Resilient Aviation Issue 3: interview with Dan Gilbert, MD, Design Inc
Business as usual
During this period of lockdown, Design Inc are continuing to work 5 days a week and all the team are set up to work on creative & digital projects from home providing the same high levels of service and quality as ever.
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Daniel Gilbert is founder and MD of Design Incorporated, a creative, digital and design agency with a specialism in Business Aviation marketing.
For over 20 years the company has developed a niche understanding of marketing within the aerospace & aviation sectors and the company now provides branding, advertising, web builds and exhibition solutions to a vast number of international clients ranging from OEMs to SMEs and start-ups.
What are you advising clients who would be preparing to launch products at EBACE – what are their options? Typically, we’d have started discussing activity a couple of months ago, so literally just as the pandemic took hold. So, we’re suggesting clients use this time, and possibly some of their show budget, to plan for and be ready to execute a strategy that blends online comms, advertising, and media activity to generate a buzz about a product or service. Currently client audiences are ‘captive’ and are likely to be receptive to the right messaging.
We offer business aviation marketing solutions and we’re advising clients to explore the diverse set of tools that can be implemented to effectively distribute messaging in our locked-down world. Webinars, press articles, advertising, website videos, social content, which can be targeted or sponsored, all present good promotional options.
This of course requires optimising the changing platforms offered by industry publishers, as well as a need for careful management to ensure the narrative is consistent and coordinated.
In the new norm we may see less event led launches and begin to value alternative marketing methods. Now is a good time to become familiar with the options.
What is the lead time usually for big campaigns or websites? Should people use this lock down time to think about NBAA for example? Lead times will always depend on the depth and breadth of the campaign. For example, simple modernisation of a website, could take just 2-3 months, whereas the launch of a brand new website could be a deeper process involving market research and analysis, message identification, and content creation, which is supported by communications and advertising activity. For that we’d say allow from five months upwards. So, there is time to start planning for NBAA, but start today!
The reality is there has never been a better opportunity to devote time to planning and refreshing brand or marketing strategy, or to take a more fundamental look at the business. The landscape is going to change, so a close eye needs to be kept on how the industry might adapt. Implementation of new strategy will be dependent on opportunities presented in the shifting shape of the commercial landscape. Each region will be different too, but if a business comes out of the blocks at the right time with the right message, success will follow.
Do you expect to see more unusual requests going forward in terms of messages? We’ve already received requests that are a little different as the new normal sees private aviation operations changing. Communications regarding social distancing and cleaning measures are bound to become more prevalent. Adoption of different flying activity will also become popular as fractional and bulk hour card purchases increase, so those messages will be more visible. We’ve already adapted charter aircraft floor plans detailing potential configurations in a socially distanced world.
We anticipate that branding opportunities will change too. Companies will want to be seen as genuinely protecting passengers and crew. Branded face masks and hand sanitizers for example may replace the more traditional giveaways.
A big swing towards more digital marketing and online client engagement is also inevitable.
How are you managing with the team remotely, does that create challenges? We are first and foremost a creative company at heart, but everything we do is technology based so to some extent it is business as normal. We already interact with many of our international clients using video calls, so it is not a huge change for us.
The only challenges we’ve faced have been the need for us to adapt to the changing type of requests and shorter lead times. Fortunately, we are a boutique agency and are agile in responding to the needs of our customers. Our team is quite tight, we’re like a band, when one of us says something we all know what they mean, and that helps to advance projects in short time frames.
I know we all miss sparking off each other. A flippant comment can sometimes evolve into a good idea in the office and I’d like to think that we’ve not missed too many sparky moments.
What do you anticipate may be different in terms of business aviation marketing and branding post COVID? The creativity and resourcefulness that the industry has shown has produced some enhanced and cost effective ways of working. Some clients who have always used traditional media are now embracing digital media and I suspect some of these tools will claim a larger part of the marketing mix going forwards.
From a customer perspective I’m expecting we will work with a new set of smaller/leaner organisations with very specialist and focused business models. In support of this and to complement our typical wider, full-service marketing comms approach, we have introduced our discounted tailored ‘green shoots’ packages.
The offering is custom-made and specifically designed to offer start-ups, and SMEs easier access to our specialist branding, advertising and website services in a bundled package. We think long term and believe if we can help a company navigate the often complex process of establishing a brand and marketing strategy, we can work with them as they transform and grow.
We believe there will be a stronger focus on improving the way in which the industry talks to and engages with the wider consumer market. Covid is likely to generate new entrants to the executive aviation market and confident B2C messaging will appeal to them. Business aviation has contributed significant support in managing the pandemic. This could be leveraged to alter the general perception of business aviation being a ‘luxury’ service, to its being an essential business tool.
What are you most looking forward to? I’ve been surprised at how much I’m missing networking. I’m going to miss my annual trip to Switzerland as it is always great to meet with our international customers and colleagues. I’m looking forward to when we can meet up again and find out how colleagues fared. I’m planning to attend NBAA so I can catch-up with the industry, and also personally thank those who’ve made such big contributions to the relief efforts. I’m also looking forward to continuing to focus on creating the best solutions for our customers as we adapt to the newly shaped landscape.