How to Sell an Airplane, Part 2 of 5

Do you have the right message targeting the right pilots to sell your airplane? With clearer focus, you’ll spend less time and money. To get the wheels up on your strategy review Price, Place, Promotion, and Product.

Price – Cost

You may find pricing your plane an emotional event.  Seek objective pricing sources.  Talk with fellow pilots and professionals selling similar type aircraft as a guide to setting an initial price.  Your market review of comparable planes provides a target price range.  Asking prices are a reference point.

Aircraft Value Reference (Vref) is a nationally known aviation price guide.  A one-year subscription is about $195. Aircraft Owner’s and Pilot’s Association’s (AOPA) has a Verf pricing tool online to estimate the value of a plane.  Aircraft Bluebook price digest is another pricing source at $300 per year or $149 per quarter.

1976 Piper Archer II, PA-28-181
1976 Piper Archer II, PA-28-181

You may want to get an appraisal on your aircraft.  The National Aircraft Appraisers Association (NAAA) can give you a list of certified appraisers in your area. I obtained 3 quotes and each varied by several hundred dollars.  For a comprehensive appraisal on my Archer I paid $250.

The above resources can guide you in considering what is fair market value.  But ultimately, actual offers from your target buyers reveal the price ceiling for your aircraft.

List the asking price with your advertisement.  If a price is not shown, fellow pilots have commented to me on a lack of follow through.  They move on to other planes with pricing and those get their immediate attention.

Place – Channel

What channels will you use to advertise?  Concentrating your efforts will cut ad management time and expense.  Here is what I found: Controller, Aircraft Shoppers Online (ASO), Trade-A-Plane and GlobalPlaneSearch look like the big four.

Controller and ASO allow an owner who has never listed before to post online for free.  They limit the number of pictures with a free post and once you submit original ad content you cannot make changes online.  You’ll have to contact a sales representative to make updates.  It’s still a good deal.  In my experience, both companies have very helpful sales representatives.

Trade-A-Plane doesn’t offer a free online ad.  The basic package starts at $35 per month, which includes ample space for text and room for 14 pictures.  You can buy a 90-day package at a slightly lower rate.  Low cost and long history of leadership makes them a good choice.

I just learned about Global Plane Search.  GPS is based in Palo Alto, California and was established in 2002. They claim to offer the largest inventory of aircraft.  Site states your 1st ad is free.  Beginning ad rates are about $35 per month.  If you have experience with them let me know your comments.

Additional ad channels might include AOPA, Barnstormers, FBO Community Boards, local flying clubs, national type clubs, and fellow pilots.  You may need to join national type clubs to post on their sites.

You may have ad space restrictions at secondary sites.  So maximize the opportunity to redirect prospects to your primary ad site.  For example, on Barnstormer’s you can place a free short ad and for $10 per month create a link “click here for more pics and details” that lands on your specific Trade-A-Plane page.  AOPA has a “for sale” site where you can post a free short ad and link it to your primary ad site.

Get prospects back to your primary ad because “long copy sells.” Use secondary sites with links to redirect prospects to the comprehensive content and pictures on your main ad site. You can read more about marketing channels in How to Sell Your Airplane, Part 4.

Promotion – Communication

Spend some time gathering and organizing your promotional content.  It takes some effort to develop a detailed and comprehensive ad.

Be honest.  Accurately describe the condition of your plane and give proper details. Expound on the good but don’t hide less desirable aspects. If your plane is not as presented it will be quickly discovered.

Missing text for standard feature items for similar type and model airplanes is confusing.  A recent review of late-model SR22-GTS G2’s shows variation in ad listings for standard GTS features.  Other competing Piper Archer ads listed features I had initially overlooked in my plane.  Do your homework.  If not listed, a prospective buyer may assume your plane is lacking the feature or it’s inoperative.

Your first published ad will probably not be complete.  As you talk to prospects and study the competition you’ll realize you missed some items.  You can easily manage online ad sites like Trade-A-Plane from your home computer.  It’s quick to update aircraft text, photos and links.  Establish a regular process for updates.

What aspects of your plane will you highlight?  By now you should have clearer thoughts on your target customer and what they perceive as value.

Product – Commodity

Get your plane ready to show.  Your aircraft should be as polished as your advertising.  Wash and wax your plane and detail the interior.  Make a list of needed repairs.   Initially, you may miss a few items you have lived with for years.

Early tire kickers on my Archer pointed out several items I’d overlooked.  Two small fabric tears on the interior.  A wing walk that needed repainting.  Cosmetic work needed on cowling.  Worn paint stripes on the prop.  Each item was not that expensive to fix but it took several months and scheduling with different shops to get the work done.  Plan ahead.

How to Sell an Airplane, Part 4” discusses several approaches you may want to consider in marketing an airplane.  A simple marketing strategy will optimize your time and resources.

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