Sen. Pat Roberts, a longtime friend of the aviation industry and the Air Capital

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts captivated the Wichita Aero Club when he spoke to the group Wednesday. It wasn’t just that he was preaching to the choir, which he was. Or that he honed his speech to key hot-button issues, which he did. Roberts – like many politicians – is a master of simplifying complex issues with words that resonate. And stick. Because they’re not just words. They’re unexpected pictures that create a little story.

Frequent references to President Obama and the current administration included statements that they’re beating up on private aviation owners like piñatas. That aviation’s being made into a tar baby. How, in regard to bonus depreciation, it’s time to don the war paint and saddle up. And he’s going to ride shotgun. (I won’t be getting the image of a gun-wielding, steed-mounted senior senator out of my mind anytime soon.)

Where’s the Humor? The Storytelling?

Flip through the ads in an aviation publication and what do you see? Generic, flaccid, overused language. “Solutions you trust.” “Service you deserve.” “Reliable, accurate and top performing.” “Unmatched in its class.” “Highest levels of safety.” “Anytime. Anywhere.” “Commitment to excellence.” You could be talking about any company, any service. Fill in the blank. “The incredible [blank].” “Have the [blank] of your dreams.”

You can discuss serious issues and communicate real product benefits, but still connect on a human level. For instance, Sen. Roberts said Canada – with its 16 percent tax rate, subsidies, R&D tax credits and more – might entice U.S.-based companies to relocate north. He got a big laugh when he added that he hoped businesses wouldn’t take the bait. “It’s cold up there.”

Sen. Roberts kept members attention throughout his speech. And, while he made it entertaining, he made his points. That 90 percent of our nation’s airports don’t even offer commercial flights. That more small business owners fly privately than do corporate fat cats. That business aircraft user fees will hurt the industry.  

Watch and Learn

As the upcoming election moves into full swing, listen to not just what the politicians are saying. But how they’re saying it. Your sales team might thank you later.