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Marketing Unmanned Aircraft to Different Audiences

The aviation industry is full of acronyms. We can get caught up in our own areas of expertise and forget that some terms aren’t universally familiar. That’s the challenge in the emerging unmanned aircraft technology sector. Also known as drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and the systems in which they work (unmanned aircraft systems or UAS) suffer from the same confusing jargon as their manned counterparts.

As businesses and operators in this sector, how do you talk about unmanned aircraft and systems? More important, how do you reach prospective customers who might only know of drones as a backyard recreational activity?

Educate and Illustrate

Fortunately, there’s momentum you can use. A lot of attention is on unmanned aircraft technology – whether that’s from delivery drones for large retail operations or for the future of remote piloted vehicles filling advanced and urban air mobility (AAM/UAM) transportation needs.

unmanned aircraft bvlos network

Take advantage of the information that already exists to reach each of your potential audiences, including customers, partners and the media. Before diving in, though, remember that different audiences need different information to understand your business or the sector as a whole.

With audiences who are drone-savvy, such as potential partners in the industry and some customers, your challenge is to illustrate the benefits your product or service offers. For them, your message needs to speak to them directly in ways that focus less on the theoretical and more on the practical. What does your product do for them? What does your service solve for them? For customers, how can you make their business more efficient, safer or more sustainable?

Less aware audiences need more educational content specific to what the industry is and what your product or service does. Think about how you would answer questions from a local media outlet: who, what, when, where, why – and how. (How is always the most interesting part, so make sure you don’t leave it out.)

Once you’ve developed a message for each of your audiences, it needs to find them in the appropriate spaces. Having a scattershot approach isn’t an effective use of marketing resources. We recommend creating a complete content strategy surrounding each of your goals.

Vantis Breaks Through

Our client Vantis, North Dakota’s statewide UAS beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) network, made waves with its launch at the virtual UAS Summit & Expo in October 2020. No one in the industry had seen a BVLOS network get off the ground and into the sky.

In conjunction with the Summit, we pitched media outlets, distributed press releases and developed a complete social media strategy. Vantis’ message to its mostly unmanned-friendly audiences reached more than 5 million people, generating more than $145,000 worth of estimated publicity in the first two weeks of its launch.

Since its initial rollout, industry subject matter experts at Vantis have appeared in other forums, including on influential industry podcasts as well as in legislative arenas. Aviation and technology businesses have taken notice. Communities across the state are starting to see the benefits Vantis will bring, and industries, such as oil and gas, agriculture and transportation, are envisioning how to use this new infrastructure.

Ready to Get Off the Ground?

Greteman Group’s strategic approach to getting Vantis’ message off the ground and into the ears of the right people can be applied to your operation. Contact us to help your audience make sense of the alphabet soup of unmanned aviation.

A Tribute to a Friend: Jack DeBoer

You never realize the impact a person will have on your life. Hotel magnate Jack DeBoer left an indelible mark on mine.

Through the years, our agency supported Jack in his seemingly endless list of ventures: Summerfield Suites, Sierra Suites, Candlewood Suites, Hotel at Oldtown, WaterWalk. We created logos for his yacht and his aircraft. (Yes, Jack enjoyed the fruits of his efforts.) We helped him publish and promote his book, Risk Only Money.

One year, Jack invited the Greteman Group NBAA contingent to travel with him to the show. It became an annual event. We welcomed the opportunity to experience what we’re so often selling: the benefits of private aviation. Once a loyal Learjet owner, Jack switched to Beech, Hawker then Gulfstream. I like to think he looked forward to our tagging along as much as we did. It was never a quiet ride.

Jack regaled us with stories that mostly made us laugh. But some made us cry – and wince. Shenanigans with his ski bum buddies and Grouchy Old Men. Annual anything-goes parties at Moya Lear’s after the Reno Air Races. Round-the-world, fact-finding tours to determine where he and his beloved wife, Marilyn, could make the most meaningful difference. Depression that sent him to bed for days when a venture failed miserably. How it felt to pick up the phone and hear a creditor’s death threat.

Jack was one heck of a stimulating, smart, sassy friend during the past 25 years. Many times he challenged my thinking, helped me work through something, and gave me opportunities. Words cannot express how much Jack has meant to me and my business and how much I learned from him. I’ve never met anyone like him. Determined, fearless, big-thinker, smarter-than-hell, able to retain and communicate complicated facts. And finally compassionate and generous. He found meaning in his life and shared those hard-won lessons with others, including me. I’ll be eternally grateful.

I always laugh about his favorite candy bar: PayDay. Jack was a quote machine, which is one reason why reporters and editors had him on speed dial. He once said, “Entrepreneurs are by nature overly optimistic.” Maybe that’s what drew me to him.

Thank you, dear friend, for all the great memories.

Double-Down on Video

Data makes a strong case for using more video.

HubSpot tells us that adding it to a landing page can boost conversions by 80% – moving a visitor into a lead or a lead into a customer.

Search engines look for the longer page views it can generate.

Some stats show as much as 300% increase in click-throughs for video in emails. I know from experience that when I get an email from NBAA that includes an embedded video with President Ed Bolen, I’m much more inclined to give it my attention.

Put simply, it had me at the proverbial hello.

EPIC Fuels couldn’t do meet-and-greets because of the pandemic, so video grabbed attention for its coast-to-coast tour with aerobatic pilot Anthony Oshinuga.

Visually Authentic

Video delivers pure emotion, engaging our senses and connecting with us viscerally. Even the most compelling copy cannot compete with a video of a CEO (or front-line worker) saying the same thing. You trust what you see and hear. It implies greater authenticity, feels direct and immediate. There is no middle person crafting the message.

Okay, you and I know someone is shooting and editing the video, but it seems more credible, like the person is speaking directly to you.

Seeing Signature Renew’s trucks hauling sustainable aviation fuel suggests greener skies are on the way.

Visually Viral

Video establishes a foundation for you to build upon. Educating, informing and moving people to action.

Word of mouth from a trusted source remains a marketer’s holy grail. You can’t do much better than getting someone to endorse your product or service or even just to say – hey, look at this – to people within their spheres of influence. Video done right promotes that.

The vast majority of people who watch videos on their smartphones, also share them. You experience this yourself. If someone you know sends you one, you stop and watch.

Clay Lacy Aviation drives home why you should consider them for aircraft management, FBO, MRO and charter services.

Visually Engaging

Our increasingly short attention spans do better with the under-2-minute videos you find on social media. They grab our attention and focus it with easily digestible, immediately understandable snippets of information. Some are just 10 or 15 seconds long.

Our brains are simply wired to process visuals more quickly than words on a screen or page. Like 60,000 times faster. We remember video more, too.

Read a message; we remember 10%. View a video message; we recall 95%.

Due to COVID restrictions, North Dakota rolled out its UAS network – Vantis – at a virtual conference. Testimonials, motion graphics, illustration and live-action video combine to tell the impressive story.

Are you ready to double-down on video? Contact us, and let’s get visual.

This column first appeared in BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Build a Customer-First Lead Generation Strategy

A good lead generation strategy is necessary for marketers – especially now that virtual outreach has become a staple in our lives. No leads? No business. No business? No sales.

No sales? That’s it. That’s the end. Feel free to go.

Don’t worry, that’s the last doom and gloom line you’ll read from me.

We collect leads through various inbound marketing channels and nurture them until they’re ready for a meeting with the sales team. When – and at what point in the perceived stage of the buyer’s journey – we deliver those leads depends entirely on our lead scoring models. Visiting the website is five points, downloading a whitepaper is 10 and so on.

Unfortunately, our leads don’t like this model. They also probably don’t like being referred to as “leads.”

Customer-first lead generation strategies transform the traditional collect-nurture-deliver marketing model. The goal is to move toward a user-focused model based on a person’s immediate need. Let’s break that down.

lead generation strategy funnel

Start with People

To build a lead generation strategy, you first need to define your audience. Not surprised? We know. Audience definition is the first step in any marketing strategy. But don’t just think about the standard demographics and job titles. What keeps your audience up at night? What brings them joy? These sentiments are just as important.

Second, you have to build a foundation on which you can implement your various inbound marketing channels that speak to your defined audience. That foundation is likely made up of blogs, case studies, social posts and videos, among other pieces of content.

Finally, you need to create a method in which you are asking your audience to take necessary action like accepting a phone call, scheduling a meeting or trialing your service. And it has to be done appropriately. No one likes to be sold on the first date.

Sound right? Great.

Now, you have a defined target audience – based on demographics, geographics, behaviorgraphics and graphic-graphics. (That last one was just for fun.) Clearly your target persona is, well, who you’re targeting. Plus, you’re delivering content. Well done. You have also implemented weighted engagement actions that together move a marketing qualified lead (MQL) into the sales funnel.

But let me ask you a few questions about those MQLs.

  • How are conversion rates from MQL to sales qualified lead (SQL)? What about actual sales numbers?
  • How many more leads are you trying to attract to increase those rates?
  • How often do qualified leads drop out of your nurture campaigns through unsubscribing or unfollowing?

Now, can you identify why? Is it because they’ve already discounted your solutions?

Nurturing vs. Conversations

In an earlier blog, we said that no one was waiting around to hear from you. Ouch, we know, but hear us out.

Those leads want to be treated like people – not “leads.” That means they don’t really want to enroll in another three-month-long email campaign that’s just going to light up another notification on their smartphones. You know. That red one we all hate. Which is probably why they’re avoiding your website forms and will never see your spectacular email template.

When it comes to catching those buyers, timing is everything. (Honestly, that’s why frequency is still a thing.) You have to be prepared to grab up that conversation-ready buyer and hand deliver them to the sales team.

Gift wrap optional.

A customer-first lead generation strategy allows you to be that nimble. Here are a few ways you can activate immediate conversations:

account based marketing as a lead generation strategy

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) – Account leads refer to organizations, not just the individuals that work for them. MQLs sometimes never become SQLs because they’re not the highest rung on the decision ladder. With ABM, you can segment people into organizations and see where your true conversation opportunities lie.

lead generation strategy with better contact forms

Better Contact Forms – Make it easier for leads to talk to actual people. Forms that route through a CRM are great for users who are in research mode. Not so much for folks who want to have a conversation. Right now. Online scheduling tools allow you to activate your sales team when and where they’re needed. Easily.

Chat Bots – A smart bot can nurture a lead while also collecting data on them and notifying the sales team that they need to get online and start sellin’. All at the same time. Chat bots can also answer questions about careers, customer service and more, freeing up your other teams for better in-person customer conversations.

Segmented Nurture Campaigns – Yes, of course you still need to nurture leads. Just do it better. Segment your audience – the people on your website, following your Facebook page or hanging out in your CRM – and then deliver real resources through your inbound channels aimed at solving real problems.

Converse and Convert

People want meaningful conversations with solution providers who help them make their decision. Customer-first lead generation strategies acknowledge that desire and work on the assumption that buyers are ready to buy when they tell you. Not three months and a drip campaign of annoying notifications later.

Are you ready? So are we. Contact us.

Marketing Strategies to Connect with Customers

Do you need to find new prospects, get the word out about your latest product or refresh your brand? These five marketing strategies helped us and our clients connect with customers in the digital world in 2020. Pay attention as we go through these. They all have something very important in common.

Let’s take a look.

Start with Good Content

Publishing thought-leadership content on your website is the first step in crafting marketing strategies that work. Add keyword-driven articles to your blog to increase your organic search opportunities. Invest in case studies and whitepapers. Consider developing infographics and ebooks. Self-publishing allows you to share your knowledge and tell your story.

Activate Your Channels

“If you build it, they will come” isn’t a great approach to marketing strategies. You have to activate your channels. In 2020, when business aviation events and tradeshows were canceled due to the pandemic, one of our clients turned on the digital faucet and found a flood of rewards.

Global aircraft brokerage firm JetHQ ramped up its content development, released near monthly press releases and distributed both across advertising and social channels. This integrated approach drove more than awareness. We saw engagement spike across both owned and shared media channels.

Engage Your Audience

Speaking of engagement – social was a top performing media group for reaching customers in 2020. In fact, one client saw double- and triple-digit percentage growth across various social channels despite the pandemic.

Clay Lacy Aviation showcased its iconic brand across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Utilizing a beautifully executive social strategy, this industry leader enjoyed engagement from prospects, customers and reporters.

Power Up with PR

Public relations during a pandemic might sound like a daunting task – but not for EPIC Fuels. Our Reach for the Sky, We’ve Got the Ground campaign for this essential service provider took aerobatics pilot Anthony Oshinuga on a 6,000-nautical-mile, 18-day tour of EPIC Fuels’ FBO partners. Not only did we earn coverage in key aviation publications and on TV, but the campaign landing page also saw quadruple the industry average of time on site.

Fill Your Pipeline

FlightSafety International, the world’s premier flight training provider, needed to increase their online pipeline during the pandemic. No one could travel to train – and it would be hard to recommend in the enclosed space of a flight simulator. Instead, they used targeted ad and social campaigns to promote their eLearning and instructor-led LiveLearning online training alternatives. The campaign saw a 20% average conversion rate.

Each of our clients developed campaigns and content across their own channels and distributed them throughout the digital realm – reaping rewards of impressions and engagement during a downturn in the industry.

Oh, and were you paying attention? What was it that they all had in common? We’ll give you three guesses.