#064: The Jet Business – Close to the money, not close to the airport

I just had to walk in. Who puts a jet in the front window of an office building in London’s financial district?

Dave Young:

Welcome to the Empire Builders podcast, teaching business owners, the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector and storyteller. I’m Stephen’s sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today’s episode word from our sponsor, which is well it’s us, but we’re highlighting ads we’ve written and produced for our clients. So here’s one of those.

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Dave Young:

Welcome back to the Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young here with you alongside Stephen Semple, who shares amazing stories about businesses that start really small and do something just crazy, innovative to spark growth and then they become empires. And today you’re going to share, are we… It seems like we’re jumping the… Are we going straight into like private jets? Because that’s not usually where we start with a business, right? It’s usually mom and pop and you get some of the kids to work and the jets don’t come along till a little later in the story.

Stephen Semple:

Yeah. We’re going to be talking about a company called The Jet Business.

Dave Young:

The Jet Business.

Stephen Semple:

The Jet Business and they sell private jets. That’s their business.

Dave Young:

Well, this is what we call a descriptive business title.

Stephen Semple:

That is a descriptive business title. It is.

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

So where I came across this, I was in London, England in the fall of 2021 and I was there speaking at a number of events. I was speaking at Oxford University, Cambridge University, the London Society of Medicine and the London Stock Exchange and I was staying near Hyde Park and the day I was speaking at the London Stock Exchange, I decided to get up early and walk to the exchange. It was about an hour’s walk from where I was staying near Buckingham Palace over to the exchange and I’m walking along Park Lane, just beside Hyde Park and right at street level, I see this fuselage of a jet, you know, there’s office buildings and there’s kind of a retail level on the ground floor and there’s this, what looks like a jet fuselage on the ground floor of this office building for this company called The Jet Business.

Dave Young:

Nowhere near an airport?

Stephen Semple:

This is blocks from Buckingham Palace in downtown London, right across the street from Hyde Park.

Dave Young:

Usually I expect people that sell jets to be, you know, located at an airport somewhere.

Stephen Semple:

Google it and look at the pictures. I’m going to also post some pictures on the website along with the notes on this so on the Empire Builders Podcast website so you can see some pictures. And since I do work with a private jet business here in Canada called Kreos Aviation, K-R-E-O-S Aviation so if you are in the market for a private jet, check them out, they’re awesome. I decided that I would come back later in the week and drop in. I was like, what the heck is this? I couldn’t at that point because I had my engagement so I was curious.

Stephen Semple:

So later in the week I walk into the lobby and I asked to be shown around and they were really awesome. I told them I work with a competitor in Canada, I’m in marketing. They were awesome. They were cool. They spent a whole bunch of time with me. So in the front of the office, right in ground floor, looking out at Park Lane, they recreated the fuselage of one of their jets and they set it up in a popular configuration so you can walk right into this fuselage, stand up in it, sit down, walk around, see what it’s like and you can see this from the street.

Stephen Semple:

And here’s what I found fascinating. If you think about it, their clients are really select, rich folks.

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

Corporate CEOs and the like. Like we’re talking about not only is it a lot of money to buy one of these aircraft, to own and maintain one of these aircraft as a couple of million dollars a year, like we’re talking big bucks and the automatic temptation, if you were marketing to that group, is to use all sorts of targeted and direct marketing. Correct? Right? You wouldn’t think mass.

Dave Young:

You wouldn’t think what?

Stephen Semple:

Using sort of a mass media style.

Dave Young:

Sure. A mass media campaign. Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

Right. When they moved to this high visibility location, which is super expensive rent down the road from Buckingham Palace, across the street from Hyde Park, they get lots and lots of traffic, lots and lots of attention and they found this really worked amazingly well, worked far better than any of the direct marketing campaigns that they had used. They also decide to go one step further and talk to influencers-

Dave Young:

Okay.

Stephen Semple:

… and this is an area that we often forget about when it comes to marketing and often the influencers are easier to get ahold of than the buyer. That buyer is hard to get ahold of but guess what? Pilots are influencers.

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

So what they would do is they would track, they could track when pilots were coming into London and if they were staying overnight and they would invite the pilots to come to their place for dinner, say invite them to the officer of dinner or lunch or anything along that lines and they would show these pilots of fuselage and talk about their stuff and recognizing that the day when the CEO goes to start thinking about buying a new jet, he might talk to the pilot and the pilot would say, “You got to go see these guys” and be like-

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

“I remember seeing them. I drove past them because I stay at the fancy hotels up the road.”

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

‘Cause it’s right on the road of all the fancy hotels and when they decide to do a high visibility location, Roy Williams, our mentor, and the founder of our organization has always said, high visibility locations are the best money you could ever spend for any business.

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

And that was what they experienced with this private jet business. In fact, when we’re building advertising budgets for folks, if they have a high visibility location, we say, “Well, part of that location should be funded out of if your advertising budget.” You need to advertise less.

Dave Young:

Yeah. You don’t have to spend near as much if you’re on the biggest corner in town.

Stephen Semple:

Yes. And this is exactly what they found. They were like, “Oh no, we’ve given up all of those things. It’s our location. And it’s this campaign that we’ve done of speaking to influencers.”

Dave Young:

The genius of this. Oh my gosh. You think about this indirect targeting by targeting pilots when they come to town. First there’s I don’t know, half a dozen airports, probably, that private jets fly in and out of in London, probably more than that and so you don’t know what airport these guys are going to be at, but they’re probably going to be staying downtown or near where the boss is staying and build the airplane fuselage, the interior, deck it out and let them come see it in a retail location and not have to hoof it out to an airport somewhere. That’s the brilliant thing for these CEOs are the end customer for them is to let them come see it without having to waste a lot of their time traipsing out to some executive airport, you know, out on the edge of town.

Stephen Semple:

Yeah, because if you come into London, you’re going to stay at one of the swanky London, hotels, which are down in that area, down in the Hyde Park area. You are going to probably spend time at the London Stock Exchange, which is not far from there. This is the places that you are going to naturally already be. So not only are you probably going to see it because you’re going to drive by it, because it’s on one of the busiest roads around there, but also yes, to your point, it’s pretty easy to go “Well, next time I’m in London, I’m going to check that out.” And it’s not looking at it on plans. You’re actually able to stand in the aircraft, sit in the aircraft and like they’ve even gone to the stage of like, here’s the window. Like it’s a perfect recreation of what the real one would be like.

Dave Young:

Stay tuned. We’re going to wrap up this story and tell you how to apply this lesson to your business right after this.

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Dave Young:

Let’s pick up our story where we left off and trust me, you haven’t missed a thing. You can also recreate this kind of service that you offer. You can recreate the amenities and give somebody as close of a feel to what that airplane is going to feel like as possible without physically getting them into it and taking off from somewhere. But you know what? We all know what flying in an airplane is like, if we’ve flown commercial-

Stephen Semple:

Mm hmm.

Dave Young:

Right? And if you’re one of those high worth, you know, CEO type that’s been on the bubble about private flights. Even if you fly first class all the time, it’s still commercial aviation, right?

Stephen Semple:

Yeah.

Dave Young:

You still waiting at the gate. Yeah, sure, You get your seat before everybody else and you might get a cocktail in your hand while a couple of hundred people parade by you and smack their luggage into and maybe you or the seat back or whatever, right? So it’s easy to step onto even the mock up of that plane and go, oh yeah, this is different. This is, I like this.

Stephen Semple:

The other thing that they recognized is this role of the influencer.

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

And one of the things that’s also cool, not only about targeting pilots because the pilots are influencers. What do pilots like to talk about? They like to talk about airplanes.

Dave Young:

They’re enthusiasts.

Stephen Semple:

They are enthusiasts. Pilots love to talk about airplanes and influencers are especially important when you’re dealing with a market that has a lot of gatekeepers. It’s hard getting the attention of a CEO because you and the rest of the world are trying to get their attention and their time is limited. Now what’s really funny about this Dave is, the marketing campaign that we had put together for Kreos here in Canada was actually a direct mail campaign that did work so they should have actually hired us but that campaign was a real recognition of the gatekeepers and speaking to all the things that you were talking about.

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

It’s all about speaking to that ego and all of these things. It’s not about the plane. It’s about avoiding the lineup. It’s about traveling differently. It’s about ease of use and convenience and-

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

… being more comfortable and feeling more special. The few times that I’ve had a chance to fly on a private jet, I had the opportunity to do it a couple of times with Kreos. It is pretty special experience. It is a-

Dave Young:

Absolutely.

Stephen Semple:

… it is a very different way to travel.

Dave Young:

I had the opportunity to fly on a couple back in the early 2000s and yeah, one wasn’t the small one, it was Mark Cuban’s 757.

Stephen Semple:

Oh wow. That’s something else.

Dave Young:

The one that the Dallas Mavericks fly around in and that’s a story for another time, but yeah, you get to the airport and security is just sort of, “Oh, welcome. Plane’s right over there.”

Stephen Semple:

Yeah. And you just skip on, it’s really very different.

Dave Young:

Up you go. I mean, now that plane, you know, it was still a 757. It just didn’t have as many seats in it. They were kind of spread out salon style, right? Little conversation groups.

Stephen Semple:

Yes.

Dave Young:

But yeah, it’s an amazing experience from the curb.

Stephen Semple:

Yes.

Dave Young:

To the plane.

Stephen Semple:

Yes.

Dave Young:

Right? And so there’s nothing you can do, in commercial flying, even if you buy the first class seat or you’re lucky enough to get upgraded or use your upgrades or however you get to the first class section, okay, yeah, you get to go through security a little faster.

Stephen Semple:

Yes.

Dave Young:

Not a lot, a little. You get to be on the plane first. Okay. You get to be off first, that’s probably the biggest deal, but it still sucks.

Stephen Semple:

Yeah.

Dave Young:

Right? You’re just paying a little extra for it to suck a little bit less and they’ve made it so much worse in 20 years.

Stephen Semple:

Yeah. Oh absolutely. But the thing I want everyone to remember here, there’s a lesson here and the lesson is when you’re creating a marketing campaign, especially one where you’ve got a group of people that are hard to get ahold of, never forget the influencers, even if you’ve got, and this is also part of what we talk about in mass media. When you’re running a mass media campaign, you’re not only talking to your potential buyers, you’re talking to your influencers and influencers have a rule and these guys discovered that to the degree where they no longer market to their target market. They market directly to the influencers. High visibility location is a mass media strategy.

Dave Young:

Mm hmm.

Stephen Semple:

It’s not much different than a billboard, right?

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

It’s kind of like a billboard except they’ve done something more and it has worked in a market where your temptation would be, oh my God, what I really need to do is target because really, I’m only trying to reach a couple of people. I’m trying to reach the 1% of the 1%. Little, little, little tiny group.

Dave Young:

Yeah, so you’re looking for a list you can buy and it’s like, yeah, that’s a lot of people don’t want to be on a list and they’re not.

Stephen Semple:

Yeah. And if you do have the list, that’s a hard group to bust through and I’ll throw onto the website, I’ll throw a link to a little bit about this direct mail campaign that we had created for Kreos and people can see kind of the links of the craziness that you have to do to break through those gatekeepers and get attention. You can do it, but it’s a lot of work. I think the high visibility location is something that we overlook far too often in our marketing.

Dave Young:

Yeah.

Stephen Semple:

Far too often. And then it’s not just the location. Doing something that catches the attention and the imagination and the eye.

Dave Young:

I give the jet business an A plus for this marketing strategy.

Stephen Semple:

Yes.

Dave Young:

I’d give them maybe a B minus for their name.

Stephen Semple:

Yeah. I’m with you on that. I’m with you on that.

Dave Young:

The Jet Business. Okay. It’s a little obvious.

Stephen Semple:

I agree with you on that one, but definitely A plus on the strategy though, right? Like I had to walk in, I had to talk to them and then I had to share it. I felt compelled because it’s just such an amazing thing that they’ve done.

Dave Young:

When you told me we were going to be talking about The Jet Business, it was like, well, okay, they really are about jets?

Stephen Semple:

Yep. Yeah.

Dave Young:

Like it’s so obvious that you think it’s a play on something and it’s something else.

Stephen Semple:

So next time any of you are in London, England, go check them out and if you’re in North America and you’re ready to get hooked up with a jet, let me know and I’ll get some of the folks at Kreos to get you all set up.

Dave Young:

Send them on down.

Stephen Semple:

That’s it. All right. Thanks David.

Dave Young:

Thank you, Stephen.

Dave Young:

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