Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Up in the Air: Social Media and the Launch of the PiperSport

How social media helped sell a $140K airplane

When Piper Aircraft decided to launch the PiperSport – its entry into the light sport aircraft (LSA) category – the company took a traditional approach. It planned to announce the new plane at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2010 at Sebring, Florida, with demonstrations, a press conference, and press rides. But Piper Marketing Director Jackie Carlon also invested in an integrated social media campaign, commissioning Michael Kolowich and his video production firm DigiNovations. The campaign included a YouTube channel, a Facebook fan page, and a Twitter feed.

Michael Kolowich, DigiNovations president and executive producer (and a pilot himself), created and managed the campaign. With only one week to prepare, he assembled and coordinated the efforts of a virtual team of micro-bloggers that included Piper staff (on the ground at the expo) and my company, Janice Brown & Associates (in cyberspace).

Michael, in this article and video, tells exactly how and why the campaign worked.

The campaign reached out to pilots, flying enthusiasts, journalists and bloggers around the world – quickly extending the excitement far beyond Sebring and creating fans all over the world.

And generating demand for the plane. The first plane sold on site, the second day of the show. (The sale was, of course, immediately reported on Facebook and Twitter, with a picture of the lucky buyers.)

The campaign of course started with a phenomenal product. But it was successful because of several strategies:

Authenticity and empathy– the right tone and content dramatized the PiperSport experience for the online audience

Engaging multimedia content, created by informed people (Piper and its fans/followers)

Emphasis on interactive conversation instead of just publication

Tight integration of the three social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and integration with the marketing goals and overall marketing campaign

Careful timing and pacing

Marketers can learn from this case study, even if they aren’t selling a $140K consumer product.

(And yes, you can buy a PiperSport over the Internet, using PayPal. Click here.)

1 comment:

  1. Looks good and it's a good example of how to do outreach and I certainly ended up following the Twitter feed and, I think, my colleague John included a link to one of the YouTube videos.