When my wife sends me to the grocery store with a request to buy milk, I don’t usually look for a specific brand of milk. Milk is milk, right? Rather than shop for a specific brand, I base my choice on price and the expiration date. I’d imagine this must drive dairy farmers crazy, because if you work within the milk industry, you know that there are good dairies and bad dairies.
The skydiving industry is not unlike the milk industry. In the eyes of our customers, all skydives are the same, right? You exit a plane, free fall and then land. How can the experience be that much different from one DZ to another?
Trying to educate the general public on what makes a great skydiving experience often falls on deaf ears. Our audiences are distracted with their phones, playing Fortnite or chowing on some Tide Pods in the Tide Pod Challenge. We can’t expect to have people’s attention long enough to talk about altitude or aircraft or dodgy marketing techniques. It’s hard enough to get our customers to read their booking e-mail confirmations (no one reads anymore).
We’re Lacking Creativity
The way we market ourselves lacks creativity. We’re too focused on what we do and reinforcing what people already know. It reminds me of the overhyped Monster Truck commercials, “SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY….”
Our messaging is mostly about the speed, or the free fall or the altitude… the same thing that everyone else is doing. Think about it. The majority of all DZ websites all have the same information showcasing the same stuff. I’m not saying this is wrong, but I am saying it’s a little limiting and lacking in creativity.If everyone advertises the same way, what’s your differentiation from the DZ down the street?The answer is people. Not just because highlighting you team and your customers is a good thing to do, but because it takes something that’s intimidating and puts a human and approachable face on it. Great marketing focuses on the heart, not just the wallet.
Aim For the Heart, Not the Wallet
In his viral TED Talk and best selling book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek rightly said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” I believe this to be true and this translates into skydiving marketing by:
- Sharing what ownership believes to be true (assuming ownership believes in something)
- Showcasing the people who work and jump at the skydiving center
- Showcasing your customers and highlighting their stories.
Highlighting free fall, and adrenaline and speed and all the sexy parts of skydiving is a good thing, but the delivery of that message needs to be balanced. When we humanize this extreme event by telling stories, we increase engagement, show our humanity and most importantly, gain the trust of our potential customers.
Be a Storyteller
Sharing what you believe and why is marketable because you, dear skydiving professional, are living the “dream.” You may not think so, but you are. You’ve chosen to take the road less traveled. Our lives in the skydiving industry represent the greener grass on the other side as we wear badass looking jumpsuits to work and ride to altitude as opposed to wearing a suit and tie with an early morning commute fighting the masses on the freeways.
Who’s Marketing for the Heart?
Performance Designs – Videos
There is no other company in the skydiving world producing better content than Performance Designs. Their YouTube channel is racking up great videos, but the one I loved the most had nothing to do with their product. In the blooper reel below, the people of PD showcase their humanity by being regular folks just like us. PD’s marketing is really polished, but it’s great to see that the people who work there aren’t taking themselves too seriously.
PD has amazing visuals at their disposal, but make no mistake, this video goes a long way as it makes us smile at their brand. Perhaps Elon Musk could take a little page from the marketing team at PD.
Go Skydive – UK
Go Skydive in Salisbury, England is known for their extraordinary levels of customer service (they have a welcome team that greets you in the parking lot when you arrive at the DZ). This video differentiates itself from many other DZs by showcasing the DZ’s attention to safety and professionalism.
Skydive Spaceland – Staff
This was one of my favorite videos of 2018. When talking about differentiating yourself, this video certainly did. The likability factor for Skydive Spaceland Houston staff cannot be denied. Skydiving wasn’t the star of this video – it’s the people having fun! I would encourage Skydive Spaceland to produce more of this!
Skydive Perris – Staff Interviews
If you’ve not been to the Skydive Perris blog recently, it’s worth having a look! This DZ is featuring tons of their people and then pushing that blog content out to their social media channels. This strategy is great for social media engagement and does a great job of taking the intimidation factor down a notch by showcasing real and responsible people doing what they love.
Recently, they featured:
Skydive Carolina – Customer Interviews
Skydive Carolina has done a marvelous job of identifying their guests who have extraordinary stories to tell. In 2018, Skydive Carolina interviewed several of their customers and shared their stories. This is a good strategy to showcase to others that those who jump are just like them – normal people who aren’t necessarily adrenaline junkies.
- Darren Clayton – Overcoming paralysis and learning to skydive.
- April Freeze – a single mom with four kids falls in love with skydiving.
- Barbara Pigg - a lady with stage 4 cancer inspires everyone and goes skydiving.
- Most DZs are marketing themselves in much the same way by showcasing lots of skydiving.
- Balance the message by showcasing the ‘why’ of the company as well as the ‘who.’
- Many DZs don’t utiize video enough because of the costs to produce. Consider bringing on a marketing intern who possesses the skills for video production and editing.