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Flight School Spotlight: Norton Aviation

By Jim Pitman

Traditional marketing is all about self-promotion. The objective is to make sure as many people as possible know who you are and what you do. That worked well more than 20 years ago when it was more challenging for people to find products and services they needed. Traditional marketing in today’s always-online, Internet-based-world means we are constantly interrupted and bombarded with advertisements. Some marketing experts estimate that we are exposed to more than 4,000 ads per day.

There’s still a place for traditional marketing, but it’s not as effective as it used to be. No matter what type of business we’re in, it’s really all about the people. It’s our employees, customers, and prospective customers that make our businesses what they are. Our connections—or lack thereof—with those special people represent the overall status of our current business relationships. Better relationships lead to more productive employees, improved customer loyalty, more qualified referrals, and increased profits.

Relationship marketing means focusing more on relationships than self-promotion. Relationship marketing expert Kody Bateman teaches that 80 percent of your customer interactions should be focused on building relationships, and only 20 percent should be directly promoting your business. This means the majority of our “marketing” messages should be celebrating and thanking others, rather than promoting ourselves.

Norton Aviation understands how to do this. The training business also understand the obstacles that often get in the way. Norton Aviation provides specialty flight training for Very Light Jets (VLJs) with a team of instructors at locations throughout the United States. Shari Meyer is the director of customer service at Norton Aviation. “We’ve always appreciated our customers, but we haven’t always been good at showing that appreciation in a consistent manner. I knew we needed a simple system to make it work,” Meyer said.

Sending hand-written greeting cards via first class mail has become a lost art for most of modern society. Even though the idea may seem old-fashioned, it’s amazing to see the positive results that can come from such a gesture. In a world of text messages, social media, and blog posts that are forgotten as quickly as they’re seen, there’s something extra-special about holding a paper greeting card in your hands and reading a heartfelt message. That’s the kind of “marketing” that stays on someone’s desk or gets hung on their refrigerator at home, where it often becomes a conversion-starter with co-workers, friends, and family.

SendOutCards has pioneered a way to merge high-tech with high-touch. You create your greeting cards online, and then the company print, stuffs, stamps, and mails them for you; all for less than half the cost of typical greeting cards. There’s also a wide assortment of high-quality gifts for every occasion. This short video shows how the system works.

“When I first came to Norton Aviation a few years ago, I discovered they had a SendOutCards account that was not getting used much,” Meyer said. “I started sending thank you and congratulations cards to our current clients. Their positive responses really caught my attention. We now send customized greeting cards for birthdays, holidays, appointment reminders, and congratulations. SendOutCards makes it fun and easy.”

As the late Jim Rohn taught, “What's simple to do is also simple not to do” and “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” Meyer shared, “For me, the key was to make it part of my normal checklist and procedures. Capturing a photo and sending the card only takes a few minutes. When I don’t do it right away and several pile up on my to-do list, it can start to feel like a hassle. So my advice is to work the card-sending into your normal flow and just do it as you go.”

It’s best to stay focused on the relationships that motivated you to start sending cards in the first place. “Our customers’ feedback is what keeps me going. Sending the cards is such a part of my daily routine that it’s easy for me to forget how important it is to do,” Meyer said.

“Fortunately, the people who are receiving the cards often remind me how much those cards really mean. I regularly receive emails and other messages from people telling me how much they appreciated getting a card from us in the mail. We always include one or more photos of the client with their airplane, which makes it extra special,” Meyer said. “I’ve even had people contact me to ask for a duplicate card because they lost the first one and really want to treasure those memories. Fortunately, SendOutCards makes that easy too. Sending heartfelt cards with photos is definitely an effective way to foster better relationships,” she said.

I’ve been regularly using the SendOutCards system for more than 13 years. If you have questions or would like to brainstorm specific ideas to implement at your flight school, feel free to contact me directly at 623-252-0145 or [email protected].

Kody Bateman also teaches that, “Appreciation wins over self-promotion every time.” Remember that, keep it simple, and be consistent. That’s my best advice for becoming a master of relationship marketing. Whether you use the SendOutCards system or choose to do it the old-fashioned way, sending heart-felt cards is a lost art that is worth reviving.

Learn more about Norton Aviation here.

Jim Pitman has been a flight instructor since 1997. He has been a Part 141 chief flight instructor, Cessna Pilot Center regional manager, and Arizona Flight Instructor of the Year. He currently flies the Canadair Regional Jet for a U.S. carrier while working as a freelance flight instructor and Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) for the FAA. Connect with Jim at his website (