Women - Chesapeake Sport Pilot

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  How to include the other half of your potential customers
                                                    Dorothy Schick

      n any household, the deci-           to a woman—be it his mom, wife,        ered long ago that revenues were
      sion to purchase goods and ser-      partner, or to her, the single Ms.     being significantly (and adversely)
      vices can be unilateral or shared,   looking for a new challenge or ad-     affected when salesmen ignored a
      but it’s the “gatekeeper”—the        venture and willing to spend her       customer’s female spouse/compan-
household’s money manager, who             income on her desire to fly.           ion during their presentations or
makes sure all the bills get paid—who         Can we make any generaliza-         dismissed or patronized customers
firmly influences all of these purchas-    tions about marketing to women?        who were single women. That dis-
ing decisions.                             A few. In Marketing to Women,          missive attitude is why, many years
   Now consider the following sta-         Martha Barletta wrote that if you      ago, I walked out of a car dealership
tistics: In the United States, women       are not differentiating between        instead of buying the car I wanted.
sign 80 percent of all checks, spend       men and women with your mar-              The auto industry has come to its
more than $3.7 trillion annually,          keting and sales methods, you’re       senses since then, and J.D. Power
and are the purchasing agents for          not only losing women as cus-          and Associates notes that women
another $1.5 trillion. If it wasn’t        tomers but men, too. With the          make 51 percent of all auto pur-
obvious before, it should be obvi-         majority of the American popula-       chases and that women in the
ous now who the gatekeepers are.           tion being female, doesn’t it seem     household influence 85 percent of
   Considering all of these statis-        a little odd that women account        today’s auto purchases. This is why
tics, and the fact that according          for only 6 percent of the active pi-   you find automobile ads in wom-
to the U.S. Census Bureau females          lot population? What can we do         en’s magazines and find more fe-
outnumber males, no matter the             to differentiate, assuming you do      males in the driver’s seat of the ve-
sex of your next flight school cus-        want to increase your flight train-    hicles advertised anywhere.
tomer the odds are that the deci-          ing revenues?                             Perhaps you’re thinking that
sion to invest in flight training will                                            aviation, because it’s so male dom-
ultimately depend on how well              New Markets                            inated, is different. Think again.
you market your aviation services            The automobile industry discov-      Recently, I was taking a break from
8 •
teaching while putting the floor-           If you are not                     groups, such as Baby Boomer, Gen-
boards back in my Champ. My                                                    X, and Gen-Y (also called Echo
A&P-IA was sitting on my han-              differentiating                     Boomers or the Millennium Gen-
gar couch, chatting with a pilot                                               eration). Shared experiences and
who’d just returned to aviation af-         between men                        societal trends have influenced each
                                                                               of these generations, and effec-
ter a long hiatus. I wasn’t paying
much attention to their conversa-
tion until the pilot said, “I’ve been
                                             and women                         tive marketing takes them into ac-
                                                                               count. This also means that mar-
divorced twice, you know. It’s be-
cause of my two ex-wives that I
                                              with your                        keting to all women, just like mar-
                                                                               keting to all men, isn’t feasible or
haven’t been flying these past 15                                              effective anymore.
years; they just didn’t approve.”          marketing and                          If a woman is a Baby Boomer,
    And just yesterday, my friend                                              her responsibilities as a mother are
Walt dropped by. He mentioned              sales methods,                      complete or nearly so, and she’s in
that he had finally sold his beau-                                             the process of redefining herself.
tifully restored Stampe biplane           you’re losing not                    If she’s a young mom, read Mar-
to the Old Rhinebeck. “But what                                                keting to Moms (Maria Bailey, BSM
about that other guy who wanted            only women as                       Media, at Are
it so badly?” I asked.                                                         you marketing to Gen-Y? These 16-
    “Oh, yes,” Walt said, chuckling,
“that’s an interesting story. The fel-
                                           customers but                       year-old young women use the In-
                                                                               ternet extensively, are not neces-
low had his checkbook out, open,
and was ready to write when his
                                               men too.                        sarily impressed with brand names,
                                                                               but they understand finances ex-
wife, who had climbed into the                                                 tremely well.
airplane’s front seat, said, ‘No,’ she                                            Rebecca Bortner, a project man-
didn’t like it.”                         should study the ways other indus-    ager at Harley-Davidson, says that
    Make no mistake; these are not       tries are marketing their products    in 1985 women bought only about
“Oh that’s nice, but they don’t affect   and services for female customers.    600 new Harleys. In 2004, it was
me” incidents. As small-business            First—and most important—SHE       more than 30,000. How did Harley-
owners and instructors we are miss-      does not purchase products the        Davidson attract women to its prod-
ing out. Think about the new cus-        same way HE does. This is noth-       ucts? Harley recognized that riding
tomer base you could build by ap-        ing new; just think about how dif-    motorcycles transcends sex and
pealing to a larger market segment.      ferently most women and men go        race, Bortner said, and that women
Don’t forget the revenue lost from       shopping for anything, and you’ll     and men ride for the same reasons:
male customers/pilots who need           understand what mega-buck com-        freedom, adventure, challenge, and
your help in justifying their fly-       panies have now finally quantified.   to be part of a “family” of people
ing expenses to the gatekeeper. Al-      Marketing to women is much more       enjoying the same pursuits.
ways remember that aviation is not       complicated than painting your           Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
a “necessary” product or service.        bathroom pink. Women learn to fly        In noting the differences in their
For those not pursuing a career,         for the same reasons that men do—     purchasing decisions, Bortner said
nobody really needs to learn to fly.     adventure, career, the feeling of     women research their purchases
Losing customers (male or female)        freedom, and challenge—but they       (usually on the Internet) much
isn’t about them going to another        do not make the decision to start     more then men do, and their de-
flight school—it’s about them not        training the same way men do. In      cisions are often influenced by
investing in flying at all.              addition, the women you want to       women role models and word-
    Because a decision to become         reach may be from one of several      of-mouth recommendations from
a pilot, acquire a new rating, or        different life stages and cultures.   their female friends.
buy an aircraft often depends on            Adding to the complexity is the       Look at the Harley website, and
how well we market our products          realization that marketing to the     you’ll find it has incorporated
and services to women, and be-           generalities of a “group” no longer   women-oriented information un-
cause women represent our indus-         works well. Instead marketers must    der the heading Experience. Then
try’s greatest growth potential, we      understand specific generational      click on the Riding link for access to
                                                                                                 DECEMBER 2005 • 9
the following pages: Get-                                                                   strooms with full-length
ting Started, Why Women                                                                     mirrors and maybe lock-
Ride, Riding Stories, Learn-                                                                ers so she can change from
ing to Ride, and History                                                                    work clothes to casual fly-
of Female Riders. Harley-                                                                   ing clothes? By being hon-
Davidson content is exactly                                                                 est and substantiating your
what women (or men) will                                                                    service’s value you will be
need to know about the ex-                                                                  ahead of the game.
perience of getting started                                                                    Marketing to women re-
riding motorcycles along                                                                    quires people to unlearn
with excerpts from women                                                                    what business schools have
sharing the experiences                                                                     been teaching for decades,
of riding.                                                                                  wrote Faith Popcorn, a
                                                                                            leading authority on the
Buying Research                                                                             subject and chairwoman of
   Because women do                                                                         Brain Reserve, in Advertis-
more research in making                                                                     ing Age. She called the shift
their purchase decision,                                                                    from male-centric transac-
and because they make extensive          pect of the hardware of flying.          tional selling to female-centric rela-
use of the Internet in this effort,         Women are less easily swayed          tional marketing “EVEvolution.”
your website is your brochure. Pic-      by price. They want trust, value,            Relationship marketing means
ture your female flight instructors      and loyalty. If your price is higher     women are influenced by relation-
and students, and include short          than your competitor, say so and         ships that go deeper than a hand-
“why I fly” testimonials. Assume         substantiate why. If it’s lower, you     shake. Are you willing to help
that women will Google you and           had better have a good reason for        sponsor a child, give to the local
your competitors. When a woman           that, too. Be honest and substan-        food bank, or help fight against
calls, remember that she’ll be lis-      tiate your service’s value. Don’t be     breast cancer by donating a dollar
tening to your friendliness, pro-        afraid of having higher prices be-       for every aircraft rental hour?
fessionalism, and nonsexist com-         cause you respect and pay your               Fears of losing male custom-
munications, in addition to your         employees more—that’s a good             ers by orienting your interactions
ability to ask meaningful questions      reason in itself.                        and marketing efforts more toward
and to listen to her answers.               Women often compare the value         women are unfounded. The oppo-
   Women make comparisons on             of new services with something else      site can be true, and you’ll find a
much more than just a product’s          that they can relate to in other as-     good example in the paint aisle at
features. While a man may be inter-      pects of their lives. Take haircuts,     the home-improvement store. Why
ested in an aircraft engine’s horse-     for example. How much do guys            do you think paint cans now have
power for the horsepower alone, a        pay for one? $10, $15, $25? Now          easy-to-pour rims? Because women
woman (pilot or nonpilot) wants          how much do you think the av-            have higher expectations for ser-
to know why that horsepower ben-         erage woman’s haircut, color, and        vice and product design than men,
efits her. Does it make it safer? Does   perm cost? Try $40 to $90. Remem-        so if you are fulfilling the demands
it shorten the flight to see her new     ber this: most women are used to         of your female customers, you are
grandchild on the other side of the      paying more for one-to-one ser-          more than fulfilling your male cus-
state? She wants to weigh the in-        vices. To put it another way, the        tomers’ needs.
vestment against the benefit to her      price of getting my hair done is not         Your company’s relationship with
lifestyle. Does it make her life eas-    cheap—how could a flight instruc-        female customers goes well beyond
ier; does it give her more time with     tor possibly be cheaper?                 the flight lesson you give or the an-
the new grandchild? When mar-               Service quality and consistency       nual inspection she approves. Ser-
keting flight lessons to women,          are important to most women. Are         vice is how everyone in the com-
you’re missing the mark if you’re        you on time to lessons? If your train-   pany, from the front desk to the
focusing your comments solely on         er’s seats don’t adjust as needed, do    flightline, treats her. If her spouse
yourself, the airplane’s gadgets, its    you provide seat cushions to ensure      is the pilot, do you call to let her
powerful engine, or any other as-        a proper fit? Do you have clean re-      know that prices are going up? She
10 •
is after all, the financial gatekeeper.                                            make up 40 percent of the view-
And have you offered flight lessons                                                ing audience and, according to the
to her—or her daughter? Female                                                     League, have a significant say in
echo boomers (baby boomers’ kids)                                                  the decision to buy game tickets
are savvy about products, and they                                                 and team merchandise.
have been empowered to believe in
themselves. (For example, the sub-              Women are                          Teaching Strategies
text below the hip young model in                                                     Accessing the power of female
an ad for Harley-Davidson clothing
reads, “Where women are women
                                                  less easily                      spending requires much more than
                                                                                   just redesigning your brochures,
and men are roadkill.”)                                                            ads, and website. Teaching strate-
   Marketing consultants Lisa John-       swayed by price.                         gies for women are different, too.
son and Andrea Learned offer some                                                  You’ll find that it is okay to spend
specific marketing expertise and
recommendations on their web-
                                                 They want                         more time on ground school. Ask
                                                                                   questions—and answer them—
site,, and                                                      without sounding like the ma-
in their book, Don’t Think Pink. Of            trust, value,                       cho-bozo pilot who seems more
note are the four key adventure                                                    interested in listening to his own
categories that motivate women:
  1. Skill-building adventures:
                                               and loyalty.                        stories about how he survived some
                                                                                   dire situation. I have walked away
      Home improvement, auto re-                                                   from far too many of these han-
      pair, shooting and creating                                                  gar-flying sessions rolling my
      home movies, composing mu-                                                   eyes, right along with my male
      sic with computer software,            Johnson and Learned say that          CFI colleagues. There is absolutely
      and figuring out how to use all     young women “crave highly in-            no excuse for sexist remarks, off-
      the features on her new digital     teractive experiences that teach,        color jokes, inappropriate photo-
      camera.                             challenge, and stretch their lim-        graphs, or getting “cozy” with a
  2. Outdoor adventures: Snow-            its.” Isn’t flying all of these? Mar-    female customer.
      shoeing, kayaking, fly-fishing,     keting short-duration (weekend)             When teaching co-ed ground
      hunting, boating, and adven-        aviation adventure courses to            schools, men tend to dominate
      ture travel.                        women of all ages who may or             discussions and women are not
  3. Intellectual/cultural adven-         may not want to complete fur-            as likely to interrupt, but if given
      tures: Wine tasting, fine din-      ther pilot training may be finan-        the opportunity, women defi-
      ing, coffee, book clubs, gallery    cially rewarding in itself. That’s       nitely will come up with some of
      visits, opera tickets, Spanish      what the Oregon Department of            the most interesting and over-
      lessons, and salsa dancing.         Fish and Wildlife is doing with its      all helpful questions. Try offer-
  4. Spiritual adventures: Jour-          hugely successful weekend “Be-           ing single-sex ground schools
      naling, retreats, group or          coming an Outdoors Women”                or splitting classes into smaller
      church membership, writing a        (BOW) skills program. Manufac-           “teams” with group discussion
      personal memoir, yoga, medi-        turers of outdoor equipment and          and aviation scenario-based prob-
      tation classes, and tai chi.        sporting goods stores often pro-         lem solving.
                                                      vide information and            It is financially essential for
                                                      BOW instructors, and         the flight training industry to un-
              Helpful Resources                       tens of thousands of         derstand the economic impact
  Faith Popcorn:                 women of all ages from       women have on our daily busi-
  U.S. Census Bureau:                  across the nation have       ness lives. It may even be neces-
  BSM Media:                         participated.     Another    sary for us to change our exist-
  Advertising Age:                      example is the National      ing products, services, and teach-
  Reach Women:                     Football League’s Foot-      ing methods to obtain our share
  Institute for Teaching and Research on Women:       ball 101 classes, which it   of this market. Our industry is                             holds in a number of its     poised for growth—take this in-
                                                      franchise cities. Women      formation and grow with it!       n
                                                                                                  DECEMBER 2005 • 11

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