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Relationships key in aerospace industry

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Aviation Week & Space Technology consistently ranks as one of the strongest b-to-b magazines of any sector and, alongside its niche sibling properties, gives marketers tremendous opportunities to reach aerospace manufacturers in print, on the Internet and at must-attend industry events.

BtoB asked Greg Hamilton, publisher of strategic media for the Aviation Week Group, to share his insight on how marketers can make a blip on aerospace manufacturers' radar screens.

BtoB: What are the primary opportunities for suppliers to the aerospace industry today?

Hamilton: The aerospace industry is very program-driven. New aircraft like Boeing's 787 or the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter don't come along often, and they take several years, sometimes decades, to develop. Being part of such a program, especially getting in on the ground floor, can be incredibly lucrative for suppliers, but they need to be prepared to take on high scales of production and risk. Product development is very volatile, highly susceptible to outside forces, such as Congress' budget. The other major opportunity is in the MRO [maintenance, repair and operations] space. Top-tier suppliers-namely, system integrators-have been increasingly turning over repair and maintenance responsibilities as well as the aftermarket parts business to lower-tier suppliers. They're also looking for their suppliers to bear more of the R&D burden.

BtoB: What marketing tactics work best to get the attention and interest from aerospace manufacturers and aircraft programs?

Hamilton: Usually a multipronged effort works best. Many successful suppliers do some print and online advertising to build broad awareness and promote new products and technologies. Most put the greatest emphasis on generating leads and building relationships. Aerospace is extremely relationship-heavy, which makes perfect sense considering projects cost billions of dollars. So all face-to-face activity, from making your presence known at major and niche events to fielding a persistent and persuasive sales force, is critical.

-Roger Slavens

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