DZO’s throughout the world all share the same desire: to be turning hot and jumping a lot!
Competition between DZ’s has increased and the industry has become more digitally savvy. In less than ten years, dropzones have gone from giving out oversized bumper stickers and pens to engaging in SEO, Google Ads, building slicker websites, e-mail marketing, content marketing, social ads, display marketing… the list goes on. Everyone is fighting for digital positioning and while relevance in a Google search is necessary, our industry has a blind spot in the marketing game.
We’re all marketing the same way.
Your average non-skydiver doesn’t know the difference between a Cessna 182 and a Twin Otter or the elements that make up a good skydiving experience or a bad skydiving experience. There isn’t a Consumer Reports for skydiving and so, in the eyes of the whuffo, all skydiving experiences are essentially the same: You exit. You freefall. You land. Because of this incorrect belief, the majority of non-skydivers shop the way they always shop for a tandem skydive: on proximity and price.
Most DZ’s do little to combat this way of thinking by looking the same as almost every other dropzone. Usually, there’s a cool video playing on the website with an amped-up tandem student or a group going head down, but the story is the same at dropzone A as it is at dropzone B. What is the differentiating value proposition that your DZ has over your competitor if we’re all showcasing the same thing?
It would seem that we’re all so busy competing for the top position in Google to increase site traffic sales, that we’ve forgotten what makes us unique. With all this parity, it’s little wonder that so many dropzones hang their hats with low prices to win market share (because it works), but I would concede this is not the correct value proposition any of us want to be touting. This business is too expensive to be done on the cheap.
The solution is to tell a better story than the adrenaline-fueled rush we’ve been selling since Point Break. This story is tired and appeals to a very narrow part of the audience that actually pays money to make a skydive. The greatest marketing any dropzone will ever have are the stories of the people that are walking into our dropzones every single day. Stories of triumph, hardship, inspiration, love, and loss (all the ingredients of blockbuster films) are commonplace, and yet, we seem to only focus on the freefall and not showcase the stories of why they’re making the freefall. We show the superficial and skip out on the depth and the true beauty of the sport that actually hooked us into the sport, to begin with. I’m not saying adrenaline and speed aren’t appealing, but it’s time to get a little more creative than the surface level adventure we only ever show. I’ll take this a step further and suggest we not only highlight the stories of our guests, but also our licensed jumpers and staff. If customers can see themselves in the stories we’re telling and we showcase our own humanity, the challenges of overcoming proximity and price become much easier because we are doing what all great marketing does: resonating.
If I were to start a new dropzone today, I would create a media department whose sole focus would be to capture the amazing stories coming through our doors every week. This effort would pay off. Skydive Spaceland has been doing it sparingly for years, but when they do it, I’m fully engaged. Wisconsin Skydiving Center has created a #BoTalks series where he interviews guests who have a unique story and other DropZone Marketing clients are beginning to do the same.
In a digital world where our senses are being bombarded, great content that’s less flashy and more real is welcomed particularly with a digital-savvy audience like millennials and Gen Z’ers who are more attracted to authenticity than the flash we have been pushing. Our audience comes to make tandem skydives because they are wishing to push their limits or have been through something significant in their lives. Our dropzones aren’t so much in the “adrenaline” business as much as we are in the inspiration business. Our marketing should reflect that.