Reflections on the state of this art, and how companies can better utilize the Web Editor’s Note: Scott Fowler heads up the marketing efforts for fuel supplier Air BP. Following his marketing seminar for fixed base operators that was held at this year’s Aviation Industry Expo, we asked him to share his insights on the state of marketing in our age of electronic communications, as well as how FBOs and others can better utilize the Internet for capturing and keeping customers. Here’s his report.
The New Marketing Tools
In 1964, a little known English professor from Toronto, Marshall McLuhan, published a book entitled Understanding Media, which, in short, explored the future state of mass media, and its effects on our society and the individual.
As the chapters of the book unfold, you learn that McLuhan predicted the emergence of a ‘new electronic media’ which would develop into a ‘global village’ and improve the two-way interaction between individuals and groups. It is unfortunate that Mr. McLuhan did not live to see what we now commonly refer to as the Internet, the very medium that would upend traditional media by changing the way people interact on a massive scale.
For nearly ten years, a large percentage of the world’s industries and their customers have fueled and spurred the growth of the Internet by developing two-way, high-speed, real-time, scalable, and interactive tools that increase the ability to communicate with, attract, and maintain critical customer bases.
In turn, the business marketing tools that have evolved are now less of a proposition to solicit and more of an invitation to communicate. What started out as ‘brochure-ware’ websites of the ‘90s has migrated into a mind-boggling array of mechanisms that literally involve and engage customers more than ever before.
dly enough, it is the general aviation business that represents a very small percentage of industries that appear reluctant to utilize and fully embrace this powerful marketing medium. Stranger still is the observation that in an industry as inherently technological as aviation, it is only now that technology is beginning to materialize as a business, marketing, and communications method.
“It is as if the marketing and flight planning aspects of technology did not follow operations in aviation,’ states Mike Eppley, business development manager, Ohio State University Airport, which provides FBO services. “The advancements in electronic media that have long been available and that everyone could benefit from, are just not exploited on the level they could be.” (Poetic justice?)
There was a time when many in aviation were leery of the Web’s two-way charms -— with all this communication, thought many, why would anyone need to fly to meet customers to talk face-to-face? As it turns out, technology influenced the ease of global communications, providing a fertile ground for multi-cultural and economic exposure, which ultimately increased demand for flights, domestic and international.
Still, the current lack of technological sophistication can be narrowed down to a couple of key factors. Equally, it is only a few practical roadblocks that prevent the inevitable boom in technical marketing communications that will soon be realized in our GA world.
The key question is, who will be the leaders?
With technology, connections mean everything. Remember the 14.4K modem? Simply stated, that transfer speed, 56 kilobytes per second, has migrated in a very short time to what we now call high-speed Internet, which transfers megabytes of information packets at an equivalent to 1,000,000 bytes per second. Thanks to these transfer rates, we have convenience, real-time multimedia, and the advent of interaction through efficiency. Cases in point: the blog; online transactions; and real-time animated visuals and A/V (as in YouTube, unheard of a few short years ago).
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