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Marketing trends for a brand-new yearMarketing trends for a brand-new year

Small business marketing doesn’t always adapt easily to the flight training industry. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a Forbes article about small business marketing trends in 2018 that most of you are probably using right now—and if you’re not, they’re simple and inexpensive to implement. 

Kalin Kassabov’s suggestions on enhancing the customer experience are spot-on examples of what is happening at flight schools right now. We at Flight School Business have been beating the drum of better customer service for a few years, and the most recent Flight Training Experience Survey results indicate that lots of flight schools are paying attention and getting rave customer feedback as a result.

Training your front desk employees to be gracious; answering and returning phone calls promptly; making sure that prospective customers get information they can use (and not a packet of numbers and hours and requirements that, dropped without context, will scare them off)—all of these enhance your flight school’s user experience.

Kassabov also suggests:

Asking for feedback. If you’ve ever sent a customer survey, you’ve asked for feedback. If not, SurveyMonkey is an easy, free platform to get you started.

Engaging on social media. We get it; social media is a tough sell for a busy flight school owner who has a thousand other tasks. But we see more flight schools making the effort. If you can set up a Facebook page and spend five minutes a day updating and monitoring it, you’ll see dividends in customer engagement.

Micro-marketing. “As marketing gets more expensive and competitive, it’s increasingly important to target your audience and identify your customers’ unique needs,” Kassabov says. If your flight school handles a mix of private, instrument, commercial, and multiengine students, you know these customers have very different needs. “For example, rather than having a huge sale on every item in your store (or website), focus on a specific line or type of product and target those customers who are most likely to buy these products,” Kassabov suggests. Flight schools can offer reduced-price simulator time in the winter to instrument students, package some study tools for private or commercial students, or put together a “starter kit” for brand-new student pilots.

Other trends cited in the article included enhancing your website with “chatbots” (those pop-up “may I help you?” boxes) and livestream video (Facebook Live or Instagram Live). These ideas and others may seem a little ambitious for a flight school, especially one without dedicated, knowledgeable staff to implement them. Then again, social media was a mystery to most flight schools even three years ago, so it should be no surprise if enterprising businesses figure out how to put cutting-edge ideas to work. 

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.

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