Category Archives: Long Cycle Marketing

Product Packaging – Presenting Your Product to a New Customer

Whether you sell service packages, charter flights, insurance, software, or books; the way you package and deliver your product is important for several reasons:

  1. You want your customer to feel sure that he’s made an excellent investment.
  2. You want to make sure he has everything he needs to use your product right away.
  3. You want to answer any questions your new customer is most likely to have without calling your office.

We will go into much more detail about these and other examples in our Aviation Marketing Master Class on Wednesday, February 19 (mark your calendar for 1:00 MST if you haven’t already!)

But here is an excerpt. As you review these examples, a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Customers are most likely to talk about your product or service to their friends and colleagues in the first few days and weeks after a purchase.
  • Customers that start using a product immediately are less likely to return it than those who set it aside for later.
  • Customers do what’s easy and fun.  If a product seems too difficult or time-consuming to use, they are less likely to be satisfied and more likely to complain or return it.
  • The package and its contents need to be in proportion to the size of the purchase.
  • Someone buying a Gulfstream 650 business jet is going to expect nothing but the highest-quality products, and anything that looks “cheap” is inconsistent with the experience.
  • A customer who purchases a less expensive product may not expect gold-plated accessories; but does expect and appreciate thoughtful packaging that anticipates their needs and answers questions.
  • Consumers in the aviation industry have a higher-than-average expectation of quality and service, including product packaging and presentation.

Some of the best examples of product packaging that most of us are familiar with come from Apple and Harley Davidson products – those two companies seem to put as much time and thought into packaging design as they do into the design of their products.

Here are three excellent examples in the aviation industry.

Example – New Piston Aircraft

John has purchased two Cessna 172s in different years. The Cessna company has an excellent customer purchase experience that includes several factors:

  • A factory tour
  • A series of courses and flights with a Cessna CFI
  • An acceptance flight with a Cessna Test Pilot
  • “Baby pictures” of the new airplane with the proud owner
  • A package of accessories and documentation, including the required manuals, cleaning products, flashlights, a multifunction key ring. (All very high-quality products with Cessna logos prominently displayed.)
  • A Customer Care card with contact information.

Packages1 Product Packaging   Presenting Your Product to a New Customer

Example- Avionics Package

The  Garmin G1000 system included with the aircraft had a separate product package, which included:

  • A full-day course (hosted at the Cessna facility in Wichita)
  • Course materials (Very well-written, full color materials with lots of screen shots)
  • A nylon flight bag with the G1000 logo
  • A chambray shirt with the Garmin logo.
  • A starter data plan from Jeppesen (The avionics only function with a software subscription, the starter subscription is a  great co-marketing item that has the benefit to the customer of being able to use the avionics package immediately; and the advantage to Jeppesen of pre-selling its software subscriptions.)

Packages2 Product Packaging   Presenting Your Product to a New Customer

Example – Flight Training Program

This example is a bit dated, but when I began flight training I received an excellent package from the flight school.  Many flight schools have thin margins, so while the expectations for “goodies” can be lower,  the  materials should include excellent, thoughtful information. This is a place where you can differentiate between a competing flight school!

This package included:

  • A kneeboard with an E6-B, worksheets, and sectional maps
  • Text books, log book, and a FAR AIM (no longer produced in print)
  • An inexpensive flight bag.

Packages3 Product Packaging   Presenting Your Product to a New Customer

One of our client flight schools that caters to career-minded students also includes:

  • Shirt with first-officer insignia
  • Photo in uniform
  • Resume assistance package
  • Video of recorded mock job First Officer job interview
    (recorded during training session with the client.)

Inexpensive, But Thoughtful -
The Radio Worksheet

Some of the most effective elements in product packaging aren’t expensive, but thoughtful of the needs of a customer

One of our favorite items in this package is a “radio communications worksheet” – a simple, photocopied half-sheet of paper.

While this one was designed for new flight students to help them structure their radio calls,  any business based at an airport could produce these printed worksheets very inexpensively.  Pilots will find the frequencies, readback conventions and other helpful notes handy.

These could be improved for marketing purposes by including a logo and contact information for the local FBO, restaurant or other airport-based business.

packages4 Product Packaging   Presenting Your Product to a New Customer

Other Product Packaging Ideas

Aircraft Repair or Detailing -

Provide a small kit of cleaning supplies, bottle of glass cleaner printed with your logo, floor mat with your logo, etc.

Charter Service -

Luxury charter- luxury snacks or candy, flowers, champagne

International charter- socks, eye masks, small bottles of moisturizer, etc.

Local or recreational short-haul charter – bottled water, snack bags, area guides

Insurance or Legal Services -

Office products, such as mousepads, tear-off memo pads, calendars (with stunning aviation photography, of course!) pens, flash drives.

Need some assistance putting together a thoughtful presentation package that makes new customers excited about their new purchase?

Schedule some time on our calendar and let’s talk about how ABCI can help.

ABCI Can Help YOUR Company. Find out How!

Find 30 Minutes on Our Calendar and Let’s Find Out! th Product Packaging   Presenting Your Product to a New Customer

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Four Things to Consider when Choosing a Marketing Company

Last week, we talked about things to consider between hiring internally and hiring a marketing company in a consulting role.

If you’ve decided that a marketing company is the best option, (or part of it!) your next task is to choose from the many great companies out there.

If you’re in the aviation industry, there are many factors to consider when you’re choosing a marketing company to help you sell more products or services.

Here are four  factors we hear about most often from our clients.

1) Does this marketing company specialize in aviation?

There are thousands of marketing companies out there. Some are fantastic for consumer products, products for women, high-tech products or business to business products. Some even specialize in marketing to children or dog owners.

wallpaper 415547 300x187 Four Things to Consider when Choosing a Marketing Company

Generally speaking, a “niche marketing company” is ideal because the real challenge in marketing is to capture the ideal prospect’s attention, empathize with his or her problems and priorities, and offer solutions that are very compelling.

Niche specialists are also more familiar with the magazines, trade shows, mailing lists and other advertising venues that are most effective for reaching a particular audience.

Most importantly, they are knowledgeable about key concepts and vocabulary of the industry.  They can then speak with authority and authenticity to your ideal prospects and customers.  You don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining the basic concepts behind your product or service and why it’s better than competing products to your marketing consultant.

In aviation, this means a marketing consultant that knows what you mean when you say a flight school has a FAR  Part 61 or 141 certificate.  He (or she) is familiar with the sinking feeling when a part or instrument fails in flight; or of the dread of picking up the phone to tell a client that a trip can’t be made on time because an aircraft is unexpectedly out of service or the weather is “bad.”

2) Do they market their own products and services in a way that you can respect?

Do their advertising materials capture attention while respecting the intelligence of their prospects?

Do they provide solid information (whether or not you buy anything) or just slick promises?  Do they seem genuinely interested in your challenges before (and after) you  sign an agreement?

Are their properly targeted, or do you feel like you’re being  “spammed” or “shotgunned?”

Do they use a variety of media (postcards, trade shows, emails, SEO, webinars, etc.) for different purposes; or are they a “one trick pony” that tries to accomplish every task with the same tool?

3) How do they rank? (Among similar marketing companies.)

While no metric is a perfect indicator of how they will perform, it’s good to do some homework and “due diligence.” For example, if you’re looking for someone to manage your online presence, look up their own domain name on these two free tools to see how they stack up.

Alexa

Alexa provides metrics and analytics that rank traffic to nearly every web site on the Internet.  Google is nearly always #1, and an aviation specialty marketing company is unlikely to be in the top ten or top hundred thousand websites on the Internet.

Go to www.Alexa.com and enter the aviation marketing company’s website.  You can also do a graphic comparison like this:

alexahistory Four Things to Consider when Choosing a Marketing Company

Image generated by Alexa Traffic Grader. Click the image to enlarge it.

Hubspot Grader

Hubspot’s  Grader tool aggregates several factors, including Search Engine Optimization, Blogging, Social Media, Lead Generation and Mobile marketing. It then gives a “grade” with checkmarks based on these factors.

Go to http://marketing.grader.com and enter the contender’s domain name.

Klout

Rather than simply numbers, Klout measures “influence”

Influence is the ability to drive action, such as sharing a picture that triggers comments and likes, or tweeting about a great restaurant and causing your followers to go try it for themselves. Social actions are a signal that friends and peers in your social networks have been influenced by your content.

-Klout.com

As an example, when ABCI is looking for “influencers” on a particular topic for marketing research purposes, we look for a Klout score greater than 50.

Other Factors

Here are several of the factors we track for our clients and their competitors.  We listed the key aviation marketing companies and their standing on several factors explained below.

comparison table Four Things to Consider when Choosing a Marketing Company

  • Alexa Traffic Rank is a ranking of the most popular websites on the Internet. (#1 gets the most traffic, highest number gets the least.)  This is determined by the Alexa system. (You can see the Alexa rank for your own site by entering your domain name in the search window on www.Alexa.com
  • Indexed Pages is the number of pages that the Google search engine “credits” to your site.  Google sends more traffic to sites it sees as “bigger” and more extensive.
  • Linking Domains are a measure that Google and other Search Engines use to determine how “important” a website might be. The more links to your site from others, the better.
  • Facebook Fans are a measure of how actively this company interacts with customers and thought leaders on Facebook, which is the largest social media network.
  • Twitter Followers – While a social media platform that only allows for 140 characters may seem trivial, most of the largest players in the aviation industry use Twitter extensively. Twitter has some of the best high-volume data search tools. Marketing companies used to pay for subscriptions to obtain the kind of data provided by Twitter!
  • LinkedIn is ABCI’s best social media resource for connecting with the specific decision-maker on any given aviation topic.

4) Do they have a system that works with what you current have and use?

If you’ve been in business for awhile,  you already know quite a bit about your customers, prospective customers, competitors and product.

  • Does the marketing company take that knowledge into account?
  • Do they listen and respect your experiences and ideas?
  • Do they have an analysis process (such as ABCI’s Flight Plan process) or do they insist on “starting from scratch?”
  • Do they use a CRM and marketing process that integrates with the technology and processes you have already invested in?
  • Do they integrate well with sales systems and training you’ve already invested in?

ABCI’s Long Cycle Marketing System integrates well with sales and marketing systems that are in widespread use.

  • IU seal green resized 600 150x150 Four Things to Consider when Choosing a Marketing CompanyWe use InfusionSoft’s award-winning  CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. We attend annual training to maintain our Infusionsoft Expert status.

 

  • sandler training Four Things to Consider when Choosing a Marketing CompanyOur marketing system integrates well with the Sandler Sales Training system. Sandler is one of the most respected providers of sales training programs for Fortune 1000 companies. We’ve partnered with the local Sandler Training Center where Mike Neklason provides sales assessments and consultations with us.

Naturally, some of these factors will be more important to you than others.

And of course, the most important factor is leadership. Can  you trust this marketing companyto provide the leadership required to help you set and achieve your marketing and sales goals?

We heard a definition that we really like:

Leadership = Competence + Character.

This article is an example of our marketing.

We provide solid information on which prospects can make good decisions; and we put that information where prospects are most likely to find it and act on it.

If marketing leadership is what you’re looking for, find a convenient time on our calendar and let’s talk about your marketing challenges and objectives.

Click here to see our calendar online.

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If You Do What You’ve Always Done, You’ll Get What You’ve Always Got!

I’m sure you’ve heard this old saying before, but you’d be amazed how many people in the aviation industry stick with the same old tactics -

  • Magazine ads that generate no discernible new business.
  • Email broadcasts that garner less than a 2% click through rate (and often zero in sales revenue.)
  • Trade show appearances that generate an exhausting but short-term flurry of activity, only to find that few sales were made when the dust clears.

DSC00009 300x225 If You Do What You’ve Always Done,  You’ll Get What You’ve Always Got!We learned marketing in the finance and high-tech industries, where every dollar is scrupulously accounted for.   When we started applying these principles to aviation, we were amazed at how few aviation companies create a marketing system that generates a reliable pipeline of leads and new business.

We were also astonished by how much money is “left on the table” in an industry where more than 50% of the revenue comes from resells, recaptures, and referrals, yet many companies don’t have a formal system to keep in touch with their old customers – the source of all three of these types of sales.

january 31 300x256 If You Do What You’ve Always Done,  You’ll Get What You’ve Always Got!It makes sense, because we’re all busy putting out fires and doing more with less staff.  That’s why we created the Aviation Marketing Master Class - to help our clients learn from our consulting experience and “swipe and apply” many
of these methods quickly and cost-effectively.

You get the benefits of our consulting experience
at a much lower cost!

Are You Ready to Do Things Differently in 2014?

Enroll in the Marketing Master Class today!

Go to www.AviationBusinessConsultants.com/Class
and select your service level!

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Is Marketing a Capital Investment or an Operating Expense?

Let me start by saying that I’m NOT an accounting nerd, but I have a very high regard for accounting nerds like our John Williams.

accounting 300x163 Is Marketing a Capital Investment or an Operating Expense?

Is marketing an operating expense or a capital investment?

But, it occurs to me as people are crunching their year-end accounting calculations, they are probably designating marketing investments as “operating expenses.”

What’s wrong with this?

Many people take their marketing decisions much too lightly. This may be in part because they commit “random acts of marketing” like exhibiting at a trade show without a proper follow up program, or running a beautiful ad in a glossy aviation magazine without providing a response code or other method of tracking the results.

It’s true that “random acts of marketing” can be wasteful monthly expenses.  We’d like you to think about your marketing activities in terms of investing in permanent assets that add lasting value to your company.

Here’s what we mean:  We believe that your customer list and your prospect list are, by definition,  the most important assets that your company can own.

Since your client list and your prospect list are vitally important  assets, then materials and infrastructure that are used to build and maintain these lists are capital investments.

As an example, let’s say that you have a healthy prospect list of several thousand and a client list of several hundred.

If all of your airplanes were (amazingly)  wiped out by a tornado and  you were (even more amazingly) uninsured; or if (somewhat less amazingly) your product became somehow unsellable because it was overtaken by more current technology, you still have an active file on  hundreds  of people who already know, like and trust you. You also have an active file with varying amounts of information on thousands of people who have heard of you and have had at least one positive interaction with you.

You can always create another product, or sell someone else’s product that fits the demographic of your client list.

As long as you have customers and prospects,  you’re still in business.

On the other hand, let’s say that (amazingly) something catastrophic and unrecoverable happens that wipes out every particle of  “like and trust” that your clients and prospects may have for you.  Or let’s say that (somewhat less amazingly) that there is a power surge at your office that destroys your phones and computers, including your customer and prospect lists, which were stored on the hard drive of a computer that has been fried to a crisp.

No matter what airplanes you have on the ramp or what inventory you have in a warehouse,  you have no way of contacting customers and prospects, and they have no way of contacting you.

Without customers and prospects, you’re out of business.

As you can see,  your client list and prospect list are the two most  vitally important assets your business owns. It follows that activities and infrastructure used to build and maintain these lists are capital investments. Just as an airplane or other piece of equipment can provide good service for years with regular maintenance, a system like the one illustrated can last indefinitely with minor tweaks to various elements.

Long Cycle Marketing OmniGraffle Is Marketing a Capital Investment or an Operating Expense?

Example of a Long Cycle Marketing System -  A system like this is one of the best investments you can make in the success of your business. Click the image to enlarge it.

Certain marketing materials, like a book, brochure, website, CRM (customer relationship management) software, videos,  ebooks and other downloadable products are assets that you can have reprinted over and over again with minor updates.  Some of these marketing assets will outlive  other, more obvious capital investments that add value to your business.

Note- our usage here includes the first three types listed below.

The Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations (including new regulations proposed in 2006), and case law set forth a series of guidelines that help to distinguish expenses from capital expenditures, although in reality distinguishing between these two types of costs can be extremely difficult. In general, four types of costs related to tangible property must be capitalized:[5]

1. Costs that produce a benefit that will last substantially beyond the end of the taxable year.[6]

2. New assets that have a useful life substantially beyond one year.[3] For example, in Commissioner v. Idaho Power Co.,[7] the taxpayer used its own equipment to construct and improve various facilities that it owned. The taxpayer sought to have the depreciation of the construction equipment treated as a deduction. The Court held that because the equipment was used to invest in a capital asset – the new and improved facilities – the costs had to be treated as capital expenditures.[8]

3. Improvements that prolong the life of the property,[9] restore property to a “like-new” condition, or add value to the property.[10] For example, in Fedex Corp. v. United States,[11] the taxpayer performed repairs upon jet engines by removing them from the airplane and then having parts replaced. The taxpayer argued that these expenses were deductible, but the IRS stated that the costs should be capitalized. The court held that the inspection and replacement costs could be deducted because the improvements did not add to the value and did not prolong the life of the airplanes as a whole.[12] In Midland Empire Packing Co. v. Commissioner,[13] the taxpayer added a concrete lining to its basement floor to prevent oil from seeping into where the taxpayer stored meat. The taxpayer argued that the costs of installation were deductible and the tax court agreed. The costs of installation only permitted the taxpayer to continue the plant’s operation. The expenses did not add to the value of the business or permit the taxpayer to make new uses of the basement.

4. Adaptations that permit the property to be used for a new or different purpose. In contrast to Midland Empire Packing Co., in Mt. Morris Drive-In Theatre Co. v. Commissioner,[14] under threat of litigation, the taxpayer was forced to create a new drainage system to prevent run-off rainwater from flooding his neighbor’s farm. The taxpayer argued that these costs were deductible, but the tax court disagreed. Because the taxpayer knew in advance the property had an inadequate drainage system, the costs to accomplish this adaptation of the property were a capital expenditure. The costs were not simply an improvement of the preexisting drainage system, but rather a completely new addition to the property that permitted the taxpayer to use the property as a drive-in theater.

Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expenses_versus_Capital_Expenditures

 

Ready to get started on a powerful, measurable marketing system?

Our Marketing Flight Plan is a great way to analyze the assets your currently have, and identify the most important assets to add based on your priorities and objectives for 2014.

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The Best Way to Get Great Blog Article Ideas – Have Lots of Bad Ones!

Ideas 300x242 The Best Way to Get Great Blog Article Ideas   Have Lots of Bad Ones!

Great marketing starts with great ideas – and ideas don’t come out of the blue. You have to plan for them by making time for the creative process.

You know that it takes a lot of material to support a successful long-cycle sales process.  You need a reason to keep in touch with people that includes useful, relevant, current information that doesn’t always sound like a sales pitch.  You need new blog article ideas, updates for social media, material for your newsletter, frequent and regular press releases, and so on.

A great photographer once told me that the best way to become a great photographer is to take tons of pictures, and then, throw most of them out.

This is also true of great article ideas.

This takes two processes – a creative process and a critical process.

One thing we find when we start working with a new client is that they’re trying to “save time” by doing two things at once.  They have ideas and discard them in the same breath. Sometimes before they even finish the sentence!

Give your ideas a chance by separating the creative process from the critical process.  Here’s what we do to come up with article ideas for a client (for the month or for the year!)

The Creative Process

  • Set aside some time for brainstorming, by yourself or with your team. (Be sure everyone can “unplug” and focus during that time.)
  • Get out of the office if you can.  Nobody has ever had a revolutionary idea while sitting in a cubicle. A coffee shop is fine if that works for you.
  • Collect everything you need -snacks, beverages, pens, sticky notes, a white board, fancy mind-mapping software if you like, whatever makes you feel comfortable and creative
  • Bring high-level reference material – (dates of shows, events, editorial calendars of magazines your audience reads, etc.)
  • Write down every idea that comes up – no matter how weird it sounds at first.
  • Generate MANY more ideas than you think you’ll use.  The objective is to have lots to choose from.
  • No criticism, no second-guessing, no eye-rolling or frowning is allowed.  (This is hard work – respect the effort it takes to come up with even the most groan-worthy ideas!)
  • Stop when you’re done and take a break!

The Critical Process

  • Set aside focused time, by yourself or with your team. (Again, be sure everyone can “unplug” and focus)
  • This is fine to do in the office.  Make sure you have good light and a red pen.
  • First eliminate duplicates. Take the best of two similar ideas, or merge several into one when appropriate.
  • Consider -
    • Is it relevant to your target audience? (Or can it be made relevant?)
    • Is it interesting?
    • Is it entertaining?
    • Is it helpful?
    • Is it relevant to your target objectives?
    • Do you have materials to support it?
    • Does it fit all of the media you use? (I.E. if the main idea involves a video, can you create a version of the same idea for your printed newsletter?)

Besides using separate creative/critical processes for our editorial calendar, we do the same thing for each article.

We write each article in one session, and then have someone else critique it. Not just for spelling ad grammar mistakes, but also for tone, grade level, appropriateness to the topic, structure, and flow.

It may take two or three more cycles through the creative/critical process, but when we’re done we have a marketing asset that can be used in many ways – blog, newsletter, social media, possibly information packages, courses, and so on.

We get the idea from the mythology of Madison Avenue (perpetuated by shows like Mad Men) that only very talented, highly trained people can be creative; but it’s been our experience that the difference between great marketing and mediocre marketing often comes from having very skilled people involved with the critical process.  It’s not about “lightening bolt” fantastic ideas.

A good idea, executed perfectly, will trump a fantastic idea executed poorly every time.

(Also – see our article “What Should I Write About – Ten Ways to Solve Writer’s Block” for more on the topic of coming up with great ideas.)

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Will an email campaign actually work in the aviation industry?

Question – “Is Email marketing still a viable advertising venue?  Will an email campaign sell products?”

Answer – Yes, but only if it is handled very carefully.

email Will an email campaign actually work in the aviation industry?

Email marketing can be an inexpensive option for getting your offer in front of a targeted list. There are several services that will send your email for you to a preselected list of aviation industry contacts.  This can be tempting.  We’ll show you how that can work, below.

What will NOT work, (and we don’t recommend that you try it!) is to buy a list or obtain a list from a professional organization or chamber of commerce and to simply start sending your emails to that list.  Nor is it a good idea  to simply type in that list of business cards from your last networking event or export your LinkedIn contacts into your email system.

Just because someone belongs to the same organization, connected with you at a networking event, or connects with you on social media does not specifically give you permission to send them email. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn and suddenly began receiving emails about Scottish terriers or home-built gliders, neither of which I have a particular interest in.

One of the biggest issues with email marketing is low response rate. The phenomenon above is part of the reason for this. The world seems to be awash in SPAM. Nobody opens every email they receive.   We simply receive too much of it! Anything you send has to be very, very carefully targeted and have an attractive offer specific to its audience to make it through the noise.

There are two definitions of SPAM -

  1. Unsolicited email, as defined by the CAN-SPAM (See The FTC website for more information)
  2. Anything the recipient says is SPAM.

While the first can get you into legal trouble, the second is perhaps even more important because in the aviation industry, we have a limited pool of prospects.  If these prospects hit the “spam” button, even once, as a result of a communication with our company, we’re essentially out of communication with them.

This is true in two ways.

Logistically, if a recipient designates an email from you as SPAM, you lose the ability to send them email.

Psychologically, once they’ve categorized the materials (in whatever format) you send them as SPAM, however unfairly, it will be difficult to lose that prejudice in future communications.

As technology improves, email server technology gets more sophisticated, making it more and more difficult for our emails to be received, even by people who have requested to receive them. Several factors have a bearing on deliverability:

  • The reputation of the sender with the receiving email server.
  • The reputation of the sending service (Constant Contact, iContact, InfusionSoft, MailChimp, etc.)
  • The rules set up by the receiving server (many will not accept email from the AOL service because of its perceived email reputation, for example)
  • The reputation of the sender with the receiverEmail campaign
  • The subject line
  • The schedule on which emails have been received

So, our mission as marketing professionals is to position our communications as valuable enough that our prospects want to continue to receive them.

How?

  • Only send to double opt-in (verified permission-based) lists.
  • Be specific about what you’re going to send, and how often.
  • Send on a regular schedule. (Every Monday, or the first of every month)
  • Write valuable information specifically designed for well-segmented lists.

If you use a reputable list service (like Aviation Broadcast) you’re banking on their reputation, delivery schedule, and so on. You control only the subject line and content of the email.  The upside is that if people unsubscribe or mark your email as SPAM, that reflects on their company, not yours.

Also, you need to consider  that it takes up to twenty contacts with a prospect to make a sale in this economy. Getting the same prospect to open 20 different emails from you using a broadcast service is an expensive and risky proposition. So you need to convert interested prospects from the broadcast broker’s list to your own in-house list as quickly as possible.

If you’re using your own in-house  list, you need to handle it very carefully.   Feed your list only high-quality email, for example, use topics your customers have asked you questions about.   Send your emails on a regular schedule. Don’t ignore them for months and then send an email.

Here’s our advice for an email campaign that makes the best use of the media while minimizing the downsides.

  1. Create a “lead magnet” offer, such as a downloadable report or free consultation that is high-value but low risk to your prospect.
  2. Create a high-value newsletter and give it a high-value name and focus like “Tip of the Week for Maintenance Professionals.”
  3. Talk with several reputable list brokers in the aviation industry (assuming your product is for aviation industry professionals.) Find the best fit for your ideal prospect.
  4. Deliver an email, then deliver your “lead magnet” to people who respond to that email.
  5. Ask these responders if they’d like to receive your newsletter.
  6. Deliver your newsletter on a regular schedule, ensuring that it delivers on the promise you made in the name with high-value content.
  7. Deliver additional offers of products or services that are highly targeted to your newsletter subscribers

So, the answer is, yes, but you need to take the extra steps to convert an unlikely email contact into an in-house contact!

 

 

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Random Act of Marketing #12 – Trying to Trick Google

black hat seo Protection Random Act of Marketing #12   Trying to Trick Google

Many Search Engine Optimization companies use "black hat" tactics that could waste your money and even harm your reputation!

We all want more prospective customers to see our website, and we all want to rank better on Google and the other search engines.

People tend to forget that search engines have a lot invested in the integrity of search results they present to people. To be the search engine of choice, they have to be the one that provides the best results – not a bunch of sites that use the same keywords over and over again in irrelevant ways, or that have several copies of the same recycled articles, or that are full of fake or irrelevant links.

We get spam every week from people who claim to have “cracked the Search Engine Code” or can “get you to #1 on Google.”  You can usually tell who the shysters are because they never claim to actually improve the quality of your site, they just promise to get you a better position.

Many people try crazy things like these:

  • Embedding  the name of the latest popular musician or movie title in their site metadata.
  • Creating fake pages on their websites that contain only their intended search terms.
  • Using “article spinners” or other technology that creates and publishes many similar copies of a single article.
  • Paying money to some company in the Philippines or India to have people list your site on hundreds or thousands of sites, most of which are merely lists of links or “link farms.”

If you or your web designer are using any of these techniques, stop.  Now.  Seriously.

Having your site dropped by a search engine is no joke. These are companies that reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, and there is no appeal.

Google gets 66.2% of all search traffic, and they are the most public about their intentions, standards and efforts to upgrade their software and algorithms to maintain their grip on the market.

Their number one tip for websites that want to rank well:

Give visitors the information they’re looking for

Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.

-Google Webmaster Tools

Conveniently, high-quality content is ABCI’s specialty.  We work with aviation and related fields, we write what we know, and we spend the time necessary to write high-quality, well-researched articles.

The advantage of high-quality content is not just that search engines like it. In fact, that’s just a by-product.

There is really no point in getting more traffic to your website unless the content prospective customers find when they get there is clear, compelling, and relevant.

We write articles for your intended audience – customers, prospective customers, stakeholders, and industry publications and thought leaders.  And they’re a lot more particular than the search engines!

Of course we do provide search engine optimization, but we use only “Google-approved” methods – including selecting the correct keywords to begin with!

One of the most common errors that people make is using keywords they assume everyone is using to look for their particular product or service. A tiny change in syntax can make a huge difference in the results you get. For example, when we first started working with Taylor Greenwood Photography, his site had been optimized for “Airplane Photography.”  As it turned out, “Jet Photography” was a much better search term since it was the one everyone was using. His traffic more than tripled in a month.

You’ll find Taylor’s site, usually somewhere in the top five results, if you search for “jet photography” on Google.

Go ahead and look it up!

We’ll wait.

Now that you’re back, we urge you to consider the keywords you use for search engine optimization very carefully.  Optimizing for your company name is nice, but not a good tactic for finding new customers who aren’t familiar with your company. You need to rank well for the words your prospective customers would use.  Not sure what to choose?   ABCI uses a method that defines the keywords you should consider. Then we rank them based on these three criteria: (in order of importance)

  1. Relevance
  2. Popularity
  3. Competition.

The ideal search keywords are those that are very relevant to your business, that are very popular (they get typed into the search engines very often by people looking for things) and have low competition. That’s the classic “supply and demand” scenario- content  that everyone is looking for but that few sites are providing.

This process often helps fine-tune your market research and find opportunities for your business as well!

Search Engine Optimization is included with all of our marketing consulting packages.   Want to learn more?  Download our free ebook, or write or call us today at 480-225-4233.

 Random Act of Marketing #12   Trying to Trick Google

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Promoting An Aviation Business? Write a Book! Seriously!

used books 300x298 Promoting An Aviation Business? Write a Book! Seriously!Many of us dream of writing the Great American Novel someday.

When we have time.

Yeah, right!

But seriously, writing a book is an excellent way to promote your business and get new clients, and it’s actually easier than you think.

Being the “person who wrote the book” on a particular topic can be an enormous competitive advantage.  Whether your topic is aviation insurance, aircraft safety, or flight department accounting, you could be known as an authority simply by sharing information about your profession that seems pretty simple to you but could be of great value to people who need your product or service.

Books have an appeal and credibility that comes from centuries of tradition.  We are all trained from birth to respect books and authors. Books, especially physical, beautifully printed, well-crafted books have a certain cachet that no amount of online content can match.

Here are ways you can use a book:

  • As a client gift to assist with your loyalty and referral campaigns
  • To differentiate between your company and your competitors.
  • To generate referrals
  • As a separate revenue stream
  • To acquire media coverage
  • As an “expensive business card” for networking contacts that want to know more about what you do
  • To build brand recognition and brand equity
  • To acquire speaking engagements
  • To generate leads from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other sources that you may not have considered!

You can create a very nicely printed book, less expensively than you might think, and also have your book available as an ebook available on the popular Kindle, iPad and Nook formats.

We create books for many of our clients as a byproduct of ghostwriting articles for their blog.   It’s a great way to leverage your investment in professionally written articles.  Here’s how we could produce a high-quality, highly-readable book in a year and three months:

  • We plan the book outline
  • We ghostwrite one article per week for a year (52 total articles)
  • We arrange for (and often ghostwrite) an expert or celebrity to write an introduction
  • We have an artist create the cover
  • We obtain Library of Congress and ISBN numbers
  • We arrange for printing using a Print on Demand provider (this could be hardback, leather-bound, paperback, trade publication, or any number of options)
  • We arrange distribution for the book (paper, ebook or both) through Amazon.com

Realistically, you may not make the New York Times Bestseller List for a specialty book in the aviation field, but you could acquire serious credibility within your community of prospective buyers, which is better than fame and fortune, anyway.

Nobody will know that you used a ghostwriter.

Kindlebook 183x300 Promoting An Aviation Business? Write a Book! Seriously!Note – if you’re already a client of our TurboProp or BusinessJet service levels, it’s pretty simple to add a book as a deliverable and will take very little additional time and effort on your part.  If you’re not a consulting client, this is another good reason to become one!

Another Note – as an experiment, we published our latest book using the Kindle Direct Publishing as an ebook only.  (If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for free for a limited time.)

As always, we’ll keep you posted on the results of this experiment.

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Choosing the Right Partners for Joint Ventures

This is an excerpt from the workbook for Marketing Joint Ventures, our topic for April. If you’re in the coaching program, you’re getting your workbook this week. If you’re not, why not sign up now and enjoy the benefits of associating with some of the best minds in aviation marketing?

__________________________

Of course, one of the keys to success in a marketing joint venture is to choose the best possible partners.

  • Who are my current suppliers and partners that I do business with already?  Could I expand our collaboration to include joint marketing?
  • Who offers a product or service that adds value to my product or service?
  • Who do I know that’s not a direct competitor that has a list of customers and prospective customers that would be great customers for me?
  • Who has a great social media presence?
  • Who does fantastic printed advertising that I admire?
  • Who is well-respected and has name recognition in the circles that include my prospective customers?
  • Who has a similar philosophy of sales and customer service?
  • Who do I trust?

Packaging Products and Services

Some examples of packaged products and services:

  • home1 Choosing the Right Partners for Joint VenturesAeroStar Training Services LLC is a FAA Part 142 training facility that provides jet transition and type rating training for the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. They add value to their service by partnering with FAA Part 141 training facilities that offer primary flight training, such as Florida Institute of Technology and Cochise College.  This partnership allows them to offer students a complete training experience and combine course work so students can receive college credit for their course work.  In many cases students begin from no flight training at all and finish with a bachelors’ degree and type rating that qualifies them as a captain or first officer, ready to go to work.
  • Experience Choosing the Right Partners for Joint VenturesSpecial Services Corporation (SSC) provides charter service and aircraft management to clients in the Southeast U.S.    Brad Searls at SSC explains their formal and informal joint agreements –

“While we don’t have formal agreements with any travel agencies, resorts, etc…we do have a number of preferred vendors we use when arranging these type of services for clients. We often use Limolink when setting up ground transportation for clients, and we use Jason’s Deli here locally for most of the catering needed out of Greenville. If the client isn’t Greenville based, then we just arrange it through the local FBO. We do offer valet type services for clients out of Greenville. When they show up, we greet them in the parking lot, take their car keys, and have the cars washed and ramp side upon their return. Often times we wash the cars ourselves, but if we can’t, we take them to the local car wash.

Beyond that, we do have a partnership with Terapass, a green initiative. Clients can pay a certain dollar amount per flight hour for carbon offsets & green initiatives. “

  • product1 product2 Choosing the Right Partners for Joint VenturesAirline Choice partners with 3M to create an integrated solution for travel document validation and verification, bag tag printing, and other services required for airline and charter service check-in.  They also partner with other software providers such as SkyVantage to serve more customers with more diverse needs.

 

  • PMI Solutions and Esajee USA partner to bid on government projects to provide information assurance and build custom software for government and military applications.  The partnership gives them the opportunity to scale the company as needed to meet the size and skills required to bid on (and be awarded) individual contracts.

 

  • ABCI partners with with Esajee USA to provide information technology solutions; with AMSTAT, JetNet and AirPac to provide marketing lists and other data for our clients, and with Sales Ground School to provide sales training and staffing so that our clients have the staff and skills to fully leverage the leads our marketing systems bring to our clients.

 

  • taco bell doritos Choosing the Right Partners for Joint VenturesTaco Bell and Doritos.  Cashing in on the name recognition and fan base of both brands.  Not specifically an aviation example, but one that has done a lot of promotion.

When packaging your product or service with those of another company, you have the opportunity to add value and convenience for the customer, and to leverage the strengths of both companies.

Of course, as with all agreements that involve schedule and budget, it is very important to have an excellent written agreement that outlines the responsibilities of both parties.

For the rest of this course (and others!)enroll in the Aviation Sales & Marketing Coaching Program.

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Setting Realistic Expectations with Customers

cutterav 300x202 Setting Realistic Expectations with Customers

Cutter Aviation is well-known for outstanding customer service. Part of their strategy for making that happen is setting realistic expectations.

In yesterdays Coaching Program Webinar, Ryan Keough of Cutter Aviation  was our guest instructor.

We were talking about the difference between people that write the textbooks on customer service and people that are eyeball to eyeball with real customers every day. Or” mouse to website,” or phone to phone, or email to email.

At any rate, the textbooks don’t always cover the reality of customer service.
“The customer is always right” is a nice thought, but in reality, there are some limitations to what we can and should offer our customers.  Sometimes requests fall outside the boundaries of what can reasonably done, given the realities of safety, regulations, finances, and logistics.

There is often tension between marketing, sales and customer service.  If marketing materials or a salesperson promise the sun, the moon and the stars to “make the deal,” customer service people must then deliver on those promises.

Ryan cited the very funny (and very popular) xtranormal video Lear Jet Captain. You may have seen it making the rounds on Facebook or Twitter, but if you haven’t, here it is.

The excellent point Ryan made was that customers sometimes walk in the door with unrealistic expectations.

Since these conditions can’t possibly be met, it leads to frustration and resentment on both sides.  That frustration and resentment can’t help but spill over onto other customers and other transactions as there are delays and expense in trying (and failing) to deliver the impossible.

Marketing and salespeople need to understand that setting realistic expectations might lose a few sales for them in the short run, but it will help their personal reputation for honesty (an absolute must in today’s sales climate) as well as their organization’s reputation for meeting (or exceeding!) expectations.

Some ways to set appropriate expectations with prospective clients and customers:

  • Collect and use accurate data.  Report accurate service times, success rates and other data in your marketing materials. Make sure these are verified and current.
  • Ask your prospective client what results he expects, and over what timeframe.  Let him know before the purchase if his expectations are out of line, and provide reasons.
  • Give references and show testimonials.   The reactions of other people improve your credibility because they are real people talking about their real experiences with your company.

Ryan’s tip -  Politely hold your ground. Don’t cave in and scramble for a customer that’s completely  unrealistic.   Losing a customer is sometimes a necessary and reasonable outcome of doing business.  Sometimes it’s just not a good fit.

This is in line with the philosophy of long cycle marketing – although you may lose a customer or a sale in the short run, those watching or affected by your decisions are more likely to be a good fit, and refer other customers who are a good fit for your particular product or service.

The textbooks will never tell you that!

 Setting Realistic Expectations with Customers

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