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Less really is moreLess really is more

I have to admit that I’m tired of this cliché. I’ve heard it over and over again since the eighth grade. In so much of our business and personal lives, the exact opposite seems to be true. An airplane that can fly at 180 knots at Flight Level 230 is better than one that tops at 9,500 feet msl and 120 knots. A six-room bungalow is better than a studio apartment. An 18-ounce New York strip is better than meatloaf. We could go on and on.

With everything in our world that points to higher, faster, farther, and more as being superior, when is smaller, simpler, and downsized actually better?

In our industry, we often see marketing messages as a confusing array of multiple offerings that look more like a comprehensive catalog of services rather than a singular, focused idea. Many of them will rattle on and on with a deep level of detail that requires some dedicated reading time to get through. When you engage in a marketing campaign, whether it is one that goes on in perpetuity (such as your website) or one that is finite in scope and duration (such as a spring event), it is important to keep the message(s) segmented, compartmentalized, and very brief.

  • For the most part, people don’t like to read anymore. If they did, the current approach that many are taking would work well. Flight schools could simply produce a catalog of courses and offerings and publish it to their website and be done with it.
  • Most newcomers to avocational-based flight training don’t have a high level of understanding of the product they are shopping for.
  • There is so much marketing competition for our attention today when it comes to discretional spending that a muddy message just gets lost in the mix. You have to fight to get to the top of the pile.
  • People want things that are easy to understand and buy. This is true even for affluent, sophisticated shoppers.

With these thoughts in mind, what can we do to change our marketing messages to current and prospective customers?

  • With a finite marketing campaign, make sure you have one message—just one. If you try to offer two to three things at once, you’ll muddy the effort. It is better to do one thing very well than to try and do several things on a mediocre basis. 
  • Express your idea with as few words as possible.
  • Use high-quality pictures that include people to get your point across. Remember that the flight training business is way more about people than it is about airplanes. People and airplanes need to be included in every image that you publish.
  • With a perpetual marketing campaign, these rules still apply. Just make sure to keep the ideas segmented and brief.

When you create marketing copy of any kind in the future, run them through this quick checklist.

  • Am I presenting one singular idea?
  • Is it published in as few words as possible?
  • Is the message clear to those who don’t understand my offering or are new to aviation?
  • Am I using lots of quality imagery to help convey my message?
  • Does this marketing do a good job of driving prospects to my front door or phone?

The goal of marketing is to drive people to your phone or front door. It’s not to try to convince them to start a program or rating with you. That’s the point of sales, which is a completely separate discipline.

The key problem with so much of our marketing is that it’s trying to accomplish way too much at one time in one place. In a sense, many schools are trying to accomplish both sales and marketing with tools like their website. I guess in this case less really is more.

P. Jerry Lee is president and founder of aviation marketing and sales training firm Mach1 Consultants.

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