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Business as Usual Is a Missed Opportunity

Tried-and-true business methods built strong aviation companies with long histories of success. Quality products, exceptional service, integrity and reputation kept customers coming back. Members of the old guard have continued to hold fast to those four pillars, but is it enough for the next generation of research-driven, online buyers? The answer is, probably not.

Elliott Jets’ new website allows jet buyers to compare and contrast aircraft using a custom-built comparison tool that also works on any mobile device. Click on the image to launch Elliott Jets' site.
Elliott Jets’ new website allows jet buyers to compare and contrast aircraft using a custom-built comparison tool that also works on any mobile device. Click on the image to launch Elliott Jets’ site.

Every year a CEO waits to invest in the company’s digital transformation the gap between what a modern customer wants and what the company is able to deliver online widens. Let’s take a look at what’s preventing some aviation companies from investing in their digital futures.

Old Stuff

Legacy technology, using old or outdated systems and platforms, is one of the most common barriers to improving the way aviation companies market and provide online tools and resources for their customers. Outdated browsers, like Internet Explorer 8, are still the norm at far too many aviation companies. Why? Because most, if not all, the company’s internal web applications and online business processes were built back when IE8 came out in 2009 and they cannot be viewed on any other browser. The cost and manpower to update all those applications is too high, resulting in a never-ending stalemate.

On its website, USAIG lets you download copies of its quarterly aviation-safety poster, designed to encourage safe practices. Click on the image to download.
On its website, USAIG lets you download copies of its quarterly aviation-safety poster, designed to encourage safe practices. Click on the image to download.

Maybe Later

Lack of urgency also plays a major role. The old adage – If it’s not broke, don’t fix it – tends to be the battle cry for many CEOs faced with tight budgets and big-ticket companywide initiatives. True digital transformation needs to start at the top. When leadership has a vision for improving the customer experience through technology, big things happen. New routes for conducting business emerge, new products and services get launched, and customers are happier because they can find the information, use a helpful tool and connect with people when and where they want.

Just Did That

Innovation fatigue, taking a technology break, is not an option. CEOs who adopt a complacent attitude toward technology will soon find themselves outpaced by the competition. Corporate leadership needs to be at the ready, prepared to tweak the digital roadmap. Whether deciding to invest big or starting with smaller projects and refining the company’s digital vision one project at a time, smart CEOs know that to win, you must continue pushing forward.

The Big Game is getting big attention on the Signature Flight Support website. Members planning to attend can conveniently reserve aircraft arrival and departure times through the FBO.Click on the image to view Signature Flight Support’s online reservation.

Featured at top: Dallas Airmotive built an engine on the NBAA 2014 show floor and later made the action available to viewers on its website via a two-minute time-lapse video.

This column ran in the January 29 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Blow Through Burnout

I shouldn’t get the seven-year itch until the 2016 Wichita Aero Club Gala, but I confess. It hit me as planning for the sixth-annual gala ramped up. I’ve served as co-chair since the first gala in 2009. It continues to be a labor of love – elevating the aviation industry in general and the Air Capital in particular while generating life-changing and workforce-building student scholarships. But increasingly I find myself wondering if it’s time for new ideas and leadership. When do you know it’s time to step aside and make way for someone else?

Start With a ManifestoChurchillQuote-01

Draft a simple statement that declares your purpose. The act of putting pen to paper focuses your thinking. Putting goals into writing lets you step back and look at challenges/solutions more objectively, critically and strategically.

Get Real

Have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Do you feel stressed and overextended? Dig deep to uncover your personal truth. This takes time, which is probably why most people avoid this kind of active soul-searching, preferring to go along and just get along.

Talk to Your Mentor

This presumes you have a mentor. If you don’t, identify one – or more. We all need someone in our life who cares about us enough to give advice (a past boss or industry peer, for example) – but who does’t care so much that she can’t be objective (like a spouse or parent). Talking to someone who knows your strengths and whose input you respect can make all the difference.

Calculate Your Return on Investment

Be brutally honest. How much time does this event/support take? And what is the return? Create one column for you and another for the organization. In your personal column you might list things like deeper friendships and skill building, while in the organization’s you might list things like a highly successful event managed by a seasoned pro. As you look at these, it may become obvious that you’re experiencing diminished returns – both for yourself and the organization.

Consider Your Options

If you weren’t giving your time to this, how else might you spend those precious hours/days/weeks? Are there initiatives more deserving of your effort or more aligned to your interests/passions?

Stepping Down While Stepping Up

This Saturday, January 24, promises to be another memory-making, record-breaking gala. But I’m eager to debrief next year’s co-chairs and hear their fresh ideas. I’m also looking forward to serving the club in new ways. I’ve been thinking. And have lots of ideas.

Pictured at top: NBAA President Ed Bolen; Wichita Aero Club President Dave Franson; Greteman Group VP and Gala Trophy Chair Ashley Bowen Cook; Wichita Aero Club Trophy Recipient and Cessna Aircraft Company Chairman Emeritus Russ Meyer ; and ADR President and Wichita Aero Club Board Chairman Patrick Tuttle. Formal portraits of guests by VMG LLC © 2014 Jeffrey D. Hetler.

This column ran in the January 22 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

A Change of Plans in Abu Dhabi

Exhibitors for the Abu Dhabi Air Expo got a shocking notification today. The show, planned for Feb. 8-10, has been pushed back. A year. The reason? Refurbishments underway at Al Bateen Executive Airport.

I wouldn’t want to be the expo’s event-planning team for anything. Think of all the exhibitor costs incurred and plans already in place – the booth signage, invites, press releases, presentations and more. Organizers say the event in February 2016 will be an even bigger show with upgraded facilities. Those enhancements include a new terminal under construction, enhancements to the existing VIP and Sheikh Zayed terminals, plus upgrades to the taxiway and airfield.

The Latest and Greatest

It’s a region undergoing tremendous change. Everywhere you look, you see state-of-the-art technology and services. Last month, CNN opened its first branded airport café in the Etihad Airways Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Travelers can view CNN high-definition broadcasts and tap into free Wi-Fi as they wait for flights. As one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation hubs, in 2014 Abu Dhabi International saw a 20.5% increase in traffic with 16.5 million passengers.

A Capital City

Abu Dhabi’s stature as capital of both the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi emirate makes it a metropolitan powerbroker. Its reserves of oil and natural gas – 9% and 5% of the world’s known resources respectively – help make Abu Dhabi the UAE’s wealthiest emirate.

This thoroughly modern city increasingly relies on aviation. If you’re selling aircraft or aviation services in this region, you won’t get to attend the Expo come February 8 as planned, so you’ll have to find other face-to-face opportunities – or create your own.

No Substitutes for Face to Face

It’s not hard to target your marketing given how small the Middle East’s rapidly growing aviation market is. It does, however, take thought, time and perseverance.

This region’s clearly identified players want to know who you are, what you can do for them, and if you’ll be around tomorrow. Keep your messaging simple, direct and benefit focused. What do you uniquely bring to this market? How do you plan to deliver? Make the most of one-on-one meetings with materials that reinforce your key points and serve as a memory-jogging leave-behind.

Credibility. Trust. Honesty. These are not good-to-have marketing traits in Abu Dhabi. They are must-haves. Here, relationships and reputation reign supreme. Remember you’re not just selling a product or service. You’re selling yourself.

Featured at top: This year’s show would have been the fourth-consecutive international aviation exhibition at Al Bateen Executive Airport in the United Arab Emirates capital city. It was to have featured a large static display of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters serving the business community. It was also going to introduce a dedicated area for airport suppliers, avionics and aircraft engines. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in 2016. Photo credit: Abu Dhabi Air Expo

New Year’s Marketing Resolutions

Ah, the first full week of January. For many, this means the start of a new diet, exercise regime, time management plan or some other means of personal improvement. Businesses would be wise to kick off a similar improvement-focused marketing effort for their brands.

Keep It RealAddResolutions-01

Like a personal resolution, resolutions for your brand will have greater chances of success if you make them realistic. Make them attainable by not tackling too much at once. Break big-picture goals down into smaller, actionable ones. Start with fewer resolutions knowing you can add new ones throughout the year. Share them with your team and get them involved. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Think Mobile

Look at your website on multiple devices. Give yourself some basic tasks – like finding a piece of recent news, the sales territory of a certain director, or whatever. Do you encounter barriers? How many clicks did it take to find what you were hunting for? Is it as easy to navigate your site on a mobile phone as a desktop computer or tablet? If not, consider allocating more of your 2015 marketing budget to fixing this.

Measure Then Adjust Discouraged-01

Get your arms around your marketing metrics and use them to fine-tune your efforts. Experiment. Play around. See how a tweak here and there can improve the performance of that online ad, AdWord, behaviorial targeting campaign or email blast. We’re all having to do more with less. Use the power of metrics to boost your efforts.

Walk Your Talk

Create and share content that offers real value. Make it useful, engaging and sharable. Hook readers by speaking to their concerns. Content marketing boosts SEO, helping people find and connect with your services/products. Share your thought leadership on issues and events affecting your business specifically and the aviation industry overall. Be consistent and keep out there.

Tell the WorldCelebrate-01

Issue press releases regularly to the media – not just before big trade shows when your news can get lost in the mix. Editors and reporters want to know about recent innovations, expansion plans, shifts in focus and more. If it’s of interest to your customers, it warrants sharing with the media.

Don’t rely solely on the traditional media, but publish your news through channels you control: newsletters, email, blogs, social media. Include visuals. Photos, video, illustrations, charts and graphs ramp up readership and retention. And remember to listen as well as talk. Enter into two-way conversations to build understanding and relationships. Your customers want to interact with you.

Make It Great

Whatever you resolve for your 2015 marketing efforts, best of luck. Don’t get discouraged or give up. Resolutions should challenge you. Which is all the more reason to celebrate your successes. Build in rewards to keep you and your team motivated. And just watch what happens.

This column ran in the January 8 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Bona Fide and Certified Woman-Owned

After almost 26 years as a woman-owned business. Greteman Group now has the certification to prove it. Why the delay?

“Just call us paperwork averse,” says Sonia Greteman, founder, owner and creative director of the Wichita-based marketing agency. “We went through the certification process as another way to support our clients and a means to promote women as entrepreneurs.”

The agency’s client roster includes both privately and publicly held corporations. This third-party certification comes from the National Women Business Owners Corporation. It helps satisfy vendor-diversity quotas designed to lessen the gender gap in business ownership. The most recent census data identifies only 30 percent of U.S. businesses as women owned. “Look for that percentage to increase,” says Greteman.

Keep On Top of Your SOP

Once you put a standard operating procedure in place, follow it. That requires keeping it top of mind. USAIG’s latest safety campaign encourages pilots to Know the Distance. The poster offers tips meant to lower the risk of a landing excursion. Not being able to stop before you run out of runway – don’t let it happen to you. You can get your poster in AIN’s January issue.

You can also download it and others in the series free here.

usaig_01 usaig_02

WBJ; Exploration Place helping to build a work force for the future

The following excerpt highlights STEM programs offered by Exploration Place:

Jason Cox, chief technical officer at Cox Machine and vice chairman of the board at Sedgwick County's Exploration Place, works on a circuitry project with Jackson McKibban in Exploration Place's new CreatorSpace. Photo by Kellen Jenkins/WBJ.
Jason Cox, chief technical officer at Cox Machine and vice chairman of the board at Sedgwick County’s Exploration Place, works on a circuitry project with Jackson McKibban in Exploration Place’s new CreatorSpace. Photo by Kellen Jenkins/WBJ.

Branding agency Greteman Group highlighted Exploration Place’s STEM work force focus last month as part of the agency’s annual pro bono project. The project was an animated infographic that highlights the need for STEM expertise and the steps Exploration Place is taking in response.

“We know that math and science sometimes aren’t presented in a way that makes them as appealing,” says Deanna Harms, executive vice president at Greteman Group and a former Exploration Place board member. “Exploration Place tries to weave that into a creative environment, so it doesn’t seem like homework.”

Click here to read more about the good things happening at this Wichita-based science museum: Exploration Place helping to build a work force for the future

Wichita Business Journal
Emily Behlmann

© Wichita Business Journal, 2015