...As Industry Rallies To Help

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Meanwhile, Be A Pilot, the nonprofit industry group, is expanding its marketing efforts. A new marketing and business-practices e-newsletter for its 2,114 participating flight schools will debut this summer, BAP President Drew Steketee told AVweb on Saturday. Also, BAP is teaming up with one of its sponsors, AOPA, to provide to flight schools all the BAP leads within a 20- or 40-mile radius for their local follow-up, once a month, starting by June. Steketee said there is definitely a need out there for lead management and marketing, but it will be a challenge for start-ups like Flight School Success to get paying clients. "Flight schools have been loath to spend cash on marketing," he said. But, he added, "If [this] concept would gain some traction, it would be fine for the cause of better flight school marketing and building the pilot population." Steketee added that just building a Web site and depending on search engines to drive traffic is not enough. BAP spends $1 million per year on TV advertising that draws people to the BAP Web site. They manage the quality of these prospects by carefully choosing the TV networks and shows where the offer is made, Steketee said. "We achieve our demographic targets -- adults, household incomes of $75,000 (plus or minus), at least some college education, and ready to start flying this year." Besides the TV ads and Web site, BAP gathers leads via a toll-free phone line (at 888-BEAPILOT), responses to hundreds of stories covering its promotions in the mainstream media, and promotions at air shows. BAP has sent tens of thousands of new prospects to flight schools with a certificate entitling them to their first lesson for $49. "And it's all free to our participating flight schools," Steketee said.