We’re hearing a lot about hybrid events these days. What does that mean, and what can you do to use technology to make your trade show appearance move beyond the physical event?
Paula Williams: Welcome to this week’s episode. Last week, we talked about three differences in trade shows in 2021, three things that have changed, and one of those things was how to make things hybrid, right? And we promised you another episode with some ways to do that. So, I’m Paula Williams.
John Williams: I’m John Williams.
Paula: We are ABCI. ABCI’s mission is?
John: To help everybody in the aviation industry sell more of their products and services.
Paula: Absolutely. All right. So, the three things that we talked about last week, prices for these trade shows are higher than ever.
Paula: Yes, exactly. Everybody needs to recoup the money from the year they missed, right?
John: Not just that inflation. Anybody’s been decking ECON 101 in Macro. I understand inflation has got to happen because of what’s happened.
Paula: Right. So, they are not getting any more affordable. If anything they’ve gotten more expensive.
John: Gasoline prices are up. I just got notified, the bank charges are going up.
Paula: Oh my goodness.
John: You know.
John: Inflation’s happening.
Paula: Yes. We talked about the fees for your booth, plus all of the add-ons and everything else. So, do expect a much higher expense for those trade shows this year. Secondly, people have high expectations of in-person events because they know, they don’t have to go, right? We didn’t last year and people still bought and sold things. So, when people do make the effort to go to a trade show, they expect bells and whistles, and unicorns and rainbows.
John: And most people are going to expect to be able to shake your hand especially to make a deal.
Paula: Right. Then, third is that hybrids are the most powerful way to run a trade show exhibit. What we mean by hybrid is what we’re going to talk about today. Right?
John: Lead on.
Paula: Okay. All right, so what we mean by hybrid for this purpose, I know there is such a thing as a hybrid car, where it’s half gas-half electric, or whatever. But in this case, it’s basically taking an in-person event and adding an electronic component or several electronic components to it. So, what we’re talking about today is adding in some type of technology to your trade show experience, right? To make it better. Make sense?
John: That’s the idea.
Paula: Okay. We’re going to talk about the pre-show, during the show, and post-show. Different things that you can’t do before the show, during the show, and after the show.
John: Actually not. You can do the things you should do.
John: You said can’t.
Paula: Well, you can do all of these. You should do some of them. Depending on your product or service, customers, a number of different things, your budget, you probably won’t be able to do all of these things, but I think you should do several of them. You probably should pick two or three, at least that you can add to your trade show. If you are putting the money, effort, time, and everything else into doing a trade show, you can do at least one or more of these things as well, right? Okay.
John: Should do one or more of these things.
Paula: Yes, yes. You will do one or more of these things. If you are one of our insiders, you will never live it down if you don’t do at least one of these things. Great. Okay, all right.
The first one is pre-show webinars or events. Let’s say, you’re debuting a new product at the event. You want to have some type of an intro to that, you want to maybe get to know some of the people that will be coming to your booth, so you’ll recognize them when you see them again. There are lots of things that you can do to do some networking, meet the people that are going to be at the show. Things like that, where you can have a reason for people to come to an event a week, a month, probably not more than six weeks prior to the event, right?
And then, you can start with some teasers. Let’s say, you’re debuting a new product. You can say here are some of the things that we’re going to be revealing at the show. And you can give them some ideas so that they can prepare their questions, they can decide if they’re interested, decide if it’s worth their time to stop by your booth, and things like that. So you can do pre-show webinars, videos, social media posts, lots of different things. Webinars are probably the most compelling and effective here, right?
Paula: Because then you’re actually interacting with people before you interact in person and one of the things when we first got into aviation was I met Benet Wilson and Robert Paul Mark, and a bunch of other people at an aviation journalism event, prior to the first NBAA show that we went to. And it was so reassuring to have some friendly faces and some people who I already felt like I knew because we’d already interacted a little bit before meeting them in person and I was just like, “Happy to see you. Glad you’re here.” And it was just a totally different experience than if we had met. So, it just makes the whole thing, warmer, fuzzier, cooler. All of the things that are great about in person even better if you’ve met people before.
Paula: Another thing that you can do is you can pre-schedule interviews or appointments, consultations, whatever it is that you do. If you’re looking for people to hire or if you are looking for clients, or if you’re doing free consultations or whatever you’re doing. You can book yourself solid, assuming you’re not on duty to mount a booth, or you can block out the time that you’re on duty to man the booth.
John: Since we’re going to be in Vegas and if you are an American Express cardholder, then you can go into the American Express area just in front of the building and use that as your meeting room.
Paula: Right. Or some people will designate part of their exhibit as a conversation area, they’ll have a table and chairs. Some of them will even have some partitions and things so they can have a private conversation. There are coffee shops and cubby holes, all over the place, the convention center. So you can always find a place to meet and we’ll talk about geo-tagging monetarily but you can always find a place to meet as long as you’ve got that time blocked out. You’re going to have a much more successful show, right?
Before the event, I would recommend doing some kind of webinar or pre-event event and secondly, just booked yourself as solid as you possibly can. So you want to be as busy as humanly possible so that you are completely exhausted.
John: At the end of each day.
Paula: At the end of each day.
John: And besides, there are always reasons why somebody can’t make it, missed the flight for crying out loud. You never know. And the more you’ve got, the more chances you’ll have to actually meet somebody.
Paula: Absolutely. Now, let’s talk about things that you can do during the event. Things like live streaming, digital interaction, geolocation, QR codes, and so on. So first live streaming. If you are doing a press conference, if you are doing a product demo, if you have a magician in your booth, if you have anything going on that is worth talking about and you should, right?
John: That’s right.
Paula: Then you can take a video of that and live stream it using Facebook Live or TikTok or any number of different means, or you can just record the video and post it on any of those platforms after the fact. But anything that you’re doing that is worth doing in-person is probably also worth recording for posterity and to extend the audience. It adds to your credibility if people see you doing public speaking and if you’re doing an educational event.
It’s great to have a recording and a transcript and all that other stuff of that. Also, you just get more people to participate. Often, especially with webinars and things like that, about a third of the people show up in person and then 2/3 of the people that watch that event happen afterward, right?
John: And no matter what product you’re selling, you can figure a way to demo it. For one year, there was a guy there that was selling deice machines for aircraft. And he had a demo set up and you can actually be interfaced with some video you actually played with the machine.
John: It was crazy.
Paula: And you can capture the fun of that. Show people having a good time with your video game and publish that on social media and that will give people a sense of number one, what your product is all about and number two, kind of a fear of missing out so that they will happen by your booth.
Paula: So that they can play, too. So, all of that is wonderful stuff.
Paula: Okay, we talked about QR codes, digital interaction. Sometimes your booth will be super busy and somebody stopping by and they’re on their way to something. They don’t have a lot of time to spend and you just happen to be tied up. If you have a QR code somewhere on a poster or on a product–
John: A piece of paper.
Paula: Yes. On a piece of paper, something like that. You have the means to capture their information and maybe to show them a video or extend what you can do in that booth. And it’s a very small thing and everybody is trained now because we’ve been spending a year doing this to order food and get service on our appliances and anything else. So everybody has this on their phone now and they know how to use it. So you might as well take advantage of the education that the industry and the rest of the world have done for this and start using QR codes.
Last year or two years ago, saying these are kind of dead. Nobody uses them anymore. That was before COVID hit and now all of a sudden, everybody is doing this. So, it was crazy stuff. You can do digital interaction even if you’re doing a live event. You can take questions and answers by hashtag. So rather than what they typically do, which is line up behind the microphone and stand up in front of everybody and ask your question. A lot of people don’t feel like doing that but they do have a question so they can send it to a hashtag you can put on a screen behind you. So the question was popping up. And then you can answer the question so you can say, “If you have a question any time during this presentation, use this hashtag put it on Twitter. We’ll show the questions on the screen over here and then we’ll answer the questions at the end of the session.”
Paula: That’s a super-efficient way to do that. I’ve seen college classes do that. I’ve seen workshops do that. It’s very encouraging I think for people to see what questions other people are asking and to feel like you’re paying attention to their questions and they don’t have to necessarily stand up in front of everybody if they have a question, right?
John: Although it does them good to stand up for everybody because you needed this public speaking.
Paula: There you go. Well, we’re not talking about what’s good for them. We’re talking about what’s good for you as a speaker to be able to engage with this audience and in a way that’s really good for them.
Paula: And people are a little bit more familiar with digital interaction now than they were two years ago.
John: My necessity.
Paula: Yes. Okay. We talked about digital interaction and QR codes. You can get super specific with this. For example, a lot of booths will have a fishbowl where you drop your card to enter a drawing or something like that, and that works just great. But you can also say, “Enter this contest. Drop your business card or zap this QR code and fill out a form.”
That gives them two ways to enter if they don’t have a business card, they don’t want to do it on paper or whatever, they have just their partners business card or it’s got an outdated number or whatever, and they don’t want to mess with it. This is a way to make that just a lot easier, and then the benefit for you is you don’t have to type all those in.
Paula: Because they will have filled out a form.
Anybody who has been to the NBAA annual event knows that it is a monster show. It’s usually like two exhibit halls sometimes three exhibit halls, plus the static display.
John: The reason and they do it in Orlando and Las Vegas because of the largest exhibit halls in the US.
Paula: Right. Exactly. So it can be really hard to find somebody, especially if they don’t have a booth. A lot of times we will be wandering around doing appointments with people. We don’t have a booth so I very seldom do this because John is a very security-minded individual. But when we are at a convention, I turn on location sharing on my phone and people can find us that way.
So, if we are expecting to meet somebody, I think it was probably six years ago that we were meeting somebody who was flying in from Poland to the show. He was only going to be there one day. He was going to meet us at a coffee shop, but there’s like six different coffee shops at the event. And we ended up missing each other because he was at the wrong place and we were at the wrong place. Either way, we were trying to describe where we were by text. It was insane. Using location services or geo-tagging can put a pinpoint, put a target on your head and they can literally just follow their phone and find you. There are apps that you can do it, especially Google Chat, Apple Chat. A lot of different things like that.
John: Well, the NBAA has an app that will probably allow you to do that this year.
Paula: Yes. That is probably also true. So they will literally tell you, “Walk this way. Turn here,” and give you turn-by-turn directions for walking just like they do for driving to meet up with somebody. So that’s very helpful. You can also give people a geotag to your booth so they can find it. That kind of eliminates a lot of that frustration that happens with booths.
Beacons, this depends on a number of different settings on people’s phones. But a lot of times you can see a list or you can target people, and we’re going to talk about that, about things that you can do after the event. But when somebody passes a beacon, you can locate them later if they have certain settings on their phone set a certain way. With the certain permission set up so that it’s okay for you to do this.
You may have noticed this if you’re walking in Downtown Seattle. For example, we went to the main Starbucks in Downtown Seattle, and I happen to have location services turned on because we were meeting with someone and I wanted to make sure we were at the right Starbucks. Then, I was getting ads from Starbucks as soon as we walked within. As soon as we parked, I’m starting to get ads from Starbucks.
So that’s how this works, but you can use it, too, as a small business. You can put a beacon or set up location services within 25 feet of a certain location. What latitude and longitude. And if someone has walked by your booth, you can target them with that. So that’s pretty cool.
All right, those are things that you can do during the show. Things that you can do after the show, retargeted ads, emails, postal mail, and so on, right? So assuming that you set your beacon, now you can start sending people ads using different formats. If they signed up for a contest within your booth or you capture them as a lead in some way.
John: Then email works.
Paula: Then email works. And a lot of times people will have those badge scanners. I’m not a real big fan of those. I think it makes me feel kind of like livestock if somebody says, “Can I scan your badge?” I feel like it’s a little more civilized to hand them a business card than we’re actually doing this in a more traditional way, but I’m kind of a traditional girl in that sense, right? Like I’m giving you permission to email me if I hand you a business card. I don’t know what I’m doing if you’re scanning my code.
John: That’s right.
Paula: So that’s up to you, you can do it either way. Those are both legit nowadays, but sending emails is an absolute must, I think. If you have gone through the hassle of doing a trade show booth, you should send probably six emails over the course of the next six weeks.
Paula: With a nice drip campaign of a tip of the week or a demo or did you know or an interesting fact about our product.
John: Not the same one, six times.
Paula: Not the same one, six times. Exactly. And I would add them to your newsletter forever when you’re sending them at least monthly emails until they tell you to stop because you assume that they are a prospect if you’ve qualified them at a trade show.
John: But even though I say that, I got the same postcard six times and then bought an airplane.
Paula: That’s true. And that’s another thing: postal mail. Postal mail is a wonderful thing and I think it adds a lot of legitimacy to your trade show appearance. If someone has scanned a QR code and fill something out and giving you their address or you’ve tracked them down or whatever and you send them a handwritten note, or even just a printed note saying, “Thank you for coming. Here are some of the things that you might not have known about, here’s a promo code, or here’s some thank you for coming.” I think that’s a really nice way to follow up.
Paula: Right. And do this soon, it’s almost not too soon to send those from the airport on your way out of town. If you have the means to do that but you want to send them as quickly as possible so that people remember, “Oh yeah, that was that guy that I talked to about this thing,” because trade shows are so bewildering. You receive so much information in such a short period of time that you need to kind of cement that in their memory pretty quickly and a postal note does that.
Retargeting. There are several ways of doing this using social media. If they are Facebook, Linked In, or any other social media user, you can retarget them with advertising. If they are in contact, you just upload your list of leads and retarget them with an ad. So the next time they get into Facebook, they will see the ad for your product or service and they’ll remember your booth, they’ll remember your smiling face, and your fabulous conversation, right?
John: Well it’s not quite that easy but that’s the right idea.
Paula: Yes. But it is perfectly legitimate to upload a list of leads into social media and target people with advertising. You can also use those geotags. So if someone has walked by your booth and set a beacon, then you can retarget them with advertising. All of that is legit. You can also use Google Network and several other pay-per-click networks to retarget people with advertising. So, when they go to the Wall Street Journal as an example, they have advertising spaces that you can purchase. So that you’re retargeting people who have been to your booth or walk by your booth when they go to the Wall Street Journal if they’re part of that ad network. Right?
Paula: So, three ways to make your trade show exhibit a hybrid experience. Number one, pre-show webinars or events to live streaming digital interaction, geolocation, QR codes, other things that you can do during the event, and three after the event, you’ve got your retargeted ads, emails, and postal mail, and other ways up.
Paula: Following up.
John: In America, you can just use your telephone.
Paula: Oh yeah. You can totally use the telephone. I left that out of here because it’s not very hybrid but I guess that is another venue. So hybrid is hybrid. There is a follow-up slide that we sometimes include here that talks about how many times you need to follow up with people before they make a purchase and this totally applies to the trade shows.
People are often not in the market when they meet you the first time, but they will be six months, eight months a year, five years later. If you have stayed in contact with them, that is really the way of making a profit in the aviation industry because it’s very seldom that you’re going to meet somebody at precisely the moment they have the money, authority, and need for your product, right?
John: And it’s quite surprising how many times it takes to actually be able to make a sale, right? touch times.
Paula: Oh yeah. I mean we wish it was once, three times, five times, or 10 times, but in reality, it’s more like 20, 50, or a hundred, right?
John: Between 12 and 20 on average.
Paula: I think it’s more than that for our industry. It’s 12 and 20 for retail. We have a longer sales cycle for a number of reasons. So I would say it’s at least 20, 50, maybe even a hundred sometimes, but never give up, right?
John: And we’ve had people come back to us several years after we first spoke to them and having Pingdom every now and then.
Paula: Exactly. You just want to keep those conversations going and keep those relationships going because that’s what you’re paying for, when you go to a trade show, the beginning of those relationships.
All right. This episode was brought to you by our Trade Show Workshop. The outcome of the Trade Show Workshop is that we provide proven strategies to attract, persuade, and convert at aviation trade shows. This has a lot of templates and worksheets in it and then we also work with you personally, with some customized consultations to do your invitations, give people a reason to come to your booth, set those appointments, follow up all of those things to make your trade show a lot more effective than it would be, otherwise.
John: Including timing of all those things.
Paula: Exactly. So go sell more stuff.
John: Yes. The industry needs the business and so does the country.
Paula: It absolutely does.
John: Stay healthy and happy. See you next time.