Sunday, March 02, 2014

Aviation Advertising Needs a Checklist Too

The aviation world lives by the checklist. Of that there is no doubt. Yet, when the aviation industry spends advertising money to tell us about the latest technology, the power of the checklist seems to go right out the window costing advertisers a poor return on their money by not effectively engaging the reader. As examples, advertisements from Aspen Avionics, BendixKing, and J.P. Instruments from a recent aviation magazine are reviewed in this series of posts along with a checklist to ensure future improvements.

But first, one might ask, what’s the goal of any advertisement anyway?  Some say it is to create a set image, counter competition, and/or provide information.  While all of those points might be relevant, the real goal of any advertisement must be to capture a reader’s attention, inform them, and then persuade them to take a next step forward in an action chain that will ultimately result in a sale.

Just as every takeoff ultimately needs to lead to a landing, every advertisement needs to lead to a sale.  Ignoring this basic advertising reality leads to a failure to engage the reader and un-engaged readers fail to become customers. The checklist to utilize for improving returns on advertising is I-E-E-O (Interrupt, Engage, Educate, and Offer).
  • Every effective advertisement must first INTERRUPT the reader and get their attention.  Just as you call “clear” before turning the key of an airplane at startup in order to catch the attention of those around you, in advertising, the interrupt must be a call-out that will catch the reader’s attention.
  • Once the reader’s attention has been secured, the next step is to ENGAGE the reader with a promise to teach them about a solution to the interrupt.  This can readily be done by asking a pertinent question and then suggesting an answer.  The successful “Got Milk?” campaigns are good examples of the interrupt then engage step of an effective advertisement.
  • Now that the reader is involved, the EDUCATE step needs to set the hook by identifying key issues the reader can relate to and demonstrating how the advertised product or service can uniquely solve for those issues.
  • Finally, every advertisement must serve up an OFFER strong enough to reel the reader in and drive an action to learn more. Without an offer, an advertisement is just noise in the wind.
Just as using a checklist can help ensure the desired result of a flight, use of the I-E-E-O (Interrupt, Engage, Educate, and Offer) checklist in preparing an advertisement will ensure that the right message is conveyed in a manner that results in sales as opposed to noise.  As you can see from the results table, in this review, Aspen Avionics performed best versus the checklist.  BendixKing tried but missed the mark. And J.P. Instruments seems to have forgotten the checklist entirely.

Back at the beginning of the last century, not long before the Wright Brothers 1st Flight, the retailer John Wanamaker uttered, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; I just don’t know which half.”  Those words are still true today unless advertisers follow the Interrupt, Engage, Educate, and Offer checklist.  Just imagine … more effective advertising expenditures leading to more involved and well-primed readers who want to become buyers.  You see, just as in flight, following a checklist helps to ensure success in advertising too.

About the Author

Greg Gudorf is an avid pilot and experienced technologist/marketer based in San Diego, California.  As the founder of The Gudorf Group, Inc. ( Greg works with Start-Ups, Innovators, and Re-Starts to strategize, build, and bring to market hardware, software, and service-based solutions for the real world.  Learn more with an e-mail to

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