Now that we’ve identified the disciplinary differences that separate sales and marketing, let’s take some time to bring them back together with best practices that you can use to help increase how you get and keep more business.
True sales is a process and not an event. At the heart of any well-structured business development effort is the sense of it being a campaign. A good business development campaign should have key elements.
With these ideas in mind, let’s quickly wireframe a business development campaign around something every flight school can sell: introductory flight gift certificates.
Start Date: Oct. 1, 2011
Duration: Through Jan. 15, 2012
Projected Budget: $2,500
Marketing Goals: Reach out to members of the community who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to GA. Increase the level of buzz about our business in local colleges and high schools.
Sales Goals: Sell at least 350 gift certificates during the campaign. Projected gross revenue from these sales is approximately $3,500. Historically, 30 percent of all gift certificates will remain unused. Net-net 200 or so people will come in to redeem their introductory flight. Of those who come in, we expect to close 20 of them as new students.
Delivery Methods: Campaign gets top billing on our flight school’s website. Implement paid advertising on Facebook. Implement social media advertising through our own Facebook page. Blast email to our entire customer base in the first week of December. Have an all-day Black Friday event at a local high traffic retail location. Advertise regularly in college and high school newspapers. Consider a reduced initial revenue return for increased overall volume by utilizing Groupon or Living Social avenues. Each person who takes an introductory flight will be followed up with by a member of our team to ensure that they have every opportunity to start taking lessons.
Team Members: Anne Smith will coordinate and oversee the campaign. Jim Roberts will handle website and social media. Tom Adams will handle the Black Friday event and paid advertising. Lisa Jones will follow up by phone with everyone who has an introductory flight. (Making sure that everyone understands their role in a campaign is key to its success.)
Minimums for Success: My suggestion here is to give the campaign at least to its chronological halfway point before you throw in the towel. If at least 100 gift certificates are not sold by Dec. 5, 2011, we will suspend or rethink the campaign.
I wish I could say that all business development campaigns have a very happy made-for-TV ending. They don’t. Planning for success is key to increasing your chances of a winning campaign, however.
From where I sit, the change that business development campaigns represent for flight training is that they shift our industry from a dependency on instant-starts and one-time events to a more planned and professional business development model.
P. Jerry Lee is president and founder of aviation marketing and sales training firm Mach1 Consultants.