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AMHF 0019 – Premium Pricing Strategy for Aviation Products & Services

Podcast 19- Premium Pricing Strategy for aviation products and servicesOne of the questions people ask us most is:

“Is my product priced too high? Is that why were having problems with sales?”

The answer is usually, “no, your price is not too high, but you’re not doing a good enough job of explaining the value of your product in relation to competitors, or other alternatives that customers have to using your product.”

Most people only think about price in relation to their direct competitors, but you need to think about it in terms of  the cost, and value,  of EVERY alternative your prospect has to using your product.

We discuss four pricing strategies (particularly our favorite, the premium pricing strategy!)  and their pros and cons in this episode.


Pricing Strategies for Aviation – Transcript


Announcer: 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 Hangar Flying, episode number 19. Today we’re talking about pricing strategy. So one of the questions we get and asked an awful lot is.

John Williams: Should I reduce my price?

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, and often when people aren’t making the sales that they want to this is their first reaction is, is my price too high and in almost every case we advise them.

John Williams: Not reduce price.

Paula Williams: Right, we want to look at every other possible option before we reduce their price. And today we’re going to talk about a lot of the things that go into pricing strategy, and this is one of the most popular posts on our website and has been for a number of years, and it’s also the most popular question we get asked.

So, we thought it would be good to do a podcast on this and talk about it today. So, I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: And I’m John Williams, and we’re testing out new equipment. [LAUGH]

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

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

Paula Williams: Absolutely, and we are always testing out new equipment, aren’t we?

John Williams: And it would seem so. We got new microphones, new recorders, building up the studio as we go along.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, and that’s one of the reasons that we need to charge some of the prices that we do, so that we can do some research and development, so that we’re always improving our products and services.

And of course, we want to be smart about the way we do that. But if you don’t have the cash to try some experimentation and other kinds of things, you’re really going to fall behind in technology as well as equipment, as well as the service that you provide, as well as the quality that you provide.

So we have four main pricing strategies that we’re going to talk about today and if you were to take a piece of paper and draw a big plus sign in the middle and then you have four quadrants on your piece of paper. And then [COUGH] over on the left hand side we’re going to talk about low quality.

On the right hand side we’re going to talk about high quality, and then on the upper part we’re going to talk about low price and on the bottom we’re going to talk about high price. So we’re going to talk about several low price strategies and then several, actually only two, but high priced strategies.

And what the pros and cons are of each of them and some different circumstances in which you might want to consider them, right. So let’s start with the first quadrant which is low quality and low price, which is what we call economy pricing. Now this is the model that people like Walmart show, the low price leader In a market and there is some logic to being the low priced option, but we have found that there are several problems with an economy model right John?

John Williams: Yeah.

Paula Williams: Yeah, but first of them is really perceived value. And especially for an aviation product, you do not want to have a low perceived value. Now if you’re an airline, maybe you can get away with flying for peanuts and things like that, but there’s a certain standard of quality that is expected of the aviation industry because people are putting their lives on the line for this, right?

John Williams: So, flying for peanuts. Was that a pun?

Paula Williams: Flying for peanuts. That was actually a real, honest to gosh, marketing strategy for one of the airlines.

John Williams: Yeah, right.

Paula Williams: And it worked for a while. Then it got to the point where everybody was trying to have the lowest fair and they’re all kind of cutting their throats on Travelocity and Expedia.

And there is some I suppose market share to be had from having the lowest price but that’s when you’re selling to the mass market not necessarily when you’re selling to an affluent market or to a private aviation market or a general aviation market, right?

John Williams: Exactly.

Paula Williams: Right.

So, the lower the perceived cost often the lower of the perceived value and we’re going to show you, I like one example that comes to mind and is used in a lot of books. I think this is in Jason Mars’ book, which is an excellent one we’re going to give you the information about that later in this podcast is the $40 Rolex.

Now if you have somebody that offers to sell you a Rolex watch for $40, what’s your first thought going to be?

John Williams: [LAUGH] It’s not worth $5.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, this is the sort of thing that happens by the side of the road in Mexico. This is not the sort of thing that happens in a high end mall or in a high end jewelry store.

John Williams: And actually, every once in a while, if you buy a $40 Rolex, you actually get lucky.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: But it’s pure luck, because when I was 16 in Tijuana, and this guy came up, selling me watches, And he wanted $43 for this watch, right? Self winding, so on, so on, and I said, nope, $5.

And we talked back and forth, and finally I said, $7 top. Well, why is that? I said, cuz it’s all I had, and it was true, it was all I had with me.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: He sold it to me for 7 bucks.

Paula Williams: Wow.

John Williams: And that was many years ago.

Paula Williams: Okay.

John Williams: And that watch still works.

Paula Williams: Wow!

John Williams: [LAUGH] I’ve replaced the crystal on it several times, and I keep it cuz it’s not as accurate as the one I have now that Paula gave me which is within a billionth of a second all the time as long as it updates, based on atomic time.

But, nonetheless.

Paula Williams: It was a good watch.

John Williams: It was a good watch, but you never know.

Paula Williams: But chances are it would not have been, right?

John Williams: No, yeah, exactly.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly, so there are some brands that you will never see on sale. One of them is Rolex.

Another one is Apple. Sometimes you’ll see refurbished or other kinds of things. But mainly from the Apple store, they are very loath to give discounts or sales of any kind. You’re going to see screaming half off or 15% off or clearance sales or anything like that from the high end brands.

And the reason is because they want their products to have a very high perceived value. And this is not just snobbishness. This is also basically on customer experience and their experience with the people that want to buy their products. They expect a very high level of service, they expect a very high level of quality, and you simply cannot do that and have the lowest price.

John Williams: Exactly, which is why Rolex and Apple and others have such high costs.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So if you’re in the economy space that low price and low quality space, we have found that customers are terrible. [LAUGH] There was a time, when we first got into the aviation market, when we tried to offer a low-cost service.

And the reason for that was because we were breaking into a new market. We needed to get some credibility in this market by having some samples of work that we could point to and another thing. So we did a low cost and we have found that bargain seekers are terrible customers, they are entitled, they are whiny, they are horrible.

They want, even if you give them a way something for free they will still find fault with it. It’s absolutely amazing, the way that people react when you’re in that low price, low quality space. We have found that when we’re selling to people that pay more, they tend to be nicer to us.

They are a lot more fun to work with. They’re a lot more likely to use our products properly, and our service and things like that. And they treat our people better, and so on, so we really, really want to avoid that economy space whenever possible.

John Williams: When you do have a high price, you want to make sure your quality exceeds expectations, however.

Paula Williams: Exactly, that is true. And so that brings us to another strategy which is market penetration. And that’s when you have a high quality product and a low price. Now the problem with that is that if you won them on price, you’ll lose them on price, right? The best example I can give for that is the current, and I don’t know if this is true in your area, but where we live, it seems like every commercial you see on TV is either Direct TV or Dish Network, or Direct TV or Dish Network.

And this is on the radio. This is on TV. This is anywhere you look at advertising. They’re all trying to undercut each other by just a little bit, because they want the market share, right? It’s just nuts. But people switch. If you talk to any of our neighbors or talk to us, we have switched back and forth between different TV providers, multiple times in the last five years.

And there’s absolutely no loyalty there because they have not really a whole lot of differentiation between their products. The only thing that they’re competing on is the low price, right?

John Williams: Exactly.

Paula Williams: Yeah, they all offer the same programs and everything so if you’re in that situation. There is some value to getting a larger market share if that’s going to help you in some other way if you get a larger market share, and then you can offer better programming it can be a temporary strategy that could work, but for the most part it is not also not really an ideal place to be.

John Williams: It has to be well thought out.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: And well researched to make sure you don’t fall into a trap.

Paula Williams: Right. Okay, the next strategy is actually a low quality high priced strategy and this is called skimming. You may have heard about that guy and I’m trying to remember his name that took that cancer drug and he jacked up the price to God knows what.

John Williams: Yeah, it went from $13 to $750 per pill.

Paula Williams: Exactly, see, and having the same quality or a low quality and a high price is usually based on a temporary or an artificial advantage. So what happened to that guy, if I recall the story correctly, is there was another company that came up with an alternative to that cancer drug.

John Williams: Yeah, they sent out, what do they call it in pharmacies? They will compound, or a compounding.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: They sent out a formula to compound the same drug to pharmacies and now they do it for $3 a pill.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: So it’s even less than it was before this scheming strategy took place.

So he may have made a little bit of money in the short term, but he also got a whole load of crap, [LAUGH]. For that, he got called in front of some kind of a governmental committee,

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: Got a lot of bad press, all kinds of things.

It wasn’t anything illegal, I guess you could argue the morality of it. But-

John Williams: It wasn’t illegal.

Paula Williams: It wasn’t illegal.

John Williams: It’s a free market society, or it’s supposed to be, so he can charge what he wants.

Paula Williams: Right, and if you have like out here where we live there’s the Bonneville Salt Flats where they have racing in the summer.

And that dries out its like the flattest surface on the planet, and so they have these race cars and other kinds of things that try to set the world speed records. And if you’re ever out there, during one of those things they will have these vendors that are selling bottles of water that they bought at Walmart for $0.50 a piece.

And they’re selling those bottles of water for about $8 a piece [LAUGH] and people are buying them like crazy. Because, literally, you’re in the middle of a desert and there’s nothing for miles. So people will buy this bottled water. So it’s based on a temporary or an artificial advantage.

Circumstantially, it works great. There’s a lot of people that make a lot of money doing that. So, that’s the scheming philosophy. Now let’s talk about our favorite philosophy, which is premium pricing. And this is where you have a high quality and a high price. And this only works when you have a very strong, unique selling proposition, right?

John Williams: Yes, and it’s based on value, not on price. The good example around here in the Salt Lake Valley, as far as I know, there are two gasoline stations, just two, that sell ethanol-free gasoline, which I thought was illegal but evidently it is not. And that gasoline will give you just by using it on average 15% better fuel economy.

So they charge a premium per gallon for that stuff. I don’t remember now where it fits in the price structure, it’s more than regular gasoline but less than premium.

Paula Williams: Right, so you-

John Williams: But its higher than midrange.

Paula Williams: Okay, so rather than the gas that you usually buy for our cars you will spend-

John Williams: I spend the extra because, several reasons. One, most vehicles, up until the very latest ones, have issues with ethanol because of all the water and other reasons that it’s just not a good idea to put in gasoline. And the fuel economy, for me, I get 30 miles per gallon in my car.

So 15% is something I’m pretty interested in. That’s another four and a half miles per gallon.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so it’s worth an extra what, $0.20 a gallon, or?

John Williams: I think it’s about 18, depending on a day, cents a gallon.

Paula Williams: More than what you would pay normally?

John Williams: Yes, exactly.

Paula Williams: Okay, exactly, so it’s not based on price. It’s based on the value or the number of miles that you get out of that, and also the engine life and other factors that are important to you.

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: Okay, so that has a USP to an educated customer that is well worth it to pay extra for.

John Williams: And what’s interesting is even though most, I won’t say most, many customers are not educated. I have convinced many people at the pump to buy it because of what I tell them. I said I’m not getting paid by these guys to do this, but I only tell you what happens when I use this gas.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: Without fail, they’ll say really? I’ll say yes. So they try it.

Paula Williams: John, who does not work for a gas company or anybody else has told all of our family and friends that you need to go to this particular gas station and use this particular pump to get this particular kind of gasoline.

John Williams: Of course, why not?

Paula Williams: Exactly, because it will save wear and tear on their cars, and John ends up fixing a lot of people’s cars, including his daughter’s and things. So it saves us work or saves him work, and it’s a good value for the money. So if you want to be in the premium space, and you should want to be in the premium space.

Have we convinced you of that?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] All right. So if you want to be in the premium space, here are some things that you need to consider and some questions that you can ask in order to get yourself there. So first of all, what are the alternatives to using my product?

How much does it cost the customer not to use my product? And how can I demonstrate the value of my product in a way that resonates with my customer? And we’re going to give you a couple of examples here that have to deal with some of our aviation clients.

The first one is SSC. So SSC flies out of Greenville South Carolina and a lot of their customers are reformed airline passengers who fly out of the Spartanburg airport which is nearby but its not that nearby. So there’s a distance there and then also a lot of the airlines don’t fly exactly where our where SSC’s clients want to go, so there is an advantage over the airlines, because they get them closer to where they need to go.

It saves them a heck of a lot of time. They can go to a meeting and be back at night, and be home with their family by dinner time. As opposed to taking three different airline flights to get where they’re going, or an airline flight and a long rental care ride.

So it’s definitely a time advantage. The other option is net jets, or some of the larger charter companies. So how do they compete with them? Basically, they fly out of a smaller airport, they fly smaller airplanes, they have a better price point than a lot of the larger charter companies.

And also they have a lower turnaround in their pilots than a lot of the larger tech companies, sorry, larger charter jet companies.

John Williams: Yes, I think the average time for a pilot to stay with a company currently is eight and half or nine years.

Paula Williams: Exactly, versus these other charter companies where their average is often less than a year.

John Williams: Or slightly more than, right.

Paula Williams: Yeah, so that’s a huge advantage. Their pilots really kind of become part of the family to a lot of their clients that they fly often. So there’s a couple of ways that you can look at this one is a dollar value how much time and money do you save by getting to your getting closer to your destination faster or how much can you actually save on a charter fair so that’s a dollar value.

And then there’s kind of an emotional value, and that is how much better do you feel having your own pilot and more personal service than you would with either an airline or with a charter company that treats you more like a number.

John Williams: These guys are amazing. They’ll arrange for a rental car before you ever leave, when the rental car comes up they’ll help get the bags out of the jet, put it in there, make sure everything’s okay and coordinate with you when you want to go, return.

And they’ll do everything they can to make your trip one that you’ll remember.

Paula Williams: Exactly.

John Williams: Positively remember.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] And then you get home and your car is washed and it’s pulled up on the ramp, and everything is all set for you to just jump in and go home.

And you just feel really, really well taken care of. And I don’t know if you saw this, this is a recent news story about how a 4 hour flight became a 30 hour nightmare for people who are coming from the Dominican Republic to New York City and it was suppose to be a 4 hour flight, did you hear about this?

John Williams: Yeah, I missed that one.

Paula Williams: Man, so Delta flight 944, taking 159 passengers from Punta Cana to John F. Kennedy, but first of all, it had to circle overhead because of heavy traffic at the airport. Eventually the pilot announced they were diverting to New Hampshire because they were running out of fuel.

The airport in New Hampshire didn’t have a customs agent to process the passengers. So the agents drove from Portland, Maine while the passengers sat on the plane and waited. They gave them a hotel that night and then they put him back on another plane back to New York City, and had a lot of turbulence and horribleness on that flight.

So it was just one thing after another some people were bailing out and buying Amtrak tickets and renting cars or anything else [LAUGH] just to never take another flight on this airline again. And so that is definitely a great selling point if you have a service that allows people to avoid that kind of inconvenience, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Yeah, okay, so here’s another one. And this one is Vlog versus Camp. And they will tell you that they are not competitors, and they’re really not, because Camp is Aircraft maintenance software versus something that is actually more of a complete aircraft log book that is owned by the aircraft owner.

So you can look at this in a couple of ways. Camp is actually owned by the maintenance provider and if you take your airplane to three or four different maintenance facilities over its life and usually more than that, you’re going to have several different entities owning those maintenance records, right?

John Williams: Yeah, they’re not all composite in one location.

Paula Williams: Right, so if you ever had to completely replace your log books, you’d be making a lot of phone calls and hoping for the best, that you can actually reconstruct your log books out of a patchwork of maintenance records.

And there’s going to be a lot of things missing, like your 80130 certificates and a few other things, right? Paint colors, another one that comes up. [LAUGH] They just aren’t really kept in those maintenance records so if you need those-

John Williams: Well they are kept in a maintenance record but when camp does it and other people do it there’s no.

They’re supposed to give you paper copies and you’re supposed to put it together when you get back. But if you lose something because you didn’t backup the whole paper copy, then you have a problem trying to go back and recreate the darn thing cuz you’ll have to call wherever you had the.

First you gotta figure out where you had the thing maintained and if you’re a typical. Part 91 or 135 guy flying all over the country or the world, you’ll get maintenance wherever you need it.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: And trying to figure out where that happened over the last three years could be interesting if you fly a lot.

Paula Williams: Right, and then hoping that they still have your records and that they will send them to you in a timely way. And hoping that that doesn’t delay things so that your aircraft is on the ground broken longer then absolutely necessary while you’re trying to catch things up and get legal.

So there is a huge competitive advantage to an aircraft owner or an aircraft manager or anybody who has an interest in making sure that that aircraft is air worth at any given time and has dispatch reliability. There is also a huge competitive advantage in terms of knowing that that aircraft is protected.

So the dollar value can be up to one-third or 30% of your aircraft’s value which depends on the quality and condition of your aircrafts paper log books. And if you try and sell an airplane, it has perfect, pristine, fabulous log books, versus one of the exact same make and model that has really kind of sketchy missing pieces, messed up log books.

You’re in trouble.

John Williams: Well we could on, that’s a whole another topic, but yes.

Paula Williams: Yeah, so.

John Williams: You’re absolutely correct.

Paula Williams: You could miss out in a sale of up about to a third of that aircraft’s value in that resale. The additional value is or the emotional value really is peace of mind being able to sleep at night knowing that your asset is protected and you’re making those people have complete access to all of the aircraft’s records, right.

Okay, so that’s another example. One last example is ABCI’s aviation marketing master class. And we compared that to several things in a recent article, Sandler Training’s leadership, what is it called? It’s called their president’s circle. Which is a Sandler sales program which is really excellent. But it is only for sales.

How can I sell my product more effectively? The David Eckels School of Business which Shaun completed several years ago, but they did a lot of business education and other things and they touched on marketing and sales. And American writers and artists programs which focus mainly on copy writing which is a very important skill, but it certainly isn’t everything that you need to know if you are selling a product or service especially in the aviation industry.

So those things are very good at one specific thing but they’re not very good at the general information that people need to know about marketing and sales and about the specific information that people need to know if they’re buying and selling products in the aviation industry, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Yes, [LAUGH]
and we did compare them, and the costs are just, especially for the e-MBA program are just astronomically out of the park for some of these things. And of course, we’re not comparing apples to apples, we’re deliberately comparing apples to oranges. But how could people get the same education that they get in the master class?

John Williams: [LAUGH] to learn what we teach.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: You would have to go to several different sales training programs, several different marketing mastermind groups, several different marketing organizations and it would just be well, it’s taken you what 20 plus years to figure this out, and taken me not that many, but ten or more on the sales end of things.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, but you’re faster than I am. But yeah, it is interesting to look at how else can people get the same value as they would get from purchasing your product, and in a lot of cases we’re in a category of one. There really isn’t another practical way for people to do that so we can charge-

John Williams: We brought it all down to the basics and show you how to make it work.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so we can show people that this is a really good value. So, the dollar value, when we talk with an individual customer. How much is it worth to you to get better at selling and marketing your product?

If you could sell or market your product even 10% better or 20% better. How much more would you make each month or each year. And generally speaking, that far exceeds the cost of the master class.

John Williams: Heavens yes.

Paula Williams: Absolutely.

John Williams: We finally got it back down to a reasonable amount.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Yeah, right! And the additional value, or the emotional value of the master class is really by saving time and frustration. By having a group of people that you can depend on to help you. It can be really anxiety-producing to be spending a lot of money on advertisements that don’t work, and to be spending a lot of time trying to sell and getting a lot of rejection.

So there’s a lot of emotional angst that we can really help people prevent. Simply by pointing them in the right direction and avoiding some of those mistakes. Okay, so that’s how you use comparative value to really place your product in a premium pricing strategy, right? Okay, so this is what we call our rich friend test.

Can you sell this to someone you know, like, and trust? That has the means to buy it, and of course, the need of it, with a straight face and with a clear conscience. If the answer is yes, then can you add $100 to the price and do the same?

John Williams: And the answer to that should be an outstanding and very clear, yes.

Paula Williams: Well, and then you would need to add $100 to the price.

John Williams: That’s right.

Paula Williams: And then ask the question again, could you sell this to someone you know, like, and trust, that has the need and the means to buy it with a straight face and a clear conscience, meaning they cannot possibly get that same value elsewhere and its something that they absolutely need.

John Williams: And if you think that we’re smoking something-

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: Let me have you go research a very well known company called Cessna.

Paula Williams: Cool.

John Williams: Since and I know this since 2007, and know it very well from 2008 forward. Since I bought a 172 in 2008, I bought another one in 2009.

They raised their price on those 172s each and every year without fail regardless of what the economy is doing. Regardless of anything they always raise the price. Now, how do they sell that? We can raise the price to anything, and then if they want to and if you can convince them, they will give you a reason or you can give them a reason to lower the price for a one time sale.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: It’s called negotiation. But as long as you raise the price, then everybody understands what’s going on and they’re not going to be involved in a race to the bottom.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so then you have the quid pro quo. You can ask for something in exchange for a discount.

Ask for regular referrals in exchange or a good testimonial in exchange for a discount or at least that they will complete a survey. Or that they will complete your compliance program, things like that, in exchange for a discount. So those are all very legitimate things. Another company that does this, and people keep recommending them, is Disney.

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Last year they had the measles outbreak, and so people stopped taking their kids places where they thought they could get the measles, right? Disney’s answer to that was to raise their ticket prices, and of course, it coincided with some other things that they did upgrading their fast passes and things giving people these little plastic bracelets that are kind of an upgrade over the stamping your hand kind of deal.

So there were reasons for them raising their prices but it happened to be coincidental, and they were doing better then ever because of the perceived value people are thinking well since the price is higher there will be less crowds, it’s safer, and so on. And of course, they improved their the quality of their service too, sorry, John.

John Williams: Car dealers do it. Every year prices go up.

Paula Williams: Yep, they do. We were just looking at the price of a Ford 150.

John Williams: Yes, yeah, you go buy a Ford, F150 now and they’re on the order of $70,000.

Paula Williams: Man.

John Williams: For a half ton truck.

Paula Williams: And they’re selling.

John Williams: And they’re selling like hot cakes.

Paula Williams: Yeah, we see them everywhere. They’re really popular out here where we like just because trucks are more popular than cars but it’s just amazing that people will spend that much money. All right, so when you’re looking at these kinds of things you want to figure out what are the alternatives to using my product?

How much does it cost the customer not to use my product? How can I demonstrate the value of my product that resonates with my customer? So those are all things that you can do. And the way that you can do it, of course, and the reason that you have to charge a higher price is because you can provide exceptional quality.

So if your price is higher than your competitor’s, your quality should be higher as well, and you have the means to make sure that happens. You have to pay your people better than your competitors pay theirs because word does get around, like all of those charter pilots that talk to each other.

You have to invest more in RND in new products and improvements. I don’t know who does more RND than Apple.

John Williams: Hm.

Paula Williams: Probably nobody, but that’s where all the money goes when you buy an iPhone or those crazily overpriced, when you look at them, just by simple comparison with the other similar products on the market, they seem overpriced.

But I have all Apple products, [LAUGH] so you know, there is, I’m willing to pay extra for the quality and for the reliability and for the service. I know when I have a problem with an Apple product, I’m on my way down to the Apple store to talk to the little guy in the blue shirt, who’s going to fix my problem before I leave.

John Williams: And we have multiple large monitors in here and one of them was giving us issues we took it back to them and they took it apart and said you know what, we’ll just give you a new one.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm. And for the right kind of customers the kind of customers that you really want it is worth going the extra mile for them and you have to be able to afford it without going out of business.

And the only way to do that is to do premium pricing. All right, so we talked about our sources for the information in this podcast besides our experience with our clients who we absolutely love because they have taught us a ton about the aviation industry in particular, but there are some great resources out there as well about pricing in general and the rest of the world.

So one of them is Perry Marshall’s AD20 Sales and Marketing book which is our January selection for our book club in our Master class. The second one, No BS Trust Based Marketing. Dan Kennedy and Matt Zagula, some of our favorite people. They’re in a master mind group that we have participated in.

One of those very expensive ones that we did, the comparative value of. But their material is fantastic and you know that’s the reason why we pay a premium for that. And the third one is, No BS Price Strategy by Dan Kennedy and Jason Mars. Jason Mars’s wife is actually a speech and language therapist.

And for that service, a lot of places will provide it for free. In a lot of school districts and things, you can get speech language pathology for your kid for free. His wife is competing with that at premium prices of over $200 an hour for that service. And it is well worth it, and he explains why it’s well worth it and how he gets away with charging the prices that he does in that book.

So that is definitely-

John Williams: So there you go. There’s absolutely no reason, to charge a low price for your product.

Paula Williams: Even if you’re competing with free. [LAUGH]

John Williams: Even if you’re competing with free.

Paula Williams: Exactly, all right, so this week’s tip sheet is pricing at the pricing cheat sheet at aviationbusinessconsultants.com/pricing.

All right so please do subscribe to our podcast, it is new, still new. We’ve just reached our first thousand downloads and we’re very happy that you are listening. That’s a wonderful thing. Please subscribe on iTunes and please do leave us a review. And thank you very much for listening, we’ll talk to you next week.

John Williams: Have a good day, see you.


AMHF 0018 – Infiltrating Large Organizations

Prospecting in the Aviation Industry - WebinarIf you sell a product or service to very large corporations or organizations, it can be intimidating.

And there is no shortage of these monoliths in aviation.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say your product or service is used by Lockheed Martin or Boeing or L3 or Airbus?

And yet, approaching these big organizations can be really daunting.

It doesn’t need to be.

Your job is still the same, just convincing one person at a time that your product is the best solution for a problem he or she is having.

At the same time, there are some “gotchas” that can torpedo the sale.

In this week’s podcast, we provide some advice about how to go about it.





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 18, infiltrating large organizations. Now, this sounds very, like espionage or whatever. [LAUGH] But in aviation in particular, there are a lot of very large organizations that are involved with some of the products and services that we sell.

And some of our clients sell to large organizations and find themselves faced with what looks like a monolith. [LAUGH] You know, you’ve got these big organizations that have committees that make decisions and other kinds of things. And this can really mess up your sales cycle, because it really adds a lot of time and complexity to the sales cycle.

So today we’re going to talk about some of the ways to make that easier. 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: Help all you ladies and gentlemen out there sell more aviation products and services.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, so size matters in transactions.

And the reason that it matters is because the larger the transaction is, the slower the sales process tends to go. So with a lot of our clients, we often advise that they have a smaller product or service that they sell in addition to a larger product or service that they sell because this whale hunting can be really difficult.

It can really mess up your cash flow. It can really be disruptive of your payroll and everything else. When you are depending on some really, really large transactions, kinda like commercial real estate where one transaction a year can make or break your year, your budget. So that’s not a reason not to do these large transactions, but it certainly is a reason to mitigate that as much as we can.

John Williams: And some expectations for you, or sales staff appropriately.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and don’t think you’re going to go in and take on a very larger organization and have the same sales process and the same Velocity that you’ve had with smaller organizations. So the more people you have sitting around a table in a meeting, the longer the meeting’s going to take.

And the same thing is true of the sale cycle. The more parties that are involved with the sales decision, the longer that is going to take. So in some cases we actually have one example with a client where we had to influence and actually win over-

John Williams: All these people.

Paula Williams: 12 separate people. And if you draw out an org chart, you’ve got people in you’ve got the general manager at the top of the heap. But let’s say the first person that found us was a project manager who’s in charge of a small project or a medium sized project, and he has to sell this idea to his manager.

They also have to sell this whole idea within the safety department The project control department, the procurement department, the engineering department, and QAQC department.

John Williams: And so forth.

Paula Williams: And so forth. And several individuals in each of those departments have to sign off on this purchase, so how the heck are we going to convince 12 different people?

All of whom have very different agendas and motivations to buy this product. John Williams: With great vigor.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] With great vigor, exactly. So the first thing that we need to do is make a hero out of the person who invited us to the party. We want to make him look good, we need to find out what his motivations are.

Obviously, this project manager who invited us to demonstrate our product or service has a very strong reason to want our product or service because it’s going to help him do his project. And so he’s going to sell us to his boss and we want to do everything we possibly can to make this person look good, make it look like he’s making a wise decision, and we also want to give as much credit to him on any of the collaborative material or any of the other things that we can to give him a motivation to introduce this to other people, because he’s going to develop a rapport and a level of trust with us that we are not going to make him look bad in front of any of his colleagues.

We’re not going to make him look risky in front of the safety committee, we’re not going to make him look shoddy in front of the QA committee. All of those things we have to take into account and make that person the hero of the story, right?

John Williams: Of course. In all my consulting career I always told people that if things went well they were responsible.

If things went to hell, it was my problem.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: Because I was the consultant. I mean, they lived there, I didn’t. I was there temporarily.

Paula Williams: Exactly. And as a consultant, we have that obligation. And as a salesperson, you also have that obligation, to make people-

John Williams: Out to be the hero.

Paula Williams: Out to be the hero. And give them as much credit as you possibly can for anything that goes well. We used LinkedIn a lot in this process. It’s actually a pretty good way of finding out, especially in a large organization, who all is connected to who and how we can use our situation to expand our network into that organization.

So let’s say in this example, I’m looking at a Boeing LinkedIn page, and I can see how I’m connected to people within Boeing. I may have two first degree connections, and 1,869 second degree connections, and 91,000 total employees on LinkedIn. So what I can do is I can look at the two that I know or that I’m connected to and I can see who they are connected to, and kind of carry it out from there and just see what their title’s are, see where they fit in the organization.

Do some research on them so then next time I talk with this particular person, or this project manager that I’m talking to, I can see who his boss is, I can see where he went to school, I can see what groups he’s connected to, I can see different ways to maybe influence the situation on my behalf and on behalf of our our project manager who brought us in.


John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: Of course. Okay. Another thing that I can do is I can search by relationship within LinkedIn. So I can search for second degree connections and see, okay, I’ve got four of those. And then where do I want to search for those? Do I wanna search just in the United States?

Just in the Seattle area. We’re talking about Boeing in our example. There’s going to be a lot of people in Seattle. Or are they going to be closer to our location in Salt Lake City. Is there anyone closer to me that I could talk with? That might save on some travel costs and things if there is a local office so there’s lots of ways that you can use LinkedIn to find out who do I really need to get to know and how are they connected to the people that I don’t know yet?

Paula Williams: Make sense so far?
John Williams: You’re the doctor, keep going.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] All right, okay. So another thing that we can do is Google Alerts. Let’s say we are looking for information on the Boeing 777. Because that has something to do with a project that we’re working on.

We’re developing a product, or a client is developing a product for the Boeing 777. So, I can set up a Google alert. To be sent to me as often as I want, in this instance, I’m going to set it for once a day. I want it to be automatic.

I want it to be only English language materials, because I’m not that good at French or anything else. Any region and only the best results, and I want it to be delivered to my in box on in my email. So I can set this up in Goggle alerts so I will be notified whenever something happens that has to do with the Boeing 777, that way whenever I’m talking with a contact at Boeing, I have a clue.

[LAUGH] Clue is good. It’s good to have a clue. You know, that way I’m not behind on the news. I’m not wasting a lot of time reading a lot of things that are not relevant to my project. But I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.

And then when something happens that’s relevant to the product or service that I sell I can send an email or make a phone call and say, I saw this in the news this morning, this is how this would effect the situation that we’re working on. So that’s a good thing to do when you’re working with a large organization especially, you want to make sure you are up on the news because they are in the news all the time.

Cool. So, all of this fits into phase two of long cycle marketing. We’ve already made our prospecting situation, getting in touch with somebody within the organization. We may use social media to connect with more people and to expand our network. As we meet those people, we may want to send more information packages.

There’s no reason not to send even ten or more information packages into a large organization, just so that everybody knows who this company is and what they do and why they’re talking to us and start sending your newsletters and other things to those folks. And there’s nothing wrong with reaching out and making an introductory call and saying hi, my name’s Paula Williams, I work with ABCI and I understand we’re working with your company. I’m working with this individual on this project, I just wanted to introduce myself.

And let you know if you have any questions about marketing, that’s what we’re here for. So here’s my contact information, and I’m at your service. So that sort of thing can really help you expand your network into a large organization. So those printed and mailed newsletters, you can send those to as many people in the organization as you want to connect with them on social media.

Send them direct mail and eventually that will add up to hopefully some requested formal sales presentations down the road, right?

John Williams: Absolutely, we’ve seen it.

Paula Williams: We have seen it, and yeah, we don’t work with very many super large organizations because of the time Involved in the time in the sales cycle, but a lot of our clients do.

So, you know if you’re in that situation there are lots of ways to really infiltrate and make that network larger. So those are some ideas on how to use some of the tools you have to make that happen. All right so download our tip sheet, which is about qualifying prospects.

The three items that we talked about in qualifying prospects are interest, resources, and authority. You wanna make sure that people have all three of those things. And we have a tip sheet that helps you check off some of those items and find ways to make that easier. You’ll want to do that within large organizations as well.

John Williams: You didn’t say what the URL was for the tip sheet.

Paula Williams: I didn’t that’s terrible. So the URL for the tip sheet is aviationbusinessconsultants.com/qualifying. So once again, aviationbusinessconsultants.com/qualifying. So go ahead and download that tip sheet and you’ll have some great information on how to make that happen and not waste time on unqualified people, like we have.

So go ahead and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please do leave us a review. It is a fairly new podcast and we love to hear what you like, what you don’t like, and what we’d like to hear more of. Thank you for joining us and have a great week.

John Williams: We’ll see you next time.



AMHF 0017 – Qualifying Prospects

Podcast - Qualifying prospects for aviation salesIf you’re frustrated about wasting time and resources on “tire kickers,” then you need to listen to this episode!

It wastes the valuable time, energy and morale of your sales people if you send them out on sales calls with unqualified prospects.  If every sales presentation is made to a qualified prospect, it improves their odds, their confidence, AND their ability to spend time and money!

We take on the topic of qualifying prospects without missing out on opportunities.


Transcript for Episode 17 – Qualifying Prospects


Announcer: 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 and share strategies, relevant examples, hacks, and how-to’s. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes so you won’t miss a thing.

Paula Williams: Welcome to the Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, episode 17. Today we are talking about qualifying prospects. So why is it so important to qualify prospects? Let me tell you a little story, and this actually happened to us. Somebody found us on LinkedIn, he was a very enthusiastic person that found us, called me, said he had a company that needed some marketing services.

They were interested in our, one of our more extensive consulting programs and he was very interested in some really top of the line services. And so he was very excited. He asked for some information. We sent him an information package, talked to him on Wednesday. And then he asked if we could call him back on Friday, and I did.

And we spent a lot of time talking. And several times over the next couple of weeks we had conversations. So it was really great and I was really happy that somebody had found us and was interested in our services as always. That’s always a wonderful thing to know that it’s working.

Even though that’s not all that unusual but his level of enthusiasm was really cool. You know, it was really kind of enjoyable to talk with him. But as time went on I started to kind of wonder, is this guy all he’s cracked up to be? So do you know where I’m going with this story, John?

You remember this one?

John Williams: I think so.

Paula Williams: Right. So carry on a few weeks later after having sent in some information and exchanging a bunch of emails and spending a lot of time. I eventually learned that he was not in a position in the company that I had thought that he was.

And I had never directly asked him, you know, are you the only person who’s going to be making the purchasing decision? As it turns out his boss put the kabosh on the whole thing and said, you know you have absolutely no marketing budget so there’s no point in continuing this conversation.

But by that time we had invested quite a lot in the conversation and that is time that I could’ve been spending with other prospects who had a little more likelihood of amounting to revenue for ABCI, so

John Williams: Or a lot more.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] revenue for ABCI. So, a lot of these things happen and there’s never a problem with talking to people.

I always enjoy talking with people who have an interest in marketing. But I do have to be careful where we spend our time and where we spend our resources, right?

John Williams: Of course.
Paula Williams: Absolutely, so you know, sales calls take time and time is money and here we are.

So, I’m Paula Williams

John Williams: And I’m John Williams.

Paula Williams: And we are ABCI and ABCI solution is

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

Paula Williams: Absolutely. Right. So today we’re talking about qualifying prospects and how not to end up in a time warp with somebody that has no possibility of buying your product or service.

John Williams: Even if they like it and if they are unable.

Paula Williams: That is absolutely true. There’s a lot of folks that you will want to spend time with, and we’ll talk about that. Having kind of a high intensity and a low intensity pipeline. So that you’re spending your time and money where you want it to go.

So we had talked about phase one the last several episodes, talking about getting prospects, getting people interested in your products and services and doing things like search engine optimization and social media and trade shows and public speaking and podcasts and webinars and all of those wonderful things that lead to a call to action, that get people interested in your product or service, and get them to make contact with you in the first place, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Once that happens, though, then we go to a next step which becomes a little bit more time and energy intensive and that involves sales calls. So getting on the phone with people is a little bit different than automated things like emails where it doesn’t matter whether I send one email or ten emails, it’s the same amount of time on my part, Right?

John Williams: Right.

Paula Williams: And it doesn’t even cost me any more, given that it doesn’t go over some number that we have in our CRM or whatever to make it have to go to the next stage. But after that initial phase one, then we go into phase two where we are doing things like follow up sales calls, emails, direct mail, information packages, other kinds of things.

Even formal sales presentations, we even get on a plane and go visit folks in situations where it warrants it. And all of that stuff takes time and money, right?

John Williams: Of course.
Paula Williams: So how do we know which of those is going to pan out and which ones aren’t?

John Williams: Well, we don’t really know which one is going to pan out. However, we can make sure that the prospect is qualified, and willing, and able, and ready.

Paula Williams: Right, so it’s like gambling. We are always playing the odds, and there’s always a chance that something is going to come up that’s going to make this not work out.

In fact, the whole point of marketing is to see if this is a good fit or not, on both sides, on our side and on their side. Is this somebody that we really want as a client, and is this somebody that really wants us as a client? And if neither of those things lines up perfectly, then it won’t work out.

But there are some ways to improve our probabilities, right?
John Williams: Yes there is.
Paula Williams: Okay, so there are three steps to qualifying a prospect. And those are? John Williams: He has to have the interest.
Paula Williams: Mm-hm.
John Williams: The authority and the resources.
Paula Williams: Exactly, so without those three things.

I mean they can have all of the interest in the world, but if he doesn’t have the resources or the authority to buy, then we’re still up a creek without a paddle, right?

John Williams: Gotta have the authority to use the resources that he’s got.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So all three of those things have to line up, and we’re going to talk about how we can identify or how we can identify if they don’t have any of those particular things.

So first of all, interest. Interest is pretty easy, and we do that one first because we want to know, is this somebody who has an interest in our product or service? Now one thing that we see all the time at trade shows and things like that is, drop your business card in this fishbowl for a chance to win an iPad.

But I’ve used this example a dozen times because it’s so bad but it’s so persistent. John Williams: And so true. That’s what everybody does out there.

Paula Williams: So just because somebody dropped their business card into a fish bowl wanting an iPad does not mean that they are a qualified prospect.

So some of the other things you could do at a trade show to get people who are more likely to be interested in your product or services, would be things like?

John Williams: You can have statements in your materials that you’re talking about. You can have, use the right bait.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So, the right bait at a trade show would be things like a tribute quiz. You know, answer three questions about our product. And will enter you into a contest for something that’s more relevant to somebody who wants this product or service.

John Williams: So, answer these three questions then put your business card in the fish bowl.

Paula Williams: Yeah, you could do that. Or you could do you know something that’s even more targeted where they have to participate in a game show or a trivia quiz or a product demonstration or something like that. And if you’re giving away an iPad, make sure that you’re giving away an iPad that is preloaded with your fabulous software or with your product demo or something like that.

Or you can give away something that is only going to be of interest to somebody that wants your product. So something that’s maybe a tool set for an aircraft mechanic or something like that. Nobody else is going to be interested in that except somebody who is an ideal prospect for you, right?

John Williams: Well, they’ve got these electronic pictures where you put pictures on. Use one of those, put your sideshow on it and then when they’ve watched it after they get home they can change it and put their own pictures on it.

Paula Williams: That’s true, there’s lots of ways to do that.

Another thing that you can do is, positioning statements in your materials like, saying this product is not for everyone. This is for people who own King Airs and fly into cold weather, or this is for people who fly in South American who have, An interest in

Paula Williams: This product is for people who work on aircraft of a particular type.

You know, this product is for different people who have a very specific thing that is their field of interest.

John Williams: Brake pads for Challenger 304 versus brake pads for a King Air 350.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So the more specific you can be, the more likely this is going to be a good prospect for you as far as the interest goes.

So let’s talk about resources. When we want to find out if somebody has the resources to buy our product or service we don’t want to just ask them. You know, do you have the money to buy this? Like in the old Oliver Twist kind of novels, you know show me the money first before I show you food.

But if you look at where you’re advertising, if you’re advertising in places where people of means tend to go. As an example, if you’re advertising at a yacht club, and you have a booth there, you’re pretty likely to run into people who have the means to buy your product or service.

If you are advertising in the Robb Report as opposed to controller, that’s a higher end audience for that magazine. So those are things that you can do to kind of position your product or service or your advertising so that people are more likely to have the means, and that’s not going to be a problem.

Another thing you can do is use positioning statements in your literature. You can also use other clues. We talked before about high end design, how high end products and services have a different look and feel to their advertising than budget products and services. And here’s an example of this, when John and I were in Paris and we were walking around one afternoon on the street and we didn’t have a whole lot of time for lunch, and we didn’t have a whole lot of local currency, because we were on our way to the airport.

So, we were looking in restaurants, looking for a place that looked like it was fairly quick, and fairly inexpensive. And our french is not fabulous [LAUGH]. John’s is a little better than mine [LAUGH]. But you can tell by looking at a place if they have white table cloths, and the polished silverware, and the weeders in the full length aprons, and everything else.

John Williams: We weren’t on just any street, this was Champs-Elysee,

Paula Williams: [LAUGH]

John Williams: Get a cab. [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Not the best place to get a quick bite on the way to the airport.

Paula Williams: So the positioning of those restaurants was visual and it was pretty obvious.

You know, here are the really high end restaurants versus the little casual bistros where there are no tablecloths and where people are sitting at a bar, and you can just buy a sandwich at the counter kind of a situation. A little bit more casual more likely to get served more quickly.

So you can do some of those same things with visual clues and other clues in your marketing, and your website, and other things. If you position everything as high end, then you are not as likely to run into the issue of people who show an interest that don’t have the resources to make a purchase.

So there’s lots of things we can do. Once it gets to a certain point you can start asking more questions like how many employees do you have, how many aircraft do you have, other things like that. And you can ask those questions with the very legitimate reason of wanting to give them good information about your product or service.

So you’ll get a good feel if I’m talking with them. But you can also ward off a lot of that just in the process of positioning your product. So that’s resources. Let’s talk about authority. It is really hard sometimes to establish authority, and this is the one that got me in our opening story, right?

I had assumed something from a job title that was not necessarily a level of authority that usually goes with that job title.

John Williams: Job titles don’t necessarily mean the ability to say buy.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and nowadays, titles seem to be kind of inflated over where they were a few years ago.

So you know a general manager is not necessarily the last word in a company anymore.

John Williams: When I was in corporate America I had the job title of manager. My boss was a director and we were getting behind because he refused to buy some software. So, I called up IBM and said, we’re going to buy it.

And we did. And he did not like it at all. [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: So you went beyond your authority.

John Williams: Yes I did. But not many people are willing to do that.

Paula Williams: Exactly. In fact If anything these days, it’s almost the opposite. People tend to want to get everybody and their dog’s opinion before they make a purchase.

Which really makes it difficult for us salespeople and marketing people to really get through all of that stuff. So another thing that you can do to establish authority ss social media research. Is this somebody who is actually publishing on behalf of their company? Publishing opinions, statements and articles and things like that.

There are some indirect questions you can ask. How many books or information packages are you going to need? We’d like to include one for everyone who’s involved in the purchase decision. That’s kind of the sneaky way to get around that authority question and to find out. Often when I ask people that, they will tell me, well I need one.

And I need one for my supervisor, and one for his boss, and one for his boss, and they keep going on and on and on. So then I realize.

John Williams: Then you know.

Paula Williams: Where on the food chain is the person that I’m talking with? You can ask further along in the sales process direct questions like, who will be involved in this decision?

That’s a perfectly legitimate question. You don’t wanna ask it during the first conversation, but once you get to the point of planning a trip or something that involves some expense on your part, you want to make sure you’re asking some more direct questions. Who needs to be in a room for a presentation?

What are some of the reasons that you might decide not to buy today? That’s a fairly textbook Sandler question. I have never used that one verbatim. I’ve kind of a little bit weird about that one, but there are some very direct questions that you can ask. Some people are better at this than others.

John Williams: Well, the reason you would ask that is because you are prepared for anything you might come up with that you can negate and turn around into a reason why they should buy.

Paula Williams: Right and that goes into object handling and all that other wonderful stuff. John Williams: That’s a whole nother topic of discussion.

Paula Williams: But it’s a good one. All right so we talked about interest, resources and authority and the three things that people need to have in order to actually make a purchase from you. And some of the ways that we can identify those. And that I think will really help us cut down on some of those wasted trips down the rabbit hole in the sales process, which saves us a lot of time and frustration, right?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Okay, so this was episode 17, qualifying prospects. Next episode will be 18, selling to organizations and then upcoming next would be Episode 19, Interactive Sales Presentations. So that’s our phase three series in this podcast and we’re really glad to have you here and have you listening.

So, a tip sheet for phase two is going to be on qualifying. We have a cheat sheet that is about this topic and it has some great questions that you can ask at each of those phases and just a nice little reminder you can hang on your wall when you’re talking to people and be able to check off some of those things to find out if you’re really talking to a qualified prospect.

So subscribe to our podcast. We’re really happy to have you listening, and if you’re subscribing on iTunes, please do also leave us a review. And let you friends, neighbors know, your colleagues in the aviation industry especially know that we are here to really provide a lot of value.

And actually spoke with a very nice gentleman named Roger. Roger, if you’re listening, this is for you, who left us a great review. And he said, with all of the free stuff that you’re giving away, you’re paid stuff must be really fantastic. And he told me on the phone today, I think you’re really giving too much away.

But in the course of this conversation, we talked about how he is looking into people to do marketing for a future business that he’s putting together. And we’re the only company that he’s considering at this point and the reason is because of the material that we’re producing and putting out there.

So what I told Roger and also what we tell a lot of our clients is don’t worry about giving too much away, worry about not giving enough compared to your competitors because you want to be the one that people think of when they’re ready to make a purchase.

And anything that you put out like this is going to be pretty generic, and everybody when they get to the point of purchase is going to want something very specific. They’re going to have very specific questions. They’re not going to go wading through the entire Internet to find answers to their questions.

They’re going to wanna have somebody that they know knows their stuff knows what to do, knows how to fix problems and knows how to solve their particular situation. So giving generic stuff away is fine. If you want customized help we’re always there to provide that as well.

John Williams: Not to worry about the occasional interesting person who says I can do this based on what you told me because they’ll get to a point several times along the way where they say how do you do this?

Paula Williams: Exactly.
John Williams: How do I do that? Because it’s different in every case. That’s why we don’t specify.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and if someone is not qualified for our products and services, either because they don’t have the resources right now or they don’t have the authority, we want them to use our stuff anyway.

We really want them to succeed and do well. And then they will get to a point where they’re qualified to use our products and services.

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: Of course. So great, and we’re glad to have you here and again, please do subscribe on iTunes. And thank you for joining us, we’ll see you next week.

John Williams: See you next time. [MUSIC]

AMHF 0016 – You DON’T Need More Leads!

Prospecting in the Aviation Industry - WebinarOne of the questions people ask us most, is this:

“How can we get more prospects or leads?

We’ve got everything else figured out, but we just need more leads.”

In this episode of Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, we tell a cautionary tale of what happens when what the business owner THINKS is the real problem is NOT the real problem.

There’s an old saying that “you never lose, you either win, or you learn.”  Well, this incident in 2012 changed the way we do business.

We definitely learned something!





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 Hangar Flying episode number 16, why you may not need more leads.

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] It’s funny because everybody, when we talk about marketing, usually the first thing that people tell us is, we need more leads. That’s the one problem that we have in our marketing system is, if we only had more leads, all of our problems would be solved.

But we’re going to tell you about one of our most frustrating marketing puzzles and one of two times that we fired clients. [LAUGH] And this actually is one of those things that sometimes happens and we had to learn from in order to really get our system down. So we’re going to talk about what happened and what we do now so that that will never happen again, right?

John Williams: Of course.

Paula Williams: Of course, okay. So I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: And I am John Williams.

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

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

Paula Williams: Exactly. All right, so for the last four episodes of our podcasts, we’ve been talking about phase one, which is advertising and prospecting.

Which is very important to do. And today we’re going to talk about what went wrong in one of our campaigns, or one of our client engagements, when things went very badly in phase one, which led to some other issues in phase two that we’re going to be talking about in the next several episodes.

So we’re just kind of transitioning from phase one to phase two. And this is one of the points at which things tend to blow up if we don’t prevent it, right? Okay, so in this situation, we have a marketing system where we’re acquiring leads for a client by using search engine optimization, SEO, and other methods.

And then people are downloading an ebook, and from that point then their sales person is making sales calls because this is a complex product. It’s a very high touch, high risk product that needs more explanation than can be done on paper. So you can get so far with credibility using electronic and paper materials, but at some point you have to talk to somebody, right?

John Williams: Yeah, preferably face to face but at least on the phone.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. So, when we designed this marketing system with this client, it was actually a really great process. They were really great to work with. They agreed in principle with us that, yes, this is what needs to happen.

They had a great sales guy who was a friend of the owner of the company. He knew a lot about the product. He knew a lot about how to respond to questions and answer questions and everything else. He’d been in the business for a really long time. So we thought okay, well this guy knows sales.

We know marketing. We don’t need to get into his stuff. He doesn’t need to get into our stuff. We just very neatly throw things over the fence and everything will go just great, right?

John Williams: Except for one small thing.

Paula Williams: Right, which we’re not going to give away.

[LAUGH] I know you know the answer John, but this is supposed to be a suspenseful story, so.

John Williams: Uh-huh.

Paula Williams: Uh-huh, okay.

John Williams: Well, I’m supposed to have a cup of coffee first.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Exactly. Okay, so now we know the setup. You know, we have everything that we need, we think.

Things are going along swimmingly, we set up our system. The search engine optimization is starting to kick in. The social media, we’re starting to get more pick-ups on that. People are actually finding the ebook, and they’re downloading it, and life is good, right?

John Williams: And what does swimmingly mean?

Paula Williams: Swimmingly means good, I think.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Right? Okay, so 44 people downloaded the ebook in July, and we’re thinking we’re doing a fantastic job. So, we met with this client every month and we talked about, here’s what went well, here’s what could go better, and so on.

So we got together with them after July, so about the first week of August, and had a meeting. And they had made no more sales than they had the month before. Probably four or five sales. So what’s the problem? I mean, we sit there and go through, they said we got all these leads, but they’re really no good.

And I’m like okay, well do we need to make the form that they use, that they fill out when they download the leads, do we need to make that more detailed? We added a couple of questions to that form. We thought okay, well you’re getting some unqualified leads.

That’s to be expected. And so we made it a little bit harder to get the ebook. No problem. Continued our search engine optimization, continued our social media, continued the other things that we were doing. We also did some post cards and other things. So we upped our game in marketing and got 57 ebooks downloaded in August.

John Williams: So as far as we know they’re qualified leads.

Paula Williams: Yeah, and still four or five sales in August. So the next month we had the same meeting, pretty much the same thing happened. We just assumed that everything was going swimmingly. [LAUGH] We already talked about what swimmingly means.

On the other side of the fence, and so we’re just feeding in leads and finding out that nothing is happening. Nothing more is happening than there was before. All right, so we upped our game some more. We’re working our butts off at this point, right, and doing a whole bunch of new articles, and everything else.

Doing a lot of work on the on the end of getting people to this ebook and selling this ebook. So 92 people downloaded this ebook in September. Met with them the first week of October and still, four or five sales, so. We came down to it, and we said, okay, well let’s really dive into this.

And the fact that this had not occurred to me before this really shows my assumption [LAUGH]
that everybody in the organization is doing their job. And, of course, I also didn’t want to upset the apple cart, because the person who was supposedly doing the sales calls was also a friend of the owner.

There are lots of things going on here. He was somebody that I really respected, had talked to quite a bit and thought that this was something that he knew. I sure as heck didn’t want to tell him how to do his job, you know. But as it turned out, he wasn’t making any of the calls.

And the way that we drilled down to this was like, okay, well, let’s talk about some of these leads. Let’s break down ten of these leads that we can just call and find out what happened, so that I can call them and find out, so was it something in the ebook?

Was it just not interested in the program but wanted the ebook for some other reason? What’s the reason for this? So give me ten leads that you talked to that I can follow up with. And he said, well, I really can’t do that. And I’m like, okay, well, can you give me one?

No, I really can’t do that. Well why not? Well, I made a couple of calls in July, but they didn’t really pan out, so I just assumed that this is a waste of time. And we talked about this and he actually had been dishonest in these meetings to our face, which led us to a situation where we really had to have a heart-to-heart with the whole company and say, you know what, we really cannot be doing this.

I mean we can’t be getting bad results. We can’t have a situation where we are expecting that certain things are going to be done and they’re not. And honestly it comes down to theft, don’t you think, John?

John Williams: Well, whatever, it makes us look bad, because you would think on the surface that we haven’t done our job when in fact they haven’t been making the sales calls.

They haven’t followed up on the leads they got.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and in my opinion, the reason I say theft is because they had spent thousands of dollars on the ebook and on prospecting activities. And our time and everything else, and that amounted to nothing. And three months later, these leads are going to be stale.

So if somebody says that they are doing something, and it turns out that they are not, that is not just dishonesty. That is also theft of opportunity, right? This was one of those times when we really learned a lot. And you can say that you never lose, you either win or you learn.

[LAUGH] So we didn’t chalk this up as a loss. We chalked this up as a learning experience. So there are some intersections between sales and marketing that are really, really critical. And it’s not always the salesperson’s fault if they are not making calls, or whatever happens. Because we didn’t have a system in place to verify what was being done.

We just said, put your notes into the CRM, and everything else. But no notes were getting in there. We assumed that he was making calls but just not getting ahold of people, or just not having a favorable response. What we needed to change about the system was every single time the phone rang or every time he made a call, there should’ve been a notation in the CRM.

So, we really needed to put a system in place to make sure that that happened. And so those accountability systems are really part of the marketing process.

Paula Williams: Is a lot harder than most people assume. And people think this is an exaggeration, but it really isn’t, and in the aviation industry it’s even worse.

It takes more than 5 to 12 contacts to make sale, which is the industry average. In some cases for very high [INAUDIBLE] or complex products, it can take years to make a sale. When you go back and look at the marketing textbooks, they talk about positioning products. People don’t buy a product or service.

They’re really looking for a solution to a problem that they’re having. So when people hire ABCI, it’s not because they want a brochure, or a website, or a trade show handled. What they’re looking for is to make more sales. So we had to go back, this was in 2012 that this whole story happened, and look at our products and services and say, how can we make it more likely that people that use our products and services will make more sales?

And the only way to do it is to involve the whole team, sales and marketing. And make sure that we have got really good education going on, really good team building going on. And really good accountability systems being put in place and being bought into by the whole team before we end up in a conflict situation where we’re actually accusing somebody of being dishonest.

It doesn’t have to get to that point. We can really make sure that everybody’s on board and working together before we get started. And that’s why we put together the Aviation Marketing Master Class. We involved Mike Ryan, Mark Leeper, Mike Nicholson at Sandler Sales. We got involved with their President’s Club sales training program, and a lot of other things to make sure that we were integrating all of those pieces.

So that we’re offering a complete solution, and not just marketing services but actually getting to the heart of why people hire us. Whatever is going to close, then you have a better way of forecasting your revenue and everything else, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: So a lot of new clients come to us and say they need more leads when they really don’t.

They really don’t have much of an idea of what’s happening to the leads that they’re getting now. And until we know the problem is or where that process goes astray, we’re not going to help them make more sales by getting more leads. We have another problem that we need to fix.

Okay, so upcoming podcasts. This was episode 16, talking about our [LAUGH] frustrating cautionary tale, right? So episode 17 we’re going to talk about qualifying prospects. Episode 18 we’re going to talk about selling to large organizations and infiltrating a corporate structure. Episode 19 we’re going to talk about interactive sales presentations and how to make those really effective.

So there is no new tip sheet this week, but we still have the 17 Great Calls to Action available. If you go to aviationbusinessconsultants.com/ctas, you can download that, and it has a number of different calls to action, including tips sheets, ebooks, videos, other things that you can do to get more leads, right?

Okay, subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. And please do leave us a rating. Again, this is a fairly new podcast. We are almost to 1,000 downloads.

John Williams: Wow.

Paula Williams: So tell your friends. Bring any colleagues or anybody else that you think could benefit from Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying and let them know, and get them to subscribe and leave us a rating as well.

Thanks for joining us.

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


Marketing Strategies – Approaching Your Top Ten Most Desired Customers

This one of the most powerful marketing strategies that we share with all of our clients early in the process of working together.

One of our clients (who is a pilot) remarked that “customers don’t come with approach plates.”

No, they don’t.   You have to make up your own.

Unique Customers Require Unique Approaches.

One thing we recommend to our clients is that they keep a “top ten” list of customers they want to do business with. (Remember that prospects are people, not companies, so you need to identify the specific person, or at least the job title, of the person you think would make the purchase decision.)

marketing strategies

Why Just Ten?

Why ten? Why not hundreds?

Because most people don’t have the time or energy to “approach” more than ten people intelligently.

Of course you can (and should, depending on your marketing objectives) send broadcasts of emails or postcards, and you can advertise in publications and reach thousands or hundreds of thousands of prospective customers; but if advertising is a shotgun, then approaching is a sniper rifle – much more targeted, and much more effective, particularly for situations where the targets are fewer and more difficult.

In addition to advertising, we also recommend spending personal attention on your “top ten” list as a disciplined business development activity.

Here’s why:

  • Ten is a small enough number to make this a two-way street. You’re reaching out with the sincere interest of listening and learning.
  • You can customize, tailor and craft marketing messages that are specifically compelling to this particular customer.
  • You may  find the person you thought was the ideal contact may not be the real decision-maker.  This is something you would only learn by building relationships.
  • Building these relationships over time offers more benefits than simply making this specific sale or closing this specific deal.  You’re making friends for life and learning valuable insights that you can apply to the rest of your marketing.
  • As sales close, or as you discover that one prospective customer on your list is NOT a good prospect for whatever reason, you can replace him or her with another. So your top ten list changes each week, each month, or each quarter, depending on the velocity of your sales cycle.

After some discussion, most of our clients agree that approaching (or “stalking”) their top ten prospects is a good strategy. The next question is this.

Prospect Approach Checklist

“So, what exactly should I be doing to ‘approach’ these prospects?”

Well, here’s what you don’t want to do:

  • You don’t want to bombard them with communication
  • You don’t want them to be uncomfortable about your level of attention. (You don’t want them to feel like you’re “stalking” them!)

Balance the activities listed below, and tailor them to the prospect and to the situation. Use restraint and be willing to spend as long as it takes to build trust. Here are some activities you could perform on a weekly basis:

  • Look them up on Google. Find out what you can and look for things you have in common and ways to connect.
  • Connect with them on social media.
  • Go to an event that you know they will be attending.
  • Look for opportunities to help them. If they ask a question in a forum or user group, offer a solution if you can.
  • Comment on articles they write or updates they post, if you have something relevant to say.
  • Cut out an article you find in a trade publication or magazine that you think might interest them, given their interests (again, the more you know, the better this works.)  Drop it in the mail with a handwritten note, or (less effective) send them an email with a link.
  • Send a card for their birthday, anniversary or congratulations for a special event.
  • Meet and connect with their “influencers.”  Extend your social network (online and in person) to others in their company and in their industry. Connect with their boss, their lawyer, their accountant, and anyone else they respect if you have a legitimate opportunity. The more connections you have within their network, the more “real” and credible you will seem in their experience.

We spend a couple of hours each Friday (we call this “Follow Friday”) to make it easy to remember to follow, connect with, comment on, and otherwise “follow” our Top Ten most desired customers.

One caveat – we don’t directly contact our “top ten” every single week; we may spend several weeks doing research for each actual connection. And we never use these “Follow Friday” activities for direct sales pitches. If a prospect indicates interest, fine; but we let the prospect drive the pace of the sales process.

My flight instructor used to say, “never rush an approach.”

That’s good advice for marketing strategy, as well.

LinkedIn for Aviation Marketing – Video Excerpt

Using LinkedIn for Aviation Marketing is a smart move-  LinkedIn is the most respected social media platform used by aviation decision-makers.  So, you can use some of the latest technology without breaking with tradition or associating with any of the less credible media.

The recording of the full class, as well as the printed slides and materials, are available to our Master Class Members by clicking here. (Login required.)

Not yet a member? Join us!


More resources:

Click To Enlarge

How to Increase Productivity

Via Salesforce

Social Media Survey of Aviation Professionals – Results and Recommendations

ABCI (Aviation Business Consultants International)  conducted a social media survey of aviation professionals, which concluded on July 11, 2014. The results confirmed some of our suspicions, and held a few surprises as well.

We advertised the survey on eight social media networks, as well as on our blog.  Survey respondents were compensated only with a report of the results.

Who responded to the survey?

The first two questions were designed to determine the segments of the aviation industry that respondents worked in, the companies they work for, and the positions they hold within those companies.

Social Media Survey of Aviation Professionals - Your Company

To divide this a different way, we can divide this into Business to Consumer (B2C) or Business to Business (B2B)

  • Business to Consumer can include FBOs, Aviation Training Organizations, Charter Organizations, Aviation Product Retailers (B2C) and Aviation Service Providers (B2C)
  • B to Business can also include FBOs, Aviation Training Organizations (career- oriented or those that sell to airlines, etc.) Charter Organizations, Airport Authorities, Aviation Consultants, Aviation Product Managers (B2B) and Aviation Service Managers (B2B)

Social Media Survey of Aviation Professionals - Your Role

  • Several years ago, social media users were younger, entry-level employees. Now C Level executives and founders were the largest group of our respondents!

Who Else Answered the Survey?

These are people that selected the option “other” and wrote in an response.

  • State aviation office
  • Uber driver – airport pickup/taxi service
  • Airline
  • Helicopter Pilot CFII
  • Aviation association
  • Full-service aviation company 
(FBO, Charter, MX, Management)
  • Aviation association

Social Media Survey of Aviation Professionals - Frequency

Which Social Networks do you use, and how often do you use them? (Personal Use)

Social Media Survey of Aviation Professionals - Personal use

Which Social Networks do you use, and how often do you use them (Marketing Use)

Social Media Survey of Aviation Professionals - Marketing use

There are two ways to use this data-

  • Look for opportunities where there are lots of companies advertising. If they’ve determined that it works for them, it may be a good opportunity to evaluate!
  • Look for opportunities where there are lots of users of a particular social media channel, with few companies that actually use it for advertising. (Lots of buyers + Few sellers = ideal market opportunity!)

Planned Changes in Social Media in the Coming Year

These were responses written in on the survey.  This question was optional.

  •  Increased use of Facebook and Twitter for business
  • Increased activity to send of company information instead of print media
  • Use more images
  • We want to do more with Linked In and will probably explore Google +
  • More Facebook activity with our employees
  • Increased use of Instagram
  • More customized and targeted advertising on social media sites.
  • Find more ways to use social media more effectively.
  • Increase
  • Many, but also see a return to more traditional marketing as it is now different!
  • Increasing
  • Increase with more relevant content
  • It will increase…but it will probably diversify, thus, diluting results…
  • Increased use of Google Plus, Instagram, reduced use of Facebook.
  • Increased use of all channels
  • Increased expectations for providing full-blown customer service via social media channels

You can probably detect a trend here- people use the term “increased” and “more” a LOT. No one in our survey indicated they intended to do LESS social media marketing in the coming year.

Key Takeaways:

  • LinkedIn is the primary social media used most by the most aviation professionals.
  • Aviation professionals are deeply divided about Facebook usage (people love or hate it, with very little middle ground)
  • Google Plus has gained significant usage among aviation professionals.
  • All respondents plan to increase social media usage for the coming year.
  • Pinterest and Instagram usage remains low, but there are small pockets of dedicated usage among specific groups. (Instagram for highly visual aviation products, and Instagram among aviation maintenance professionals, for example.)

Need help developing a social media strategy or seeing how your social media presence stands up to the competition, and seeing what opportunities you might be missing?

Order a Marketing Flight Plan Today!

LinkedIn Basics – What We Won’t Be Covering in Wednesday’s Session

Many people think of LinkedIn as an online resume service or job-hunting tool, both of which are definitely worthwhile LinkedIn Basics.

It can also be used as a powerful marketing platform, especially for the complex, high-touch business aviation market.

Our LinkedIn Webinar on Wednesday will be covering some very advanced techniques and exceedingly powerful ways to use LinkedIn, but we WON’T be covering the basics for first-time LinkedIn users.  We only have an hour, and want to make sure it’s a great use of time for everyone that joins us. We asked in the registration form about the experience level of attendees, and have found that most attendees are fairly sophisticated users and have a fairly high degree of proficiency with it.

So, we’re “taking it up a notch” with the course.

New to LinkedIn?   Coming to the Webinar?  

No worries, but to get the most out of the session we suggest you brush up on the basics first.

Here’s the “official” LinkedIn 101 tutorial:


You may find the audio too low.  If that’s the case, here’s another good basic tutorial, the narrator has a charming Swedish accent.

linkedin basics


Specific examples from the aviation industry will be used in Wednesday’s Webinar, and we will discuss different methods to use LinkedIn for marketing purposes.

Ten Things Aviation Professionals Should Do with LinkedIn –

  1. Find new prospects for your product or service.
  2. Connect with people you need to know in a way they respect.
  3. Research your competition and refine your competitive advantage.
  4. “Do your homework” before a networking event, important meeting or sales call.
  5. Follow up after a networking event, important meeting or sales call.
  6. Find thought leaders in your area of expertise to connect with.
  7. Get found when people are looking for your particular product or service.
  8. Obtain more publicity for your website or blog.
  9. Obtain more followers on your other social media sites.
  10. Establish your credibility as a thought leader in your area of expertise.

Most Master Class sessions are Members Only, but everyone is welcome to this special session!

There are a few seats left in this free workshop – reserve yours now!

Click Here to Register Now!

Register Now LinkedIn


Targeted Marketing – Making the Most of a Short Prospect List

Most marketing companies place a lot of emphasis on advertising and acquiring as many leads as possible.  This is a great objective, as far as it goes, but several changes in the economy, technology and legal landscape make targeted marketing to a smaller, more carefully compiled list a better strategy.

Last week we worked with clients on strategies to pare down their prospect lists to reduce their exposure to anti-spam legislation such as the new Canadian Anti-Spam law., but there are many reasons an aviation sales or marketing professional might have a short list of prospects:

  • You work for a startup or a very new company.
  • You sell a very exclusive product that involves very high personal involvement.
  • You sell a very specific product that serves a niche with unique requirements.
  • You inherited a “dirty” or nonresponsive list and a thorough cleaning reduced its size.

It’s good to be exclusive.

We worked on a marketing strategy for a client  in aviation financial services. After researching the qualifications for this particular service, we determined the total list of qualified prospects in the world was 67.   This was still a viable market since our client only needed about four new clients per year to meet her objectives.

When we first gave her the news, the first reaction was dismay.  But after we’d talked awhile, she realized how liberating it is to be working within such a narrow focus.  It certainly eliminates a lot of potential waste.

Of course, the strategy of marketing to a list of 67 is very different than marketing to a list of thousands (as in most aviation products) or hundreds of thousands (as in most consumer products.)

Mass Marketing in Aviation  Targeted Marketing in Aviation
  • Long list of prospects (thousands)
  • Short list of prospects (less than a thousand)
  • Research demographics
  • Research individual companies and people
  • More “broadcasting”
  • More conversations
  • Shorter sales cycle
  • Longer sales cycle
  • More competition
  • Less competition
  • More price sensitivity
  • More price elasticity


Calculate your customer lifetime value.

One of the key numbers a business owner must carry around in his head is the “customer lifetime value” or “CLV.”

If you’ve been scrupulously using a CRM (customer relationship management) system for several years, you may be able to calculate this very precisely by looking at the revenue per transaction times the number of transactions for that customer, plus assigning a value of any other customers referred by that customer.

You will probably be surprised what a loyal, happy customer is worth.  Some very smart companies are willing to spend a significant amount of money to acquire a good customer.  Some are willing to lose a little money on a customer service incident or a specific transaction.  If they know the numbers, they can make good decisions that may seem like altruism or goodwill, when they’re really shrewdly “playing the odds.”

In any case, this is a key piece of information,  because spending more than the CLV to acquire a new customer is foolish. Spending a percentage of that value to acquire a new customer is a good investment.

Besides the financial investment, be aware of how much time you’re willing to spend to acquire a new customer.  The shorter your prospect list, the more time you’re likely willing to spend.

Three techniques  that are very effective for short-list, targeted marketing

A smaller list allows you to devote more money, and/or more time, to each one and treat each prospect as “special.”

Limited list of prospects? Precision becomes more important in Targeted Marketing

When you have a limited list of prospects, precision is important. Targeted marketing is a good skill to learn!


  • Direct mail.  Create ten or twenty high-value information packages that are sent to qualified prospects who have indicated an interest. This can be much more effective than buying an ad that will be read by large numbers of less-qualified prospects who have an unknown interest level.
  • The telephone. Yes, we know. Nobody likes making sales calls. But a properly-structured marketing campaign should provide multiple opportunities to interact with a prospect that aren’t necessarily defined as “sales calls.”   A call after a prospect has downloaded a piece of information from your website could be very low-key.  “Were you able to retrieve the file? Did it answer your questions?” Or you could make a call to let your prospect know about a specific item in the news that may affect his business.  The harsh reality of the aviation industry is that the phone is very effective as a sales tool.  The shorter your list, the more you should be using the phone.
  • LinkedIn.  Again, if you have a small number of prospects, you can devote more time to. You don’t necessarily have to buy ads on LinkedIn, although that is a possibility; but to do research on individual people, make connections, and have conversations in groups and other non-threatening environments. We’ll be talking more about this in our upcoming webinar – Ten Ways Aviation Professionals Should Be Using LinkedIn.

While lead acquisition (and enlarging your list of prospects) is certainly important, it can be even more effective to devote your marketing resources to serving a smaller and more targeted list of prospects.

Does your company rely on email marketing? Read this to avoid steep fines. . .

Obtaining explicit consent for email marketing has become more important than ever.  Even if you have been following best practices around email compliance for years, CASL changes the game.  CASL affects any person and business sending email to Canadian citizens.

If you ever have or intend to send email as part of your marketing efforts, you are going to want to follow this legislation very closely.

What is CASL?

On July 1, 2014 Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will be enacted and is being touted as one of the most aggressive anti-spam laws in the world.

The law is part of Canada’s attempt to deter the most damaging and deceptive forms of spam like identity theft, phishing, and spyware. Unlike CAN-SPAM, which accepts an opt-out model, CASL requires an opt-in model.  This means you must have explicit (not implied) permission from the recipient in order to send email marketing to anyone in Canada.

Starting July 1, 2014, you must have explicit (not implied) permission from the recipient in order to  send email marketing to anyone in Canada.

Click here for more information on CASL, and read the full text of the law here.

What could happen if I violate CASL?

The penalties are steep—up to $10 million per violation.  When the legislation goes live, the Canadian government can bring suit against violators.  Starting in 2017, CASL empowers Canadian citizens to personally take legal action against you and your business.

This legislation could open you and your business entities up to potential personal liabilities, ranging from civil damages to monetary penalties to criminal charges.

The best way to protect yourself is to obtain an affirmative double opt-in from your email marketing recipients. 

Although the law goes live on July 1st, senders have a three-year grace period to obtain explicit consent from their Canadian recipients.

Because it may be difficult to determine which contacts in your customer and/or prospect lists may be located in Canada, we recommend that everyone use double-opt-in methods for their email marketing.

And this is yet another great reason to have a marketing system that makes it easy to adapt when laws or technology changes.

It’s important to have redundancy in your marketing system so that it’s easy to adapt to changes like these.

“Diversity leads to stability.”  – Dan Kennedy

One of the biggest differences between vintage and modern airplanes is the concept of redundancy – instruments and controls that “cover for one another” in the event of a failure.  Redundant systems make it safer to fly.

If your glass panel fails for any reason, you can rely on the good old-fashioned “steam gauges” to help you get where you’re going.

Redundant Systems in an aircraft

Cirrus Interior – Photo – Wikipedia.com

Many  things have changed in the last few years when it comes to marketing laws and technology.  There are lots of things that could “go wrong” with a marketing system that is too dependent on any particular technique or media.

  • Email legislation (such as CASL)
  • Changes in do-not-call legislation
  • First class postal rates going up
  • Flat rates for parcels introduced
  • Better email “spam” filters
  • Social media channels have been invented, gained and/or lost popularity (i.e. – who bothers with MySpace anymore?)
  • Google has revolutionized search technology and can affect traffic to your site dramatically when they change the rules.

When you have a marketing system that has several effective options for each phase of the marketing process, it still continues to function, even if you have to take one option “offline” for legal or technical reasons.

ABCI focuses on building  redundancy into every marketing system we build, implement or manage.

Here are some examples of redundant features we include in our marketing systems:

  • Multiple advertising venues (i.e. postcards AND email AND social media)
  • Software AND “human being” website monitoring.
  • Nurturing several social media channels – as one falls into disuse, others become more popular.
  • Reporting (and decision-making) that includes results from several software tools that use different technology,  emphasis and bias  (Google Analytics AND Alexa AND Klout AND SumAll, etc.)


This diagram shows an example of Phase One activities for a marketing client.  You can see from the blue arrows there are several alternatives to email broadcast (email marketing.)

This ensures a stable flow of new leads, despite “turbulence” in the technology or legal landscape that may affect one or more of our prospecting activities.

Our job is to build and maintain marketing systems that maintain a stable flow of leads, anticipating any changes in the “weather” that might affect any of the activities we use in our systems; to plan for them in advance as much as possible, and to ensure that disruptions are minimal.

Redundancy may not be sexy, unless you’re a pilot.   (Or a pilot who’s into marketing!)


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