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AMHF 0063 – Book Club – Marketing to the Affluent

Marketing to the Affluent can be intimidating to those of us who didn’t come from an affluent background.  Kathryn Creedy, Lillian Tamm, Pat Lemieux, John Williams and I go over some of the misconceptions about marketing to the affluent, and some our experiences of reaching to to and working with this misunderstood demographic.


Transcript  –  How to Plan a Year of Successful Marketing


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.

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Paula Williams: Staying up later and getting up later. [LAUGH] Because we’re getting into the holidays and having people in from out of town and things like that. So yeah, today we’re talking about Dan Kennedy’s Marketing to the Affluent. And we have some really fantastic people on the line with us which is wonderful.

And if we could just kind of go around the table and have everybody introduce themselves. I’m Paula Williams, and John Williams. Which our mission is to, what is our mission John [LAUGH]?

John Williams: Help everybody sell more stuff in the aviation world.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, exactly. And Kathryn, if you could go next?

Kathryn Creedy: I’m Kathryn Creedy with Communications Strategies. I am an aviation journalist as well as a public relations specialist, and trying to help companies get in the media spotlight.

Paula Williams: Fantastic. And Lillian’s here also.

Lillian Tamm: I’m an aviation business evaluator. I evaluate aviation businesses and provide consulting services related to evaluations.

Also other general aviation industry consulting, like business plans and visibility studies, and things along those lines.

Paula Williams: Fantastic. And Pat, good to have you join us.

Pat Lemieux: Hi, how are you?

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Great.

Pat Lemieux: Good, sorry I’m just kind of coming on late here. Pat Lemieux with C&L Aviation Group.

I’m our director of marketing so I’m in charge of handling the growth of our name recognition in the marketplace. And from that obviously, the amount of work that we do for CL Aviation Group and our sister company, Seven Jet Private Travel.

Paula Williams: Fantastic. Yeah, I was just commenting on your Instagram this morning with the last, lonely office doughnut.

Pat Lemieux: It went so fast

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

Pat Lemieux: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Did you rescue it?

Pat Lemieux: No, no.

Paula Williams: No?

Pat Lemieux: Nope.

Paula Williams: Well I know it was a conflict for you because we were [INAUDIBLE].

Pat Lemieux: I left it right there for somebody else.

Paula Williams: Okay [LAUGH] cool, well that’s good to know.

Well we’re really glad that you’re here, and we’ve got a lot to talk about today. And I know you three, actually, if I were to pick three people who know a lot about this particular topic, this is actually really cool because I know you guys all have affluent customers and are looking for affluent customers as well.

So really looking forward to your insights. So first thing, who are these people anyway? We can kind of go around the room and, once again we’re going to edit this. So [LAUGH] if there’s anything that you’d want us to edit, just let us know and we’ll take it out.

But yeah, let’s start with Kathryn and go down the list, in order of appearance.

Kathryn Creedy: Well, marketing to affluent people is extremely important since you have to be affluent to get into this business. Or rather to be a customer for aviation. I would like, I’m trying to get into the luxury travel press to see, to get a better hook on marketing to the affluent.

I did a trip this year that was geared toward the affluent with really, really over the top luxury accommodations in China. And I was absolutely blown away and got some good copy out of it. But I’d like to get more of an idea about how to market to the affluent and how to write about affluent consumers, and that’s why I’m here.

Paula Williams: Fantastic. Yeah, I know. I really enjoyed watching your Facebook feed and all your pictures and things like that as you were going through that. That was exciting.

Kathryn Creedy: Yeah.

Paula Williams: Cool. And Lilian, I know you have, well your clientele is mainly people who are buying and selling aviation companies, or getting valuations of them, so by definition this is your wheelhouse, right?

Lillian Tamm: Well it is to some extent. A lot of my businesses sell to affluent clientele. So for me understanding how they approach it is something that is probably a bigger benefit. I have a lot of CFOs and senior managers and then owners of businesses that are my clients.

And some of them would fall into that affluent market. But selling the service that I do is not necessarily directly related to it. But it helps me understand the whole, how my market approaches the market, if you will.

Paula Williams: Yeah, your customers’ customers. Exactly.

Lillian Tamm: Right.

Paula Williams: That makes perfect sense.

Lillian Tamm: In analyzing businesses, it’s a good thing to understand.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, right. And Pat, this is your bread and butter, at least for Seven Jet.

Pat Lemieux: Right, yeah, naturally. Marketing to this group doesn’t really come natively to me, so it’s been a little tricky. I found that what’s worked the best for us here is really trying to work with our sales guys to better understand who our existing customers are.

And really try to figure out, and that goes from everything to what they’re looking at online, what they’re reading, and if they’re watching anything what it would be, where they’re vacationing, where they live, those zip codes. And really using all of that to try to target as surgically as possible with this group, and actually get in front of them.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. I thought we would start with some misconceptions about affluent people. I think it has almost become a bad word. People have kind of politicized the whole affluence, or the 1% or the whatever. So there’s some misconceptions about affluent people. I thought we might start with these, and talk about that a little bit.

John Williams: Yeah. One of my things I find irritating, let me just put it that way, is when people call me or anybody else lucky.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: I believe it was either Benjamin Franklin or Abraham Lincoln found that they actually believed in luck. And they figured out that the harder they worked, the more of it they had.

Paula Williams: Right, I think, this kind of comes from, there’s kind of been a movement. When people are interviewed in the press and things like that and they are wealthy, they tend to say that they are fortunate. And I think that’s okay for them to say, but I think for us to say that about them it becomes kind of offensive.

Because a lot of these people made their money in this lifetime, they weren’t handed it, right?

John Williams: Exactly, and in fact if you read Kennedy’s book which is what we’re talking about I think out of 400 and change of them, 320 of the billionaires started from scratch.

Paula Williams: Right, so it’s not like they married into it or inherited it or anything like that.

John Williams: I can tell you, although I’m not a billionaire yet.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: I aspire to that one day, and there’s no reason not to actually. But my Dad started off as a parts manager for Ford Motor Company making $25 a month.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right.

John Williams: Now, that does not put me in the entitled wealthy class, by any stretch.

Paula Williams: You’re right, and I’ve been reading a lot of stories in the book. These people came from, a lot of them are immigrants. A lot of them came from very humble background and things. So anyway, that sort of segues into the entitled piece and although there are some old money people who pass it along, more and more of those who do pass it along are requiring their kids to learn how to work first and how to manage money.

So they’re giving their money to charity rather than leaving it to the kids.

John Williams: Exactly right.

Paula Williams: Feel free to jump in anywhere if you [LAUGH] would like too.

Kathryn Creedy: I have a comment. I do think that the politicization of the quote unquote elite. I find it counterproductive because it’s an us versus them type of thing.

And when you look at polls, us, we, are not begrudging them their wealth. We are not saying that they did not work for their wealth. And we want to be able to do that, so this us versus them is very counterproductive for me. But for business aviation there’s a more important point.

And this is one reason why I’m so disappointed in the industry that it has not come to the floor in, quote unquote, defending our affluent customers because business aviation is the perfect nexus between Wall Street and Main Street. They’re the ones who buy our aircraft or whatever services.

Main Street is where it’s made, and all you have to do is ask Wichita what happened in 2008, 2009, and 2010. And you see that when those people stop buying, we are the ones that really hurt. I mean, the worker bees are the ones that really end up hurting.

You know, this harkens back to the 1990s when we had a similar situation, it was us versus them. And Congress put together a luxury tax.

Paula Williams: Yeah, I remember.

Kathryn Creedy: And the only people that really got hurt in that luxury tax was people who built the yachts. So all those middle class jobs for building aircraft and building yachts went away, because nobody was buying them because they were mad at the government.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

Kathryn Creedy: So, I think that we have to remember, and whenever we’re talking to people about this, and that we see the conversation going into us versus them, we need to remember that if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have jobs. And they are a perfect nexus between Wall Street and Main Street because the middle class are the ones who build the machines or whatever it is or provide the services, and the rich are the consumer.

And so without them, we wouldn’t have jobs.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, and if I can jump on the soapbox for just a second, I think the problem that happened in 2008 with the people going to meet with Congress to ask for money, the big three automakers in their private jets.

The story was told from the perspective of the media which really didn’t understand aviation. And aviation didn’t have a story to tell. We really didn’t do a very good job of telling our side of the story. And I think that’s really what drives us in this industry to start telling better stories, because if your-

Kathryn Creedy: If your having [CROSSTALK] the business aviation industry for decades. I knew the story was there. There was a narrative there that could have completely turned that situation around.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

Kathryn Creedy: Bad people had the guts to do it and I think, one, the industry didn’t have the guts, for a corporate aviation users didn’t have the guts And MBAA did not have the narrative in a story form that could say to the meaning of, well, yeah, maybe they shouldn’t have come all three in their corporate jets.

But you have to remember, this is what a corporate jet will do for this guy or this business. And this is how that business makes money. And, all the material was there. Nobody used it. It wasn’t till five or six months later that MBAA got their act together, and I was absolutely shocked.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

Kathryn Creedy: Knowing-

Paula Williams: No gain, right?

Kathryn Creedy: It was there.

Paula Williams: Right, took a long time.

Kathryn Creedy: Yeah.

Paula Williams: And they did. They came out with the no plane no game initiative and got some celebrities and other people to go on the record for this is how we use our aircraft.

But it was like pulling teeth because the emphasis, I think for high net worth people is to keep a low profile. A low profile, you’re not telling your story, and what dominates the media is what everybody else is saying, right?

Kathryn Creedy: Right, absolutely.

John Williams: And the story of Mrs. Nancy Pelosi flying a private corporate jet back and forth to California.

It was actually an airliner. That didn’t come out for almost a year and a half.

Paula Williams: Right well when you do a [LAUGH] right? And I know we sometimes get political but we have to because that’s-

John Williams: Well the government is no better and no worse. They do the same thing only use bigger stuff.

Paula Williams: Right, waste is waste, but private jets are not by nature waste. You know, and that’s really the story we need to tell.

Kathryn Creedy: No.

Paula Williams: Right.

Kathryn Creedy: So I think that, what I’m saying is that as we talk to our colleagues or, you know my biggest problem with no plane no gain is it’s preaching to the choir.

It’s not really preaching beyond the choir.

Paula Williams: Right, true.

Kathryn Creedy: And I get very angry when I see an MBAA. This big sign that says I can’t do my job in New Mexico were it not for my plane. So I don’t want to hear from him. I want to hear how his business is kept there because of his plane but I don’t want to hear from him.

I want to hear from the city fathers.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

Kathryn Creedy: That’s why this airport is. So I think we’re talking past each other, but also as we’re talking to our affluent customers. We need to help them understand that we get it. That we understand that what they’re doing is not excess, that it’s a business tool to create productivity, to create the bottom line to feed the bottom line.

Paula Williams: Right.

Kathryn Creedy: So that’s so much my soapbox.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: Well, we need to talk about, everybody assumes that affluent means millions or billions, and actually the bottom of the affluent pyramid starts around 75,000. [COUGH] So that covers an awful lot of people.

Paula Williams: Right.

Kathryn Creedy: But I think that it’s a mistake to look at government figures where affluence starts.

Because a lot of people make $75,000 with both people working. So they’re making $35,000 each, and that’s no way affluent nor would it be affluent-

John Williams: This book is talking about an individual that makes $75,000.

Kathryn Creedy: Well, even at $75,000, I think that when we’re talking about affluent we need to work beyond the government statistics because-

John Williams: This is not a government statistic, by the way.

Kathryn Creedy: Okay, you’re teaching me something.

Paula Williams: The real thing is that for aviation, affluence is a slightly different number than it might be for buying a weekend at the spa.

John Williams: [LAUGH] That’s right.

Paula Williams: So that’s probably we have to, for the purposes of our discussion, cuz we’re talking aviation, I think the number just needs to be at the higher, the high net worth, as opposed to just mass affluent.

Cuz mass affluent’s not the market for most corporate aviation.

John Williams: Exactly.

Paula Williams: Yeah, and most of the marketing materials, or at least most of the marketing stuff that I have seen in marketing organizations and other kinds of things are focused on the mass market, or the blue area, and possibly into the mass affluent.

But nobody really talks other than, I think this is why this book is unique and very helpful is because it’s talking about the top half of the pyramid where there really isn’t a lot of marketing data. And there’s not a lot of marketing technique and a lot of really solid information.

And so that’s one of the reasons I really like this book and may [LAUGH]. We’re not really doing it in 2017, but we probably will bring it back again in a revised form in the following years because there’s nothing else that I’ve seen that’s this good.

John Williams: Well, he talks not only about demographics, but psychographics as well.

And when you put all that together and you realize to market to these people what you have to understand about their attitudes, and not just toward airplanes, but their attitudes towards money, their attitudes toward people.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: And their confidence, lack thereof, and so on.

Paula Williams: Another misconception, while we’re talking about that is that a lot of people kind of shy away from the high end.

And Pat, you might find this helpful information, because I felt this way when I got into this market. Feeling a little bit weird about marketing to high net worth and ultra high net worth people. But the more we work with them, the more comfortable we get because there’s the misconception that they are super picky and super snooty and super particular, and want all of the brown M&M’s picked out of the bowl.

I mean, just goofy, stupid things and there are some like that. But for the most part, our clients who are in the top two categories are, if I had to make a generalization, I would say they’re actually easier to work with.

John Williams: Yeah.

Paula Williams: And I think that’s because they’ve been in business for a while.

They are willing to tolerate a little more risk. They’re a little more creative, and have the resources to do things right. And we’re not trying to, we don’t have to make their first campaign knock it out of the park. They’re okay with a little bit of risk.

John Williams: Well, they have their needs met.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: It’s all about wants for them.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: And then well, we can get into that later, but-

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: Keep the going here.

Paula Williams: Exactly, true. No, I think we’re doing all right. But yeah, anybody wanna add anything else to this before we move on?

Pat Lemieux: I was just gonna say that one of things that I don’t know if it comes to mind that often is that a lot of these people, and you brought up a good point, that they don’t necessarily start rich or anything. And you don’t get rich or stay rich by making bad choices with your money.

Paula Williams: Right.

Pat Lemieux: So I think this gets often overlooked, that even the super rich are still looking for a good deal, just like somebody who makes 30 grand, or 40 grand a year’s looking for a good deal on a car. These guys, they’re looking for a deal as well.

And I think that gets overlooked a lot.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

Pat Lemieux: And it gets overlooked by trying to focus in on only the blue M&Ms and really kind of the frills. And sometimes that’s just not necessary.

John Williams: I would disagree with that approach, actually. And as an example, let’s use his example in the book.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: Lamborghinis sell from $250,000 to $1.4 million.

John Williams: And guess which ones sell out first, and guess which ones there is a backlog of orders for. It’s the $1.4 million Lamborghinis. They’re not after the cheap Lamborghini, though the people want cheap Lamborghini, because they can’t really afford them.

Pat Lemieux: Is that more of a scarcity issue?

John Williams: No.

Paula Williams: Well, it’s a status issue.

Kathryn Creedy: Is it a posh issue? In other words, is it an I wanna impress my friends issue?

John Williams: That’s right.

Paula Williams: Yeah, and we actually do have a couple of slides about status.

And I think that is an excellent point. But I think as long as it’s being used for that purpose that’s one thing, but picking out the blue M&Ms or whatever, we had talked last week about the fact that a lot of people, when they market to this market they wanna make things fancier.

And you’re not marketing to Louis the XVIII, [LAUGH] you’re marketing to regular people. This is not Versailles, things get simpler as you go up the scale as opposed to fancier.

Lillian Tamm: I have to agree that the numbers make a difference for some of the ultra wealthy, because with our company, we’ve had a couple of clients who have acquired aircraft.

And they definitely look at the numbers. It’s like, okay, my budget is 40 million, but I can buy this used aircraft for X amount, and I can refurb it for X amount, and if it’s not going to fit into that box, then I’m not interested, I still have a budget.

Yeah, it may be a ridiculous budget as far as the mass market is concerned, or even the mass affluent, or even the high net worth. But when you start getting into the upper echelons, they still care.

Paula Williams: Yeah, absolutely, they do.

Lillian Tamm: Not [INAUDIBLE], that’s not how they got where they are [LAUGH] .

John Williams: It’s fun to play devil’s advocate.

Paula Williams: That’s true. All right, since we’ve already kinda broached the topic of status, what does that mean and why is that important?

John Williams: What do you mean, what does that mean?

Paula Williams: Well, I think, everybody who [CROSSTALK]

John Williams: It’s important because that’s what, and I will sayit from the male perspective.

Paula Williams: Okay [LAUGH]

John Williams: Because that’s what guys do. [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [INAUDIBLE] I’m sure you can do that better than I can.

John Williams: Guys, and the more money you get, the more status that the majority of guys want to. There are those that wanna do it Trump style. But mostly, they wanna do it under the covers and only be status with respect to their peers.

Paula Williams: I think it’s limited. So everybody has a thing that they want to be the best at or known for. So they’re not gonna spend a ton of money on everything.

John Williams: No.

Paula Williams: But they will buy a Lamborghini, if their friends are into cars, and are gonna be impressed by that.

Is that fair?

John Williams: It appears, yes.

Paula Williams: Yeah. Absolutely. I think this is really what’s going on is nobody ever really grows up and nobody ever really gets past the whole of one upmanship of things. In fact, people get wealthy because they love the game, I think. Yeah, so these are more competitive than regular people.

John Williams: Actually, according to the book, it’s because people lack confidence. They show confidence, but they lack it in respect to their money, so they keep working hard, and making more of it, because they’re afraid it’s going to go away.

Paula Williams: I think there’s some of that, and i think some of them just love the game.

John Williams: Well this-

Paula Williams: They love being better, one upping somebody else.

Lillian Tamm: That’s very true.

John Williams: Just rolling up the score.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Exactly. In fact, we’ve had some clients who, and this can be used for good or evil just like everything else, we had one client who was absolutely determined that he had to beat this other guy who was a competitor, on a particular keyword.

I don’t know if they’d bet each other something, or what the situation was, but it was a keyword that had very, very little impact on their marketing. But the absolutely, positively had to one up each other and it ended up being a negative situation, at least from a marketing perspective, because it didn’t really matter.

And we could spend unlimited resources on this one thing and the other person would do something the next week and we’d end up in this competitive situation that did more harm than good. But I think you can use it in a good way too. When you’re selling, you can say, here’s how you can do things better than the next guy, and I think that people respond to that really well.

John Williams: Yeah, I remember that situation.

Paula Williams: Yeah?

John Williams: That was nuts.

Paula Williams: That was nuts, but it did happen.

John Williams: Yes, of course, it did.

Paula Williams: With otherwise incredibly intelligent and otherwise, rational human beings.

John Williams: Yeah, right.

Paula Williams: Yeah. Cool. Anybody have anything to add to that or move on?

Paula Williams: What do they want? What will they buy? AThe easy answer from the book is [LAUGH], besides status, of course, which we already talked about. They want things made easy for them. They want time saved. They want not to be ripped off. I think this is a bigger deal with affluent people than it is with other folks.

They’re a little more sensitive about this cuz I think they’re big targets for a lot of shady marketing.

John Williams: That’s interesting, I don’t know if they are or not anymore than the rest of us. I don’t know that. That may not be true, especially the what do they call it, the drive by virus is out there now.

Where you just go visit the website and it encrypts your database, and your hard drive and they make you buy it out.

Paula Williams: It’s kind of a kidnapping. [LAUGH] Kidnapping your data.

John Williams: Exactly what’s it’s doing.

Paula Williams: I think there is a certain amount of skepticism. Most of them have gatekeepers of some kind and have ways of protecting themselves that the rest of us don’t.

They live in gated communities, literally and figuratively, if we wanna call it that.

John Williams: True.

Paula Williams: I think they spend more money on security. They spend more money on basically checking things out before they get involved.

John Williams: They have a lot more discretionary income, or revenues that’s for sure.

Paula Williams: So this lengthens the sales cycle. This is why it takes us, and actually our sales cycle has been getting a little bit shorter. A year ago it was at eight and a half months, I think now it’s closer to six months.

John Williams: Really?

Paula Williams: We’ve had a few people, again, our statistical pool is not huge because we aren’t mass market.

But people do check us out for a really long time before they spend a lot of money with us, which is good.

John Williams: Sure, I would.

Paula Williams: Cool, so what does this mean from a marketing perspective?

John Williams: You need to know your demographics and psychographics of your individuals.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Yeah, and another thing that we found is that we used to have a lot of do it yourself kind of packages. Where we would give people a lot of information and send them home with homework and meet with them the next week and give them another set of homework and those kinds of things, thinking that we could save people a lot of money.

As it turns out, this market really doesn’t care about that.

John Williams: [LAUGH] That’s right.

Paula Williams: They don’t want to. In fact, it’s really hard even doing a book club, I really, really respect you guys for being willing to spend time and energy on this. Because you are the few that recognize that getting better at sales and marketing is probably the most important skill you can develop.

But for a lot of marketing tasks, they would just as soon throw it over the wall, and have us do it and that’s why a lot of our clients you would never see in a book club discussion.

John Williams: Yep, pretty much.

Paula Williams: But most of them are in sales and marketing, so some of them you would

John Williams: All of them are in sales.

Paula Williams: Yeah, that’s true. That is absolutely true. I thought this ad from Schubach Aviation is pretty much the epitome of what we just talked about.

Kathryn Creedy: That’s nice.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

Kathryn Creedy: Simple.

Paula Williams: Yep. Simple, lots of light white space. One idea and it’s obviously, the one thing that they all want.

John Williams: Which is why you make more money so you can have more of that.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm, priceless. One hour with your kids or your grandkids or your family.

Kathryn Creedy: It resonates with everybody, no matter who they are.

Paula Williams: Yep, absolutely and I think this applies to all of us.

I mean, Pat, you’re in the time machine business.

Pat Lemieux: Right, and this is I saw a YouTube video at one point too, the company that did it is escaping me at the moment, but it was a charter company, one of the big guys. They just showed two days, side by side, one of a guy who was heading to a meeting taking charter, one of a guy who was going to that same meeting kind of messing with the airlines and doing the whole regional thing.

And that guy’s getting up earlier, he’s running late. He’s tired. He’s uncomfortable at the airports. He’s waiting in line at the airport, while the other guy whose on the private side is gonna getting out of bed and having breakfast with his family. They both actually are going to the same meeting, and the guy on the private jet is actually home in time for dinner, whereas the other guy is delayed somewhere.

It just hit that point really well in like a minute long video that, so this is exactly why you use this sort of service.

Paula Williams: Exactly. That’s great. So, he’s staying in a cold hotel while the other guy is home with his family having dinner, that’s wonderful.

Kathryn Creedy: Do you have a link to that?

Pat Lemieux: Actually, I just pulled up. I’m going to have to find it, because I can’t remember what it is. But I’ll find it and I’ll share it with the group.

Kathryn Creedy: That would be goof for all of our, this is business aviation ,15 minute elevator speeches.

Paula Williams: Yes, absolutely.

That’s fantastic.

Pat Lemieux: Right.

Paula Williams: Okay, so, yeah, the business trifecta, I think, is one of the things, and I actually have the page number wrong in the bookmark, so hopefully you were able to find that. But there are three things that you can do that make people aware of who you are, aware of what you do, and aware that you’re very good at what you do, and those things are media, PR, and marketing.

John Williams: What I found interesting was his comment in the book is that when you sell, when he’s talking to these guys, and actually in a sales sort of environment They are more likely to buy if you tell them your background. And a thumbnail sketch of how you got into business, how you morphed to business, how you’ve managed it.

Then you start making money, and you’re doing these other things, and your goals. Cuz they appreciate that because they’ve all done that. Right.

Paula Williams: They can connect easier with that.

John Williams: Right, we actually-

Kathryn Creedy: What’s your [INAUDIBLE] of direct media, is that advertising?

Paula Williams: Direct media is any media that you own, for example a podcast, or a book, or a website, or a newsletter, or any of that stuff And everybody should have direct media channels of some sort and the more and better they are, the better.

But getting back to John’s point, I think that is, that’s why we’re doing the storytelling summit at Sundance is because we want to focus on origin stories. And if you can tell your story really, really well, that is the most compelling thing, other than customer testimonials and things like that.

The most compelling sales material that you can generate. So if you can tell your story in a minute or less, or two minutes or less, on video, that really resonates with this audience, would you agree?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Right, so that would be an example of a media, it would be a YouTube channel, or a website with a video on it.

Or even just a video that you send in the mail as a CD. All of that is direct media.

John Williams: And we figured that out by accident and this here confirms in this guy’s book that makes millions of dollars was kind of nice. [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Yeah, so that’s true, I mean, you think about the really great companies, Elon Musk, and the SpaceX, and the Tesla car, and they all have a great origin story.

Steve Jobs building a computer in his garage, his parents’ basement, with a couple of buddies. And those origin stories are really what suck us in to a lot of these products.

John Williams: Yes, because typically those products that come like that are usually top-of-the-line quality-wise.

Paula Williams: Right, and then the PR of course is other people’s media.

You’ve heard of other people’s money [LAUGH] OPM. Other people’s media would be things like, Catherine, when you write a great press release and it gets picked up by one of the major magazines and things, and that gives you that additional credibility. So then you can put the Forbes logo on your website.

That really is something that you can’t buy,

Paula Williams: Literally. And then marketing activities are how you use both of those things, the direct media and the PR. Making sure you get them in front of the right person, at the right time, in the right format, and so on.

Paula Williams: Cool, all right, so anything else anybody wants to add? Or questions?

Paula Williams: Let’s just go around the table, and if you have a 15 second commercial, for whatever it is that you’re doing right now, or whatever you’re working on right now,

John Williams: Well, you can’t start with us, this is that.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, so, yeah, Katherine, you wanna start with that?

Kathryn Creedy: Well, I wanted to take a moment to say that there’s no better thing that you can do for your company than develop your narrative. And this goes back, right back to what you were saying.

I did it for Embraer and it brought them from a small manufacturer in Brazil, mainly targeting the regional airline industry, to a world-class aviation aircraft manufacturer, rivaling Boeing and Airbus much more so than Lombardia. So yeah, right now I’m just cruising into the end of the year, because I’m about to go out again, so I’m not focusing on anything really cuz this is my downtime where I focus on, gee what am I gonna do in the new year?

So I’m developing all of that.

Paula Williams: Good for you, that’s very cool. And Lillian stepped out for just a second, so let’s go with Pat.

Pat Lemieux: I’m sure, I’m kind of in the same boat. I’m trying to get a few things accomplished here in the next couple of weeks, and then it’s, but it’s really looking forward to everything that we’ve got plans for next year, and kind of starting up with those marketing plans together.

What those campaigns are gonna look like, and kind of working with all of our sales guys to figure out what their goals are and how I can help them achieve them.

Paula Williams: Fantastic, great, and Lillian I don’t know if you’re back or not. If not, we’ll get with you to get a little audio clip to put on the end of this and carry on from there.

All right, so next month we will be talking about Rework which is a book that was written by the two people that invented, speaking of origin stories, who invented base camp and it’s kind of a series of essays. And so it’s a little bit different kind of book.

It’s a lot easier, I think you could open this book to anywhere in it, and get something really cool out of it. So good stuff, we’re looking forward to that, and I hope.

Pat Lemieux: I started reading it last night.

Paula Williams: You did? You’ve already got yours.

Pat Lemieux: Yeah, it’s good.

Yeah, I got mine yesterday and started reading it. It was actually on my short list anyway, that I wanted to read that one, and so it worked out by showing up at my door.

Paula Williams: I think you suggested this one, is that right?

Pat Lemieux: No, I don’t think so.

Paula Williams: No, okay, that must’ve been somebody else.

Pat Lemieux: Maybe I did [LAUGH].

Paula Williams: You probably voted for it even if you didn’t suggest it, which is great. I think it’s actually kind of neat to have different kinds of books and things that we haven’t focused on before. And it’s amazing how a lot of success in marketing is just getting stuff done, right?

John Williams: Yep, absolutely, follow through.

Paula Williams: Yeah, all right, so go sell more stuff. America needs the business.

John Williams: Yep, Mr. Ziglar.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Thank you for joining us. And yeah, we really look forward to seeing you next time. And have a great month, and have a great holiday if we don’t see you before then.

You, too.

Kathryn Creedy: Enjoy.

Pat Lemieux: Great, thank you.

Paula Williams: Thanks, bye-bye.


What Prospects Need Vs. What They THINK They Need

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.
Henry Ford

If you sell a complex product or service, you know what it’s like to talk with a customer that has a very different idea of what they think they need versus what YOU believe they need.

Our customer’s “perceived need” may be very different from our own view of their situation.

Take our Marketing Master Class. Please. 🙂

We are absolutely convinced the more our clients know about marketing, the more successful they will be.   We think that learning marketing and sales skills and techniques is well worth the time spent.

On the other hand, some of our clients have the strange idea that their time is nearly completely consumed with other things, like product development, customer service, and administrative tasks.

The dilemma – conflict between what they think they need and what you know they need.

  • We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that customers need to become familiar with certain concepts and techniques in order to get the best results from their sales and marketing efforts.
  • Our clients, members and prospects have other priorities (imagine that!) and express frustration about the amount of time required.

The solution – start where perceptions match.

In almost every situation, there is some area of agreement, however small.

Working with what the customer think they need

Working with the customer’s perceived need

We conducted online surveys and informal phone conversations with all of our clients and most of our Master Class Members, and here’s what they said:

  • “The materials are great, love the quality, great explanations of concepts, techniques work when we apply them.”
  • “Like the DVDs and organized materials sent by mail each month, like building a library of reference materials.”
  • “An hour is more time than I can spend at any given time.”

All products must evolve with the changing needs of clients. Here’s how our Master Class is evolving:


brief table

We also added a “Tip Sheet Only” level of service for members who truly believe that 30 minutes a month is all they can spare.

So, we’re providing what we know customers actually need, but “packaging” it in a way that they want.

Exec Brief LevelsInterested in becoming a member of our Executive Brief (if you’re not already?)  It’s for any busy aviation professional who needs to make sure his organization sells more product or service in 2015.

And/or, interested in talking with us about a particularly thorny “packaging” problem with your products or services?

Go to TalkTo.AviationBusinessConsultants.com and find 30 minutes on our calendar that’s convenient for you!

Five of the Best Marketing Examples from NBAA 2014

John and I were joking that the annual NBAA convention is so big and has so many participants competing for attention that the best tactic for being memorable would be to hire a marching band and maybe some elephants to march down the aisles.


The static display and the exhibition hall promised - and delivered - much to see!

The static display and the exhibition hall promised – and delivered – much to see!

But even then, people would forget it five minutes later as the latest Elvis impersonator walked by, or the beer cart was spotted.

Then again, you don’t need to get EVERYONE’s attention. All you need to do is make connections with a small number of highly targeted prospects, and start a relationship.

Here are some people that we think got it right:

Solairus Sold Static Display Survival Kits

best marketing examplesEveryone gives away tchotchkies – pens, USB drives, memo pads, and other little trinkets.  Solairus had gift bags that were so cool that they actually SOLD them. (Or, I suspect, also gave them away, but only  to valued customers and highly-qualified prospects.)

From their website

Great Networking Starts with Great Health…Static Display Survival Kit

Laser-Tuned Pendulum Movement
Single Function Easy To Read Display
Records From 1 To 99,999 Steps
Molded Clip On Back Belt Attachment
Unit Flips Down For Easy Viewing

5-in-1 Charger
Includes Lightning Connector, Apple 30 Pin Connector, 2 Micro USB Connectors and a Mini USB Connector
Simply Plug the Cable Into a Powered USB Port and Then Into Your Device or Smart Phone
Charge Multiple Devices At Once When Using an Ample Power Source

Bandages in Case
5 Bandages
Bandages Are Latex Free
Top Slides Open To Access Bandages

Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer
1 ounce / 29 ml gel hand sanitizer
Clear with citrus scent

Sunscreen with Carabiner and Clip Balm
SPF 30 sunscreen
1 oz Tropical scented sunscreen holds
FDA approved
Stainless Steel Water Bottle
24oz Single Wall with Threaded Top

All items coming in a White Kraft Shopping Handle Bag.

GDC Technics Invited Prospects to a Peaceful Oasis

GDC Technics created a quiet, stylish oasis in the middle of the Convention Hall floor that really showed off their skills with interior design and creating VIP workspaces.  They provided plush seating and impeccable coffee service for invited guests with appointments, and walk-in guests to pique their interest.  Skilled sales and customer service personnel completed the polished experience.

We have no idea how they managed the sound control, but it was impressively quiet in their booth.

(See the writeup in Aviation Week.)

Garmin Provided Unmatched Eye-Candy

Garmin is known for great visual displays on their navigation products, this year they unveiled their VIRB action camera (it looks like a contender for some of the GoPro market) that featured jaw-dropping from-the-cockpit airshow footage.

Garmin also wisely (or by happy accident) located their booth next to a concession stand serving ice cream. Since no one wearing a suit can walk and eat ice cream, the benches and standing areas around the concession stand were always full, and of course bystanders watched the video footage and marketing messages on the large, bright, high-definition Garmin screens, and many kept watching the video footage long after their ice cream was gone.

Lineage 1000 Felt Like Home.

Of all of the static aircraft displays, John was most impressed with the Lineage 1000.  “Even though the air conditioning happened to not be working at the time, I just relaxed when I walked in the door of that plane.”

Although it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what that means, the large cabin, fantastic interior design, and low-key sales staff certainly contributed to the feeling that this airplane could be “home” to a mobile team of executives.

This team obviously got all the details right for their display.

Dallas Airmotive Rebuilt An Engine In Their Booth

We always advise our clients to SHOW visitors what they do.  Dallas Airmotive rebuilt a PT6A engine in Booth 228, right before the eyes of visitors.

There is nothing better for building credibility than actually DOING what you do, in a visible and dramatic way.

Read the write-up in AIN.

Obviously, there were a LOT more fantastic displays, skilled sales teams, and activities that we could comment on here, but we thought we’d share five of our favorites.



Sales success – How hard do your prospects and customers have to work?

Some of you know that we have a kid serving in the Peace Corps in Morocco.  You might also know that we went to visit him last week – took him to Spain for a little bit of a vacation along the Costa Del Sol – some castles, boardwalks, Spanish food, beer, and so on. It was a fantastic (if short!) vacation, but it led me to an insight about marketing.

Customs lines - Image by WSJ

Are daunting processes messing up your sales numbers?

We traveled from Morocco to Spain and back by ferry, which looked pretty easy when you’re at home, planning the trip, looking at Google Earth on your computer screen. It’s quite a different thing in reality.

The most frustrating part of the trip was probably the customs lines at the Tanger ferry terminal.  I wish I’d taken pictures, but I thought I’d lose my camera (and/or my spot in line) if I tried it.

The frustrating part was this: Every single person had to go through the same line, whether they were traveling with just a backpack;  or with a carload of boxes, bags and bundles purchased in Spain. Some people had three or four baggage carts with clothing, appliances, furniture, and so on.

We were trudging through a maze of stanchions, as the folks in front of and behind us pushed, dragged, trundled or rolled their stuff toward the x-ray machines.  The good news is that everyone was helpful –  we all helped one another progress through the line. About an hour later, when we arrived at the x-ray machines, we had all made some new friends, and everybody was carrying somebody else’s stuff. The poor guy sitting in front of the monitor (one guy for four machines, as near as I could tell) had no way of knowing whose stuff was whose, and had no way of stopping anyone from just picking up their stuff and walking off with it after it emerged from the conveyer belt.

This could have been massively helped by having two lines, as most customs departments do – one line for travelers with merchandise, another for travelers with “nothing to declare.”

And that wasn’t the only example – we should not have been surprised since our first experience in the country of Morocco was to  wait for about two and a half hours at the airport passport control upon arriving in Casablanca from Paris.

Security theater, at its best.  As someone who has complained about the TSA in the US, I have to say, the TSA upon our return to New York were weirdly refreshing by comparison.

So, the point of all this is that word gets around. 

Coffee in Morocco

Mickey and John enjoying a well-deserved coffee. Of course we were motivated to take the ferry, regardless of inconvenience.  The things one does to spend time with ones’ kids!  Less motivated tourists might get word of a daunting experience and skip it altogether.

Although Morocco is only 2.5 hours away from Spain by ferry, it’s a world apart in terms of tourism revenue. (Spain earned almost seven and a half times the tourism revenue that Morocco earned from 2009 to 2012, according to the World Bank.)

How much of that tourism is lost because of inefficient processes? 
It’s hard to say.  But given the enchanting history, art, literature and heritage of Morocco, and it’s proximity to Spain, I was puzzled before our trip that so few of our well-traveled friends have been there.
How many of your sales are being lost to inefficient processes?
No matter how attractive your product, there are people who will hesitate to purchase, and will hesitate to recommend it to others, if the process of acquiring, installing, using it or getting customer service for it is perceived as daunting. 
People use aviation products and services for one primary reason- convenience. Private aviation is the ultimate “time machine,” allowing them to be where they want to be with a minimum of time and effort.  Customers, particularly affluent customers, are increasingly intolerant of inconvenience.
I’m sure tourism companies, hotels and resorts in Morocco will say – “But that’s outside of our control! We don’t set passport control or customs policy.” 
Many aviation companies react in the same way – there are many regulatory factors outside our control that can make things difficult for our customers. But there is always SOMETHING we can do, and smart aviation companies seek to expand their influence to make things easier for their customers:
  • NBAA actively lobbies for less cumbersome and prohibitive regulation, like user fees and excessive searches.  Every roadblock and expense they remove or prevent helps many aviation companies.
  • AeroStar Training Services provides ab-initio (from the first flight lesson through the airline type rating) options that include room and board and coordinate with colleges and universities to provide an all-inclusive flight training options for airlines and self-funded students. This makes the process less daunting for companies that can find the right candidates and trust AeroStar to take care of the details.
  • Dallas Jet International has relationships with attorneys, accountants, tax experts and other professionals to make the sale or acquisition of a business jet as seamless as possible for their clients. This helps their clients learn from the experience and expertise of a diverse team of specialists so they don’t run into a preventable snag or miss an important advantage.
  • Tanis Aircraft Products acquires STCs for many of their products, and provides Weather Safety Tips above and beyond the use of their products. This helps their customers fly confidently in cold weather.
  • The Taj Hotel in Bangalore (not an aviation example, but travel-related) sent a facilitator to pick us up at the airport, assist with the customs process, translate for us if needed.  He also took us back to the airport and facilitated our departure. This was a huge help on our first (daunting) trip to India.

What you can do:

  • Make a list of the (real or perceived) problems or issues your customers run into before, during or after making a purchase from you. Include weather, regulatory, and other factors “beyond your control.”
  • Brainstorm ideas of how your company might provide information or services to prevent those problems.
  • Perform a cost-benefit analysis for the best ideas – how many more sales would you have to make to cover the cost of providing solutions?
  • Implement solutions that make sense.
  • Measure and re-evaluate your efforts annually. If it works and it’s cost-effective, consider doing more!

So, we’re back.
PS – Don’t let this post discourage you from visiting Morocco if you’re so inclined. The people are warm, open and welcoming, and there are a lot of things well worth seeing.  We visited large cities and remote areas, and never once felt unwelcome or unsafe, as somewhat “obvious” Americans.  A little more French on our side would have been helpful. (I once got eggs when I thought I had ordered salad.)  Altogether,  trip is well worth the wait.

Even if you don’t have kids there!

Marketing Status Reports – Intelligent Diagnostics

There is no shortage of data in the world.

But organizing it such that makes sense requires time, care, and experience.

Our status reports, like everything else we do, are based on the Long Cycle Marketing System that we developed for the aviation industry.  We use that structure to provide concise, visual data that helps us discuss priorities and make decisions.

Our status reports are based on Long Cycle Marketing

Of course, the longer we’re working together and the more data we share, the better and more useful these reports become.

We start with Phase Three – Total Sales

Why? Because many of our clients, or their bosses, like to get straight to the “bottom line.”

  • How many sales did we make this month?
  • Who are they? Do we anticipate any special requests or issues from those sales?
  • How much revenue do we expect from them? (What is our average Customer Lifetime Value or CLV?)
  • How much time passes between the time a prospect first makes contact and when he makes a purchase? (What is the length of our sales cycle?)

Next, we discuss Phase Two – Building Credibility & Closing.

  • What’s in the pipeline?
  • What’s the next step for each prospect in the pipeline, and who’s “got the ball?”
  • What sales are anticipated in the next three months? Six months? One year?

Then Phase One – Advertising & Prospecting.

  • How many leads are coming in?
  • What is the quality of those leads?
  • Where are the best leads coming from?
  • How much traffic is coming to our website?
  • How are people finding it?
  • Which pages on our site are they visiting, and for how long?
  • Should we adjust our marketing mix?

And finally, we review a dashboard showing the overall health of your marketing system.

Status reports - marketing system dashboard

  • Which marketing activities are humming along smoothly, and which need work?
  • What is the priority of the work to be done?

Our customers’ time is valuable.

There are many demands on their time. So when we design the status report format for a new customer, we ask ourselves these questions:

  • What decisions result from this information?
  • Is this the most understandable format for this information?
  • Is there anything we can do to make this information simpler or easier to understand?

Sometimes this involves using charts and visuals as provided by software (like Infusionsoft, Google Analytics, Klout, SumAll, Facebook Analytics, Alexa or some other source.  Sometimes this involves creating new dashboards and charts that show important comparisons that the software doesn’t make clear enough.

Making these marketing status reports clear, useful and actionable is one of our most important responsibilities as your marketing consultants.

Which social media channel is best for aviation marketing?

Which social media channel is best for aviation professionals to reach decision makers?

We all have limited resources, especially time, these days.

And we’re always hearing  about newer, cooler, more interesting social media channels that may be better for our purposes.

In our experience, people vastly under or over-estimate the importance of social media for marketing.

Some key stats from jeffbullas.com


Here are some of the latest figures to mull over.

  • There are now over 1.15 billion Facebook users
  • One million web pages are accessed using the “Login with Facebook”  feature
  • 23 percent of Facebook users login at least 5 times per day
  • 47% of Americans say Facebook is their #1 influencer of purchases
  • 70% of marketers used Facebook to gain new customers


  • There are now over 1 billion  with Google+ enabled accounts
  • It has reached 359 million monthly active users
  • Google+ is growing at 33% per annum.
  • The 45 to 54 year old bracket  increased its usage on Google+ by 56% since 2012

When you consider that Google+ has only been around for less than three years, then it is a success on many levels. So Google must be happy with with its investment, (which is north of $500 million initially invested in Google+.)


  • There are now over 550 million registered users
  • 34% of marketers use Twitter to successfully generate leads
  • Twitter was the fastest growing network with a 44% growth from 2012-2013
  • 215 million monthly active users

Twitter has also made some changes in the last few months that has made it more visual and engaging.

The others

We haven’t mentioned some important social media channels. These include. Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, Vine, Slideshare and many others.

This year expect the visual social media networks to hit more home runs.

  • LinkedIn with 300 million active monthly users (Expect a whole article on LinkedIn from ABCI soon- this is one of our favorites for obtaining new leads and clients.)
  • Pinterest with 20 million active monthly users
  • Instagram with 150 million active monthly users.

ABCI has opened  Pinterest and Instagram accounts recently and will be reporting on them as well.

So, statistics are fine, but they’re pretty general.

What we’d REALLY like to know is this:

What do Aviation industry decision makers really use?

The only way to find out for sure is to ask!

Respond to our survey below (7 questions, about 5 minutes)  and we’ll send you a complete report with the results of the survey.

Which social media channel is best for aviation? social media channel is best for aviation


Should you use Google+ to promote your aviation business?

Many of our clients have had success publishing advertising, acquiring leads, nurturing relationships with current and past customers, and acquiring referrals on social media.

And many of our clients and prospects are asking about Google+  (Google Plus.)


Our philosophy about any marketing tool is this:

“Does it help you perform any marketing task, better or more efficiently than the other options available to you?”

More specifically, our philosophy about using any specific social media platforms is yes, IF:

  • Most of your top ten most desired customers are active on this platform.
  • Most of your top ten competitors are active on this platform.

AND IF you have time and resources to devote to learning it or have a trusted partner to outsource it to, then by all means, do a 90-day evaluation.

Social Media Marketing Evaluation

Actively connect with friends, fans, and thought leaders in your industry for 90 days. Publish regular updates.

After of 90 days, evaluate the following:

  • Have you acquired any new leads directly from this platform?
  • Have you acquired traffic to your website from this platform (check Google Analytics or WebTrends for traffic source information.)
  • Have you had meaningful conversations with current, past or prospective customers using this platform?

If yes, then include Google+ part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

Why Google Plus is Worth Evaluating

Assuming that some of your customers and competitors are using Google+, we think it’s worth a try.  Here’s why:

  • It’s owned by Google, which controls the majority of the world’s search traffic.
  • Google also owns YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail, and many other products your customers and partners are probably using.  The connections between these products are advantageous to people with active Google + profiles.
  • In our experience, Google+ is an experience in quality over quantity. We have more conversations and interactions on Facebook, but the conversations we have on Google+ are more substantial and more likely to lead to a sale.
  • There are fewer people on Google+, and the demographics skew older and more educated than other platforms.
  • Ease of use leaves something to be desired. Google+ has a slightly longer learning curve. (Anybody can use Facebook within a few minutes of logging in.  Google+ requires a bit of orientation, even for social-media savvy users.)
  Google+ Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Post size limit 100,000 characters 63,206 characters 140 characters 500 characters
Profile One profile photo,one to five picture photos area displayed at once, multiple text fields One large profile photo, one smaller inset profile photo, and multiple text fields One small profile photo and 160 characters One profile photo, 200 characters, multiple text fields.
Video conferencing Yes, ten people total, unlimited watch-and- listen only guests One-on-one only No No
Visibility of posts Any follower as well as the public “Edgerank” determines which friends and fans can see your posts. Any follower as well as the public Any follower as well as the public
After the fact editing of posts Yes Sometimes, if you edit within seconds of posting No Yes
After the fact editing of comments Yes Yes No Yes
Grouping posts with comments and responses Yes Yes Not really, unless you are willing to search through every @ mention Yes
Display of photos in posts Yes Yes, but smaller in size unless you choose to “feature” it. No, reader must click on a link Yes
Display photo albums in posts Yes Yes, but probably 80% as good as Google +s No No

Table from “What the Plus?  Google+ for the Rest of Us” By Guy Kawasaki

Aviation-Related Google+ People and Pages

If you’re just getting started on Google+ and looking for some industry pages to start your network-building, here are a few we recommend:

And of course,

Of course, there are thousands more pages we could include; we’re compiling a more complete list for a future article.  Send us your suggestions!

Need some assistance getting started with Google+ or any other social media platform? Wondering if it’s a good opportunity for you?  Have concerns?

We provide a competitive analysis with our Marketing Flight Plan that includes a social media evaluation of your competitors, and a detailed set of recommendations that you can follow with or without our ongoing involvement and assistance.

Or, you can simply find 30 minutes on our calendar for a quick discussion and we’d be happy to discuss the options with you.

Marketing and Privacy – Mutually Exclusive?

Balancing marketing efforts with privacy concerns is something we discuss with every new client, and something that everyone involved with marketing or sales should consider carefully.

We recently spoke with an entrepreneur we met at a trade show.

“I just started a new business venture, and of course I want it to be successful. We have an innovative product and I need to do everything I can to get the word out.”

I asked what his plans were for marketing his new business. He listed the “usual suspects” – a website, pay-per-click ads, magazine ads, trade shows, and so on; but complained that all of these venues were “so expensive!”

Since he was concerned about cost, I asked if it was likely that the target prospects for his demographic would be on social media.

“Well, yes, I’ve heard a lot about that, but I’m not willing to go on social media.  Just because I want to make a profit doesn’t mean I’m willing to give up my privacy!”

We didn’t have time to go into the details that would be required to explain that using social media is not an automatic divulgence of all of the details of ones life!

Like many people, this man was confusing the medium with the message.

Families at the turn of the nineteenth century were afraid to have telephones installed in their homes and businesses because they were afraid that the neighbors,  the government, and the competition would be listening in on every conversation.  They quickly became more comfortable as they learned that the telephone only “divulges” to other parties the things you actually say on an open telephone line.  (Before the NSA became involved, anyway!)

Granted, there is MUCH information shared by telephone that should not be, but that doesn’t make the telephone at fault!

These days, privacy concerns about simply having a telephone installed in your office have been minimized,  and it would be unthinkable to run a business without a telephone.

(It can be argued that cell phones have active microphones and tracking devices, but that’s another story.)

The point is,  these devices have limitations. Social media channels such as Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter can seem creepy simply because many of the people who use these services tend to “overshare” details of their lives that nobody finds interesting but themselves; but in an of themselves, they are simply communication devices, like the telephone. The content of the information shared is up to the parties on both sides of the conversation.

It’s a great idea to have policies in place regarding what employees are allowed to share in any public forum, including trade shows, dinners with friends, telephone conversations AND social media.

Regardless of the media, here’s our recommendation.

Things You Should Share.

Your photo. 

  • The privacy concerns:   You might argue that you’re not photogenic, or camera-shy, or that you don’t want your face to be stored in a database somewhere as a biometric identifier; but frankly, if you’re running a business, you’re a public figure. You probably have a drivers’ license. You’ve probably been in a bank or an airport at some point. Like it or not, your smiling mug is probably already a matter of public record.
  • The marketing concerns:  Who would you rather buy a product from – someone who stands behind a product publicly and personally, or someone who looks like he or she is hiding from customers? (Or someone else?)
 profile  profile 2
 From this profile photo, I might assume that this person does not want to be associated with his business, or does not want to be recognized for some other reason. (Maybe he’s wanted by the FBI? In a witness protection program?)  Either way, he’s not my first choice of a business partner or vendor.  From this profile photo, I might assume that this person “stands behind” his company and his product.  I also might recognize him as someone I met at a networking event. I assume he’s open to discussing his product or service and I’d be more likely to call him on the phone or click a “contact” button to find out more.


Customer Testimonials and Reviews

These may include customer satisfaction surveys that customers gave you permission to share, or comments that people published on your social media pages.

  • The privacy concerns:  Naturally, we want to keep our “dirty laundry” to ourselves and resolve conflicts as privately as possible. We also don’t want to share anything unless we have permission from the customer to do so.
  • The marketing concerns: What customers say about us is much  more credible than anything we might say about ourselves.  And hopefully, most of these testimonials and reviews  are favorable.  But even if they’re not, showing the public how you acknowledged a misunderstanding or problem and attempted to make it right will give new customers confidence in doing business with you.

Your Competitive Advantage

What do you do better than anyone else?  Why should customers buy from you rather than your competition?  Can you show the difference with a side-by-side comparison? A chart or graph?  A product demo video?  An interview with a subject matter expert or a celebrity?  By all means, produce that material and publish it everywhere you can.

  • The privacy concerns:  Many people are afraid that if they show their competitive advantage, their competitors will use that information to improve their own offering.  Well, that’s the risk you take being in business!  If your product is not actually better than the competition in a demonstrable way that is hard to replicate, it may be time to go back to the drawing board!
  • The marketing concerns:  Aviation consumers are very smart. In most cases, this is exactly the information they’re looking for to make the purchase decision.

A bit of personality.

We like doing business with people that we know SOMETHING about.

  • The privacy concerns:  Of course we don’t want to share any personal, private, financial or sensitive details of our private lives.
  • The marketing concerns:  There are plenty of things that we can share that help people get to know us a little bit that don’t compromise our privacy but are interesting, entertaining or funny.


My Starbucks Name.       I have to say, the coffee was worth it.

Little snapshots of daily life in the office, in the hangar or workshop or on the ramp can provide a little bit of insight into your personality and give people a chuckle.

By not taking ourselves so seriously, we make potential customers feel more comfortable picking up the phone to talk to us.

Things Not to Share

  • Anything you’re not comfortable sharing.  Any online media has the potential of being shared with ANYONE. Pretend you’re standing in Times Square with a megaphone.  Are you comfortable sharing this information with your grandmother, your kids, your competitors, and your ex-spouse?
  • Deals or negotiations that are “in the works” and not public.
  • Your “secret recipes.”  Anything about HOW you create your product or service and make it better than the competition.
  • Any personal, financial or medical information.
  • Anything that is NOT entertaining, educational, or interesting.

Whatever media you choose to use for your marketing, it’s important to have a policy, to follow it yourself, and to educate your sales, marketing and customer service teams to protect themselves and each other while doing a great job of marketing.

Eight Marketing Organizational Structures

There are  as many different marketing organizational structures as there are companies – One thing we’ve learned  consulting with aviation companies is that many different org structures can work either very well or very badly.

Accountability is critical to sales and marketing success.  And a good marketing organizational structure, and structure of a sales department, t is critical to accountability.

Of course, it’s more important to get the “right people on the bus” than to get these people organized into the “right seats on the bus.”  Good people tend to make things work, whether it’s “their job” or not. In recent years there has been much buzz about “flat” organizations and some resistance to the very idea of a hierarchy.

We all know that  having a tyrant at the  top is unpleasant and unproductive for everyone.

Blame the tyrant, not the structure!

That said, here are nine of the most popular organizational structures for sales, marketing and customer service teams, with pros, cons and important tips for success.

Example Org Structure #1 – The Entrepreneur

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Entrepreneur

Description– Many companies start here. Some stay here by choice as a small consultancy or practice.  (Insurance agents, aviation medical professionals, other consultants.)



Low expenses.  You don’t have to pay anyone. Things tend not to get done.  Sales and marketing tasks are often procrastinated, with disastrous results.
You have absolute authority to make on-the-spot decisions during negotiations. There are no checks and balances to protect you from less-than-wise decisions.
As the company CEO/Founder, you know everything about your products & services. You may not have the experience, skills, training or confidence to be a great salesperson.


Success Factors:

  • Recognize when you are inhibiting your company’s growth by insisting on doing everything yourself.
  • Have a specific plan for when and how to grow.   (i.e. “we will hire a salesperson after we have completed a pilot project with our first customer; projected for August of 2014.” or “we will engage a marketing firm when we reach XX revenues, which is projected for Q3 of 2014.)

Example Org Structure #2 – The Referral Partner

Org chart 2a

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Entrepreneur with Referral Partners

Description – You have a formal or informal marketing program in place and have engaged customers, non-competing complementary companies (a charter company might engage a broker, for example; or a flight school might engage with a college or university) to provide a fee or other benefit in exchange for referring new customers.

Notice the dotted line – these are NOT employees.   Referral partners do NOT present themselves as employees or representatives of your company.

Pros Cons
Your customers are your best salespeople! They are not employees, so you have very limited influence over what they say and do.
They have direct knowledge of what it’s like to work with you. They will only know about their own experience with your company, and may not be aware of other products or services you offer.
Referred clients are a better fit, have a higher trust level, and are easier to work with. Referrals will often expect the same products/services and often prices as the customer that referred them – causing expansion beyond your current offerings to be difficult.
You only have expenditures (referral fees or expenses) when you have income. Referrals come in at irregular intervals, making sales and revenue forecasts difficult at best.
Referrals Some customers are prevented by law or ethical codes to accept referral fees.


Success Factors –

  • Communicate your referral program to your current customers, often.
  • Make your referral process part of your sales and customer service process.
  • Ask for referrals when customers are happiest – (right after realizing the greatest benefit from your product or service.)
  • Be generous with referral fees or bonuses.
  • If your customer can’t accept referral fees, send a gift (such as a fruit basket) that is within the guidelines they set.  Another idea is to make a donation toward a cause that you both support. (We like the Rotary Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.)

Example Org Structure #3 – Add a Sales Rep

Org chart 3b

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Sales Team

Description – You hire a dedicated salesperson. In this simplest structure of a sales department, you hire is a person that IS an employee or contractor that presents himself or herself as a representative of your company.  We recommend this in addition to, not instead of, any referral programs you have started.

Pros Cons
Someone needs to devote adequate time to researching and following up with each prospect – an absolutely vital task! A salesperson will never have the same credibility as the founder/CEO, some customers will still demand some of the time/attention of the Founder/CEO.  (Experience has shown us that the Founder/CEO, as the public “face” of the company, will never be completely relieved of primary responsibility for sales and marketing!)
Since this person is on the payroll, you have the right and obligation to expect  they will log interactions in your CRM (customer relationship management) system, and lend their expertise and experience they learn from talking with customers to improve marketing materials and processes. You have to remember this person needs to spend most of his or her time with customers.  Any bureaucracy they are required to participate in is time taken away from time spent with customers.
You have an extra “pair of hands” to send to various events. You cannot change the specifications or prices without ensuring that sales people are “in the loop.”
You must spend the time outlining and communicating expectations, and developing an accountability system. If you don’t provide appropriate tools and  accountability process, miscommunications will happen.

Org chart 3amultiples

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Sales Team Expanded

This organization is scalable in several ways.

Success Factors –

  • You can (and should) use commission as part of this person’s compensation package.
  • You can (and should) also pay this person a salary, since you need to place certain demands on his time and require that he or she do things “your way.”  Commission-only agreements with dedicated salespeople are a mistake.  It takes them time to come up to speed on your products and services, and you will need to make certain demands on their time (product training, coordination with marketing, etc.)  that may not directly result in sales and subsequent commissions.

Example Org Structure #4 – Regional Sales Managers

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Sales Team Regional

Description – When you add more salespeople, a larger structure of a sales department,  you have the challenge of determining who should be managing which prospects and who gets “credit” for which sales.  Organizing by region is  a very traditional way of organizing a sales team, where each has a “territory” divided along geographical lines.

These Regional Sales Managers (or whatever title you give them) may report to a Sales Lead or directly to the Founder/CEO or company leadership.

Pros Cons
This model has been used successfully by very large companies for many years and has the advantage of tradition. It does not accommodate for every situation and can be taken too literally, leading some prospects and opportunities to be ignored or “fall through the cracks.”
This is pretty simple – responsibility for any given prospect is usually very clear, based on where that prospect is located. Each salesperson has different strengths and weaknesses. A company may have a prospect who’s personality or situation would be better served by a different salesperson.
Responsibility and accountability are fairly easy. Looking at a report of sales numbers makes it obvious who is being the most productive. Some areas will have more and better opportunities than others.
Salespeople get to  spend less time (and money!) traveling.
Salespeople get to know the area and the prospects in it really well.

Success Factors – 

  • It may be necessary (and contentious) to “redraw boundaries” from time to time as markets change.
  • It is a good idea to have a process where salespeople can work together and share a commission if one has a more appropriate background, opportunity or circumstance to assist a prospect outside of his “territory.”
  • It’s important to ensure territorial salespeople get isolated or “out of touch” with developments in the company.  Technology can help with this. We use Basecamp for project management and file sharing, Infusionsoft as a CRM (customer relationship management) and GoToMeeting for video conferencing.

Example Org Structure #5 – Salespeople who are Product Specialists

Sales & Marketing Org Structures- Product Specialsts

Description – Organizing your sales team by product allows salespeople to become “specialists” on a particular product or product line.

These Product Specialists  (or whatever title you give them) may report to a Sales Lead or directly to the Founder/CEO or company leadership.

Pros Cons
Each salesperson has the opportunity to gain experience and become “expert” on a particular product. This is particularly good for very technical or complex products. “When you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  Your “Product A” expert may not recognize (or have an incentive) to let a prospect know that “Product B” may be a better fit for the circumstance.
 Product specialists will get to know the types of companies that their product fits best.  A deeper knowledge of their needs, problems and concerns will help them sell more effectively. Product Specialists may need to travel more than a more generalized salesperson who is assigned to a particular “territory.”

Success Factors – 

  • As with territorial salespeople, it may be necessary (and contentious) to “redraw boundaries” from time to time as products (or services) evolve.
  • It is a good idea to have a process where salespeople can refer a customer to each other when a a salesperson recognizes a situation that is a better fit for a different product.

Example Org Structure #6 – A Marketing Department

Sales & Marketing Org Structures-Marketing

Description – As a Founder/CEO, you probably have many opportunities to buy an ad, commission a website, or attend a trade show. But you probably don’t have time to research all of these opportunities, pick the best ones, execute them properly, and measure the results.

You may decide that you need an employee to manage all of your marketing efforts (and avoid “Random Acts of Marketing!”)

Pros Cons
A dedicated marketing professional  can devote more time to coordinating marketing efforts It’s rare that a single individual will be have sufficient expertise in trade shows, print ads, direct mail, web sites, social media and all of the other opportunities for marketing.  Your Marketing Lead will be inclined to “lead with his strength” and recommend whichever channel he or she is most experienced and skilled with, regardless of which is the best for your current situation.
A dedicated marketing professional can focus on marketing year-round and create a more complete marketing calendar and plan, making events like trade shows smoother and less reactive. You have the expense of another employee year-round.


A dedicated marketing team can scale up to fit your needs.

Org chart 4a

Organizational structure example with large marketing team – click to enlarge the above image.

Success Factors – 

  • Dedicated employees require a lot of overhead.
  • Our advice – “hire slowly.”  Determine which channels and expertise are really needed on an ongoing basis and worth the expense of dedicated personnel.

Example Org Structure #7 – Sales, Marketing and Customer Service Teams

Sales & Marketing Org Structures-Marketing-customer service

Description – With all of the new customers coming in, you need to provide excellent product or service delivery and customer service.  This is key to KEEPING more sales coming in!

We believe that customer service needs to be on equal footing with sales and marketing.  If your Sales Lead and Marketing Lead report directly to the Founder/CEO, so should your Customer Service Lead.

Pros Cons
A Customer Service Lead can spend time devoted to ensuring that each new customer has a great experience. Another dedicated employee requires additional overhead.
This person should work closely with Sales and Marketing to ensure that the customers’ unique needs are understood, and helps develop marketing materials and processes such as referral programs that really suit your customers. Adding another person adds complexity to each decision. The Customer Service person should be included in product specification and pricing decisions, as well as providing information to upgrade products and design new offerings.


All of these teams (sales, marketing and customer service) can be scaled to suit your needs.

Success Factors – 
  • In many organizations, we see Customer Service as a subservient function to Sales and Marketing, or have it separated by a large gap.
  • We’ve found that elevating Customer Service to the same level as Sales and Marketing puts the same emphasis on existing customers as on getting new ones.
  • Referrals are the most cost-effective method of sales, but they absolutely depend on giving your current customers a first-class experience.

Example Org Structure #8 – Adding a Customer Experience Manager

Description – If the Founder/CEO (or company leader, whatever we call you) becomes too busy to manage all three teams, we recommend keeping all three on the same footing by adding a Customer Experience Manager who coordinates the activities of all three teams.

marketing team1

Pros Cons
This frees the CEO/Founder from day-to-day coordination of the three teams. The Founder/CEO doesn’t have as much control over the details of sales, marketing and customer service as he may want.


All of these teams (sales, marketing and customer service) can be scaled to suit your needs.

Success Factors – 
  • There has to be a clear process to escalate appropriate items to the CEO/Founder.
  • This position requires a lot of trust, because the Customer Experience Manager has responsibility for the reputation of the company with past, present and future customers!

More Examples -Outsourcing to ABCI

Description – In many cases, outsourcing marketing (and some Sales and Customer Service tasks) to ABCI makes a lot of sense.

These are some examples of how ABCI has worked successfully with companies of different sizes.

ABCI Reporting Directly to Founder/CEO

marketing team6

In this case, we realize that we need to cover the basics of marketing, sales and customer service between us.

In this situation, we would develop an agreement that works for the time and skills of the individual client, which usually means:

  • ABCI performs and/or automates most marketing tasks.
  • ABCI provides assistance with some sales tasks (identifying most probably prospects, outlining suggested next steps, etc.)
  • ABCI provides some automation of customer service tasks, such as a Tip of the Week email, a New Customer welcome package with literature and how-to-videos, etc.
  • The CEO/Founder is responsible for making sales calls.
  • The CEO/Founder is responsible for providing hands-on product delivery and customer service.

marketing team-abci-referral partners

This variation is one of the first improvements we make as your company grows – to establish and manage a referral process.

marketing team5

In this variation, we work with your new or existing sales team. ABCI manages the marketing system, which  generates leads for the sales team. We also provide sales orchestration service, such as mystery calls, accountability reporting, outlines and checklists.

marketing team3

In this variation, we work with your new or existing sales team AND your Customer Service team to ensure all customer-facing materials and interactions are coordinated.  ABCI manages the marketing system, which  generates leads for the sales team, and materials and automated functions for the Customer Service Team as well.


In this variation, ABCI reports to the person responsible for the total customer experience. This positions us to provide all of the benefits of a marketing system, sales support, and customer service automation.

Master Class

Some companies already have the perfect sales, marketing and customer service team in place.

We can improve performance by providing real-world examples and timely coaching on key topics for sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry.  Why  reinvent the wheel when you can learn from other companies about what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what’s changing in the aviation market?

Commissions and Bonuses – Pragmatic Generosity?

Although our mission is aviation marketing, this week we’re going to start with a story about waiting tables in a restaurant.

Bear with me, there is a point to this story.

When I was in high school, I waited tables at a restaurant.

commissions and bonuses

I noticed that one of the older, wiser waitresses discreetly tipped the hostess. (The person who seats customers, hands them a menu and gets them a beverage.)

I thought it was a nice gesture, after all, I was a still living at home with my parents and was just working for “fun money.” A lot of these people had families to support.

So, I also (discreetly) shared tips with the busboy and the cook. So I slipped each of them about $10 each on the nights that I worked.

But I noticed something. Instead of $80 to $100 per night, I started making $120 to $150 per night. Even though I was “spending” $30 tipping my three co-conspirators,  I had stumbled into a very profitable habit.


The busboy, given a choice, would clear my tables first, making them available for new customers.

If the hostess had any “gray area” about which people to seat where, she would more likely make sure my tables were filled.

The cook suddenly acquired the magical ability to decipher my scribbled handwriting on orders much more accurately, and honored requests for “XTRA CRISPY BACON” and “SAUCE ON THE SIDE.”

This system worked great for me, even though there was some grumbling among the other waitresses and management, and they might have eventually made some rule against it, but it was a short-term job for me anyway.

So, back to aviation marketing.

Most commission and bonus systems we’ve seen have a serious flaw.

By setting up complicated and bureaucratic systems for commissions and bonuses,  you’re setting up a complex, antagonistic game that everyone loses.

Every time a new customer comes in the door of some businesses, (or even before the transaction takes place) there are ridiculously Machiavellian games taking place among the sales and marketing staff whose livelihood depends on commission and performance bonuses.

These bizarre machinations may happen in the open around table a company conference room or “under the table;” and might include such shenanigans  as these:

  • Ensuring one’s “fingerprints” are all over a transaction by (actually or virtually in the CRM system) having multiple contacts with the prospect toward the end of the sales cycle.
  • Influencing whether the transaction takes place this month or next, because it has some bearing in someone’s commission threshold.
  • Actively or passively discouraging a customer from making a purchase, only to persuade him to buy something different that happens to have a different compensation structure.
  • Byzantine dramas of sales and marketing people with very real or imagined grievances of being  “cheated” out of their hard-earned commissions.

So, we have very smart people creating and administering bonuses and incentive systems, resulting in manipulation, gaming and resentment; versus a very naive and unsophisticated “system” that resulted in greater profits and customer satisfaction.

What’s the difference?

Informality is an advantage.  Any formal system sets up an “entitlement mentality.” (yes, John, I realize we’re going to get hate mail for this.)

People psychologically put money into two categories – expected and unexpected.  Expected money includes their salary, projected commission, etc.  They consider it “theirs” even before they actually posses it,  unless there is some horrible mishap like getting fired.  If for some reason, a deal falls through and they don’t get “their” commission, they’re miserable (as is everyone around them) for weeks.

And as we all know, there are MANY reasons for deals in the aviation industry to fall apart, that are beyond the scope of control of anyone in our company or the contacts and prospects we’ve been doing business with.

We’ve found that informal, irregular, unexpected bonuses for a job well done are very motivating.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t pay a great salary and/or have a great commission structure.  The best people expect, and earn every penny of it.

But when faced with the decision about how to structure an incentive program or tweak an already complicated commission system, you may be overthinking it.

Nobody sets out to create a messy and complicated commission and bonus system – it’s almost always started simply and with the best of intentions, then continually “tweaked” to suit every new situation that comes along until it’s just about unrecognizable.

There is something to be said for benevolent dictatorship as opposed to bureaucratizing and codifying every transaction.

Check with legal counsel if you need to, but you may find that there is nothing wrong with rewarding people unexpectedly when you notice they’ve worked particularly hard on a contract that just closed.

As the sales manager, CEO (or any kind of “boss” for that matter) you will probably find that personal discretion is often a lot more accurate than any commission system that you can devise.

Any system you put in place will also obligate you for (possibly) years in the future to defending it in circumstances where it seems “unfair.” The more complicated it gets, the weirder (and usually less fair) the results.

We have to accept that life isn’t fair, and no commission system is going to be perfect.

There will be grumbling either way.

And the boss isn’t always going to be right.

But we believe the boss is right more often than just about any “system” that can be devised, and retaining personal discretion in the matter of bonuses and commission is much more successful than any other system we’ve seen.

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