Market Research

IP Tracking — The Brave New World Of Digital Marketing.

Today, almost every digital device we use has an IP address. What is an IP address? It stands for Internet Protocol Address and it’s what computers and other digital devices use to introduce themselves to each other. Think of it as a door knock that leads to an invitation to come in and enter. Computers, cell phones, cars, even your EZ-Pass tag has an IP address.

The good news for marketers is that once your IP address has connected with another address (i.e. you visit Amazon’s website) you have given permission to speak with one another, which means the party you’re visiting (i.e. Amazon) can then connect with you at a later time and send you information as well. This return information is usually in the form of a “cookie,” which contains encrypted data that remains on your computer or phone until you or some IT person deliberately removes it.

For business, this is a marketing boon, allowing companies to keep track of potential customers interested in their wares and services – all of which is be done automatically via IP tracking.

What information can you get from an IP address?

There are actually two kinds of IP addresses – static and dynamic. Static simply means you are using the same address over and over (i.e. your home computer or your personal smart phone). Dynamic means you are sharing an IP address with a number of customers within your Internet Service Providers (ISP) area. Sometimes public uses computers in a library or in an internet café will share a dynamic address.

Whether static or dynamic, the minute you visit a website the IP address you’re originating from can be captured. The website will keep a record of the time, date and data it collects from your address. A “cookie” will be sent to your computer for future reference.

Limited information is freely available the moment a connection is made. For example, because IP addresses come in batches representing certain global regions, a fair amount of geographical information is immediately known. Cross reference this information with other demographic information available and you can develop a composite profile of the visitor and the particular region they’re living in.

It can get personal… to a point.

If your company utilizes IP tracking software, you can gather quite a lot of pertinent information. The moment someone visits a website, IP tracking software identifies the IP address of the visitor and reports what pages they visited on your site, how long they stayed and whether they filled in any contact or registration forms. The “cookie” sent to their computer, phone or device will begin to track their preferences. The IP tracking software will start to compile data captured from the same IP address as he or she visits other websites, noting preferences such as shopping habits, reading preference and other interests.

Some IP Lead tracking software can collect information from both organic, as well as paid search platforms, such as Google AdWords, providing more customer data, which can assist your company in finding richer, more promising prospects.

All this information provides a detailed dossier of a prospect’s demographic, preferences, purchasing history and even psychographic information. The IP tracking software can also determine email addresses and phone numbers associated with the IP address as well.

Once captured, the information can be used to target online advertising on websites the prospect visits and/or send emails with sales information to prospects who are already predisposed to a particular company’s products or services.

IP tracking and the law.

Each country around the globe has its own privacy laws, which govern the use of personal information gathered over the internet. In the UK for example, there is a Data Protection Act, which regulates what is and is not a breach of privacy. In many countries in Europe, IP addresses can be considered personal data, so care should be taken by anyone doing international business and gathering prospect information over the internet overseas.

In the United States, on the other hand, there is no singular law that regulates the internet, but there are both state laws and federal regulations, which limit the kind of information you can gather on individuals.

On a federal level, the U.S. tends to regulate by sector (i.e. banking, finance, healthcare etc.) It goes without saying that personal health records cannot be gathered on individuals by nature of the HIPAA laws and financial privacy is protected by law in the U.S.

For general marketing purposes, however, the U.S. tends to be fairly liberal, with the exception of California, which has a strong consumer identity protection regulation (please consult States.pdf for specifics.)

As long as consumers visit legitimate websites, the information they pass along via IP Address is pretty much fair game, provided the data is not used to disparage the visiting prospects, or is used to sell illegal or illicit materials to them.

What a marketer cannot and should not do is try to reverse engineer the process by creating phishing schemes to capture personal information. This is the behavior of scammers and illegal businesses. IP tracking, on the other hand, is perfectly legal and very effective marketing and sales tool.

More and more business is conducted on the web.

The Wall Street Journal report in mid 2016 that 51% of purchases are now made online, the tide has obvious turned and consumers have embraced online buying. Just as significant, 90% of business-to-business transactions begin with a web search, making it easier than ever to identify potential prospects.

Given the current attitudes in the U.S. for capturing information and leads over the web, the case for utilizing IP tracking software or service is a smart marketing decision for any legitimate business from Macys to your local pizza parlor. As long as the system is not abused or used to cause harassment of any kind to individuals, the idea of IP tracking seems both prudent and reasonably ethical.

Is Marketing to Pilots the Same as Marketing to Your Typical Consumer? Perhaps.


Marketers, even those in the Aviation business, always start with same questions: “who are we talking to and what does the target audience really want from the goods and services we’re making available to them?” Simple, right? Not quite. Considering pilots are humans as well, their wants and desires will be as complex and diverse as the many kinds of aircraft in the world.

If you’re looking for some clarity, however, you could turn to applied consumer psychology which has guided marketers for over one hundred years. For example, back in 1909, a very observant professor at the University of Chicago set out to study the consumer decision making process. His name was John Dewey and what he basically observed and later postulated has come to be known as cost-benefit analysis.

Let’s take a look at how Mr. Dewey’s theory stacks up when selling aviation supplies to pilots. Mr. Dewey’s thesis can be boiled down to 5 stages of buying.

First, the consumer considers the problem or need to be met: I have to navigate when flying long distances and a portable GPS could make navigation a lot easier than chasing VORs or looking for waypoints on a sectional.

Second, the consumer searches for information: those Garmin® people really know their stuff when it comes to GPS, but there are others that seem to do the job, too!.

Third, the consumer evaluates alternatives: I could just buy an iPad™, purchase ForeFlight™ and for less than the cost of the Garmin® have an all-purpose computer tablet as well as a navigation tool.

Fourth, the consumer decides makes a decision: all my flying buddies have Garmins and swear by them, I’m going to buy one, too.
Fifth, the consumer exhibits post-purchase behavior: I love the Garmin®; I’d recommend it to anyone, or I have buyer’s remorse and believe the iPad would have been a better choice.

All this seems pretty straight-forward, except it’s never quite as simple or as cleanly stated as above, especially in a digital age where consumers have massive amounts of information about products, product benefits, and product reviews at their internet fingertips.


To further assist us in this matter, we can turn of Abraham Maslow, the American psychology professor who gave us Maslow’s hierarchy of needs back in 1943. Here, for those of you who skipped marketing class, are the “cliff notes”. Dr. Maslow contends there are different need levels from basic survival to self-actualization. He further states that humans will not move to a higher need level until a lower, more basic need state is satisfied.

First level of need is basic survival: food, water, sleep … and if you’re a pilot, flying! (Please note that non-pilots will not recognize “flying” as a basic need, but that’s because, as any student pilot will tell you, non-fliers don’t know what they’re missing).

The second and next level of need is safety as in security, order and stability. For pilots, safety is the most critical of needs. There are hundreds of safety devises out there from parachute systems to hand-held radios to personal ELTs to … well … pick up a Sporty’s catalog and see for yourself!

To fill their need for safety some pilots will buy anything and everything from Night Vision to Collision Avoidance Systems to Satellite Weather to gizmos that track their oxygen levels. Safe to say this level can not only produce a feeling of safety but also the disquieting sensation of going broke. Marketers love the need for safety, it’s a safe bet there’s money to be made.

According to Dr. Maslow, the third need level is the need for “Love and Belonging”. This is where things can really get out of hand for consumers if they’re not careful. You might find the need to buy a Beechcraft Bonanza so you can become a card-carrying member of the Bonanza Club. Fortunately, there are less expensive ways to fulfill the need for belonging like joining the EAA, AOPA, NBAA, or the local flying Club.

A desire may grow at this stage to read everything aviation from Stick and Rudder to The Right Stuff. One may also discover a need to display Aviation Week, Flying, Plane and Pilot and other aviation related reading materials on the coffee table at home or on the desk at the office. At this stage it may also be necessary to stock up on all kinds of nifty accessories from monogrammed flight bags to Breitling watches.

The next need state is self-esteem. Aviation types are goal oriented by nature. Pilots in particular are always looking for the next step, the next challenge, the next way to conquer the sky. Their VFR rating leads to an IFR rating, IFR to Commercial, Commercial leads to ATP, ATP leads to … er… astronaut?

As long as they keep striving and growing, the sky really does seem to be the limit for pilots and for people who market to them.
At Flight Schools, the need for pilot self-esteem can be mighty lucrative. For companies who make airplanes, avionics and pilot supplies, it can be the goose that laid the golden egg.

That brings the aviation consumer who is a pilot to Dr. Maslow’s last need state: Self-Actualization. This is the stage at which the pilot has become everything he or she could possibly be. Many goals have been reached. The only goal left is the goal of going beyond being a pilot to becoming an aviator. People who reach this stage not only have thousands of hours in the air in all sorts of craft, they have self-sustaining knowledge.

Is this enlightened stage good for marketers? Maybe. Maybe not.

If you run into a person at this stage, don’t be surprised if they’re reluctant to buy anything from your catalog of aviation goodies. Why? Because these folks realize the only “stuff” they really need is a set of wings, their continuing desire to keep learning, a stick, a rudder, an engine, and an aviation map they can neatly fold into a rectangle on their lap.

Stay tuned folks! Next time we’ll see how all this marketing theory works on aviation consumers called airline passengers.

Felton, George, Advertising Concept and Copy, W.W. Norton & Company, 2006; ISBN:13-978-0-393-73159-0

Why Embraer Soared and Beechcraft Stalled

Embraer Legacy 450
Embraer has introduced six innovative business jets in under a decade.

Here’s one of my favorite anecdotes about hubris:

A Navy battleship at sea is performing nighttime training maneuvers. Visibility is poor, fog everywhere, then the lookout reports a light approaching fast dead ahead. Realizing they’re about to collide with another ship, the captain signals to the other vessel to change course.

A signal comes back urging the captain to change his course instead. Once more the captain signals the other ship to change course, but again the other refuses.

Furious, the captain howls at the signalman, “Tell him I’m a battleship! He must change course!”

A few moments later, the reply comes back, “I’m a lighthouse. It’s your call.”

The business realities of the marketplace are a lot like that lighthouse. You can’t change what the market demands, or cross your fingers and hope for the best – you have to be flexible and ready to adapt. The recent fortunes of two business jet manufacturers – Hawker Beechcraft and Embraer – illustrate this principle. Both found themselves in choppy waters after the prolonged recession, but one ran aground, while the other charted a new course and gained marketshare in a highly competitive market.

Hawker Beechcraft says, “Good Enough”

At the end of the last decade, the recession hit business aviation hard, especially manufacturers of light, midsize and super-midsize jets. Bad news for Hawker Beechcraft, which saw demand for its jets tank while already struggling against stiff competition.

One of its biggest problems: there just wasn’t much to differentiate its products from competitors, despite a few innovations in its Premier I and Hawker 4000 models. Jim Schuster, Hawker Beechcraft’s then-CEO, put it bluntly: “Sure, there are competitive products coming into the market. The jet line may not be the strongest, but it’s not the weakest either.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Hawker Beechcraft 4000
Beechcraft grounded its underperforming
jet line.

Rather than develop new products and fight for a competitive advantage, Hawker gambled that its offering was good enough and focused solely on sales. Schuster thought more R&D would simply be a waste of cash.

The company lost that gamble. Last year, Hawker Beechcraft filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It emerged in February, renamed simply Beechcraft, having shed its jet line as part of a restructuring deal.

Embraer asks, “What’s Next?”

Meanwhile Embraer, the Brazilian newcomer to the biz jet market, was busy winning marketshare and accolades. Yet the upstart company faced the same down economy and bigger, more established competitors. What did Embraer know that Beechcraft didn’t?

The answer is shockingly simple: they knew better than Hawker Beechcraft what their customers wanted. How? They asked!

Embraer conducted extensive market research, asking pilots, mechanics and customers what they expected from a next generation jet. Ernest Edwards, President of Embraer Executive Aviation, said, “We did the market survey, listened to the customers’ wishes, then built it. And they bought it.”

And they didn’t do it once, but several times over a number of years, developing unique “clean-sheet” designs for business jets in almost every category. Embraer’s mission was to incorporate large jet features – range, speed, technology, comfort, reliability – into smaller aircraft with lower operating costs.

Scan the industry headlines and you’ll see this strategy worked. Besides winning a dozen or more international design awards, Embraer earned a 20 percent marketshare in just under a decade.

Edwards told Forbes, “The industry will face rapid changes but the key to the future, we’ve found, is listening to the customer, developing the aircraft they helped design and supporting them to the utmost of our ability.”

Hawker Beechcraft ignored the lighthouse warning. Embraer saw the light.

Beechcraft will go back to its roots of manufacturing quality, propeller-driven aircraft such as the popular King-Airs and Bonanzas. In this market they should continue to be significant player. But I wonder if they had not gotten complacent, and put the effort into manufacturing jets their loyal customers wanted, whether we would be talking about Embraer today.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

Check out more recent posts on aviation marketing:

American Airlines: New Logo, Same Old Brand
How to Get to the Heart of Your Aviation Brand

Market Research – Your Best Insurance Against Failure

Focus groups can provide valuable insights before the launch of a new business, product or service

Focus groups provide valuable insights that can ensure success before the launch of a new business, product or service

I had an interesting conversation with an aviation entrepreneur, who has a great idea for an onboard combination flight system and entertainment center for small GA aircraft. He wanted to get an idea of how much he should allocate to marketing in the business plan he was developing. As we discussed the various marketing tools he could use to promote his product and budget he would need, it became clear that he did not have a clear idea who his prime target market was, how many units he thought he could sell, or how much to price the product.

I suggested that before he spent any more time and effort building the prototype, developing a business plan and trying to raise investor money, he should do some market research to confirm he had a viable product that would sell at a price that would deliver a profit.

I cautioned that, making too many assumptions in the product launch without validating them can be fatal mistake. The fact is, almost all failures, business or personal, can be directly attributed to making too many false assumptions.

Has this ever happened to you? It has with me! I’ve become so enthralled with a business idea that I am positively convinced is going to be an enormously success – I spend a lot of time and money in its development, only to have in crash and burn. In hindsight, I realized that I got so excited with the potential success of my idea that I was blind to obvious warning signs, which I blissfully ignored.

Remember that old saying: when you assume things, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

Larger corporations invest heavily in market research before launching a new product or service. They test everything from the color scheme of the package to the taste of their products. Yet, even with all their money and resources, they still manage to make some huge boo boos, remember New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, and Apple’s Newton.

Still, don’t dismiss the value research can have in the process of developing your product or service. Customer insights can be extremely helpful in identifying your real niche or core competency of your product/service from your customer’s perspective. You might assume one thing, but your customers might surprise you with answers that point to something completely different.

There are two basic types of market research: quantitative research and qualitative research.

Quantitative research – involves the analysis of existing data to help validate decisions about your product/service, which can help you determine the size of your market from a demographic or geographic perspective. For example, if you wanted to know how many pilots there are in New York State with an instrument rating and third class medical, you can get that “quantitative” information from the FAA.

Qualitative research – delves into understanding your customers needs, buying habits and motivations and is usually done by conducting one-on-one interviews or focus group sessions.
This approach can provide important insight into what your customers think about your product or service. Some questions qualitative research can answer are:

1. Would customers consider buying your product or service?
2. How much do they think it should cost?
3. How do they envision using it?
4. What features would improve it, and what features are not very important?
5. How easily do they understand the product or service?
6. Are there obstacles to communicating its benefits?

Research costs money, but saves in the long run

If you’re tempted to fore-go any pre-launch marketing research, I would argue that it almost always pays for itself in the end. At a minimum, it may provide suggestions on ways to improve the product/service, or ideas in how it should be marketing. Or, it may convince you that your business/product/service is not viable because the market is not there, or the price/cost ratio is impractical. Though this outcome may be disappointing, trust me, this is a far better outcome than having first wasted a lot of time and money and disillusioned of failure.

By |August 5th, 2011|Categories: Market Research, Marketing||0 Comments