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Know thy customerKnow thy customer

It may seem obvious, even simplistic, but the fact remains any business that wants to expand its revenue stream has to reach out to attract new customers in an ongoing fashion. That is typically accomplished through a combination of advertising, marketing, and enhanced customer service. But all those options require the business owner, or manager, to know the answer to one very broad, but critically important question: Do you know who your customer is?

Most business owners and managers will immediately answer in the affirmative. The question may even confuse them momentarily. How could they not know their customers? After all, they work with them face-to-face every day.

Respectfully, that’s the wrong focus group. Those are your current customers. You already have a business relationship with them--hopefully a productive one that leaves them with the sense they are getting a good value for their dollar whenever they deal with you. But what about the massive bulk of the marketplace represented by people who aren’t your customers? How well do you know them? It is the untapped potential of those customers that can bring new revenue and new life to your business.

Ironically, because you are in the general aviation industry, you have an advantage over most businesses. Admittedly, you may not know your new customers’ names, or where they work, what they read, which television shows they watch, or what their dream vacation might look like. However, you know one thing for sure—you’re not going to meet them at the airport. That’s where your current customer base exists. This new customer, this unknown entity in the community, is somewhere else. All you have to do is find them. And that’s to your advantage because your new customer could be hiding anywhere. If you and your marketing efforts leave the airport grounds, it will be almost impossible not to find them because they’re everywhere you go.

Everybody goes to the grocery store at some point. Can you work a deal to put a display in your local grocery store on a seasonal basis? Maybe Santa or the Easter Bunny can take up residence at a faux flight simulator during the holidays. That would turn a few heads while waiting for the cashier to ring them out.

Is there a mall or a large shopping center in your town? Perhaps they would enjoy the draw of having an airplane, a helicopter, or a glider situated in a prominent place. And perhaps that would give you the opportunity to put a CFI on site to answer questions and encourage discovery flights.

As long as you’ve got a CFI helping to market your business, don’t be shy about contacting your local middle schools, high schools, and colleges to schedule a presentation. Some of those students may become customers if they can gather enough information to sell the folks on the idea over dinner one night. You never can tell, some of their parents might become your new customers too.

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