If you were worried about aviation trade shows coming back after COVID-19, you can stop worrying now.  They’re back, and with good reasons!

There is simply no substitute for meeting with clients, partners, vendors and prospects IN PERSON and being in the same room with fabulous airplanes and components and talking IN PERSON with the people who you buy services from.

Paula Williams: Welcome to this week’s episode. I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: I’m John Williams.

Paula: And we are ABCI. And ABCI’s mission is…

John: …to help all you ladies and gents out there in the aviation sector sell more of your products and services.

Paula: Absolutely. So like most businesses, we get really involved in our clients and things going on and all kinds of stuff and we don’t spend a lot of time on introspection which is not exactly true. We actually tried to be introspective for at least 5 minutes every Monday when we do our weekly meetings.

And one thing that we discovered was that we really haven’t done much focus on our basic fundamentals as a business at least in our podcast. We do it all the time with our clients but we haven’t updated what’s out there about the fundamentals of what we do in a very long time.

John: True.

Paula: So we decided to do a short series of podcast episodes about the fundamentals and it’s just kind of a back to the basics. Here’s what we do and here’s why we do it, right?

John: Okay.

Paula: Okay. So, trade shows are back. [laughs]

John: We hope.

Paula: Yeah. If they ever went away. There were some that were out for a year or two because of the pandemic but there is no substitute for being in the same room with a lot of people at the same time.

John: Right.

Paula: A lot of prospects in the same room that you can meet eyeball to eyeball and shake their hand. There’s just no other way to do this. It would take so…

John: You get hardware and stuff you can look at and point to and say, “Oh, what about and how does?” And you got somebody to this piece to look at. You got a guy to talk to, a girl, whatever. And it just makes the day.

Paula: Zoom is fun and all. But there is no substitute for being in the same room, especially with aviation products and services. There’s just something about being in the same room with an aircraft or with a component or seeing how something works in person and aviation folks are really visual people.

John: And you’d be surprised at how many folks I’ve talked to face to face in the last 6 months where we’re able to shake hands and I really missed that part.

Paula: Oh, yeah. That’s for sure. And people that you meet at a trade show, you may not do business with right away. But often years later, you’ll remember meeting someone and then you end up doing business together, and meeting them at a trade show really helped.

John: Yes.

Paula: So trade shows are really important. There is a difference though between doing a trade show well and doing a trade show badly.

John: Oh, yes.

Paula: So people that do a trade show badly spend a lot of money on booth rent and graphics, and everything else, and then they sit there in their booth and they [crosstalk] play with their phones for 4 days.

John: Read emails.

Paula: And it’s crazy. They don’t necessarily get any more work done than they would in their office.

John: And they’re there to be selling.

Paula: Probably less. So that’s doing a trade show badly. Just assuming that because you were there, people are going to come to your booth and engage with you and buy your products and services. It’s become so expensive that you really have to have a plan.

John: Yeah. And you have to be willing and able to engage with the folks that are walking by.

Paula: Yeah. And this is a marketing campaign. The same as any other. You need a list and offer and a presentation. The trade show booth is just a presentation. You still need a list and an offer that you’ve thought through and you’ve invited people and given them a good reason to come to your booth and to play a game or see a demo or have a consultation. Something.

John: But once you have the plan, you have to execute.

Paula: Exactly.

John: You can’t just have a plan sitting on your desk. You got to actually do what you said you would.

Paula: Right. And that includes follow-up. That’s probably the most overlooked item in trade shows. You’ll meet a lot of people at trade shows and never see them again, and you completely forget about them.

So, there’s a kind of amnesia that sets in the day after a trade show. When you get back to your real life and your real work, you may remember some of the folks you talked to but you’re not going to remember everybody.

You need to have a follow-up program of emails, phone calls, and letters. We always like to send the swag after the fact. The pens, the coffee cups, whatever it is that you give away at your trade show, we like to send that after the fact. Because then it actually gets home with them and creates another impact.

John: Import to the office either way.

Paula: Exactly.

John: Otherwise, it gets tossed out with a lot of stuff because it’s not going to fit in their baggage on the airplane.

Paula: Exactly. You wouldn’t believe how much swag is left in hotel rooms.

John: Oh, good grief.

Paula: Yeah. So trade shows, once again, is one of the key elements of aviation marketing and we’re happy to help you create your campaign, create your follow-up program, whatever you need, we’re here for you and happy to help.

John: You betcha.

Paula: See you next week.


Paula: Seriously, I think what we bring to the table is a lot of experience with a lot of different types of aviation industry clients. So, that is how we’ve evolved our business model and this is the array of what it includes, right?

John: That’s true.

Paula: Okay.

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