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Words that Weaken Your Writing

I’m against banishing books, but all for exiling certain words and phrases. Whether drafting a press release, a speech for your CEO, or a new-product blog, your outcome will benefit from a few suggestions.

Omit lazy words. Flabby writing lacks discipline. Filler, fluff words add little. These include:

A lot

Do the work. Replace vague words with concrete examples.

Don’t just say your new AOG service gets aircraft back in the air fast. Say, on average, it restores aircraft to service within 24 hours. Or don’t say you’re about to launch a revolutionary product. Say that, “Achieving 130 patents to date underscores our technological innovation.”

Whip your prose into shape by editing and reading copy aloud. Have others provide constructive criticism. They see things the author may be blind to.

If you’re writing an opinion piece, everything you say reflects your thinking. You don’t need to add the phrases, “I think,” “I feel” or “I believe” before statements. Strip them from your writing and see if you agree – it’s stronger without them.

State your case. Rid copy of add-nothing, overused phrases. These include:

The fact of the matter
In order to
At the end of the day
Going forward

Develop Fresh Approaches

I would never suggest issuing a press release with a quote saying,

“I am excited to announce . . . . ”

Not that this phrase was bad the first time it was used, but a zillion repetitions later, it’s time for something original. Think about what you’re trying to convey. Yes, you are excited/happy/thrilled/elated/proud about the good thing that is happening, but what other way might you express its significance?

Here’s a fabricated example: “While competitive aircraft are sure to follow, being first to market gives our clean-sheet flying car a buy-now advantage. Those of us who are Jetsons at heart will rejoice to learn that certification is on track for this fall and first deliveries for early 2020.”

Stick to Short, Simple Words

Aviation has many long, technical terms. You can’t avoid them. That makes it even more important to not needlessly complicate your text. Why say “utilize” when “use” works perfectly well? Switching a one-syllable word for three doesn’t make your writing sound smarter or more professional. Consider your audience and the context, then say what you need concisely and clearly. For anything other than an academic paper, strive for a conversational voice.

Axe what doesn’t work. Be ruthless. Your audience will thank you by reading more than just the cutlines.

This article originally appeared in the May 30, 2019, issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Integrated Marketing for Industry-Changing Technology

SmartSky Networks’ revolutionary air-to-ground (ATG) network offers reliable inflight Wi-Fi to an airspace clogged by high cost, slow return satellite options. SmartSky needed an innovative integrated marketing campaign to communicate the benefits of its network for both business and commercial aviation – and to highlight the disruptive company transforming inflight connectivity.

technology marketing advertising campaign

Putting User Experience in the Window Seat

Passengers see themselves experiencing SmartSky’s inflight connectivity solution in the campaign’s clean, modern creative. Aircraft-window-shaped openings showcase passengers communicating with colleagues, family and gamers on the ground. A full-strength Wi-Fi symbol in the clouds unites them, signaling their strong connection. Bold headlines and active copy highlight the benefits of low latency, a strong return link and secure, single-beam-per-aircraft technology. All create a user experience that’s the same at 32,000 feet as it is at home.

Marketing an Industry-Changing Technology

Our messaging avoids being boring and too technical. Instead of trying to explain complex engineering equations, we let the technology tell the story. Clear infographics showcase SmartSky’s beamforming technology, and short explainer videos make such key concepts as latency easy to understand.

SmartSky facilitates air-to-ground communication, high-speed data transfer and real-time gaming. In business aviation that plays out from the boardroom to the corporate jet. For commercial travelers, you see it from the last-minute commercial flight to the kitchen table at home.

Pitching Targeted Editors and Publications

Industry journalists provided invaluable third-party endorsement by putting SmartSky’s network to the test during a media demo. Aviation International News editor Chad Trautvetter said, “There were more than 50 seamless beam handovers during the 45-minute flight, proving that the engineering aspect of the system works.” One demo flight resulted in five articles in industry publications. More than 128 patents to date add more proof of SmartSky’s huge technological advantage.

Head ’em Up, Move ’em Out

How do you realize big dreams on a small budget? Find a marketing partner who makes your limited resources go far.

Years ago, we worked with former bank CEO Kevin Chase on the successful renaming and branding of Verus Bank. When he and his partner – winning head football coach Brandon Clark – came to us with their leadership-training initiative, we quickly got on board.

Setting Your Strategy

Kevin and Brandon are likeminded individuals who have worked together informally for years. Together, they’ve built the purpose-filled culture of the Derby High School football team and created a program they call One Degree Compass. They’re committed to helping others by sharing what they’ve learned about culture, relationships and teamwork.

Over the course of several work sessions, they laid out their vision for the business, their target markets, their planned offerings and long-term goals. To help us better understand their service, we became a client. They conducted an in-house workshop with our 20-person agency then did a follow-up training. That experience was invaluable. We saw firsthand how they guide teams, harness good vibes and drive transformation.

Building a Brand

We convinced them to move forward with the name they were kicking around – Coach and the Cowboy. We love it, don’t you? The coach is obvious, but the cowboy? Well, while Kevin’s family has been in the banking business for five decades, they’ve been in ranching for four generations. The lessons Kevin learned from tending cattle, mending fences and riding alongside his dad permeate the discipline, accountability, character and service that are hallmarks of their program.

Working collaboratively with Kevin and Brandon, we developed a logo, messaging, collateral and website. A stylized compass embedded within the logo communicates One Degree Compass. Distressed typography conveys the ruggedness of both ranch life and the playing field. Kansas wheat fields inspire the earthy color palette’s pop of gold. Sepia-toned ranching and sports photography support key points in a fresh, memorable way.

Our easy-to-use content management system (CMS) allows the client to update their new website themselves. Testimonials from beta clients add credibility. Icons and infographics clarify concepts and the process. Calls to action encourage engagement. Social links take you to client-managed, branded channels on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Ready to Ride

Coach and the Cowboy knows how to set a destination and create a path that gets you there. These pros understand the value of building your brand right from the get-go. Watch for great things.

View the site at

Keep the Sky from Falling

Valerie Wise with the Eisenhower National Airport introduced the April 30 Wichita Aero Club speaker, but the presenter had a message broader than commercial aviation. It applies to business and general aviation as well. And it isn’t good.

Valerie Wise, air service development and marketing manager, Wichita Airport Authority. Photo courtesy Visual Media Group.

Aviation Workforce Alliance Executive Director David Olive addressed the critical shortage of not just pilots but also qualified aircraft technicians, those holding airframe and powerplant ratings, A&Ps. We don’t have enough workers in the pipeline to fill demand. The shortage is felt today and will become increasingly acute. It affects everything from passenger safety to jobs and the economy.

Aviation Workforce Alliance Executive Director David Olive. Photo courtesy Visual Media Group.

In Kansas, not finding enough pilots to fill the demand could result in the state losing one third of its commercial airline service, Olive said. We can’t let that happen.

Numbers Tell the Story

The Federal Aviation Administration reports there were more than 827,000 civil pilots in 1987, but only 633,000 in 2018. What’s led to the pilot shortage? The list is long. A forced retirement at age 65 for U.S. commercial pilots. Explosive growth in other parts of the world, particularly East Asia. Foreign carriers lure away qualified pilots. International students pack flight schools. (Olive said 90% of students at one flight school he visited recently were from China.)

The military has issues, too, as it struggles to recruit and retain pilots. Last year the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported a 25% shortfall of crucial fighter pilots for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. This shortage translates to the traditional military-to-airline pipeline. There are fewer pilots entering it. Plus, incentives are weakened. Low wages at some regional airlines, the starting place for most airline pilots, can result in a pay cut for pilots leaving the military. “Salaries have gone up,” Olive said, “but it’s not been enough.”

Let’s Reverse These Trends

No silver bullet exists, but there are things we can and should do to address this crucial issue. Here are some Olive mentioned.

  • Lower financial barriers.
  • Focus on proficiency rather than hours flown.
  • Make lifestyle changes to keep business pilots.
  • Use the best available training technology and methods.
  • Start building the pipeline by supporting STEM programs.
  • Increase the number of pathways to earn required flight hours.

In early March, Boeing established a $3 million endowment for scholarships at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for students pursuing pilot’s licenses and aviation maintenance certificates. It’s going to take this kind of support to reverse our current course. Let’s resolve to fix this.

This article also ran in the May 16, 2019, issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

All photos courtesy of Visual Media Group.