Flight School Marketing
Finding the Ideal Students – Growing The Community Of Aviators
Flight school marketing – you would think it would be easy right? There is a long-term shortage of pilots in this industry. Airlines need pilots more than ever. Flights schools should be overrun with prospective pilots Right?
Well – they’re not. Flight school marketing is very competitive. Everyone is rushing for students.
Attending flight school is expensive – the investment of time and resources makes many students think twice (or more) about enrollment. In an environment of such a highly considered purchase, flight school marketing leaders need a clear plan to attract and successfully convert new students.
Whether you’re looking to grow business for your CFI’s at your FBO teaching new pilots for general or business aviation, or if you’re leading a commercial flight school looking to mint new ATP-certified pilots, a cohesive marketing strategy designed to nurture prospects to become students is essential.
Flight School Marketing
The decision to become a licensed pilot is not a casual one. At a minimum, most students are looking at investing several hundred hours of their time, and perhaps at least $15,000 worth of their money to rent aircraft, the CFI time, and more. And let’s be frank – that is just the basic track to get the coveted piece of plastic from the FAA to continue your journey to IFR, multi-engine, or other ratings that expand your capability and enjoyment of flight. A simple journey to become a qualified pilot capable of flying anytime anywhere could easily cost a student 30-40 thousand dollars.
This is not a casual purchase by any means. Moreover, the students that enter the market for general aviation are significantly different (psycho-graphically and demographically) from those who are entering for potential examination as ATP certified pilots.
So the challenge that flight schools face in marketing their programs is finding students who will one – value the commitment and be prepared to invest in themselves (and pay for the program); two – have the passion for aviation that will sustain them through the process of becoming a licensed pilot.
Exactly how do you market your flight school effectively and get students to pick you versus someone else (or not at all)?
Branding and brand narrative, lead nurturing, and effective digital marketing.
Flight School Marketing for ATP
For the student who is going to potentially make a career out of becoming a pilot – your marketing to attract and convert that student is similar to those of colleges and universities around the world. In the end, the calculus in the mind of the student revolves around cost, benefit, “culture fit,” and a perception of the value of the experience gained by attending the school.
What generally do we know about this marketplace in this environment? Put simply – advertising is problematic, content marketing (done correctly) can lead to high ROI, and ultimately developing community and culture is the highest ROI of all your activities. These approaches require a highly integrated marketing campaign designed to attract millennial prospects into your programs and convert them into students.
This type of approach requires schools to focus heavily on content, social, and mobile, as platforms to reach new prospective students. It also requires a deft hand in creating content that informs, educates, and entertains new prospects as they begin their journey with your flight school’s brand.
If all of this sounds complicated – it is. We can help.
Flight School Marketing For GA
Flight School Marketing for General Aviation (the individual who isn’t going to make a career out of it) is a highly considered purchase.
In the case of a highly considered purchase, companies have create an environment of “higher touch” engagement, with as many as 20 different points of interaction along the path to a conversion — and not all of these interaction points will be ones that can be controlled. In addition, a considered purchase almost inevitably requires online and offline activity to generate a sale, so the marketing must be deeply integrated to identify, nurture, and convert prospects. It’s a delicate balance of online, offline, inbound, and straight up “sales,” to convert this type of customer.
This type of customer can be reached in part by marketing, but the conversion path is just as complicated as the ATP prospective student. These individuals who are prepared to put down 30K+ (and later probably buy a plane) are highly accomplished individuals – doctors, lawyers, dentists, and other professionals – who value their time and value the relationships with vendors.
Marketing and advertising, therefore, is only one piece of the puzzle to convert this sale. The other aspect is having your CFI’s and the “discovery flight experience” pathway designed to integrate your brand, the experience of flying, and the building of relationships. This is a classic integration of sales and marketing to form a seamless experience. They like you, they like the idea of becoming a pilot, they like the flight school. All three of those variables need to be addressed in your marketing and in your experiences.
Again – if it seems complicated – it is. We can help.
Flight School Marketing Strategy
To grow your flight school, you need an integrated campaign that recognizes why people want to become pilots, nurtures their curiosity, and ultimately, unlocks their passion. It’s a complicated dance of both online and offline activities that culminates in students selecting either your school based on relationships with prospective flight schools (as is the case with ATP training) or relationships with particular CFIs (as is the case often in General Aviation).
To bring all this together, you need someone who can see the big picture and design the brand narrative, the sales funnels, and the content that attracts prospects and converts them into students. We can help.