Marketing: Navigating the plane or sitting in coach?

Is this the view marketing sees at your company…?
Copyright Garmin Ltd
…or is this the view?
Copyright Caribb

Findings from a 2013 joint Forrester Research, ITSMA, VisionEdge Marketing survey* revealed “Just 9% of CEOs and 6% of CFOs use marketing data to make strategic decisions.”

That’s tragic.

Not only should marketing data be part of the strategic decision process but also, in many cases, it should lead the process. The product, service, competitor and customer insight data gathered by marketing can hold the key to future business direction.

Business aviation, like many B2B markets, tends to be engineering and operations driven. That’s understandable considering the technical nature of the industry. It’s also understandable that by virtue of their work experience these C-level leaders may not be well versed with the true value of marketing and how its contribution can help establish strategic direction.

It is imperative that marketing leaders take the initiative in making the case for being included in C-Suite strategic decisions. So what can a marketer do to change the perception?



While the marketing department may often be thought of as the folks who handle the trade shows and swag, marketing’s true purpose is to define what the consumer wants or needs and make it available for the sales team to sell. If you’ve been following our book and blogs (, you’ll recall our definition of marketing as “putting things in the warehouse that are easy to get rid of.”

To get to that point, the marketer must first understand the priorities of the C-Suite; the main focus of which is on business outcomes. The performance of CEOs and CFOs is judged on the growth and profitability of the business. Marketing must demonstrate its contribution to these objectives if it is to be included in the conversation.

A good start is to recognize that demonstrating how efficiently marketing is run is not the same as demonstrating the effectiveness of marketing. The former helps justify budgets and resources, the latter helps legitimize the contribution of marketing to the bottom line.

You need to do both things, of course, but before you can be convincing in your efforts you need to establish measurement metrics and a process for tracking performance and translating the results. This is not an easy task and too complex a process to discuss in detail in this blog posting, but we can touch on some of the highlights.

Luckily, in today’s digital world, data abounds; using data correctly, however, is the real challenge. Much of what we collect measures past results and is used to demonstrate the efficiency of a marketing program, e.g. cost per lead, click rate, open rate, etc. What you also must have are measurements that will help in making strategic recommendations, e.g. analytics about the characteristics of the lead, data about product use, buyer behavior, buyer expectations, satisfaction, the ever popular ROI contribution, etc.

Consistently collecting data over a long-term period delivers actionable information we can use in helping C-level executives set goals, e.g. increase market share by x%, increase revenue by x%, and implement new marketing initiatives to achieve such goals.



The commitment to building a measurement model can be time consuming, but it’s worth the effort since once in place the measurement model is ready for whatever new program is thrown at it.

It’s important to use your model to measure all of your activity. But then you need to relate what you measure not just to your current promotion but how all marketing activities relate to the brand, the customer experience, customer behavior, customer characteristics, how well your marketing channels are performing, etc.

You want to be able to use the data collected and have a mechanism to capture new data that will help in determining customer attitudes toward topics such as product satisfaction, differentiators, customer expectations, and competitiveness. These metrics are what help develop strategies to create future products and improvements, enhance customer experiences, and secure brand loyalty that can boost the company’s bottom line.

Achieve the above and that’s when the CEO notices and invites marketing to help navigate the plane instead of being a passenger along for the flight.

There are a number of resources available to help in planning and building a general measurement model. There are software providers, online services and other resources to help you navigate the route. One source specific to business aviation is free right here at in our eBook “Business Aviation Marketing for the Next Ten Years.” Chapters 9 and 12 should be of special interest.

The time to start is now.

* Source: IT Services Marketing Association, “Findings from the 2013 Joint Forrester, ITSMA, and VisionEdge Marketing Survey,” May 20, 2013.

Chris Pratt

January 19, 2017

Dallas, Texas