Dan Gilbert is founder and MD of Design Incorporated, a UK-based creative, digital and marketing agency.
For over 20 years the company has specialised in the aerospace and aviation sectors, providing branding, advertising, website and exhibition solutions to international clients ranging from OEM’s to SME’s and start-ups.
What are you advising clients who would be preparing to launch products at EBACE.
Typically, we’d have started discussing activity a couple of months ago - so just as the pandemic took hold. We’re suggesting to clients that they use this time to plan for, and be ready to execute a strategy that blends online comms, advertising, and media activity to maximise interest in a new product or service. Currently, client audiences are ‘captive’ and are more likely to be receptive to the right messaging. 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 – all can all be targeted or sponsored.
This requires optimising the changing platforms offered by industry publishers, as well as a need for careful management to ensure the narrative is consistent, mindful and coordinated. In this new norm, activity won’t be so ‘event led.’ 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 typically 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, 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.
Do you expect to see more unusual requests going forward in terms of messages?
We’ve already received requests that are a little different, reflecting that aviation operations are 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 expect that branding opportunities will change too. Companies will want to be seen giving priority to protecting passengers and crew. Branded face masks and hand sanitizers, for example, may replace the more traditional giveaways. A shift towards more digital marketing and online client engagement is inevitable.
How are you managing with the team remotely, does that create challenges?
First and foremost we are a creative company, 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. We have had to adapt to the changing type of requests and shorter lead times. Being a boutique agency we are agile in responding to the needs of our customers. Our team is 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. We do miss sparking off each other. A flippant comment can sometimes evolve into a good idea in the office. I like to think that we haven’t missed too many sparky moments.
What do you anticipate may be different in terms of marketing and branding post COVID?
The creativity and resourcefulness our industry has brought in 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 forward. Customer wise, I foresee work with a new set of smaller/leaner organisations with very specialist and focused business models. Supporting this and complementing our typical wider, full-service marketing comms approach, we have introduced discounted tailored ‘green shoots’ packages. The offering is custom-made and specifically designed to offer start-ups, and SME’s 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.
The pandemic is likely to generate new entrants to the executive aviation market and confident B2C messaging will appeal to them. This could be leveraged with the business aviation ‘hero’ message, altering the general mainstream perception of business aviation as a expensive, ‘luxury’ service, to show its real strength as a valuable, time-saving, business tool.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’ve been surprised at how much I’m missing the networking and seeing customers and colleagues. I’m looking forward to when we can meet up again and find out how colleagues fared. NBAA is in the diary for October, so I hope 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.
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