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Market Your Aviation Department

by David Wyndham 1. November 2008 00:00
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Marketing is a social and managerial process by which a business obtains what they need by creating and exchanging products and services with others. The way to do this is to focus in on the needs, wants and desires of the customer. If you are selling foot warmers, you market them by letting customers know that your product will meet their need for keeping their feet warm during long, cold winter nights. If you are a business aircraft operator, you need to do the same thing with your product: the aircraft. This applies as much to the not-for-profit business aircraft as to the commercial operator.

Two guys were roommates in college and become good friends. After graduation both got jobs with different tool manufacturers. They lost touch and didn't see each other for a few years. When they next met, they compared their level of success. The first guy was still living in a small apartment and driving a 10-year old car. The second guy just bought a house and had a much nicer, two-year old car. The first guy couldn't figure it out. He exclaimed, "We are both smart guys, both work hard, both sell the same kinds of drills and bits. Why are you so successful and I am not?" The second guy replied, "You're still selling drill bits, I'm selling holes."

The second salesman focused in on his ability to meet the needs of his customer. It is the same with the aircraft.

The aircraft meets the need for fast, efficient, comfortable transportation. It meets the need to get and keep your current customers. It meets the need to be home for your kid's soccer championship game. It meets the need for geographically separate teams to meet face to face to create more value in less time. Even in these tough economic times, those needs still exist.

Marketing 101 says to identify your customers. For the flight department, it is the senior executives who use or authorize the use of the aircraft. Beyond the CEO, are there others in the organization that can have their needs met by using the aircraft? Five mid-level executives can create value just as the CEO.

Remind the customers how effective the aircraft is in meeting their needs: Cincinnati to Cleveland to Pittsburgh and back home in the same day with the aircraft. Two meetings for the price of one day can't be bought with an airline ticket. If there are fewer people to get the job done, the aircraft will make their working hours more productive. Recall some of the trips in the past where the aircraft enabled a successful sale or acquisition, made it possible to close the deal and be home for the anniversary dinner, or allowed the last minute schedule change to happen so smooth and effortless.

As the aviation manager, you need to "get downtown" to meet with the executives, remind them of the value of the service you provide, and to explore other ways to use the aircraft to meet the company's needs. Don't assume they love you, get some face time, make the case, and let them know the next hour flown just costs fuel and maintenance as all the overhead is already absorbed.


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