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This is a well known article which appeared in the Australian Aviation Magazine. It's very funny, very Aussie, and actually makes some rather good points for us marketers and business people...


It's part science, part sport. Sometimes highly planned and secure, and sometimes subject to bad preparation, bad execution and the unexpected. When done well both are always exciting and rewarding. We've added our own businesses interpretation to the wise Australian aviation advice.

1. Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.

(You don't have to launch, but once launched you have to get it right. Don't launch your campaign or product launch until you're totally ready. Maybe you should test it first in a simulator).

2. If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they get bigger again.

Sometimes even the simple activities in business can become a problem again if you don't keep an eye on them and keep adjusting. Take Adwords or SEO, one minute you're up at the top of the rankings and the next you're back at the bottom without having done anything differently - but then that's the point isn't it?

3. Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous.

It's not what you do in marketing and sales (you've got to do something), it's how you plan it and execute it. The direct mail shot might have been the right thing to do. The disastrous results and the hole it burns in your pocket is down to the way you do it. Don't blame the activity.

4. It's always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.

Research and plan. Many new products, and companies, were based on "wishing you were up there". Research would have told them that the idea wouldn't fly, the wishing became so strong that it became a belief that it was a "no brainer". A mile high, having burnt all of their fuel reserves, they wish they'd never started.

5. The ONLY time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.

Think cash... you can't have too much, unless it's all in one bank and it's the one that crashes.

6. The propeller is just a big fan in front of the plane used to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, you can actually watch the pilot start sweating.

Your sales pipeline is the driving force, or propeller, of your business. Easy to think that you can glide for a while, maybe while you deliver existing projects - but an empty pipeline will soon get you sweating)

7. When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No one has ever collided with the sky.

Don't fix it if it ain't broke. Ok, you need to plan to be ready to make changes based on genuine market feedback and to keep one step ahead, but sometimes when things are going well, just enjoy the flight.

8. A 'good' landing is one from which you can walk away. A 'great' landing is one after which they can use the plane again.

A good test campaign is one that doesn't lose you money but you won't try it again; a great campaign is one that's worth scaling up and going nationally.

9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself.

So true in business. Listen to your peers and listen to people who speak to lots of different businesses and understand how they work. Like us in fact.

10. You know you've landed with the wheels up if it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.

If your new product test has come down to earth with a bump, don't just turn up the thrusters to try and force it on. Leave it where it is, or find out what's wrong and fix it, or you'll do more damage to your brand.

11. The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability of survival and vice versa.

Make sure you have some basic measurement criteria for your business, so that you know immediately when you have a problem. How many leads do you need a month? What are your sales conversion ratios? What is your break-even level? How much cash do you need in the bank as a buffer against slow payments?

12. Never let an aircraft take you somewhere your brain didn't get to five minutes earlier.

Planning, planning, planning - and research.

13. Stay out of clouds.

The silver lining everyone keeps talking about might be another airplane going in the opposite direction. Reliable sources also report that mountains have been known to hide out in clouds. Research, Research, Research - and planning. Clouds also hide storms and there are plenty of those about now

14. Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal to the number of take offs you've made.

One for the accountant - make sure cash out isn't greater than cash in.

15. There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.

Expect the unexpected - or Sod's law. Even the best planned campaign, based on great research or testing models may perform differently when it's scaled up and real customers have to spend real money. Especially if the whole economy has turned on it's head since you did your research

16. You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.

Make sure you start with a big bag of luck and it also contains cash and that you learn quickly)

17. Helicopters can't fly; they're just so ugly the earth repels them.

That's your competitors products of course. Trouble is they still somehow get into the air.

18. If all you can see out of the window is ground that's going round and round and all you can hear is commotion coming from the passenger compartment, things are not at all as they should be.

That'll be the Finance Director shouting. Update your CV and action Plan B - probably using a parachute.

19. In the ongoing battle between objects made of aluminum going hundreds of miles per hour and the ground going zero miles per hour, the ground has yet to lose.

Please don't try to disprove hundreds of years of evidence in terms of how consumers behave and what they want. The Sinclair C5 is still not a good idea.

20. Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, the experience usually comes from bad judgment.

In the USA you are treated more favourably for business loans if you have already failed because of the experience you would have gained from the failure. I always thought that sounded wise until their lending habits gave us a nasty Credit Crunch.

21. It's always a good idea to keep the pointy end going forward as much as possible.

Do the basic things well all of the time.

22. Keep looking around. There's always something you've missed.

Such good advice. This doesn't mean don't act, or take off - it means that you've got to keep checking and adjusting as you go along. Much marketing now is about making detailed adjustments as you go. Look at SEO.

23. Remember, gravity is not just a good idea. It's the law. And it's not subject to repeal.

Marketing and sales are based on laws - not just statute either. Customers buy products they need, which they perceive as good value, from brands they trust.

24. The three most useless things to a pilot are the altitude above you, runway behind you, and a tenth of a second ago.

Also true in marketing. You can have feedback overload - or paralysis by analysis. Before collecting data or feedback reports ask yourself "how am I going to use this information?" If the answer is "I don't know" - don't collect it.