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SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)
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SSA 2012—SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth (v.2)


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The 4 February 2012 version of a presentation by SSA Growth and Development Committee Chair Bill Daniels on SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth that Bill presented at the 2012 Soaring Society of …

The 4 February 2012 version of a presentation by SSA Growth and Development Committee Chair Bill Daniels on SSA Strategy and Tactics for Growth that Bill presented at the 2012 Soaring Society of America convention in Reno, Nevada

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  • Good morning, My name is Bill Daniels. I'm the chairman of the SSA's Growth and Development Committee.
    Today, I will be presenting some ideas for growing the sport of soaring
  • Many of you are aware there is a petition opposing the governments proposal to impose per-flight fees on gliders being circulating. The minimum number of signatures is 50,000. Could we actually collect that many? Not likely. We’d have to more than double our numbers just to get those signatures.
  • I suspect these numbers will strike some as smaller than they imagined. This was certainly the case for me.
    However, on the up-side, if you view those 12,000 members as sales people in 195 branch offices, it'd be enough to make a fortune 500 company drool. To me, this says we can solve our growth problem if we all work together.
    The number of gliders and tugs are going to be a choke point limiting our future growth – especially with the body blow of losing the services of 181 Blaniks. Imagine what would happen if those 119 Pawnees were grounded by an AD.
  • Using these numbers, and others not presented here, I tried to come up with an estimate of our training capacity in annual student starts.
    As you can see, these are very “round” numbers”. One might argue our student capacity is 600 or 2400 and I couldn't disagree. However, it's certainly less than 3000. I think 1200 represents the most likely case.
    This exercise also made it very clear that year 'round 7 day a week commercial operations can turn out far more pilots than a northern club which operates only 50 days a year.
    Scott Manleys use of flight simulators is an idea we all need to adopt. Simulators can take some of the load off the training gliders.
  • OK, Assuming we need 1000 - 1500 new student starts, where do we find them?
    I think there is a case to be made for the existence of a “Glider Gene”. These are the people most easily recruited to soaring. All you have to do is make them aware of what soaring is all about and they'll take it from there.
    The 1:1000 number is based on pilot populations in Germany and other European countries.
  • Rolling billboards are a proven advertizing media.
    Fortunately, our sport has a lot of blank advertizing space rolling round the nations highways or parked in plain sight. This is particularly true of our competition pilots. I think we all have been asked, “What the heck you got in there?”
    The SSA is sponsoring these graphics for the “US Team” and a selected number of competition pilots. The rest can install them for around $300.
    These trailer graphics will have a “QR code” which if a smart phone is pointed at it will launch a web page on the phone for “instant gratification”. It will also capture the URL for future use.
  • The SSA has offered matching funds to help this proposed PBS television special on cross country soaring come to television screens across the country. The producers are eager to do it but need to find still more funding for it to happen.
    If you would like to help, see me later. I’ll put you in contact with the producers.
  • The SSA has retained a professional firm to handle WGC promotions. This is an event we can use to make more people aware of soaring.
    We will be buying print ads in several aviation related magazines.
    You may have already seen the bumper stickers and T-shirts. The sticker on my car has already sparked several parking lot discussions with strangers.
    We will be developing a strong presence on various online social media.
    You can expect more all the time.
  • All promotions and media advertizing will point people to this web page. It’s the focal point of the whole scheme.
    Unlike the, which does an excellent job of informing members, LetsGoGliding is exclusively designed to introduce newcomers to the sport and direct them to the Where-to-Fly database where they can find a nearby glider operation.
  • For those individuals who best master the art and science of introducing newcomers to our sport, the SSA wants to show its appreciation.
    We will recognize them in Soaring and offer them free rides in contests with these pilots.
    Good recruiting!
  • All SSA promotions will channel prospective new glider pilots to the SSA Where-to-Fly database.
    When they select a soaring site to contact, the ball falls in your court.
    As you will see in the following slides, I think it's possible 1500 newcomers are falling through the cracks every year right now.
  • I hope I’m not patronizing, but the following slides will offer some suggestions for handling the people the promotion campaign drives to the soaring sites.
  • I think maybe the SSA should offer a prize every year for the best web page. My nomination would be the AGCSC page. It is clearly designed to inform and excite the first time visitor.
    Many other club web pages seem to be just bulletin boards for members. A first time visitor probably shouldn’t read about a cracked canopy.
  • I think only 30% of the chapters are now unreachable using their Where-to-Fly listing. That's an improvement but we have to do better.
    If they can't reach you, no matter how much money the SSA spends on promotions it simply won't help.
    Consider this: Forward the club phone number to a group of volunteers, who will answer the club phone for a few hours each week. Rotate around the group so no one is overworked.
  • We had to see this one coming, right? (I'm picking on our host :))
    Soaring operations are very often in remote locations and people will use their GPS Personal Navigation Assistants to find us. They'll use the GPS coordinates shown at the top of the page when they click on Google maps or MapQuest.
    Please select GPS coordinates which guide them to your visitors parking lot or your office not the middle of the airport. (Cursor coordinates are in the bottom center of the Google Earth image.)
    We need to put ourselves in the shoes of non-pilot newcomers who will arrive by car.
  • Airports are big, confusing places for novices. Give them a hand finding their way around. Make a big poster with the FAQ's about soaring at your site so they can read it instead of asking questions.
    Most of all, have a plan to make them feel welcome.
    Unfortunately, I know individuals who make it their business to yell at every visitor. Clubs who want to grow can't have a “This is our tree house – stay away” attitude toward visitors.
    Commercial operators are struggling to keep their heads above water so it's hard to take the time to talk to visitors but, if you don't, the job gets even tougher.
  • Newcomers are people just like us but without our training and experience. They simply don't know things we take for granted.
    On their first visit, they're extremely easy to discourage so choose your words carefully. Treat them with respect and consideration. Help them into the sport.
  • Some glider facilities in the US are very nice – others not so much.
    You don't have to be a country club (Although that would be nice...) but you can mow the grass and take out the trash.
    You can also keep glider canopies clean and wipe the sweat and sun screen from cockpit interiors.
    If your location feels like a nice place to be, the Significant Other will be easier to convince.
  • With the loss of almost 200 Blaniks, we’re seriously short of training gliders. Fortunately, this is a historic time to buy new ones.
    If you use an online “Dollar Deflator” calculator, you will see the current price of gliders is not that different from when the Blaniks and 2-33’s were bought. That’s without taking into consideration the incredible advance in the quality, handling and performance of new gliders. The figures on the slide use “Income/affordability index” method of calculating inflation.
    A slick new training glider has a strong impact on instructor availability. Instructors like nice gliders too so they’ll appear in droves to teach in a new glider. The ASK-21 shown is a very comfortable and quiet place to teach and instructors backsides love the shock absorbing landing gear.
  • I've been taking non-pilots for their first ride for a long time and I've learned there's a very specific way to do it if you want them to come back.
    A very short flight in dead smooth air works wonders. They just want to know they will survive and not get airsick. If they like their first ride, they'll be far more tolerant of turbulence and steep turns on their 2nd ride. I always assure them if they feel it necessary, I can get them back on the ground in a couple of minutes.
    Please don't turn them over to a brand new private pilot who will show them stalls and steep turns. Let your “Pro” fly with them who'll be very smooth and attentive.
    Remember the first ride is all about them, not you.
  • Let me end with a plea for help. The SSA can’t do it all alone. We need the help of every glider pilot out there if we are to grow.
    Talk to your friends and acquaintances about our wonderful sport. Put a bumper sticker on your car and a banner on your trailer. Put the URL on your business cards. And please, please, walk over and talk to folks leaning on the fence.
    Thank you. Questions?
  • Transcript

    • 1. Growth and Development Strategy and Tactics for Growth
    • 2. Growth and Development We CAN Grow - We MUST Grow Growth is a good thing… • For the sport • For the SSA • For competition • For clubs • For commercial operators To be politically significant, we need at least 50,000 members
    • 3.  SSA membership: 12,000 ( FAA: 28,896 glider pilots) − 195 member organizations  Instructors: 200 active (est.) − (FAA: ~2500 CFI-G certificate holders)  2-Seat gliders: 369 − (200 considered “trainers”)  Tow Planes: 206 − 119 Pawnees, 21 Cubs, 41 Cessna's, 25 other Growth and Development Who we are: Some numbers
    • 4. Who we are: Training Capacity ~1200 students at any one time − Currently ~ 50% capacity Assumptions: − 200 trainers, 200 tugs, 200 instructors − Club operates ~75 days a year − Commercial operation ~300 days a year − Average student needs six calendar months and 60+ flights to a PP-G − Half of the students who start training will drop out Growth and Development
    • 5. Potential for Growth US Census: − 200 million aged 14 – 60 − 200,000 with “Glider Gene” − These are “low hanging fruit” Assumptions: − 1 in 1000 carry “GG” − Predisposed to hear message − Will obsessively pursue soaring if properly introduced to the sport Growth and Development
    • 6. Growth and Development Strategy: Raise Awareness Rolling Billboards: Trailer graphics
    • 7. Strategy: Raise Awareness Television: PBS Cloudstreet “Soaring the American West” An adventure documentary − To be produced by KNME Albuquerque. − Looking for $145,000 in additional funding Growth and Development
    • 8.  WGC - professional promotion firm retained  Print ads − More...  Bumper stickers  Social media FaceBook More… Growth and Development Strategy: Raise Awareness
    • 9. Growth and Development Strategy: Inform  Purely promotional Buttons on right side − More info − Where to Fly − Become a glider pilot − FAST!
    • 10.  Identify our best “recruiters” − Recognize them  Soaring Magazine − Reward them  Contest rides − John Good − Karl Striedieck − Others? Growth and Development Strategy: Recognize & Reward
    • 11. “Where-to-Fly” Database LGG web page click-through It's our “Yellow Pages” where they select a soaring operation near them Growth and Development Strategy: Route When they click on a soaring site, it’s up to that site to run with the ball.
    • 12. Growth and Development Tactic: Do your part But if they fumble…
    • 13.  “You are your web page” − Some are excellent. Others, not so much. Growth and Development Tactic: Update your web site
    • 14.  2009 - 50% of clubs unreachable − Number not working − Phone rings  No answer  Machine - no call back  Angry ex-member says, “Those guys are bums” − 50% of e-mails never answered Growth and Development Tactic: Answer the Phone! (e-mail too)
    • 15. Some will click on Google Maps, enter your GPS location in their PNA and drive to that exact spot.  You'll yell at them  Airport Manager yells at you  The wannabe glider pilot gets chased off  Nobody will have a clue what happened Growth and Development Tactic: GPS Coordinates
    • 16.  If they do manage to find you... − Do you have a welcoming plan?  Or will they be ignored? Growth and Development Tactic: Welcome Visitors Do you have useful signs? − Show them where to go − Keep them safe?
    • 17.  If they make contact, they're interested but...  Unknown and scary territory  What kind of people fly gliders?  Will I seem stupid?  Is it dangerous?  What friends think? Growth and Development Tactic: Know Your Prospect
    • 18. Growth and Development Tactic: Upgrade Facilities They expected this ? But found........
    • 19. $115,000 Perkoz in 2010 = $8,000 L-13 in 1963 $125,000 ASK-21 in 2010 = $9,870 2-33 in 1966 Prime interest rate Euro-Dollar exchange rate Growth and Development Tactic: Upgrade trainer Fleet New trainers bring instructors our of hibernation
    • 20. Growth and Development Tactic: Introductory Ride • Develop Mission Plan – Use best glider & smoothest pilot – Short ride in calm air – really! – Then, 2nd ride in soaring condition • Talk about what gliders can do • Talk about your XC flights
    • 21.  SSA is putting serious money into promotion  Please help us grow Growth and Development Requires a partnership