Ensuring Your Brand is Everything You Want (Need!) It to Be.

Today’s commentary will wrap up my 5-part series on Good Things Happen When You Have a Strong Brand. Review all five commentaries here.

Ten questions for you:

  1. Are you a Leader, Challenger or “Other” brand?
  2. Depending on which, do you have the appropriate marketing objectives in place?
  3. Do you know what your best customers think of your company, its products, service, personnel?
  4. Can you describe your current brand position, as it would make sense, and be believable, to your customers?
  5. Do you know what you want your future brand position to be 2, 3, or 5 years from now?
  6. If the future position is different from the current position, do you have a coherent road map to get there?
  7. Do you know how the value propositions for your products compare to that of key competitors?
  8. Do you know where future customers will come from?
  9. Do you feel you have an effective marketing communications program in place?
  10. Do you know the return you’re getting on your marketing programs?

If you answered some variation of “not sure” or “no” to more than half these questions I’ll suggest that you get a competent diagnosis of your brand and marketing programs. (Just like you’ll schedule a doctor’s appointment if you start to feel that “something’s just not right.”)

First a diagnosis, and only then a prescription: “here’s the results of our examination, and this is our recommendation of a course of action.”

Engage with a consulting firm that has an established process for this kind of analysis and insight gathering, with successful experience with companies that sell products or services similar to yours.

We offer such a process – you can read the detail of our Marketing Diagnostic here – and have much experience with companies like yours – read about us here.

We can help ensure your brand – and marketing – is everything you want it to be. Call me at 214.974.5503 or email mark@w-ryan.com to set up a time to begin the conversation.

I hope you’ve found this series interesting and useful and comments are always welcome!

Mark Ryan

March, 2020

So You Want to Challenge the Leader in Your Category.

In this series I’ve written about the good things that happen when you have a strong brand; why some companies have weak brands; and what’s minimally necessary to do to put a competitive brand in place.

What if you want to be not just a competitive brand, but one strong enough to challenge the leader in your market? Let’s discuss.

First, please recognize why a leader brand sits in first place: it has invested the necessary time, people, and resources to get there. Because of that, it will likely benefit from significant advantages in market awareness, market share, revenue, products, distribution, an installed customer base, perhaps even cultural or political clout.

For the purposes of this discussion, what all this really means is that a market leader has set the argument for what is important in the category, and has defined the playing field in terms that fit its advantages.

This is huge. For you to challenge this leader, you need to figure out how to change the argument of what’s important to fit your strengths. Meanwhile, the leader isn’t going to sit back and idly watch you do this. There will be war.

But you decide to go ahead with the challenge:

  1. First, your company needs to have the clearly stated ambition to go after the leader; everyone in the company has to know what the marching orders are.
  2. Second, you need the energy, and aggressiveness, needed to get the market’s attention. Think of it this way: most everyone knows what the highest mountain in the world is; many fewer know what the second highest is. The leader is Mount Everest; the challenger (you) is K2. You will only climb steep (business) hills with energy and aggression (sorry for the pun).
  3. Third, necessary commitment to resources: time, people, money. You will expend more resources in catching up to the leader than the leader itself is currently expending. Don’t underestimate the commitment required.
  4. Critically, a product/service with clearly better quality/value/innovation. The best tool you’ll ever have in your challenge to the leader is a superior offering – do you have it?
  5. Then, with the right message – which comes from the correct positioning for your “new” brand – you can begin to change the argument in the marketplace that will lead to new attention, interest, desire and purchase for your product or service.

Not an easy road, to be sure, but we suggest Embraer is an example of a successful challenger brand – attacking the status quo, most notably the dominant Cessna Citation products, with ambition and focus; energy and commitment of resources; with a product with demonstrable innovation and value.

Despite the inopportune timing of starting deliveries of its Phenom 100 in 2009 as the Great Recession was in full roar, Embraer’s line of clean sheet products was exactly what the market was looking for accompanied by the backing of excellent customer support. Embraer’s market share continues to grow with the introduction of additional models. Its product support rankings quickly went from nothing in 2010 to reach the top tier of OEMs a mere three years later – indicative of a dedication to quality products and customer support.

Leaders can fall, challengers do rise – it happens all the time. 

If you are currently a leader brand, congratulations – don’t get complacent.

If you are an aspiring challenger brand, good luck – prepare well, with eyes wide open.

Tomorrow we’ll wrap this series – final thoughts on making sure your brand is working as hard for your company as you want it to.

Mark Ryan

March, 2020

The Minimum You Need to Have A Competitive Brand.

As discussed in yesterday’s blog, if your brand is “weak” or if you want to improve your brand’s standing, there are certain actions you need to take to ensure it is at a minimum competitive in your marketplace. The good news is that a systematic approach and process can get you there (it’s not magic). This process is today’s topic.

  1. First: stop everything, hold the presses, start an assessment of the current state of your brand, today. You’ve heard the old chestnut: the best time to plant a shade tree was ten years ago; the second-best time is today.
  2. Do this assessment by appointing someone competent (employee or consultant) to run/manage the process. Get someone who’s done it before, has successful experience with products or services like the ones you sell, someone you feel good about and trust after a vetting process.
  3. I said above that this brand diagnosis and prescription process is a systematic one, and while the person you entrust with this process will have their own toolkit, in my opinion there are absolutely critical steps that anyone who knows what they are doing will follow:
    • The person you engage will, via appropriate market research, find out what your customers currently think of you, your products, your service, your people, your everything.
    • This will give you a clear-eyed view of where your company sits today in the customer’s mind, and then this consultant (or employee) will help you figure out where you want your brand to be in a specified time frame (for example, 1, 3, or 5 years out).
    • A clear-eyed view of how your brand, now, is different than your competitors’ brands, and an exploration of aspirational differentiation in the future.
    • A clear-eyed view of the level and quality of resources your top competitor commits to their business; this is key – what level of resources will you need to bring to bear to have a legitimate chance of competing effectively?
  4. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting this kind of insight about your business.  What follows – the part about building, strengthening, or refurbishing your brand – is dependent on this insight.
  5. With this critical insight, your consultant/employee can help you:
    • Define the nature of your (new/strengthened/reinforced) future brand objective.
    • Construct the correct positioning for your brand that will enable you to meet the brand objective in your (previously) specified time frame.
    • Put together a marketing/customer communication plan with competitive levels of quality and resources (people, tools, monetary).
    • Present to the board for buy-in and support.

That’s the process – put the right person in charge, support them, make it happen.

What if you want more than the “minimum” for a competitive brand? What if you want to challenge the leader in your product category, to in turn become the leading brand? What would that take? I’ll answer tomorrow.

Mark Ryan

March, 2020

Why Do Some Aviation Companies Have A Weak Brand?

I argued yesterday the benefits of having a strong company brand are both clear and substantial, and offered up a couple of prime examples in Gulfstream Aerospace and Garmin. I ended with the observation that you might think that every company would strive to develop a strong brand, or at least actively set out to do so. 

But, as we know, there are companies that have weak brands, and it’s a worthwhile question to ask why that is the case.

In my experience there are at least four reasons:

  1. Some aviation companies prioritize an engineering mindset, at the expense of marketing. Since the days of the Wright Flyer, the focus of the mechanical engineers (and their progeny, aeronautical engineers) who build airplanes is the tangible flying machine, more so than the less tangible brand engine.
  2. Some don’t pay effective attention to a changing environment: changes in the political, cultural, economic spheres, changes in competition, and, perhaps most important, changes in customer needs and desires.
  3. Some focus on products, rather than a brand platform that products emerge from.  Take the example of Apple, which most will know: years ago, Apple was the IIc, Lisa and Newton; then the Macintosh; now, MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad, Watch. The products completely different, but the Apple brand – laser focused on ease of use, functionality, world class design – has been consistent yet remarkably attuned to the world around it.
  4. Last – and perhaps this should be at the top of the list – some just don’t invest in the people, processes and resources needed to develop a company environment in which a strong brand can be nurtured and then thrive.

Do you believe your company has a strong brand? 

Or a decent brand that could be better?

Or – okay, it’s not that great.

If you checked #2 or #3, you’ll be interested in what I’ll suggest tomorrow: the minimum you need to have a competitive brand.

Mark Ryan

March 2020

5 Good Things That Happen When You Have a Strong Brand.

The other day I was talking to a prospective client who said this: “I know I should worry about having a strong brand for my company, but I also know that takes work, and resources like time and money, to accomplish. Is it really worth the effort?”

I replied, “Well, let’s make a list of what we can simply call ‘good things that happen when a company like yours has a strong brand’.” 

Here’s the list I came up with – a strong brand:

  1. Makes the customer’s buying decision easier: strong brands are well known, and trusted, which in turn engenders loyalty; why waste time shopping around when I know you will deliver for me?
  2. Means that you have achieved realistic, effective competitive differentiation in the minds of your customers; they know why you are “better than most or all of your competitors,” and the points of difference are important to them.
  3. Provides better profit margins. Think about it: a strong brand, with loyal customers, usually can charge some premium above the market standard price, with most or all of the premium going straight to the bottom line.
  4. Provides internal focus – just like customers know what the brand is about, employees will too, and almost without doubt also be on board with the company’s direction and vision.
  5. Helps to achieve long term goals – where you want to be, 3, 5, 10 years from now – because people know what the “direction and vision” is!

Then I said, “Look, I could talk about Gulfstream Aerospace – a trusted leader in long-range business jets that defines the playing field – as an obvious example of a strong business aviation brand that exemplifies these five points, but let’s look at another example I like.

“That would be Garmin, an avionics company that has ridden a key technology to broad product leadership. A relatively young company by aviation standards, Garmin entered the market in the early 1990s with GPS products for aircraft panels and as handhelds. (Remember the Garmin GPS 90? They don’t make new ones anymore but it’s still around on eBay). 

“Garmin was an early adopter of GPS for navigation and a leader in the use of graphical interfaces. The company developed its own software logic that it uses across product lines – meaning a short learning curve for upgrading to new products with the added benefit of capturing customers for brand extensions. Their focus on GPS soon evolved to include related navigation and communications gear integrated together – often in the same physical unit.

“While the early appeal of Garmin products was to general aviation and amateur built aircraft markets, Garmin also has become a leader in business aviation avionics where today they are OEM-specified in everything from Skyhawks to top line business jets.

“Garmin’s corporate vision statement: ‘We will be the global leader in every market we serve…’ clearly states their objective. The company has made their vision come alive through active involvement in all their markets, understanding how customers use their products, providing top-rated support, and building a product that is durable, of high quality and offers good value.

“So, Garmin certainly fits anyone’s definition of ‘strong brand’ and has reaped the real, associated benefits.”

Given all this, you might think that everyone would strive to develop a strong brand, or at least actively set out to do so. But, certainly, there are companies that have weak brands, and tomorrow we’ll look at some of the reasons why.

Mark Ryan

March, 2020

Great Recession Update: Ten Years Later, Lagging Jet Operations Will Likely Mean Lower Revenues For OEMs and Service Companies

An Opinion by Chris Pratt

I’ve been tracking business jet flight operations for years as one of my gauges of industry health. I have to say, this particular measure continues to transmit some confounding signals.

According to FAA* data, the total number of Business Jet Operations (domestic and international) reached a high of 4,824,960 for the year 2007. After that, operations declined through the Great Depression of 2008 and 2009 before beginning to rise once again.

But here’s the rub: fully ten years have passed and the total number of operations have not yet reached their previous high despite the fact there are now approximately 58% more jets in the U.S. fleet. 

Let that sink in for a moment. 

The U.S. fleet has 58% more jets than it did pre-Great Recession yet, in total, those jets fly fewer operations (see chart).

Business jet operations post-Great Recession have yet to equal their pre-Recession level despite more jets in the fleet.

Sources: FAA ETMSC; JETNET, LLC

Yes, I know jets are flown less as they age but this is only a 12 year time span, and truth be told 20 and even 30-year-old jets are still quite active players. (By the way, retired jets have been removed from the data.)

Peeling back the data a little further show that between 2007 and 2019 the jet fleet expanded at a compound growth rate (CAGR) of 3.91%. Which is consistent with the current Honeywell growth projection for the next ten years of 3.48% CAGR. 

Operations, on the other hand, show a domestic ops CAGR of 2.73% since the 2009 low through 2019, while international business jet operations turned in slightly better positive growth at 2.98% CAGR for a combined total of 2.77%.

Are the lower number of operations simply a lack of demand? Doubtful, since why would so many expensive new jets be purchased when there are plenty of more affordable pre-owned jets already in the market. Perhaps the decline in fractional ownership during this period has had some effect (a topic for another time), or the rise in turboprop activity by providers such as Wheels Up may have taken business away (sadly, comparable FAA data is not collected for the turboprop segment).

So, what is the takeaway here? 

Well, for MRO, FBO and other business jet service companies, lower activity quite simply means less business within a comparable time span. It also suggests that the level of new jet deliveries for the segment may stay pretty much where it stands now for the foreseeable future; that’s something for OEMs and their planning departments to ponder. And perhaps, it points to the likelihood of further consolidation within what appears to be a mature, lower growth industry.

Your opinions are welcome.

Best regards,

Chris Pratt

February, 2020

Chris Pratt has more than 40 years experience in the business and general aviation market as a researcher, strategist, communicator and branding specialist. He currently serves as a consultant for William Ryan Group – Aviation. He can be reached at +1 214.208.2667 or email at Chris@w-ryan.com.

* FAA ETMSC data through December 2019 subject to revision

Bad Strategy: Let the market decide

Falcon 6X ultra widebody, long-range business jet. Copyright Dassault Falcon Jet.

An Opinion by Chris Pratt

In the past few years, a recurring discussion I’ve heard popping up in business jet conferences is whether or not there are too many large jet models being offered by the OEMs and what should be done about it. Ultimately, and perhaps inevitably, the groupthink conclusion is: Let the market decide.

That strategy might work in the retail space where brands ultimately test their latest toothpaste or running shoe on store shelves (though I doubt seriously this is the case). For business jet OEMs, however, who spend several years and billions of dollars to get their product to market, this is just plain bad strategy. 

In fact, this approach can bankrupt a company.

One can argue the exact number but, in order to make a profit, OEMs need to produce somewhere around 25 jets of each model per year. Keep in mind that the historical average deliveries for this segment is 180 jets per year. Add to that a market demand that is not growing. Now, do some simple math for a market that currently produces 13 different large/long-range jet models* with at least three more models due to enter service in the next three years. The math just doesn’t work.

Something has to give.

Surely the OEMs realize this is not sustainable, yes? Yet new product introductions such as the recent G700 announcement make one wonder.

If the OEMs are playing a game of one-upmanship, then I suggest it is a very risky strategy. If OEMs continue to chase the fantasy that the market can absorb enough production to make all these models profitable, then they are in for a very hard landing.

Is there a solution? Certainly. Rationalizing this market is not rocket science, but it does entail a disciplined and well-reasoned approach to research.

Having spent 40 years in business aviation marketing, much of which included market research for turbine products, I can tell you that, in general, business aircraft OEMs pay lip service to market research. I’m not referring to technical, aircraft performance research or listening to what flight departments say, but research on the market environment: the impact of a new model on market dynamics, realistic growth potential, sales and service strategies, how owner/operators feel about the use of business jets, e.g. cultural perceptions, expectations, political mindset, etc.

This approach is a difficult sell in an engineering driven industry, but is essential for creating a truly winning product that not only competes with other aircraft but with the heart, mind and wallet of the owner.

Unless and until the OEMs wake up to this reality, they are going to be unprepared when the next big business jet recession hits. Based on my research, I don’t think they’ll have long to wait.

Best regards,

Chris Pratt

January, 2020

Chris Pratt has more than 40 years experience in the business and general aviation market as a researcher, strategist, communicator and branding specialist. He currently serves as a consultant for William Ryan Group – Aviation. He can be reached at +1 214.208.2667 or email at Chris@w-ryan.com.

* Large/Long-Range business jets include all current production jets with a range of at least 4,500 nm. Excludes converted airliner and corporate shuttles.

Your company has a website – how easily can prospective customers find it?

It has become a truism that the majority of B2B buyers will begin their journey for a new supplier or vendor by doing a Google search for what they need to buy, and then will explore the websites of the companies that rank at the top of that search. Once they’ve satisfied themselves that a given supplier is a likely candidate, a typical next step is for the buyer to make a phone call to the candidate’s sales department for additional specifics.

Thus, every business that sells stuff to other businesses has a website. And every business should have a website that ranks high in Google searches for the category of product or services that the business sells. If you don’t have a web site that ranks in the top several companies, your website doesn’t get looked at, and your sales department doesn’t get a call.

How well does your website perform in this rankings competition? In this arena, the science of “superior performance” is called search engine optimization (SEO for short), and here are some of the critical issues:

Did you know that Google has 200 ranking factors and up to 50 “vectors” within those ranking factors — do you know if your website is designed properly to cater to those?

Google performs over a thousand changes to its search algorithm per year* – are you able to keep up with the changes, and to understand which ones are important for the rankings of your website?

Your site may rank well for your brand name, but it’s also the unbranded search terms that can bring you new prospects. Do you know if you’re ranking effectively for desirable unbranded keyword search terms?

Many companies think they know what keywords are most used when people search for their products, but without keyword research, they are merely making best-guesses. Have you performed keyword research for your search marketing? Once keyword research is conducted, one then optimizes a website to rank well for those keywords.

Finally, do you really have an accurate understanding of how your website ranks for your search terms? For instance, many people need outside help to get this insight because Google and other search engines effectively personalize search results to feature websites and pages that one has already visited, or visited frequently. If you conduct searches using your desktop or laptop and click on your company’s webpages in Google, chances are you’re now seeing your webpages ranking higher than what most people who have not searched for you before are seeing. Essentially one needs to eliminate this personalization to enable realistic reporting of your search rankings.

Even if you have designed your site in the past with SEO in mind, it can be valuable to have an outside subject matter expert audit your site to see if anything has been missed, done erroneously, or, critically, be improved using the latest protocols.

While many of the search changes are relatively minor to the weighting of ranking factors, some of them are typically going to be significantly impactful to particular industries and particular websites. Good search optimization requires industry specialists who devote significant amounts of time to keeping up with the changes and understanding which ones need to be acted upon.

Mark Ryan

WRG Aviation

September, 2018

* https://searchengineland.com/google-launched-1600-new-changes-search-last-year-274053

Business Aircraft industry update: H1 2018 has been good for sales

Business aviation sales are picking up after a decade of sluggish activity and high inventories. Copyright Gulfstream Aerospace

As promised in our February post on sales prospects for 2018, we want to check on the progress of the business aviation industry and what that might mean for the future. With a booming U.S. economy and a global economy in recovery, we suggested that 2018 should be a good year for sales. So let’s take a look.

Indeed, the first six months of the year have been good – especially in the used business jet segment. That segment, as always, is a leading indicator of market health and is the key to future sales new or used. The first half of 2018 witnessed an 8% reduction in used business jet inventories, down from 2,147 in December 2017 to 1,972 In June, 2018 – the first time in a decade (i.e., since the start of the Great Recession) the inventory number has been below 2,000 units.

Worldwide inventory of used business jets for sale fell below 2,000 units by June 2018 for the first time in a decade.

Available used business jets now represent 9% of the active fleet. This is to the low side of historical average. When used jet inventory gets down to or below its historical average it not only indicates there is healthy demand but also indicates a scarcity of young, good quality used inventory. In these conditions buyers increasingly consider new aircraft as well.

So, while new business jet deliveries for most of the OEMs are flat for the first half of 2018, the order books are strengthening and beginning to show greater than 1:1 book-to-bill ratios. With several new jet models recently or about to be certificated, this is a strong sign for growth in new deliveries over the next few years. We won’t see the real impact of these orders until next year and the year after, but it appears to be coming.

And let’s not ignore turboprops. While the delivery of 260 in H1 is 9% above 2017’s first half total, all is not perfect in the segment. A few years ago, GAMA added agricultural turboprops to the delivery numbers and this can sometimes obfuscate results for the traditional non-ag turboprop market.  You used to be able to rely on about 400 non-ag turboprops to be delivered each year.  But in recent years this has lagged, mostly due to fewer Cessna Caravans in the mix. Where we usually expect about 100 Caravans per year, nowadays it’s more like 65-70. Hence the new Cessna twin-engine Skycourier and single engine Denali (both due out in a couple of years) should help supplant waning Caravan sales.

So, on balance, good news – what will the OEMs do with it? We know that industries, like humans, tend to have short memories when it comes to bad times, but we fervently hope the OEMs will retain the lessons learned from the Great Recession and keep a tight rein on production levels and model offerings.  No one wants a repeat of the Great Recession and its devastating impact on the labor force, their families, and the future pool of skilled labor not to mention profitable operations.

Exciting times lie ahead provided the industry listens to its users. Let’s see how the rest of 2018 plays out.

 

Chris Pratt

WRG Aviation

August, 2018

What is “Extended Reality” technology, and what role might it play for aviation companies? Five things to know.

An engineer visualizes a mechanical hologram with Microsoft’s Hololens smart glass technology.                                                                                               Photo courtesy of Microsoft

Extended Reality (XR) is a relatively new term for most of us, but is quickly becoming a must know term for sales and marketing organizations. XR refers to any of the following: Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

These are all combinations of real world and/or virtual world combined-environments and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology and experienced via wearable technology such as a headset featuring video glasses.

Companies are now using AR/MR/VR technologies internally for training and educating their employees and externally for sales and marketing to their customers. Several well-known aviation companies are among those pioneering these technologies*:

  • Pratt and Whitney is investing in virtual reality engine maintenance training;
  • Bell Helicopter sees “pilots of the future controlling the aircraft with the aid of augmented reality and an artificial intelligence computer assistance system”;
  • Japan Airlines is experimenting with the use of Microsoft’s HoloLens VR headset for (certain) maintenance operations;
  • Other aviation early adopters of XR technologies include Air France, Air New Zealand, Airbus and Boeing.

(Of course, these technologies are now being used in many other industries, e.g. Volkswagen is planning to train 10,000 employees this year alone using Virtual Reality.)

 Sales-enablement stands to gain a massive boost from an XR content strategy via its inherent ability to captivate 100% of the viewer’s attention while delivering key messaging and benefits. This – all while the customer experiences a product supremely better than anyone could by simply describing it. 

Is Extended Reality – in one or more of its guises – something your aviation company should at least explore to begin learning about the benefits of what XR can offer? If you decide the answer is “yes”, let us suggest five things you should know:

1.  Virtual Reality (VR) is best known for creating an artificial environment for the user. This means that the user feels that they are inside of the world that they see through their headset. In the simplest of forms, 360º VR videos can transport people to various locations. It is best used for allowing a user to tour a facility or location – or the interior of new business aircraft – without physically going to that spot.

2.  More robust VR, or real-time render VR experiences, allows a user to fully interact within the VR world through the use of hand-held controllers. Room-Scale experiences allow a user to walk throughout a physical space, while seeing a digitally represented world. Via the controllers, users can then interact within the world. Introducing additional levels of haptic feedback (i.e., recreating the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations or motions to the user) can create a more sophisticated and believable experience.

Having a real-time rendered experience opens the doors for training and product configuration, and multi-person experiences allow for collaborations between remote teams in a VR space – showing potential, for example, for MRO training or dealing with an AOG situation in which the “field personnel” are working with the command center via real-time VR.

3.  The cost for high-end VR headsets and the PC hardware needed to drive these headsets continues to get cheaper and the quality gets better. Within this year, for example, you will be able to purchase a top of the line HTC Vive Pro headset that no longer needs to be tethered to a high-end PC, enabling a greater range of movement without being physically connected to a PC.

4.  Augmented Reality (AR) simply displays digital content while looking at your real physical world through a headset lens or screen. Sophisticated AR has often been seen through the lens of Microsoft’s Hololens and Metavision’s Meta 2 headsets. However, that is changing.

In 2017, Apple and Google released their AR frameworks, “ARKit” and “ARCore,” respectively, which enable your mobile phone’s camera to utilize SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) technology. SLAM technology is a process whereby a device can create a map of its surroundings, and orient itself properly within this map in real time. Now that your camera can act like a 3d scanner, it can display content without a physical marker or tag to orientate the content.

With the introduction of SLAM to both Apple iOS and Android devices, there are now nearly 1 billion devices that can display sophisticated AR content. This is a game changer because nearly everyone has a device that can now utilize this technology.

Through an AR enabled phone, a person can see robust and interactive 3d models, information, and data displayed within their own world. By applying machine learning or artificial intelligence, AR can now deliver powerful experiences while users remain aware of their own surroundings.

5.  Commercial investment in unique XR solutions and hardware will outpace consumer spending in 2018 for the first time with 60% ($4.1 billion) of total spend led by the Transportation and Retail sectors. Major players in each sector see opportunity in centralizing information (employee training, sales-enablement tools, marketing) and delivering these key functions to their employees or customers in the form of an experience that engages, entertains, and upgrades messaging like never before.

The development is also becoming more mainstay as tools and production pipelines are established, bringing down the costs. Technologies to enable these XR (AR, MR, VR) experiences can now be affordably licensed instead of having to be developed from the ground up.

In sum,  the family of XR technologies offers tremendous opportunity to business aviation, whether in marketing and sales (e.g. aviation trade shows, customer events, even ad hoc sales pitches), employee training, or field personnel-command center coordination. If you are interested in a discussion on how XR could aid your business aviation firm, please get in touch with us.

 

(WRG Aviation is a business aviation marketing consulting and communications firm; Groove Jones, provider of the overview of current Extended Reality capabilities, is a technology company that provides software solutions to marketing and training companies to engage with their audiences. They work with numerous Fortune 1,000 companies on their AR and VR initiatives. Visit www.groovejones.com for more information.

 

http://www.aviationtoday.com/2017/08/24/9-companies-using-augmented-virtual-reality-aviation/

 

Turning the corner: Are you ready for a great year selling business jets?

Copyright © Dassault Falcon

Here we are ten years after the Great Recession and some in the business aviation industry still bemoan the lack of recovery in business jet deliveries.

Instead, you should be ready for a great sales year.

If ever there were a time when business jet sales should thrive, it is now. Consider this:

U.S. tax reform lowers taxes for corporations thereby making more cash available

And U.S. tax reform includes an option for 100% depreciation in the first year for new and used aircraft purchases

At its present 4% rate, U.S. unemployment is at a level considered full employment

Inflation is low

Small business confidence is at an all-time high supported by strong consumer spending

The U.S. stock market recently set record highs

Business jet financing is more readily available than in the past few years and becoming increasingly accessible

A weak U.S. dollar provides an incentive for non-U.S. companies to buy jets

Flight activity in Europe and the United States was positive YOY for every month of 2017 and looks to continue its upward movement in 2018

Economies in Europe and the United States are recovering nicely at about 2.5% to 3.0% real GDP growth while China remains strong with 6.5% GDP growth and the other BRICs are rebounding

Xi Jinping’s internal corruption crackdown seems to have cooled now that he has solidified his power as China’s president and regional billionaires are buying jets again

In other words, conditions are right for the purchase of business jets.

So what will 2018 bring?

Certainly there are obstacles, such as the ongoing overhang of used business jet inventory and a widening gap between new and used jet pricing.

But, if today’s economic conditions do not spur sales in business jets, then what will? Are you ready with a marketing, branding and sales strategy to take advantage?

By the end of this year, we will have learned a lot about the future direction of the business jet industry – not just for one year, but for many years to come. If sales don’t respond favorably to today’s conditions, then the leaders of business aviation’s OEM, MRO and FBO businesses will need to regroup and do some serious reflection on what the future holds.

It will take a year to get a good read on this thesis but we’ll check back and provide updates as quarterly sales figures are reported to see if the wind is from 12 o’clock or six. By the end of the year we should see a trend – good or bad.

In the meantime, you should be ready for a great year.

Chris Pratt

Consultant | Account Director

February 2, 2018

 

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What can kill a new business aircraft order – fast

“It takes years to get them to agree to buy, but it can take ten minutes to kill it.”

Corporate flight department manager

A new corporate aircraft costs millions, or tens of millions, and we all know that an economic downturn in general (or a series of poor earnings reports in particular), can cause a delay, even a cancellation, in an order that you’ve already taken to the bank.  Anyone who was around for the Great Recession of 2008-09 knows this all too well, and certainly the dampening effects of that economic tsunami are still felt somewhat today in business aviation; not much more needs to be said about that.

But in the aviation research we’ve done, there’s at least one other key circumstance that can kill an order, and that’s a change in the purchaser’s CEO, or other senior staff; the new management wants to “review all expenditure plans over X dollars,” and that new airplane sale is suddenly “on hold.” And of course the reason for new management may in fact be those terrible earnings reports, or a merger/acquisition deal, but even if it’s a “normal” transition there’s a new guy who wants to review expensive purchases. Regardless of the reason, your sale is suddenly in jeopardy.

What can you do about it? Maybe nothing, but at the least you can try to always be aware of changes in management at client companies, and work quickly to provide as much support to the aviation department to bolster their case for going through with the purchase. The company already (assumedly) understands the value of business aviation, so it’s a matter of justifying the new expenditure upgrade: a more efficient aircraft with better D.O.C. and less maintenance to worry about; an aircraft with longer range to better serve a geographically growing business; an airplane that’s bigger, faster, etc. to better serve changing mission requirements. Or, frankly, it could be the new CEO is used to Gulfstream airplanes, and isn’t keen on the new Challenger just because it’s not Gulfstream. Whatever the reason, get there fast to support the flight department manager/chief pilot with the best informed arguments you can bring to bear.

In fact, you should have a formal monitoring system in place (make it a part of your CRM) to keep track of such corporate change and respond rapidly in a systematic, pre-planned fashion.  It’s like any crisis management plan: you hope you never need to implement it, but it sure is good to have one on the shelf and ready to go when a bad situation arises.

(One circumstance that seems to have relatively little impact on an order is the announcement by a (competing) manufacturer of a new aircraft product that might seem to have better mission fit. While the flight department will do their managerial duty to evaluate the new offering, most of the time the potential new product will have little impact on in-place plans.)

Aviation Trade Shows: Last Minute “Plus-ups”

(This is the second of a brief series of what we hope are helpful posts leading up to next month’s NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas.)

Five tips for last minute things you can do at your booth to draw a crowd and leverage your investment

If your duties include more than trade shows, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “other duties as assigned” portion of your job even as a major trade show sneaks up on you. Don’t look now, but NBAA-BACE is only about four weeks away.

For those who are running to keep up, don’t lose heart. There are some last minute things you can do to enhance your show presence without breaking the bank and make your show investment pay off. Here are five suggestions of things to consider and that, hopefully, will stimulate other ideas.

  1. Mobile device charging stations. Heavy users of social media and e-mail are constantly running down their smart-device batteries. Offer free charging stations. There are a number of multi-connector devices available for rent or sale. Units for sale start at about $250 for a tabletop device with multiple platform connectors and go up from there depending on how fancy you want to get. Check with your show services provider or your exhibit house for suggestions. You’ll want units that can be secured so people won’t walk off with them.

Charging stations take up very little space. Depending on configuration of the charger and your booth space, you may want to consider offering more than one station, as your booth will be popular once people realize the service is available.

  1. Free Wi-Fi. Internet connectivity at trade shows can be notoriously poor. Try arranging for high-speed free access. Attendees will need to drop by your booth for the access code. Have your Wi-Fi supplier label the network with your company name. Most convention halls have a single authorized show Wi-Fi provider so you will need to work directly through them.
  1. Social media. Since we are on the related topics of free charging stations and free Wi-Fi, let’s address social media. People who love social media (and the numbers keep growing), love to post where they are and what they are doing. Make it easy for them by offering an Instagram camera or similar device for quick upload to the web. Set up an area on your booth with an interesting background, hire a celebrity or create a “posting wall” for people to take selfies. You can also post the selfies on a board at your exhibit for others to see or create a contest around it such as “Most Creative Selfie.”

Be sure to feature your booth name and number somewhere in the background to help online viewers find you so they can join in and share the fun.

  1. On-site demonstration. Let’s face it, many trade show booths are boring. You can make them look great, but if there’s nothing interesting going on they’ll be boring.

If your company sells something that is manufactured, requires assembly/disassembly for maintenance, or is technical in nature, then look into providing an on-site demonstration to show how it’s done. We call this “experiential marketing.” Please forgive my lack of PC here, but people, especially males, love to watch other people work and to see how things are made/repaired. If your product and booth space lend itself to such a demonstration, then try it. It’s a great way to engage the crowd and get them to interact with you.

Depending on the size and complexity of the product, this may require more planning and space than you have now, but if it’s doable it can be a big draw. From personal experience, I know this works. As show manager for Dallas Airmotive, I had less than two months to put together an entire PT6A engine rebuild for the 2014 NBAA. This was an all-out team effort involving a couple of dozen people. It proved well worth the effort. The crowd draw was far and away the best we’d ever had, and it was steady throughout the three days of the show. We received press coverage from every one of the Dailies and post-show from most of the aviation publications attending. It was the buzz of the show. Even better, our competitors walked away with that, “Why didn’t we think of this?” look on their faces. Priceless.

  1. Business card scanner/capture. If you are not already doing this, then you should be. It’s an easy way to track who showed up at your booth and to capture: a) updates on known customers (e-mails, telephone, title, etc.), or b) add new prospects to your database. Scanners are rentable from show services suppliers at any major trade show, or you can buy your own to use at multiple events. The cost is not excessive.

Here’s a bonus tip:

  1. Pre-Show Communications. First of all, if you decide to do any of the Items 1, 2 or 3 above and especially Item 4, be sure to tell people about it. If you have a customer list or can rent an attendee list from the sponsoring organization, it is relatively inexpensive to send a pre-show reminder email highlighting: a) you’ll be there, b) the booth number, c) what you’ll be featuring, d) why attendees should stop by. The communication doesn’t have to be elaborate. Think of it as an electronic billboard. It may be just the reminder someone needs to schedule a stop at your booth during the show.

Also, it never hurts to send a press release to major publications covering the event to let them know you are exhibiting, your booth number, and what you will have on site. Send the release a couple of weeks prior to the event to give the publication time to slot it in to their early editions or post it on their electronic news board. Events like NBAA are heavily covered electronically and a pre-show or day-one mention is a real bonus.

 

Aviation Trade Shows: Face-to-Face Selling

(This is the first of a brief series of what we hope are helpful posts leading up to next month’s NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas.)

If it seems to you there’s an aviation trade show held nearly every week, you’re not far off. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) alone hosts 13 different trade events and conferences during any given year. Add to this specialty shows organized by market segment, operator type, aircraft model, plus regional events for state associations and trade groups – pretty soon you’re booked for the year.

Trade shows continue to proliferate for a number of reasons not the least of which is they are very profitable for show organizers. Add to that the fact that business aviation has become a global industry and competition for your product or service is more intense than ever.

Perhaps the most important reason trade shows continue to proliferate is because they provide one of the few chances we have to be face-to-face with customers. In a digital age where communications is dominated by social media, email, web sites and texting, trade shows are a place where customers can be hands on with products, meet their support team, put a face to a voice they’ve only heard on the telephone, and actually say hello to the company president.

Yet trade shows remain controversial for management largely for the following reasons*:

  • Unknown effectiveness
  • Difficulty of measuring efficiency
  • High and rising costs of participation
  • A growing feeling that shows are boondoggles

if you have responsibility for trade shows at your company you have probably been confronted with statements from senior management such as:

“Trade shows are terribly expensive and of limited value for the business we do versus the                    dollars spent.

“Everything nowadays is done for the show management, not for the exhibitors.”

“The major reason we go to trade shows is because our competitors are there.”

If those remarks sound familiar, take heart. The quotes are from a Harvard Business Review* report on trade shows dated January 1983. Things haven’t changed much in 30+ years.

The marketing team needs to be prepared to counter these feelings of uncertainty with well-reasoned answers. Let’s start by looking at the following questions:

  • Why exhibit at a trade show; what is your show objective
  • How do you select the right show(s)
  • How do you measure results (ROI)
  • What critical tasks do I need to do before, during, after a show

Why exhibit at a trade show?

Companies exhibit at trade shows for a number of reasons. Primarily it is to meet customers and prospects, to generate leads, to compress numerous road trips into one, to spy on the competition, to promote a new product or service, to enhance brand image, to get coverage by the media.

Yes, you are there to sell, but with the long sales cycles typical in business aviation the sale is likely to occur sometime after the show and should appear on your post-show tracking.

For many companies, trade shows are their largest marketing expenditure. As such, events should be approached like any other marketing and sales tool: it is important that your trade show exhibit represents and extends your overall brand position for continuity with your other marketing efforts.

Secondarily, companies often exhibit at trade shows because their competitors do; there is a fear that not being at the show may create negative talk about the well-being of the company.

Selecting the right trade show(s)

First and foremost trade shows are an extension of your marketing and sales efforts and in many cases are the company’s key communications channel. Like any of your other marketing and sales programs, trade shows should meet a set of criteria if they are to be successful.

Who attends the show? It’s the basic question that needs to be asked. If your marketing target is not in attendance in sufficient numbers, then why go? You can analyze previous show data available from the organizer to determine how many/what percentage of attendees at the show are people you actually want to talk to, and more important, can potentially buy your product or service. If the answer is a sufficiently high number of attendees, then exhibit there.

ROI—are you measuring the right thing?

Your CFO would love to see proof that the money you spent on the show was more than covered by the sales that were generated. Yet, business aviation trade shows are typically “non-selling” events; the long sales cycle prevalent in business aviation makes on-site sales unlikely (this is true for pretty much any industrial show). The items being sold are far too expensive for on the spot decisions to be made.

So if the show is a “non-selling” event, what needs to happen to make it a success? Effective trade show marketing includes regular contact with existing customers, key account servicing, learning about customers’ future plans, new product introductions, identifying the decision makers, prospecting, and creating brand awareness. Note that not all shows will have opportunities to meet all the above objectives, but each show should enable you to achieve most objectives. Otherwise, you’re at the wrong show.

You can measure items such as number of contacts made, number of meetings held, business cards scanned, entries into a drawing, etc. These are difficult to assign quality immediately but they can be tracked and analyzed. The data should be entered into your CRM system and tagged so that resultant sales at a later time can be tracked back to a trade show contact data point. Prior to the following year’s event, you can assign a CPM (Cost per Thousand) measure based on your last year’s cost and the value of any subsequent conversion into sales and also what the lifetime customer value means for your company.

Critical tasks to do before, during and after the trade show

Successful trade shows are the result of careful pre-show planning, execution and post-show follow up.

Pre-show you want to ensure that the design of the exhibit utilizes messaging that reflects the current brand positioning; that clear objectives for the show are set and communicated to the sales and management team attending; that senior management buys in to the plan; that attendees are notified of your exhibit location and given a reason to come see you (perhaps tease them about any new announcements or special show promotions); and the media is contacted with your news plans and any photo ops that may be available.

During the show, keep track of visitors via counts, card scans, contests, etc. People are always moved by the word “Free” so have some good quality free stuff to hand out; highlight anything new in products or services.

Post-show be sure to share any scanned attendee lists with the sales team; feed the CRM system; follow up on show site requests; make notes on what aspects of the event/exhibit worked and what didn’t (these will come in handy for the next event); summarize the final show budget to make the following year’s budgeting easier.

It may be difficult to quantify everything about a trade show. By applying good management practices to a predetermined measurement criteria and keeping focused on your company’s show objectives you will greatly enhance your ability to answer the question “what’s my ROI?” and demonstrate the value of trade shows in the marketing mix.

* “Get More Out of Your Trade Shows” by Thomas V. Bonoma, Harvard Business Review, January, 1983

 

2016 Business Jet Deliveries – Was it really a disappointing year?

Rightly or wrongly, the business aviation industry seems to view annual deliveries as the benchmark for industry health. When deliveries are higher year-over-year everyone feels optimistic and when deliveries are lower, the feeling is less than enthusiastic. And so it was in late February, when GAMA announced 2016 results for business jet deliveries, the word of the day was “disappointing.”

After all, “only” 654 business jet units were delivered (excludes the 7 airliner VVIP aircraft). That’s not exactly a number to fuel recovery hopes for a struggling industry and was below many industry forecasts which themselves had been repeatedly adjusted downward during the year.

Were expectations too high?

Well, if you believe jet deliveries in 2007 and 2008 are the norm, then yes your expectations are too high and you should be disappointed. If we look, however, at industry deliveries since 1995 (chart below), we can see some revealing data.

Business jet deliveries for 2007 and 2008 were significantly above normal.

Calculating the average for the 22-year period 1995-2016 results in 684 deliveries – a little higher than our 2016 actual number. But looking at the chart there are some obvious outliers in the mix: 2007 and 2008 are clearly outside the norm. So let’s call these two years an “anomaly” and remove them for the moment; and to be conservative let’s remove the two low delivery years of 1995-1996. We now have average deliveries per year of 669.

Using this admittedly simple analysis, we can perhaps call 2016 a “little disappointing” but not really far off what we should expect in an average year. So, what’s really going on here to justify any disappointment?

What the delivery numbers don’t tell us is there appears to be an underlying weakness in the market.

Everyone in the industry should by now be aware of the tremendous overhang of used business jets accumulated during the Great Recession. Roll forward eight years to today and the higher volume of that inventory largely remains (about 40% more units for sale than pre-Recession). This inventory has created unprecedented downward pressure on pricing – not just for used jets but new jets as well.

Based on the talk we hear from industry insiders, the pricing pressure and resultant pricing gap between new and used jets has led to deep discounting of new aircraft in order to compete for sales. The obvious implication for OEMs is that production volumes remain too high. The not so obvious implication is that discounting creates a recipe for future disappointment, i.e. today’s deeply discounted new jet becomes tomorrow’s (as in five years) trade-in dilemma.

This challenge is not going to be solved by the introduction of new jet models with marginally incremental improvements in fuel economy and higher resolution cockpit displays; nor by the demand from emerging markets such as China.

The issue goes deeper and calls for some hard analysis of the number of aircraft being built and the number of models being offered.

At least one OEM president and CEO, Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva at Embraer, has publicly acknowledged the situation*: “We have taken the decision to be more disciplined in terms of the number of aircraft we are going to manufacture and deliver to make sure we will not operate under losses… Growth is good, however there are certain moments during which we cannot fight against the market.”

No doubt airframe OEMs are caught in a quandary. Building business jets is not an industry that can turn on a dime. Long development periods, tooling up for production, complex supply chains and training skilled workers is a long-term proposition that lags market changes. But if the Great Recession taught us anything, it should be that the landscape of the business jet market has changed: many flight departments have disappeared, fleet management companies are growing more powerful, user demographics are evolving with generational changes, technology is a greater competitor.

OEMs need to research, understand and embrace the changes and adapt accordingly. Otherwise, when future annual delivery numbers are announced we’ll be hearing the word “disappointing” for many years to come.

(For a deeper discussion of this and other topics affecting business aviation, you can reference our BlueSky Blog and our business aviation marketing eBook at wrg-avation.com.)

Chris Pratt

Dallas, Texas

March 9, 2017

* Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 9, 2017 article, Joe Anselmo, Embraer Hits ‘Pause’ on Bizjet Ambitions

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?

 

MARKETING IS NOT JUST ABOUT TRADE SHOWS AND TRINKETS

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 (wrg-aviation.com), 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.

 

IT’S A LONG-TERM COMMITMENT

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 wrg-aviation.com 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

 

Election aftermath: how well do you know your customers?

The result of the U.S. Presidential election two weeks ago was stunning: virtually all pollsters, analysts, model builders (e.g. Nate Silver at 538.com) and pundits – on both sides of the political divide – missed their prognostications.  Today, we have President-Elect Donald Trump.

The postmortems pile up; somehow, everyone misread the situation, and we’ve seen headlines like these:

“Women didn’t vote for Clinton in the numbers expected.”

“Surprising number of Latinos vote for Trump.”

“Undecideds went at the last moment for Trump.”

“The Obama coalition didn’t hold, rust belt blue collar voters fled.”

“Big city pundits need to get out of their ‘bubbles’ and visit the rest of the country.”

The lesson, and the question those of us in business must ask;  “If an ‘election’ were held today, how would my customers ‘vote?’  Would they vote (buy) our company and products, or would they opt for our top competitor’s?”

We’ve all been in the uncomfortable position of learning that a “good customer, no, one of our best” has left us and bought his next (aircraft, engine overhaul, FBO visit) from one of our fierce competitors.

Did you see it coming?  Do you have any kind of “early warning system” in place to uncover dissatisfaction, concern about your products or services, or even a more aggressive push by competition?

We’ve written extensively* that you should have a comprehensive measurement program in place, to be able to show what’s working in your marketing and sales programs and know what is not working so you can fix it effectively.

And such a measurement program must include tools to monitor your customers and prospects:

  • What do our customers think of us; what do they think of our competition? What do they think of our product quality? What is our brand awareness, and reputation? These measures  may include metrics such as:
    • Net Promoter Score (“Would you recommend us . . .?”)
    • Conversion scores (awareness, to consideration, to favorite)
    • Product differentiation scoring
  • We must talk intensely to our customers, and monitor competitive activity, to confirm that:
    • We continue to offer superior product value in the marketplace
    • We haven’t fallen behind in after sales service or support
    • Some Challenger brand isn’t aggressivley sneaking up on us with a disruptive product, and significantly greater value

Now, losing a customer doesn’t always mean that we’ve done something wrong, or that our products aren’t performing as promised.  Sometimes the issue can be a change in management (the new CEO prefers Gulfstream, not Global Express), or, something that we’ve also written about, a generational change:

“As the retirement of the boomer generation accelerates over the next ten years, the follow-on generations of business owners and managers – Generation X and Millenials – will be the new customers. Their attitude toward business aviation may be different – appreciative of what a business aircraft can do but less about passion for flying and more about function and contribution to the bottom-line; less concern for owning the latest and greatest and more about the bargain they got on a low time aircraft.”

“Sales Management; Sales Channels; Sales Challenges” – Business Aviation Marketing for the Next Ten Years

If you do see a change in management at a customer company, there may be nothing you can do about any forthcoming changes but nonetheless you should have a formal process in place to monitor high level turnover at customer companies.  When these changes happen, quickly get in to see your key contacts in the flight department, or mid-level executives still in place who traditionally have had aviation decision-making involvement (of course we’re assuming that you do have good relationships with those people).

State your case with the contacts you have, be aggressive about wanting to keep the business, and hope for the best.  Again, it may not matter with a new CEO that has his mind set on a different direction, but if you don’t try then it will be as Wayne Gretzky once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

As for the second issue, generational change, that is something you must get in front of, because it is happening, and you must be prepared.  Look inside your own company:  what are the changes you see as the older managers and staff retire and are replaced by younger people? Much has and will be written about these changes, so first get a good general grounding in the phenomenon and then, second, get someone to help you figure out specifically what it means for your products and the way you do your marketing and selling.

So . . . do you take the time to systematicaly stay in touch with your customers? Are you in tune with the generational and cultural changes that affect business?

Are you in your own bubble that you need to break out of?

Who would your customers vote for today?

Take the time, make the effort to know your customers.

*Three things you must do for your 2017 business aviation marketing, and A Brief Overview of Business Aviation Market Research

Mark Ryan

November 19, 2016

Dallas, TX

Five things that stood out at NBAA-BACE 2016

For veteran attendees of the National Business Aviation Association’s annual trade show (BACE), the atmosphere was, shall we say, low key. There was no real buzz to the show; perhaps this was appropriate for an industry still struggling to recover and come to grips with a changed market post the 2008-2009 Great Recession.

Nevertheless, I was left with some distinct impressions from the event both in terms of the direction of the industry and how some exhibitors are creating their own level of excitement.

  1. STATIC DISPLAY – THE PLACE TO BE

As a former exhibit manager and thus usually chained to my indoor display booth for the duration of the show, I have only infrequently had a chance to visit the static display. This year I was freed from booth duties and made the static area my first stop; oh my, how it has grown over the years. If your target audience is pilots, this is the place to be.

It occurred to me that the BACE show has actually become two shows: the exhibit hall for aftermarket vendors and suppliers, and the static display for airframe OEMs and used aircraft brokers. A decade ago, attendees would divide their time between the two sites, with Day 1 typically being exhibit hall day for meetings and Day 2 being static display day for tire kicking. Day 3 was always catch up day before departing. Nowadays it seems people gravitate to one or the other location and stay.

I suspect this trend became more pronounced after the 2009 Orlando NBAA when the new aircraft delivery recession was hitting full stride. Most of the airframe OEMs abandoned their indoor exhibit spaces and retreated to the static display as their venue of last resort. Since that time more and more emphasis seems to have been placed on the static area by aircraft sellers and less emphasis on the indoor exhibit area.

A small portion of the 116 aircraft on display at the NBAA 2016 static at Orlando Executive Airport
A small portion of the 116 aircraft on display at the NBAA 2016 static at Orlando Executive Airport

  1. THE RISE OF USED AIRCRAFT

A few years ago, in an effort to get more exposure for its members, the National Aircraft Resellers Association (NARA) pooled its members together to secure a dedicated area of the static display to showcase used aircraft offerings. The idea stuck and now accounts for a good share of the increased traffic as mentioned in Item 1 above. NARA has become a growing force in the industry as the effect of a large volume of low-time used turbine aircraft has become a major factor in today’s buy-sell market. Expect this area to continue to grow.

NARA entry to reseller area at 2016 NBAA static.
NARA entry to used aircraft area at 2016 NBAA static.

  1. TAC-AIR / KEYSTONE AVIATION

I always appreciate it when an exhibitor takes advantage of an opportunity – in this case its location. As you entered the ramp of the static display at Orlando Executive Airport, you were greeted by smiling hosts and hostesses from TAC-Air and Keystone Aviation offering free water and sunscreen. It is Florida after all. Good idea and memorable. Thank you.

TAC-Air and Keystone Aviation hospitality takes advantage of their entry location at the static display.
TAC-Air and Keystone Aviation hospitality takes advantage of their entry location at the static display.

  1. C&L AVIATION – ENGAGING PROMOTION

It’s never easy to rise above the noise of pre-show communications clamoring for attention regarding NBAA. But C&L Aviation appears to have succeeded with production of a tongue-in-cheek video campaign where the CEO mistakenly thought the company had been invited to participate in the NBA basketball tournament. Making good use of social media, a series of three videos provided entertaining content while getting across its point by highlighting the company’s team and skills. The C&L booth followed through on the basketball theme to complete the picture. It was a great way to build social media followers, promote a company better known to regional airline operators than business aviation, and demonstrate the personality of the brand. Engagement is what social media is all about, and this provided a good example of what can be done.

  1. EAA – SPIRIT OF AVIATION MOBILE TRAILER

One of the more laudable displays to appear at BACE this year was the unveiling of a new EAA Mobile Trailer – an 18-wheeler containing a hands-on mini-workshop area, flight simulators and a virtual reality video about the EAA Museum and Airventure air show. The mobile trailer will be appearing at cities across the USA as part of the association’s ongoing drive to recruit new people to aviation, especially young adults looking at career choices. EAA is to be commended for taking the aviation experience on the road and its pro-active approach to helping ensure the future of aviation.

EAA "Spirit of Aviation" Mobile Trailer takes to the road to introduce future aviators to flying and building.
EAA “Spirit of Aviation” Mobile Trailer takes to the road to introduce future aviators to flying and building.

Chris Pratt

Orlando, Florida

November 3, 2016

Three things you must do for your 2017 business aviation marketing

Chances are you’ve just returned from NBAA 2016; hope your company’s investment of time, money and other resources paid off (or will pay off) for you.

And, chances are, you’re going to be taking a hard look at and finalizing your 2017 marketing, sales and advertising programs and budgets. Here, briefly, are three things you should do as part of that process:

First, understand your brand position, and act accordingly:

 There are only three kinds of brands; which are you?

  • Leaders – top brand in the category, leader in sales, market share, revenue, profits, reputation, awareness; examples are Gulfstream (large jets), Cessna (small jets), Signature (FBO)
  • Challengers – the one, two or maybe three brands that go head to head with the respective Leader; must have “want to” (energy, aggressiveness), “the will” (commitment of $ and other resources) and “the goods” (products/services with measureable improvement in quality, value, innovation). Examples are Embraer, Garmin, Pilatus
  • “Other” brands – certainly not a Leader, and lacks the ambition, energy, commitment of resources, and product innovation to compete as a true Challenger, BUT can still have a good business with strong products, customer service, or a profitable niche specialty; examples are Piper, Avidyne, TAC Air

Once you realize/accept the kind of brand you are, act like it!

  • Leaders have the ability – and privilege – to speak with authority and confidence in defining what’s important in the category, they set the rules for debate (says things a Challenger can’t); Leaders will constantly seek to spend the necessary resources, and find ways to innovate, to stay at #1
  • Challengers must carry their ambition, energy and aggressiveness over to selling activities; must use their product/service innovation to define a new set of category rules, to shift the debate to a new playing field (this is how you get around the Leader); and must be more aggressive in both message and ad spend to rise above the Leader’s authority
  • Others – key question is what is your long-term goal? Maintain a slow growth yet consistently profitable mode – then go with incremental product improvement and great customer service; understand if you’re a quality brand or a price brand, and communicate value through either avenue; or milk the company/brand until its value as a cash cow comes to an end?

Second, you must get a solid handle on business aviation media in a digital world:

Fifteen years ago pretty much all you needed was print ads in key trade books, high quality collateral to give to your sales guys to mail out and take to customers and trade shows, a good PR program, and a steady participation in the aforementioned trade shows.

Now, B/CA magazine is half the pages it used to be, collateral is downloaded from your web site, and PR has now exploded with social media, live feeds, demos, webinars, news alerts. Trade shows are still very important, in fact they seem to never stop proliferating.

Key focus for 2017: where does your company stand on digital communications?

  • First and foremost, you must have a good web site
  • Social Media is a must and growing
    • 77% of Fortune 500 companies are active on Twitter (70% Facebook, 69% YouTube)
  • How do you select the right media?
    • Know your audience, e.g. 70% of CEOs on social only use LinkedIn (Microsoft)
  • Think Mobile – 75% of internet use will be on mobile devices in 2017 (Zenith’s Mobile Advertising Forecast)
  • Paid Promotions – Should I buy ads on social media?
    • Organic growth of social media visitors grew just 0.1% in the past three and a half years (Adobe Digital Insights).
    • Result:  38% of marketers (retail and B-to-B) use paid promotions now. Another 42% plan to add it in 2017 (Gartner Group)
  •  Measureable
    • Metrics are readily available for social media, website visits, etc.
    • You can and should check your competitors and their usage

Let’s use the last point as an example: what are your competitors doing with social media? We took a look at some of the major airframe OEMs’ Twitter use.

We can see that Cessna has been most aggressive at developing a following:

Bombardier not shown as its Twitter activity includes rail-related items
Bombardier not shown as its Twitter activity includes rail-related items

While quality of Tweets is not measurable here, certainly there is something to be said for having a frequent stream of Tweets in building an audience — and this is just Twitter. There are many other channels to explore. We discovered a number of other interesting results from our Twitter analysis that we’d be happy to share with you. Just contact us by email or telephone and we can discuss.

Have you done any similar analysis to see where you stand versus your competitors?

Third, if you don’t currently have a comprehensive measurement program in place, do it now, ideally before your CEO asks

You must be able to show what’s working in your marketing and sales programs, and your media efforts, and know what is not working so you can fix it effectively. With both the digital and Big Data ages upon us you must get in front of this.

Now, be aware that there are two kinds of marketing measures:

  • “Counting” measures, which are “how much?” How much did we sell last quarter, how much money did we make, how much profit, how much stuff do we still have in the warehouse to sell?   Counting measures also include:
    • Lifetime customer value assessment
    • ROI on promotion spend
    • Feature/price analysis for new products
    • “Conversion” rates for online communications (click rates, tech sheet download rates, etc.)
  • “Thinking” measures: what do our customers think of us; what do they think of our competition? What do they think of our product quality? What is our brand awareness, and reputation? These measures include:
    • Net promoter score (“Would you recommend us . . .?”)
    • Conversion scores (awareness, to consideration, to favorite)
    • Product differentiation scoring

So there are many tools in the measurement toolbox, and you should be looking at:

  • Program and product specific ROI
  • Effectiveness of specific channels (web site, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Counting and Thinking measures for both you and key competitors (Counting measures are not hard to do. Thinking measures are harder to do, but do them you must)
  • With the shifting of communications online, the scope of Counting measures has increased greatly
  • Test everything! (e.g. A/B testing)
  • Whatever is unique and critical in your situation

Recap, for 2017:

Make sure you know what kind of brand you have, and are planning and acting in sync.

Digital communications and media aren’t going away; make sure you have a plan to at least evaluate whether and how much of it is right for your competitive circumstances. You may decide not to go there, but you’ll be acting out of considered judgment and not by default.

Put a measurement plan in place that will 1) measure what is important in your company and 2) deal with the ever-growing amount of data out there.

Mark Ryan

November 7, 2016

Dallas, TX

 

 

 

 

 

Branding: Should the Cessna Denali be Branded Beechcraft?

Textron’s decision raises some interesting strategic questions for marketers to debate

Copyright Cessna Aircraft Company
Copyright Cessna Aircraft Company

It really should not have surprised me when Textron announced their new single engine turboprop would be branded as a Cessna. After all, the design was developed by Cessna, and a single engine turboprop had long been a concept Cessna had considered.*

But, in fact, the announcement did surprise me. Looking at a sketch of the Denali, one cannot help but immediately think of the Pilatus PC-12. And when you think of the Pilatus you think of it as a competitor to the King Air 200 series. Hence, my surprise at the branding.

Textron now owns Beechcraft. And here in the form of the Denali is the single engine turboprop — dare I say it, King Air — that Beechcraft never developed.

Cessna’s previous attempts at producing turboprop aircraft have resulted in only one notable success – albeit a great one – and that is the utilitarian Caravan series.

The new Denali is more of a comfortable business aircraft with utilitarian aspirations. It is clearly designed to compete with the Pilatus PC12/12NG that has pretty much owned the high end, luxury single engine turboprop market since its entry into service in 1994.

Not only is the Denali cabin focused on comfort (even the aircraft’s window shape is similar to a King Air’s oval as opposed to the Caravan’s rectangular design), but a look at the table below indicates its performance and specifications clearly put it in the King Air / Pilatus class.

Denali vs. Competitors: Comparison of Basic Features and Specifications. Source: OEMs and BCA 2016 Purchasing Planning Handbook
Sources: OEM websites and BCA 2016 Purchasing Planning Handbook

From a branding perspective what things do we typically consider when introducing a new product?

Will our current owner/customer base look upon the product as an acceptable extension of our brand, i.e. will it fit our brand personality

Will the product have the look and feel of our brand

Will the product message be consistent with our current brand message

Will the product name be in family with our other products

Will the quality and price of the product be consistent with our brand position

Does the product feature the distinguishing physical characteristics that our brand is known for, e.g., winglet shape, cockpit windshield design, passenger window shape, tail shape, etc.

Cessna’s online brochure states: “With a class-leading cabin, better performance, and superior economics, the Cessna Denali offers the highest level of comfort and productivity available in its category.” Doesn’t sound like a freight carrying, regional airline equipped Caravan, does it?

Compare to how Beechcraft describes its King Air 250: “The most popular business turboprop in the world, the Beechcraft® King Air® 250, now provides cutting-edge touchscreen avionics technology, greater passenger comfort and enhanced payload options to deliver more people to more places in unprecedented comfort.”

As an outsider looking in, it’s fun to speculate. Perhaps the decision came down to the simple fact that the Denali was a Cessna design and Cessna is the dominant Textron brand. Perhaps it portends the future branding scheme for Textron, i.e. the Beechcraft brand will not be expanded beyond its current reach. We’ll probably never know.

But you have to wonder, is Textron missing its best long-term ROI opportunity by not leveraging the King Air brand?

Chris Pratt

October 12, 2016

* Did you know the Cessna Mustang light jet was originally designed as a single engine turboprop?

 

Ready For NBAA?

Five tips for last minute things you can do at your booth to draw a crowd and leverage your investment

If your duties include more than trade shows, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “other duties as assigned” portion of your job even as a major trade show sneaks up on you. This is especially true if the event is at the beginning of a month like this year’s NBAA that starts November 1. “Oh, that’s two months away,” your brain says. “Plenty of time.”

For those who are running to keep up, don’t lose heart. There are some last minute things you can do to enhance your show presence without breaking the bank and make your show investment pay off. Here are five suggestions of things to consider and that, hopefully, will stimulate other ideas.

  1. Mobile device charging stations. Heavy users of social media and e-mail are constantly running down their smart-device batteries. Offer free charging stations. There are a number of multi-connector devices available for rent or sale. Units for sale start at about $250 for a tabletop device with multiple platform connectors and go up from there depending on how fancy you want to get. Check with your show services provider or your exhibit house for suggestions. You’ll want units that can be secured so people won’t walk off with them.

Charging stations take up very little space. Depending on configuration of the charger and your booth space, you may want to consider offering more than one station, as your booth will be popular once people realize the service is available.

  1. Free Wi-Fi. Internet connectivity at trade shows can be notoriously poor. Try arranging for high-speed free access. Attendees will need to drop by your booth for the access code. Have your Wi-Fi supplier label the network with your company name. Most convention halls have a single authorized show Wi-Fi provider so you will need to work directly through them.
  1. Social media. Since we are on the related topics of free charging stations and free Wi-Fi, let’s address social media. People who love social media (and the numbers keep growing), love to post where they are and what they are doing. Make it easy for them by offering an Instagram camera or similar device for quick upload to the web. Set up an area on your booth with an interesting background, hire a celebrity or create a “posting wall” for people to take selfies. You can also post the selfies on a board at your exhibit for others to see or create a contest around it such as “Most Creative Selfie.”

Be sure to feature your booth name and number somewhere in the background to help online viewers find you so they can join in and share the fun.

  1. On-site demonstration. Let’s face it, many trade show booths are boring. You can make them look great, but if there’s nothing interesting going on they’ll be boring.

If your company sells something that is manufactured, requires assembly/disassembly for maintenance, or is technical in nature, then look into providing an on-site demonstration to show how it’s done. We call this “experiential marketing.” Please forgive my lack of PC here, but people, especially males, love to watch other people work and to see how things are made/repaired. If your product and booth space lend itself to such a demonstration, then try it. It’s a great way to engage the crowd and get them to interact with you.

Depending on the size and complexity of the product, this may require more planning and space than you have now, but if it’s doable it can be a big draw. From personal experience, I know this works. As show manager for Dallas Airmotive, I had less than two months to put together an entire PT6A engine rebuild for the 2014 NBAA. This was an all-out team effort involving a couple of dozen people. It proved well worth the effort. The crowd draw was far and away the best we’d ever had, and it was steady throughout the three days of the show. We received press coverage from every one of the Dailies and post-show from most of the aviation publications attending. It was the buzz of the show. Even better, our competitors walked away with that, “Why didn’t we think of this?” look on their faces. Priceless.

  1. Business card scanner/capture. If you are not already doing this, then you should be. It’s an easy way to track who showed up at your booth and to capture: a) updates on known customers (e-mails, telephone, title, etc.), or b) add new prospects to your database. Scanners are rentable from show services suppliers at any major trade show, or you can buy your own to use at multiple events. The cost is not excessive.

Here’s a bonus tip:

  1. Pre-Show Communications. First of all, if you decide to do any of the Items 1, 2 or 3 above and especially Item 4, be sure to tell people about it. If you have a customer list or can rent an attendee list from the sponsoring organization, it is relatively inexpensive to send a pre-show reminder email highlighting: a) you’ll be there, b) the booth number, c) what you’ll be featuring, d) why attendees should stop by. The communication doesn’t have to be elaborate. Think of it as an electronic billboard. It may be just the reminder someone needs to schedule a stop at your booth during the show.

Also, it never hurts to send a press release to major publications covering the event to let them know you are exhibiting, your booth number, and what you will have on site. Send the release a couple of weeks prior to the event to give the publication time to slot it in to their early editions or post it on their electronic news board. Events like NBAA are heavily covered electronically and a pre-show or day-one mention is a real bonus.

Good luck at the show. I hope to see you there. In the meantime, if there is anything that we at William Ryan Group Aviation (wrg-aviation.com) can do to help, please give us a call (214.208.2667).

Chris Pratt

Dallas, Texas

September 12, 2016

 

2016 Oshkosh Air Show prompts some marketing insights

I thought it would be worthwhile to take a break from our e-Book chapters this week and share some observations about my visit to this year’s Oshkosh Air Show and relate that to business aviation marketing.

I have attended many times since the early 1970s and flown in for nine of the last 12 events. A number of things especially impressed me about the 2016 Oshkosh show (sorry EAA but I have never come to grips with calling it “Airventure”).

First of all, let me distinguish “air shows” and “trade shows”. Despite including “air show” in their names, Paris, Farnborough, Singapore, etc. are trade shows. They are designed to do one thing – sell stuff to people wearing suits. On the other hand, EAA’s Oshkosh is first and foremost an air show oriented towards aviation enthusiasts and their families and secondarily features exhibits and vendors.

This isn’t to say that marketers should stay away. Au contraire. What it does say is that the marketing “approach” should be adjusted to suit the venue. Oshkosh visitors are typically information gatherers and adding items to their wish list.

How does this relate to marketing and the state of the business? Well first of all, I noticed there was less parking available this year than in the past. As a veteran Oshkosh goer, I know the right place to park for each day’s activities, or so I thought. This year the “Green” lot, which is close to the homebuilt aircraft, had been turned over to permit only parking for exhibitors since the old exhibitor lot (Lot B) was now being used for additional – you guessed it – exhibits.

Well, that’s a good sign. In fact, this year 560,000+ attended the weeklong event, surpassing the old record of about 520,000 set prior to the Great Recession of 2008-2009. A little more digging revealed new year-over-year records for Exhibitors (up 10%), for Homebuilt aircraft (up 11% to 1,124), Warbirds (up 6% to 371) and Vintage aircraft (up 7% to 1,032). So if nothing else this is a good indicator that interest in general aviation is alive and hopefully looking to spend some money.

With my interest piqued and my parking secured (Orange lot), I casually and unscientifically strolled the exhibitor areas to see what’s up.

Drones for one, but that’s no surprise. EAA smartly had dedicated a large tent to drone demonstrations, beginner information, and drone sales to satisfy the curiosity of people like me who have become interested in these clever devices.

I also sought out vendors selling ADS-B solutions. If you operate an aircraft you are aware of this FAA requirement due for installation by 2020. In addition to finding the usual homebuilder niche avionics vendors, I found L-3 Communications and their ADS-B solution on display. Really? When did giant military supplier L-3 decide to sell to the considerably smaller homebuilt market? This Fortune 500 Company apparently has recognized an opportunity and jumped into the fray. With a very nice product I might add. A Lynx ADS-B unit is now on my wish list and will likely be my next upgrade.

And why not exhibit? According to the FAA there are more than 26,000 experimental aircraft (officially E-AB for Experimental-Amateur Built) registered in the USA alone. That’s about 13% of the fleet. The point has not been lost on names such as Garmin, Dynon, Avidyne, Bose and many more. Should you take a look? Well probably not if you are Gulfstream, but certainly more than a few avionics, parts suppliers, and aftermarket companies may want to consider it.

The point of the story: as we look at marketing for the next 10 years we always want to keep an open and inquiring mind into changes in the marketplace. In aviation, these changes seldom happen overnight, but they do happen. Early adopters who exploit the opportunities first can sometimes reap large rewards. Skeptical? Consider where Garmin started. Yup, selling non-certified radio equipment to the E-AB crowd. Now their avionics are featured on everything from new production Skyhawks to top-of-the-line business jets. Do you think marketers at traditional business aircraft avionics leaders Honeywell and Collins are concerned – I’ll give you odds on that.

If you’ve never attended Oshkosh, I highly recommend it. You’ll be amazed at the family oriented atmosphere including a campground that rivals a small town, kids everywhere, a seaplane base, things flying overhead at all times and a generally slow paced, carefree atmosphere. You can have a great time looking at the planes and watching amazing air show routines and never visit a vendor. Unless, of course, you have a wish list that needs tending. Welcome to Oshkosh.

Chris Pratt

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

August, 2016 

 

 

 

 

Five things that stood out at NBAA 2014

I’m certainly not one of those people who can say something like “well, I just attended my 32nd NBAA in a row last week” but I have been to many conventions since the mid-80’s and remember when both Dallas and New Orleans were still in the rotation, before the show outgrew all but Vegas and Orlando.

To me, NBAA’s always been a trade show that changes little from year to year, and you really need to take the long perspective to appreciate the true (and remarkable) changes in general aviation over the last few decades,

But even though there’s a lot of the “same old, same old” every year there’s always a few things that “pop” when you’re walking the aisles – here are my top five for 2014:

HondaJet’s display/booth

What a great small jet, years in the coming – but the Hondajet “booth” really grabbed me, calling to mind a new car showroom; what we really have here is a consumer company entering a B-to-B marketplace, and the implications of that for the competition will be fun to watch over the next few years.

Aerion’s supersonic plane

And what a great long range aircraft, also years in the coming; perhaps a realistic supersonic airplane is finally in reach. From looking at the specs, this SSBJ, unlike some other earlier design concepts, will be able to take off from fields like Teterboro, Van Nuys, and Le Bourget, not needing a 9,000’+ runway.

New “siblings” Beechcraft and Cessna under the Textron banner

Two of the greatest brands all-time in general aviation, coming together just earlier this year – and the way they were presented wasn’t great but perhaps “okay” given the relatively short time to prepare strategically and the long lead time required to design and execute an NBAA show display. An old friend I talked to a the convention told me the general consensus was that this is clearly a transition year for the new Textron Aviation, and that they’ll have all of the distinctive product positions worked out by next year. We’ll see.

Dallas Airmotive’s on-site engine build

At an industry show where the phrase “static” has a special meaning, it was quite interesting to see Dallas Airmotive do something that may never have been done before – have a truly interactive, real-time – and relevant to DAI’s business – demonstration of an engine (PT6) being built, giving the audience a chance to ask many questions of the talented mechanics. It was a perspective that pilots with the highest number of hours flown perhaps have never had.

(And the “talented mechanics” – the blue collar guys who typically never get a chance to sniff the rarefied air of an expense account trade show and stay at a fancy hotel – will now go back and talk to their shop floor mates about how good it felt to be “the guy” who everyone was paying attention to because he was the expert; great for morale.)

Gulfstream, “The World Standard”

Gulfstream has (I believe) used the theme line “The World Standard” for many years now. If you use a line like that – a Leadership position – it had damn better be true, or you’ll be liable for derision.

Now one measure of strong, positive brand equity of a B-to-B brand is becoming familiar not only to its business target but also the broader consumer population. Just the week before NBAA I was reading a news article (in The Dallas Morning News, IIRC) in which there was mention of a “Gulfstream Challenger;” reading the context of the article, it was clear that the aircraft in question was in fact a Challenger, and that the speaker simple prefaced it with “Gulfstream” because all big, fancy corporate jets are just generically Gulfstream, right?

The World Standard, indeed. Big, fancy corporate jets = Gulfstream and vice versa. Yeah, that line works.

Runners-up:

The scale model of the BBJ’s interior (bath tubs (2), media room, etc.) – overheard: “I wouldn’t need a house with this – would just live in it at the airport”

James Carville, the Ragin’ Cajun: “There must be what, maybe two Democrats besides me in here? I feel like a fire hydrant in a room full of dogs.”  And of course Carville’s wife, Mary Matalin, brought her perspective from the other side of the (political) aisle.

Mark Ryan

October 24, 2014

Orlando, FL