Will your brochure end up in the garbage? You spent hours choosing the right photos, had several rounds of wordsmithing with your team, and spent a fortune on printing beautiful aviation brochures for NBAA, or one of the other important conventions that are marketing landmarks for the industry.

There are two versions of what is going to happen with each of your carefully crafted works of art:

The Fantasy

Your prospective customer will drop by your booth. During a pleasant conversation with you, your prospective customer will recognize that your product is the perfect solution for a problem he’s trying to solve.  He asks for some literature, and you smile as you hand him one of your gorgeous aviation brochures and a nifty pen that has a laser pointer built in! He’s obviously impressed.

He tucks both items carefully into the faux-canvas bag with the neat NBAA-and-sponsors bag, where it remains safe and pristine through three more days of classes and parties.

Yours is the only literature he takes home with him, so there is no problem getting it home.

Upon returning to his office, he ignores the pile of work that accumulated during his absence and pulls your brochure out of his suit pocket. Miraculously, it’s still there.  He considers every word carefully, and develops a presentation for his boss based on your brochure; faithfully reproducing the wording.

His boss sits rapt through a half-hour presentation, gripping your still-pristine brochure in his hand; as your prospect highlights the key points with his new pen/laser pointer combo.

Your prospect obtains unconditional approval. The brochure, after all, answered all of their questions.

Your prospect calls you the next day, arranges to pay promptly,  and asks how soon the product can be delivered.

The Reality

Your prospective customer will drop by your booth. During a pleasant conversation with you, your prospective customer will recognize that your product is the perfect solution for a problem he’s trying to solve.  He asks for some literature, and you smile as you hand him one of your gorgeous aviation brochures and a nifty pen that has a laser pointer built in! He’s obviously impressed.

He tucks both items carefully into his jacket pocket, where it remains safe and pristine through three more days of classes and parties.

This prospect, however, finds his collection of literature growing rather cumbersome by the end of the day.

Our prospect is hailed by a colleague:

“Hey Fred, I got invitions to the <<insert OEM of your choice>> party!  Come on!”

“But what am I going to do with all this stuff?” He says.

“Dump it!  You can always pick up the important stuff tomorrow.”  Said his enthusiastic colleague.

And there goes several hundred dollars worth of very high-quality printing, into a convention center garbage bin.

The pen survives the day in his pocket, and also miraculously survives a cursory sorting as our prospect heads for the airport, anxious not to overstuff his luggage.  The ordinary pens, pencils, and highlighters are left on the hotel room desk, to be picked up by the maid, who takes them home as a treat for her children.

Our prospect takes the pen home and empties his pockets on his dresser at home.  His third grader, watching him unpack, picks it up and fiddles with it as he tells his Dad about a book report due on Tuesday.

“Keep it!” says our prospect, the indulgent Dad.” Use it for your presentation.” Little does he know, the pen will be confiscated by the third-grade teacher halfway through the first day, and put into the bottomless drawer of distracting contraband that children bring to class. Our prospect may see it again on Parent-Teacher Conference Day, but by that time, the context of your message will have been well and truly lost.

Our prospect returns to the office  and the pile of work that has accumulated in his absence. He vaguely remembers that there was a product that was an ideal solution to his problem, but he talked to so many people at the convention that it seems like a blur.

He sighs and turns his attention back to the items needing attention on his desk.

Better Ideas

We advise our clients to carefully consider the prospect’s point of view. What is the BEST way to help your prospect make the connection between his problem and your solution?

Here are a few tips, depending on the nature of your product or service.

  • Provide an experience, not just a brochure. Get your product into his hands and get him to demo or use it in the booth.
  • Offer to send an information package to his office. Have the packages ready, and mail it so that it will arrive soon after the show.
  • If you provide novelties or “tchotchkies,” make sure they are very unique, useful, easy to carry, and connected with your product or service in some way.  Trade these for contact information, don’t just give them away to everyone.
  • Have someone take a photo of you in the trade show booth, and send it (with the information package, or by itself) after the show.  The photo will help the prospect remember the conversation he had with you.
  • Include specific a note or letter indicating that you remember the conversation. Your prospect will understand that you listened to him and considered his problem, and are not just “shotgunning” responses to everyone who visited the booth.
  • Go for quality rather than quantity. Your trade show exhibit is more successful if you have a real, authentic, meaningful conversation with twenty people than if you collect hundreds of business cards.

About Those Aviation Brochures

  • It’s great to have literature to provide when people ask for it, but don’t push expensive aviation brochures, product sheets or catalogs into people’s hands. If they’re not interested, you’re wasting good paper.
  • Keep brochures small – trifolds or single sheets contain about as much information as you can expect a prospect to absorb at a show.
  • Ensure your headlines, copy, and photography are as compelling, specific and benefit-oriented from the customers’ point of view as you can make them. (Don’t just list features!)

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