7 Discouraging, Surprising, Yet Hopeful Truths About Modern Aerospace Marketing

aerospace, marketing, survey, results

BDN routinely uses research to understand, benchmark and report the trends and realities impacting the work we do as aerospace marketers.

In our most recent survey we asked aerospace marketers questions about their approach to budgeting and planning, goal-setting, goal accomplishment, their most effective tools and techniques, and levels of satisfaction with their company’s marketing performance.

We wondered, “Is there a correlation between those who plan and those who get results?” “Are some tactics consistently much more effective than others?” And, “Do budgets equate to higher perceived performance?”

It turns out that the answer is yes to all these questions, yet there is still much to be learned. Today we are providing a high-level summary of our findings with key takeaways and insights that shine a light (not always a flattering one) on our industry and our profession. This is ideal for those who want a quick read.

Anyone who would like more in-depth charts and findings may request the complete survey results here.

And remember, these results are suggestive, not scientific.

Key Insights & Takeaways

Finding: Regardless of their annual revenue, aerospace companies are still under-spending on marketing, with many high-revenue businesses spending just as little as their lower-revenue counterparts.

Insight: Shame on us. It’s hard to believe, but 20% of the $100,000,000 businesses have marketing budgets under $100,000. That’s an embarrassingly small .001%, and far below recommended spending and benchmarks for both B2B and our industry.

Takeaway: The budgeting process in larger companies sometimes defies logic, with decision-makers removed from the realities of individual functions. Verbatim comments tell us that more than a few companies are actually cutting marketing because industry conditions are bad. Huh? Marketers who work for an organization like this can either use data and measurement to become agents of change from within, remain ineffective, or run.


Finding: Most marketing budgets have stayed the same since 2015; a good number have increased; and very few have been cut.

Insight: Yes, this is positive news, but remember, budgets are still below accepted standards. Harvard Business Review generally suggests investing 3% of revenue in marketing, with adjustments made for specific scenarios.

Takeaway: Management probably believes marketing has everything it needs to be successful. After all, they have added or maintained existing budgets. But we can and must do better. If you are working with a limited budget, stop defaulting to old school tactics that can’t be measured — and when management wants you to do the same old, same old, explain that you can’t afford anything that fails to deliver ROI. Position yourself as the expert and start showing results to upper management that will justify the higher budget you know you need.


Finding: The majority of respondents say they do have and follow a marketing strategy and plan, yet there are striking differences here based on company revenue. More than 90% of the largest companies have a plan; less than 50% of the smallest do.

Insight: The survey shows that those with a strategy and plan are more satisfied with their company’s marketing performance than those without. It also shows that, as spending levels rise, so do levels of satisfaction with overall marketing performance.

Takeaway: A strategy, plan, adequate budget and measurement are the keys to your marketing success, regardless of company size. But if you are working with a smaller budget, strategy and planning become even more critical to ensure that every dollar spent is associated with an expected, measurable outcome.


Finding: Most respondents reported success in accomplishing key objectives. Improved brand awareness, improved customer engagement/relationships and increased sales were most frequently cited. Interestingly, 12% of those spending less than $100,000 report that they accomplished none of their objectives last year – no one spending $1 million or more said they accomplished nothing.

Insight: Regardless of budget, brand awareness and leads were cited as top successes. Because brand awareness is more difficult to measure it may be a more comfortable “metric” for some marketers. Challenge yourself to achieve more measurable objectives moving forward.

Takeaway: People are reporting success, and that's good. Let's just make sure those claims of success are based on data you can defend.


Finding: The most effective digital marketing efforts were websites (83%) and email marketing (79%). The highest marks for ineffective tactics were social media, blogs and online display ads, yet plenty of marketers also found them effective.

Insight: One, people are divided about what works in the digital realm. Also, while websites are recognized as effective, less than 50% say their SEO is effective.

Takeaway: We think the sheer volume of new and changing tools and options overwhelms many marketers. The first step to using the right digital tactics is understanding them – make time to get smart and use data to determine what is and is not working.


Finding: The most effective traditional marketing efforts were events and print advertising, yet print advertising also was most frequently called out as ineffective.

Insight: We continue to rely on old school tactics, perhaps to appease older, old school management, that are less likely to be measured.

Takeaway: If you are using events and print advertising (often the most expensive tactics) make sure you are tracking results. There are tools and techniques that make it possible to know if these approaches are working.


Finding: In 2016, marketers overwhelmingly say their No. 1 objective is increasing sales, followed by improved customer engagement, increased leads and improved brand awareness. Also, their No. 1 challenge is acquiring new customers, followed by lead generation and measuring ROI.

Insight: Hurray! Marketing exists to drive sales, and we are heartened to see folks acknowledging this connection.

Takeaway: Take a look at the relationship between marketing and sales in your organization. Are you using a CRM and marketing automation system to facilitate tracking, measurement and accountability? Are you working harmoniously toward a common goal? Or is there friction and finger pointing? Make mending and strengthening these relationships — adding in accountability for everyone — a priority for the good of the business.

Next up:

Keep reading next week for verbatim comments from more than 30 respondents who wrote to us about the challenges, opportunities and trends they are experiencing in their aerospace marketing work.

Don’t forget:

If you liked this blog post, you may also be interested in these free BDN resources:

  1. How to Develop a Marketing Communications Budget
  2. Budget Planning Checklist
  3. Marketing Planner
  4. 30 Days to Better Digital Marketing