If you’re like most people, you commuted to work this morning, set up shop, got involved with the projects on your schedule, took a lunch break, got back to work, and then commuted home again. The whole process took something like nine or 10 hours and in that time you were bombarded with messages, advertisements, and sales pitches.
They’re so common to our daily lives you may not have even noticed them. Still, you were encouraged to take a vacation to someplace exciting or aboard a particular cruise line. Multiple restaurants jockeyed for your attention as you considered your lunch options. Ads popped up to entice you to buy a new car, or fuel it up at the station that offers you a free cup of coffee or slap a new set of tires on your old jalopy that would make it hug the road like a champ. Odds are good you even saw or heard an ad encouraging you to sue someone for no money out of pocket.
What you more than likely didn’t see or hear was an ad tempting you to learn to fly, rent an airplane, join a flying club, become an aircraft mechanic, or grab a bite to eat at the airport restaurant. And that matters, because recognizing the dearth of advertisements for aviation and aviation-related endeavors in every major market, every secondary market, and every tertiary market in America should come as a revelation to you. We are invisible to the majority of the population. Hence, aviation is growing internationally, while withering on the vine at home.
There’s a reason McDonalds advertises even though we’ve all been there a thousand times. You know Disney World exists, and they know you know it exists. Yet their marketing department continually runs advertisements to remind you they’re the happiest place on earth, and they’re open for business. Walmart is the largest retailer in the history of the world. No store is more ubiquitous from coast to coast, yet they still run advertisements on television, radio, and in the local paper, reminding you where you can buy anything you want for less than you can buy it anywhere else.
The lesson we need to learn is simple. Provide a good product or service at a fair price and advertise your wares appropriately, and the odds are you’ll be a success. Provide a good product or service at a fair price and keep it a secret, and you can plan on looking for a new line of work soon. Things probably aren’t going to work out for you.
Welcome to aviation in the waning days of 2013. Whether we’re talking about the big aircraft manufacturers, the major alphabet groups, smaller independent operators, or mom and pop shops, aviation has been effectively disguised in the U.S. as a rich man’s undertaking that is off-limits and unwelcoming of the common man or woman. We might as well be teaching polo classes, or building sculls for the Yale and Harvard crews.
In effect, the airport is void of participants for the simple reason that we’re not inviting them to come out and play with us.
Consider this: in October Adweek listed its top 10 advertisements. They were for vodka, pre-packaged microwavable lunch food, a smartphone, another smartphone, a movie, deodorant, a car, yet another smartphone, a dictionary, and underwear.
Note that three of the advertisements listed were for smartphones. These increasingly common electronic gadgets are not merely popular for kids, they’ve become the go-to device for all ages. Imagine a phone that costs $400 or more that is useless without a subscription service that can easily cost an additional $100 per month. A device many users consider to be virtually disposable, replacing them annually if not more often.
That being the case, is aviation truly too expensive or too complicated, or too inaccessible for the public at large to be interested in it? It’s more likely that we’ve just dropped the ball and forgotten to tell our story. We’ve lost our way and have failed to develop a message people find appealing. We’re not advertising effectively. That’s it. Case closed. We need a top shelf ad campaign.
Fortunately, aviation is jam packed with creative types who could do the work. If we were to simply engage the public with a compelling message of adventure, excitement, real value, and camaraderie, aviation might yet see a rebirth that would make the expansion of the industry in the World War II years seem tame in comparison.
Because in a world where people will spend a week’s wages to have a throw-away device in their pocket, spend a year’s salary to buy a car they intend to keep for no more than five years, and cheerfully hand over $4 for a cup of coffee, they will certainly invest less than the cost of a new motorcycle to acquire a skill that enriches their life, a certificate that will never expire, and provides them a view of the world that no human was able to experience for the first 100,000 years of our evolution.
Imagine the possibilities!
2014 kicks off in a matter of days. Let’s get motivated, get thinking, and kick off the new year with a whole new mission. Let’s share our message and grow our market. Now is the time. Do it.