I’m writing this on Saturday while John is packing for a trip to Chandler, Arizona. We’re on our way to the Infusionsoft University next week.
We love traveling. And you can never get too much school.
You can call us nerds, egg-heads, geeks, whatever; but we enjoy going to classes and learning new things.
There is currently much controversy about whether a college education is a good investment for a young person. We’ve heard the arguments and we agree with some of them, but we still encouraged our kids to get at least a bachelor’s degree. We think it teaches as much about self-discipline and working within a system as it does about the subject matter, and the doors it opens are still worth the investment. It also helps a young person build up a trusted network of contacts within their chosen field and start building relationships.
John and I both have Master’s degrees. (John’s in Business, mine in Adult Education.) While this is not specifically about marketing OR aviation, we’ve found the background really helps us put things into perspective and sets us apart from other people in aviation and marketing who don’t have the deep understanding of business informs our discussions with clients about how product pricing affects long-term financial projections, or how an investment in marketing affects the bottom line. The education background is helpful to our clients because we truly believe that educating customers should be a function of great marketing.
We try to attend two major classes or seminars each year, in addition to aviation conventions. We can’t learn everything there is to know, but we carefully choose one business or marketing topic that has changed a lot in the last year, and one technology topic that has changed a lot (or that we feel holds the most value for our clients.)
We chose Infusionsoft because ALL of our clients have expressed a lot of interest in marketing automation – no matter how brilliantly designed a marketing campaign may be, it won’t work if our clients are too busy to execute it well. Automating as many steps as possible frees up their time for sales tasks that require a personal touch.
We like to attend them on-site when we can. The reason?
Going somewhere forces us out of our routine. Meeting different people, eating different food, sleeping in a different bed causes a shift in our perception so that we look back at our own business (and our clients’ businesses!) from a different perspective, at least for a week.
Interacting with people in a room brings unexpected ideas and connections for collaborations. We’ve met people at seminars that we’ve subsequently introduced to our clients, creating mutually profitable new relationships.
Looking forward to sharing more great ideas when we get back!
Many of our new clients (or people who aren’t clients yet) ask us:
“What’s wrong with just running an ad and seeing how it does? Why do you want us to plan a whole campaign? I have enough to do!”
I understand where you’re coming from – none of us needs extra things to do to keep us busy!
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who knew a thing or two about planning, and about being busy, said this:
Plans are useless, but planning is everything.
Plans are useless, but planning is everything! – Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Obviously, the simplest thing to do is something we call a “random act of marketing.” An ad salesman from a magazine, trade show, directory, group discount program, web site or email “blast” company calls and asks something like:
“Wouldn’t you like to get your ad in front of 10,000 people who are looking for just what you offer? We’re running a special this month and you can get a hundred dollars off if you sign right now.”
This sounds good, so you sign up.
Then one of two things happens:
You get lots of calls and visits from “looky lous” and “freebie seekers” who take what you’re offering and move on like a cloud of locusts.
Absolutely nothing. The phone doesn’t ring any more this month than it did last month.
What went wrong?
A failure to plan! A “random act of marketing” is almost always a waste of time and money!
“Saving time” by jumping into an ad contract without planning an effective campaign is a false economy.
“Saving money” by having someone who is inexperienced or unqualified on your staff plan your campaigns is also false economy. (Even if it’s you! I know better than to do graphic arts. Our graphic artist knows better than to plan her own marketing campaigns.)
A great campaign consists of a list, an offer, and the media.
The list is ideally some reasonable number of people who are “prequalified” in some way – you have reason to believe they need what you offer.
The offer is a specific transaction that you are proposing. “Get your airplane serviced here, and we’ll detail the interior free.”
The media or message has to do with how the offer is presented to the list. This could be in a phone call, a visit, an ad, an email, or a trade show booth.
Both of the problems above can be prevented by planning these three elements well – we look at each circumstance case by case, but can only determine a cause if the campaign is well-designed to begin with. We need data to diagnose!
“Looky lous” and “freebie seekers” are often the result of too general a list, or too generous an offer.
No response at all to an ad could happen if you’re using the wrong media to reach this audience, or the offer is not attractive enough to your target audience.
Campaigns should make the best possible use of the list of prospects by presenting them with a series of thoughtful, relevant ads in different media, all of which contribute to an overall impression of your company as a trusted provider of the product or service they need.
Each step should have realistic expectations of what should happen.
Each step should have measurable criteria so that you can clearly determine whether or not “it’s working.”
Each step should have decision points to evaluate what to do next based on the results
Few (if any) campaigns go precisely according to plan, but like Gen. Eisenhower, we simply can’t afford to be out there without a plan!
And in case you don’t believe Eisenhower, here’s another one -
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” – Winston Churchill
How many times have you won an argument, but lost the sale?
How many times do you swear that will never happen again, only to find (too late) that you’ve been drawn into an argument with a potential client?
Here’s how to avoid it:
Shut your mouth. Seriously. Just stop talking.
Why is it so easy to fall into an argument during a sales presentation?
How hard can that be?
To be honest, it is pretty darn difficult to perform the Herculean feat of patience that is required when a potential customer launches into an objection based on incorrect information.
Especially if it’s the fourth time you’ve heard the same objection today.
You want to tell the prospect “You’re wrong and here’s why!” in no uncertain terms. But that’s counterproductive. The best formula we’ve seen is from the Dale Carnegie Institute, and it involves the following steps:
Here’s how it works:
Listen – Even if you’ve heard it a thousand times, its new and it’s important to the prospect. This might be a nuance or wrinkle you’ve not heard before. Don’t assume you know the rest of what the prospect is going to say. Hear him out and don’t interrupt.
Question- Ensure you’ve heard and interpreted it correctly, from his point of view.
Cushion – Acknowledge the importance of the objection and his reason for it.
Objection – “Your price is considerably higher than I expected.”
Cushion – I appreciate your concern about the investment. Everybody has to watch the budget these days.
Objection –My staff is happy with the process we are using now.
Cushion – Certainly you want to keep your staff happy.
Objection – I do not think we’re ready to make a change at this time.
Cushion - I know you want to make the decision at the right time.
Respond - Carnegie uses the acronym DEFEATS – as in “evidence DEFEATS doubt: One or more of the following is required to respond to the objection:
D – Demonstration
E – Example
Evaluate - Don’t assume you’ve “beat him with logic.” The only important factor in your response is whether the prospect thinks it makes a difference. Ask - “Does that make you feel more comfortable about the payments?” “Does that answer your concern?”
It seems simple, and it seems like common sense. But few salespeople are truly fluent with this technique because it takes some time, thought, practice, role-playing with colleagues, and just plain will-power and patience to NOT react to the objection immediately, and take the time to make it work properly.
While it’s ideal to meet a new client at the beginning of a marketing campaign, most often new clients call us when there’s a problem.
They’ve invested in a campaign and aren’t getting the results they expect.
When we evaluate what went wrong, we go over the offer, the list, and the message. Assuming that the offer is attractive and the list is appropriate, then the problem must be with the message.
Confusion Kills Campaigns
How can we simplify the message?
Whether it’s an email, a postcard, a magazine advertisement, or a web page, almost every marketing piece we are asked to evaluate could be made much more powerful (and therefore be much more cost-effective!) by simplifying it.
A caveat here – most people make the error of taking shortcuts with their campaigns. They try to make one simple ad or postcard do the job of a complete sales letter or catalog.
That’s not what we mean. Complete, complex campaigns are good – the best ones involve multiple media delivered over an extended period of time.
What needs to be simplified is the message delivered to the prospect with each communication. You’re asking the prospect to understand one simple message or take one small, low-risk step at a time. Rather than asking him to buy an expensive, complex aircraft service contract with your first advertisement, ask the prospect to do something simple and low risk.
Ask him to download a free guide to minimize downtime or prevent problems for his particular type of aircraft. If he downloads the guide, then ask him to call your office and schedule a free consultation with a service specialist for his particular aircraft type. Then, after providing sufficient background, information, interaction and dialogue over several simple, low-risk steps, you’re now in a much better position to suggest your aircraft service contract as the ideal solution for his situation.
We often underestimate how busy and distracted our prospects are. They have thousands of demands on their time. Each marketing message you provide must be compelling, and it must be simple enough to grasp their attention and compel them to take some simple, appropriately low-risk action that they can take right away. If they have to perform a complex evaluation or take a large risk, they will put it aside to consider “later.” By the time “later” rolls around, they will have purchased something from a competitor that seemed easier and simpler.
Our new clients often protest. “This ad isn’t confusing. It makes perfect sense to me.”
When we test that ad against a simpler version sent to the same list, the simpler version nearly always gets better response.
Think about it - you’ve been working in a complex field, probably for many years. Things that seem simple to you can be rather complex to someone whose line of work is specialized on a different topic. Next time you watch two people with different specialties talk about their work at a networking function, notice how quickly the person speaking tends to assume a certain level of knowledge and “lose” his audience.
What are the most truly effective marketing pieces that come to mind? The ones you’re thinking of right now were truly effective because they did just one thing very, very well – they were very simple in structure, and they conveyed one single, important message. We remember simple slogans, images, and sound bites much better than complex, technical ones!
“But won’t we lose credibility if we don’t provide the complex technical data?”
You can provide all the data you want, as long as you use appropriate media, and convey it in the simplest possible way. Albert Einstein had so much credibility that his unorthodox views on very complex topics have become commonly accepted. Part of his genius was his ability to communicate complex information simply. He said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
When we evaluate the sequence of a “troubled” campaign, we ask:
Are we using the right mix of media to engage with the best prospects?
Are we asking too much too early in the process? (The “I know you’ve never heard of us before, but buy our product because it’s the best thing you’ve never heard of” approach.)
(Another way of putting this – Do we take enough time to establish a level of trust appropriate to the level of perceived risk associated with this product or service?)
What small, low-risk action could we ask the prospect to take to signal that he found our message compelling at an early stage in the process?
What’s the next appropriate small step?
Is this step more appropriate for a marketing piece or a personal interaction? (Is this an appropriate point to trigger a sales call or visit?)
Have we qualified this prospect well enough to justify a salesperson’s time at this point in the campaign?
About each specific marketing piece (ad, email, postcard, web page or sales letter) we ask:
Can we simplify the language we’re using?
Can we make it more concise? (Remember Ben Franklin’s confession to a friend? “Apologies for the long letter. I would have written you a shorter one if I’d had the time.”
Can we communicate any relevant data in a simpler way by using a graph, chart or image rather than text?
If we must provide long text, can we make it more visually attractive or “scannable” with subheads, bullets and other appropriate formatting?
Aviation industry experts often assume their prospects have a background knowledge they simple haven’t taken the time to acquire. They often ask prospects to take an action that seems logical, from their own point of view. From the prospect’s point of view, however, it’s another thing entirely.
After scrutinizing the campaign from this perspective and making appropriate changes, our clients are often astonished at how much more effective their campaigns can be!
Are you running a campaign that needs help?
Schedule a 30-minute consultation and we’ll tell you more about our process for getting you back on track.
Is working with ABCI the right option for you?
Let’s find 30 minutes to talk on the phone about your marketing objectives.
You walk by their booth at a trade show, see something intriguing in their display, and a friendly person from the booth invites you to play a game or enter a contest.
You play along, and before you know it, you’ve told them where you’re from, what you do for a living, what you love and hate about it, you have found something fascinating about their product that’s actually relevant to your current needs, you’ve entered their contest (and parted with your business card) and you’re looking forward to hearing from them again.
The whole experience is polished, professional, and friendly. You have the impression that the company is well-run, well-organized, and takes care of its people (and its customers!)
The “plays” in your trade show booth may not be this complex, but it is worth the time to map them out so your sales team is effective.
Other companies obviously don’t have a clue.
You walk by their booth at a trade show, you can’t tell what the company does or why it’s relevant. The people occupying the booth have their noses buried in their PDAs and tablets, clearly more interested in their Angry Birds score than in potential customers!
The experience is irritating and frustrating. (Especially if you really WANT some information from this company.)
You’re left with the impression that the company doesn’t hire or train good people; and if you became a customer of this company you would also be ignored and disregarded.
It gets worse.
You walk by a booth and are physically blocked from proceeding down the aisle by someone who demands that you stop and watch a product demonstration for a mysterious product. At some point during the exchange he foists a business card upon you and demands one of yours. There are two or three sales team members that are obviously tag-teaming and stalking passers-by. The next time you walk down the same aisle you’re accosted by a different team member from the same company. They don’t ask you a single question but bombard you with facts and figures that are obviously supposed to be impressive. You still have no clear idea of what their product or service is or why you would care, but find yourself uncomfortably excusing yourself and making your escape.
You’re left with the impression the company is desperate for sales but doesn’t care about customer needs, and their only interest in you as a customer is your checkbook.
How well does your sales team perform at trade shows?
To be the first type of company, (with the sales team that is professional, polished and friendly) you need to spend time planning your trade show “plays” and training your sales staff. Each team member needs to be comfortable and relaxed with what to say and how to work together. Then they can easily build rapport with show participants, and they know better than to expect too much of a trade show encounter. This is a team that has a well-planned and practiced sales choreography. Each team member understands the objectives and their role in achieving them.
The challenge in the Aviation Industry
In the aviation industry in particular, it’s common for companies not to have a dedicated trade show staff. They either hire professional trade show personnel who may not have much product knowledge; or more commonly, draft subject matter experts and other company personnel that may not have any formal sales training. Companies can have very successful trade show experiences using either option, but these circumstances require advance planning and training to help these salespeople work effectively as a team.
Company execs and sales managers often assume that “everybody knows” how to interact with prospective customers at a trade show, and that “it’s all common sense.” It’s also common to assume that everyone knows how to talk to civilians and demonstrate the product or explain the service to its best advantage without using jargon, and that everyone knows how to assemble the booth correctly and how and when to use each piece of marketing documentation effectively. We’ve found that to be an unrealistic expectation.
Keys to a Successful Sales Choreography in a Trade Show Booth
Have a reasonable (but valuable) objective for a trade show encounter. Selling a $10,000 product from a trade show booth is unlikely. Acquiring a pile of un-annotated business cards from dubiously qualified prospects is unlikely to be worth the time and money involved with follow up. Acquiring contact information from qualified leads that you have had a meaningful conversation with is a very reasonable (and worthwhile) objective!
Make sure every team member understands his role. Someone who believes that “he who gets the biggest stack of business cards wins” has no place on your sales team.
Ensure you have enough people in the booth to engage with visitors and take the time to listen. As Steven Covey wrote in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “With people, slow is fast and fast is slow.” He followed up with another book with an instructive title – The Speed of Trust. Salespeople get a bad reputation from trying to rush relationships too quickly, or push people into taking actions they’re not ready to take yet. Remember, your objective is to establish relationships, not just acquire their money (or even just their contact information) as quickly as possible. You make the eventual sale more difficult if they leave your booth feeling uncomfortable or rushed. Instead, they should feel appreciated, comfortable with your company, and energized by the possibility of working with a partner.
Don’t be afraid of small talk. Assuming you’ve selected a trade show with a good percentage of qualified prospects, every relationship you build is worthwhile. Teach your sales team to use FORM if they get stuck for a topic. (FORM – Family, Occupation, Recreation, Mission.) You may find out that someone is related to someone you know, or coaches their kid’s soccer team. That bit of information (and the patience and rapport it took to get to that point) is worth more in the long run than any facts you can pour on booth visitors about your product’s features.
Have a clear “Call to Action.” What do you want qualified prospects to do, know, and feel as a result of having visited your booth?
Do you want them to buy a small related product (like a book or information kit on the topic?) Have a great display of merchandise and a good point of sale system set up.
Do you want them to set an appointment for a 30-minute consultation? Have your appointment book and reminder slips ready.
Do you want them to enter a contest for a free gift? Ensure you have some mechanism for ensuring the leads are qualified (i.e. state that only Directors of Maintenance are eligible to enter, or the gift is something that only Directors of Maintenance would have a use for.)
Brainstorm eventualities. What if someone has a question you can’t answer? What if someone wants to buy the product right away? What if there are too many people for you to handle effectively during rush periods? What if there are too few attendees during “slow” parts of the show? What if a competitor is obviously collecting intelligence? What if a dissatisfied customer shows up and noisily voices his opinion? What if someone who is obviously not an appropriate prospect wants to monopolize your time? Brainstorm the possibilities and be prepared to protect your investment in booth rent and travel cost.
Create scripts. Everyone is resistant to scripts, until they are eyeball-to-eyeball with a prospect and find themselves tongue-tied. Take the time to write out good opening lines, and change the wording as you discover what works and what turns people off. Pass these outlines along to newer people in your organization.
Practice! Teams spend hours perfecting plays. It’s worth walking through the “plays” with your sales team prior to the trade show. Spend some time playing “prospect” and “booth guy” and go over it until you’re comfortable. Walking through the entire process is very helpful – you may find that it’s most effective to have a multi-person “routine” where the first team member makes contact and introduces them to a second team member who is more knowledgeable about the topic but not as outgoing in personality. A third team member can be processing contest entries once you’ve started a conversation and generated interest. A great team supports each other and plays off the strengths of each member of the team.
Have a “dress rehearsal” with sales and marketing. Using all of the documentation and display items in a practice session to point out inconsistencies in your message. Adjust the printed or displayed information to clarify the message and make things easier for your sales team.
Now that you’re prepared, get a good night’s sleep, have a good breakfast, wear comfortable shoes and smile. Your sales team has got it all together!
The following is a very short excerpt from our latest Marketing Master Class on Great Sales Presentations.
It is a very common sales mistake to expect too much from a sales presentation. Eager salespeople ask for the sale, or try to “get their foot in the door” to provide a full-blown sales presentation to a captive audience before spending the time to develop a sufficient level of rapport and interest.
Skilled salespeople don’t put their foot in the door, they build trust and earn an invitation.
As an example, at a networking event several years ago while I was working for a financial institution, an overanxious software salesperson rattled off a list of facts that he obviously thought was fascinating. I didn’t see how they were relevant to my current situation. Without much interaction from me, he rather obviously hinted that he expected me to make an introduction to my boss.
Turning him down (and extricating myself from his company) was awkward. Of course, making the introduction at that time would have been even more awkward and inappropriate, since the salesperson obviously didn’t know or care much about me, or my boss, or even what our department or even our company actually did. He made an assumption from my name tag, was in a hurry to make a sale, tried to shortcut the process, and consequently burned a potential lead, or at least a potential referral source.
Had this salesperson asked a few questions, established some rapport, based his “elevator speech” on relevant benefits (not just jargon-filled features of questionable relevance) he would have spent an equal amount of time making the acquaintance of a colleague and perhaps even an ally if we’d found common objectives. Instead, he added another person to the (probably long) list of people who would avoid him at future networking events!
We see a variation on this theme at pretty much every Aviation trade show we attend – salespeople in the exhibitors’ booths tend to be passive-aggressive. Either they do nothing (and bury their faces in their electronic devices and avoid eye contact with passers by) or they anxiously and awkwardly try to shortcut the process before trust and rapport are established.
An often overlooked axiom – if you make a prospect uncomfortable, he’s less likely to buy from you.
Another axiom – if you’re uncomfortable with what you’re asking, your prospect probably is, too!
For long-cycle, large-ticket sales, it’s ideal to work down this list, approximately in the order of steps listed. Practice each step with a colleague until you’re comfortable with the general ideas, signals and wording you’ll use.
While there is not a direct one-to-one correlation between these steps, you can roughly expect steps at the top of the list are most appropriate for early in the relationship when there is less commitment on both sides. Steps further down the list are most appropriate later in the relationship after there is more commitment on both sides.
30 Second “Elevator Speeches”
Cold telephone call
Trade show booth mini-presentations
Short telephone conversation
Scheduled telephone conference
On-site, formal sales presentations
Offer of a small or low-risk product
Extended on-site visits & tours
Offer of a larger, more complex product
Permission to call/send information
Agreement to meet for coffee/lunch
Agreement to listen to a sales presentation
Agreement to introduce a higher-up
Agreement to facilitate a formal sales presentation
Purchase of a small, low-risk product
Purchase of a larger, more complex product
Referral of other prospective customers
Judging when it’s appropriate to move to the next step is more art than science. Experienced salespeople who are able to “read” a client’s signals better can move forward more confidently. Newer salespeople should move more carefully through these steps.
Just as important as moving forward at the right speed – it’s also wrong to backtrack. Asking for too little ruins your credibility and the prospect’s confidence in the process. If you’ve already delivered a formal sales presentation, don’t offer to to follow up with another informal meeting or send another generic brochure. Ask specifically what’s needed to move forward with the purchase decision (one way or the other.)
Upcoming Aviation Marketing Master Class topics:
Effective Sales Presentations
Planning a Marketing Campaign
Time Management for Sales & Marketing Teams
Content Writing– What to Write About
Working With the Press
When (& How!) to Hire a Dedicated Salesperson
Planning a Marketing Calendar
Join our Marketing Master Class before the end of April and we’ll send you a CD recording of this webinar and the printed workbook for this topic; as well as all future invitations, workbooks, Master Mind groups, and even customized in-person on-site training based on the level you choose.
We focus on factors that really make a difference to your revenues:
Target the right prospects within the aviation industry
Establish trusted relationships
Work with the unique challenges, vocabulary and culture of aviation professionals
Use a systematic, disciplined and measurable approach to marketing
Use a low-pressure, ethical but effective approach to sales
“Live” events for participants to interact with sales and marketing experts and thought leaders in the aviation industry, as well as other members of the program, who include the brightest and most innovative marketing minds in the aviation community.
Need better sales and marketing results next month?
Better join today!
Already a member of the Master Class? Refer a friend and receive a 30-day upgrade! (From your current level to the next – i.e. Bronze to Silver, Silver to Gold etc.)
When we tell people we’re in marketing at a social or networking event, sometimes we notice that people back up a step. Or look away. Or find some reason to excuse themselves.
I totally understand.
My Dad was particularly disgusted by sales and marketing people. When we received a call at the house from a salesperson, he would simply hang up. He explained that rules of polite society (saying please, thank you, excuse me, no thank you, avoiding interrupting, keeping appointments, being on time, etc.) simply didn’t apply when one was dealing with a salesperson.
If you look up “marketing ethics” on Wikipedia, you’ll see this:
Is marketing inherently evil?
A popularist anti-marketing stance commonly discussed on the blogosphere and popular literature is that any kind of marketing is inherently evil. The position is based on the argument that marketing necessarily commits at least one of three wrongs:
Damaging personal autonomy. The victim of marketing in this case is the intended buyer whose right to self-determination is infringed.
Causing harm to competitors. Excessively fierce competition and unethical marketing tactics are especially associated with saturated markets.
It took me a long time to realize that sales is as noble a profession as any other. There are good, bad, and ugly practitioners, but marketing in and of itself is simply connecting manufacturers or service providers with consumers that need the product. It includes market research, product development, advertising, elements of customer service, referral marketing and more.
From a practical perspective, a sales or marketing professional simply can’t afford to be unethical. Particularly in the business to business environment and highly specialized fields like aviation, trust is our stock in trade. Word gets around quickly and a person who isn’t trusted can’t adequately represent any product, or even himself.
Since ethics can be a subjective area, how do we guide our decisions? There are always sticky situations that could go either way, depending on which definitions or guidelines a marketing professional adheres to. Some firms will err on the side of making a profit. Some will err on the side of always representing their client or his product in the best possible light. We prefer something more objective.
The best test we’ve found is actually used by Rotary International, and it’s called the Four Way Test:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to All Concerned?
Will it Build GOODWILL and Better Friendships?
Will it Be BENEFICIAL to All Concerned?
This might seem simplistic. In fact, even children’s groups use it. But strange as it may seem in this cynical world, this test is recited (along with the Pledge of Allegiance) at every Rotary function. We have very intelligent, sophisticated people in our Rotary group, including doctors, lawyers, and business owners. None of them takes this test lightly. They carefully and deliberately apply it when a question comes up about the priority between different service projects, or when the group is asked to take an action or make a donation.
We use this test also when we have a decision to make about a marketing campaign or a sales activity.
Is it the TRUTH?
This is a question of legality as well as ethics. All marketing companies are careful not to include outright lies, but half-truths and implications abound in advertising. It’s important to “read between the lines.”
We tell our clients “the truth has to be good enough” without embellishment or exaggeration. If it’s not, the product needs to be improved before we launch a campaign. We emphasize the positive points in our headlines, but ensure that we’re being accurate in our representations.
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Competition is a part of marketing, of course. We do a lot of research on our clients’ competitors – we know how much traffic their websites receive, what keywords they are optimized for, often what trade shows they attend, and what magazines they advertise in. We consider this simply being informed. This plays into our recommendations to our clients, but we don’t do anything that doesn’t include publicly-available information. It’s our intention to make SURE customers know what choices are available, and we sometimes even advise our clients to refer customers whose needs would be better suited by a competitors’ product. It’s better to build the goodwill in the industry and have a satisfied customer than to try to fit a round peg in a square hole.
The best product with the smartest marketing usually wins. This is the reality of a competitive marketplace, but it’s also fair.
Will it build GOODWILL and better friendships?
There are many companies in the aviation industry that seem like competitors, but their product offerings have slight differences that make them better suited to a particular subset of the market. In these cases, rather than competing head-on and trying to outspend the competition on marketing, or undercut their prices slightly (engaging in a destructive “race to the bottom,”) it’s our philosophy to focus on the factors that differentiate our client from his competitors and focus on the particular customers who would benefit most from the differences.
As an example – Two Part 142 flight schools provide training to aspiring professional pilots. Both have very short, cost-effective programs that prepare students for jobs as professional pilots as quickly as possible. The market for both includes pilots who already have their instrument and multi-engine ratings.
But there is a difference in demographics of prospective students – Global Flight Training provides type ratings in Citations. AeroStar provides type ratings in A320s and B737s.
By emphasizing the differences between the programs, we can serve the population of aspiring pilots by providing them with great information about both programs and letting them choose the one that serves them best.
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
If buying a product is NOT the best way to solve a problem, we tell a prospective client so.
We use our Marketing Flight Plan process, with our New Client Questionnaire, to determine if a prospective consulting client will be a good fit. If there is anything that puts them outside of our realm of expertise, we a recommend they pursue a different course of action. Perhaps they only need our Marketing Master Class. Perhaps all they need is a graphic artist to improve their branding. In either case, they are better served if we don’t waste our time and their money on a program that doesn’t serve their current needs.
So, the simple four-way test has some great applications. The simpler, the better for our purposes. It helps us explain our decisions to clients – they share our desire to be as ethical as possible and this gives us a simple way to collaborate on decisions.
Businesses that we thought would be around forever have closed their doors.
People that have worked at the same company for years have been laid off or are no longer working in aviation.
We are disappointed by these events, but unlike a couple of years ago, we’re no longer surprised when we dial a number to be told “He no longer works here,” or “You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”
There is a sad reality in this, but there’s also an opportunity.
If you publish a blog, a printed newsletter, or a regular email, you have the opportunity to become a rare thing in your customers’ or prospects’ life – a consistent, reliable entity.
Of course the content of your articles and posts should be top-notch, but the vehicle itself and the regularity of its delivery is an opportunity to build trust.
Every business transaction is built upon trust. Trust has become a very scarce commodity.
Here’s how it works:
You make a promise, and you keep it.
You can promise to deliver an article, a product tip, a table of relevant data, or any other bit of information that your customer would find useful, every Wednesday. Or the 15th of every month. Or whatever schedule you choose to keep (the more frequent the better, but consistency matters more than frequency.)
You deliver on that promise. Over and over again.
Every promise kept is a small deposit in your prospects’ “bank account of trust.”
That “trust account” provides an advantage over your competitors when your prospect needs to make a purchase. They are more likely to purchase from a known entity, and they are much more comfortable making a purchase when they have experienced you for months or years as a reliable keeper of promises and provider of information.
Don’t have the time or resources to produce a regular newsletter or blog? ABCI provides several levels of service, from collaboration to complete management of your marketing system, including regular articles, printed newsletters, and/or email campaigns, depending on your needs, budget and intended customer demographics.
Want to talk further? My calendar is online. Find 30 minutes that’s convenient for you and let’s talk.
Is working with ABCI the right option for you?
Let’s find 30 minutes to talk on the phone about your marketing objectives.