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Make Sure Your Website Doesn’t Become an Old Bachelor Farmer

Last in a Series

Lets say for a second your website is perfect. Now imagine that your website sits on a high dusty shelf in an empty building that no one knows about. Why? Because you haven’t done any marketing to promote it. Being perfect doesn’t seem all that important anymore, does it? Being good isn’t enough to be successful. You need a solid marketing plan to keep your site from dying of loneliness.

There are as many ways to promote your website as there are websites. But here are a few proven strategies to get you started.

• Use social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) to drive traffic to your site.

• Write and speak about your area of expertise and use those opportunities to draw traffic.

• Show thought leadership with a blog and user-submitted content to attract search engines.

• Use advertising, media relations, Google AdWords and/or email campaigns to increase traffic.

• Include your URL on your email signature and on all collateral (business cards, brochures, letterhead).

These may or may not work for you. Every business has different goals and different constituencies, and you have to develop a marketing strategy that will reach your target market.

Your Website Itself Is an Important Player

In previous posts we’ve outlined some of the basics in drawing the right crowd to your party. These include optimizing your site for search engines; insisting on smart, intuitive navigation; making sure your content is smart, concise and speaks to the right audience; taking care to ensure that your site looks engaging, credible, professional, up-to-date.

Other strategies to promote your website include creating videos, images and audio content that can live on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, and draw people back to your site. Write articles for others to use on their websites or in their newsletters. Issue press releases. Begin a blog that shows off your expertise – not necessarily self-promotional. In fact, that can be counterproductive. Instead, just offer solid information and advice that shows off your expertise.

A Few More Suggestions

• Fine-tune your search engine optimization

• Promote your video, images and audio content

• Write articles others can use in websites, newsletters

• Install a “signature” in your email program

• Aggressively ask for email sign-ups

• Send offers to your visitors and customers

• Issue news releases

• Begin a business blog

• Develop a free service

• Hold a contest

• Create a site map

• Publish an email newsletter

• Purchase pay-per-click ads

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up. 

Air Capital Breaks Ground On New Airport Terminal

Good things come to those who wait. Eight years after the Wichita City Council voted to build a new airport terminal, we’ve broken ground. Hallelujah!

Our Wichita-based agency – Greteman Group – has been involved practically from the start. Our role as public art consultant: to tell the story of Wichita’s incomparable aviation history. We’ve been there, sleeves rolled up, working with the architects designing the aviation-inspired terminal. It’s been a privilege. Years before crowdsourcing became the term du jour, we created an online forum and opened it up to some of the most knowledgeable, impassioned aviation enthusiasts you’ll find anywhere. We developed an advisory board comprised of area aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, historians and some of the history makers themselves. And, oh, the stories we’ve heard.

We were able to speak to such people as Moya Lear, whose headstrong genius of a husband, Bill, created the jet set. To Rosie the Riveters who helped round-the-clock wartime Wichita churn out more than four B-29s a day during the height of WWII. To Al Mooney’s son whose 23-year-old dad opened a Wichita aircraft plant in 1929 and built the Mooney M-5 a mere seven months later. To colleagues and family members of the legendary Walter and Olive Ann Beech, one of only two couples ever inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame. (The other is Charles and Anne Lindbergh.)

Preserve and Proclaim

Kansas celebrated 100 years of flight in 2011, giving us a wealth of history to draw upon. In the early 20th century, Kansas visionaries, like their contemporaries the world around, dreamt of flight. Amateur engineers from one corner of the state to the other drew up daring plans. Some put hammer to nail and built their flying contraptions. Most failed. Yet nothing stopped the dreaming.

Before the Wright Brothers ever got off the ground, Carl Dryden Browne built a flying-machine factory in Freedom, Kansas. He earned the first U.S. rotary-wing aircraft patent, but lack of fundscaused his factory to fold after just two years.

On Sept. 2, 1911, Albin Longren became the first person to build and fly an airplane in Kansas. His pusher-type biplane lifted off from a hayfield southeast of Topeka with a four-gallon gas tank and “flight instruments” that consisted of a pocket watch and barometer. Despite the fact he had never flown, Longren made eight successful flights the first day. He went on to careers in barnstorming, aircraft design and manufacturing, earning the nickname “The Henry Ford of the Air.”

One of the most influential of these early birds was neither an aircraft designer nor a pilot; he was a wealthy oilman by the name of Jacob “Jake” Moellendick. He sunk every penny of his vast wealth into the advancement of aviation in Wichita in the 1910s and ’20s and died in 1940 without enough cash to pay for his funeral. But Moellendick left a rich legacy. He brought E.M. “Matty” Laird, Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech together and bankrolled their ideas – giving birth to Wichita aviation with the E.M. Laird Airplane Co.

Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman all worked together at Wichita’s Travel Air. Each man brought a unique talent pivotal to the company’s success – Beech, a gifted businessman and promoter; Cessna, a skilled mechanic who could fix almost anything; and Stearman, an exceptional designer with an intimate understanding of mass production. It was a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration that made Travel Air  the major aircraft manufacturer of the 1920s.

Kansas Aviation Museum historian Walt House said, “The early aviation pioneers saw Wichita as one big landing field.” By 1928, Wichita was turning out a quarter of all U.S. aircraft. The city boasted 16 airplane manufacturers, six engine factories, 11 airports, a dozen flying schools and numerous suppliers.


Wichita’s new terminal will actually be the city’s third. Hence the name, Air Capital Terminal 3, or ACT 3. The first, in southeast Wichita, transferred to the United States Air Force back to 1951 and became part of McConnell Air Force Base. The second opened in southwest Wichita to general aviation in 1953 and to commercial carriers in 1954. It was built in a couple of years for the then-sizable sum of $10 million. Of course, there’ve been changes over the years. Added concourses in 1976. Additional gates and updates in 1985. A $6 million renovation in 1989. The terminal did its job.

Then came 9/11.

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 prompted federal officials to establish new security specifications. Our once welcoming, efficient terminal became a crowded, uncomfortable bottleneck. Passengers had to wind their way through a narrow corridor never designed to serve as a security queue with TSA officials, X-ray machines, metal detectors, plastic bins, conveyor belts, screening areas and passengers increasingly inclined to carry on as much luggage as possible.

Security wasn’t the only issue for the state’s largest and busiest airport. As one of the nation’s older terminals, it also had to meet new accessibility and building code guidelines. It needed an update of its electrical, heating and cooling systems and more. All led to our City Council’s vote in 2004 to build a new terminal. We’ve had a few setbacks along the way – mainly the deep recession in 2008 that put a kibosh on more than just a new terminal. But let’s not go there.

Here Comes the Sun

In spite of a steady rain that drove the ceremonial groundbreaking on September 13 indoors, spirits were sunny.

Mayor Carl Brewer beamed. “The new terminal will be the airline gateway to the State of Kansas,” he said. “It will serve as a front window into our city and our history. Visitors will know that Wichita gave birth to aircraft manufacturing and that more aircraft have been built here than anywhere in the world.”

The $160 million project includes the $101.5 million terminal, a $40 million parking garage and other enhancements. No local tax dollars are being used. The project is funded by user fees (leasing, parking, rental car, concession) and federal grants. Equally good for Wichita, construction will create 1,250 jobs – a plus in this still-rebounding economy.

Inspired by Flight 

The new terminal’s taking shape next door to the current one, which will eventually be torn down. I love the design created by Kansas City, Mo.-based HNTB in association with Wichita’s GLMV Architecture. Its flight theme feels so right for our community.

“The building is designed to reflect the importance of the history and future of aviation in Wichita,” said Philip Hannon, HNTB senior project manager. “The shape of the roof is designed to remind visitors of flight and an aircraft’s wing. Other elements of the design also reinforce this theme, including large naturally lit passenger spaces with generous glazing and skylights that will maintain a link with the outside and its changing sky.”

Key Construction of Wichita and Walbridge of Detroit won the construction bid to realize the architects’ vision. The new two-story, 273,000-square-foot terminal will be larger than the current terminal’s single-story 195,00 square feet.

Victor White, Director of Airports for the Wichita Airport Authority said, “We are all proud, thrilled and happy to see the results of nearly 11 years of planning come to fruition. This new terminal will provide our customers with a facility that is modern, efficient, and beautiful, and which delivers a significantly higher level of customer service. The entire passenger experience will be enhanced and memorable for visitors to the Air Capital.”

Project Highlights

  • Significantly enlarged ticketing and baggage claim on the roadway entry level.
  • Upper-level concourse with departure lounges and aviation-heritage exhibit space, enhanced concessions (both pre- and post-security screenings).
  • Expanded and enhanced passenger security screening, designed to not just meet current TSA security standards, but hopefully future ones.
  • Twelve boarding gates, each with a passenger boarding bridge. That’s huge for passengers accustomed to lugging carry-on luggage down steps, going outside and boarding aircraft on the tarmac/apron.
  • Four-level covered garage with rental-car ready/return accessed by covered crosswalks. (Construction begins in 2013.)

Ascending Artistry

In our role as public art consultant for the terminal, in 2009 we spearheaded the artist search. We reviewed more than 100 international, national, regional and local artist portfolios. The result: the selection of Ed Carpenter for commissioned artwork. His proposed 330-foot-long light sculpture evokes the feeling of ascending and descending in its use of laminated dichroic glass and cables. The tension structure creates an arc with 60 transverse cables anchored along the wall. It appears to float above the ticketing counters, baggage claim and central mezzanine lobby. Escalator riders get good and close. Its proximity to the skylights creates continually changing light patterns on the walls and floor below. Prepare to be wowed.

True to our Heritage

Kudos to the Wichita Airport Authority – whose advisory board is the Wichita City Council – which manages the airport. It has shown true leadership in greenlighting this much-needed project.

I think about the early barnstormers and their death-defying spins and dives. Of those turn-of-the-century entrepreneurs willing to invest their fortunes on a concept. And I believe they would be proud. As Mayor Carl Brewer said, “We live on the plains, but we keep our eyes to the skies.”

*This article originally appeared in the September 19 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.


Website Golden Rule: Be Nice to Google

Seventh in a Series

Your website needs to buddy up with Google. And, like most friends, the more you make Google happy, the more it will do for you. Like introducing your site to – well, pretty much everyone. More specifically, and more importantly, Google can provide introductions to all the right people. When your site plays nice with Google, you get higher search-results rankings.

And because Google is picky about its friends, it’s important to know how to dress and act around it in order to get noticed. This process is called search engine optimization, or SEO to those who like to toss around initialisms.

Here’s a check-list to help you prepare for your play-date with Google.

• Know the words/terms that would attract the most people to your site.

• Make sure your key pages have two to three paragraphs of keyword-rich content.

• Give each page a unique meta-description (fewer than 160 characters).

• Use unique title tags, H1(main headline) tags and permalinks to maximum effect.

• Put important information in text (not images) so search engines can read it.

Search engines have to be able to find your site and put your content into their databases. They serve as the primary mode of navigation for almost all web users. Optimizing a website for search engines requires an appraisal of visuals, content, functionality and more. SEO drives traffic. And the best thing is – it’s not just random traffic. It’s people who are specifically looking for what you have to offer. At that point it’s just like getting feet in the door of your brick-and-mortar store – you have to convince them that you have what they need. And, of course, you can’t do that if they never even make it through the door.

There are many elements to consider when working to optimize your site for search engines. It can be a bit of an art rather than a science – there certainly are no cookie-cutter solutions. Each website, each business, is different with unique goals. Here are a few of the more important considerations.

• Keyword research. Starts simply by brainstorming the terms people would use to search for what you offer. But the only way to know for sure is to test those words.

On-page optimization. Includes basics such as ensuring that you have descriptive title tags, well-thought-out meta tags, smart keywords, tags for images so search engines can read them.

Site structure. Thoughtful navigation and an organization that keeps most of your pages within a link or two of your home page helps keep your full site stronger in the eyes of search engines.

Link building. Basically, this means working to get other sites to link to you. Such links greatly increase your search profile. Strategies to build links vary widely and depend on the nature of your site.

Brand building. Boost your brand and you’ll also boost your search profile. As search engines become more sophisticated, it’s harder to fool them. You have to be good – you can’t just try to look good.

Adjusting. Pretty much what it sounds like. Periodically review your pages, see what’s working and what isn’t, and make adjustments that take advantage of this real-world knowledge.

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up. 

Next week: Website marketing.

Leverage the Art of Listening

We all love to talk about our businesses and the products or services we offer. But what happens when we stop talking and start listening? Companies that truly listen to their customers are more likely to build trusted and meaningful relationships with them.

It’s been estimated that a single negative tweet or Facebook post can cost a company upwards of 30 customers. The good news, in a June 2012 survey conducted by Belgium-based InSites Consulting, 61 percent of companies are listening to what is said by consumers about their brand via social media sites and, even better, 54 percent actively participate in online conversations with their consumers.

Today’s online tools help us monitor and leverage conversations like never before. Gather feedback. Crowdsource ideas. Identify top-of-mind concerns. Increase your understanding of what your customers really want, directly from them, unfiltered.

Choose the Right Online Tool

Two of the most popular, effective free listening tools are provided by Google – its Alerts and Analytics. Google scours the web and shoots you an email every time it finds a term you’ve asked it to flag with alerts, and analytics not only measures sales and conversions, but also provides insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how to keep them coming back. Another free but more advanced option, Social Mention, not only lets you know when you are mentioned, but where, why and what it means. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also offer free listening tools and analytics.

Free tools, of course, only take you so far. You can start with something like HootSuite, which scans all your social networks, then move into a paid subscription option when you’re ready for expanded services.

Subscription sites such as Radian 6 and Collective Intellect offer far more than just listening tools. They provide tools that track, monitor and allow for direct customer engagement. Additional steps include a full-service CRM (customer relationship management) platform. This gold standard of customer engagement fosters trust and transparency, allowing businesses to have collaborative conversations that provide mutual benefit. The customer owns the conversation, but now you can take part.

Engage and Inform

Knowing who is saying what and where helps you develop strategic, on-point messaging that engages your customer base effectively and appropriately. So when you talk, they have more reason than ever to listen.

*This article originally appeared in the September 13 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Analytics Add Up to Big Success

Sixth in a Series

Analytics involves crunching numbers. Lots of numbers. And looking at endless pie charts. This sort of thing may make your eyes glaze over, but it’s vital to your website’s success. Because if you don’t know who’s coming to your site and what they’re doing while they’re there, you can’t make your site better. So bring out your inner geek and get to work. Or find a geek you trust to review and interpret for you.

Set your Geek-O-Meter to Yes/No mode and honestly assess your practices.

• You use analytics to track activity and show ROI for your marketing.

• You know where most of the traffic to your website comes from.

• You use a calls-to-action on each page to better engage visitors.

• You set aside time each month to analyze your analytics.

• You adjust your strategy and content based on your analytics findings.

The Analytics Advantage

Analytics show you what parts of your site are underperforming, and give you clear pointers on how to address those deficiencies. For example, knowing the number of visitors coming from mobile devices helps you decide how much of your resources to devote to mobile development. Knowing what social media sites are driving traffic your way allows you to make sure you’re a part of the conversation on those sites. If you’re purchasing online advertising on other websites, you need to know whether those ads are actually driving traffic to your site.

Measurement Tools

You may decide you can’t get what you need without paying for more sophisticated analysis. But you should start with one of the popular and free analytics providers and see how far that takes you. For many businesses, they provide all the information you really need. Here are a few to consider.

• Google Analytics

• Clicky


• Piwik

• Woopra

• JAWStats

• Site Meter

• FireStats

• MochiBot

• Gostats

• Alexa

• Histats

• 4Q

• Yahoo! Web Analytics

• Grape Web Statistics

Not Just a Traffic Report

The annoyingly chipper morning drive time traffic reporter may get away with merely tracking flow, but that model won’t serve you well online. Website analytics are more than just a tool to measure web traffic. They also help you better understand your business, customers and potential customers. It’s critical to know how often, when, where and with what platforms customers are engaging with your business, because you need that information to make smart choices when plotting strategy or designing your marketing materials.

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up. 

Next week: SEO. 

Name Power

A great name can act like rocket boosters on your brand. Not just setting you apart from the competition, but blasting you to the forefront. The just-right name creates an emotional connection, a way into hearts and minds. And a means to stay lodged there.

If you’re thinking of starting a new aviation company or initiative, one of your biggest challenges could be coming up with a name (and a web domain, or URL) that truly fills the bill – and that no one else already has trademarked. As a creative director I’m often asked where I come up with the best names. While I’m taking a shower? Driving my car? Watching a movie? The answer always surprises them. It’s while I’m generating ideas at my desk or brainstorming with colleagues in the office. In short, it’s when I’m working. The resulting name may be playful and fun, but it takes concentrated, mental-muscle-exerting effort to get there.

Where Have All the Good Names Gone?

They exist, but you might have to move some boulders to uncover them. Whether you’re trying to come up with a name for a new customer loyalty program yourself, or are working with an agency to name a brand-new enterprise, here are 10 broad suggestions.

  1. Carve out copious amounts of dedicated think time.
  2. Give your naming project a high priority. It’s not just a name. It’s your name.
  3. Keep your unique selling proposition top of mind. (If you haven’t done a recent competitive analysis, now’s the time.)
  4. Decide the main thing you want the name to do (display personality, communicate points of difference, be unforgettable, inspire).
  5. Generate all the names you possibly can. You’ll no doubt find that many if not most of them are not available.
  6. Evaluate objectively. Weigh pros and cons from the only point of view that really matters – the customer’s.
  7. Prescreen names. One option is the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Its online portal is very intuitive:
  8. Test out your favorites, either formally or informally. But by all means see what others think about your contenders.
  9. Understand that it may take time for the name to grow on you. With use, it will.
  10. Have your legal counsel do a final screening and trademark application submission.

Fill In the Blank

As you announce the name to your customers, provide a back-story, too. One I’ve always loved involves the first made-for-production civilian aircraft built in the United States. In 1919, the airplane initially and ingloriously called the Wichita Tractor became the Laird Swallow when a witness to the maiden flight proclaimed, “It flies just like a swallow, boys.”

Walter Beech’s iconic Staggerwing immediately conveyed what made it different. Built in 1932, this revolutionary reverse-stagger biplane placed its lower wing ahead of the upper. Competitors said it wasn’t airworthy. But it was grace in motion, achieving speeds other single-engine aircraft only dreamed of. It’s still considered one of the most beautiful aircraft ever designed. And the functional, yet memorable, name won’t let you forget it.

When Boeing Wichita sold its commercial aircraft production facilities in 2005, a company with a new force emerged: Spirit AeroSystems. Today it stands as the world’s largest independent supplier of large aviation component parts and assemblies. Did the evocative, aspirational name help fuel that growth? Knowing the great pride of those who work there, I have to think it played a role.

In 2003 when Boeing held a naming contest for its next-generation 787 composite plane, the public heralded the aircraft’s efficiencies and innovations with the moniker: Dreamliner. Anyone who caught its international Dream Tour, which ended this past June, had to feel they were witnessing a vision of sorts.

Get Inspired

A Chinese proverb states, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” I’ve always believed naming presents incredible opportunity. One to leverage to the max.

*This article originally appeared in the September 6 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Your Website has to Look Like it Means Business

Fifth in a Series

OK, let’s admit it. Looks matter. It’s just the way it is. People are more willing to check out your website and are more likely to find it credible if looks like some thought went into how it looks. We know, we know – a couple of weeks ago we were all preachy about content. Well, truth is, you gotta have both.

So if you’re not taking care with your visual presentation, you might as well be sending that great content  out into the world with brown pants and black shoes. And just see where that gets you.

Visualize Your Site

How are you doing, visually? Are you fetching in your Sunday finest, or more brown on black?

• Your online brand reinforces and aligns with your offline brand and collateral.

• Your logo is placed where visitors expect it and can see it (usually upper left).

• You don’t use the same stock photography and in the same way as other websites.

• Your web design breaks up sections logically and identifies where you are at all times.

• Web-appropriate typography (fonts) ensures that your pages look good on multiple browsers.

On the Web, It’s Love at First Instant

Most web users form first impressions of a web page in the first few seconds. In the blink of an eye, surfers make nearly instantaneous judgments about a website’s visual appeal. First impressions can color judgments about perceived credibility (content), ease of navigation (usability) and ultimately influence our purchasing decisions. Creating a fast-loading, visually appealing site can help websites succeed (functionality).

Here are a few more keys to ensure that you draw people in, rather than sending them off looking for the fashion police.

• Optimize graphics so they don’t significantly slow download speed.

• Make certain that each graphic serves a clear purpose.

• Ensure that all audio/video/Flash files serve a clear purpose.

• Configure alternate text to display on browsers that don’t support images.

• Label download times for audio/video files. It’s a cue that something will happen.

• Provide links to downloads for any media plug-ins you’re using on-site.

The Complete Package

There might have been a time when you could throw a few things on an indifferent website and call it good for five years while you did your important real business. Well, come to think of it, there really never was such a time. But if there was, it’s long, long gone. Today people expect to see a sharp, professional site that reflects well on you and your business – and gives them confidence that you can be entrusted to provide value for their money. If not – there’s a more savvy competitor, or 20, just a click away.

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up. 

Next week: Analytics. 

When Direct Mail and Polo Mallets Meet, Flexjet Clients Win

Flexjet is well-known for the compelling events it offers clients and prospective clients. Such as an up-close view of championship polo. To entice these busy, highly active clients to the event, Flexjet sent out attention-grabbing direct mail invitations that unfolded to feature a full-length polo mallet. It would have been hard to ignore the smart, lively invite, or the generous offer. Those who answered the call enjoyed the day in Flexjet’s well-appointed grounds-side tent and partaking in exclusive events.


Kansas State Fair Wins a Telly

This is our ninth year as the fair’s agency of record – and the creative just keeps getting better. And that’s saying something. Our first campaign won best of show at the International Association of Fairs and Expos – and we’ve racked up lots of other wins, including a Telly for the 2011 spot. telly

FlightSafety Maintenance Video Shows Off Training

Aviation maintenance technicians know FlightSafety International offers superior, professional training. But not all realize the scope of its out-of-the-classroom, applied learning opportunities. This new video conveys those capabilities beautifully. Showing full-scale systems trainers. Working directly with instructors in composite labs. Gaining hands-on familiarity with working models and actual aircraft. Reinforcing theoretical instruction with time in dedicated engine and avionics labs. Watch this video, and you’ll have no doubt. FlightSafety deserves its standing as the world’s leading aviation training company.