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Mon, Jan 16, 2012

Aero-Marketing 101: Give the Public What They Deserve

Dave Juwel Continues To Observe The Problems Aviation Has In Marketing Itself

By ANN Correspondent David Juwel

In 1991, I wrote the first article about the aviation management disease called ITBOA BNITBOB (In The Business Of Aviation, But Not In The Business Of Business). It is now twenty-one years later.

Has anything really changed?

Not that I can detect, at least not among the smaller and start-up manufacturers.

In the aviation marketing arena, I typically write a post event criticism of the poor quality marketing that I encounter as I attend Sebring and other events. However, this year, I thought I'd try something different. I would like to provide you with a marketing critique that can be used by your sales managers to train your sales personnel before they exhibit at the Sebring and other events. If this article is taken to heart, it should benefit your company, the show, the public, and enhance general aviation by an increase in sales.

To start out, let's first review the typical marketing discrepancies that I repeatedly find, so that you can train to avoid them:

  • Sales people either don't offer demonstration rides or they offer rides at exorbitant prices.
  • Sales people never ask for your business card or your contact information.
  • Sales people allow their business conversations to be interrupted by other people, even to the point of walking off with them without concluding their previous conversation or excusing themself.
  • There was little attempt to "close the sale" whenever the prospect indicated an appreciation or interest in their product. Remove the "C" from "close" and see what you're left with (lose).
  • Sales conversations with prospective clients were primarily limited to "answering questions" about the technical aspects of their particular equipment. Unfortunately, not in all cases did they know those answers.

  • Companies had no product seminars and they did very limited flight demonstrations if any at all.
  • Sales people didn't show any videos and/or offer any free literature. Many of those that had literature, didn't have enough to complete the show. In many instances, they preferred to sell the video instead of showing it.
  • Many sales people didn't take the time to clean up or dress up their product. Or they didn't redress it after each day's event.
  • Sales people didn't have or follow a checklist when loading their equipment for a road show. "We forgot to bring some/it" was a common excuse given to the potential customers.
  • Most of the company efforts to promote the sale of their product occur's among the aviation community only.
  • Those few sales people that took my contact information never followed up.
  • Sales people were not at the booth prior to the opening time, or did not staff the booth throughout the show hours.

These are just a few of the examples that I have continued to observe over the years. Unfortunately, there are more. Sometimes I just want to go to the company representatives and slam-dunk them through a basketball hoop! Excuse my passion, but I think like a manager and not like an employee, and it irks me to see unprofessional exhibition. It not only hurts the particular company, but it also hurts our industry because unprofessionalism prevents the sale, which stunts the growth of aviation.

People come to your booth with a dream, an unfulfilled passion, and a desire to become and partake in what we have. Do we have any right to ignore them? Should we continue to let them stand on the periphery while we bask in our aviation folklore (stories) with each other? Can we not take the time to socially interact with them until they have the warm feeling of an initial camaraderie with us? Can we not encourage them and be the catalyst for the actualization of their dreams, their desires, and their hopes?

Always remember, no matter whom you are talking to in the aviation environment, everyone is a "wannabe." If they're a non-pilot, they want to become a pilot. If they fly a J-3, they want to fly a turboprop. If they fly a turboprop, they want to fly a twin-engine. If they fly a twin-engine, they want to fly a jet. Even if they own an aircraft, it may not be providing them with the fulfillment they were looking for as an aviator. You still have an opportunity to help them by showing them how your product will meet that need. Everyone wants to step up, and that's the mission of a salesman. Your job is to help them realize the personal success they desire by utilizing your company's products.

If your sales people only desire is to get through the week and get home, then this is just a job for them.  They have no passion for your corporate mission. You and your company are both suffering for it. But if they recognize that their position is part of a mission, the mission of making your company and GA even more successful, then they can be passionate about their work and the people they interact with will feel the enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm and passion are like a magnet; it draws people to it. It also makes people want to buy whatever it is that's got you so fired up. Enthusiasm has an odor to it. It's like the sizzle on a steak. People can smell (sense) it just walking by your booth.

When you're talking with people, don't automatically categorize them. When I was selling, I never looked at a person and judged them to see if they deserved my attention. I always saw them as a closed sale, until they convinced me otherwise.

So come on, as we start the new exhibition and sales year, let's get fired up and go meet those needs. Act professional, look professional, and be excited. Give the public what they deserve. Get the "sizzle of your product" into the air.

FMI: Comments/Criticism/Input On Aero-Marketing 101???

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