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A Legend Among Pilots, a Giant Among Marketers

Al Ueltschi always knew he was going to be a pilot. Neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen that he would become a marketing genius, too.

In the early 1950s, long before anyone else, Ueltschi saw a need for professional aviation training. He drew on his already deep aviation experience and his entrepreneurial spirit, taking out a mortgage on his house to start a little shoestring business-pilot training school at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

He might have seemed the most unlikely salesman in any other context. Colorful, irascible, extremely self-assured. And yet he was the perfect man for the job. He had the vision to see a need, the conviction that his vision was right and the dogged persistence to never take no for an answer.

Getting the Word From One of Their Own

At the time, not only did fellow pilots not see the value of professional training, they actively scoffed at the idea. But Ueltschi had cred. He was a pilot’s pilot.  He was an early airline pilot and personal pilot to Pan Am founder Juan Trippe.

If he needed training to keep current and to be prepared for the unexpected, then so did everyone else.

Ueltschi also had the savvy to bring in other strong individuals to give his fledgling organization depth and substance. One of his earliest hires was then law-student Bruce Whitman – now FlightSafety president and CEO. When Ueltschi needed something done, he tasked Whitman. When Al couldn’t sell a client, he sent in Bruce.

Together, they invented the concept of OEM relationship-based pilot and maintenance technician training. They worked relentlessly, pounded on doors until they opened, got their name and their service out there among the constituencies that mattered – pilots, manufacturers, flight departments.

Trim Costs, Never Compromise Quality

Most importantly, they insisted that their training services be of the highest quality. While Ueltschi was justifiably famous for his frugality, his FlightSafety quickly became known for its reliable, expert, professional training.

Ueltschi started a culture of excellence, innovation and uncompromising customer service that continues today. Because in the end, the best marketing is superior service. Without that, no amount of strategizing will bring people through your door and keep them coming back year after year.

Backed by the Captains of Industry

As it is, while FlightSafety today pursues a diverse and well-thought-out marketing strategy, it continues to rely on word of mouth and personal testimonials from professionals at every level of aviation. Even though most large corporations have policies against endorsing other companies’ products or services, FlightSafety has for decades successfully recruited the CEOs of some of the world’s largest firms and aircraft manufacturers to lend their names and reputations to champion FlightSafety training.

Al Ueltschi knew there is simply no substitute for being the best. Our hats are off to him, and our hearts are heavy for his friends and family – including the entire worldwide FlightSafety family. Al Ueltschi has touched down for his final landing. It was a magnificent flight.

*This article originally appeared in the October 25 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

1B Smartphones: A Number Too Big to Ignore

A little over four months ago, we launched our new responsive design website. It was a good move. It’s led to more mobile traffic. Analytics tell the story.

In September 2010, 4% of total visits were from mobile devices. One year later, the number had doubled to 8%. By September 2012, it had risen to 11%. In addition to increasing the number of visits, we saw a 50% rise in the time spent on the site between 2010 and 2011, and an astonishing 100% increase between 2010 and 2012.

We can attribute portions of the traffic to more mainstream usage and availability of mobile devices (Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the iPad). Still, comparing the analytics from two months before our new responsive design site to the two months following, we enjoyed a 76% increase in mobile traffic.

How We Compare to National Trends

A recent study on digital content reported the share of mobile web traffic on U.S. sites doubling from 4% in 2010 to 8% by 2012.  That positions Greteman Group’s 11% very favorably. It also shows how important it is to address the mobile customer. Half of all local searches are done on a mobile device, and by 2014 mobile Internet is scheduled to overtake desktop usage.

Question. The world recently hit the marker for the first billion smartphones in use. With an estimated 7 billion people in the world today, are you in a place where you can afford to ignore one in seven people?

A final thought. It took 16 years to achieve that first billion in smartphone users. Mashable just reported that the next billion should take less than three years. We’re a people on the move. Your marketing better be, too.

For tips on where to get started with your website check out our previous blog posts on our website scorecard.

To access the scorecard, click here.

Live Tweeting: Top 10 Tips

I’m not one of those who think, “I tweet, therefore, I am.” But I do see the tremendous benefits of this microblogging tool. Especially for events. Nothing else short of live-streaming video allows such a moment-by-moment accounting.

This week I attended a presentation that was part of Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communications’ 17th annual Comm Week. Ronnie Ramos, the NCAA’s managing director of digital communications, presented “How Communication Works Today.” A packed auditorium of students and communications professionals suddenly was atwitter (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

A moderator opened the event by announcing the hashtag: #commweek. Fingers started flying. Tweets conveyed key points in real time. How in 2004 Mark Zuckerberg offered Ramos the chance to invest in a little company he was starting at Harvard. How Ramos thought, “Why invest? MySpace is doing so well.”

As Ramos spoke about the shift toward online information and the emergence of social media, I was among those feverishly tweeting his insights to the world. Doing so made me realize that I have some insights others might find helpful. Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

Make the Most of Your Next Live Tweeting Opportunity

  1. Pay attention. Live tweeting events are generally held to share knowledge. Make sure you have something to take away
  2. Know the hashtag. If there is no hashtag, use the event name or topic.
  3. Monitor the hashtag. Between listening and sharing – see what’s being said. Follow new people.
  4.  Think before tweeting. Getting it right beats getting it first. Sloppy, inaccurate tweets are a quick way to lose credibility and followers.
  5.  Attribute quotes. Use the speaker’s Twitter handle if possible.
  6.  Share pictures or video. People love visuals.
  7.  Don’t overtweet. People prefer and appreciate high-level information.
  8.  Pose questions. Encourage interaction with others. This establishes you as a thought leader and builds followers.
  9.  Retweet. Show others some love.
  10.  Prepare. Charge your phone or tablet fully beforehand. Live tweeting drains a battery.

Be Your Own Publisher

Ramos said, “The sports world loves to control breaking news via social media. Be your own media outlet.” This is true for all users of social media. Be part of the conversation.

Even better, lead it.

WSU News; Graphic design graduate found career success after internship

Landon Barton
Landon Barton graduated in 2011 from WSU and works as a full-time graphic designer thanks to his college internship.

October 12, 2012

Wichita State University News
Erika Elving

Landon Barton knows firsthand how essential an internship can be for a college graduate—especially a graduate with a graphic design degree in a competitive job market.

Barton, who graduated from Wichita State University in May 2011, works for Greteman Group in Wichita as a graphic designer. He landed an internship at the full-service branding agency as a junior and was hired upon graduation. Barton creates logos and motion graphics, and does editorial work, video editing and full branding for clients; his specialty is aviation marketing.

“The best part of the job is seeing the finished product in use around town or online,” said Barton. “To see something I made being used and seen by others is pretty awesome. Functional design is pretty incredible, and creating a great user experience is very rewarding.”

Barton credits his hands-on experience as a student, his internship and involvement with the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA) as prominent reasons for his success.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not been involved in the design program events that got me in touch with these professionals, especially through AIGA,” said Barton. “The design program is great, but nothing compares to what you learn through an internship.”

Networking, experience essential before graduation

Barton had the opportunity to meet with agencies such as Greteman Group by participating in a junior portfolio exhibit organized by WSU’s graphic design program. He said that his instructors, especially assistant professor Jeff Pulaski, motivated him to seek experience opportunities outside of school.

“Through fostering relationships with local professionals, I was able to gain unique experiences that students from other schools might miss out on,” said Barton. “The professors here really encouraged us to reach out and talk with these professionals, pick their brains and learn from them.”

Pulaski said that networking is best achieved through involvement in non-classroom groups and activities. He also noted that real-world experience is an essential part of developing as a graphic designer.

“Application projects are set up for the students that give them every opportunity to succeed,” said Pulaski. “The real world is often not that kind. Seeing how things really work before graduation can give students valuable insights into the job market.”

Barton believes he is fortunate to be working at Greteman Group.

“Through WSU and AIGA, I got plenty of one-on-one time with many agencies and professionals, eventually leading to my internship and job,” said Barton. “Without that, I would probably still be sending my portfolio to agencies today or have left the town to find a job elsewhere.”

© Wichita State University, 2013

Wichita Eagle; Have You Heard, You don’t say

October 12, 2012

The Wichita Eagle
Carrie Rengers

You don’t say

“You need to get out more, girl.”

– What jazz musician Esperanza Spalding said to Greteman Group’s Carol Farrow when Farrow told Spalding her Orpheum Theatre concert this week was one of the best she’d ever seen

© The Wichita Eagle, 2012

2013: The Year of the Story

Technological and social changes give us unprecedented control over marketing content. It warrants extra thought concerning what form that content should take. How to give it impact and make it memorable.

Stories. That’s the short answer. But like most short answers, there’s more to it.

Facts leave us cold. Stories engage. Information drops away like leaves in the fall. A good narrative sticks around like a mid-winter snowfall. An exceptional tale forces its way out and makes you recount it to everyone who’ll listen.

The more marketing tells stories rather than spews facts or brags about your prowess, the more people pay attention. And remember. Maybe even care.

Create a Narrative

One illustrative story. At Greteman Group, we’ve been creating memorable brands for companies and organizations for more than two decades, and we gave a great deal of thought to our own aviation-focused brand. But we realized that we weren’t telling a story. Enter GiGi (GG for Greteman Group).

The globe-trotting, critical-thinking GiGi Galore stands out. She’s fun and a bit edgy. If she tells you our marketing has legs, you’re likely to remember that. And she has a story of her own. She favors ’60s-era flight attendant outfits, and she loves to fly. She speaks five languages and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in international business. GiGi skydives, skis and generally likes to shake things up. Just like us (well, the shaking things up part, anyway). GiGi personifies first-class, how-may-I-help-you service.

The moral of this story: we have a solid, well-thought-out brand. It does exactly what we need it to do. Now, with the addition of GiGi, visitors to our website are much more likely to come away with a narrative in their heads about our company, positioning and capabilities.

Watch GiGi take flight. Check out this short, fast-action video on the making of GiGi. Mix a drop-dead gorgeous model, great art direction and videography. Voilà! A marketing maven you won’t forget.

Look to the Stars

Back in the day, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and other bright lights gave Learjet an unsolicited narrative and the aircraft became synonymous with the jet set. Today Bombardier leverages this built-in advantage with stories about today’s movers and shakers – such as Novak Djokovic and Keith Urban – who rely on these sleek, powerful aircraft. When you mount the airstairs of a Learjet, you’re not just boarding a jet, you’re becoming part of the legend.

Sikorsky has been charting a winner for the past couple of years with its Legacy of Heroes Tour. Founder Igor Sikorsky – who is as closely associated with the helicopter as Bill Lear is with the private jet – knew that his invention would greatly improve lifesaving efforts around the world. In a brilliant stroke of public relations and narrative power, the Heroes tour has been circling the globe, celebrating everyday heroes wherever it goes. Beats the heck out of talking about cubic-feet cabin capacity or engine thrust.

Unique Journeys

Each of these stories represent journeys rather than moments in time. They are unique as well as particularly relevant to their respective target markets. Aviation-related companies have a distinct advantage, because aviation has a rich, well-documented history. You have a story, too. One that endures even as your product evolves. Find it, make it personal and meaningful, and tell it to the world.

*This article originally appeared in the October 11 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Listening As Competitive Advantage: The Role of Customer Surveys

Speak to the C-Suite in a language it understands: charts and graphs. Data demands context. Provide it if you want to be heard.

Members Spoke, We Listened

Ernest Hemingway said, “Most people never listen.” He would have been right to add that most businesses and organizations don’t either. Successful ones do. They also encourage comments.

As communications committee chair for the Wichita Aero Club, earlier this year I asked other committee members  – Nicole Alexander of Hawker Beechcraft, Lisa Conklin of Spirit AeroSystems and Peggy Gross of Bombardier Learjet – if they agreed we should conduct a member survey. All did. Enthusiastically.

Wichita Aero Club Chairman Patrick Tuttle was especially supportive, saying since the club’s relaunch in 2008, it was time for a comprehensive survey. “Ask for feedback in a way that allows for complaints as well as compliments,” he said. “We want more than a rubber-stamp endorsement of the status quo. Let’s really ask, listen and learn.”

If They Knew Then What We Know Now

On a quirky, but relevant, side note – our club originally formed in 1915, sponsored a balloon race, and promptly took a 93-year-long break. Maybe those members were too busy dreaming of flight and developing aircraft to keep the club going. Or maybe they didn’t care for the luncheon speakers. We’ll never know, as no records exist.

The leadership of our reincarnated club has had ongoing discussions about what our role should be in advocating for aviation. How we can continue to advance our mission of encouraging kids to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Whether our annual gala ought to be a black-tie event. Whether membership would support more after-work mix-and-mingle opportunities. Whether we should consider other locations, times, functions and costs. How we can retain and attract more members. Issues every organization faces, others unique to our own.

After months of planning, execution and review, at our last Aero Club board meeting, I presented the survey results. No sugar coating. No glossing over with my interpretation of the high points. I quickly walked the board through each question asked and the responses.

We now have a better understanding of what members think. A good number ­– roughly 10 percent – of them told us. Equally important, we have a benchmark to measure against as we move forward, tracking members’ sentiment about everything from perceived value to personal relevance.

Aero Club Secretary Jeff Peier, a Wichita aviation attorney, was one of our most vocal survey proponents. “Second-guessing is not an option when negotiating and documenting the terms of a complex transaction,” he said. “For me, the most valuable part of the questionnaire is the quantitative aspect – clear and concise.”

Expedite The Process With Online Tools

For the highest level of serious, qualitative research, turn to the pros. But, if your budget, timeframe or project doesn’t demand that level of sophistication, there are lots of accurate and affordable options out there. The 800-pound gorilla of low-cost, input-aggregation has a playful name – Survey Monkey – but an all-business, efficient format. It’s what we used for the Aero Club survey. There are many others, from Formstack to Zoomerang. Key benefits include:

  • Cost effective with no printing or postage
  • Fast, with-a-click response
  • Real-time, no-waiting information gathering
  • Sense of anonymity, no handwriting
  • Reliable, automatic compilation
  • Easily digestible data, visually presented
  • Better organization for clearer outcomes

Design for At-a-Glance Results

While we built in ample open-ended questions, simplify your data analysis by designing the bulk of your survey instrument to have answers ranked with numeric value – 1 to 5. You won’t be faced with pages and pages of qualitative feedback you’re trying to get your arms around. You want a language your CEO understands: charts and graphs. Again, candid narrative provides added insight, so don’t leave it out, but make it the icing. Not the cake.

Strive for Objectivity

Work to keep bias out of the survey structure. Encourage others to read your questions first. Hone and hone some more. You want honest, high-quality feedback provided by as broad-based a sample as possible. Otherwise, why bother?

Incentivize With a Tangible Reward

Let people know you appreciate and will consider their input. Thank them for it. And offer them something. For the Aero Club, all respondents’ names went into a drawing good for a luncheon table of 10. That’s a significant and welcomed gift.

Embrace Outcomes and Share Transparently

You’ve gathered these riches, but don’t hoard them. Like any treasure, they’ll multiply when you invest them in action. Share the results. Thoughtfully review. Discuss their meaning. Consider the implications. Prioritize your responses. What, if anything, requires immediate action? Who will do what, when? Create an action plan and let survey respondents know about it. That way, when you come back later asking for feedback yet again, they’ll give it to you.

Woodrow Wilson famously said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

Be a leader. A survey is a start.

*This article originally appeared in the October 4 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.