have to resell it sometime if they’re going to stay in the game. And they can’t resell something that’s been mistreated on the inside and not repaired.

Paula Williams: Right, and the log books have to be pristine and detailed and-

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: All of that stuff, all right. Okay, another customer avatar, event organizers. So maybe those booster clubs for the college. And other people that travel quite a bit. Or organized groups of people that travel quite a bit.

People that organize cruises, people that organize seminars, and other kinds of events. Those are the kind of people that you want referring your charter or organization because they know that their customers are going to have a great experience with you, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Absolutely. So yeah, avatars actually used somewhat interchangeably with profiles, but profile kinda sounds a little cold, and I actually.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Aviation Book Club - EvergreenPaula Williams: Got this from Noah Fleming’s book, Evergreen, he started using the word avatar. And when you think avatar, you think of a character in a game or whatever, that represents a particular set of people. So if you create an avatar, then your avatar for event organizers might be Mary Jane at ex-company that organizes golf outings, and her motivation is she wants her customers very well taking care of and she has some very specific characteristics and things that she’s particular about.

So, if you think of Mary Jane when you’re writing your ads, you end up writing them in a more warm and personal way than if you’re just thinking of event organizers as a category of people, all right.

John Williams: Okay.

Paula Williams: Okay, [LAUGH] the mind game. Let’s say a mind trick.

John Williams: I guess. And that’s cool.

Paula Williams: Mind trick of the day, okay. All right, so phase two, building credibility and closing sales, right? How do you do that if people are not ready yet? Doesn’t that drive you crazy?

John Williams: Successfully.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]
We do it successfully. That’s really helpful John.

John Williams: Well, you put people in a holding pattern as we have described before, and once they’ve entered into this they stay in it until they either say Yes or no.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly and or in the case of Charter flights a lot of times it’s not yet or not this time or not this trip.

John Williams: Which is why they’re in the holding pattern.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so what we mean by a holding pattern is just like when you’re holding for a run way. Where.

John Williams: No.

Paula Williams: Okay.

John Williams: And in this already did.

Paula Williams: Okay.

John Williams: This is like calling or view or holding over a fixed some place and I tell holding did in one minute.

Between return or one minute our loudly and then you’re doing another one you set there, and you run around the race track until it get cleared continue on the approach where we have to be right, exactly This is like a direct entry. You go into holding and you do basically a turn around and say, okay fine.

Aviation marketing PostcardsSet one minute by one [INAUDIBLE]. And one week hold on the outbound leg until they do something an email or a postcard or whatever. And then, you turn around and come back down, you do another.

Paula Williams: Right, so not to make this too complicated this was actually a fairly simple thing.

If people aren’t ready yet you want to have a series of interactions with them that are repetitive but don’t seem repetitive, right?

John Williams: And obviously, if going to do this in your firm of any size you going to have a some sort of CRM of Cost Relationship management system.  Without it and charter marketing a lot of customers is this more work than the guy can handle.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: Or the woman.

Paula Williams: Right so, you want to have in your system to say that you’re going to repeat contacting these people personally on a fairly regular basis but you’re also going to have some automated things that happen like Maybe a newsletter that goes out. Or a reminder to you to check out their, their Facebook page or their LinkedIn page.

Maybe leave a comment on something they’ve written. Just that they remember you and have a reason to bring you back to the front of their mind. So that when they are ready to book their trip. Or to start working with another charter organization or whatever. Changes happened that causes them to be ready to work with you.

They remember you and they don’t go to somebody else.

John Williams: It’s like putting a signboard up. You want to make sure the signboard is where they can see it every once in awhile.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: And remember who you are and what you do and why they should call you.

Paula Williams: Right, so some of the things you might include in your holding pattern would be phone calls, events, they may be in the Rotary Club or the Chamber of Commerce, or an aviation group that you get together with on a regular basis. You might want to send a physical newsletter.

Snail mail actually works really well for this, cuz it has a higher credibility with the kind of decision makers that we’re usually talking about than electronic media, right?

John Williams: Yeah, and it has to be something that gets past their gatekeeper, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Paula Williams: Right, and emails work.

They’re really easy to do, but they’re also very overused. So, we really recommend kind of a mix of media, cuz you want some low cost ones and you want some easy ones and you want some harder ones and you what some that are really super effective.

John Williams: And there with the CRM you can mark which one worked and for next time – great charter marketing – What you should try more of.

Paula Williams: Right, so if nobody’s opening your emails, then send a printed newsletter. Or if nobody’s responding to your Facebook, try email. Or if nobody’s responding to your email, try social media.  Whatever the-

John Williams: Of yeah, whatever.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. Leave a lot of voice mails, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But you may also want to follow up with that and email you want to make sure you’re using multiple media cuz not everybody uses everything, right? Cool, so that’s phase two. You want to keep them in the holding pattern and you want to have a good holding pattern that you’re improving all the time.

Phase three, resales, recaptures, and referrals. Now we said that this is where the money is made, right?

John Williams: That’s what we said.

Paula Williams: That is.

John Williams: That’s what we said that they said.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Absolutely, so, how do you make sure that people will remember you and make sure that they had a good experience?

The best way that I can think of is with a satisfaction survey, and this might not actually be something that you send to them. This might be something that you call them the day after their trip and actually have a human being talk to them. And very conversationally, not in a scripted manner.

But there are some things that you’re going to want to know, did they enjoy the trip? Was there anything that bothered them? Would they recommend you to their friends? Do they have any other trips coming up?

John Williams: This is all well and good, but don’t hound them for it.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. But a friendly call the day after their trip I think is really the most effective way to make this happen.

John Williams: Or even a card when they sign the bill, when they come into the FBO. Just like this thing, a three question thing, how could we have done better?

Paula Williams: Exactly, so that’s helpful. And you also want to put them back in your holding pattern. You want to make sure that you’re sending them newsletters and you’re sending them anniversary cards or Birthday cards or your specials this month, your empty legs, the things that may be of interest to them to get their business a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 12th, 20th time, right?

John Williams: Exactly.

Paula Williams: Okay, cool, all right, so. Next steps, if you don’t know what to say next to them [LAUGH] if you’re looking for things to say. But you want to have some more customer testimonials. You want to have some more success stories. You want to have more stories about maybe some of the destinations that their clients go another kinds of things like that.

Our content marketing service or subscription is really helpful for that cuz what we do is we look at what are some really good stories that we can tell about your company that you can out on your blog, that you can send in those newsletters, that you can send in those emails, so that it’s a little more substantial than just.

Are we there yet? You really want to have those be interesting and useful information. So, our content marketing subscription is really good for that. You might want to consider that. I think that works really well for charter companies. Anything else?

John Williams: I think that probably covers the marketing aspects.

Google PlusPaula Williams: [LAUGH]. Okay, great, so charter companies, hopefully, that answers viewer questions. And we’d love to hear what else you’d like to know, or what you’ve tried that’s worked. What you’ve tried that hasn’t worked, what frustrates you? What has worked for you, about your marketing? So shout outs this month, we got a really great guest post from John Chvatal, and I have no idea if I’m saying that correctly.

We’ve been connected on social media forever, but I’ve never actually spoken with John in person. So I don’t know how to pronounce his last name, I apologize if I just butchered that, I probably did.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: But, we were talking about social media, and he was telling me all of these fabulous things about Google+.

And he’s one of those people that really is what you call a power user. Really knows his stuff and knows what he’s talking about. And so he offered to write a guest post for our audience. And I took him up on it, cuz I thought this is a really potentially powerful tool.

But I certainly can’t do it justice, cuz it’s the ones that we’ve been using the most, in the last year, have been Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and LinkedIn. So Google+ is one that’s kind of slid off our radar, and, I know, there have been some changes to it lately.

So we’re really happy that he did that, and we’ll link to that in our show notes. So please go check out that article and see what you think, let us know what you think, and carry on from there. What’s up with the insiders? A lot of, actually this one was Casey’s idea.

Kasey Dixon, she is our scholarship winner this year, one of our scholarship winners. And we were talking about how in the aviation industry, there’s kinda this phenomenon of women in aviation. They have an organization, Women in Aviation, and Women in Aviation International, and Women in Business Aviation. But those groups tend to kinda preach to the choir.

But wouldn’t it be cool if we put together a forum discussion about and by women in aviation that is for everyone else. A lot of people may be uncomfortable with working with women or are afraid that they’re going to ask the wrong question. [LAUGH] Get in trouble, or whatever the situation is.

So we really wanted to create an environment with some of the most successful women in different fields of aviation. And you look at this panel, and it’s everything you can imagine in aviation. We’ve got Lillian Tamm with Avicor Aviation. She does valuations of aviation companies, so a very specific consulting business.

You’ve got-

John Williams: Been a long time in the field, too.

Paula Williams: Yeah, been a long time in the field and seen a lot of change in the way that women are perceived. And, also, the way that women work in this industry Kathryn Creedy, she’s a journalist, writes for a lot of different publications and things like that.

She writes a lot about women and minorities in aviation. And she’s got a really unique perspective. Joni Schultz with Whirly-Girls, she’s the president of Whirly-Girls and she does a lot of mentorship of young women helicopter pilots. Which is really, really cool and so, of course, she’s got a unique perspective.

Mary Kirby, Runway Girl, she has got the passenger experience perspective, Benét Wilson, Aviation Queen. [LAUGH] Also a journalist with another unique perspective. She also runs, I think, the mentorship program for the National Association of Black Journalists, so a very unique perspective there. Amanda Furrow, she’s a gulf stream captain with American Family Insurance, and also a broker with.

And does IS-BAO safety audits, so she’s got three perspectives all by herself.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: And Hope Harkey with an organization, PSR Aviation, they do recruiting for airlines and charter organizations and things like that. So, once again, a very unique perspective, of course, cuz she’s in the recruiting side.

So, of course, she’s recruiting both women and men. And knows what you can ask and what you can’t ask, and all the legal ins and outs of all of those things.

John Williams: Yeah, of the HR side of things.

Paula Williams: HR side of things, exactly. So this is going to be a really interesting panel.

And we’re really hoping that men come and ask questions, and also that young people come. Cuz there are probably a lot who are wondering, how is this profession for women? And, John, I know you’ve been in the profession for a really long time, and you’ve seen a lot of change and,

John Williams: Yes and yes.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, so.

John Williams: You make it sound like I’m ancient or something.

Paula Williams: No, but you’ve been in the aviation industry for longer than I have, and I’ve been-

John Williams: Yeah, yeah, I know, but I started when I was nine.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: Not many people do that anymore.

Paula Williams: That’s true, so.

John Williams: This should be very interesting, cuz as I grew up through aviation. I don’t think I ever saw a female, other than maybe a receptionist, somewhere at the airport. But the women just weren’t interested, or for whatever reason, weren’t in aviation.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: And now they’re coming into it, and I think it’s a good thing.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, so we’ve got everybody from A&P Mechanics, to professionals, to pilots, to HR people. This is a really great opportunity, and what we’re wanting to do is have people ask questions that they’re afraid to ask in real life. [LAUGH] And you can do that by Twitter, or you can submit questions ahead of time, so that we’ll answer.

And these women are some of the smartest people I know.

John Williams: And well-experienced in their areas.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and can tell you all about their experiences, good, bad, and ugly, and how we can all get along. [LAUGH] Without any of the uncomfortableness or other things that happen.

John Williams: Yeah, you can ask these ladies anything, and they’ll be okay with it.

Paula Williams: Yeah, these are the most straight talking, straight thinking women that I can think of as far as-

John Williams: Anyway, you’re moderating, so.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: If they get past you, it’s a good thing.

Paula Williams: We’ll keep it under control, but it’s going to be a really fun session.

Once again, this is a proposal that we submitted to NBAA. And I’m just really excited that this group of women was interested in doing something like this. And whether or not NBAA accepts our proposal, I think this group of women is going to have to put together some kind of a program.

And put this show on the road, cuz they’ve got things to say that need to be said. So, if you know any of the powers that be at MBAA, and if you have any pull with that organization. This is going to be such a great panel discussion, that I think they really would benefit from having this happen this year.

So, that’s my pitch.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: So, go sell more stuff. [LAUGH]

John Williams: America needs the business.

Paula Williams: Absolutely.

John Williams: So sayeth Zig Ziglar.

Paula Williams: Right, whether you’re selling an idea or selling anything else, go ahead.

John Williams: Or he did anyway, I mean everybody’s in sales.

Paula Williams: Absolutely.

John Williams: If you don’t realize it, think about trying to convince somebody of something and realize that you’re selling.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so the people who are good at it are the people who embrace the dark side, as we say.

John Williams: Sort of.

Paula Williams: Okay. [LAUGH] So subscribe to our podcast, Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are heard.

And please do leave us a rating, those ratings really mean a lot to us. Cuz that has an affect on how many people see this podcast. And we really think that the industry is better off when people do a better job of sales and marketing. We really need to do a better job of convincing the rest of the world [LAUGH] that aviation is worthwhile, and is healthy and thriving, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: All right, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time.

John Williams: Ciao.

Announcer: Thanks for joining us for Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, the best place to learn what really works in sales and marketing in the aviation industry. Remember to subscribe on iTunes, and leave a rating.


Question of the Week – What Do You Think of the Free or Cheap Website Builders like Weebly, Wix for Aviation Websites?

What do you think of free or cheap website builders like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace and so on for aviation companies?

Smart business people aren’t cheap, but they don’t like investing good money in stuff they don’t understand.  I totally get that.

So why spend thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars on a website, when these website builders promise a great looking site for free or cheap?

We had a client that came to us after having spent $250,000 on a website that just didn’t work.   It was a beautiful website, but it was the same situation as if she had spent $250,000 on a paint job on an airplane that had no engine or wasn’t airworthy.  It’s pretty crazy, but people don’t know.

Having a great aviation website is not about how much you spend, or even what tools you use or how much you spend on your website, it’s about whether or not it does its job.

So, what IS the job of a website?  It actually has three jobs:

1. Get found
2. Connect with the right people on the right level.
3. Make them Do Something!

To get found – this is like the Yellow Pages in the old days. You want to be sure your company is listed under the right category.  If people look up the product or service that you offer and don’t find you, then your website might as well not even exist!  Here’s a test for for how much traffic your website is getting,

To connect with the right people on the right level – people don’t spend a lot of time on a website deciding whether or not this is a company they want to do business with. They’re looking for images and language that let them know they’re in the right place. So if your product or service is sold to DOMs, it’s going to be something that they like to look at and it’s going to be written in language that they use and it’s going to give them the feeling that you understand them and understand their problems and can really help them.   If this website is for affluent customers, it needs to be all about convenience and security and use language that they’re comfortable with.  

To make them do something –  Most people are reluctant to pick up the phone or click a “buy” button if it’s the first time they’ve come into contact with your company. So if you offer something that is low-cost and low-risk, but valuable, then you give them something to do that  furthers the relationship.  An area guide, a tip sheet, a checklist, etc.

So, to answer the question (the long way) it really doesn’t matter what tools you use to build your site. What matters is that the website does its job.

Very few of the sites we’ve seen built with free or cheap tools do all three of those things. Most fail all three.  But that’s not the fault of the tools, that’s the fault of not really understanding the technology, or spending the time required to write or create high-quality aviation website content.

We have a free tip sheet you can download that includes the questions you should ask your website provider to ensure you’re investing your website money wisely.

We answer one question per week live on Facebook Live at 1:00 PM each Monday.

Ask a question – get a book!

Next week – We’ll answer an anonymous question – “I mailed a thousand postcards and nothing happened!”

  • Aviation Book Club - Evergreen

AMHF 0074 – Book Club Discussion – Evergreen- Customer Loyalty by Noah Fleming

In this episode, John and I talk about he book Evergreen by Noah Fleming.

“Cultivate the enduring customer loyalty that keeps your business thriving”

The three big ideas from this episode –

  • The biggest takeaway is a mindset change- an “evergreen” business is one that grows slowly and continuously, rather than seasonally.
  • It’s important to invest and market to  existing and past customers, particularly with small niches like aviation.
  • It’s also  very specific about the type of customer for whom we can do the most good. We like Noah Fleming’s methods of making this happen.

In conversation separate from this one, I was talking with an aircraft broker who could trace 80% of his business to one man.  Not that this one man bought and sold so many airplanes, but that so many of his clients were the friends and family of this one man, and he had referred them or that they had referred THEIR family and friends.

Since aviation is such a trust-based business, this is more important to us than it is to people in retail sales or marketing.

Transcript – Discussion about the book Evergreen


Aviation Book Club - EvergreenJohn Williams: You’re 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-tos. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes so you won’t miss a thing.

Paula Williams: Welcome to our Book Club Discussion. This month, we are talking about Evergreen – a book about customer loyalty by Noah Fleming. And I have noticed that the thicker the book, the fewer people come to our Book Club Discussions, [LAUGH] so.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That’s part of it. It’s also, Women in Aviation in, let’s see, Lake Buena Vista, Florida. So probably a lot of people are there. In fact, I know a lot of people are there. And HELI-EXPO starts on Monday, so a lot of folks are busy with other things.

But that’s okay, because we’ll have fun without them, won’t we John?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: All right, cool. So, once again, this month’s Book Club Discussion. I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: And I am John Williams.

Paula Williams: And we are ABCI, and ABCI’s mission is?

John Williams: To help all you ladies and gentlemen out there sell more products or services in the aviation world.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, so if you have-

John Williams: Or both.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so if you have questions about our book club, it’s actually part of our Insider Circle which we started out of self-defense. [LAUGH] Actually we started it because our clients are the smartest people in the aviation industry. And getting them to talk to each other, and getting them to talk about some sales and marketing ideas really brings up a lot of really good stuff that they may not otherwise think of.

And we’ve put together panel discussions and co-marketing agreements, and all kinds of fun things with this particular group of people. And the book club is just one of the ways that we give people an excuse to get together, and also I happen to be a book nerd. I really like sales and marketing and business books and this gives us a chance to, gives me an excuse to play with them and make other people read them, right?

John Williams: Well, encourage other people to read them.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Encourage other people to read them exactly. Okay, so let’s start with impressions, what did you think of the book, John?

John Williams: I thought a lot of it was, there were some good points and a lot of chapters that were sort of a rehash of stuff.

Paula Williams: Yeah, well, we read a lot of sales and marketing books. So there were a lot of really similar examples and ideas in here that, not a whole lot that we hadn’t heard before. But I think the big idea, and that was kind of the metaphor of evergreen versus deciduous-

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Was a good one especially for aviation because we do long cycle of marketing, we have to think in terms of not just one season. We want customers to stay with us forever because there are so few of them for most of our products or services, because they’re so specialized, right?

John Williams: Well, and we, as the rest of the aviation world, take a long view.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: Which is absolutely necessary if you’re going to be in the business of aviation.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: Because there’s such a dramatic cycle of sales versus dry times.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right. And even people that think that they are only making one sale, like brokers, they often have people come back to them every three or four years to trade-in an airplane for a different type or to upgrade or to do something or another or refer people over time.

So even if it seems like a one-time transaction, in the aviation world, it really shouldn’t be, or you really shouldn’t think of anything as a one-time transaction, right?

John Williams: And not only that, there’s been a long drought in aviation prices for, you could argue the reasons but nonetheless, prices of aircraft have been falling for the last several years.

And I think I’m hearing from various people that ought to be in the know.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: That were at the bottom and prices in the next few months should probably start up.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: Which is good news for everybody.

Paula Williams: Very good news. The really interesting thing is, if you’re driving through California, or Nevada, or Lake Tahoe, or any of the places that, Cody, Wyoming, a lot of other places that have droughts from time to time, and they have lots of evergreens.

You’ll notice that a lot of them survive really well, they survive a lot better than the deciduous trees, right?

John Williams: Yep, yep, absolutely.

Paula Williams: Yeah, so I guess the whole point here is to think about having deep roots and think about needles as opposed to getting great gobs of leaves and then dumping them all [LAUGH] at the end of the season, right?

I like that metaphor. Okay, so getting into the guts of the book. We always put some bookmarks in about things that we thought were particularly notable that we want talk about. And one of the things is on page 19, The True Value of a Customer. And a lot of people ask us, how you do you figure or how do you calculate customer lifetime value?

And so we put the transaction or the equation there on the screen. If you’re listening rather than watching, it says CLV or customer lifetime value equals. And this is not out of the book, I actually got this from our Peak Performers group with GKIC. But it’s the transaction amount times the number of transactions plus the referrals that you get from that particular customer plus the marketing value of any testimonials that you would get.

Because you would pay for good marketing, and testimonials are great marketing. So it’s hard to put a value on that, but maybe priceless? [LAUGH] But you do have to put a value on it for the purpose of figuring out how much customer loyalty is really worth to us.

And it’s almost always more than we thought, right?

John Williams: Yeah, what this guy’s talking about in the book is the fact that a lot of companies average that number.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: And you can’t do that.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: And he spent 20 pages saying why you can’t do that.


Paula Williams: Right, [LAUGH] and this is why a lot of the things that come up in these books, we hear over and over and over again in a different way. Same thing, Perry Marshall said in the 80/20 book. 20% of your customers are going to give you 80% of your referrals and testimonials.

John Williams: And he even talks about that in here.

Paula Williams: Right, so good stuff. But nothing we didn’t already know, but I think it can’t hurt to emphasize it again.

John Williams: I think what he was trying to say in 20 pages was that, yeah, I suppose you can go and average numbers but you can’t treat individual customers as average.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: Cuz if you’ve been treated that way before you know why.

Paula Williams: Yeah, [LAUGH] exactly, customers are not commodities and if you treat them like that they will treat you like that then. We can’t have that then.

John Williams: Or they’ll find business elsewhere.

Paula Williams: Exactly, that’s absolutely true.

Okay, next bookmark. The Power of Telling a Good Story.

John Williams: Well, again, That’s how you sell things, is with a story, and if you can’t do a good story, then you’re in trouble.

Paula Williams: Right, this is part of the reason we put together the Storytelling Summit in Sundance, Utah, that we’re planning for August of this year.

A lot of the folks that we work with are very heavily into their own stuff, meaning that they work with it every day. They know why their product is better than the next guy’s, they can tell you chapter and verse. They can tell you the statistics and all of the benefits of their product or all of the features of their product.

But what’s more powerful than that, is telling stories of how it has actually done some good for somebody. It doesn’t really matter if yours is the fastest, or the safest, or the coolest, or the neatest. Unless you can talk about a story where somebody’s life was saved by your product.

That’s probably the ultimate thing in the Aviation Industry. If you could get a story like that, or even how yours contributed to a great story, how your product contributed to do something that was a, a really good human interest story that’s going to capture people’s imagination.

John Williams: And the author refers to another book that says that stories are one of the most important elements of any message that you want to stick, and in business this could not be more true.

Paula Williams: Right, because they’re going to forget the features and benefits, especially if they’re walking around at a trade show going from your booth to your competitors booth. They’re not going to remember the numbers that you throw at them, but they might remember a story, if it’s told well enough. There’s a couple of really good stories that are an illustration of this. Or if you write a great aviation press release or article that has a great story, it’s a lot more memorable.

On this screen I have a picture of a garage, does this mean anything to you, John?

John Williams: Yeah lots of things, not the least of which is how Apple started.

Paula Williams: Exactly, it wouldn’t matter a darn thing, except that the person standing in front of this garage is Steve Jobs.

And this house, that the garage is attached to, happens to be his parent’s house in California. So instantly, you’ve got a hook that connects a lot of pieces of information in your mind, about innovation and perseverance and creative cool kids. The iPhone that’s in your pocket and how it’s neater than everything else that you’ve looked at when you were shopping for cell phones, all of that stuff is tied together with a great story.

That how Apple started with Steve Jobs and Wozniak in a garage, and it’s a really good story. Some of the things, and I really like the bullets that he put together. When you think you have a great story, you want to think about, who are you, and what do you want to known for?

Every company has great stories as far as if it involves people, and it involves something that you built to solve a problem. Then obviously there is a really good story there, you just have to ease it out and figure out what those pieces are. What are the key points that you want customers to associate with you, what is your larger than life purpose?

In Steve Jobs’ case, it’s think differently, that’s one of the things that really sticks out. Who are your enemies? And you don’t have to think of this in terms of, who are your competitors, what are the names of [LAUGH] the individuals who are in the same business as you, who may be taking business from you.

So,  our enemies are random acts of marketing. The things that people do, or they’re wasting money, and then coming away with a bad taste in their mouth for sales and marketing. Another one of our enemies is bad sales people who are either dishonest, or unethical in some way, and they leave people with a bad taste in their mouth, those are our enemies, right?

John Williams: Yeah, and the author contends that when you tell a story, that if you start off with what, it ain’t going to work.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: You have to start off with why.

Paula Williams: Start with why. What rules do you live by, and what kind of legacy do you want to leave?

These are questions that kind of make you step back and think bigger about your company or your product, or your service or your purpose. And make it 1,000 times more interesting than the widget that you’re trying to sell. Okay, this is Jamie Oliver, I don’t know if you know anything about Jamie Oliver.

Is this a story that you remember John?

John Williams: No.

Paula Williams: Okay just another Food Network cook all right, nobody cares about another Food Network cook. There’s dozens of them, lots of people put out cookbooks, lots of people are chefs on the Food Network are celebrities, or can make you a fabulous salad right?

But what people remember about Jamie Oliver is that he took on the school food system, right, and went after how terrible the food is that we’re serving our kids in public schools. And it’s actually in England, the BBCs that got all crazy about this, this was actually before Michelle Obama and the United States school system, he did it first.

And I think he did it better, because what he did is he went in and started showing the schools how they could teach science in cooking. They could teach science in gardening and he established a lot of gardens in schools and a lot of cooking classes. And science and math and technology and chemistry and fractions, there’s all kinds of things that you can teach by making it practical and by making decent food.

Also, if you feed your kids decent food, that’s a good thing right?

John Williams: Well, of course.

Paula Williams: Okay, so he became known as kind of the bad boy of the BBC, because he was bad mouthing the school officials who were. Not allowing him to do what he wanted and we’re teaching things wrong, and feeding kids terrible things, and so on, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Cool. So that’s a much better story, I think, than just some guy schlepping cookbooks.

John Williams: [LAUGH]
Now stories work all the way. My son before he became a jet pilot.

John Williams: Had come to me to ask me a question about auto mechanics and buying a dual exhaust versus single and the difference in size of the pipes.

And I sat down there and said, well here’s how you convert that story problem into math, and then give me the numbers. And he gave me the numbers and I plugged it in, and I said, so here’s how big the single pipe has to be, and he looked at me and said, I gotta go back to school.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: And I walked out of the room, and he did, he went back to school. Went to college, and he got out, and he’s flying jets around the country now.

Paula Williams: And you refrained from saying, I told you so.

John Williams: Yeah, that’s right.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Okay.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Cool. All right, so yeah. You want tothink in terms of stories, because they stick with your customers 1,000 times better than any features or benefits that you can mention. Page 111 is the next bookmark, I think this is a really good one, Creating Ideal Customer Archetypes.

John Williams: So is that how you pronounce it as archetypes? Or is it archetypes?

Paula Williams: Archetype, it’s always been archetype.

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: Did you ever take a literature course?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Several. And I’ve heard it pronounced every which way, plus a few more.

Paula Williams: Exactly, no. It started I think in Psychology and then ended up in Literature or vice versa, I never took a Psychology course, cuz I can’t stand the stuff.

John Williams: Yeah, maybe a little.

Paula Williams: Which is really bad being a marketing person, right? I think afraid and young and all those people were kind screwed up.

John Williams: You think?

Paula Williams: Yeah. But that aside.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: The idea of a customer archetype actually really helps. Because a lot of people think of their customers as a group and they think of them as kind of a faceless group.

Unless you think of one person, it changes your tone. When you’re writing advertising or when you’re creating something that’s going to appeal to somebody, you don’t want tothink of a nameless, faceless customer. You want to think of and we give our customer archetypes. We give them names. It’s Fred or Steve or Joan.

John Williams: So you don’t want to call them the magician, the sage or the jester?

Paula Williams: No [LAUGH], no, we want to pick somebody who’s a really good example of that customer group and we’ve got several customer groups, right? Because we do marketing for charter companies. We do marketing for FBOs, we do marketing for MROs.

We do marketing for people that make widgets.

John Williams: Widgets [LAUGH]?

Paula Williams: Well, components, aircraft components, things like that.

John Williams: Yes, I see.

Paula Williams: People who do services like doctors, lawyers, insurance guys, things like that. But each of those is a different customer archetype, right?

John Williams: Well, I would certainly hope.

Paula Williams: Right, and we have enough experience with those different customer archetypes. That we can pick one and say this guy is pretty representative of this group. So let’s write for Brad and say that is a great archetype. You know what I mean?

John Williams: Or Mark.

Paula Williams: Exactly, we’ve got several Brads and several Marks [LAUGH] .

But that’s a really good way to warm up your writing and warm up your campaigns. And warm up your thinking about your customers because it really affects the way you talk to them. It really affects the way you do your marketing. And makes it a whole lot more effective.

John Williams: True.

Paula Williams: Yeah, all right, so in fact, a lot of times I will scrap something because I’ll say you know what, Mark is going to look at this and think x,y or z. There is something that is going to go off in his head when he sees this. So when I think of an actual person and how they’re going to receive our message.

I throw a lot of paper away [LAUGH] and it takes a lot longer to create a campaign. Or when I’m thinking of a customer’s archetype. One of our customers, I know what their customers are like.

John Williams: So here I thought you were a tree hugger and you’re really a tree killer.

Paula Williams: I am really a tree killer because I have killed a lot of trees doing that and throwing things away because of this exercise, right?

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: One of the exercises that I really like of his, it’s kind of going through a day in the life of your archetype.

You pick a person, you create this character and you go through what is a day, what is his day like? What are the things that are on his mind? What are his problems? What are his other problems besides the ones that I think I can solve for him?

And that affects the way that you market. You might decide to do mail instead of online. Because when he’s online, he’s looking up part numbers and solving problems and things like that. And the last thing he’s going to want todo when he gets done with that task is spend more time online.

So, you may send him a printed brochure. Thinking through a day in the life is really a good way to put yourself in their shoes and start speaking in language that they understand. And empathizing with some of the things going on in their life, right?

John Williams: True.

Paula Williams: Okay, so great exercise.

All right, let’s talk about loyalty plans. Loyalty Action Plans. And we’ve got two that we can kind of contrast that Noah Fleming puts in the book. One has a real simple diagram, the other one has a really complicated diagram.

John Williams: True.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] And of course,

John Williams: And I don’t know that the-

Paula Williams: The diagrams didn’t hit you very well?

John Williams: No.

Paula Williams: Okay.

John Williams: Too much work.

Paula Williams: Okay.

John Williams: I mean, it seems to me, well, fairly obvious. And you may have an overall loyalty plan program structure, but you have to modify it for each particular customer. As an example, I worked in IT for a number of years and this particular company put together a structure for which an IT request had to go through to get actually approved and financed.

And another gentleman and I were sitting at a meeting and they were going through this. And I looked at him and I said I can’t stand this anymore. He looked at me and grinned. And I stood up and I said look. They said what you’re doing here would be great if you’re building a space shuttle.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right.

John Williams: Because of all this other stuff but it’s doing nothing for you. You have to have points where you can jump off along the way for individual pieces and parts. You have a loyalty program where it’s great for certain people, but you have to be able to jump off in pieces and parse where you have individual employees and companies that are different.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly, and especially in the aviation industry. We’re not a hotel loyalty program or a coffee card that gets punched or something like that. Those kinds of things don’t work for us. Our customers are and most of our clients have customers that are high net worth or ultra high net worth.

They don’t want to play games, they just want to be recognized for the contribution that they’re making to your company. So they may never see your loyalty program on paper or anything else. But they see the effects of it. Because they know they are treated differently. They know they get a thank you gift every time they give you a referral.

They know that you know who they are when they call and you know how much they’ve spent with your company. And how long you’ve been with them and they know about the trip that you took to Barbados five years ago. If you’re a charter company. All of that stuff needs to be collected and you need to have people who are smart enough to apply some general rules, right?

John Williams: Well, I mean I realize that there are some companies this will apply to lock, stock, and barrel. I mean if you have a contract with fuel and you fly a G5 around the country or the world. And as long as you can land and refuel a signature then you don’t get ramp fees charged.

You apply all these credits toward whatever along the way, then yeah, that works. But not everybody’s like that.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and if you are like that and you can put your program together, so that it’s simple from the customer’s point of view. You don’t ever want to show them a diagram like this and make them try to understand it.

But you from your side can make it so that your customer always feels special. That’s all this was about or save some money or see some benefit in doing business with you.

John Williams: By saving them money, you’re making them feel special.

Paula Williams: Yeah, or sees the benefit in doing business with you as opposed to somebody else.

So the thing between these two diagrams, the really simple one versus the complicated one is that he’s got some jumping off Points where customers have increased access to you. Your average customer may not be able to have your cell phone number, as an example. The more they spend and the more transactions they have with you, the more referrals they give you and so on, the higher your involvement with them and the larger your commitment should be to their happiness.

And that’s all this should be about. If you want regiment that, if you want to make a program for that, or make software for that, you can do all kinds of ways to make that happen in the real world, but your customer should never see it. They should just feel it

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: Okay cool so loyalty action plans. That’s actually kind of a cool chapter. Probably worth the reading through, right?

John Williams: Yeah if you read this and you read the thing about the [LAUGH] what they call the roach letter

Paula Williams: Do tell because not everybody’s read it, I’m sure.

John Williams: Anyway it’s about a guy that got an airline, international flight from New York to Paris and somewhere along the flight the attendants start serving dinner and then management arrives and he [LAUGH] tried to eat a salad found a big black cockroach in the bottom of it.

Paula Williams: No.

John Williams: Yeah, the [INAUDIBLE] apologized profusely, [INAUDIBLE] to discuss to try anything else, what do you think?

Paula Williams: Yeah, I’m like I’m done I’m not touching any food on this airplane ever again.

John Williams: So the customer’s telling everybody about this thing and then one day a FedEx arrives with an envelope and he stutters and realize it’s from the office of the president of this airline.

And it’s a very nice, very authentic letter it says, here’s the actual take on all of our flights, because of this and all of our providers and this and that. I know we can’t change what happened, but I hope you’ll trust by my response that we’re listening and taking the issue very seriously, and you’ll fly with the airline again.

Yours truly, President ABCL. [LAUGH] And to his amazement he said, finally a company that not only listens to customers, but actually does something about it. Can you imagine, he was able to single handedly ground a 747.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: So they grounded all their airplanes, and took action.

Paula Williams: Wow. Yeah and I think in a lot of cases that’s all that people want is just acknowledgement that, yes this is terrible and we are going to fix it and they understand, stuff happens. If you can do something about it that is a wonderful thing and tell them what you did about it.

A lot of people would just duck their heads and never want totalk to that guy again.

John Williams: Well, but it continues.

Paula Williams: Okay.

John Williams: So he’s happy. And stuck to the back of the letter he sees what looked like a yellow Post-it note. He flips over the letter and reads the coffee stained note stuck on the back.

Mary Anne, send this jerk the roach letter, Bob.

Paula Williams: No [LAUGH].

John Williams: This was the moment that our realized they didn’t really care about image and experience at all. He was simply sending the standard formula that all passengers find cockroaches in their food, receive.

Paula Williams: Man.

John Williams: Now this is an extreme example, but what matters is we’re living in a time when companies continue to set up systems, blah, blah, blah, and they really don’t care about costumers once they’re paid.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

Paula Williams: So, that was a great story and then it turned out terrible.

John Williams: Yeah, exactly.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Had me convinced.

John Williams: So, are you communicating authentically with you customers or are you sending roach letters?

Paula Williams: Are you sending roach letters, good point. That’s a good story.

Okay, let’s talk attrition alerts. This is something that almost never happens in the aviation industry, and should. And I know this from being a flight student that was on-again off-again for various reasons, because of work and geography and everything else. I started at a flight school in Texas, and then finished at a flight school in Utah, but in both cases, I could go weeks between lessons.

And nobody knew or cared [LAUGH] or seemed to care, whether I was coming back or not. I knew my reasons and I knew what was going on with me and things like that, but I had never given any kind of an explanation to the people at the flight school.

Of course, I was responsible for scheduling my own lessons. But two things, one, they should, as part of each lesson, schedule the next one. I mean, you do that at the dentist, you do that at the eye doctor, you do that pretty much everywhere.

John Williams: Sure, you schedule it and then request confirmation, and then it Then you confirm with them in enough time so you can change it for the people.

Paula Williams: Exactly, but if it’s been three weeks since my last lesson, a couple of things happen. One, it’s a perishable skill so you know you’re not doing me any favors if you ignore me if I’m a student. And number two, I’m likely to be shopping around for another flight school.

You have no idea whether I’m stuck at work or whether I was upset

John Williams: Don’t like your instructor

Paula Williams: Didn’t like the instructor, didn’t like something about the airplane. They had no idea So you should have some kind of attrition alerts in place where you know, this customer should have come back to us by now, we really need to make a phone call or send a post card, or something.

And say, you know are you okay? And part of that is just genuine human, did we do something to upset you? And part of that is just good salesmanship.

John Williams: True.

Paula Williams: So a lot of these flight schools, I’m sure, are missing out on hundreds of thousands of revenue because they just let people go away without even an attempt to get them back.

And if there was a problem they could solve easily, they just lost the rest of that customers business for the rest of the time until they get their rating. So that could be tens of thousands of dollars per student and that could be hundreds of thousands of dollars per year if they’re doing that to everybody.

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: Right, so attrition alerts I think could be done in the aviation industry, not just with flight schools. If you have somebody that brings their aircraft back for regular service yeah Jiffylube does a better job [LAUGH] of getting your car back in than MROs do of getting your airplane back.

John Williams: True, actually.

Paula Williams: So you could actually copy those campaigns that you get, make them a little more upscale and a little more interesting, and do some really good work with that. So that’s for MROs. For charter companies, you know people fly more than once. So you should be letting people know it’s time for your annual golf trip or whatever it is that your doing.

There’s lots of ways you can have an alert. Saying we should have heard from this person by now. And get their continuing business. Okay so insanely successful promotions page 243 [LAUGH]. What do you think of this?

John Williams: Now, Groupon aside.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: I’m not at all sure.

I’m trying to think back of different folks that have had. This sort of issue and I don’t think except those who did the groupon thing before they realized that was a real big losing proposition without the appropriate qualifications.

Paula Williams: And what John’s talking about, if you’ve not heard of, we’ve done on a couple of our podcast, talked about flight schools in particular.

That do a discovery every flight via Groupon, where they’re actually losing money on the fuel and the instructor, in the attempt to get people in the door. Groupon used to heavily influence people to do half-price or half of what their normal price would be for some kind of an incentive to get people in the door with two-for-ones and other kinds of things.

The problem with that is that you end up spending, you actually lose money on the promotion. And then if you don’t capture people’s information to make them a continuing student-

John Williams: Yeah, if you don’t make any sales [INAUDIBLE], you’ve lost big time.

Paula Williams: You’ve lost a huge amount of money on that promotion, as well as potentially losing your reputation as a really high quality institution.

Because when people show up on that day, you’ve overwhelmed and understaffed and so on.

John Williams: It’s a pretty good quote in here.

Paula Williams: Yeah!

John Williams: It says, the worst trap I’ve seen so many companies fall into is that they confuse these types of promotions, this kind of websites as their sole marketing strategy.

Must be clear about something, offering super deep discounts to entice new customers is not marketing.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: There you go, or it’s a random act of marketing. It’s our enemy. [LAUGH]

John Williams: And this is the, on page 244, the books, you can read it yourself.

I didn’t make it up.

Paula Williams: Right, discounts in general are really bad for several reasons. Number one they erode your price integrity. So somebody who bought from you at full price yesterday is going to be upset when you have it for half price today.

John Williams: Exactly.

Paula Williams: Yeah, number two, you’ve got a thing called perceived value.

Especially in this market where if you offer something for half price, you’re perceived value goes out the window. So the equity in your brand all of that prestige and other things you worked so hard to build get under cut by a discount. So we really really discourage them in the aviation industry but we do highly encourage promotions.

You can do a lot of things by adding rather than subtracting. Adding an additional service, providing a reason that people should do X, Y or Z by the end of March, as an example. There’s lots of ways to do that without discounting your price. So guidelines for an insanely successful promotion.

I think these are really good. Every one that you do and John and I actually just did this this morning. We want to think of a promotion in a broader context. You know, what’s our five year plan, what’s our ten year plan? How do we want to grow our company in the most effective way.

John Williams: Without growing it into oblivion.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] right. So think in the broader of context of what’s your five-year, ten-year plan. Not just how do we get more sales in the door this month? You need to plan it carefully. You need to capture customer information. This one is a key that goes out the window with some of these things.

You want to prepare your staff, make sure that they know what you’re doing and why. And how it’s going to be successful for them. What your end goal is, and you need to above all take good care of your existing customers. So if you can’t do a promotion without sacrificing or if it’s going to sacrifice your existing customers to take too much of your attention away from them, then you don’t want to do that promotion.

John Williams: There are five bullets here that I probably should, I hate reading stuff but-

Paula Williams: That’s okay. Just don’t sound like you’re reading. Nobody will know.

John Williams: [LAUGH] You need to know when you’re going to do a promotion whether it’s Groupon or anything else. First you gotta understand what the promotion is going to cost on the front end.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: Second is at what point will you break even, with a nuke or successive how many customers it take to break even. And third can you negotiate a better profit split? It’s always a question for bullet number one. And how many new customers can you realistically handle which is something we have to deal with all the time because as our numbers of customers grow.

That’s fine, we can handle it. They need to be on board and working. Then we can have the more new ones.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: But if we’ve got four or five new ones to start with, then it makes it very, very time consuming.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]. In other words, long hours for Paula and John because we do personally get involved with new clients pretty much the first three months.

John Williams: And then how many, and what discounts are you willing to offer and when will they expire. So, just things have very high level that you should consider before executing a promotion of any kind.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, so all together, a really good book. Definitely worth the read. Great job Noah Flemming.

I actually just had the couple little chats with them on Twitter but seems like a really decent guy, he’s got a really good blog. So highly recommend following that and I know he’s got a couple of other books that have come out since then that may not be quite so relevant to the aviation industry as Evergreen.

So, that’s why we picked that one. So what do you think? Should we give it a nine out of ten?

John Williams: Naw, I’d probably do eight and a half, but okay nine.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Eight and a half, okay. Definitely worth the read, but-

John Williams: Yeah.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: That’s good enough.

Paula Williams: Okay, so next month we have a skinny book. So we’ll probably have lots of people in our book club discussion hopefully. And that one is Content that Converts by Laura Hanly and this one is actually especially about content for business to business, or B2B sales and marketing, which it’s unusual most of the content marketing materials that are out there are for retail.

So this is actually a little more relevant to us than most of the stuff you’ll run across the web and in the book store. So next up, I’m really looking forward to it. And we will be discussing that book on March, sorry, April 5th, Wednesday at one o’clock.

So if you’re one of our insiders, put that on your calendar, and-

John Williams: Actually should already be there if you have one of our calendars.

Paula Williams: It is already there if you have one of our calendars, so just make sure you circle that, and plan to join us for that.

It’s going to be a really good discussion so thanks for joining us and have a great afternoon.

Announcer: Thanks for joining us for Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, the best place to learn what really works in sales and marketing in the aviation industry. Remember to subscribe on iTunes and leave a rating.



  • Direct Mail Campaign Worksheet

The Awesome Power of Snail Mail – And an Aviation Direct Mail Campaign Example

The Awesome Power of Snail Mail – And an Aviation Direct Mail Campaign Example
Direct Mail Campaign WorksheetThis webinar is for you if:

  • You sell a product or service in the aviation industry
  • You sell B2B or B2C to a select audience (not mass-market or hugely general retail.)
  • You want to sell more stuff!

In this webinar, we discuss

  • How Direct Mail compares with other advertising
  • An Example Multimedia Campaign anchored by a set of postcards.

Watch the recorded Free Webinar here:


Download the Campaign Worksheet by entering your email here:

Actual results from our execution of the campaign outlined in this webinar coming soon . . .


We talked about “dimensional mail” in this webinar, which basically means “3D” or “non-flat” mail – anything but a plain flat envelope with nothing but papers in it.

Looking for another example of a b2b direct mail campaign?  We used this one with good results last year.

  • Aviation Business Cards - Dead?

Aviation Business Cards – Are Business Cards Dead?

This week’s question comes from Alex, who cites this article in Forbes- Business Cards are Dead!

Their reasoning:

  • Business cards are a relic of a bygone era of corporate schmoozing
  • Too many people use business cards as a proxy for actually being an interesting person
  • Everyone uses Google or LinkedIn instead.

Our assertion:

Business cards are NOT dead.

Aviation Business Cards - Dead?Dated, yes. Limited, yes.  Bad salespeople are overly dependent on them, yes.

Guilty on all charges.

But making a conscious decision – “Am I going to be an evangelist for technology or do I want to help our clients sell their products and services?”

This question gives us a great way to evaluate any question that comes up.

Our mission is to help our clients sell more of their products and services. That means it doesn’t matter what’s new or shiny or better or more efficient or kills fewer trees. What matters is what helps them sell more stuff.

Reasons to use business cards

  1. You don’t rely exclusively on technology.
  2. Aviation networking trade shows are noisy, airports are noisy, bars & restaurants are noisy
  3. Your ideal prospects are aviation decision makers in their 50s or 60s, not tech startup CEOs in their 20s or 30s. Traditional etiquette – if someone gives you something, you should give them something back. Doesn’t have to be a business card, but it should serve the same function.

Tips for Aviation Business Cards

  • Minimal information is required nowadays (just enough to look you up online.
  • Since you have to have them, they might as well be as interesting, memorable or attractive as possible.
  • Offer a business card when it makes sense to. (When someone else offers first, or when someone suggests making contact later.)
  • Don’t do glossy black! It shows every single fingerprint!

We answer one question on Facebook Live every #MarketingMonday at 1:00 PM Mountain, Noon Pacific.

Next week’s question – What’s up with these free or cheap website builders?  (Weebly, Wix, Website 123, web.com, etc.)  They say you get a professionally-designed website with all the features you need, free or cheap.  Is there a downside?

Ask a question – get a book!  (We accept questions in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter, or via email if you want to remain anonymous!)

Load More Posts