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Lights, camera, actionLights, camera, action

10 tips for creating flight school videos that sell

Not using video yet in your marketing? Don't feel alone. Most flight schools aren't, which creates a tremendous opportunity for savvy schools to jump ahead of the competition, turn more prospects into students, and position your business as the flight training leader in your market.

Videos sell better than static websites or brochures. That's just a fact. A well-made video will create a mood, convey useful information, and engage your audience more effectively than any other medium. Videos draw viewers in and, if used extensively in your marketing, they keep people coming back for more. A good video can do more in four minutes than the most dynamic brochure or even your $10,000 website. If you're not yet using video in your marketing, you should be. Here are 10 tips to get you started.

  1. Simple sells best. You’re not making Hollywood blockbusters here—just simple little videos that convey a singular message. When you're getting started, don't be too concerned with production values (lighting, sound quality, special effects) unless you’re prepared to go into it in a big way. As you create more videos, the quality will improve. The important thing is to get started, to do it, and to consider video production as an ongoing part of your marketing efforts.
  2. Decide on the objective of each video. Your videos should be broken down into four main types:
    1. Flight school tour. This is your main video and should be four to seven minutes in length. Make this one as slick as you can, and embed it into the landing page of your website.
    2. Milestones. Do a two-minute video for featured checkrides and solos. Let the customer tell the story in his or her own words. Include these as part of your emails to prospects.
    3. Instructional clips. Consider doing a short vid on topics like what to expect on an introductory flight, the structure of a typical flight lesson, the options for financing flight training, how to do a preflight inspection, the list goes on. Flight training fascinates your prospects, so keep them engaged through video delivered through email, social media, your website—even a continuous loop running on a TV in your lobby.
    4. Special events. Does your school do a Learn to Fly Day? Free hot dog day? Training or safety seminars? Charity event? If so, do a short video and post it to your website and social media. Special events create a perfect opportunity to post something of general interest and to position your school as a leader.
  1. Focus on the big three: people, planes, and process. Avoid sweeping panoramic shots of the airport or your classrooms. Keep your shots close-up and tight. Show lots of customers doing something in the cockpit, both in flight and on the ground, with plenty of smiles and interaction between student and instructor. Feature airplane interiors, including instrument panels, and don't forget plenty of “out the window” shots during cross-countries and landings. Clips of students or customers talking about their experiences are invaluable. Comments like, “Boy, it's really harder than I thought it would be” lend an air of authenticity and focus on one of the main reasons people cite for wanting to learn to fly: the challenge.
  2. Feature real customers. Your students and customers are your best salespeople. Include them as dominant elements in all your videos. Let them speak off the cuff. Avoid having them rehearse canned comments. Just turn the camera on, ask them some questions, and turn them loose. Some of your best footage will come from these informal interviews (don't worry, you'll edit out your questions in post-production so all you'll show is their remarks).
  3. DIY or hire a pro? If you can afford it, hire a local production company to do your school tour video. The company will almost certainly produce better quality, and it can guide you with suggestions for content. For other videos used mainly for marketing through email and social media, try to do these yourself (or “hire” a staff member or video-savvy customer to do them). The Internet is full of free information on what equipment you need and basic shooting/editing techniques. It's surprisingly easy to do, not to mention a lot of fun.
  4. Keep it short and sweet. Nobody wants to sit through a 20-minute video about your school, but they may watch four minutes. Maybe even seven. Don't waste time with footage of your furniture. All videos are divided into “clips,” with transition elements separating clips and helping to form a flow. Keep your clips short—under 15 seconds when possible—and keep the pace of your video quick and to the point. Make sure each clip features either people, airplanes, or process, or—better yet—all three! You only have a very few minutes to tell your story. Keep it punchy.
  5. Use professional voice talent and, maybe, music. Don't even think about doing the narration yourself. Seriously, it won't work (unless your name is Morgan Freeman). Search “video voiceover talent” and you'll get more hits than you can shake a towbar at. Listen to sample clips. Find a friendly, authoritative voice and hire him/her. It will be well worth the couple hundred bucks.


    Doing music right is tough. Sure, there are lots of free (or nearly so) clips of background music available through the Internet, but matching the ambience of the music to the personality of your video is difficult. Timing the music to your clips is also a challenge, but if you're up to it and have a knack for such things, adding music can vastly improve a video. Any basic video editing software will make adding music a snap. You can always take it out if your crew says it detracts from your message.

  6. Keep it sprightly. Draggy or boring videos can do more harm than good. For best results, move your clips along at a good pace. For a four-minute video, plan on using 20 to 35 clips of varying lengths. Alternate longer (20-second) clips with shorter (5-15 second) footage. Shorter is always better. More short clips are always better than a few long ones, especially for “tour” videos.
  7. Don't forget a call to action. All your videos should end with a call to action, an invitation for the viewer to do something, like call your school for a discovery flight. A final panel with your school's address and phone number can be a nice touch, as can a special offer (“Mention that you saw this video when you book your Discovery Flight and get a free logbook”).
  8. Spread it around. To make videos effective, people have to actually see them. Create a special section of your website for video archives. Feature the tour video on your homepage. Post a weekly video to your Facebook page. Include a video attachment to your follow-up emails. Remember, video is more memorable and sells better than any other medium. Share it with the world.

William Woodbury is a flight instructor and freelance writer in Southern California.

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