Flight School Marketing Tips for 2017

Written by Ian Hoyt

03/15/2016

When it comes to marketing, it’s no secret that flight schools can sometimes find it difficult to breakthrough. Finding new customers and growing your reach is unquestionably one of the hardest things to do in any business. However there are some specific flight school marketing tips that we know can help you as a flight school owner or operator to spend less time marketing and spend more time training.

When I first started flight training, I began to quickly learn that every school I would learn from would eventually shut it’s doors and be gone from the world of general aviation. This was a sad reality, and one that we have been determined to solve as an aviation marketing focused agency. Typically the culprit of this sad reality is the lack of marketing effectiveness.

Let’s talk about some effective marketing strategies that your flight school can use today. Even if you have absolutely no marketing budget, or if you do have a budget for an agency like us, these are solutions you can implement on small are large scales.

First, I would suggest that you start reassessing your rental rates and how you budget for marketing. The truth is that if you have no marketing budget right now it’s likely because you never even thought to budget for such a thing in the first place. This is OKAY, most flight schools make this miss step. Today is the day you add a few bucks per rental hour so you can start accumulating some money each month to spend on marketing. Yes, highly effective marketing does take a bit of money down the road (or should we say runway?).

Flight School Marketing is Important

When we talk with flight schools we typically first focus on their current customers and renters. The number one easiest way to grow your flight school marketing efforts is to shamelessly reach out to your already existing renters. It’s widely known that the cheapest marketing is to the people who have already purchased from you.

But how do you do this?

We would suggest putting together an email list in Mailchimp of all your past and current customer’s email addresses. Once you have done this and your list is pretty well combed through, send them an email reminding them that you’re still around and that you are offering XYZ services or rates. Be sure to provide a sense of urgency in your offer so it compels them to pick up the phone or schedule a flight.

You’ll be amazed by how much response and rentals/flights you’ll get out of this.

As an added bonus, I would recommend incorporating some type of email automation into your marketing efforts. This could be a whole additional article so keep an eye out or give us a shout if you want to know how to do automation. Email automation will make this process easy to the point where you can check in with your customers weekly without having to craft an email every week. Do it once, set it and kind of forget it.

Get Referrals from their friends

It may sound old school but trust me it works. Likely your flight students are quickly building their pilot friend network. In addition, they are now starting to inspire their non-pilot friends about how great flying and aviation really is. Why not naturally capitalize on this opportunity?

Set up a referral program that truly incentivizes your flight school students to spread the word, but more importantly gets their friends into an airplane.

An example would be taking your lifetime value of your customer and seeing how much you can afford to credit them if they bring in another potential long-term student/renter.

Even if it is just getting their next hour lesson & instruction free, that is a huge incentive for a cash strapped student to get their friend to the airport.

The most important point to remember with referral marketing is to confirm that your offer motivates your customers to take action. Make it something awesome!

Get Groovy with Inbound

Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that has the new customers coming to you rather than you going in-front of them. This can include search engine optimization, paid search campaigns, content (blogging, videos, etc…) strategy and more. The aviation industry is still very behind the times when it comes to inbound marketing, and if you have the budget or the willingness to learn these marketing skills it could dramatically grow your flight school marketing results in 2016. A year where digital is hard to deny.

We’ve spent a long time researching and discovering these opportunities for aviation related brands. We know that flight schools can benefit from a digital inbound marketing strategy but this definitely takes some time and experience to make your hours spent most effective for your growth.

To recap, the first two aspects of flight school marketing: email marketing and a referral system can be implemented today by you. We believe in you :). As for the inbound marketing it may take more time to become an SEO, blogging, and paid search master. If you don’t have the time we’re here for you.

Good luck, happy landings, and happy marketing!