We interview our Insider Circle members to help them get to know one another, and to provide the best, most appropriate referrals!
Aviation Business Consultants International (ABCI) is pleased to award two unique Aviation Marketing Scholarships, which involve Silver Level memberships to two remarkable individuals with extensive knowledge of sales and marketing, and a deep affinity and long dedication to the aviation industry.
These memberships to our Aviation Marketing Insider Circle program include office hours, books, and access to our members-only materials in exchange for their participation in the program.
The annual value of each aviation marketing scholarship is $3,348.
The intention of the aviation marketing scholarship program is to incorporate new ideas and synergy into the group for the benefit of ALL of our members. Winners were selected based on written application and responses to essay questions.
Schultz’s innovative approach comes from an extensive sales background
Sometimes the innovation is the market you use to deliver the product. For example, with the proper research and delivery, perhaps the product is brought to market that it doesn’t even necessarily fit in. For example, at EAA AirVenture, the largest aviation trade show in the world there are vendors that are there selling non aviation products such as chairs and cookware. The product fits in the show because you have 40,000+ people walking around and at some point they want to sit. They sit in the outdoor furniture and they sit while watching a food demonstration. Those products sell because the consumer sees a value, perhaps it’s just at that time but sales are made. Innovative and creative because thought has been given to the consumer experience. Innovation can be defined as a new thought but it always means “thinking outside the box”, in my mind. Creative minds find innovative thinking easy.
In my direct sales business, because our products worked together so well I used the standard cross selling technique for nearly every sale. However, my favorite incentive had to be the monthly customer special. How the incentive worked is for every order totaling more than $50, the customer was eligible for the customer special purchase. My unusual/innovative sales pitch would be, asking those that didn’t take advantage of the special if it was ok to offer the sale of that special to someone else that didn’t quite spend the $50 in sales. Sometimes reverse psychology drove the consumer to buy the special themselves.
I also asked if the customer wanted more than one special, perhaps to use for gifting giving etc. The end result was that I always sold a customer special to every eligible order and the sales of that party order increased. Increasing the total sales up helped the hostess receive more free product. Hostesses booked repeatedly with me and they referred me to their friends and family. WIN-WIN.
Dixon’s approach to selling involves a creative use of story.
I once sold a car by creating a lengthy and humorous fictional story about the car, complete with digitally illustrating the car into completely ridiculous scenes. It got quite a bit of attention on a message board and I sold the car for my full asking price within 48 hours.
Both winners also have an extensive connection with and affinity for the aviation industry.
Schulz explains a long dedication to the industry that took several forms.
My career began at a small commuter airline in reservation sales department. After several years of working in the industry, I applied and was offered a reservations sales position with a major airline. After being overlooked for job advancements within the company because of my lack of a higher education, I decided to pursue a college degree and decided that Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) was my first and only choice. ERAU was my dream school, being a non-traditional student and very serious about my studies, I excelled. During my time there, I was the recipient of several scholarships. I graduated with a 3.40 GPA and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, a National Leadership Honor Society. After graduation, I was recruited by an leading aviation insurance company as one of their first female underwriters. My experience includes: sales positions in the airline industry, travel industry and trade show industry. By far, the most personal growth happened to me while owning and building my own direct sales business. I have, since that time, retired from the gainfully employed positions to donating my time and talents to a non-profit organization I am passionate about.
Dixon’s history with aviation is also long and emotional.
My aviation love story is a long one that can be traced back to seeing a “Flying Tigers” P-40 at an airshow as a young girl… I was simply transfixed by the sight. My family struggled financially when I was growing up so aviation was a fascination I only enjoyed from afar. I joined the military with the intention to fly helicopters but endured a disabling injury that precluded military flying, so I stayed on the ground maintaining AH-64D attack helicopters, doing one tour in Iraq before being medically separated. I traded my military career for an academic one and at 28 years old I finally became a private pilot… one of my most cherished achievements. I hold my Airframe & Powerplant, Private Pilot, and Remote Pilot certifications; two associate degrees in Aviation Maintenance from TSTC Waco, graduating with a 4.0 and honors; and a BS in Aeronautics, Minor in Management from Embry-Riddle, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Today I am wearing several hats as the Industry Happiness Advocate at SynapseMX, a modern aviation maintenance software company.
I’m extremely passionate about aviation, with my short list of “things to do” including my Instrument and Commercial ratings. My ultimate dream is to own a warbird and start a historical WASP re-enactment flying team of aviatrices. Today, I am just elated to be able to work with other “Avgeeks” and participate in the industry.
“We are VERY pleased and humbled by the quality of applications this year for our aviation marketing scholarship, and we want to thank everyone who applied.” Said ABCI Chairman John Williams.
“We wholeheartedly welcome these two into an already amazing group.” Added ABCI President Paula Williams. “Magical things happen when you put good people together, and the background these two women bring to the table is beyond what we could have hoped for to add to the mix. We really look forward to see how they grow and change the dynamics of the group and the level of interaction we have with our members this year.”
About ABCI –
Aviation Business Consultants International (ABCI) is a marketing company that assists aviation- related companies to market more effectively and sell more of their products and services. ABCI brings technologies and “inbound” marketing techniques from the finance and technology fields to the aviation industry, and focuses on measurable, content-rich, “long cycle” marketing of complex or high-value products and services.
About the Insider Circle –
After informally introducing clients to one another on several occasions, ABCI founders Paula and John Williams noticed that these introductions often led to creative referrals, co-marketing arrangements, and other mutually profitable endeavors.
ABCI created an private social media group, a book club, interactive webinars, in-person events and other resources to foster these relationships among aviation companies. Silver and Gold level members also receive one-on-one sales and marketing consulting services, in the form of “office hours,” at profoundly discounted rates.
Not sure if the BEST networking group for sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry can help you reach your goals this year?
Click here to schedule 30 minutes on my calendar and let’s talk about whether it would be a good fit for your current goals!
John and I give a “guided tour” of the Insider Circle!
Transcript – Inside the Insider Circle
Paula Williams: Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying Episode 56. Today, we’re going to talk about what is inside the insider’s circle?
John Williams: [LAUGH] All right.
Paula Williams: 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 all you folks out there in aviation world help you sell more stuff and products and services. It’s early in the morning.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] You going to try that again?
John Williams: No, that’s okay.
Paula Williams: Okay, cool. All right, so, we have a hashtag, #AvGeekMarketing, AvGeekMarketing.
And we do reply to every tweet or every comment or every whatever [LAUGH]. We do like it to, we do like to hear what you guys have to say and what questions you have and so on. So, let us know. And that can be Twitter, Facebook, tool of your choice, right?
John Williams: So, you talking to the insiders, or you talking to everybody in the whole world?
Paula Williams: Everybody in the whole world. We actually respond to that hashtag from anybody.
John Williams: Okay.
Paula Williams: Okay? All right, so what does this pin mean? You may have seen this running around NBAA and other places.
There are very few people in the world that wear this pin.
John Williams: I would say less than 1%. [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: Less than 1% [LAUGH] of the people in the world. Actually, less than 1% of the population of NBAA, and very possibly, I really don’t know what percentage it would be.
But anyway, a very small number of very special people get to witness him. So, what does it mean? And what is the insider’s circle?
John Williams: I think, maybe, you’re going to tell us.
Paula Williams: Maybe, okay, well, the insider’s circle is our tribe of current clients. And we’re lucky enough to work with people who care about the aviation industry and about each other.
So, we’ve provided a set of resources to help our insiders help themselves and help each other. And also, to be able to recognize each other when they see them, right?
John Williams: Uh-huh.
Paula Williams: Okay, so, that’s the purpose of the pin. So, the insiders circle mission is to help aviation inside industry professionals achieve success by selling more of their products and services, and to become the leader of their respective niche or specialties.
So, whether that’s charter, or flight schools, or software, or whatever that is. We want them to, we want to do everything we can to help them be the best one in that corner of the aviation industry, right?
John Williams: Absolutely.
In fact ,we anticipate that only 1% of the sales and marketing professionals in the industry will ever be part of this group. We’re very particular about who we get to work with. We are lucky enough to be in a situation where we get to choose our clients, and our clients choose us.
We tend to attract people who like the collaboration, and who like the camaraderie, and who like each other.
John Williams: And don’t like Madison Avenue techniques.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, exactly. So, it works really well for everyone, I think. So, part of what we do is we try to manage the fire hose of information, there’s way too much information about sales and marketing on the web.
A lot of it is good, some of it is garbage. Some of it will do you more harm than good. So, what we try to do filter that through each other, talk about the different books that are on the market. We talk about the different things that we see on the web.
Different techniques that we’ve tried and failed. Different techniques that we’ve tried and succeeded. So, it really helps so that we don’t all have to reinvent the wheel or reinvent hot water every time.
John Williams: And just because a technique fails, doesn’t mean we don’t very carefully try it again in the future.
Paula Williams: Exactly. [LAUGH] It could have failed for any number of reasons, so we usually try more than once before we give up on something. Okay, so, we do have a new here section in the insider’s circle that really goes through the basics of what this involves and what this means and really helps people get up to speed.
But one of the first things that people see is the Marketing Insiders’ Manifsesto, and I’m not going to go through all of the items on this, but basically, it’s really the difference between aviation marketing and retail marketing. Getting Madison Avenue, the Coke’s and Pepsi’s of the world. There’s a lot of things that are different about aviation marketing that we have found since we’ve worked in other places in the world, Fortune 50s and the finance industry, technology industry, education industry and so on.
There’s things are different about aviation, right, John?
John Williams: Completely different.
Paula Williams: Exactly, so, the manifesto is really the things that we have just found that make the biggest difference .So if you remember ten things. If we were to distill everything that we learn and teach into ten things, this is as close as we can come.
John Williams: Let’s hope that it’s spelled correctly on our website. [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: Of course it’s spelled correctly on the website.
John Williams: Not there. [LAUGH] See? It’s early in the morning, I tell you.
Paula Williams: Exactly.
John Williams: [COUGH]
Paula Williams: So, we’re just going to talk about the first one today, and that is Don’t Succumb to Random Acts of Marketing.
This is something that we’ve seen a lot in the aviation industry, right John?
John Williams: Yes [COUGH] yes, excuse me.
Paula Williams: So, what we mean by that is people tend to-
Paula Williams: Default to the easiest way to market their product or service in the aviation industry.
John Williams: They’re this phantom thing out there that call the easy button, and they think they’ve got it and they push it and then that doesn’t work.
Paula Williams: Exactly.
John Williams: That’s because it’s not really there.
Paula Williams: All right. So, some advertising sales person calls them and says, let’s run a full page ad in our magazine, and we’ll give you a really great rate, and they think that’s fantastic. Let’s just do that. But they don’t think through who exactly are they trying to reach?
They don’t go through the process of thinking through their campaign, the list, the offer, the presentation. They don’t go through the, what happens when people see this ad, what do they do next? And am I ready for that, and do I have an outline for the person who answers the phone so they know exactly what to make that person do next to maximize that investment?
John Williams: And some don’t even do that analysis of the demographics that the particular magazine or other product is aimed toward.
Paula Williams: Right, so, there’s so many people that will do either a postcard blast, or email blast, or a big ad, or an appearance in a trade show without really thinking it through, and then they get nothing out of the deal.
And they get really frustrated, and they say, this marketing is complete crap. This doesn’t work.
John Williams: Well, and it is if you execute it in correctly.
Paula Williams: Right, exactly. So, we really want to save our folks from random acts of marketing, and make sure everything that they do is thought out well and has the best possible chance of working, right?
John Williams: Absolutely.
Paula Williams: Okay, so, the very best value I think that comes from the insider’s circle is really the office hours. This is the cheapest way to get custom consulting on your products, or on your projects, excuse me. So, if you decide you want to run an ad or something like that, you can schedule an office hour with us and we’ll work through the list, the offer, the presentation, the demographics of who you’re trying to reach.
All of those things, the next steps from the ad. What should the call to action be? Can you set an outline for the people answering the phone so that they make the most out of that opportunity? All of those things are things that we can help you with.
Or, if you want to look at your website and say, why am I not getting enough traffic? Or whatever situation you have, those office hours are for you. So, you get to set the agenda, and we will help you with anything [LAUGH] In the marketing realm for an hour.
John Williams: Even if you want to figure out how to determine what you get out of a particular campaign or ad.
Paula Williams: Exactly, so, some ideas and examples of how you can use your office hours are to help us, ask us to help you set up smart marketing goals, use us as your accountability partners, you can let us interview you and record it for your blog or about us page.
A lot of times, those audio or video work better than text. Ask us for assistance with your marketing campaigns. Ask us to troubleshoot problems with the campaign or sales process. Have us review an ad or document or a webpage. Have us evaluate a competitor that’s doing something sneaky or nasty or otherwise [LAUGH] causing you problems and help you come up with a strategy.
We also do roleplaying for an upcoming sales call or presentation with us. John makes a really, really good skeptical customer, so if you can do a practice call with him, and you’re set for just about anybody in the industry probably.
John Williams: I’m that bad?
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That good actually.
John Williams: [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: But yeah, it’s really one of our favorite features that the, of the Insider’s Circle, because we get to know our members really well, and get to know their scenarios, their issues, their priorities and everything else. Okay, so the VIP lounge is actually a private Facebook page that is exclusive to insider members.
And insiders can get and give advice about their current projects, they can network, they can find resources, find buyers and sellers for things that they need. Things that you can do on the Facebook group are just share news and successes. We always like to celebrate those kinds of things.
Use the insiders as your accountability partners for your goals and objectives. Say I’m going to get this done by Friday, and I will post it when I get it done. Then everybody will cheer for you or give you crap if you [LAUGH] don’t do what you say you’re going to do.
Ask the insiders for simple feedback, do you prefer version a or version b? Or how would you improve this ad or this piece? You can also share interesting techniques that you’ve come across or used or ask a question. Has anybody tried this? What results did you get? And the Law of Reciprocity definitely applies here.
The more good ideas and advice you share, the more good ideas and advice you get. We’ve been really proud of the caliber people that are in this group and the help that they give each other is really, really something else. Okay, so, we also have a briefing room.
And this is online. This is for if you can’t make it to one of our live webinars or live events, we put recordings in the briefing room. So, if you need a briefing on how to figure out your Google Analytics, we just put a new webinar out there yesterday.
John Williams: [LAUGH] And then guess what? The next day, Google changed their algorithm.
Paula Williams: No kidding? Exactly, but if you want to know how to use LinkedIn for prospecting, if you want to know how to set up for a trade show, all of those things are different modules that we have in the briefing room where you can find a recording on exactly what you need right now.
Or maybe you came to the webinar six months ago, and you just want to remember what we said, right?
John Williams: Uh-huh.
Paula Williams: Mm-hm, okay. Another thing we have are destinations, and this is like charter flights where you want to not fly yourself. You just want to sit in the back and have somebody else do the work for you.
[LAUGH] These are things that we do for you, maybe setting up your digital marketing, or doing your search up engine optimization, or working with you for virtual marketing and other kinds of things. So, our insiders get priority scheduling, and often get special pricing products and services. And we do that because we like working with people we already know.
We already know your business, we already know something about your customers and your products and other kinds of things. So, it saves us a lot of time, which is why we give you guys priority [LAUGH] if you’re an insider. So, that’s our destination section. It’s a special page on our products page where you get to see some special pricing and priority scheduling for you guys.
Projects, once we have something started, or if you want to see a recording of your office hours and the notes from your office hours, you could go to projects and we use a collaboration software called base camp three, which is actually kinda cool. If you click on this in the insiders page, it’ll take you right to base camp three where you can log in and see the files, see the recordings, see the schedule for what’s coming up next, see the to-dos for any projects that we’re working on together, what do we need to do next, what you need to do next, any notes that we’ve shared, why are we putting those things together and so on.
John Williams: Fairly comprehensive approach to getting your stuff done.
Paula Williams: Exactly, yeah, we really like, well, I really like base count three, I don’t know how you feel about it.
John Williams: Well, let’s just say we have an agreement.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] What’s that?
John Williams: I [INAUDIBLE] [LAUGH] actually, the input’s easy.
Paula Williams: Uh-huh.
John Williams: It’s, I have issues with some of the other parts of it.
Paula Williams: Right, exactly.
John Williams: That’s just me.
Paula Williams: Technology, gotta love it, right? Okay, so, the Hall of Fame. We interview each of our members and create a highlight page so that members can get to know each other better.
Give and get referrals, link to their pages for search engine optimization, it’s always good to have a page with a good Alexa rank like the ABCI page linked to your website, so that you get the Google juice [LAUGH] is what they call it.
John Williams: [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: Out of the deal.
And then we also put in your contact information to your LinkedIn page, your phone number, whatever it is that your preference is for having people contact you. So obviously, we’ve got the coolest people in sales and marketing in the aviation industry. And we like to have them associate with each other as much as possible, because that’s good for you, and that’s good for us, quite frankly.
The more we all know about marketing, the better we all do, the more money you guys have to spend on marketing. [LAUGH] And really, we do enjoy seeing the successes of our clients as well, so that’s a wonderful thing. The book club, this is kinda my favorite thing, being a nerd like I am.
Usually the first Wednesday of each month, we talk about the book that we read during the last month. And there are a lot of great books out there, that most of them assume that they are retail business to consumer environment, in a large company with a large sales and marketing department.
And frankly, aviation is not like that, we’re usually smaller companies, we have fewer sales, but we have larger ticket sales, we have more complex sales. [LAUGH] There’s a lot of things that are different. So, we can adapt the great ideas from the marketplace and learn from each other about what really works in the aviation industry.
And we invite our members to join us for these book club discussions. Some people like to just read the books and not participate in the discussions. Some people just like to scan through the books using the bookmarks that we use. We actually put bookmarks in the books so that you can quickly identify the bits and pieces that we think are the most helpful for you.
We know you’re busy, but we also think that reading one book a month doesn’t hurt. It certainly can help.
John Williams: One book a month, with respect to marketing.
Paula Williams: One book a month, yeah, with respect to marketing is important as that is. So, book club participants get to introduce themselves and their product or service at the beginning and the end of the program.
And the discussion is broadcast in our podcast and on our blog. So, it’s a nice opportunity to get an introduction, you can do a really brief 30 second pitch for your product or services in these book club discussions, and it’s a great way to let people know who you are and get them familiar with your opinions, your philosophy and your voice, right?
John Williams: Yes.
Paula Williams: All right, so, if you’re not currently a member, you are probably wondering how much does this cost? [LAUGH] And we’ve got a few options here. In our advanced, membership is $79 a month. That does not include the office hours. That’s probably the biggest difference between our levels, but you do get the NetworkingFacebook group, you get the Members-Only Webinars, and the Recordings & Handouts, but you get those online only.
So, this is a great option if you’re overseas, maybe. And you don’t necessarily want to hassle with having things mailed to you, and you want a really low cost option for getting involved with our group and having access to those conversations. Silver is much better, because you do get those office hours, it’s only $200 more, but there is no other way that you can get custom marketing consulting for $200 a month that I know of.
John Williams: Nope.
Paula Williams: At least not from someone that specializes in aviation, so that’s one of the best deals that we have. You also get the book of the month mailed to you with those bookmarks that we talked about, and you also get copies of our webinars, you get the slides, and the handouts and the recordings on CD mailed to you every month.
So, this is kind of our executive program that really makes things easier for you. We really do everything we can to make things easy for our silver members. And then gold members have, also, custom training. So, if you want us to deliver a specific version of our Google Analytics training that we did last week, we would use your website and your Google Analytics to create that webinar and deliver that to your team if you’re in the gold program.
So, it really customizes, it really uses the tools that you use, uses the examples that you use, let’s you ask a lot more questions and so on, and really customizes that to your organization. So, if you’re in an organization with three or five or ten people in your sales and marketing department, and you want custom training and other kinds of things, then the gold program is perfect for you, right?
John Williams: Absolutely.
Paula Williams: Okay, great. So, that’s the Insider’s Circle, we really look forward to talking with you more about that if it’s something that you’re interested in. And in the meantime-
John Williams: [LAUGH]
Go sell more stuff. Zig Ziglar once said that, and of course, America needs the business.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, and do subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Stitcher or Google Play [LAUGH] Google Play, and subscribe to whatever service is your favorite. And please do leave us a rating. That really helps us know what we’re doing right, what we should be doing differently, what you’d like to hear more or less of and so on.
So, have a great week.
John Williams: See you all later. Ciao.
One of the biggest benefits for our Aviation Marketing Master Class is the opportunity to network with aviation professionals. Our members, or Insiders, one another to help us get to know one another better, make better referrals to each other, and generally learn more about the smartest people in the industry.
We’re looking forward to learning more about smart aviation professionals!
In this interview, Mark Leeper is interviewing Lillian Tamm.
Mark Leeper: Just to recap here, we’re talking with Lillian Tamm. She’s the president of Avicor Aviation. And it’s a real pleasure to be able to take your time for us to share some things about you and the history of your company. I noticed that going through your LinkedIn, that you’re a UPS grad, is that correct? University of Puget Sound?
Lillian Tamm: No, Seattle Pacific.
Mark Leeper: Seattle Pacific University. Okay. Awesome, are you a Seattle native?
Lillian Tamm: No I’m actually a San Francisco native.
Mark Leeper: Okay.
Lillian Tamm: And I went to high school in Napa before it had the vineyard thing going on in a big way and is as well-known as it is today.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, the old days.
Lillian Tamm: The old days, yeah.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, I’m from Fresno, California. Before wine and vineyards were romantic.
Lillian Tamm: Yeah, right.
Mark Leeper: A long time ago. So you moved up to SPU, Seattle Pacific, and you stuck in the northwest, is that correct?
Lillian Tamm: Yeah, more or less.
I actually worked in Chicago and Washington, D.C., and Florida for a little while in between, and earlier I took a year off and went and traveled around Europe.
Mark Leeper: So when did you start taking your direction into aviation, what made you do that?
Lillian Tamm: My husband, Allan, was actually in to aviation. He was working for some aviation companies, and really enjoy what he was doing, and I was a management consultant, and we literally married the two about 30 years ago.
Mark Leeper: 29 years ago. And did you do that up in the northwest, in the Portland area?
Lillian Tamm: Yes, that’s right.
Mark Leeper: And your husband, what was his background in aviation?
Lillian Tamm: He had worked for some airlines and some private flight departments, primarily in managerial roles.
Mark Leeper: Mm-hm.
Lillian Tamm: One day we were talking about aviation and what he did and what I did. We saw some needs in the aviation industry for business consulting services and just decided that we would join the two and create a management consulting firm focused towards aviation.
And that’s kind of how we got into it. We did a lot of work with people buying aircraft because that was an area Allan knew a lot about. And we also did a lot of market research, feasibility studies and analysis. It sort of evolved over the years. We had a couple of main areas of focus:, one was aircraft acquisitions, not so much sales, we do a little bit of sales, but more acquisitions. And for corporations we do a lot of analyses for companies buying aircraft and trying to make decisions about it, kind of early on in the process. We started helping companies analyze their aircraft needs, identifying suitable aircraft, negotiations, and managing aircraft completions once the aircraft were acquired.
The second area of focus is consulting projects for a lot of different types of aviation businesses. This includes feasibility studies, market research, business plans, strategic planning, and so on. As my background was more financial, I ended up adding the valuation factor to it, and that’s more what we’re focused on these days. Allan was diagnosed with ALS about two-and-a-half years ago and passed away about five months later. In the midst of all that, I transitioned into the role of president of the company.
Mark Leeper: I’m so sorry to hear that.
Lillian Tamm: Thank you. Since then, we have regrouped and we’re focusing more on aviation business valuations, appraisals and related consulting services.
Mark Leeper: I see. So before you were into the aviation, you say you were a management consultant.
Did you work in a specific industry?
Lillian Tamm: No, not in a specific industry. It was more general and I did some things for security firms; due diligence, market research, writing business plans and things along those lines.
Mark Leeper: All right, I was noticing on your website, you’ve got a tremendous menu here.
Feasibility studies, strategic planning, market research and assessment. Talk a little bit more about your specialty, the aspects of what you do.
Lillian Tamm: Well my main specialty right now is more focusing towards valuations of aviation businesses. I’m a certified valuator.
Mark Leeper: Mm-hm.
Lillian Tamm: So I take on the education in that area, and understand how to value businesses.
What makes us different is that very few valuators really understand the aviation industry and its ins and outs, the regulatory aspects and just the way that aviation works, especially business aviation. So that’s the market niche that we’ve been working in.
We work with a lot of companies that where, let’s say it’s a family owned business and someone is looking to retire, so they need to have a valuation because they want to sell the business. Or they are passing it to their children and so there’s gifting involved. And those things have to meet certain IRS standards and you can’t have a valuation done by somebody who’s not certified if it has to be filed with or be a supporting document for an IRS filing.
Mark Leeper: Right.
Lillian Tamm: We’ve valued aviation partnerships like, for example, there’s five guys that own a company and one of them decided they wanted to go a different direction and divest their interest in the company, so they came to us for a valuation because they needed to know how to make the deal work.
There are some companies that we do valuations for that basically want to know where they’re going with their business. They want to build it to a certain level. And so they have us do updates, say once a year or so, just to see if they’re on the right track and what they might need to change or do or build up or get a sense of where they really are with their corporate value.
So there are a lot of different reasons for having an aviation business valued.
Mark Leeper: Sure. Do you have a certain niche in the aviation industry, business wise, that you do more of?
Lillian Tamm: You know, it really varies. We have done companies that operate helicopters. We do companies that operate flight schools, that have little Cessna 172s, for example.
Mark Leeper: Mm-hm.
Lillian Tamm: We value air charter companies with large corporate jets. We do FBOs, MROs. We’ve valued MROs that serve everything from the small guy who fixes and maintains pistons mostly in his local area, to some MROs that service airlines. We’ve even valued aircraft manufacturers. For example, we did Mooney a number of years ago when they were just starting to get back on their feet.
It’s a real variety, but it tends to mostly be businesses in general and business aviation primarily, not exclusively but primarily.
Mark Leeper: Right, well in your discipline, there can’t be a lot of you, I’ve been in aviation for many, many, many years, and it’s not something that comes up a lot, somebody with your specialty.
Not a lot of competition?
Lillian Tamm: Not a lot of direct competition. There are some companies that do business brokering and then they will help a company come up with a value just for selling it. And there’s definitely a niche in that regard. Or some owners will have an accountant or CPA work on determining the value.
We’re like the CPA, if you will. To be certified as a CVA, we have to take a 6-hour exam, and then there are pretty heavy continuing education and recertification requirements every three years.
Mark Leeper: Right. So, your business got to be tremendously referral based, isn’t it?
Lillian Tamm: Quite a bit of it is, yes, quite a bit of it is.
Mark Leeper: Have you done specific marketing in the past or targeted a certain industry that you felt that is more right, low hanging fruit, so to speak?
Lillian Tamm: Not really. And that’s partially true, just because of all of the other types of consulting that we’ve done in the industry, which has definitely given us the expertise and understanding of the aviation industry. We’ve done a lot of feasibility studies for startups and even some aircraft manufacturers that have looked at adding different products or changing features on existing products and services.
A lot of what we do is fairly confidential stuff, so I can’t really mention who they’re for. So far we really haven’t focused on a particular segment within aviation, but recently, I’ve started changing the direction of the company more towards valuation, appraisals.
Mark Leeper: So you’re moving away from the aircraft acquisition?
Lillian Tamm: We still have a few clients that we do aircraft acquisitions for because they’ve been clients for a really long time and we’ve got that background.
But we are moving more towards valuations and consulting related to strategic planning with a company and things along those lines within the aviation industry.
Mark Leeper: Great, so does one major project that you can discuss stand out in your mind that would be kind of a benchmark or something that you’re real proud of, that you’ve accomplished with the company?
And it’s okay if you don’t have that because it’s a hard question, but especially when you’ve been in business as long as you have-
Lillian Tamm: It is a hard question. We do have some clients that we do regular business for but the nature of valuations is that most people don’t want anybody else really knowing that they’re doing a valuation.
Mark Leeper: Sure.
Lillian Tamm: Confidentiality tends to be a big thing when it comes to valuations.
Mark Leeper: Right.
Lillian Tamm: Lots of companies don’t want their employees being aware that some stuff is going on because they might think that something’s changing when it’s really not. The owners might just be trying to get a read on the company. Sometimes a company is having a valuation done as part of an application for a loan or line of credit to expand the business.
And it’s sometimes that there is a sales situation then they don’t want the market being aware of it.Clients or staff can leave if they think there are changes in the wind.
Mark Leeper: Right.
Lillian Tamm: As a result, our business does tend to be a little bit of an “under the radar” sort of a business.
Mark Leeper: Well that can, correct me if I’m wrong, but that can prohibit referrals too, that makes it more difficult if someone doesn’t want to know that you’re working with them, it’s harder for you to get referrals from people, isn’t it?
Lillian Tamm: It is true, although when somebody comes to us and we’re talking with them about doing a valuation, we can send them a list of people we’ve done business for and put them in touch with other people that we’ve done valuations for.
We don’t post it up on our website just because of privacy issues.
Mark Leeper: Right. So are you in a business development mode right now as you’re refocusing your company, are you also going out to find new customers at a high level? I guess we’re always in a business development mode but sometimes you’re not.
Lillian Tamm: Yes, more so than we have been for some time, and that’s primarily because of the refocusing, because I mean frankly when your husband passes away you kind of have to regroup and figure out exactly where things are and what you’re doing and where you’re going. And that’s definitely been something that’s happened over the last couple of years.
And now that I’ve made decisions about direction for the company, we are definitely in a business development mode.
Mark Leeper: Right. So could you describe a perfect referral or a perfect customer for you, so that the insider group and the rest of us can maybe help direct traffic or customers your way? Can you tell us what we might be looking for to help?
Lillian Tamm: Well, a perfect customer is somebody who is ready to have their business valued. Ideally, the best customers I think are the ones that have a bit of a plan or idea of what they want to do with their business, where they want to go, but don’t either quite know how to get there or are saying I don’t really know what my company’s worth and I’d like to get a read on it and then build it to a certain level.
We have had several companies that we did a valuations for, let’s say seven or eight years ago, and then they come back every year or two and have us do another valuation and see where they’re at. Some of them have used it with their local bank, because banks don’t always understand the aviation industry really well, and we’ll give them a complete, thorough report that talks about the industry and the company and what the regulatory environment is and where the industry is going because it’s not always exactly the same as the general economy.
It’s also not, if you’re dealing with a local bank, the local economy may be very different from what aviation business operates in because maybe they draw customers from a larger audience. And so there’s a lot that we can add for a client in that area. So the ideal one is one that will want to build the business or bring it to a certain level.
But if someone is looking at retiring, gifting their business to family, or other ownership changes, that’s an ideal time to also do it.
Mark Leeper: Mm-hm.
Lillian Tamm: You’re thinking, you’re planning, yeah, I’d like to retire or sell my company in a couple of years, I need to know what the value of my company is, so I can start thinking this through and what it might do to my tax situation and future plans.
We can definitely give them a really good starting point so that they can sit down with their accountant and work through, okay, how do we make this happen in a really good, viable way so that I can be in a good position financially at the end of the day?
It’s a very good tool for that. Yeah, there’s a lot of different situations where valuations are useful.
Mark Leeper: Sure, so financing sources, banks, maybe CPA firms, or financial planning sources, or services that cater to high net worth people, those are probably all good markets or good places to have them aware of your services.
Lillian Tamm: This is true, yes. And I’ve run into a couple of situations where, for example, there was one company that called me last year and had me do a valuation and they had had somebody else start on a valuation that was sort of in their local area. And after about a month the guy came back and said, I don’t understand aviation well enough, I have to give you this back and I can’t do it.
You’re going to have to find somebody who understands your company and the aviation business.
Mark Leeper: Do you network with any people that specialize in aviation accounting or aviation law, for instance?
Lillian Tamm: A little bit, I’m kind of building that area right now. I do network with some of those people, yes.
Mark Leeper: Right, and so your services you’re providing right now, are you actually being involved in aircraft transactions from an acquisition or sales side? Is that something that’s, that you’re doing currently? Or is it that’s its past service?
Lillian Tamm: Acquisitions? A little bit currently, not a big amount.
Mark Leeper: Right. I was wondering about your one aspect of your business and that was helping to consult and help corporations evaluate their needs for transportation.
Lillian Tamm: We do pretty thorough analyses in that area and we’ve done some for some larger corporations that have been in a situation where they’ve been not exactly sure what their next aircraft should be, or if they should get one at all.
And we do a very user friendly type of report. We present to boards of directors or senior management and a lot of people that don’t necessarily understand aviation, even the value of it sometimes.
Mark Leeper: Sure. Do you have any type of information that you put out to people that will respond for information?
Off your website? Do you have any type of form that they can fill out, or questionnaire in your evaluation process or marketing process?
Lillian Tamm: We have forms on the website that people can fill out to give us an idea as to what their area of interest is. And then we usually follow up with a phone call, have a discussion with them, and then follow up with something more tailored to what they really need.
We’ll send out client lists and comments from clients, and if we need to send out references we can do that.
Mark Leeper: But if you were to put a goal out there for yourself in the next quarter for instance, do you have anything in mind that comes right to the tip of your tongue for advancing your business?
Are you wanting to grow this specific business by a certain percentage?
Lillian Tamm: Yes, to a degree, I mean, the real thing is we’ve just come to the point of deciding that we’re going to focus on the valuation more than anything within the last month of two.
Mark Leeper: Mm-hm.
Lillian Tamm: So, I would say yeah. Building, as a percentage, I’d like to double or triple it.
Mark Leeper: Okay.
Lillian Tamm: And what the timeframe is of that, I’d say six to twelve months. I mean, one thing is, the services we provide are not the sort of thing where somebody says, okay, I want it and they buy it and you are done.
These projects tend to be six to eight, even sometimes 12 weeks, depending on how ready a client is. For instance, what state their financials are in. Everybody’s information is different. No two sets of books are identical to each other, even if they are using the same accounting program. There are so many differences in the way that companies do things. And then we always go out and make a site visit to see the business and talk to the people.
Coordinating all those things to have all the right players in place at the right time sometimes can take a little while. Especially if you’re dealing with a smaller business where maybe the main guy is also the guy who’s flying a lot of the flights or is generally quite busy, and then you have to wait until his schedule has a break in it.
Mark Leeper: Do you carry people on staff part, full-time or do you draw off of a conduit of experts to gain help?
Lillian Tamm: Primarily I’ve got a couple people that work for us regularly, but we also have a group built up over the years that we regularly call on for specialty information analysis, technical data, technical analysis to do with specific types of aircraft, all kinds of things like that.
So yes, we’ve got a pretty good network that we’ve built up over 29 years of business, people that we use regularly definitely.
Mark Leeper: Sure. I know one nice thing about aviation, it’s a small close group of people. I’m sure everybody’s going to do everything they can to help and pitch business your way, that’s for sure. I know I certainly will. I have a chance to communicate with 70, 80 different corporate flight departments all the time that know lots of people.
So, I’ll certainly pitch in and refer as many people as I can to you, too. So- Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. Are there any questions that I should have asked that I didn’t that you’d like to?
Mark Leeper: Any topic you’d like to talk about your business or something that I’ve missed that will help you discuss?
Lillian Tamm: Yeah, I’ve just been trying to think about that. We have done, and definitely still do like feasibility studies and business plans and provide related advisory services. We regularly advise investors looking at projects in the aviation industry who want to understand it better. But we are currently focused on targeting aviation business valuations and appraisals as the “meat and potatoes of the business” going forward.
Mark Leeper: One question I’d like to ask you is what’s your impression right now of the aviation economy, so to speak? Where would you put your finger on the pulse of our business?
Lillian Tamm: I feel a sense of a little bit of a wait and see right now. And maybe it’s because of the elections coming.
Mark Leeper: Mm-hm.
Lillian Tamm: And kind of where things are going to politically fall. And this I think tends to happen before every major election, like every four years, there tends to be a bit of that pause.
And part of that is just looking at the aircraft resale market because we also do aircraft appraisals.
Mark Leeper: Mm-hm.
Lillian Tamm: And we do some regular fleet analyses for certain companies. Some rather large companies actually. And so I follow that segment of the industry quite closely, and yeah, I would say there’s a lot of wait and see.
I think there’s a lot of potential right now for valuations though in part because the aging of the population in general. So I think there are a lot of people that are getting to the point where they’re thinking, I should be retiring soon. But how do I get from here to there?
Mark Leeper: Yeah, and the other ones that are tired.
Lillian Tamm: [LAUGH] Yeah, and the ones that are tired, yeah.
Mark Leeper: [LAUGH] Yeah, the used aircraft market has certainly been interesting to watch, hasn’t it?
Lillian Tamm: It certainly has.. One interesting thing that I discovered in doing an analysis for an investment house recently when I looked at the aircraft resale market and how GDP went and how the economy was going and stuff and all, I noticed that they used to be pretty closely aligned as far as direction is concerned and then they split up a few years ago.
And I noticed that for some reason, and I haven’t looked at this in about the last three months let’s say, but up to that point, it looked like the resale market and the Dow Jones average were following the same trend.
Lillian Tamm: Which is interesting.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, that is.
Lillian Tamm: Yeah, and nobody that I’ve ever seen has noted that before. Actually if you go on our website and look under the consulting. It says articles. I just did a little article on it. Kind of starting to do a little bit of marketing.
I posted it, I think it was back in May or so. It was just kind of an interesting kind of, “Gee I never noticed that before.” And I am not 100% certain if that still holds true over the last three months or not but I am thinking it does. I should probably look at that again!
Mark Leeper: Yeah, that is interesting.
Well I certainly appreciate your time. And I hope I’ve asked the right questions. Again our goal’s to find out more about you and help you grow your business. So I’m sure this will come in handy to help us all do that.
Lillian Tamm: Well, I definitely appreciate it Mark.
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One of the biggest benefits for our Aviation Marketing Master Class is the opportunity to network with aviation professionals. Our members, or Insiders, one another to help us get to know one another better, make better referrals to each other, and generally learn more about the smartest people in the industry.
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In this interview, Mark Leeper is interviewing aviation sales professional, Brian Rauch.
Mark Leeper: Brian, you’re located down south of Phoenix, Mesa, is that correct?
Brian Rauch: Yeah, I’m right by Falcon Field.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, good deal. Do you fly or have you been up in a smaller aircraft much or?
Brian Rauch: No, no, that’s a thing that’s on my to-do list. I’m doing a home study right now, and we’re saving up money to get me into flight training, so we’ll see how that goes.
Brian Rauch: Yes, absolutely.
Mark Leeper: Good, if you don’t mind, let’s start out and maybe chat a little bit about your background and where you’re from and stuff like that.
Brian Rauch: Sure, where would you like me to begin?
Mark Leeper: Well, I know you’re in Phoenix now. Are you from Phoenix?
Brian Rauch: No, sir, I’m originally from Longview, Texas.
Mark Leeper: Okay, all right, I’m a Wichita Falls guy, myself. Yeah, I seem to have around this way. So how long have you been in Phoenix?
Brian Rauch: I moved here, it’ll be 12 years ago this October.
Mark Leeper: And what brought you to Phoenix?
Brian Rauch: Well, I finally finished my undergrad work back at University of Texas, Tyler Branch, and I came out here because there’s a little bit opportunity than in Texas, and started working for University of Phoenix for about four years.
Mark Leeper: You did? Okay, what did you do for the University of Phoenix?
Brian Rauch: I was in enrollment, what I did was vet and recruit students for the freshmen/sophomore level courses, and assist them through getting into class and then staying in class, working through to finish their associates. And move onto their bachelor’s programs, either with the University of Phoenix or the Western National University campus.
Mark Leeper: Would you call that a sales business development type position?
Brian Rauch: Yeah, yeah, my educational background was in, I had a bachelor of arts in history with a double minor in secondary education and marketing. So working University of Phoenix kind of put some of those things together, which was really nice because I actually got to help some people out over the course of my tenure there.
Mark Leeper: Right, right, so yeah, you had that position immediately on getting to Phoenix, or have you had other positions since?
Brian Rauch: What I’ve done since then is I work for a local charity as their director of facilities for, they’re called Maggie’s Place. It’s a Catholic charity organization that helps homeless moms through their pregnancy, with follow-ups afterwards.
And I help them maintain the homes that were here in town, and one in Ohio, and at the time Idaho as well. Plus a major rebuild of the original property that was destroyed by fire. So did that for a year, did some handyman, remodeling work on the side, some repair things.
Those are just side things I do. Currently, I’m with Venezia’s Pizzaria down here. And that’s just kind of my survival job, while I work on, go ahead.
Mark Leeper: No, go ahead, I’m sorry.
Brian Rauch: While I work to break into the aviation industry is how I found ABCI, seems to be the only organization out there that seems to have information to educate, inform people without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars to go through a full bachelor’s program.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, they’re a full resource, a tremendous help to people that are trying to build businesses, etc. So tell me a little about some of the things you’d like to be able to do in aviation?
Brian Rauch: Well, on the near to midterm, I’m looking to get in probably something that fits more of my background, sales oriented definitely.
I kind of like the flight training aspect of it. So that might be a little FBO or a flight training outfit. There’s also, I saw in your background you’ve worked with UPRT Company out of California, correct?
Mark Leeper: That’s correct, yeah.
Brian Rauch: And I’m interested in one of your competitors out at Williams Field APF.
Mark Leeper: Yeah.
Brian Rauch: So.
Mark Leeper: They’re a tremendous organization, growing one of the biggest in the world.
Brian Rauch: Yeah, and I’m just amazed with what that is. My father was a commercial pilot in the military, fighter pilot as well amongst other things in the service, and so aviation’s kind of in my blood, and I’m going hm, that might be an organization be nice to join.
So I’m educating myself on what’s involved, not just basic flight training, but also what is the sales and marketing process. Not just for them, but for the general aviation flight industry, and sales industry, so forth.
Mark Leeper: What type of aircraft did your dad fly?
Brian Rauch: Gosh, commercially, two sevens, three sevens, four sevens, five sevens, six sevens.
DC3, eights and then military, he was C47 so the DC3. OV-10s, A-10, A-37, PC-10s, and there’s a cargo plane in there that I don’t remember.
Mark Leeper: [LAUGH] Yeah, where was he based? Where did he fly? Probably all over the place.
Brian Rauch: Barstow was his primary station. He spent time also I forgot, England Air Force Base in Louisiana as well.
So those were his two stations.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, so you got to see a lot of parts of the country probably growing up.
Brian Rauch: No, he was a reservist, and you’re probably old enough to remember Braniff, he was one of the senior captains when version one went out of business, and came back for versions two and three.
Mark Leeper: [LAUGH] My goodness, yeah.
Brian Rauch: Then he also flew from North America, and his final commercial job was with Polar Air Cargo, now part of, I believe, Atlas.
Mark Leeper: Right, right.
Brian Rauch: So we just stayed stuck in east Texas, and then occasionally, we used flight benefits to go visit family up in New York and out in Denmark where my mother’s from.
Mark Leeper: Right, what are you doing right now to try and find out their opportunities in the sales area for the aviation industry?
Brian Rauch: Well, one is I’ve been doing a lot of online research. I’m looking at the materials that Paul and John have put together on the marketing aspects and some of the companies that are participating in the circle and the master’s class prior to that..
I’ve talked to some of the mid-level and mid-level senior management over at CAE Oxford here at Falcon Field, Classic Aviation, Falcon Aviations, because it’s kind of convenient learning because they’re about a mile away.
So I kind of drop in and just kind of pick their brains, talk to the higher ups of the people that work there and learn what the processes are involved and so forth. And just trying to find out what it takes to get in. And what I’m learning is it’s kind of challenging for an outsider such as myself who doesn’t have experience in the industry.
And so that’s why I’m trying to learn more, get into the ground school position, maybe go for private, though that would benefit me regardless within the industry. But try to understand the terminology regulations, and the specifics of the market that’s involved, that would be the prospects and existing customer bases.
Mark Leeper: I noticed the amount of flight instructors that are in demand right now. It seems to be increasing tremendously with the shortage of pilots coming up.
Brian Rauch: Absolutely.
Mark Leeper: And that really bodes well for flight schools, and Arizona being a flight school hub. Flight schools as a whole are always looking for ways to attract students.
How would you compare and contrast maybe what you did with the University of Phoenix, what opportunities that you see are part of the transferable fields you learned at Phoenix Aviation that can be moved over into flight schools?
Brian Rauch: Sure, of course you have the basic processes that is just kind of universal with a direct sales environment which is lead qualification and building rapport.
My personal view and my understanding with the industry is depending on who the target age group is. So if you’re looking for a younger student, you’re trying to inform as much as possible, but you’re trying to see how qualified and really prepared and dedicated they are to what they’re going to undertake.
So that requires some, kind of like we’re doing now, in depth questioning and interviewing to understand what the knowledge base is and to answer their questions. And also come up with clear expectations of what’s involved such as okay, well, how are you gonna pay for it, which is the most critical thing, and the most challenging thing for flight schools no matter where they are.
Because the cost of flight training on the low end for a school such as CAE and ATP amongst others, you’re looking at 60, 70 grand all day long, and it goes up from there. It’s quite a bit of money to pay for something, but you’re looking at fast track training of 18 months, plus or minus, to be CFI rated, and in many cases, APP rated on the low end.
Mark Leeper: What resources have you discovered that are available out there for financial assistance?
Brian Rauch: Well, if you’ve got some add initiative sponsorship programs like the big one that Jet Blue came up with, and then what that leaves a lot of students with is they try to line you up with, if you’re an American student and it’s a qualified program, you’re former military, you’ve got your GI bill and VA benefits.
If you’re just a student off the street, you may have some of the federal student loan and grant programs available if the school is qualified. Then, of course, you have private financing. Other than the good old fashion pay it with cash, or some people if they choose to do so, they pay it on credit, or from the family or whatever.
So those are the general resources that are available on the financial side of the equation. The question is, is the student willing and able to take care of that kind of debt load now? You also have some of these sponsorship trainings, what is it, not Mesa Airlines, but gosh, Transamerican.
I know they’re doing reimbursements if you qualify through schools such as APP, for example, of at least 11,000 in tuition reimbursement, along with sponsorship programs, which if you meet the minimal requirements and you pass the first interview, that you become, as part of the program, you become a paid trainer for whatever flight school, in this example, APP.
So you’re getting paid while you’re going to school, that kind of offsets some of the cost. And then you’re guaranteed an interview or possibly a slot to be a first officer as soon as you meet the qualifications, once you’ve built your time. So that’s another way to pay for school.
I’ve learned about more creative ways. Some people kinda hanging around FPOs for example and just picking up odd jobs, washing the aircraft, answering phones. Kinda trading their service or their labor as a way to offset costs to learn to fly. So that’s some of the non-traditional way, and then I’ve learned of others.
That some people will go out of their way and get into house flipping, or they’ll start a side business, or so forth. So there’s many ways to pay for school, but the most common seem to be financing it.
Mark Leeper: Right, well, we’re fortunate. Our industry, people have a true passion for aviation especially when it comes to flying, so they’ll go to great lengths to, most of the time, facilitate their education somehow.
Which is great, so we’re all dealing with passionate people. It’s a very small industry as a whole and a very close knit society,. So that’s good, and when you develop a reputation in the aviation industry, it can serve you well throughout the years.
Brian Rauch: Yeah.
Mark Leeper: If you looked at your combined skills that you’ve developed and educate yourself, what would you say, if you looked at the sales process from marketing to Prospecting, contacting, presenting, closing, follow up, what would you say is your top skill that you have?
Maybe the one you enjoy the most. Maybe the one that becomes the easiest and that you’re best at.
Brian Rauch: The one that comes best will be prospecting, followed by closing. Cause the prospecting is very challenging and interesting because you get to learn, it’s a new puzzle to be solved everyday.
So to speak. And when you have your prospective student client, whatever, on the phone or in person depending on however the sales process is setup. You get to know more about their needs and then match them to what the organization offers. For example I’m gonna go back with upset prevention in training.
Seems to be the target market right now is existing pilots, mainly commercial air transport. And those people are extremely busy, but with the requirements coming down, what 2017 the FAA is making it required for your current training to remain certified, something to that effect? Communicating the importance of going through this training is a challenge because, while I’ve, you know, we’ve done upset training when I did my flight.
And we do it in the sim, but it’s not the same as getting behind the controls of the aircraft and with somebody who’s versed in it. Because upset of an aircraft in flight is the most common cause of accidents and I believe many of the pilots that you’d be prospecting, they understand this.
They’ve gone into rough weather, they’ve fallen into turbulence from an aircraft ahead of them, something like that. And knowing how to quickly and safely recover the aircraft is a skill that It needs to be developed and it can be done quickly with competent training. And so illustrating that for the pilot and directing them to resources that are out there, YouTube videos that are posted, some of the research from ICAO and so forth, can help with the process of convincing them.
And then also showing how airlines are taken as seriously because they’re integrating that into their ongoing training to keep all their pilots current, and just let them know, hey you can be ahead of the curve on some of these things getting some people to think ahead. I know that can be attractive to some pilots, especially the more serious they are about the work they do.
So that’s kind of an off the chest scenario that I could foresee and just speaking to them on their level and directly, very plain spoken, don’t necessarily have to get in too much of the jargon. But from my experience has been just a facts man, because I don’t have a lot of time.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, exactly.
Brian Rauch: Very procedural, but yeah, if you do that.
Mark Leeper: I was gonna say people that have skills with the prospecting part of things and closing steps. A lot people will say that they enjoy sales. But that’s the hardest part of course, is contacting people on whether it’s cold or semi warm prospects.
So if you have skills at that and can You can exercise those skills, you should have an extreme of values on these companies, from my experience in sales training, there’s been too many of us in the field that have stepped back to rely only on social media, etc.
To try to close deals and that’s not where it’s at. It’s being in the trenches with the people that have skills like yourself and want to prospect and want to get on and come meet people and follow up, follow up, follow up until you find a point where the point where the customer is, all the needs are met and then you close the sale.
That’s a good thing to say. Most people will not say that, most people will say they like the marketing side of things, which is just as important honestly, but the personal contact.
Brian Rauch: Absolutely, because at the end of the day, I know this from my own experience.
When I need a product or service, there’s some things that are very transactional, say. I’m going to use spot-automotive because I just got done swapping a motor in my 4-Runner. I need some oil, I can go on Amazon and order a bottle of oil, I really don’t need help for that.
But if I don’t understand how certain gaskets are supposed to be used, or how to break a drive shaft that’s in the wrong position because it’s been there for 300,000 miles, I’m going to need somebody that has experience with that. I can read so much on the internet, I can watch so many videos but until somebody who’s actually done it.
Yeah, they tell you those things, but here let me show you. It doesn’t necessarily always click, plus it gives more confidence I think, to the consumer. And also to the business on the same hand, because you believe you’ve established that communication, and the rapport link that makes everyone more comfortable with what’s going on.
Mark Leeper: Our discussion to ABCI, tell me what you like best about ABCI and why?
Brian Rauch: Well, what I found very interesting about ABCI is how the scope of the information seems to be so broad and deep at the same time. It, from what I’ve been observing since January with the free posting of stuff, is how Paul and John have put together basically a marketing in a binder I’m gonna say, because I haven’t seen the binder.
And it starts from the beginning, okay let’s identify your market, what are your wants and needs, and what do you believe the wants and needs of your target customers are. And okay, let’s build up from there, what is your grant? What do you do best? How do you communicate this, are people trained to deal with customers?
Are you trained? Do you have systems in place, which helps with efficiency, let’s work on that. Trade shows, which we just covered last month. Okay, that’s a big thing that most people just blow off set up, I’m gonna set up my booth, and wait for the people to come.
No, it’s more than that. This is a great prospecting opportunity to draw in more leads, that are, that want the. How do you interact with people? How do you make sure that your information is from the market that you worked at prior makes that connection with the person where it generates their interest?
Where they want to learn more. The fact that ABCI wants to take a possible person, like me, to a professional, such as yourself, where they’re at and guide them along the way. For my case, inform them more about the industry and the processes, and then for a professional, such as yourself, how to make your processes better or help you generate a system that works for you.
I just find that tremendous. And in my prior sales experience, I wish I had some of these things before I was in those sales positions because I know I would have been even more successful than I was. And that’s just the value that I’ve found thus far learning from ABCI.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, I would agree with that. Paula and John have done an unbelievable job of building relationships throughout the aviation industry. And you’re right about their work and depth of companies that they work with, I mean, key individuals. It never ceases to amaze me that I can plug myself into ABCI and they’ll usually help me connect the over a short period of time with various different players in the aviation industry.
So that’s a real key thing. If you could help them and us out by saying, well what might you like to see us add to our menu so to speak, or what would you like to see improved? Could you think of anything that comes to mind?
Brian Rauch: Well again I, from my perspective I’m not the usual customer so to speak.
I’m a guy from the outside looking in what needs to get it. What I’m enjoying thus far is seeing how, the material even though it’s targeted towards people that are currently in the business, that information is not only informative to me, but it’s also applicable.
How would that help, or what offers can be added? Well maybe long term is how could ABCI actually develop something more of a training program for people like me or beginning professionals in the business that are going to be working in the marketing and the sales and the customer services.
All the things that keep the revenue flowing in order to. Help develop better professionals. The industry seems to be at a very critical point. General aviation is just kind of a wait and see mode right now. It’s kind of shrunk a lot, but there’s, you can just see there’s under the surface bubbling demand just about to happen especially with this pilot shortage.
And I really foresee some of these efforts that ABCI is helping to undertake with the business say hey, you need to ramp up. There’s an opportunity here that you can take advantage of. And I think that would be a neat thing, is how to identify possible prospects such as myself, or others again, that’s my biased perspective coming in.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, I think that’s a great point, giving back to the industry is always important, and it’s certainly done that, and you’re right about general aviation being a bit of a slump right now. So it will be interesting to see how things shake out, those are really good points.
Wanting to keep this to about 30 minutes, but the insider’s circle, how long have you been a part of that group?
Brian Rauch: Formally since last month. I’ve been informally watching since January. So here and there on the free webinars and some of the podcasts and everything. Since then because of my work and family demands, but I’m really bearing down right now to catch up on the past information and push forward.
Because I’d really like to be prepared and in a position to get on, again, we’re not or somebody else to start within the business in the next six months. And I’m hoping being within the insider circle will give me a broader knowledge base from which to present myself to prospective employers.
Mark Leeper: Well I’m sure with your passion for aviation and your professionalism and ability to sell, you’ll find a great position within the aviation field, especially in the sales, it is the lifeblood, we all love airplanes, we all love to fly. But nothing happens is when somebody sells something and it’s just so critical that everybody in a organization, the FBO, the flight school, etc is that part of that process on their mind is to how to network you know their services and professionalism out to the aviation community to bring in new customers because that’s what keeps things, again the gears turning.
Brian Rauch: Yeah, gotta grow the sales funnel and keep it filled.
Mark Leeper: Yeah, I’ll have you tell me as we conclude, what’s your next step? What do you see as your next critical move that you could take in pursuing this?
Brian Rauch: Well I’m hoping that an opportunity such as this Mark, getting some in-depth feed back from you.
Maybe connecting with others that are within the circle or some of your broader network. Maybe you said as a referral for mock interviews. Get to learn meet some of the owners and learn what the reality is from their side of the equation and determine whether or not I’m a good fit for the business.
Maybe for them or in general and then utilize that as a step to actually interview for real positions.
Mark Leeper: Well tremendous. Again, we’ve been talking with Bryan Rauch, Aviation sales professional, we certainly appreciate your comments and your positive response about aviation business consultants. And we’ll close this up, but again thank you so much for your help.
Brian Rauch: Thank you very much for your time Mark.
Mark Leeper: Okay we’ll talk to you soon.
Brian Rauch: Have a great day.
One of the biggest benefits for our Aviation Marketing Master Class is the opportunity to network with aviation professionals. Our members, or Insiders, one another to help us get to know one another better, make better referrals to each other, and generally learn more about the smartest people in the industry.
We’re looking forward to learning more about smart aviation professionals!
In this interview, Bert Botta is interviewing Jon Wenrich of Centrex Construction.
Bert Botta: Why don’t you tell me a little bit about you and that will segue into the questions which will be your background and how did that bring you to where you are now in your professional life.
Jon Wenrich: I’m sure I share this story or beginning with a lot of other folks like you and I. I wanted to fly ever since I was a little kid. Every time we’re able to do that, it’s a big plus and I think a lot of my story brings me to the point of realizing how special it is to be able, not just to fly, but be able to stay and work in the aviation industry. What happened was is I spent a lot of time in Alaska with my Dad who would support far out villages in Alaska, which is a very different place – they don’t have the road system that we’re used to. I was involved in humanitarian, or some would call missionary aviation. That’s simply being the lifeline, the via airplane, to villages. That takes a lot of different forms. For me, that just means becoming an integral but non-assuming part of the community. Using my training and expertise to be able to do whatever is most meaningful to the people.
After that, I went to LeTourneau University in Texas to get a very specific niche training as a Humanitarian Bush Pilot and A & P Mechanic. You have to be able to be able to fix that prop if you’re stuck on a river bar. There is no mechanic there to do it for you.
Bert Botta: Exactly.
Jon Wenrich: That’s why I did that. I spent a couple of summers in Alaska training native Alaskan kids that we identified that had a propensity for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and a passion for flying. Eventually, that non-profit mission is to after 3 or 4 years of training native kids … Teenagers, or young 20’s … They give them an airplane and they take it back to their village. That was absolutely incredible.
Bert Botta: Which organization was that?
Jon Wenrich: The organization I was with was called Kingdom Air Corp. They have a great web site. (http://www.kingdomaircorps.org/)
We also trained Bush Pilots. We would give them real world experience to sharpen up skills or be prepared to go out as a full time Bush Pilot. Missionary or not, commercial, it doesn’t matter. That was absolutely unreal. That’s where I really learned to enjoy flying, and you know what that’s like.
That’s where I met Jim and Jimmy Severson, the founder and son and current President of Centrex. It was 8 years ago. They flew in in their P210. I picked them up in a 175 with a geared engine. Flew them into the Mountain Ranch, where Kingdom Air Corp is based. We’re both Portland guys, and kept the line open. After Alaska, I came back down to Portland and flew charter in King Air’s and Cessna 421’s and flight instructed for maybe a little too long. I had a great time.
I had the opportunity to jump full time into business. I quickly realized that … After being forced out of aviation for 6 months, and I’d love to hear your story another time about this transition … Being out of aviation for 6 months is like going cold turkey.
Bert Botta: Wow.
Jon Wenrich: I’m really thankful for that for several reasons. It gave me a much better appreciation for any time I did spend at the airport. It gave me an appreciation for how quickly aviation can be taken away, specifically flying. It really opened me up to a much bigger world. It allowed me to realize that the reason I got into flying was actually because I love connecting people together.
Bert Botta: Yes, I can see that.
Jon Wenrich: You talked about why what you’re doing. That’s how I came to realize what I love doing. That transformation happened about 2 years ago. I’m 27 now. Just in the last 6 months, I created and added to my “reason why,” I don’t just love connecting people together, but I love connecting all the intangibles. Integrity, truthfulness, however you want to put it. I love connecting those people together because I know how difficult it is to find those people.
Bert Botta: Yeah.
Jon Wenrich: I love saving people that effort. It’s great. If I benefit from business, fantastic. I love seeing people take it and run, and making those connections. That fits naturally. Obviously, I’m in business development. That’s why I wanted to do Part 135 instead of Part 121. That’s why I wanted to do humanitarian flying instead of Part 121 out of the gate. So, that’s the background.
Bert Botta: Yeah. Definitely. We have a lot in common. Definitely. We have the connector aspect of our lives I common. I got hired at the airlines at 27. My whole focus, without taking away from your interview here, is about bringing people together in aviation.
Jon Wenrich: I agree. You and I don’t settle for just occupations or even objectives at a surface level. There has got to be … If there isn’t out front, we find it … The deeper purpose.
You’ll understand what this meant. About 3 years ago, I sought the counsel of a strong, believing, experienced, 45 year Chief Pilot at the local airport. He was a very well respected man across the industry. He tore up my resume. Threw it over his shoulder. He said
“Son, you need to get a life outside of aviation.”
Between the lines of the whole story I just told you, it’s all about identity and being free. My identity being tied up in the cockpit. That’s incredible.
Bert Botta: You pretty much answered the question about your background and how you got to where you are in your professional life. How do you see yourself at Centrex? What’s your vision of you being there and your vision of the future?
Jon Wenrich: I’ll wrap that up in the vision of the company as well. The 10-15 year vision is that you very well know when buying an aircraft on the VREF appraisal of that aircraft, if your aircraft was maintained at an OEM MRO or some similar caliber shop, the VREF of that aircraft is higher than if you took it to a mom and pop shop.
With aviation facility development, FBO hangars, MRO’s, whatever, there is no such thing. There is very little, to no value, placed on any outside aviation passion in the field of facility development.
Our 10 or 15 year vision is, across the West Coast specifically, on a real estate appraisal for an aviation facility, there will be a Centrex box. That’s “the what” and I usually don’t talk about “the what” right away but it helps form “the why.”
“The why” is a couple things.
We believe construction can be a personal experience with genuine relationships. In aviation, that means aviation is our passion, not just a specialty.
The average person in the aviation industry does not realize how much unnecessary risk, he is taking on by using a non-aviation expert. There’s a lot of people that have built buildings on an airport. We’re talking expert, like, I know off the top of my head a Falcon 50 weighs about .45 as much as a Gulfstream 650 and therefore you need an 8 1/2 inch slab versus a 6 1/2 inch slab right away. I don’t need to go look it up.
Bert Botta: Right.
Jon Wenrich: That’s just the tip of the iceberg. My role here, and what I see myself evolving into here is helping push and extend that education. Not just the vision, but it’s truly an education to help the aviation industry not just survive real estate developments, but thrive as a result of them. Most every other industry I can think of, they are ten 10 times more concerned about a firm’s hyper-specific expertise within their own industry, and how that relates to the quality and personal investment of their facility than aviation.
They’re just warehouses that happen to be on an airport. That’s how people look at it. Regardless if you have a 72 1/2 million dollar asset, that that warehouse on an airport is supposed to protect. Not just protect. But honor and prop up as a trophy. That’s how we see it.
Using the passion for aviation that you and I both share, the passion for connecting people – not just any people, but great people together, is how we’re going to do that, and through our passion of aviation. You’re going a see a lot more of us taking the West Coast by storm in aviation specifically because that is our fast ball, period.
The ability to speak aviation-ese as an indigenous speaker is very meaningful.
Bert Botta: An indigenous speaker. I like that. What do you mean? You’re not speaking Inuit or anything like that. You’re speaking aviation, correct?
Jon Wenrich: Meaning I’m a native member of that community.
Bert Botta: I love that, Jon. I’ve never heard it described that way before. Indigenous aviation. I love it.
Jon Wenrich: We’re coining it. I mean really, Bert, you can tell right away when there’s an outsider trying to “play aviation.”
Bert Botta: That’s why I do what I do with copywriting – people who know aviation can poke a hole through things that were written by people who don’t “speak the language.”
Jon Wenrich: People sense dialects instantly. It’s the same thing. We’re not pretenders. It’s connecting those things because the risk is very real. Very few people see it. Especially owners.
I love the quote that you see on our web sight on the Paradigm Shift tab on the upper right from the “Diary of a Very Bad Year.” Keith Gessen, 2009 said “Bad things happen when you divorce the people who understand the risk from the people taking the risk.” That describes aviation real estate development right there. The people who understand the risk and when I’m talk about that, I’m talking from a very technical perspective. How to educate ports or airport owners on why fire foam doesn’t really make much sense. You may save a 3 million dollar hangar, but you’ve ruined the 70 million dollar asset, the aircraft.
Those things, the importance of an absolutely perfect slab. We should (and we do!) put luxury car showrooms to shame. It’s that level of stuff and it’s connecting that, the very real risk, with this industry that I love through connections and education.
Bert Botta: How do you balance the world economy or the United States economy, and what we’re experiencing in this economy, with the future of Centrex and where do you get your new business from? Where do you see your new business coming from and what’s the challenge involved in that?
Jon Wenrich: Good question. A good friend of mine is very prolific, a very successful entrepreneur and he advised a small company that produced Altoids. They had 15 different product lines from Day 1. He said “No. You need to scrap 14 out of 15 flavors.” For years, Altoids only had 1 flavor.
Bert Botta: You’re right. I love them.
Jon Wenrich: And they were fantastic. That’s what we do. Nobody knows aviation inside and out relating to facility developments and wrapping all of our ancillary aviation knowledge in there too. Therefore, the worse the economy, the more owners pay attention to risk mitigation. Actually, when the economy goes down, it makes my job easier in differentiating ourselves. Not necessarily easier creating volume, but it’s easier to differentiate.
Bert Botta: Are you refurbishing places? Or the only thing you do is build new facilities on existing airports?
Jon Wenrich: No. We do both. Tenant Improvements is what the industry usually calls refurbishing. We do a lot of that. FBO’s that need a face-lift or something. Really where our team shines is taking an owner’s vision as if it’s our own, and that keeps us up at night. It’s our baby. We fully adopt it and we manage the entire process. The entire team. Design, build team, architects, engineers, everything short of actually negotiating the land lease on behalf of the owner. We help negotiate away stipulations like fire foam versus fire sprinkler, but that’s where we stop. Other than that, the owner can tell us “I want the absolute best FBO in this state by this date and I’m going to go to Mexico and come back and your going to have it for me, right? Under the dollar value, right?” Absolutely. That’s where the team really shines. Does that answer your question? I guess another piece is that people don’t buy … I keep using G 650’s but I actually like 7X’s better … So people don’t buy 7X’s by getting their powder wet. We found, for instance, at the Aurora Airport, which is the 2nd fastest corporate growing airport in in terms of real estate development behind Scottsdale, because you can own the land there.
Bert Botta: No kidding. Aurora Oregon?
Jon Wenrich: Yeah.
Bert Botta: OK.
Jon Wenrich: We built a little over a half million square feet at that airport through the recession and it was non-stop. People were … I mean these things were pre-sold. We weren’t the financier or developer per say, but we were the exclusive builder. We actually found the ultra long range jet market provides the bridge across the recession, in large part.
Bert Botta: In their ability to continue to do business on a higher level and provide income in that respect?
Jon Wenrich: Correct. Let’s say you have an individual who is in a Falcon 50 but they’ve kept their powder dry and they’re waiting for a great deal for a 7X but their hangar can’t fit a 7X (their new and larger aircraft acquisition) – via cash – when the times are bad and nobody else can buy.
That triggers a large hangar project which then triggers more business for the local FBO and /or regional MRO which then is another trickle down effect. It starts with the dry powder. We want to make sure that … We were just named the 20th fastest growing private company in Oregon. We’re the 2nd oldest on the list of 100 so we call ourselves “the 40 year old start up” with deep roots and a wide base. The other thing is we don’t want to give it all away at once either.
Bert Botta: That’s it. OK.
Jon Wenrich: That’s a big deal. Education. We understand that by taking an education approach, we will give away some business. I understand that. I don’t want it to be that way, it’s just the truth.
Bert Botta: Just talking to you, I see not just a story behind Centrex, but the ability for you guys to shine a light on a higher purpose and a much more, how should I say it, in depth reason for being in the aviation business.
Jon Wenrich: There’s one other company in the country that gets close to that, but not quite. We’re just blowing right past it in terms of exactly what you just described. I agree. We see it more and more everyday and we’ve seen it for a while that there is that extreme void and it’s ours to populate.
It’s great. We’re pilots. We spend a lot of time in the airplanes. What else are you going to talk about?
Bert Botta: We have a lot to talk about. How would we spot your ideal customer for you or your company?
Jon Wenrich: In the same way that you spot somebody that you don’t want to work with. That’s the intangible. If an owner views a construction company as a commodity as opposed to a service, then my service to them is referring them to somebody else. Let’s take it a couple of steps farther. That’s our first filter, Bert. Culture is everything here and so if it’s not a good culture fit with the owner … Probably 80 percent, just to pluck a number, are good culture fits.
Bert Botta: Are good or not good?
Jon Wenrich: Are positive.
Bert Botta: OK. 80 percent. That’s high.
Jon Wenrich: That’s just what came to mind. Not scientific. Maybe we just spend a lot more time trying to figure out who is and who isn’t. Let’s take it a couple steps farther. Closely held businesses where it’s not just a business venture, it is a heart play. It’s a passion business for people because every story has a business and it’s probably rare to find investors who have not bought into some part of that story of a business. We care so much about the story of the business. Such that, this building project which may only last 8, 12, 18, 24 months, that is 5 percent of our relationship with that business. We’ve been going along with connecting people together. We refer business to our clients all the time. That’s not unique to us. I hope more people do that. That’s on one end. The other end of the spectrum is a client like Atlantic Aviation. I don’t know if you saw the project we’re doing for them, but that was the client who said, “OK. We’re going to take care of the lease negotiations. We want an unbelievable facility.”
Bert Botta: Which one? Where is this located, John?
Jon Wenrich: It’s on our website. It is a 12 acre FBO campus. It is truly a 5 star facility. It will be the corporate gateway to the Pacific Northwest. It’s unbelievable.
Bert Botta: Have you seen the latest one in San Jose? Signature San Jose? Probably on a low par with that, I would imagine.
Jon Wenrich: In terms of similar finishes, that project’s about 4 or 5 times as large as this one. Same ethos. They’re a large company. They have 70 plus locations, 4 Vice Presidents. They are highly relational people and you feel it when you fly in there too. Concierge service is a major element of theirs as it is ours. It’s one’s business values, that’s what it really comes down to, Bert.
Does an owner view us as a commodity or a service? I really believe, as a general contractor, we do not fit any traditional business category. We are tasked with turning something that does not exist and has never existed before into something that does exist. A lot of times people think we’re trying to sell them something that does exist and it doesn’t. It’s neither a commodity. It’s really much more a service. If somebody’s business values align with ours such as, as an example, Atlantic Aviation. They’re so personable. They reply to my emails within seconds. They remember my family member’s names. Those, most likely, are great Centrex people and the project will be much better for it. The reason I use that as an example is because that transcends size.
Bert Botta: Excellent answer. Third one. How would we best describe you or your company’s unique benefits, approach, products and services, and value proposition?
Jon Wenrich: We went over the first one which is we believe construction can be a personal experience with genuine relationships. Aviation is so much more than just airplanes. It’s all of that stuff that we can’t explain.
As people who love aviation, not just as pilots, but as mechanics, as FBO owner’s, hangar developers, aircraft detailers, designers, engineers. One of the 3 principals designed the Ram Air Turbine system on the Dreamliner. It transcends everything. Some people may have an extensive aviation construction portfolio but it stops there. All of the intangibles are included. The funny thing about intangibles built into construction is that it turns into major tangibles. It’s a process though.
Bert Botta: That’s interesting. Can you give me a quick small example of that John, or is it possible?
Jon Wenrich: In the same way you can hear, like we talked about, a dialect. You can hear a different dialect. You can also feel a facility that was designed not by someone with an aviator’s passion. It’s very clear.
That could mean not putting a bollard right next to a hangar door because that increases the chances of dinging a wing when pushing the airplane back. It could be helping an owner realize that 90 percent of aircraft under 5000 pounds are wider than they are deep so why design a hangar that’s deeper than it is wide? You wouldn’t see that as a tenant, but as an owner you see it. It is creating an aesthetic that resonates with, not just the aviation community as a vocation, but users. We own and fly a PC12 for business purposes so we see it from the consumer standpoint as well. Whether it’s high ceilings as opposed to low ceilings or an excellent pilot lounge versus an OK one. It’s all of those things. I don’t know if those were as tangible as you wanted.
Bert Botta: That’s very good. Much better than I thought. How would you describe your value proposition in kind of wrapping up what you’ve told me? Is there something that more so stands out for your value proposition?
Jon Wenrich: We’ve been working on articulating this for a long, long time.
“The owner’s vision for an aviation legacy project can only be fully understood and with exacting accuracy, be built by a general contractor who combines an aviator’s passion with a builder’s expertise.”
Bert Botta: Well said. That pretty much covers it.
Jon Wenrich: Perfect.
Bert Botta: Let’s see. What might prospects say to trigger me to know what they need to be referred to you or your company?
Jon Wenrich: There’s 2 ways to ask the question. Who do I call, or who do I call? One asks it in such a way that they truly are seeking a development partner. Either because they’ve never done it before or they just do business that way, or they’ve been burned before. Most people have been burned before. Then there’s the owner that just doesn’t fit with Centrex, and that’s OK. That is OK. They ask the who should I call question in a way that is really asking who can tell me what I want to hear and give me the lowest price on paper.
Jon Wenrich: The funny thing about construction is like I said. It is really just a vision and then it gets a little better by putting it on paper and submitting for permits. It really does not exist until it exists and it’s done and you have the keys in had. I have quite a few studies that I’ve compiled and part of the paradigm shift page … Actually, Bert, this explains it pretty well.
The paradigm shift page on our website, the upper right hand tab, it’s the red one. You now understand why we call it paradigm shift. It puts out pretty clear academic data that says if you approach a project with the low bid, in other words, selecting your builder or architect just on a number regardless of what name is on the letterhead, your project is likely to balloon by 11-13 percent of the bottom line. That’s not even including opportunity costs. Projects are likely to balloon in schedule by at least 10-15 percent. That’s significant. The people don’t pay attention to that, they just pay attention to what the dollar is up front. If you see an owner who fits the highly relational category, and even better if it’s a closely held business, and truly approaches business from a collaborative standpoint where they listen to expert’s input and they wisely weigh that against their business model, it will be the best experience they ever had.
Bert Botta: Do you guys prospect for business? This is outside of the questions that we’re answering, but do you prospect for business, and if so how do you go about that?
Jon Wenrich: It’s closely held business owners in aviation. Even if it’s down the supply chain. If there’s a local aviation parts manufacturer. For instance, we built the headquarters for Lightspeed Aviation, the headset manufacturer. Five minutes from our office. Allan Schrader. Unbelievable owner. Great Centrex person. It doesn’t have to be on an airport. It is some … Obviously the decision maker … Someone who has been in the game for a development. In Atlantic’s example, that was 1 of their 4 Regional Vice Presidents as well as their regional General Manager. That can be a MRO, a FBO. Pilots, however much they may think they’re involved with hangar transactions, they’re not. Usually a waste of time.
Bert Botta: The only time they’re involved with hangar transactions is when they bang a wing.
Jon Wenrich: Exactly. Owners, direct owners, owner pilots are fantastic. You run into some non-compatible value issues there at times. More so than in other areas.
Bert Botta: Are there any jobs that you wouldn’t take on because they’re too small or too big?
Jon Wenrich: We do not bite off more than we can chew. However, how I like to preface that answer is, is it with a great Centrex client that we have gotten to know on a project that’s in our wheel house. If yes, I’ll use Atlantic as another example. We will follow Atlantic all over this country and all over this world to build for them. Big or small. It doesn’t matter. Is a small project the first project for a client? I may be doing them a disservice. It depends. We’ll look at it. We always look at everything. We’ll figure out a way if it’s in the owners best interest and if it works well for Centrex. We are more likely to say no to a project for a first time client that is 4 or 5 times our largest project to date because we want to be realistic as well. If it’s a great owner, we’ll figure out a way. We’re extremely agile and flexible to our client’s best interest. Does that answer your question?
Bert Botta: Yes!
Jon Wenrich: You asked about prospecting as well. Yes, we do. It’s very low volume, very intentional. Part of that is mandated by our clientele. Ultra high net worth individuals are very tricky to get a hold of. I tell you, Bert, when we get the opportunity to meet people face to face, we know just as much as they know within minutes. Is this a group that jives well, not just with my business model, but with my business values? You see it. You see it in their eyes. It’s that trust ladder and we climb that ladder quickly and genuinely as well. A lot of people can climb it quickly, but is it true. I want to be very careful that the person that talks about being truthful and honest the most is the least so. Very selective about when I use that word.
Obviously a lot of it is word of mouth and as we continue to extend our reach from Southern California to Phoenix, Denver, Vegas, Boise, Seattle, that’s kind of our area. About a thousand miles around Portland. That happens more frequently. We vet our clients just as much as they vet us, whether they know it or not. Again, there’s great, to quote a friend of mine, there’s great service in the word no. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to find great Centrex people. We spend a lot of time creating those relationships 5-10 years before the need ever exists because we know they’re great Centrex people and therefore they’re going to do very well in this world.
Bert Botta: Number 5. You’re making me want to be a businessman aviator versus a writer, John. You’ve got me all excited about what … It’s amazing how the passion that you have for this conveys to other people.
Jon Wenrich: Great. I’m glad. Then I’m doing my job.
Bert Botta: You got it. What is your marketing process once your prospect receives a referral?
Jon Wenrich: Once we either receive a referral or find something that leads me to believe somebody is going to build within the next couple of years, we do not send anything outside of these doors unless it is highly personal. Or tailored I guess. That can range from a small gift to a large gift. They are of the maker movement, highly procured items. Very, very nice things. Think like your Italian sports cars. We don’t give those as gifts, but that’s a gift you would get and feel comfortable putting on the front seat of your Maserati.
Bert Botta: Or your Lamborghini.
Jon Wenrich: Usually, people get that. Then our goal is to meet in person as soon as possible. Again, it’s more of a vetting process than a marketing process actually.
Bert Botta: I like that.
Jon Wenrich: We don’t work for just anyone. It’s frankly pompous to say that people earn our partnership and so I don’t want to say that. What I do want to say is that people miss out if they don’t use Centrex. They really do. I think you feel that. It’s in person. We go way out of our way to provide the owner with some value relevant to their development way before we should. Whether that is a complimentary in house rendering of their facility. We do some pretty cool ones. Whether that is a site assessment so seeing where utilities are relevant to their proposed hangar location. Often times, before I meet somebody, I come with this information. That’s a differentiating deal. The other thing too is, and this is part of the marketing process, is it’s a big difference when meeting with an FBO owner, pull up in a corporate aircraft. Nobody but us, usually Jimmy and myself. He’s a former SkyWest Captain. We’re the only two on board and people are really surprised to see that.
Bert Botta: In your Pilatus?
Jon Wenrich: Or whatever we’re flying. That says you are one of us.
Bert Botta: Yeah. That’s cool. Good. OK. This is more outside the answers but none the less, we’ve included it. Paula wanted us to include it. You haven’t been in the Insider Circle that long, Jon, have you?
Jon Wenrich: No. I’ve received the materials and I had a conflicting appointment with the webinar last week. So no. Not long.
Bert Botta: The question is what do you like about the Insider Circle? I’ll ask it this way. What do you anticipate bringing to the Insider Circle and what do you want to get from it?
Jon Wenrich: I’ll add on to that as well. One thing I really appreciate about Paula and John is that they do not let the conversation lose the least bit of momentum and I expect that from the Insider Circle as well. That there is a certain urgency, a healthy urgency, and respect for people’s time as well as ideas. Ideas have a shelf life for effectiveness. I like that. I see that in the materials that they’ve sent me, reading a book once a month, that all goes into that. What I hope to give is this industry is relatively bland, which is strange because it’s built so much on passion.
Bert Botta: You mean the construction industry, not the aviation industry?
Jon Wenrich: No, aviation.
Bert Botta: Aviation. OK.
Jon Wenrich: There is so much untapped passion in aviation.
Bert Botta: You nailed it.
Jon Wenrich: In the same way that pilots don’t respect ourselves with pay typically, we do a really bad job of sharing this passion. We need to do a much better job as an industry creating the “FOMO,” the fear of missing out. That’s what aviation was built on in the first place. I’d like to think that we rekindled a tiny sliver of that and it’s transcendent across business models. What do I hope to gain? Just fresh feedback. Realistic feedback. Getting my head out of the clouds. It’s so helpful. Paula is doing a great job of that already. John, he has personally developed a few properties so his perspective as an owner is priceless. It can’t get any better than that. Marketing ideas are fantastic but I gain more materially from hearing owner’s feedback. I know there are some people in that class who are also business owner’s and property owner’s. That’s the best part.
Bert Botta: Excellent. That’s about it. Thanks for this.
Jon Wenrich: It’s been a pleasure, Bert. Looking forward to more conversation.
How to contact Jon
Jon Wenrich – Business Development
8250 SW Hunziker St Tigard, OR 97223
Phone: (503) 684-0443
We’re doing something kind of special this week – we’ll be talking about getting and using testimonials, which is one of the very most powerful things you can do.
Things you say about your product are one thing, what your CUSTOMERs say is a thousand times more effective.
Even though you may know all that, if you’re like me, you might feel kind of weird asking even HAPPY clients and customers for testimonials.
We asked aviation writer Kathryn Creedy to be our guest on the podcast today and share some insights and a solution for us.
Transcript – How to Get Testimonials! (And How to Use Them!)
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, ensure strategies, relevant example, hacks, and how tos. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, so you won’t miss a thing.
Paula Williams: We’re doing something kind of special this week – we’ll be talking about getting and using testimonials, which is one of the very most powerful things you can do. Things you say about your product are one thing, what your CUSTOMERs say is a thousand times more effective. And Kathryn Creedy is one of our favorite people.
Kathryn B. Creedy is a veteran aviation journalist and author. She is one of the few interdisciplinary aviation journalists with a thorough knowledge of airports as well as the business and commercial aviation industries affording unique insights into these dynamic industries. In addition, she has a growing knowledge of the unmanned systems industry, especially as it relates to unmanned aerial systems. Her work has included representing Embraer Executive Jets, the Federal Aviation Administration’s aviation regulatory division as well as its communications, satellites and navigation division.
She began her aviation work focusing on regional airlines in the immediate post-deregulation period. She founded a weekly newsletter Commuter/Regional Airline News in 1982 building it to become the bible of the industry. She also co-founded its sister publication, London-based C/R News International in 1987 which covered the European market. Kathryn has maintained her interest in the regional airline industry throughout her career.
Kathryn currently has a column in Forbes Online and is the author of Time Flies – The History of SkyWest Airlines. Her byline has appeared in Jane’s Airports, Centerlines, Airline Economics, Business Travel Executive, Airports International, Inflight, Low Fare & Regional Airlines, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Fly Corporate, Business Airports International and Airline Fleet Management. In addition to her Forbes column, Kathryn has two blogs – Winging It, Unconventional Wisdom About Aviation – and Beachcombers Chronicles about unique adventures at the beach.
Paula Williams: So let’s dive right into the heart of today’s topic, and that is, how to get testimonials. Do testimonials work for aviation companies? So do aviation companies use enough testimonials in their marketing materials, do you think?
Kathryn Creedy: I think this is one of the hardest things for aviation companies or indeed any company to do.
I just don’t see it enough, and I always look for well, who are their clients. And very few companies have a good client roster on their website. There’s a lot about what they do, and how it differs from their competition. But there’s nothing about, not a lot about, what our customers say.
And I think that’s hard for companies to do because they don’t really want to toot their own horn except for this is how we’re different from our competition.
Paula Williams: Exactly. It’s interesting when people call us, they call ABCI and of course, they probably been shopping for aviation marketing companies.
The first question they ask us is, what do you do better than anybody else? The second question they ask us is, who else are you doing business with? And I think that question would be, is really well served, and we can just send them a nice little testimonial, or something along those lines, or refer them to the testimonials on our website.
Kathryn Creedy: Right, and I think that good housekeeping seal of approval-
Paula Williams: Mm-hm.
Kathryn Creedy: And testimonials as well as, they may admire some of the companies that you’re working with. And therefore, that edges up that visibility quite a bit when they say, XYZ is working with ABCI. So that is a good housekeeping seal of approval on working with you, as well.
Paula Williams: Right. And we always say that, our customers are our best salespeople. And I think that’s true of most aviation companies. Because nobody wants to be the first person to do anything in aviation, right?
John Williams: Exactly.
Kathryn Creedy: Right, absolutely not. And I also think that testimonials, and talking with customers is exactly what other customers want to hear.
So I’ll give you a little example that I think is a riot because certainly, I didn’t do this on purpose. I identified a briefcase that I wanted to get. But it was too expensive for me and I searched online for it and I got it. And then I went to this convention recently and somebody said, where did you get that briefcase?
That’s perfect, that’s what I’ve been looking for. And I said, told them where it was. So they went immediately up on Amazon, they got the briefcase. Then they started showing it around to all of their friends and so I, at that one convention, I sold four briefcases.
Paula Williams: Man.
Kathryn Creedy: So then, I get on Capelli’s Facebook page and I said, “Where’s my cut, I’ve just sold four briefcases for you guys!” And, so I had a nice little relationship. So I go on another business trip and somebody sees my briefcase and said, I’ve been looking for a briefcase just like that.
So I sold a fifth one and I’m sitting there going, this is me as a customer going up on the Facebook page and saying, I really love this briefcase. But more importantly, I’ve sold five of them just from using mine and telling people where I got them. Talk about a testimonial.
Paula Williams: Yeah, that is fantastic. And you are their target market and what people don’t realize is that their customers associate with other people in their target market, you know?
Kathryn Creedy: Exactly, exactly, so I think that this was an impromptu testimonial that I just did. Cuz I thought it was a riot that I was able to sell these guys a product and so easily, just by carting around my briefcase.
But that’s a testimonial that’s worth a million bucks.
Paula Williams: Absolutely. So yeah, if you want to sell a briefcase to aviation journalists, sell one to Kathryn. [LAUGH]
Kathryn Creedy: Yeah, definitely, definitely.
Paula Williams: And make sure it’s something that she loves, and that’s fantastic. So do you know of any aviation companies-
Kathryn Creedy: [INAUDIBLE] are reaching out and saying and talking about the products they love. And we’re encouraged to do that with Amazon and all of these other sites. So as consumers, it may be different for the aviation business consumer market. But it’s really the same principle that we should be leveraging how our customers feel about us to our broader marketing audience.
Paula Williams: Right. So, do you know if any companies that use testimonials particularly well or effectively in aviation?
Kathryn Creedy: No, I used to work for a company, doing a little public relations for a company called MassFlight. And they had a couple of testimonials on their website that I didn’t think were particularly effective.
But ultimately, just word of mouth is what got them the new business that they wanted. So I, it kind of confirmed for me that I was right about the testimonials on their website. But they weren’t leveraging the word of mouth that was getting them new business by putting it on their website.
John Williams: Well, I can tell you that I’m not a briefcase kind of guy, but having listened to you talk about the one you have, I’d be interested to look at it.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH]
Kathryn Creedy: I’ll send you a link. [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: Fantastic. I know, so you’re selling one to John, and John hasn’t carried a briefcase in years.
Kathryn Creedy: I definitely am going to go back to them and ask for a cut.
Paula Williams: You do.
John Williams: [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: You absolutely do, and that’s a whole another subject, is referral programs and rewarding referrals, and things like that. So maybe we’ll have to have you on again for a future episode about that.
But, yeah, you got that down.
Kathryn Creedy: [LAUGH] Mm-hm, mm-hm.
Paula Williams: Right?
Kathryn Creedy: You want to have fun with these types of things, so that was just, somebody really liked my briefcase. I told them who the manufacturer was. I told them where to go on the website, on the web in order to get it and to look at different websites to make sure they got the best price.
And when she actually bought it, I just thought, well, this is a riot. I’ve gotta tell Capelli. So I entered a little bit of a conversation with a manufacturer, I didn’t even know before. But that’s the same thing that you want to do. You want to enter into a conversation with any company you’re working with, because that’s the way you get to know them.
And if you can do it in a fun way like that, then so much the better.
Paula Williams: Right, and what I think is really interesting is that you want it to be accidental, but you can’t afford for it to be accidental, so-
Kathryn Creedy: Right.
Paula Williams: You have to kinda make it natural, but give people opportunities to naturally [LAUGH] provide you with honest testimonials, authentic testimonials, right?
John Williams: Naturally, accidentally.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Naturally, accidentally.
Kathryn Creedy: That’s really important, to give them the opportunity of, how did you like working with this company? Would you refer this company to other people? And I don’t think any companies do that. Certainly the retail market does it out the wazoo, but I don’t think the corporate market does it, and I haven’t seen it much in aviation.
Paula Williams: Right, right, well I’ll tell you some of our clients have really enjoyed some of the testimonials that you’ve done for them. Veelug, you did a really great interview with one of their happy customers, Veelug does aircraft digital log books. And we’ve been using the heck out of that testimonial that you did for them.
And this was a nice little interview of a happy costumer, and we had it printed in a nice format, we distributed it at several of their trade shows. We send them out in their prospecting boxes, and information packages, we use it in a million different ways and this is from one little piece that you did last year sometime, right?
Kathryn Creedy: Yeah, yeah, but I think that if you can tell a compelling story with your testimony, testimonials I think you’re much better off, and that was a very compelling story. If you’ve got a piece of equipment, or a facet of your aircraft that’s so critical to its value, and you don’t understand or you don’t leverage that value, then you’re really not organizing your company very well.
In other words, you’re not looking after your assets very well. So that was a very compelling story. So, I think in doing testimonials, you have to ferret out the information of why this company made a difference for your company.
Paula Williams: Right, right, exactly. And I had a question to ask you, but you’ve already started to answer so we can just continue along that line.
You have an interview style or a method of interviewing that really gets good information that the customer wants to hear. And I think you’ve got a way of doing that that is really more valuable than most of the testimonials that you see on people’s websites. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about your thought process, and how you go about making that happen in a way that’s so valuable to your client, and then to their customers.
Kathryn Creedy: Well, I think that I start as a reporter. I want to know why I should be interested in this company or this product. And the next thing I want to know is why this product is important, and how it makes a difference to its own clients. So in a Vlog example, it was kind of a save the day narrative, the log books were completely gone.
And then the aircraft evaluator found out that Vlog actually had them up digitally on the web. And it was such a relief for her to be able to know that she didn’t have to, one, go through dusty boxes in a back room, but also, it was available, and searchable, and very easy to use, and it made her job much easier.
So the message there was you not only protect the asset value, but you make it easier for those who might want to acquire that asset, or who need to develop a history on that asset, in evaluating that asset. So it starts with being a reporter, knowing the questions to ask, but the questions start with, why should I be interested?
I use the old acronym WIIFM, and what’s in it for me? Why should I care? And then, what makes your company different? What does your company do that makes a big difference for its customers?
Paula Williams: Right.
Kathryn Creedy: So those are the questions I basically talk, I start out with.
And then I let the person talk, because often they’ll be able to say something that I would never have thought to ask. Because they know the product better than I do. And then I just call out the sound bites that I want to use in the interview.
Paula Williams: Right, and I think being a reporter gives you two advantages.
Number one is the one that you talked about, and that is you have the methods of telling a good story. You have that skill that you’ve developed over a number of years, and have the vocabulary of the aviation industry that you’ve developed over years of working that way.
But the second advantage is the credibility, because people have seen Kathryn Creedy’s byline in all of the aviation magazines. And then they see an article on a story about ABCI by Kathryn Creedy, and that is just 1,000 times better than if it were by some no name author that they haven’t heard of.
John Williams: Yeah, but not everybody can afford Kathryn Creedy, even if she had the time for every company in the continental industry. So, you have some, suggested the easy approach for somebody to at least get something out there that has the basic tenets in it.
Paula Williams: Right, so how do you get testimonials if you’re on a budget?
Kathryn Creedy: I think you would start out with something that, to follow up to your costumer activity, on how did you like working, how can we make our job easier, how can we do a better job for you? It’s basically setting yourself up as a consultant and collaborating with them on making your job easier to make their company a success.
So, it’s starting out with that premise, but also, if you have that initial response from your customer that says this would make my job, this would make the task of working with you easier, then you can go back to them with a simple 15 minute phone call and say that was a really good suggestion.
And it starts to build a rapport, so that as you ask those questions about how do we make our effort on your behalf more effective, and how did you like working with us, that brings out some of the material that can then be used in a testimonial.
Paula Williams: Exactly, so, sometimes you can start with maybe a customer who is not perfectly happy, and turn that into a success story.
Kathryn Creedy: Absolutely, in fact, those are the ones, I have a saying that I’ve used all of my life. You learn more from those who give you constructive criticism than all those who will pat you on the back combined. So that’s how I have achieved what I’ve achieved in my career.
Because I’ve listened to the people, not only the people who would pat me on the back, but the people who really give me really solid feedback so that I can improve and get to where I am. And I think there’s something that we haven’t talked about that is very important is that you really have to be genuine.
As an aviation journalist, I don’t want to do anything that I don’t really believe in. So when I’m going into these, when I develop testimonials or I develop stories, it isn’t to pander to a client or to increase the visibility of the client alone. It is really helping them identify what it is that they do that will attract the attention of reporters, that makes their narrative different.
Or it could be recasting their narrative with a different view to enhance the visibility or the visibility of their company. Or to make people take another look at their company and say, gee, I didn’t think about that company that way. And I think that the work that I did for Embraer, most people thought Embraer is just a Brazilian manufacturer of regional jets.
They really aren’t a big player on the world stage. They really haven’t done anything to move the needle on advancing the industry. But quite the contrary, they’re one of the most innovative manufacturers out there. Not only going from their roots in the military arena but practically building the regional aviation industry in the United States along with a few other manufacturers.
But also then entering, having the guts to enter a whole new market, business aviation, and make that market change. So they feel the technologies and aircraft move the needle on and change the industry. And then on top of that, while they were doing all of this really risky stuff, right during the depth of the Great Recession they were expanding.
They were opening a new manufacturing facility in Florida right here in Melbourne. They were opening two different manufacturers in Portugal. So they were really the leader in offshore manufacturing, long before Airbus came to the United States. Boeing is yet to do that. So I think that if you can take a narrative of a company that people think they know the company, and then you can tell the full story.
Then people will come back to them and say, hm, I hadn’t thought about that company in that respect before. That’s worthy of my attention.
Paula Williams: Right.
John Williams: Well, one of our vendors has provided me with the ability to give him the opportunity to respond to constructive criticism. So, we’ll see how they do.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH]
Kathryn Creedy: Yeah, yeah.
John Williams: Because if it turned around, I’d be happy to give him a gold medal and all over wherever they want to do it.
Kathryn Creedy: Yeah, but the constructive criticism is really where the value of your product lies.
Paula Williams: Right, and I think people respect testimonials that include more of a narrative, as opposed to just a five stars or a great or whatever.
That doesn’t tell me anything useful. But if you tell me here’s a problem that we had that we worked through and got to a solution. That tells me a whole lot more about the company and whether or not I want to do business with them, right?
Kathryn Creedy: Right, it also tells them that the end product that you’re giving them is really not the end product because the most successful product is one that’s collaborative in nature.
So that it’s really an iteration. You can give them the first draft, and then they’ll critique the first draft, in fact you want them to. And then the combination of your talents and their talents will develop the product that they ultimately want.
Paula Williams: Right, yeah, and that feeds just so nicely from the conversation we just had in episode 35 about authenticity.
That was the book club conversation. And I think it’s the same story, just a very different angle on it. So if you haven’t listened to that episode, you might want to do those back to back cuz that’s a good one.
Kathryn Creedy: Yeah, I think I will. I was on an interview yesterday at that same time, and I’m deadlined, so I decided to go for the interview instead.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Well, we don’t blame you for that. If you’re making money or making a sale, then by all means [LAUGH] do so, yeah. One thing I think is kind of a common misconception is that people feel like they have to only interview the customers that they’ve had for ten years.
But some of the best come from newish customers. If you want to talk to somebody about the onboarding process, it’s much fresher in their mind. So a lot of times people can interview a new customer at maybe the 90 day point, or what’s your thoughts on that?
Kathryn Creedy: Well, I think 30, 60, and 90 are really good intervals because it keeps you active with the customer.
It’s another touch point. But also it makes sure that you are both on the same page, that the progress of the work is proceeding as both of, makes sure you’re all on the same page. Whenever I do something for a new client, I produce the work. And then I always say, I’d like to do a debriefing to ensure that it met your requirements.
If there’s any changes, all those changes are included in the price. And so I think those different touch points are very valuable. And I think that tapping new customers, because not only are you tapping the experience of getting them or of getting them from the need, identifying the need of the work that needs to be done, to the product.
And to the decision to hire you is, as you say, pressure in their mind and is part of the process of good customer relations. And I think that a lot of people forget about customer relations, especially those that have been with the company for a long time, that they need just as much care and feeding as new customers and vice versa.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, so this might be a good way to connect with customers at their anniversary point or 90 days or at any point in the customer life cycle. A marketing mastermind group that we belong to has kind of a theory of customer life cycle. And they say there are some points at which you can expect that your customers are going to be exceptionally happy with your product or service.
And usually that’s right after you’ve delivered your first positive report. Or right after they begin to realize the financial implications when they pay their taxes the first time after they purchased your product. Or I mean, it’s different for every product. But if you can figure out what those inflection points are, of this is the point at which they should be happiest.
[LAUGH] And then schedule some kind of an interview around that time, I think that’s a really good strategy.
Kathryn Creedy: And I think that my customers, my clients, have always liked that I’d like to do a debriefing. Especially if it’s a new client because I want to make sure that I didn’t misinterpret anything.
But also I want to make sure that if they have tweaks that need to be done, they know I’m available to do those tweaks if they want me to do it at no extra charge. And especially that first time you’re writing for a client, it’s particularly difficult cuz you don’t know them as well as you do when you’ve produced six articles for them and gone on from there.
Paula Williams: Right, and that’s one of the things that I really like about working with you. Because we work with a lot of writers and we get, I’m sure you understand, [LAUGH] varying experiences as far as, not only the quality of their work, but also with their involvement or their wanting to be involved with the work after it’s produced.
And a lot of people just want to throw it over the fence and get paid.
Kathryn Creedy: Yeah.
Paula Williams: And that becomes especially when you’ve got complex articles or complex projects, there may be some questions, some follow up, and some other things that need to be done. And you’ve been really fantastic about that sort of thing because I really like your debrief process.
Kathryn Creedy: Mm-hm, well I also think that it’s all part of, as you know, a good customer relationship. You just want to show it’s a relationship. It’s not just I’ve got a writing assignment for this X, Y, Z customer, and I’m never going to see them again so I don’t really care.
I’m building a relationship. And you don’t sell anything on a brochure or a press release or any of these other things. You sell on relationships.
Paula Williams: Right, exactly. And I feel really, really comfortable introducing Kathryn Creedy to Larry Heinbaugh, or to any of our customers. Because we know from experience that she goes the extra mile to make them happy and to make sure that their concerns are addressed at any point in the process.
And we have some pretty particular customers, so we don’t feel comfortable throwing just any writer in with any client. But I think that really speaks well of your process and the way that you do business, so.
Kathryn Creedy: Yeah, and I think that to me, it’s the only way to do business cuz I do want to build relationships.
Even if it doesn’t develop into long-term business, that doesn’t matter to me so much as it is building the relationships and making sure the customer is happy. And producing the product they want, not the product I think they should have.
Paula Williams: Right, right, sometimes it’s a mix. Sometimes you have to tell people [LAUGH] that what they initially want, may not be the best fit for them.
Kathryn Creedy: Right, and that’s another thing about relationships. I approach clients in, I’m an advisor.
Paula Williams: Right.
Kathryn Creedy: I know public relations. I know writing. And they may not know that facet of what needs to be done. So I can advise them in, a couple of people have come to me and said well here’s the news hook, and I go no it’s not.
And they’re receptive to that. I’m working with a client now where deeply buried in their website is the fact that they pay CFIs full time salaries, higher than the regional airlines. And I said well, we got to do a press release on that because nobody does that.
Paula Williams: Right.
Kathryn Creedy: And that’s what sets you apart. So I think that that advisory capacity is again, part of the value you bring to the table.
Paula Williams: Right, exactly, you know what’s newsworthy. And maybe even if they don’t think they have anything newsworthy, it’s likely with your experience, you’re going to find something.
Kathryn Creedy: Mm-hm.
Paula Williams: Right.
Kathryn Creedy: Yeah, and I can say okay, we haven’t got the news hook yet. But here’s how we could position it with just a little extra work so that we have a news hook.
Paula Williams: Yeah, that’s true. Last question, and that is, what are some creative ways that people can use testimonials in their marketing that you may have seen?
Kathryn Creedy: Well I haven’t seen a lot of creativity on that, except for really strong narratives. But I would say it’s gotta be on the website on a what our customers say type of thing, really blatant headline type of that. But also testimonials on anything that will address a need to a certain customer target base.
We’ll go back to V-Log, target base is aircraft owners or aircraft managers who need to protect the value of their aircraft. So, the testimonials should address that need. It shouldn’t be, I just love working with this company. It should be, I was able to protect the asset value.
I got one-third higher price because I was able to achieve a higher price for my product than the guy down the road because I did X. And so, it has to be really pointed and address the need that your potential customers have.
Paula Williams: Right, so yeah, we’re putting together a tip sheet that will include, not only some ways to get testimonials, but also some ways to use testimonials that people can download from our website.
But yeah, I really appreciate the interview, and I know how busy you are with all of the projects that you’ve got going on. And I’m glad you were able to spend some time with us today.
Kathryn Creedy: Well as usual, I love talking with you and John, so anytime.
And I’ve got some bandwidth, because I haven’t taken on a lot of new assignments. In the first quarter I had 34 assignments. I did all but four, and the four that I didn’t do were blogs. And so after that was all done in mid-April, I said, I’m not going to take any more assignments until June.
So I still have some bandwidth left.
Paula Williams: Excellent, well, we’ll take advantage of it [LAUGH] and maybe offer some deals to our customers and see if we can get you busy. But we’ll talk about that another time. But thank you so much. This was really fun to do.
John Williams: Thank you, Kathryn.
Kathryn Creedy: Well as you know I love it. You guys are great.
Paula Williams: [LAUGH]
John Williams: We’ll talk to you later. Thank you, Kathryn.
Kathryn Creedy: Okay, bye.
Paula Williams: Bye bye.
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Bert: Hi Pat, we’re live. So tell me a little bit about what you do up there in Maine, and that will lead into the first question, which is:
(1) What’s your background and how did that bring you to where you are now in your professional life?
Keep in mind also Pat, to be aware of what’s in your best interest to have other potential clients know about you?
Bert: Another thing also; be aware of mentioning what’s beneficial for this group to know about you as you describe your background.
Pat: Okay. I’m the director of marketing for C&L Aviation Group. Our home base is here in Bangor, Maine. And what actually led me here is a different sort of story. I don’t come from aviation, which seems to be the typical route for this sort of position.
My background is in media.
I spent about a decade working with the largest print and online media company here in the state of Maine. Media was an interesting place to start because it’s always changing.
I actually started in the traditional print end of the business and was one of the first people to start working on digital marketing because I realized that we were about as far as we could go with print.
It was time to start thinking about online and online communities and social media. I got really excited knowing how you can use online to target people who are interested in your message; really being able to connect the things that we did well with the people that were really interested in those kind of things.
That’s one of the things that actually helped us reach a larger audience. We were able to go statewide in Maine with our news coverage online and really develop a community around that.
We did that through focusing on the blogger community and a network of story- writers in that community, plus our own history and expertise.
So that was a really fascinating thing for me to do.
Bert: So how long have you been with C&L?
Pat: I’ve been with C&L a little over a month. One of the last things I did for the media community was to help them develop an events division, realizing that producing live events was an effective way to market rather than trying to push our weight around with expensive sponsorships.
We started producing our own events so we could get exposure of the brand to a new market, rather than spending a lot of marketing dollars, trying to convert it into a revenue stream.
Bert: What triggered your interest and segue into aviation from media?
Pat: It really started with my doing some non-profit stuff for a little while.
But I’ve always been interested in this field and what happens in aviation. I actually live in Bangor where this office is located and it’s a relatively small community, about 33,000 people.
C&L over the last several years has become one of the darlings of this community because of the exceptional growth that’s happened here. They’ve also brought jobs to the community. So they’ve been on my radar as an up and coming company in this area.
I started with a conversation with the CEO. We had some synergies with the way we were thinking. This is a company that likes to take a different approach to marketing, and a different approach to working with people. They were looking to do things that aren’t necessarily traditional.
My background is working with different audiences, and creating valuable content to make people interested in who we are, rather than pound them over the head with advertising.
It’s been a good fit so far and that’s what really makes it different from how a lot of people get into this industry. Others usually have an extensive aviation background and they try to pick up the marketing as they go along whereas I’m coming at it from the opposite angle.
(2) How would we spot the ideal customer for you or your company?
Pat: I always like to start with the theory of creating your business avatar. And when I say that, it’s really trying to identify exactly who that customer is but going a step farther than that, and giving them a name and thinking about that person like all of your efforts are actually targeted to one individual.
I’ll give you an example and this is just off the top of my head. But if we were to say our average customer or our ideal customer is someone who is 55, they’re a CEO, they make x amount a year, and they live in this region.
But I think you have to take it another step farther and you think about, how many kids do they have? How old are their kids? Are they married? Do they own a home? Do they own a summer home? Where do they vacation? What are their pain points? What keeps them up at night?
These are very important questions. And, I think once you can identify what all of those things are, you name that person. This person becomes Phil or Chuck or Sarah or something like that.
Then when you’re going to create your content or create your marketing materials you think about it like, how would I talk to Phil or Chuck? How do I write this so not only do they read it, but they understand why this is valuable to them.
Bert: Would there be anything more specific about your ideal customer in your case and also in C&L’s case?
Pat: In our case the ideal customer for us is really the person who’s going to receive the most benefit from the things that we specialize in.
For example, what we do here that helps set us apart is that we often consider ourselves a one-stop solution for people needing an MRO or a few other things.
So we’ve developed some synergies here between what we can do as far as heavy maintenance and parts.
We also have the largest paint facility on the East Coast. So people can bring work to us and we can often turn that around for them faster, and in a lot of cases, less expensively than others can.
Obviously we have our regional partners, the regional corporate partners in this area that want to work with us because they don’t have to transport their aircraft quite as far.
They also don’t have quite as much down time. But we can certainly extend it beyond that as well to people that are looking for those synergies.
Bert: Do you target charter, management companies, fractionals, nothing like that or something like that?
Pat: We actually do some of that ourselves. We have sister companies called SevenJet and SevenJet Private Travel, which we recently launched. They are based out of Salt Lake City and Pensacola, Florida area where we operate a fleet of and where we, so we’ve got some.
We have a charter aircraft management service as well. We really run the whole gamut.
Bert: Excellent. Next question:
(3) How would I best describe your or your company’s unique benefits approach, product services and value proposition?
Pat: I just touched on what makes us unique, in that we can really do a lot of different things for people. We’re often described by our customers as being incredibly reliable, and dependable.
Typically when we’re quoting MRO services, or a lot of those other things, what we quote is what actually gets done.
I think some of our customers don’t always have those kind of positive experiences and they get told yes, and exceptions end up getting made.
We don’t really have a lot of those issues so that’s really what helps set us apart. Our customers have learned what to expect from us.
It’s that reliability, that dependability that helps set us apart.
Bert: Is there a certain cultural, how should I say it, reliability or accountability or trust that you offer to companies because of your location and because, of a kind of a social identity because Maine is seen as a little bit off the radar especially in comparison to the west coast mentality?
When I flew for Netjets, I used to fly into your area and there seemed to be a certain kind of down home dependability that the state represents.
Pat: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because it’s something I hadn’t really thought to mention. Maine and Maine people in general are known as being very reliable, very down to earth, and very hard working.
It’s something that is a real value and a real asset. People in this area appreciate having a good job and they work very hard to do a good job. Our CEO is Australian by birth and that Maine work ethic is one of the reasons that he decided to put the headquarters here in Bangor.
When I meet people from here I realize that, from just an employee asset point of view this was just an incredible place to be. Frankly it’s one of the things that help to distinguish us from other workforces out there.
Bert: When I went to your website and I heard and saw your CEO talk I saw that he was a relatively young guy.
I thought it was interesting that he was from Australia and he finds himself in Maine.
Pat: Yeah, it’s funny whenever he does local events or whether it’s with the chamber breakfast or a business panel in the state of Maine, the first question he is almost always asked has nothing to do with aviation. It’s like, “What on earth are you doing here?”
Bert: That’s an incredible resource that you guys have, the uniqueness of the owner of the company and being able to build on that.
I do a lot of work with aviation companies as an aviation copywriter and I like to bring out the personal aspect of the business and show the face and build the personality of the company.
That really builds the know, like, and trust factor for a company which then shortens the time from initial contact to actually doing business.
Pat: Absolutely. We have staff all over the globe, and most of them reside In the Bangor area. But a lot of folks have moved to this area from far away, because we have decades of industry experience.
And if you haven’t visited a part of Maine or Maine in general where we are, we just live in an absolutely gorgeous part of the country. We have a full four seasons here.
We’ve also got Acadia National Park, one of the most visited National Parks in the country, about 40 minutes from here.
It’s a really beautiful piece of earth right around here. Not only do we have kind of the people that are born and bred in this region who work hard for us but we also have a lot of folks from other areas who work for us and have fallen in love with the region.
Bert: I know when I used to fly in there with Netjets I was always looking out the window and I would ask ATC for a lower altitude so I could see the beautiful countryside!
Pat: Yes. Especially if you’re flying up the Maine coast and you’re going to be landing in Bangor you really see just a beautiful section of the state.
Bert: Yes. Have you exhausted that last question as far as your benefits approach? The Products, services and value proposition?
Pat: I think the only thing I would add: One of the things that we do try to do with our marketing collateral and our sales approach is to continue to further the message that we really are a one stop solution and that very well could justify bringing an aircraft to Maine.
Once you get here you realize that we absolutely take great care of your aircraft and we do it in a responsible fashion. It’s not only efficient but it’s incredibly safe and that’s certainly one of the things we pride ourselves on.
Bert: Good. Next question:
(4) What might prospects say to trigger me to know what they need to be referred to you or your company?
Pat: We specialize in CRJ, Saab, ERJ and Dash 8 aircraft, If you need more than one thing done in the process of buying an aircraft, we provide inspections, parts, paint, interior work.
People can get 360 degrees of service dealing with us.
Bert: Right. It’s interesting because I find it difficult to stay away from what attracted your CEO to come to Maine and what his background and expertise was and why it was so compelling for him to be there.
But I’m not going to go there. I’m just saying that to you because I’m a people kind of guy and I love those kinds of stories.
Pat: Well, this is not an LA or a New York or a major metro market; this is a small rural area for the most part that can help keep down energy costs.
And there’s a lot of retail space here for this company to grow. I’ve mentioned earlier that our paint hangar is 20,000 square feet. We can do three different planes at once in that facility. And we can continue to expand as we continue to grow. There’s room here for us, so that message of us being a one stop solution as we grow can only get better.
We wouldn’t need to move to other locations to maintain all of our services because there is room here.
Bert: Yes. Excellent. Next question:
(5) What’s your marketing process once you recieve a referral?
Pat: Because we have so much to offer, that can really be answered in a whole host of different ways.
Luckily we’re a small enough company where our prospects only need one or two points of contact with us to get what they need done. Then we can take care of the rest on the back end as we grow.
One of the things that we’re working on is to make sure we’ve got people internally looking for those synergies.
So as parts need to be moved around the globe, and we need to get maintenance done we can coordinate all of that. And without the client on the other end needing to deal with 10-15 different people, we keep it to a very personable approach.
And that works well for us.
As for the marketing piece, again I think one of the reasons I was brought on is because of my content background. Once you develop a relationship with somebody, that’s where the trust factor is.
I don’t think you need to advertise to people all the time. I think you just need to keep them informed. That doesn’t need to be gimmicky or markety or any of the buzz words that you hear out there.
It just comes down to providing really good resources and content and dependable service to people. And that can be done through face-to-face, phone calls, email. We can really leverage all of that to keep our customers very happy.
Bert: Yes. I was listening to something else today on the radio and essentially it was what you just said; that people want to be included, they want to be communicated to and especially as I have mentioned to some of my clients, that’s especially so in a world in which we are very disconnected.
Especially compared to maybe 20 or 30 years ago. People are, in most cases, desperate to be included and to be communicated to. It’s not brain surgery. All you have to do is be consistent with your message. And not as you mention, not salesy, but just inclusive. And that goes a long way to attracting and retaining your customers.
Pat: Absolutely. It’s the kind of stuff where I’ll look at our sister company, Seven Jet and the private travel side of things. We could spend all day marketing charter services on one hand, and fractional ownership on another. And spend boat-loads of money to do that, and to gain customers that way.
I’m not saying that doesn’t work. But to me, what makes a lot more sense is writing something and explaining to people when is it time to maybe stop booking so much charter and start thinking about shared ownership.
And what’s the next evolution? What are the pro’s and con’s of each of those models? Write that up and explain to people why they might want to consider one path over another.
Because not only are you building that trust relationship, but you also become the authority on those sort of things. And that’s really important for people to know that, “I can trust this company.; what they’re telling me makes sense and it’s helping me make strategic decisions.”
Pat: And that’s what people want.
Bert: Yes. And that trust is just an extension of your inclusion of them in your message and your on-going communication with them.
Bert: Excellent. Last question:
(6) What do you like about the Master Class?
I know you’re new to it, and probably haven’t engaged much there, but what you have seen, how do you think that’ll benefit you and what do you like about it?
Pat: I think that social media has made for a lot of really great tools and resources for people in professional sense, i.e. closed LinkedIn groups, closed Facebook groups, master classes, that sort of thing.
I’ve been part of few of those in the past, some had to with media, some with non-profits, some just as kind of a group of people that we’re all just kind of trying to hustle each other around to make sure we don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
I think what’s nice about this class and a lot of other courses and classes fall into this category is that it keeps you paying attention to what else is going on and it keeps you thinking. Nobody wants to do the same thing over and over again.
It’s great to see what others are doing, what they’re trying. It’s nice to be in an environment where you can not only share success stories but you can get feedback on why something didn’t work so well. Then you talk to somebody and they say why don’t you pivot this way or why don’t you try this or do it this way or why did you use this creative instead of this? Why didn’t you market that particular thing to this group?
You can’t be an island unto yourself, in any industry but particularly in this industry where there’s so much information that you could miss.
This class helps with that.
Bert: Well said. That pretty much wraps it up. It was great to work with you Pat.
Pat: Yeah, it’s been good, thank you.
Bert: We’ll talk soon
Pat’s Contact Information
Email – Pat.firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @PatrickJLemieux
LinkedIn – linkedIn.com/in/patlemieux
Podcast – Social Dig Podcast – socialdigpodcast.com
C & L Aviation Group
40 Wyoming Ave. Bangor, ME 04401
Website – www.cla.aero
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/company/c&l-aerospace
Facebook – C&L Aviation Group
Twitter – @claerospace
Naval reserve fighter pilot, airline pilot, and aviation marketing copywriting sharpshooter Jeff Stodola talks with Paula Williams about murder boards, test flights, and what’s necessary for a great advertisement.
Transcript – Advertising Test Flights with Jeff Stodola
Narrator: You’re listening to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, the community for the best sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry. Your hosts, John and Paula Williams, are your sales and marketing test pilots. They take the risks for you, ensure strategies, relevant examples, hacks, and how-tos. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, so you won’t miss a thing.
Paula Williams: Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hanger Flying episode number 25.
Jeff was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, and caught the aviation bug early in life. He went to Purdue University as an Aviation Professional Pilot major while going through Navy ROTC. After graduation and Navy commissioning, he progressed through Navy flight school flying the T-34C Turbo Mentor, and the T-45A Goshawk where he learned how to land on aircraft carriers and earned his wings of gold in May 2006. He moved up to Washington State to fly the EA-6B Prowler. After 4 years flying the Prowler and a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, he transitioned to the EA-18G Growler, and completed his Naval service as an Instructor Pilot in the Growler. Since finishing active duty in June 2015, Jeff has continued flying as a reservist in the Navy, founded his business Angels 6 Aviation, and started flying with a major US airline. Angels 6 Aviation is committed to helping aviation companies improve their business through marketing, writing, and consulting, and is pleased to partner with ABCI to meet those goals. Most importantly, Jeff is supported by his loving wife, Jodi, and has 2 wonderful children, Tyler and Anneliese.
Paula Williams: So, one of the really interesting things that happened last year is that we met a lot of really interesting people. And one of the really interesting people that we met, was Jeff Stodola. And Jeff, we’re really glad to have you on the podcast today.
And we’re glad that you’re taking the time to talk with us. I know you got a really busy schedule right now.
Jeff Stodola: It’s great to be here. Thanks a lot for having me.
Paula Williams: You’re very welcome. So last August, you were in the military, and you ran across ABCI.
Do you want to tell us how that came about, and what happened there?
Jeff Stodola: Yeah, last year was a busy, and crazy year for me. So I got out of the Navy after being a naval aviator for a little over a decade. And I’m lucky enough to still be in the Navy Reserves.
And I was also lucky enough, last year, to get picked up by a major airline, who I’m now flying for. That’s all some back story. The kind of amazing coincidence is that my brother is, and has been, a marketing professional at a very highly regarded company, GKIC, that most of you have probably heard of.
And so he was able to meet you, I think a year or two ago. And then he got me interested in marketing a few years ago. And shortly before I was able to talk with you, he said, hey, I’m in marketing, you’re in aviation. And I know this company, ABCI who’s in aviation marketing.
So I think we can make this work. And we went from there.
Paula Williams: Fantastic, I know, we’ve been actually in GKOC’s peak performers group. And we have to say, Mike Stodola has been an inspiration to us for a really long time. And so, when we heard that he has a brother, that’s in aviation, we’re, this is so cool.
Jeff Stodola: [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: [LAUGH] So it was a really amazing coincidence. Some of those really strange things that happen. So, we didn’t really, at that time, have any plans for working together. But one thing that I offered you, is one thing that we have as a standing offer. And that is, if you’d like to write an article for us, we’ll pay you a little bit for the article, not a heck of a lot.
Paula Williams: But just as things work out, and to see if we have any kind of synergy. And you wrote a fantastic article for us in August of last year, that we published on our blog, that got, actually, quite a bit of good attention. And a lot of people mentioned it, as something that was really interesting to them.
And that was based on the History Channel’s Alone, tv show, reality show?
Jeff Stodola: Yes, yeah, I was just watching that show, and one day it kind of hit me that, hey, the show that’s focusing on people making it out in the wild we can really make some parallels here.
So, kind of for fun, I sat down, and wrote up the article, and sent it off to you guys just to see if you like it. See what you thought. And as luck would have it, you were looking for an article that kind of fill the gap for you, I think.
Paula Williams: Mm-hm.
Jeff Stodola: And put it on your website. So that was an exciting time for me. That was my first official published article, since I’ve been in college I think.
Paula Williams: Wow, yeah a lot of us get into writing, and then get out of it.
Jeff Stodola: Yeah.
Paula Williams: But it was really well written. And the thing that I liked about it was, that it said somethings so well, that we hadn’t been able to communicate as well as you did. And that is, most people who are in marketing feel like they are in it all by themselves.
And they’re out alone in the world against their competitors. And they have to come up with all of the ideas. They have to survive on their own. And I think you did a really nice job of expressing that in a way that we hadn’t been able to as articulately.
So I’m glad that you wrote that.
Jeff Stodola: Thanks I appreciate that. And the thing that I find fascinating about that is, you get a lot of people who are great at marketing.
Paula Williams: Mm-hm.
Jeff Stodola: And you get a lot of people who are great at their business.
Paula Williams: Yes.
Jeff Stodola: And its rare to have those two paths cross.
Paula Williams: Mm-hm.
Jeff Stodola: And so being able to bring those two things together, I think, is the trick that a lot of people, and or businesses, really don’t even really realize. They don’t realize that their great at aviation, but know nothing about marketing.
Or, great at marketing, but don’t know how to apply it to a specific business, or a specific sector within that business.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, right, and then another thing that you did fairly shortly after that is we published our aviation social media guide. And it had some typos in it.
Jeff Stodola: [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: And we realize that you have got really sharp eyes which is fantastic. In fact, I think you sent me an e-mail out of the blue that just said, did you know? [LAUGH]
Jeff Stodola: [LAUGH]
Paula Williams: That you may want to fix some of these things. And that’s when I kinda got the idea that this is a really valuable service.
There are a lot of people that know what they should do, they know marketing, they know their business, even if they know all of that, having a third party look at your stuff, if you’ve looked at it 47,000 times, and you think it’s fine, that’s because you’ve looked at it 47,000 times.
Jeff Stodola: Exactly.
Paula Williams: Right, exactly, so you can pick up on a lot of things that other people don’t notice. And I don’t know if part of that comes from your aviation background, or from flying fighter jets, or if there’s a parallel there?
Jeff Stodola: [LAUGH] Yeah, I have no idea where that comes from any given person.
But I honestly think that’s a little bit universal. And the phrase I always use is, don’t lose the forest for the trees. And I think everybody does that, I do that. I used to be a schedule writer, where we would do a 50, 60 flights a day, plus simulators, and all that.
And I would get done with my schedule. And I’d been working on it 12 hours a day. And I was proud of it, and then I’d pass it on to someone to review it. And in about 12 seconds they would just tear it apart. [LAUGH] And that was always so frustrating for me.
But I think that’s a good example, that whatever you’re doing, if you’ve been working on it a while, it’s probably one, really good because you’ve been working on it a while. But two, you just need a fresh set of eyes. And if those eyes can know, what the end goal is, and have that background, it’s all the more helpful, even if it can’t, it’s still probably going to be helpful.
Paula Williams: Right, right. Another thing that I thought of after having that experience with you, is one of the things that I had done with GPIC, that I thought was incredibly helpful, was a thing they called their hot seats. And I was on the hot seat probably two or three years ago, with Dan Kennedy, and one not too long ago with Dave D.
I don’t think I’ve ever done with Mike Stodola. But, Basically, you present your idea and they tear it to shreds. And its a horrifying experience being up in front of a room of people.
Jeff Stodola: [LAUGH] Sounds like it.
Paula Williams: But it is incredibly valuable. And both times, it really changed the direction of what we were doing in a really productive kind of a way, and nothing else that I have done as a business person has had such a dramatic effect.
So quickly, so, doing something like a virtual hot seat was an idea that I thought that you and I could work together really well on, given your background, and what I saw as a need in the industry.
Jeff Stodola: Yeah, and I remember when we first talked about it the general business term is hot seat or something of that form.
And in the Navy, we used the term murder board.
Paula Williams: Right.
Jeff Stodola: [LAUGH] I remember as I talking about that. And I always hated that name, murder board. Because well it sounds as terrible as it feels when you’re going through it. But it’s always, though it’s dreadful going into it.
And it’s terrible to go through, it’s such a beneficial experience that I didn’t want to call something that had such a negative connotation.
Paula Williams: Right, exactly. Doing it in public I think is where the pain comes in. [LAUGH]
Jeff Stodola: Sure, absolutely.
Paula Williams: We do them in public in, well, sort of in public, in our private group, for our master class members where we do it for the master class.
But that is such a supportive, and warm, and helpful group, that it is not as painful as it probably could be. But I think people get a lot out of those test flights in our master class because we do them, here’s the ad, the original ad and then you do a really great checklist with some suggestions.
And you do it in such a helpful way. And I know you and I, sometimes have differences of opinion about how we look at those things. We say, you know this is good. But this might be better, and we look at things from a very different perspective. So I think that really adds a lot of value for our master class numbers.
Jeff Stodola: Absolutely, and they’re a lot of fun to do. I enjoy every single one I do.
Paula Williams: Mm-hm.
Jeff Stodola: And yeah, it’s an extensive process that we put in place. And the fun thing about it, is just like everything else, it’s always evolving, as we learn more throughout the process, and more about any given company or person.
There’s nothing that’s universal there within any given strategy. And even within that strategy, like you’re saying, what I might like might be completely different than what you might like. And they still might be two great things. And they both might work really well. And so we can just get the information out there, have people try it.
Paula Williams: Exactly [LAUGH].
Jeff Stodola: One of the best things about it is we focus on having it be measurable too.
Paula Williams: Yeah.
Jeff Stodola: So if it doesn’t work, great, you still learn something, just like the light bulb. All right that didn’t work, let’s move on to the next thing that’ll make this light bulb turn on here.
And so if it doesn’t work the first time, not ideal. But it’s certainly not a bad thing cuz you at least learned what didn’t work. And you can move on from there.
Paula Williams: Absolutely. In fact one of the lines that I remember most keenly from my first test flight, was Dan Kennedy telling me, I don’t care what you like, what matters is what works.
Jeff Stodola: Sure.
Paula Williams: Cuz I told them something, I used the, very unwisely used the term well, I don’t like doing this, or that, or the other thing. And he’s just like well it doesn’t matter what you like. I don’t care what you like, what matters is what works.
And I think that’s really what this is about, is getting another opinion of maybe you’re. And we actually have this happen a lot in these test flights, where maybe a company, or a person, or a person’s boss, is stuck on a particular turn of phrase, or a particular format of an ad that may not be effective for them.
So if you can show them another way, that can really open up some possibilities that they never considered because they’re being held back by their own likes.
Jeff Stodola: Exactly. Mm-hm. Right.
Paula Williams: So there are some differences between the test flights that you do for the master class, and the test flights that you do as a paid product, which is a co-branded product with ABCI, and Angel 6 Aviation, which is your company, right?
Jeff Stodola: Correct.
Paula Williams: Mm-hm.
Jeff Stodola: Yeah the ones that we do for the master class, we focus on, one hopefully, it being as helpful as possible to the person who is doing the test light. But then in addition to that, I try to make it worth reading on an entertainment value.
Otherwise, I fully understand everybody’s super busy, and reading a six or seven page thing looking at somebody else’s ad, it might not draw their attention. So I try to keep their attention throughout. And then secondly, I try to make it specific to that person, but also useful to everybody else, so that everyone can learn from it.
Now when we focus on, when we do products for the test flight, it’s just for your company, and your business, and you. So, we’re going to eliminate the fluff unless you specifically ask for it. I’m certainly happy to add that in [LAUGH]. But we’re really going to focus on the process, what works, what we like, what we don’t like, and then our recommendations.
And, we’ll do it in a write-up. But if I say something in that write up, and then it doesn’t make sense, or you need more information. Or you need examples, or anything like that, there can be a little bit of give and take there. And I think that’s a great thing, because it’s so hard to get across something that can be so detailed, and go in so many different directions in one little write-up.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, and I think it’s really important. And another thing that’s really important, is that you, the ones that we do as a paid version, those are confidential. So nobody ever sees those-
Jeff Stodola: Absolutely.
Paula Williams: Except you and I and the customer, right? So, a lot of people, that’s their concern about these, is that they don’t want their work torn apart in public, which is certainly understandable, right?
Jeff Stodola: Yes, I don’t think anybody ever enjoys that.
Paula Williams: True well we do in the master class because we’re sick.
Jeff Stodola: [LAUGH] In a twisted way.
Paula Williams: In a twisted sort of way they’re actually really entertaining. And I also, I think there’s a lot to be said for transparency, showing people here’s what we’re working on, and here’s a better version.
So, that is really valuable in one way. But having it be confidential, that really gives us a lot more freedom to be very frank. And it also gives the customer a lot more value, because we’re preserving their brand, integrity, and everything else by not releasing anything other than what is perfect.
So that’s the reason people want these, is to get their ad as perfect as they can get it, and as useful, and functional as they can get it.
Jeff Stodola: Exactly, and a lot of places out there focus on making people happy, telling them what they want to hear, staying within the status quo, so on and so forth.
The nice thing here is that, that’s not our focus at all. And what I mean by that is, our goal is not and won’t ever be to tell you what you want to hear.
Paula Williams: Right.
Jeff Stodola: Our goal will be to give our unbridled opinion and be as straightforward and honest as possible.
And I think that’s the only way that we can really supply a great product here, is let you know what we think. And along with that, if you like it, great. If you don’t, let us know and we’ll try and go a different direction or we’ll realize, hey, maybe it just won’t work.
But I don’t see that being very likely for most people.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, and, it’s interesting, because a lot of people will say, well I can get a second opinion from my brother-in-law. Or I can get a second opinion, from, well in your case you can get a second opinion from your brother [LAUGH] because that’s really useful.
Paula Williams: But the point is that, it’s not a professional thorough checklister, than marketing oriented second opinion from someone that has seen hundreds and hundreds of ads in the aviation industry. And that’s something that they can get with this product, that they can’t get anywhere else that I know of.
I don’t know of any other company that’s doing anything like this.
Jeff Stodola: No I’ve looked around as much as possible to see if there’s anything else out there. And I haven’t found it. And then, like we talked about, if you buy this product, and afterward you don’t think it was worth it.
Paula Williams: Mm-hm.
Jeff Stodola: You’ll get your money back, no questions asked. So we guarantee, I think ABCI guarantees every product. I certainly guarantee everything I’m involved with there. So if you buy this product, and you don’t like anything about it. And you don’t think it was worth what you paid, let us know, and we’ll get your money back.
And then we will figure out a different way to help in the future.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, so, and you may say, well how much money are we talking about? [LAUGH] So one test flight is 499. And you can get a batch of 3 test flights for 999. So if you’re renting a lot of ad’s in aviation magazines you’re paying 10s of thousands of dollars.
And you know here, for less than $500, you can get a really, really thorough evaluation that’s going to make those much more effective. And if you make even one, or two more sales in most cases, you’re going to more than make that money back, right?
Jeff Stodola: Absolutely, and the way I like to talk about this with people is yes it’s an additional cost.
But just like everything else, think of it as an investment. And that’s why we’re able to guarantee it. You invest another $500 in your ad, we help you make it better, hopefully lots better. And basically, we’re guaranteeing we’re going to get you more customers. And we’re going to get the customers you do have to buy your product and service more.
And it’ll make it worth its value hopefully many times over.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, all right, so if you’d like to know more about the method that Jeff uses, and that we use for the touch lights, you can get a tip sheet of seven things that you need to do before you publish your next ad at abci1.com/seventhings, that’s abci, alpha, bravo, Charlie, India 1.com/7, number seven, things.
And that has a tip sheet that Jeff has put together, that will really show some of the really useful things that you include in those test flights, and that people can do on their own as well. So, even if you’re not in the market where you’re publishing those ads in the big publications and things like that.
It is a really good habit to get into, to make sure you are following some of these presets that aren’t used very often in aviation. It’s very likely that your competitors aren’t, right?
Jeff Stodola: Yeah, looking around ads all the time. And most ads are missing, most, if not all of the things that we talked about here.
And then once you include them, you’ll kind of wonder how you ever [LAUGH] had ads without them.
Paula Williams: Right, that’s absolutely true and the neat thing is if your competitors are not running good ads, they’re running very traditional what we call brand oriented ads, as opposed to direct response ads, they really don’t have any way of measuring the response to their ads, so they’re spending a lot of money.
And if you can do it right, you can really blow the doors off of your competitors, because nobody else is doing ads the way that we think they should be done, right?
Jeff Stodola: Absolutely.
Paula Williams: Right, all right, well thank you so much for joining us, Jeff. And we will really look forward to hearing any comments that anyone has to offer, or any questions that you have.
You can respond to the comments on this post on our website, or you can comment on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, anywhere you like, and we will certainly get back with you, right?
Jeff Stodola: Thanks again Paula, I appreciate it.
Paula Williams: All right, have a great afternoon. See you next week!
One of the biggest benefits for our Aviation Marketing Master Class is the opportunity to network with aviation professionals. Our Facebook Group Facilitator, Bert Botta, is interviewing one member a week to help us get to know one another better, make better referrals to each other, and generally learn more about the smartest people in the industry.
Want to be featured?
- Become a member of the Master Class!
- Contact Bert Botta and get on his interview schedule!
We’re looking forward to learning more about smart aviation professionals!
Interview with Doug Goldstrom, Special Services Corporation
Bert Botta: Hi, this is Bert Botta, ABCI Facebook facilitator and it’s Tuesday, March 15th, 2016. This is an ABCI interview with Doug Goldstrom of Special Services Corporation, in Greenville, South Carolina.
Bert: Hi Doug. I’m looking forward to our time together and I’m glad we connected so we’ll jump right into the interview.
As with all our clients I have a series of 5 questions that I’ll be asking you. I’ll start off with the first one that will help people get to know you. Then we’ll work our way through the other four.
The first question is:
How did you get where you are in your professional life?
Doug: Well, probably like everybody else, by working hard. I didn’t start my career in aviation. I started in banking. When I graduated from school, I was actually working for a retailer at the time. My first job was with Polo, a Ralph Lauren company.
I worked for them for a couple of years in the retail market. In fact, my boss at Polo at the time is now the CEO of Peter Millar Clothing. About ten years ago, I had the opportunity to join Special Services Corporation in a finance position as a controller, and that gave me a huge background in the operations of aviation and maintenance.
Being a smaller company a lot of employees here wear many hats, and one of my hats was working parts sales. There were some openings and a few years later I filled that sales position. Then that morphed into my being able to get out of the financial side of the business and getting into full time sales.
Like I said, I’ve been with the company for ten years now, and the past four to five years have been exclusively in sales.
Bert: That’s in aviation sales?
Bert: Mainly aircraft sales?
Doug: Mainly management and charter. We do buy and sell aircraft.
But that’s not necessarily a business that we emphasize. We typically work with clients that come to us on an individual basis, or one of our current clients is looking to move up to a different aircraft. Then we work with them hand in hand.
Bert: Good. That leads into the next question.
How would I spot your ideal customer for you or your company?
Doug: Well, I think first off, being an aviation company, obviously someone who’s passionate about aviation.
If we look at our current client base, some of our best clients are clients that have a passion for aviation. Someone that owns an aircraft already, or the best one is someone who has a need to travel. They may not have utilized private aviation in the past, but they need to travel.
And then we take a look at that need, and how that relates to their value of money and to their time. Because in private aviation the purpose you fly is to save time. Time is of the essence, and you want to get there and get back in the least amount of time.
So, that’s the kind of ideal client we’re looking for, someone who’s passionate about aviation. Like I said, some of our best clients have that passion for aviation. They love it. They’re a thrill to work with because of the fact that they have that passion.
It’s nice because you know that everything you do for them, if you do it right, they love it.
We help expedite their time, whether it’s when they’re out here on the field taking their airplane flying or we’re flying them.
That’s who we’re looking for, someone who owns an aircraft, someone who’s passionate about aviation, and/or has a need to travel.
And then the fourth one to be time, value, and money.
Bert: So are you looking to them to manage that aircraft?
Doug: Yes, we’re looking to manage that aircraft. If they have an aircraft already, we’re looking to do a couple things.
We’d like to do a couple of things; we’d love to manage it and if they’re okay with their operation now, we’d like to perform the maintenance on it, because we can do the outside maintenance as well on the aircraft.
And then of course the third part would be, if it makes sense we’d love to put that aircraft on charter, if it’s a charterable airplane. We’re talking a King Air or a Jet.
We manage single engine aircraft and have some Cirrus on our charter certificate. If an airplane is a King Air or a jet, we can help our client make money when they’re not using it by putting it to work in our charter fleet.
That’s really the ideal customer, to answer your question. So it’s multi-faceted, but the biggest part would be the fact that they have a need to travel.
And I talk to many clients that say, “Hey, I travel a lot and always get stuck at the airports, or have to drive.”
So there’s an airplane to fit that need in our fleet. You’ve got a single engine Cirrus for short hops. You’ve got seven passenger jets to accommodate the group of people that need to travel between locations. So the biggest opportunity, what I hear when I talk to potential clients, or talking to people just in general, is “Hey, I travel.”
I’ve got a solution for you then when you travel.
Bert: You guys do international as well as domestic?
Doug: We typically broker that out, but yes, we do international, Canada and Mexico. In fact we were just down in Mexico a couple of weeks ago.
How would I best describe your or your company’s unique benefits, approach, products and services, and value proposition?
Doug: Our first unique benefit is our associates. Our employees make the biggest difference.
We have worked hard to hire and acquire talented, well-qualified, customer-focused associates. When I say customer-focused, what does that mean? Well, they evaluate how best to serve the needs of our clients. If it’s in maintenance, if it’s in charter, if it’s in management they take a look at the client’s needs and they address them.
The importance of being warm and personable is another, and in fact we get a lot of compliments on our associates even down to we’ve got a managed client that flies in and comments, “Wow I can’t believe that your maintenance personnel were out there unloading our luggage out of our car! I can’t believe how helpful and personable they were.”
We always take the time to talk to the client. Including our maintenance people. Our associates have well- rounded backgrounds; when you talk to maintenance personnel, a lot of them have been in big service centers and small service centers.
Our pilots and management have worked in corporate flight departments as well as charter organizations. In fact, one of our pilots who has actually owned a charter company. Some of our pilots have flown for the airlines. We have a wide variety of background and experiences with our talented pool of associates.
When a potential customer comes to us with a need, there’s probably an employee within our organization that has dealt with that specific need. And that makes the perfect consultant for them, because they’ve been there. It’s like, “Okay, yes, I can relate to you. I’ve worked with another charter company.”
I’ve had many customers come up to me and say, “I’ve flown with the big operators; can you provide services for me and make it as easy as it was for that when I had the card with them?
Bert:Expand on that, if you would, Doug. What is your value proposition, your USP, unique sales proposition?
Doug: We’re nimble, meaning we’re not a huge company. We can custom create solutions for our client, based upon the fact that we’re small. There’s not a cookie cutter plan for every client that walks in the door.
We’re going to custom tailor a plan that works for you for maintenance, for charter, for management. To give you an example: we’ve got a client who didn’t want to leave his airplane positioned in Greenville anymore, so we were able to accommodate him by moving his aircraft to another location that was more convenient for him to utilize.
Although we didn’t have a separate office or in that location. It’s our people that make the difference, again, meaning you’ve got just a handful of people you deal with. You build that relationship, you feel confident with that particular person, and that is your go-to person that you talk to all the time.
And when it comes to pilots, it goes back to the quality of people you hire. Our competition, their philosophy sometimes is, you just find someone that meets the minimum qualficiations and put him in a pilot seat.
Our employee retention is seven plus years. So when a charter client boards an airplane, they’re typically already familiar with that pilot.
That’s important to them because they feel a lot more confident and safe.
Bert: I wish I knew about you guys when I was flying for NetJets! The disconnect was the premise that Netjets hired customer service oriented pilots first.
And that was not often the case, because they basically wanted to fill the seats with a qualified pilot. And some of the guys were not great at customer relations. So yes, that’s really, really important.
Doug: So, our value proposition is our people.
When you have pilots that your client requests and loves to see again and again, that’s a big plus. And we’re able to accommodate those requests, again and again. That builds that rapport with the client, and the client really likes that.
But that’s part of the benefit of working with us, a smaller, more nimble operation.
It’s the fact that you get to know us on a personal basis which means you’re going to be better taken care of.
With that personal touch, you feel confident you’re going to be taken care of. You’ve got one person to talk to.
As a customer, it’s a plus to get used to that pilot. That pilot knows, “Hey, when this customer get on the airplane, he likes this reading material, he likes these beverages.” They’re able to custom tailor all that.
What might prospects say to trigger me to know what they need to be referred to you or your company?
Doug: As I mentioned, in the first part of the conversation, a prospect has a need to travel; that would trigger in my mind or anybody else’s mind to say “Hey, they could be a potential client. They travel a lot. Their time is very important to them.
A lot of the conversations as you know, you give an elevator speech as you’re out prospecting, and talking. And you’re out in groups, discussing things and what perks up my ears up is “I travel,” or “I’m stuck in this airport”. Or “I don’t have enough time, and I’m sick and tired of sitting on layovers.”
If you look back at all of our clients that travel with us or do business with us the biggest item that stands out in our conversations with them is time. Whether you’re a business traveler and you’re trying to get between locations, or whether you’re a politician, who we’re flying a lot now.
A potential customer might say, “I’ve got to get to multiple locations. I don’t have the time to get on the bus and drive. I don’t have the time, I can’t drive that distance and get to all those meetings, and all those rallies.” Or even our casual traveler who just goes on vacation. We’ve got clients that go on a monthly basis, a quarterly basis, every two months, on vacations.
Well, why do they fly with us? Because they don’t want to fly on the airlines, because they don’t want to deal with delays. They want to be on their own schedule and fly when they want to fly.
So, it goes back to the underlying item we hear all the time is: Time.
My time is valuable. So, we can provide a solution to all that. Yes is there a cost, but typically that client is saying “Hey, I’m not so worried about the cost at this point as I am my time, my time is very important to me.”
Bert:That brings up something. I was looking on the Internet this morning and came across this article. It actually showed the aircraft of the future, how should I say it, the airliner of the future, where people were standing up.
Instead of seats, they were kind of supports, and people were standing up, like they’d stand up on a bus or something, and they were strapped in.
So I hate to even think of the airliner of the future if that’s the case.
So your business is going to be booming if that happens.
Doug: One of our clients said that they fly international, and they got just tired of waiting in line and going through TSA.
When they come out to our facility and they can pull right up next to the airplane.
Then when they arrive at their destination, the car we’ve arranged for them drives right out to the airplane. They put their luggage in the car and drive off.
You can’t get better service or more efficiency than that.
Bert: That’s for sure!
Doug:And most of them say, “Hey, I’ll fly this way all the time!” The funny story was, the same client was down in the Caribbean and, the hurricane was coming. Well, everybody around her was scurrying around to get to the airport to catch their airline home because the airline schedules were changing and everybody was trying to get off the island.
And our client laughed because she sat back and enjoyed the rest of their time because she knew “I’m flying on my schedule.
‘I’ve got my own private airplane and, when I want to leave, I can leave, and we’re going to go around that thunderstorm and be above it, so I can come and go when I want.”
Bert: That’s a real deal-maker!
Doug: That’s what they were telling people at the hotel. They come back bragging about it. We’ve got our own private airplane. We’re waiting, but we can go whenever we want. There’s no need to run out there right now and stand in line to get on the commercial airplane.
What’s your marketing process, once your prospect receives a referral?
Doug: Our marketing process goes in different directions. It’s kind of custom tailored to each client. Being in charter aviation, you’ve got a select pool of people that are going to utilize your services.
If you look at where we are, in Greenville, South Carolina and you take a look at the market segment we have. We’ve got a lot of people living in this area. But of those people that are going to fly, there’s a handful of them that are going to buy an airplane.
So things are custom tailored to each person. But typically, we get that referral. We always need to make a phone call first. We want an introduction. The purpose of that really it is to communicate who we are, establish our company credentials in their mind, and start building that trust that we’ve been in the business for such a long time.
We’ve served the aviation industry since 1958. And that’s a long time. Now we weren’t a charter company at that point in time, we were a corporate run flight department. But over the years they transitioned that corporate flight department to expand into charter operations. And they did this to offset the company’s operating expenses when they were flying.
That same model that we sell to potential jet owners is the same model that we utilized when we were with a flight department for a long time.
And that’s why people take advantage of that. We’re going to lay that groundwork to build our clientele and that relationship with that client will build our company credentials.
It could be as simple as a letter to the client as well. But once we get to that initial conversation, we always invite them out to preview the facility. Preview the aircraft that we have. Preview everything. Maybe they’re looking for maintenance so, “Hey come out and take a look at our maintenance shop.”
Come out and meet our maintenance staff, see what we’re doing. If you want to charter an airplane, come out and take a look at the airplane. Sit in it. I’ve sat in the airplane with many clients and discussed features and benefits of the airplane. Much of the time they’re not necessarily involved in the inner workings of the airplane, they just want to sit in there and say, “Hey, is this what I need? Is this It’s what I’m comfortable with?’ And is it going to fulfill the mission? Is it going to do what I need to do?”
We show them the facility, show them how we operate. I take them down to dispatch, go down to maintenance, go into the customer waiting area even.
And they realize that, “Wow, this is really a private, secluded area for me. I can do business in here and not be bothered, and I can come and go. I’ve got private parking.”
We invite them out and give them the tour which usually solidifies it in their mind that, yes, this is a well run operation.
They’re impressed with what they see from the outside, because it’s a very impressive operation when they first stepped in the door. Of course the next step is after that introduction, is to typically present them with a presentation of what they’re looking for. If it’s charter, if it’s maintenance, if it’s management, if it’s to potentially buy an airplane.
We bring them back in and sit them down and go through the process of showing them what we can do. And we get them in the system and then of course all along the way we’re following up and thanking them.
We follow up and thank them because this is a select group of people and we try to make them feel as special as we can. So we throw out that special invitation of coming out here and getting a tour.
Some of our clients joke to me that our company name is Special Services and they’ve made a lot of comments about “You need to change your marketing theme to “We put the ‘Special’ in Special Services!”
Bert: Great. Have you explored any further about changing the name to something more aviation related or that is serving you well?
Doug: We have. This name dates back 1958. We’ve gone down that road a handful of times over the years about changing it. The apprehension has been the established name we already have in the marketplace, and how would the name change affect that?
That question came up about three weeks ago about, “Maybe it’s time to take a look at the possibility of a name change again.”
Because we are established in the marketplace, maybe it’s a good time now to change it to something more aviation related. The conversation’s still ongoing. I would say the name’s probably not going to change within the next year or so. But yes, I think that could be an option going down the road.
The FAA has played a little into that mix where you can’t use a DBA name with the FAA anymore. We could call ourselves Something Aviation, DBA Special Services, but now if you’re going to change it on all the op specs and so forth you’d have to change your name officially.
The apprehension has been we established a long period of operations with this one name and if we change it what would that do? What impact would that have on business?
But we’re open to it.
What’s your experience of the ABCI Marketing Master Class?
Doug: I like the interaction and, as I mentioned earlier in the conversation, what’s unique about us, what sets us apart, is our people and the different backgrounds and experiences that they bring to this company. And that’s what I like about that program, the Master Class. You’ve got people that are experts in certain aspects of aviation.
You can utilize those expert opinions to gain more information, to gain expertise and advice on what you should do next. And that’s what I like most about this class. It’s great to hear their perspectives, it’s great to hear their experiences and what’s worked for them and what’s not worked for them.
So as you’re going down that road, it could be prospecting, it could be sales leads, it could be whatever it is and there’s always great feedback and great professional opinions on how this has worked and been implemented within their own company, or how they use that and if that makes sense to you.
It’s really a great resource for finding things out.
Bert: Yeah, it’s interesting because I’ve never been involved in an aviation marketing class like this, and we’re slowly getting it off the ground. But it’s rich and it’s going to be much richer as we add more people in more varied backgrounds to it.
So I’m like you, I really love everybody’s input and you get tips and tricks and stuff like that that can you use that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.
What does SSC do, as a company?
Well, we do a lot of things.
Some people say I want to do one thing and specialize in that and do it very well. Well we’re an aviation management company and what do we do under that umbrella? We manage jet aircraft and single engine aircraft. We charter those aircraft, we maintain those aircraft, we maintain aircraft outside of our fleet, from King Airs and Citation jets on up.
We also do sales, and we have a Cirrus training center as well. Well, if you look at all that, and you go, “How do you do all those things well?”
When you bring our various backgrounds together and you’ve got key people in those positions that enable you to pull all that together and work that well.
And that works great for us because each business complements the other. So if you’ve got a client that has a need, I’ve got a jet. Well you know what? We’re a one-stop shop. We can manage that aircraft. We can put qualified pilots on that airplane for you.
We can track your maintenance for you. We can perform the maintenance for you. We can buy and sell that airplane for you if you would like. We can also put that aircraft on charter. Well, Cirrus business. How does that relate to the rest of our business? Well when you bring that Cirrus client in, he’s bought his first airplane, and he’s very excited about that.
We can train that person in the airplane. Immediately we start establishing our credentials with that client and all of a sudden, that client’s business grows and his needs grow. And in a few years he’s like, “Well this Cirrus really is not meeting the needs of my business or my family. I need to step up into a bigger airplane.”
Fine, we can acquire another airplane for that person, say a King Air or a Citation jet. And all of a sudden, we’re there to take care of everything from tip to tail in that airplane for him.
So it kind of goes back to the marketing class. You pull those resources together and all of a sudden you have a great organization, and the same thing with Paula and what she’s doing.
It’s like, “Hey, this isn’t my strength, but tell me what works for you because this is your strength. Help me out here.”
Bert: Right. So Doug, is there anything else you want to add to what we’ve already covered?
Doug: Let me take a look at my notes here. Make sure I coveredeverything that I want to discuss. No, I think I’ve touched on all the main points that I want to discuss.
Bert: OK. So we’ll see your profile and mug shot up on the master class fairly soon. It was great getting to know you. I’m looking forward to more interaction through our group.
Doug: Thanks Bert
Bert: Thanks Doug. We’ll talk soon.
Doug: Fantastic. Bye.
Connect with Doug
DOUG GOLDSTROM – President Marketing & Sales
Special Services Corporation
P: 864.242.3383 | C: 864.640.9418
Visit us online at www.flyssc.com
Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
Download our new Ebook –
“Three Reasons to Use Private Aviation as Your Competitive Advantage.”
Advertisement Test Flight
Thank you, Bert for being part of the March Test Flight! This month we will focus on Bert Botta’s opening page for his website www.botta-copywriting.com. When we first came up with the Test Flight idea, I didn’t even think about websites, and while doing this Test Flight, we realized there’s a great reason for that! ABCI has additional tools, metrics, and strategies focused on websites, and just like working on an airplane, you need to use the right tools if you want to get a job done to perfection. So, for the purposes of the March Test Flight example, we are going to look at this page as we would look at an ad, and critique it as such. I think it still provides us with some excellent ideas on what to do, as well as what NOT to do!
Overall Rating – Auto Gyro
This ad is an auto gyro. It’s not a plane, it’s not a helicopter, and it’s not being used as you might expect, but let’s be honest, every time you see one fly you can’t help but thinking, “that looks pretty neat!” Since we are viewing this webpage through the filter of our Ad Test Flight, we look forward to adapting, and gaining some useful tips in a slightly unconventional way.
Here are the details:
Please take a second to check out Bert’s webpage first so you can see it in it’s true form. If you can’t or won’t (I love a healthly disrespect for authority!), then the text of his webpage is below for your viewing pleasure:
“You Don’t Have to Wing it Alone!”
Do you feel like you’re trying to handle everything in your business?
Are you passing up business because you’re too busy to “connect” with your customers?
Is your marketing message old and not attracting new business?
These are only a few of the reasons you need help with your marketing message.
Hi, I’m Bert Botta. Welcome to my Aviation Copywriting Website.
Here’s what you get when you hire me as your Aviation Copywriter:
Here are some things to consider when you hire an Aviation Copywriter.
Make sure they:
If you want to create a thriving community of followers and not just “build a business” then give me a call at: 415-320-9811, Toll-Free at: 888-962-3954 or email at: email@example.com. Website: www.bottacopywriting.com
“After all, when I flew for Netjets, the most powerful people in the world trusted me with their lives; it only makes sense that you can trust me with your business!”
Your webpage looks great. You’re selling to aviation companies, and the first thing you have is a huge picture of a jet which looks amazing. Who doesn’t love that!?! It’s what I call plane porn, and it’s awesome.
Of my 8 key focus areas that I recommend for Ads, your webpage has 4 of them, and that’s great! I don’t think there is any 1 page ad that is going to have all 8, so I like to target 4-6, and you’re already there.
What are those 4 areas?
Glad you asked! Your webpage has:
- An attention grabber – though I think we can make it better!
- A great headline – sounds basic, but it is supremely important
- Bullets that sell – a must have
- A clear/concise call to action – it’s amazing how many ads are missing this
Alright, now that your ego is through the roof, let’s talk about some things that can be improved.
The page has 4 of our “key focus areas”, and that’s a wonderful start, but we need to improve some of them.
Your picture looks great, but the text is in greyscale, and isn’t very visually appealing… easy fix detailed below. Also, despite the visual appeal of the picture, it doesn’t help your prospective customers figure out what you do or why you’re better than everybody else. You might think about making it a little smaller and having your attention grabber (and maybe even your headline / sub-head) above the picture so that the focus of your page is 100% obvious.
Your bullet points are, for lack of a better term, fluffy. You’re selling to people in the aviation industry who like numbers, facts, and concrete evidence, but your focus is on things like psychology, desire, common sense, and emotion. We need to add in some hard and fast concrete bullets to really drive your points home.
You imply that you have “raving fan” testimonies. But then you don’t show us any! That’s a mean tease that might make your reader think, “does he really have raving fans, or is he just saying that?”
First, your current attention grabber is “You don’t have to Wing it Alone!” That’s a good catch phrase, but I think we can come up with a better grabber which gets people’s attention and lets them know that you have information and ability which they NEED. Here are a couple ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Attention aviation business owners looking to publish articles which increase your credibility and earn you more customers!
Save time and money while increasing your profit when you hire a marketing professional to write for you!
After you settle on your favorite “grabber” then make sure your subsequent headline and sub-heads stay on the same theme by focusing on your target customer’s biggest need or problem, and how you are uniquely (USP!!!) able to solve that problem.
You don’t have to wing it alone!
We’re looking for those Michael Masterson“4 U’s” – Unfortunately, the current headline isn’t Urgent, Ultra-specific, Useful, or Unique – it could really apply to any business from a charter company to a personal assistant.
The headline will be more effective as if it is more specific and customer-focused so that people know off the bat what service you’re offering. (You’d be surprised how many aviation professionals have no idea what a copywriter is!)
“Aviation Advertising – You Don’t Have to Wing It Alone!”
and help it with a sub-head:
“Ad copy that crosses the distance between your company and your customer.”
“Let me help you tell the story of your company, product or service.”
Your current page has 4 possible problems that you are able to fix. My gut feeling is that you are giving too many problem examples by trying to appeal to everybody. Focus on 1 or 2 bleeding necks (sound familiar from our January book?) which all of your target customers have, and I think that will increase engagement. Not sure which problem that is? Try something out for a month or 2, then try something else and see which one does better. If you are able to drive high volume, then you might be able to do a split test which would really help you understand your customers. Remember, the reader doesn’t care about you… they care about how you can help them!
Next, add some variation to your text. You have a nice big color photo at the top, and then all of your text is grey. Boring. Make the text darker (it’s a little hard to read), and add in color in strategic spots (like here). Highlight certain areas, make key sentences bold, and use italics where it makes sense. This will have the double effect of making your page more visually appealing while letting lazy scanners (guilty as charged, your honor!) pick up on your main points even if they don’t read every single word.
Call to action. It’s great that you have one. Despite all evidence to the contrary (especially in my home!) people respond when you ask them to do something. Your call to action is currently buried in the bottom of your page. Try making it stand out a little more, and include another one in or near the top left corner of your page.
Lastly, you have some good “bullets that sell”. They are just a bit too mushy for me. Don’t get me wrong… keep some of your mushy bullets in there. They still appeal to your customers. But add in some more direct points to appeal to the numbers and fact-based people out there (like me… I instinctually fell asleep when I read the words “clients emotions”). Here’s where I want to try something a little different to increase Master’s Class interaction… Can anybody help out Bert and give some ideas for some amazing “bullets that sell”? Your prize for the best idea will be… a sincere “like” or maybe even a new Facebook “heart” from me, and probably from Bert, too. Don’t worry, Bert! I won’t leave you hanging. If you want some ideas, I’m planning to include some in the comments after we post this.
Now for the point I’d like to make after claiming my previous point was my last one… You talk about having a “raving fan” base. So show us!!! I believe you, because you’re a nice guy, but your prospective customer might not. Telling people something is great, but showing them something is 10 times better (I completely made up that exponential statistic, but you get my point). Add in quotes and testimonials from previous clients who you’ve impressed. That will show that you can really put your money where your mouth is.
That’s all I got! Do you have an idea that could improve Bert’s webpage? Let us know! Also if there’s anything in this Test Flight which you feel strongly about (either good or bad), please don’t hesitate to speak up and let us know what you’re thinking. The more ideas we all share, the better we can all become.
Do you have an ad that needs a Test Flight?
If you’re a member of our Master Class then we can do it for free for our March Test Flight! Just submit your ad to me through our Facebook group, and you’ll get feedback and ideas from some of the best in the business.
Angels 6 Aviation
The WATS conference jogged a vague memory about the etymology of the word “symposium”. So I looked it up. It’s a combination of two Greek words from the 16th century meaning “to drink together”. Yet another reason the WATS conference in Orlando sounds enviable as we are enduring a cold winter! So stay warm out there, and just remember to be a little bit skeptical when somebody tells you how much they “worked” at the latest symposium.
Do have an ad that needs a Test Flight?
If you’re a member of our Master Class then we can do it for free for our April Test Flight! Just submit your ad to me through our Facebook group, and you’ll get feedback and ideas from some of the best in the business. Not in our Master Class? You should be!
Angels 6 Aviation
Did you know the picture in our last Test Flight was a model airplane? Pretty realistic looking wasn’t it? We meant no slight to Bryan for posting a model airplane, as his ad was definitely worthy of the real thing, but being an r/c pilot myself, I thought it was pretty impressive that the model looked so much like an actual Piper Cub!
The first auto gyro was designed and flown by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva in Madrid, Spain in January 1923. His development of the auto gyro was integral in the follow-on design of helicopters.
Second fact, it was as crazy looking nearly 100 years ago is it is today!
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