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AMHF 0036 – Aviation Trade Show Secrets

The biggest aviation trade show secrets are not really secrets. In fact, it’s those very things that you think should be SO OBVIOUS but NOBODY SEEMS TO DO THEM. In decades of attending aviation trade shows as a buyer, seller, and consultant, we see that maybe ten percent of companies actually do what they say they know they should do.

We named this episode “Aviation Trade Show ‘Secrets’,”¬† kind of in jest, because everybody really should know this stuff, but nobody seems to actually DO it.

It drives me crazy walking around an aviation trade show floor, looking at the amount of money spent – wasted, actually, by companies who think they already know all this stuff but are THEY ARE DOING IT WRONG. ūüôā

John and I can be pretty opinionated, and sometimes a litlte snarky when we feel like people aren’t listening to our advice. So, let’s get into it. . .


Transcript – Trade Show Basics


Announcer: You’re listening to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying. The community for the best sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry. You can’t learn to fly just from a book. You learn from other pilots who know the tools, the skills, and the territory. Your hosts, John and Paula Williams, are your sales and marketing test pilots.

They take the risks for you, ensure strategies, relevant example, hacks, and how tos. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, so you won’t miss a thing.

Paula Williams: Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hangar Playing Episode number 36. The Top Secret Trade Show Strategy. We’re going to show that with you today. So I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: I’m John Williams.

Paula Williams: And we are ABCI. And ABCI’s mission is-

John Williams: To help all you ladies and gentleman out there sell more products and services in the aviation world.

Paula Williams: Absolutely. So we’re using a hashtag if you want to join the conversation, if you have questions, comments, disagree with us about anything or anything else.

John Williams: Nobody would disagree with you.

Paula Williams: Heaven forbid.

Paula Williams: Use the #AvGeekMarketing. We promise we will reply to every tweet on Twitter.

We also watch Instagram and Facebook so feel free to use those Hashtag. Hashtags don’t work on LinkedIn just so you know. Some people have tried that, they just don’t work very well so don’t bother with that but you can always comment to us on our post or on our company profile or anything like that if LinkedIn is your tool of choice as it is for John, we use that as well.

So, gentlemen this is a football.

John Williams: That sounded like Vince Lombardi.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That is Vince Lombardi. Every year, and he works with very, very talented, worked sorry. With very talented athletes who were the top of the scale in their schools, in their leagues and everything else so these are people that really really know their stuff.

John Williams: You can imagine this gang every year he does this and they’re going brother.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: But, his follow-on did really well and they’re winning streak was unbelievable.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So, he would start each group every year, each team every season with the basics and he would start with, this is a football, this is a sock.

This is how you put your socks on your feet so that you don’t get wrinkles in your socks. If you get wrinkles in your socks, you get blisters, if you get blisters, you lose practice time and if you lose practice time, you lose fractions of seconds off of your time.

In particular, things that you’re doing.

John Williams: And we lose games.

Paula Williams: And we lose games. Exactly. So, there is nothing wrong with learning the basics. And I think in marketing, a lot of people have never learned the basics, or when they have-

John Williams: Forgotten them.

Paula Williams: They kind of glossed over them because they want the nifty shiny new object or the latest technology or the coolest trick but today, we are telling you this secret strategy to doing trade shows well.

And the secret strategy to doing trade shows well is by attending to the basics. And if you feel disappointed because of that, I’m sorry. But I will tell you, having gone to a lot of trade shows and worked with a lot of clients, it is a secret strategy.

Nobody seems to know it, right? Nobody seems to do-

John Williams: Or at least they know it. They don’t use it.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Yeah, nobody seems to do the basics, right? So, the most basic thing in the world is to plan your marketing, right? We don’t want to have any random acts of marketing that’s always been our motto and we repeat that a lot.

But, marketing basics, right? First of all, let’s talk about advertising versus marketing.

John Williams: Now there’s a concept.

Paula Williams: Right, a lot of people think that advertising and marketing are the same thing.

John Williams: And there’s other people that get confused on which is the part of which other one.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so we’ll talk about that today. We’ll talk about what marketing can and can’t do. We’ll talk about market research and product development. We will talk about phase one, getting attention or advertising. We will talk about phase two, building credibility and closing sales. And we will talk about phase three, after the sale.

Again today is just going to be a very brief overview of these basics. And there’s a lot more information on all of these things, on a lot of our other podcasts and other things. So feel free to dig in to any of these topics that you need more information about or again, you can tweet us and we’ll respond or email us the question.

All right, so, advertising versus marketing.

Paula Williams: Advertising is one of, in some cases, four, in some cases six, in some cases, eight components of marketing. Depending on what textbook you’re looking at. It’s usually the first thing in the cycle. Other than planning, the first thing the public sees anyway about your company.

So, the way that they see you for the first time or the way they come into contact with you for the first time is marketing or is advertising. But there’s other things in the practice of marketing and that is relationship building, sales, research. And then you come back to improve your advertising, improve your relationship building, improve your sales, improve your research.

John Williams: All subsets of marketing.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So, a lot of people say depending on how their organization is structured, they may have Sales and Marketing in two different departments. In my world, sales should report to marketing. Advertising should report to marketing.

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: Relationship building and customer service should report to marketing and research of course should report to marketing.

So all of that stuff is part of the same business cycle. So, when people talk about marketing, they are not just talking about advertising unless you’re in the aviation industry. [LAUGH] In a lot of cases, a lot of people think that those two are synonymous, they’re really not.

John Williams: Well the sub-structure and who reports to whom that you allude to is only necessary if you’re interested in making sales.

Paula Williams: Right. [LAUGH] Exactly.

John Williams: Which is the object of any company.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So I mean if you’re interested in empire building or anything else, then you want to have as many departments as you possibly can.

But honestly, all of these activities really need to be coordinated. And that’s why we recommend that they all be in a single department. So all of those things are feeding information into each other. There really should not be silos. So, that is very, very important. We think you should actually start one ahead of this, one step ahead of what the public sees and that is with research.

Of course, you’re identifying your ideal target customer doing all of those things before you start building your advertising. A lot of people start with the idea, I need a brochure about my product. Your brochure is never about your product. Your brochure is about your customers, right? So that’s why you need to do the research ahead of time to make sure that you’re hitting the right target and that those are going to be effective.

Okay, so, under research, we have product development. So, a dog can’t win a horse race.

John Williams: Do you think?

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That’s the thing, even the very best marketing is not going to help you if your product isn’t the same or better than your competitors. So, product development is really the first step and when we evaluate a new potential client for marketing consulting services We do what we call a competitive analysis and we look at their product and we look at the competitors on the market.

And unless there is some reason that their product is at least as good as the other products on the market or superior in some way for a particular audience set. Then we really don’t have a leg to stand on with our advertising and our marketing other than maybe hot air, right?

So we’re just pouring money into something that doesn’t have a chance of working. So product development is really the first step. And when you’re planning your trade show, you want to look at who are my other competitors that are going to be at that trade show and am I going to be a dog in a horse race?

If that is the case, don’t go to that trade show. Spend the time working on product development or find an audience that is going to see your product as the horse. Because it’s going to be superior for that particular audience, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: Okay, all right so, we are talking about marketing basics and this really is the very basics.

And this is our long cycle marketing formula. This is the secret sauce if there is one in our marketing system. So phase one, of course, advertising and prospecting, that’s the first thing that people see. When they come into contact with your company. And that includes all of the first bits of the trade show.

So the invitations to get to your booth, the signage, all of that stuff is advertising and prospecting. Phase two, building credibility and closing sales. This is the piece that is missing from most trade show campaigns, they think about what happens up until the show closes. But that is really when you are just getting started, so phase two is building credibility and closing sales.

In the aviation industry, we have an average sales cycle of about eight months from the time people first come into contact with us until the time that they actually sign a deal or write us a check, right? So if it’s going to be eight months from the time that they meet you at a show til the time that they ink a deal.

Chances are your competitors are going to approach them, they are going to have different priorities show up in their life. They’re going to have different budget considerations and other kinds of things. You really need to do what you can to make sure that you stay top in mind during that eight months.

And so that can be emails, that can be newsletters, that can be visits, phone calls, whatever that includes. Whatever that mix includes and we usually recommend more than one type of thing, right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Some people are never going to open your emails but they will take a phone call.

Some people are never take a phone call but they will open a mailed newsletter.

John Williams: Of course, snail mail version.

Paula Williams: A snail mail letter version, which is your preference, right?

John Williams: Yeah, I prefer actually paper.

Paula Williams: So if you meet somebody at a trade show, how do you want them, and don’t actually is a pretty good demographic of our target customer for most aviation products.

But how do you prefer to be followed up with after a trade show?

John Williams: Are you talking to me?

Paula Williams: Yeah, I just asked you a question.

John Williams: I thought you were asking them a question.

Paula Williams: I said you are the target demographic for most of aviation products and services.

So you attend a trade show and you meet somebody for the first time, how would you prefer that they follow up with you?

John Williams: That’s interesting, it depends.

John Williams: Sometimes phone call, sometimes an email. Preferably, probably a phone call but if I really wanted to follow up, I want to know a business card and the phone number so I can plug it into my phone if I’m really serious.

Paula Williams: Great, so the most effective way to follow up with you after a trade show would be to give you a call or send you something in the mail.

John Williams: As a matter of fact, the last trade show I’ve asked somebody to give me a call and they did.

And I’ve had to put them off a couple of times, but I keep telling them to call back. Yeah I got their number and name in my phone, it’s just that the timing hasn’t been exactly correct for what I want to do yet.

Paula Williams: So why are you being so frustratingly awful to the sales person who’s trying to make a sale?

John Williams: No, I’m not being awful. I told him, I said there’s some things that I don’t know yet about this particular product that they’ve got that I really wanted just as soon as I can get my stuff together.

Paula Williams: Right, I understand that, and what I’m meaning by that is from a sales person’s perspective, that is really, really frustrating to have a customer say I’m not ready for it, call me back.

But that’s going to happen more often than not, especially in the aviation industry because there’s a lot of things beyond our control as buyers as well as our control as sellers, right?

John Williams: No different from the water softener guy I keep talking to.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Tell me about that.

John Williams: I saw an ad somewhere and called him and they got a good product and we need to replace ours. But the timing isn’t when I want to do it right now because of our travel schedule and many other things and I just am not ready to do that.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly, so it’s not on the radar and it will be followed up with at the right time. But as we’ve said, the average time in aviation is about eight months. And that’s for a number of reasons and everybody got them. It’s either regulatory or travel or their busy season or financial or any other number of reasons that they just can’t do business with you right away.

So that phase two is incredibly important and I would say that’s where the vast majority of your competitors are going to fall off the map. So you know if there is a competitive advantage to be had and if they’re unspending you on advertising you can make it up here and based too by doing better follow up right?

John Williams: Yes.

Paula Williams: All right and then phase three resales, recaptures and referrals so what this have to do with trade shows?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Well guess what you’re going to do after you leave the trade show and you made a sale?

Paula Williams: Exactly. A lot of people don’t think about this as part of their trade show plan.

But one of the things that you want to put on your white board when you’re making your trade show plan is, how am I going to reconnect with each of my existing customers and maybe do a testimonial interview? Maybe see how they are doing, do a customer satisfaction survey, take them to lunch, buy them a cup of coffee.

You really want to spoil [LAUGH] your existing customers especially your largest and most important existing customers. You want to make sure that you visit their booth and maybe take a picture with them and put it on your social media and link to them. You want to do what you can to improve their visibility.

Because when they do better you do better.

John Williams: I’m going to interject something here that may not be completely relevant. But there’s a cost to the acquisition each and every customer.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: And part of that is exactly what she talked about, coffee, dinner whatever.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, and a lot of people don’t invest in their existing customers because they think well that’s a done deal.

But while they’re at that trade show, your competitors are wining and dining them. And inviting them to their booth and showing them shiny new things. And you really need to stay in the running and not consider it a done deal.

John Williams: If you’re selling [INAUDIBLE] of course then it’s very infrequent that somebody’s going to buy one.

However, you want them top of mind when they hid another bird or lighting strike or something and knock another one off. So that you can.

Paula Williams: Mm-hm.

John Williams: Have that business as well.

Paula Williams: Exactly. So, phase three should be a really important part of your trade show plan and I would say, most companies spend 95% of their time and energy on phase one and they think that trade shows is just an advertising and prospecting activity to get new leads.

But I think you really need to split your time and energy at least 50 50. The 50% in Phase One and then the other 50% divided somehow between Phase Two and Phase Three depending on how many existing customers you have, depending on the repeat sales cycle that you have and other kinds of things.

And we can talk about that individually with you, depending on your circumstances, but a 50 50 split is usually pretty good and will outstrip your competitors really, really well on your Phase Two and Phase Three. Would you agree?

John Williams: Sure.

Paula Williams: All right, cool.

John Williams: Sometimes I agree with you.

Paula Williams: Sometimes you do. That is absolutely true. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit more about phase one. Actually this is going really badly.

Paula Williams: That’s okay, we can cut this bit out. So that will be fine. So an example, some examples of Phase One that you can connect to a trade show, you can put a landing page on your website where people can sign up to come to your booth at a particular time, you can do search engine optimization using the trade show as a keyword.

Sometimes there is a hashtag for that particular trade show you can use that as a keyword in your search engine optimization. That’s kind of a neat trick to get people to your website who are planning to attend that trade show and who are looking for things to do at that trade show or doing their own planning.

Another thing you can do is social media. You can put posts on your Facebook page saying come see us in boot 495 at this trade show.

John Williams: Don’t use the 495. Use your own booth number.

Paula Williams: They wouldn’t do that!

Paula Williams: That’s crazy. You can do magazine advertisements to get people to your booth.

Or to follow up after, lots of ways to do that. Of course, the trade show appearance itself is an advertising or prospecting activity. You can send postcards, we do this a lot to prospects saying here’s a reason you should come to our booth at this trade show and have a really great call to action about your contest or your product demo or whatever it is that you’re using as a call to action to get people to your booth.

And referrals from current customers. You can say bring someone to our booth and you both get a box of chocolates or whatever the appropriate thing is to incentivize your current customers to come see you and also to bring their friends and neighbors from the show, right?

John Williams: Just don’t have something up there where you drop your business card in a fish bowl for a drawing for an iPad.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] We talked a lot about that. That’s like our pet peeve about trade shows is where you have something that is really common and really not relevant to your product or service.

John Williams: I mean if you want to give away an iPad, that’s great. But don’t have them just put business cards in there.

Talk to them. Have them fill out a form with contact information. Find out how relevant they are as a customer or a potential customer for your business.

Paula Williams: Right, yeah, you want to qualify customers just a little bit before you start spending money on them. And a very good friend of ours has a really good formula for qualifying customers.

He uses the acronym MAN. Money, Authority, and Need. You know if they don’t have at least one of those things you really shouldn’t be including them in your contest. So ways that you can profile somebody for need at least is if they will spend ten minutes watching a product demo or if they will do a trivia quiz about your particular area of subject matter expertise.

Then this a person that’s interested in your product or service. You could say, for authority, you could say, this applies only to maintenance technicians. Only maintenance technicians can apply for this particular prize or something like that, so that you know that that person has the authority to do what you want.

Money, you really can’t judge, at lest not without being rude, [LAUGH] in a trade show. The fact that they happen to be at the trade show does have some kind of a barrier there. Because obviously, there’s somebody that’s investing in their company, or their company is investing for them to be there.

So you have a little bit of an indication that they do have the money end of things. So that’s money, authority, and need. If you can qualify at least one of those things, that will keep you from doing the random act of marketing involved with having a really, really stupid drawing or raffle, right?

Okay, so call to action at your booth. Do you want them to enter a contest? Do you want them to have you send them an information packet or a white paper after the show. You know, what can you offer them that gives them the reason to give you their contact information.

And you know, as John said, you don’t want them to just drop their business card in fish bowl, unless you’re going to qualify them in some way. All right. So then you want to send them something like a information package after the show and often we try not to give them too much literature at the show because a lot of that ends up in the convention center garbage cans.

Or the hotel room garbage cans. As people are trying to lighten their luggage to get home to wherever they came from. So if you giving people, especially something that’s fairly expensive, like an information package or a nice catalog or something like that, you want to make sure you send it to their office after the show, don’t just hand it to them from your booth.

John Williams: Yeah cuz there’s three ways they get either into the convention center trash, the hotel trash or it gets to the kids when they get home.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, how many times do you open your bag at the end of a convention and you get home to your kids and you look through all the markers and pens and fabulous little toys and erasers and things and you know the kids go to school the next day with a pile of new school supplies.


John Williams: A treasure trove so to speak.

Paula Williams: A treasure trove exactly so that’s always fun. All right so some of your customers are going to be really, really qualified and you’re going to give them an information package. Some of them are going to be not quite so qualified and you can figure that out from their position or from the company that they work for.

Or from maybe the amount of interest that they demonstrated in the product in your booth. So maybe you have 100 information packages to give away and you give them to the most qualified people. And everybody else gets a personalized postcard That’s still not bad. They don’t know they’re being discriminated against.

[LAUGH] Right? They don’t know what everybody else is getting, so that’s perfectly fine to send something less expensive to some of your leads. And then you have your initial sales call. And we like to make those within a week of getting home from a trade show so that you remember who you are.

And you’ll want to remind them of something that happened in the conversation or something like that. So you want to make sure you take good notes at the show so that these sales calls become much easier. Don’t let people see you do this because some people think it’s kind of rude.

But I like to take notes actually on a business card. You know, I will write a word or two about the conversation and the topic that we discussed or something that will remind me of the conversation that we had.

John Williams: And you particularly don’t want to write on a business card if an agent gives it to you.

Paula Williams: Well, we don’t want to be [LAUGH]

John Williams: Because that’s a real interesting concept to have the idea of business card.

Paula Williams: Right. There are some cultural considerations here that you want to make sure that you’re aware of. So, if you are at ABACE, ignore what I just said.


Paula Williams: Take your notes in the notepad and make sure that you get to have that cross-referenced to your business cards. And that’s actually much more decorous way to make sure that those things happen. But, one way or another just make sure that you remember people really, really well, and you remember the conversations, that’s key to making those sales calls go well.

One lady that I know bends the corner of a business card. She bends the right corner if it’s somebody that is a really, really hot lead that she wants to follow up with. She bends the left corner if this is somebody that she never wants to talk to again.

And others are just left flat. So then she gets home and she has all these bent cards. But once again, you want to make sure nobody sees you do this for lots of reasons. Okay so that’s another secret. Okay phase two, building credibility and closing sales. This is putting the equation together and this is all about the customer, right, getting to know the customer what they want, what they need, what their timing is going to be, what considerations there are in the way of making that transaction.

So you know we talked about regular emails, printed mail, news letters, social media conversations connecting with them on LinkedIn. Sending them a direct mail promotion, here’s something that you expressed an interest in, we’re going to have a sale on that next month. Whatever you can do to continue that conversation.

And follow up calls as required and sometimes it takes six, eight, ten calls to make a sale. All right, so carrying on, phase three. Referrals, [LAUGH] resales and recaptures.

Paula Williams: If you have a product that people don’t like, you’re going to have a really hard time getting referrals, resales, and recaptures.

So, you want to make sure that your follow-up is good. You want to make sure that you’re doing a tip of the week or something like that so that they understand how to use it. You may want to do a walk-through especially if it’s a really technical product or a checkout.

John, when he bought one of the airplanes that had a G1000, the first one they made him do a three day. Three day?

John Williams: Yes, the three day checkout.

Paula Williams: Three day checkout to make sure that you knew what you were doing, before they turned you loose with this new, shiny new toy.

John Williams: Well, and this probably wasn’t a bad idea. I mean, I was a six pack guy, and I got an instant reading, and so forth. And all those, flew in the military. But it was always six pack, there was never any glass band. So it was a good thing.

Paula Williams: Right, so you want to make sure that people have a good chance of being happy with your product. And sometimes that doesn’t have anything to do with the product. It has to do with the training and other things. So you have potentially a new customer package. We have a lot material about that on our website.

You can Google new customer package or use the search window on ABCI site and find some great examples of aviation companies that do new customer packages really well. You can do a customer satisfaction survey, you can do trainings, you can do walk throughs, other kinds of things. You can do follow up calls, testimonial requests, thank you gifts, all kind of things after the sale.

And then, of course, those are more inclined to lead you to additional sales because you’ve taken really good care of your customers. And also when you plan out your trade show make sure you plan the time to go visit your existing customers at their booth and take a picture or at least shake their hand and make sure that they know that you cared enough to come see them.

John Williams: Or, you could take some existing customers, and potential customers to dinner.

Paula Williams: Exactly. Yeah, we’ve got a couple of articles and I think there is a podcast on customer service events that explain how you want to do a 70/30 mix or an 80/20 mix of happy customers and new prospects.

And your happy customers become your very best sales people because of how that works

John Williams: If you can arrange that at a trade show in advance that’s a really good thing.

Paula Williams: Yeah we’ve gone to a lot of those as prospects and as happy customers.

John Williams: And we’ve had our own.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: Where we’ve had happy customers and potentials.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. Okay, so to wrap up including the basics in your trade show. You want to make sure that you do your research. Know what competitors will be there and how their product compares to yours. You want to get attentions and limitations give people a reason to come to your booth, make sure your booth is usually attractive.

We talked about going vertical you know hanging something from the ceiling or having banners that stick up so that people find you from a long way of way. Another thing that we didn’t talk about that we probably should is make sure that people can see from your booth what it is that you do.

You know, if you have ACME Aviation and a picture of a plan and you’re just standing there in a suit nobody can really tell what you do. You know do you do acquisitions? Do you do service do you make sure that it’s either in your name or in your banner or in your headline or something so that people can see from across the room why they would want to come talk to you.

John Williams: If you want a TV screen make sure it is awfully large.

Paula Williams: Yes.

John Williams: Because you can’t see it across the room.

Paula Williams: Yes, so that’s our Phase I, getting attention. Phase II, Credibility & Closing. Few people will make a purchase decision on the spot. Very few sales are actually made at trade shows.

You really want to put your money in the follow up so don’t spend from than 50% of your budget on advertising in the trade show itself. You want to put 50% also in your follow up phase two and phase three, right?

John Williams: And the ones you do hear about a trade shows were pre planned for publicity.

Paula Williams: Exactly, they didn’t actually just decide to buy 20 airplanes at the trade show. That’s something that was decided, negotiated on, and timed to take advantage of the publicity. Which you can do as well, but don’t be fooled by it and think that you’re going to make all these sales just by people who wake up, come to your booth, and decide to make a huge decision then and there.

It’s almost always going to be after the fact. And then you may be announcing it at next year’s trade show. All right, and then meet with current and past customers, this is your phase three. Make sure that they feel appreciated and taken care of. So make sure that you do that and include that in your trade show plan.

All right, so download your Trade Show Checklist from ABCI1.com, Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, India. 1.com/TradeShow and go sell more stuff.

John Williams: Yep, Mr. Zig Zaglar, America needs the business.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play, and make sure you leave a rating. And we’ll see you next week.

Announcer: Thanks for joining us for Aviation Marketing Hanger Flying the best place to learn what really works in sales and marketing in the aviation industry.

Remember to subscribe on iTunes and leave a rating.






AMHF 0035 – Book Club – Pam Hendrickson’s The Art of Impact

There are some great books on the market about sales and marketing, but not many in that are specific to the aviation industry. So, in our book club, we take one book per month, and discuss it from our own perspective as aviation sales and marketing professionals.

ABCI’s own John Williams, new Insider Circle member Brian Rauch, and I discussed Pam Hendrickson’s book,¬† The Art of Impact in a fantastic conversation last¬† week.

Key takeaways:

  • People consume a staggering amount of data online. In order to stand out, you need to do something different. One very effective way to be different is to be authentic. (We had a great conversation about the difference between transparent & authentic.)
  • The 5 Stages of a Content Marketing Relationship – Some nuances different from ABCI’s¬† three phases outlined in Long Cycle Marketing.
  • You should have (and use) a great signature talk. Most people say they have one but stumble when called up on to stand and deliver.
  • You don’t have to create everything you use in social media, you can improve your credibility in your field by being a great curator of materials already out there.
  • Everything we do builds (or detracts from) our influence, even if we think no one is watching.
  • The first sign of greatness is when you’re not worried about appearing great.¬† You’re worried about BEING great.


Transcript – Book Club – Pam Hendrickson’s The Art of Impact


the art of impactAnnouncer: You’re listening to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying. The community for the best sales and marketing professionals in the aviation industry. You can’t learn to fly just from a book. You learn from other pilots who know the tools, the skills, and the territory. Your hosts, John and Paula Williams, are your sales and marketing test pilots.

They take the risks for you, ensure strategies, relevant example, hacks, and how tos. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, so you won’t miss a thing.

Paula Williams: One of the things that we do in our Insider Circle is we take one book each month and review it from the perspective of aviation sales and marketing.

So a lot of great books are on the market about sales and marketing topics, but most of them seem to have kind of the retail perspective. So, we take one of our favorite books from the listings in Amazon, about marketing and sales, and we review it and we discuss it in our group.

So in our group today and talking about Pam Hendrickson’s book The Art of Impact, we have myself, John Williams of ABCI, and Brian Rauch, who is a really cool guy who has just joined our Insider Circle,¬† And has some really great insights¬† from more of a sales perspective, I would say, and the rest of us have a marketing perspective.

So I hope you enjoy this episode, it should be very enlightening, especially if you’ve read the book, which we do all highly recommend. And we’re jumping in kind of in the middle here of the conversation because of some technical difficulties. So we just started talking about The Art of Impact, the section on page 14, where Pam talks about the staggering amount of data that people consume online.

John Williams: 60 to 70% of traditional marketing content is completely ignored. For crying out loud, that makes it really tough.

Paula Williams: It does. What I got out of that section of the book, anyway, was that people are absorbing a lot of information, especially online. But they’re not necessarily engaging with it, they’re not necessarily acting on it, and they’re not necessarily using it.

One thing outside of that section of the book that I noticed was that, well, they see something interesting and they share it without actually even having read the article that they’re sharing. And I thought that was enough [INAUDIBLE] staggering.

John Williams: The author says that people want excellence. We want to excel and draw in a way that matters to us.

The thing all over again. So I guess the most urgent problem [INAUDIBLE] innovative from a real immediate need in our lives.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: So that’s what you’re good for.

Paula Williams: Yeah, now see, she calls it excellence. I think I would call it authenticity.

John Williams: I read an article today in the New York Times about being authentic. People don’t want to be authentic.

Paula Williams: Okay.

John Williams: They want, that’s a whole different story. Should you lie or should you not?¬† So they don’t really want authenticity.

What they want is to, whatever you say, do that.

Paula Williams: Whatever you say, be that? That sounds like-

John Williams: Whatever comes out of your mouth, that’s why you need to be. That’s authentic.

Paula Williams: Exactly, exactly.

John Williams: Well, but being authentic doesn’t necessarily mean bad. As you open up your brain to let everybody see inside, that’s authentic right?

Paula Williams: Okay, so the best part of yourself, be authentic to that, not just transparent. Okay, well, that’s a pretty good discussion. I think we could talk about authentic versus transparent, probably all day, but I think authenticity’s still a good word. And you can disagree with me if you want to.

All right, so next section, five stages of a content marketing relationship. I think there is a lot In that section. I prefer our three stages to their five, but I think it’s exactly the same thing. Basically, you have a initial stage of getting people’s attention, you have a stage of building the relationship, and a stage after someone has already become accustomed to continue that relationship.

They just make it a little bit more detailed than that. What did you think of that section?

John Williams: The thing I got out of that was that attention.

Paula Williams: Okay, and most people stop there. And I think that’s the problem is you look at somebody’s Facebook feed and over and over again it’s just, like our page, or they’re trying to get attention and it takes up 90% of the posts that they make.

And I think that’s counterproductive, because you never move beyond that, and especially for aviation, we use a long sales cycle, because it’s not an impulse buy. It takes eight months sometimes to make a transaction work in the aviation industry. So you have to move past the, okay now you’ve got my attention.

Now give me something that tells me how you’re better than your competitors, tell me something that’s useful to me. And that really is the stage that’s missing is that middle part or that meat.

Brian Rauch: But the comment I was going to have along with that is a comment that you, I just realized internally to you guys is the the attention grabbing, which is just going kinda the short term gains or attention span.

And everybody’s looking for sales now, and it’s one and done, and then move on to the next one. And that is a relational problem.

Paula Williams: Yes, I agree with that. That social media kind of encourages those shallow relationships that aren’t even really relationships. It’s more of a transaction than a relationship.

And in our industry, we need to go further than that. Okay, so great. So that’s the five stages of a content marketing relationship. I think that’s actually very similar to what we teach with our phase one, phase two, and phase three that they did go in to more detail, and that might be helpful for some folks.

So hopefully they got some good out of that. The next section I wanted to talk about was on page 59. Do you have and use a great signature talk? And, of course, we did a webinar a couple of years ago about your 15 second sales presentation. And this is something that you do when you’re in a networking opportunity and somebody asks you what do you do.

And if you have a really good attention-getting, but comfortable 15-second sales presentation that identifies, is this person a legitimate customer for you or is this a relationship where this is not going to be a sales relationship, but maybe a supplier relationship or something like that. And so, this is one step beyond that, where you have a signature talk where you have an opportunity to talk with a group of people at a Rotary Club or something like that, and you get more than 15 seconds, but less than maybe a keynote address or something like that.

What do you think, John?

John Williams: Well I think it’s an extension of the 15 second thing. And that is, it takes you, you have your chance the first seven seconds. Then you have to sell the next seven and so on.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: And I think that’s what your signature talk does.

Paula Williams: Uh-huh

John Williams: Hopefully, it’s correct and you try not to over teach us it just something that will get their attention and then they’ll listen to you for the rest of what you got to say.

Paula Williams: Right, well and what we found out when we do that as a workshop is that everybody said they had one.

Everybody said they had a 15 second sales presentation that would just roll of their tongue and they’d be comfortable doing it. But then we gave people the opportunity to do it and we were actually throwing candy in this session to anybody who would do their 15 second sales presentation.

And not only do you get to stand up in front of a group of business aviation professionals and give your 15 second sales presentation, but you also get a bag of M&Ms out of the deal. And we had very few takers. And I thought that really was pretty indicative of the fact that people don’t always do what they say, or they may feel like they’ve got a good sales presentation.

But when it comes down to the rubber meeting the road and actually delivering, stand and deliver, very few people can do it.

John Williams: Yep, that’s true.

Paula Williams: I thought that was hysterical.

John Williams: Well, but they don’t take it from their audience’s viewpoint. And as long as you can’t look at it in your customer or potential customer viewpoint, then you have an issue.

Paula Williams: Yeah, that’s true.

Brian Rauch: Well, the only thing I can relate it to is the most commonly used jargon of the elevator speech. You have 30 seconds, where you’re in the elevator with someone. And tell them what you do and you have to get their attention. Sometimes, that’s the most difficult thing to do, especially if you’re starting from zero.

And I could say, that yes, you’re relating to the workshop you said, where you passed out candy. I’ve been in the situations before, and when it’s been a new product or service. And it’s more of the challenge for that instead of kind of an icebreaker. That makes it hard and I know I clammed up in some of those situations.

But if it’s something I’ve already been doing, yeah, stand up and say it because I had the confidence to back it up.

Paula Williams: There you go. And how did you get the confidence to to back it up?

Brian Rauch: Some of it’s just experience and the others, practice. Or if it’s a situation where I was comfortable as well.

Paula Williams: Right, right. So the only part of that that you really have control over is the practice. And I think anybody can, it’s really worth your time to spend an afternoon writing out your signature talk or your 15 second sales presentation or whatever you’re calling it. And practice it on your dog [LAUGH], your wall, orwhatever you need to do, or especially record it and play it back to yourself.

Over and over and over again until that becomes comfortable. And then that takes the anxiety away, for me, anyway. John, what do you think?

John Williams: I relate it to way back when I was in IT real heavy and my daughter started, she said, Dad what do you do when you go to work everyday?

And I’m thinking, what am I going to tell this 13, 14 year old?

Paula Williams: Mm-hm

John Williams: What I do. So, and this is, the way I did that and the way I’ve done almost everything since is treat people like kids. So what do you do? I help people with computer problems.

John Williams: And if they say, that’s cool.

Paula Williams: Yep.

John Williams: But if they say, well, what do you mean? How do you that? Then I would go down a little bit deeper and a little bit deeper. And then once I have like that several times, then I could do the whole thing a little bit of time and see if that answers our question.

And sales, I think is the same way. I’m not a [LAUGH] an experienced salesperson like you, Brian. I’ve been to a lot of sales oriented schools and I tried, I mean, I went to what was it? The Equitable Life Assurance sales thing for two weeks. I went to Century 21 for two weeks.

I went to Pacific Institute for a month or two, and I don’t remember. We went to-

Paula Williams: Sandler.

John Williams: Yeah, Sandler.

Paula Williams: Wow.

John Williams: And I go to all the stuff does not mean I can put it into [LAUGH] use like you do.

Paula Williams: Knowing it and doing it are two different things, right?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Anyway.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: I don’t know if I got anywhere with that, but that’s what I was trying to say.

Paula Williams: Well, good conversation, anyway. So I think the takeaway that I got from this session was basically that you really, really should use and refine and practice.

A signature talk and get comfortable with it, and the only way for me to get comfortable with it is to practice, use it every chance I get. And I like your idea of breaking it down into simple enough that a 13-year-old can understand, cuz 13-year-old’s know everything but they don’t know everything [LAUGH] .

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: And then also making it interactive so that a lot of sales people that I know start with a question instead of with their 15 second sales presentation. They start with a question. Well, what do you do? And then they find out as much as they can about the other person and then tailor their signature talk or the 15 seconds sale presentation to a way that they know the other person’s going to understand because of their background.

So I think that’s also very smart. Okay, moving on, page 74. I like the idea that you don’t have to create everything you use, to become a great curator. And, we had Todd as our guest on a panel discussion a while ago and he said, something that really stuck with me since.

And he says, you don’t need to reinvent hot water, that’s already been done. If somebody else has already created materials that support your point, the point you’re going to make, it’s almost more credible to use their materials than to use their own. As long as you attribute them.

And say, hey, The Pacific Institute says that you should do this from a sales perspective rather than ABCI says you should do this from a sales perspective, as long as it’s something that we agree with.

John Williams: Of course. I mean, I’ve done that back in the old IT days.

When you were writing code, you would always start with someone else’s code.

Paula Williams: Right, [LAUGH] that’s true.

John Williams: Seriously, no sense [INAUDIBLE] because the base concept is still good. You have to modify it to what you want to do.

Paula Williams: Right, and for a lot of people, when you do a case study or a white paper or something like that, it’s only as good as the footnotes.

That’s the first thing they look at is where you’re getting your information and if you’ve got credible sources of information as your sources, then it will do a lot more good than if you were making all the data or doing your own studies and things like that.

Brian Rauch: It also goes with the idea which another way of saying it, is learn from the mistakes and successes of others.

If there’s nothing new under the sun, to use that cliche, but you have that and you’re going to have an arm’s length or virtual Mentor in that case or a real life one depending on the circumstance.

Paula Williams: Right.

Brian Rauch: And what you do is you gather the information and systematize it, if possible.

Paula Williams: Good point, but you’re putting an interpretation or a context on what’s already out there, taking all of that stuff and filtering it for people, being an editor rather than a writer.

Brian Rauch: And a further illustration, to borrow from George he says everything has a recipe; just figure out how to put that recipe together.

Paula Williams: Exactly, and that’s one thing I really liked about the conversation that you and I had last week. Where you were talking about Rahmet Seti and some of the things that he had said and how he had spent a lot of time and energy putting things into a perspective that’s really, really great for a particular audience, for that younger generation that’s looking at personal finance as an example.

That’s not an audience that other people have reached. But he’s taking the stuff that everybody else has done and filtering it for them in a different voice, and I think that’s really fantastic, the way he does that. And I think it was really fantastic the way you brought that into our conversation about something completely different.

So that was cool. All right, the next section that I really liked on page 123, everything we do builds or detracts from our influence. And John, I know you’ve had issues with companies where they’ve detracted from their influence with you pretty significantly because of something that had nothing to do with their marketing or maybe contradicted the way that their product is marketed.

In fact you probably had one this morning right?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Well, yeah. I was trying to fix that one this morning. So we’ll see what happen, they’re supposed to call me back.

Paula Williams: Okay. Can you give us the basics of what happened and how that works? Just so we have a good example with real life.

John Williams: A company sold me, let’s see, one, two, three, four combination of four products and services that I had, I’d heard about them all over. They’re in airports, they’re everywhere. So I called them, told them what I wanted, a guy gave me a great price and I bought it.

And unbeknownst to me and beyond my control, he screwed up the order form.

Paula Williams: Uh-oh.

John Williams: So, now I get a copy of the receipt and it’s got words and things on it that I have no clue what are. But here I go assuming things. I’m assuming they know what they’re doing and it works within their organization.

And a year and about three months later, they refused service to me on a product I’ve been using for a year and a half, and said because I haven’t purchased it. I said, no, wait a minute. They just completely blew away customer service because they refused to service it rather than service it and then look at what’s wrong.

I mean, I’m logged into the service and they say well, it doesn’t matter, I don’t have it here on paper so you can’t be. So to that fact I got a supervisor on the line and then I had him fill out a case for customer service. I called in this morning and they’re trying to figure out what’s going on because they recognize that the order form is done incorrectly upon their end.

And everybody I talked to for last year and a half said they couldn’t fix it. So now, they going to have to fix it one way or another to resolve the Case Number. So what were you saying?

Paula Williams: So that company does not have the same reputation with you as they did to start with?

John Williams: Their products are good but it’s the customer service sure sucks.

Paula Williams: Right, it’s not some place that you’ve really comfortable providing your to.

John Williams: Well, the problem is and see, they can sorta get away with this for a while because there’s nobody else out there doing what they do.

Paula Williams: Right. I think that’s true of a lot of aviation companies where they feel like, well, we don’t have any competition, so we don’t have to go out of our way to make our customers happy. If they need our product, they need our product.

John Williams: Yeah, I would hate to not have these guys, so I’m trying to help fix their problem.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] That’s true.

Brian Rauch: Well, I’m sure most people can relate to that. And I guess the other thing that talks about influence which impacts like your example drug, you guys could talk, maybe reflect on other conversations you’ve been with. My understanding is also the influence internally. Because if internally the organization says they’re going to do something like, I’m going to borrow your example John, you’ve got this product and they say they’re going to back it up.

And your up line says of course we do that. And then like in this situation comes, well, I need this material, I need this technical support, whatever, and management goes, no. But you said you were going to, no we changed our minds. Or they go we knew that.

It’s unfortunate. So that has an impact; it detracts from the performance of the rep in this case. Rain say. And it’s a challenge to balance that as well.

John Williams: Yes, it is.

Paula Williams: That’s true and I think as a salesperson, having worked with a few of them, they won’t work for very long for a company that won’t back them up.

Because they ruined their reputation with people and the aviation industry. And they’re done, whether they work for you or whether they work for someone else. Their reputation is more important than any particular commission, because it is unlimited audience, besides a lot of sales people that I know have an incredible sense of integrity, and have to.

If something that the company does undercuts the salesperson’s influence, then they really can’t support that. But then if you really want the best salespeople, you really have to back them up. And if a mistake is made, it needs to err on the salesperson’s side or the customer’s side.

And sometimes that costs money. [LAUGH] And sometimes you have to break rules, but that’s just the way it is.

John Williams: You look at standard versus policy and policy is just what we typically do versus what you have to do.

Paula Williams: Yes.

John Williams: So, somebody tells us our company policy this is then I don’t know, so what? .

That doesn’t mean you can’t do this and if you can find somebody that will think, that they’ll realize that a policy can be overridden in the event that it makes for good customer service.

Paula Williams: Right, principles over policy.

John Williams: If you want to get somebody start an argument with me, tell them, well, that’s company policy.


Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: Wrong words for this.

Paula Williams: A statement that she makes, I think it’s page 136 where she talks about the first sign of greatness is when a man does not attempt to look and act great. That’s actually a quote from Dale Carnegie. And I guess that goes into the whole Stephen Covey thing, when something gets, so internalized that you don’t have to think about it anymore.

You don’t have to worry about your reputation, you’re just worried about what you need to do everyday to take care of your customers. And I think that evolves past the whole idea of what we just talked about. You know once you get past the policies and things like that and you go our people are well trained enough to know that they can make a decision that is maybe with $100 or $200.

Or, whatever you’re comfortable with as long as they make the customer happy. And they stayed within legal guidelines and other things, but once you get people to the point where you can trust them enough to do that without having every little thing in a policy. That’s when you get to this point.

Brian Rauch: And the other thing is I believe that court relates to one’s talking to the individual or the organization become what you want to be. So if you can enact it, then internalize it, the humility comes with it. So you don’t carry a chip on your shoulder or demonstrate hubris.

Be humble, you achieve it. Don’t necessarily flaunt it.

Paula Williams: Right, so you’re no longer faking it until you make it? [LAUGH] Which is usually pretty obvious because people are overcompensating with the or whatever. And maybe come much more authentic coming back to that word. Authentic not transparent right?

Brian Rauch: Yes.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Okay, John, would you agree with that or do you want to take issue?

John Williams: Yeah, sure and I’d like to quote on final thoughts from and that just very rare to have a lot of thoughts like that, the battle is pretty good.

Paula Williams: Well, read it, which one?

John Williams: Because if he believes in himself he doesn’t try to convince others. Because he is content with himself he doesn¬īt need others approval. Because he accepts himself the whole world accepts him.

Paula Williams: Right. Excellent. That’s a great note to end on.

John Williams: That works [INAUDIBLE] companies as well.

Paula Williams: Right. That’s absolutely true. So next month, we’re going to be talking about how to get the most out of trade shows by Steve Miller. People should be getting their books this week, so that discussion is actually going to be on July, 11th, at noon my time, which is Mountain Standard Time, well not daylight time, I always get those mixed up.

But Mountain Time, July 11th, and once again we are going to try and involve more people from the group. I know summer is really hard, no matter when we schedule it to get people together and some people are in the other side of the planet so of course it will be middle of the night for them.

But if you’re able to make it, we love to have you in that conversation and that would be fantastic. So let’s just go around the room and John if you could tell us who you are and what you do, and then Brian. That would be fantastic.

John Williams: Who I am.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Who are you?

John Williams: Well, [LAUGH]
I am many things, but I don’t know exactly what you want in this little essay, but retired military, retired private sector, decided to get in and help you start a business. So if you may be the financial person in this company and I help along the way with other things using my sales experience where possible

John Williams: And that’s about that.

Paula Williams: Great. So John is actually our CFO and he is also my husband. And so therefore, he has to be here. [LAUGH] And Brian, actually, is one of our newest members, I guess I can say that. And Brian, you want to tell us a little bit about your background?

Brian Rauch: My background? I have a combination of 20 plus years in sales across numerous industry, industry education, food service, and I also have, in that period, management and organizational development experience. Ended up getting a master’s degree recently in innovative leadership and what I am seeking to do is to break into the sales aspect or organizational leadership aspect with the aviation industry because that’s in my blood.

I come from an aviation family. My father’s Air Force Reserve, a commercial pilot, and so forth. And, out here in Mesa, Arizona, with my family, my wife works for Boeing in the testing for the Apache program and we’re right under the Flight patterns of both Falcon Field and Sky Harbor.

So my eyes are constantly glued to the sky.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] And I hope that you have a window in your office.

Brian Rauch: Yes. That would help.

John Williams: [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: Thanks for bearing with us. We have some interesting technical issues the more voices we get on the line. Hopefully we’ll have that resolved by next month and these book club discussions will be smoother and easier to listen to, but I do think this was well-worth the effort because it’s great to get more voices into the conversation.

So thank you for joining us. Please do let us know what you think of our book club conversation as well as the other regular features that we are planning on having on our Podcast. So, let us know at Marketing or Paula at aviationbusinessconsultants.com.

Announcer: Thanks for joining us for Aviation Marketing Hanger Flying the best place to learn what really works in sales and marketing in the aviation industry.

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  • Trade Shows - Distant Early Planning

AMHF 0034 – Trade Shows – Distant Early Planning

Trade shows are a huge, and very powerful part of the marketing plans for MANY aviation companies. And most people agree that early planning is important.   But what exactly should you be DOING early, and why?

Transcript – Trade Shows- Distant Early Planning

Paula Williams: Welcome to Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying, episode number 34. Trade Shows, Distant Early Planning. Remember the distant early warning system?

John Williams: Right [LAUGH]

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Exactly, most people don’t start soon enough. So I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: And I’m John Williams and it’s early in the morning.

Paula Williams: And we are ABCI and ABCI’s mission is?

John Williams: To help you ladies and gentlemen out there in the aviation world out there sell more products and services.

Paula Williams: Absolutely, so if you’d like to join the conversation about this webinar or any of our webinars or any of our other materials, we’re using the hashtag #AvGeekMarketing.

#AvGeekMarketing and we promise we will reply to every tweet or every Instagram or every other thing that you’re using and you can send comments, questions, anything else that you’d like to discuss. So our motto is no random acts of marketing and a lot of what people do at trade shows looks a lot to us like random acts of marketing right John?

John Williams: Not only looks like it, some of it doesn’t even look relative to the product.

Paula Williams: Exactly. I think what happens a lot is that a salesperson for the trade show will call and talk to somebody and tell them about this fabulous trade show and give them a deal or something like that on booth space.

And someone will decide sure it’s not too far away and it’s convenient for us let’s just do it. Without giving a whole lot of thought as to how this fits into their grand scheme of things. What their purpose is in really doing trade show, how they’re gonna measure their return on investment, all of those other kinds of things.

So what we’re gonna talk about today are some of the things that we want to do to make sure that your trade show is not a random act of marketing and that you actually do get a return on investment out of it. Now trade shows in the aviation industry are hugely important, they’re one of the biggest traditional methods of advertising a product or service and it is a really great way to meet a lot of people in the same place, right John?

John Williams: Yeah. If you haven’t been to one, particularly NVAA or even the regional, it’s quite an event.

Paula Williams: Right, the term that comes to mind is dizzying just because of the number of people that are there both as exhibitors and attendees. It can be really overwhelming, and it can be a really fantastic opportunity.

But, it can also be a complete waste of time and money, and very, very frustrating, and a lot of people. In fact, we were reading Steve Miller’s book, How to Get the Most out of Trade Shows, and in the preface he talks about how much he hates trade shows or how much he used to hate trade shows.

And simply because you’re surrounded by people you don’t know, a lot of it is very disorganized, a lot of it is chance as far as meetings and other kinds of things. But there’s a lot of ways to make that a lot better, for you and for your salespeople, where you can really set yourself up for success, instead of just being thrown into, the meat grinders, they say, right?

John Williams: Yes, that’s correct.

Paula Williams: Right. So, today we’re talking about starting early, and what you can do, in terms of planning. But why [LAUGH] is it important to start early? We got lots of other things on our plate and if we’ve got six months to get to a trade show, like right now when we’re recording this it’s June.

NVAA the big trade show of the year is in November, so you know why should we start thinking about this now?

John Williams: Because there’s a lot to do between now and then if you’re going to do this right and get any kind of ROI.

Paula Williams: Exactly, so it takes time to execute great ideas, and to come up with really good campaigns.

Creative work doesn’t do very well, I know this is a point of contention among some people, some people think that creativity just springs out of your head when you need it the most. But for me, I prefer to have a lot of time, especially if I’m trying to think up something really, really cool.

Or think up something that nobody else is doing or something that’s really creative. I do best with that when I’m not under pressure, and so if you can start early it takes the pressure off and you can actually be a lot more creative and a lot more options that things you can do.

And the other thing is you save money when you are not in a hurry, right John?

John Williams: Typically.

Paula Williams: Being the CFO?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Well, can always get better deals on everything from airline tickets to hotel rooms if you plan way in advance.

Paula Williams: Absolutely. And that’s true of printing, and any novelties that you need to buy, and anything else.

You’re not paying expedite fees or expedite shipping fees, or any of those kinds of things. So, you save a lot of money, and you can do a lot more, get a lot more bang for your buck if you’re not doing the last minute sort of things. So a lot of people have the problem of okay well that’s great, I love to start early what the heck am I supposed to do?

John Williams: And that’s the other thing.

Paula Williams: Right, so-

John Williams: We can help you with that.

Paula Williams: We can help you with that, exactly. So what we like to do, especially when we have a really large project is to monopolize a wall, and we’ve done this in a lot of different places that we’ve worked.

And John and I have actually worked together before we were in aviation marketing, we were working for a financial services company, and we were doing really big projects that involved hundreds of people. I don’t know if we were doing one that was thousands of people.

John Williams: Close.

Paula Williams: Close, probably to a thousand but when you have projects that are really really big, it is very reassuring to have a lot of space that’s very visible so we would monopolize a wall in a conference room.

And that would be our planning stage that everybody could see. And we’d write down questions, we would write down calendars, we’d write down tasks, dependencies, anything that we could think of and anything that anybody else could think of. They were welcome to put a sticky note on the wall, and then, of course, we review that on a regular basis and figure out what needs to go where, and organize that.

So, a lot of us are working virtually these days, we’re not in an office with a conference room, or a big, white board. But, when we’re home we still like to do that. I have a whiteboard in my office, and John has a whiteboard in his office. And our big projects get a really big square on one or the other of our whiteboards so that we have a place to plan that and think about it.

And every time we look at it we think, you know what we should do? Here’s a really great idea and here’s something that maybe ties into that other idea. And the more you see that and the more you add to it, the better those plans become because you’re, it’s working in your subconscious as you’re going throughout your day.

And just occasionally glancing at that wall right John?

John Williams: Absolutely.

Paula Williams: And the other things is, if your who team can see it, they’re gonna think of things you wouldn’t think of. Maybe the people in charge of shipping are going to say, you know what, this is going to take longer than you have written out for it here, so let’s make a change to that.

Or they may have a really great idea that springboards off of something that’s already on the wall. So those are our reasons to make this really visible. So the other reason is quality. It takes time to execute really good ideas. So if you want to create a really great brochure or a really great product demonstration or something like that.

You can take the time to write that out, rehearse it, show it to people, see what they think, refine it, do it again, do it again, do it again. Sales pitches and some of the best sales presentations that we have ever heard our from people who have been doing it on consistent basis and refining that for years.

And so if you have a couple of months to refine your presentation for a trade show, you can really get that down, get that comfortable. Get to the point where you can do it with out even thinking about it. Then you can adapt it really well to whomever you’re talking to.

Because your stuff is embedded in your head having done it so often, right John?

John Williams: Yep.

Paula Williams: Like have you ever had a project, for anything where you had a long enough time to work on it that you really got it polished? Tell us about that?

John Williams: Well, there are a couple of projects, the one, I don’t what you mean by a long time.

I’ve done one that was pretty quick, but some of the ones that take longer, we’ve had months to plan. And those really work out well. And matter of fact, the trade shows we did for NBAA for us we do six or eight months in advance.

Paula Williams: Great.

John Williams: And it looks like we live and breathe the stuff if we go down there.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right. And we actually have worked in a mastermind group with a magician. His name is Dave D and he works for GKIC and he talks about his programs. He used to be a, and he still is, a magician. But he uses magic in a lot of his presentations and things like that and how would it be to be a sales guy who’s also a musician?

That can be really useful. But he will tell you that the whole secret of magic, especially of sleight of hand or anything that’s like a presentation kind of a magic is practice, and time. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to do a particular trick. People who are in the profession of doing magic, typically, it takes them months, before they will perform a particular trick before the public.

And, the reason is because it takes that long to number one get the mechanics down, and then second to get it smooth enough. And then third, to do whatever you’re doing on top of that to distract people, while you’re doing the trick. So, you have to get the muscle memory, you have to get the stuff in your head, you have to get the engagement with the audience, you have to get all of that down, and all of those layers don’t just happen at one time.

I think people often expect too much of themselves and they just think well I’ll just wing it when I get there and that just is not going to come across as polished. It’s not gonna come across as really well done. So that’s true of your sales presentation, that’s true of you product demonstrations, that’s true of the way you put your booth together.

That’s true of just about everything there is to know about trade shows, and quality really shines through. You can tell the people that it’ll just band it together versus the people who really have their stuff down, right?

John Williams: It occurs to me that the more money that you’re going to put up and the more people involved, the more advanced you need to start planning.

Paula Williams: Right.

John Williams: I mean, the project we did with several hundred people, I believe we started almost two years in advance to make that one work.

Paula Williams: Right. And typically when you’re doing a trade show, it involves more than just you. You may have a team of three or five or 12 or 20 depending on the set size of your company.

But, it does involve more than just one person. So the more people you add exponentially, the more time you need to get everybody’s ideas and get everybody onboard and get everybody’s input to make sure they’ve got their practice done and, all of that stuff.

John Williams: Well, they need to really understand how they fit into the process and they’ve got to practice with other people in some cases.

Paula Williams: Right, exactly. So another reason to start early is your review cycle. We talked about how it takes time to execute great ideas, and you save money when you’re not in a hurry. Review cycles are something we cannot emphasize enough. We are in the business of producing marketing materials for clients.

And the earlier we can get a draft to clients, the better final product we’re gonna end up with because often it will spark ideas on their side. We really shouldn’t be saying this. We should be taking it from this other angle, or, here’s an error that I didn’t catch.

Now we have time to do the reset and make it really polished and work out. So you really want to have a very simple review cycle. And ours, of course, is we draft something and circulate it among ABCIs team. We publish it to base camp with a cover sheet.

And the client has revisions, it’s approved, we approve it, we do a final review, and then publish it to the appropriate channels. Or, most often, especially on a first draft, the client has some things they want to discuss, we make revisions. We set up a different file name with a different date, put it back into base camp, re-draft it, circulate it among ABCI’s team, and go through that loop as many times as we need to to get something perfect.

And there is a difference between a document that has been perfected, and a document that’s been thrown together, and they’re just 1,000 times more effective. People may not notice on the surface, but there is a subconscious acknowledgement I think of when you’re reading something that has been thoroughly reviewed versus if you’re reading something that’s been slammed together, right?

John Williams: [LAUGH] Yes, it comes through to anybody that reads.

Paula Williams: Yeah, and even if they say they don’t care, they just want a rough draft [LAUGH].

John Williams: They do care.

Paula Williams: They do care. And it will affect the way that they feel about the contents of the document.

So if you put together a really great polished fabulous brochure, it’s gonna be much more effective than something that you throw together at the last minute.

John Williams: As a matter of fact, I don’t know why they say they don’t care, because every time I’ve run across that, they do care.

Paula Williams: Exactly, I’ve run across that a lot. Especially lately people will say just put something together for me. I don’t care if it’s perfect I just want to see something, that makes me crazy [LAUGH].

John Williams: Well and then if you, obviously you can’t put it together perfect to start with but you have to do your best, and they have to know it’s an interview process.

Paula Williams: Exactly. And we’ve already talked about this before, but I think it bears a little bit more discussion. The financial end of the situation, the more time you have, the better you are able to put numbers in boxes. And John’s really good at this, the more time you give him with something that needs to be paid for, the more options he has as far as using cash flow from different situations, using other financial resources maybe bartering or trading with other organizations.

There are lots of ways to make the financial situation work better if you have more time. If you’re at the last minute you have no choice but to just shell out the cash, and you absolutely need to have a hotel room in a certain city, on a certain night and it’s the night before, you really don’t have much choice.

You just have to do what you gotta do.

John Williams: That was true even when I planned out our vacation. I started eight months in advance and I got airline tickets for about, what was it, $370 total round trip.

Paula Williams: To Hawaii, that’s crazy. Everybody’s asking, how did you do that?


John Williams: You plan ahead of time. Eight months, you can put alerts out there and everybody will come back and say they got this or that. So you just have to grab one and be ready. We got our hotel room for $100 a night in Hawaii. It was, again, planning in advance gives you lots of time to stare up options.

Paula Williams: Yeah, and this was not a bargain basement sort of situation, it was actually a really really nice hotel, you just have a lot more options with a lot less money if you start earlier. And so fair watchers are a good one, thinking out of the box in terms of the financial impact of a situation.

Or maybe there’s a company that does, something that you need done or maybe you can do some partnerships with people who are also going to the trade show. Where you can save some money on some of the talent or shipping or other things that you need done.

John Williams: I mean we’ve had reservations at NBAA for hotels now for a month or so and this is now just May, or June.

Paula Williams: It just started being June. [LAUGH] Exactly. So, yeah, it’s really financially to your advantage to start early. So what are some of the things you can do early? The earliest one, of course, is to attend the show the year before you decide to exhibit, and walk around, see who’s there.

See what kinds of booths there are, see if you’re looking at maybe a ten by ten, see if they’re stuck off in a corner somewhere. And they’re giving all the attention to the big guys with the big booths, you want to see where the traffic flows are. Where do people go when they first come in in the morning, where do they go at lunch?

Study those traffic flows and figure out where do you want your route. Because it’s not gonna cost you anymore usually for better placement in the show. Also, you may decide the show is not for you and that would save you a lot of money by not doing the wrong shows.

So, you want to look at a lot of different things there. You’re gonna take notes of opportunities for visitors, maybe they have a product spotlight. A lot of places will also have a press room. So you wanna take notes of all of the different things you could do so you can maximize your investment in that show.

You wanna research your top ten most feared competitors and your top ten most wanted customers, and find out if they are there. And if they’re there, what size of booth do they have? Are they doing a product demonstration? Are they doing something really cool? Do they have booth talent?

Do they have a magician? What do they have that you want to make sure that you’re going to be different from, right? [LAUGH] All kinds of things. You want to obtain the show’s schedule and other information as soon as you possibly can so that you can start planning out those days.

Which days do you want to focus on different activities, and things like that. And note important deadlines, so if you know there is a deadline to get your press releases in. If there is a deadline to reserve your space and get the premium spaces, other kinds of things, to get the most out of the show.

John Williams: And you should take note of how to contact the folks that put out those daily rags there as well.

Paula Williams: Yes, a lot of the shows have, especially NBAA, has the, I think, two different dailies, news dailies that come out. They have young ladies distributing those at the entry point to the convention center and things like that.

Those guys work pretty hard to fill that space, and they love photos, charts, graphs, other kinds of things. So, if you can find a way to do something newsworthy and get a photo in one of those rags, we call them rags, we mean that in the nicest possible way.

They’re actually fairly polished news dailies, but you do want to look at those things and figure out how can you use this opportunity to your best advantage. All right, some other things to do early, plan your exhibit. What size do you want, how do you want your signage to stand out from everybody else that’s gonna be at the show?

We always advise people to go up, go vertical, as vertical as you possibly can, because then people can see it from farther away. And also most people don’t go much above, they usually have those curtains that go between the booths that are about six, seven feet tall depending on the show.

John Williams: The best one I’ve seen was at LA expo and a company who I’ll go ahead and name.

Paula Williams: Go right ahead.

John Williams: LA Values.

Paula Williams: Yup.

John Williams: Put their name on the size that tell you the numbers of the rows that are way up high.

Paula Williams: Yeah.

John Williams: So it would say, you walk down the roads and he’s always looking up. Cuz you’re looking for a specific booth number. You look up high and it says 2020 to 2050. And underneath those numbers they’ve just extended the sign and put their logo up there and their name.

It was everywhere.

Paula Williams: Brilliant, yeah.

John Williams: That was, that was outstanding.

Paula Williams: So kudos to LA Values on a great idea. But generally speaking when you walk into one of those convention centers, it’s really overwhelming. And so what you tend to do is look up because that’s where they have the row numbers and the booth numbers and things like that.

So when you’re looking up, to kind of orient yourself, the first things that you see are the things that are the tallest. And so if you can suspend something from the ceiling, sometimes they allow that at different shows, have signage and other things that are suspended and rotating.

Or if you can’t do that, at least have tall banners and other signs that stick up above all the rest of the fray in the convention center. So think vertical, especially when your planning your exhibit and your signage. Look at the guidelines of course, for the show, and make sure that it’s not gonna get disallowed.

But as tall as they will allow, that’s really where you want your best visual stuff to go. You wanna plan a campaign to attract the right people to your booth. So think about what you can you invite people to do at your booth. Can you invite them for a mini consultation or product demonstration?

Or a contest or game of some kind, the earlier you start thinking about that the better ideas you’re going to come up with. You want to think about the kind of people you want to come to your booth. What can you do that will make them spend 20 minutes out of this very valuable time that they have at the show to make it a point to come to your booth?

It has to be something other than just come see us.

John Williams: Or give away an iPad, you don’t do that to everybody.

Paula Williams: [LAUGH] Right, exactly. Okay, another thing you might want to do is consider hosting an event, or a dinner, or a seminar, or something like that.

And this is whether or not you’re exhibiting a trade show. Some people just show up in the same town at the same time, stay at a nearby hotel, and host a seminar or a dinner. Because they’re taking advantage of the fact that everybody’s in town for this particular trade show.

John Williams: As a matter of fact, we attended a few of those dinners at various trade shows.

Paula Williams: Exactly. Or you know a seminar on a particular topic. The problem there is that there’s a lot of competition for people’s time, especially at dinner. And a lot of the fuel companies and other folks that are fairly large companies with a lot of resources do some big parties at night during the show.

So you may want to do a breakfast, you may want to do something the day before or the day after the show, while people are in town. But you have to consider that there is a lot of demands on people’s attention, and make sure you get RSVPd so you don’t end up with an empty room.

All right, another thing you want to do is determine whether you’ll need any custom supplies or novelties. And you want to order them early, because a lot of the novelty companies will give you a better price and you’re in a much better negotiation position, especially if you’re ordering a lot of stuff, if you give people more time.

John Williams: Not only that, if they make a mistake and you don’t see it, ’til you get the product to look at, you have a chance to tell them to fix it.

Paula Williams: Right, and we are really particular about novelties and other kinds of things, and a lot of them end up being really, really cheap and or badly done.

We send a lot of them back and make them redo them, or we end up cancelling the order and ordering something else. So you want to make sure that those are guaranteed, and make sure that you get them early enough to try them out. If you get pens or whatever, pick some random ones out of the bundle and make sure that they actually write.

If you’re getting lights make sure that they light, if you’re getting other supplies, make sure that they don’t seem overly plastic, or overly cheap. And if they are and if they don’t represent you well, don’t use them, make sure that you have a guarantee, so you can send those back and get something else.

Aviation Trade Show Marketing Checklist CoverAll right, and if you start that a few months ahead of time you can do that a couple of times if you need to. And say, you know what? We’re not gonna do this. We’re gonna do something completely different. Start over, back to the drawing board. All right, so if you have not already downloaded our trade show checklist, you can get that fairly easily at ABCI1.com/TradeShow.

It’s Alpha Bravo Charlie India number one dot com forward slash TradeShow, ABCI1.com/Tradeshow. all one word. So download that, it has all of this information and a lot more detail that you can go through and check things off as you do them. You can hang up some of those pages on that white board we talked about, and make sure those things get done.

So go sell more stuff.

John Williams: Yup.

Paula Williams: America needs the business.

John Williams: Zig Ziglar.

Paula Williams: Exactly. And subscribe to our podcast, Aviation Marketing Hangar Flying. We are on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Please do subscribe and please do leave a rating. We’ll see you next week.

John Williams: See you next time.

Download our Trade Show Checklist here:


Need more help?   Get our consultants to do the work with  you with our Trade Show Program

Product - Trade Shows







Video – Secret to Success at Aviation Networking Events

Networking at shows like NBAA?¬† There are¬† no tricks or techniques that will help you if you can’t fix this one thing:

That said, there are MANY tricks and techniques for making the most of your time at a trade show. We talked about Networking at our last Marketing Master Class. Our members will get the full video recording, Q & A, and handouts.

If you haven’t already, make sure you download our Trade Show Checklist so you don’t miss any!

Educating Potential Customers – Avoiding Yawns of Boredom

The people who make their living in the aviation industry are not particularly impressed by PowerPoint presentations and brochures.

And yet, many of the sales presentations and education sessions we have the pleasure of attending are fraught with some salesperson or spokesperson reading words from a slide, or handing us a dull corporate brochure that might as well be from a bank or an insurance company.

If you are in the same room with the prospect, for heaven’s sake don’t waste the opportunity by walking them through a document or reading words from a presentation screen.¬†¬† If you have managed to land an appointment, or have invested in a trade show, you have anl obligation NOT to waste your prospects’ time by boring them to death!

Here are some ideas: Educating potential customers with physical product demonstrations

  • Can you get your product into a prospect’s hands?
  • If it’s an online product, can you hand them a computer or iPad to demonstrate it?
  • If you sell a non-physical product, can you make the concept physical in some way?
  • Can you involve other senses? (Passengers love that “new airplane smell.” Military aviators love the smell of jet fuel and shoe polish.)

Most of our interactions with prospects these days are via the Internet, mail, or email.

Think beyond the traditional limitations of the platform to educate potential customers:

  • Can you demonstrate the product (or at least the concept) using a video?
  • Can you use animations, video clips, or sound effects?
  • If you must use text, can you make it more conversational and/or descriptive?
  • Even when using legal “fine print,” can you make it more interesting that the typical legal boilerplate?

educating potential customers with entertaining text

We love this “Lifetime Guarantee” from Pelican cases- it’s a great example of how even the legal boilerplate can illicit a chuckle; in particular – “. . . does not cover shark bite, bear attack or damage caused by children under five.” Touches like this make customers are more likely to remember your product favorably in a crowded marketplace.



In other words, what can you do to make your materials more interesting, sensory, authentic, or unexpected?






Aviation Advertising – Don’t Abandon Tradition, Build on It!

aviation advertising - tradition still works!While our conversation with Ben√©t Wilson and Michael Dye last week focused a lot on “new” methods of advertising in aviation industry, there are some benefits to some of our favorite traditional methods, including trade shows, magazines and direct mail.

Especially when you combine the old with the new!

Aviation Advertising – Trade Shows

Ben√©t mentioned that one of her favorite advertising and prospecting channels was the good old-fashioned Trade Show. These aren’t going away soon, and while it is admittedly expensive to travel (and even more expensive to exhibit!) there is NO substitute for meeting in person, shaking hands, answering questions, demonstrating your product “live” and in person, and (ideally) letting prospects get their hands on it.

ABCI attends at LEAST two shows per year, (HAI and NBAA this year) and it’s often the only time and place we get to meet in person with new and existing clients.

Trade Show Combinations

aviation advertising - trade showYou can use other advertising methods to maximize your investment in a trade show by enhancing your appearance with other advertising methods.

Before the Show

  • Use a magazine ad to promote your trade show appearance. Invite people to your booth, and give them a reason to drop by.
  • Do the same with a postcard or direct mail package. Send a key or puzzle piece by mail, invite people to come to your booth to see if it “fits.”
  • Offer a schedule of times for mini-consultations, using an application like TimeTrade (www.TimeTrade.com)¬†¬† This works even if you don’t have a booth! (You can schedule coffee appointments.) Publicize your openings for appointments using email broadcasts or social media. (Or both!)

During the Show

  • Have a selfie photo booth – offer a prize for people who post selfies on your social media pages.
  • Use the show’s official “hashtag” on Twitter to promote happenings at your booth. (Such as #NBAA15)¬† Many shows have an app or display board showing a live feed or ticker of hashtagged tweets.

After the Show

  • Less that 10% of aviation companies follow up properly after the show, effectively wasting all of those expensively-obtained leads.
  • The good news means that if you DO follow up, you stand out from all of the competition! Send thank you notes (real ones via postal mail) to booth visitors, perhaps with an information package.
  • Send information AFTER the show, rather that giving people marketing materials during the show. You’d be amazed how much of your expensive marketing ends up on convention center and hotel room garbage cans as people pack for the trip home.

Aviation Advertising – Magazine Ads

advertising in aviation - magazinesMagazine ads still have very high credibility among aviation decision makers,  but they also have a  high cost.

  • Make the most of the credibility of your magazine ad by using the magazine’s logo on your website, printed newsletter, or social media – “As Seen in Aviation Week” will grab the attention of people who may not even have seen your printed ad. Make sure you follow the magazine’s guidelines for this.
  • Reprint the ad in you own newsletter, social media, and other advertising with a headline, such as “Did you see our ad in Plane & Pilot?”
  • Have a clear “Call to Action” in your magazine ad that is a low-risk, low-investment action – download an ebook, call for a free consultation or information package, etc.¬† Your intention is to begin a relationship with people that may not be in the market right now but will be next month.

Aviation Advertising – Postcards and Direct Mail

aviation advertising - direct mailThe decision-making demographics in the aviation industry still show a clear preference to reading physical materials to those online.  You can combine methods, which provides the best advantages of each media:

  • Remember that the #1 obstacle for direct mail advertising is to get it opened by the recipient.¬† Use a visually arresting postcard (with no envelope) a great headline or teaser on the outside of the envelope,¬† or something “lumpy” in the envelope that incites curiosity.
  • Send a postcard leading to an online video, ebook or online catalog. Postcards are great for prospecting and lead generation because they have a unique combination of low cost and high response.
  • If you have a shorter, more targeted list of high-quality prospects, send your sales letter in a direct mail package containing a sample or small gift (packages are MUCH more likely to be opened than sales letters.) Again, be sure you include a low-risk call to action; not a full-on sales pitch.¬†¬† This is a “first date” activity, not a marriage proposal.

So, which is better?¬† Traditional or “new” advertising media?

Ways to get testimonials, ways to use testimonials Tip SheetThe answer is both! Use combinations of two or more advertising media for the most effective results.


No matter what media you’re using, customer testimonials are incredibly important in building credibility with skeptical aviation prospects.

Download our free tip sheet – 3 Ways to Get and 5 Ways to Use Testimonials!

Avoid These Three Expensive Marketing Mistakes

If you’ve been reading any of our materials, you know that ABCI strongly advocates against ANY random acts of marketing,but after an insightful conversation sharing conversations we’ve both had with larger aviation companies, we thought we’d share these three particularly destructive and dangerous situations:

Marketing Mistake¬† #1 – “I’ve run several expensive, full-page ads in a glossy magazine, and now I’m out of money but I’m afraid to stop!”

Many new companies are particularly susceptible to advertising salespeople who encourage them to “make a big entrance” and “get their name out there” with a big advertising spread in a glossy magazine, which is probably more advertising than the new company has planned to sustain over the long haul.

Aviation magazines


Then the salesman calls back when the contract is almost up, and says “You HAVE to keep running full page ads. If you don’t, people will assume that business is not good, and they won’t buy from you because they think your company is having trouble.”

Our client mentioned to us “the time I pay the most attention to ads in magazines is when they start running, and when they stop running.”

Of course, the ad salesmen wasn’t being actually dishonest in either case, but this destructive half-truth has driven more than one company into the ground.

Magazine ads aren’t inherently bad, every channel has its strengths and weaknesses.¬† Since aviation has a notoriously long sales cycle, new companies may never get the chance to find out their natural sales cycle is 15 months, when they run out of money after six months.¬† It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to cut through the clutter, find the appropriate decision-maker, answer all of their questions, build trust, and wait for budget cycles or approvals.

What to do instead:

Evaluate each advertising venue carefully. If you decide that a magazine has an excellent demographic fit and great credibility with your intended decision-makers, by all means, place an ad.

You should consider the following when purchasing a magazine ad.

  • Buy an ad you can afford for the long haul.¬† Run a smaller ad¬†for a year or eighteen months. You don’t want to stop advertising once you’ve started building credibility!
  • Design an ad with a clear, trackable, low-risk “call to action.”¬† Tell readers exactly what you want them to do, and be sure it is something you’ll be able to track. “Download a free ebook,” or direct visitors to a special landing page for a video; or ask readers to¬† “Schedule a demo or consultation. Mention this ad for a free gift.”
  • Understand that an ad is just the beginning of a successful marketing campaign. Have a follow up program in place before the ad runs. Be sure your staff is aware of the ad, and has a clear outline of how to maximize the chances of a sale from each response. Sales incentives for customer service staff are always a good idea!

Marketing Mistake #2 – “We have always spent a ton of money on our trade show booth and parties, and now we’re afraid to cut back.”

A variation on the same theme of the “expensive addiction” is the overly-lavish trade show appearance. The aviation industry is a small town and gossip is one of the favorite pastimes.

trade show

Overheard at an aviation convention about a major aviation company:

“Last year they had a 40 x 40 booth, and their party was the hit of the convention. This year they’re in a 20 x 20 and they’re giving away cheap plastic pens. I wonder what happened?”

Trade shows can be incredibly expensive. There’s booth rent, furniture, displays, giveaway items, entertaining, travel for your team, and on and on. Even electricity and wi-fi can be shockingly expensive. And all of these expenses tend to rise each year.

And customers, fans and onlookers seem to expect companies to have the same presence each year, regardless of return on investment, or they assume that you’re not doing well. And that gossip can hurt sales.¬†¬† Some companies spend a lot more than they really should just to “keep up appearances.”

What you should do instead:

  • If you decide not to appear at a show that you’ve done in the past, write a statement or social media post explaining why.¬† “We’ve decided to devote the time and budget from Show X to see more of our clients personally.¬†¬† We’ll be visiting the West Coast in November, contact us for an appointment.”
  • Plan trade show appearances very carefully. If trade shows are part of your marketing strategy, it’s better to do fewer¬† shows, but to spend more time and money on advance marketing and a creative and effective follow-up program for the leads you acquire.
  • There’s nothing wrong with not having a booth or display.¬† Make appointments to visit existing clients and your top 10 prospects – meet them for breakfast, lunch or coffee.
  • If you’re new to a particular trade show, make your first appearance modest. You can always go bigger next year when you’ve observed the demographics and “personality” of a show first-hand. It makes the best impression to improve incrementally each year. Provide slightly nicer giveaways, a slightly more lavish gift for your drawing, each year.

Marketing Mistake #3 – “We gave away samples of our product, and people don’t seem to see the value.”

A public and painful example of this:

ipad stands

Busted! Surface tablets used as iPad stands during CNN election coverage.

A person at CNN familiar with the company’s operations said that anchors are not required to use any particular hardware and usually bring their own devices. The Surface tablets were not part of a product placement deal, and were in place to give anchors access to CNN’s “magic wall” that helps display much of the channel’s coverage. Microsoft owns the company that makes the “magic wall,” which can be controlled through Internet Explorer.

Microsoft has already had a bit of trouble with the branding of its surface tablet. The company signed a deal with the NFL to put Surface tablets on the sidelines of games, but had to coach announcers to stop referring to them as iPads.


While a trial period or even a sample might be a good way to educate customers and build trust, but giving a core product away for free can’t help but devalue the product in the eyes of prospects.

Novice salespeople often use free product improperly. When you offer something for free, your prospect will probably take it. But they probably won’t devote the time or effort to really evaluating it as a viable solution.¬†¬† They will just as likely be given to a non-decisionmaking colleague, or take it home for their kids.

What to do instead:

  • Give away free coffee or candy. Give away information or accessories. Offer free training with your product.¬† Don’t be a cheapskate, but don’t give away the most valuable core benefit of your product.
  • If you do provide a trial period or some other risk-reversal, obtain a commitment in return.¬† “Use it for thirty days.¬† Try all of the functions, attend a new-member training session, call our support line and file a ticket for assistance. If we’re not able to make it right within thirty days, we will provide a full refund.

Other Marketing Mistakes?

We’ve all made them!

But one of the great things about ABCI clients and members is that we learn from one another – share your favorite mistake (and its solution) in the comments below.

Five of the Best Marketing Examples from NBAA 2014

John and I were joking that the annual NBAA convention is so big and has so many participants competing for attention that the best tactic for being memorable would be to hire a marching band and maybe some elephants to march down the aisles.


The static display and the exhibition hall promised - and delivered - much to see!

The static display and the exhibition hall promised – and delivered – much to see!

But even then, people would forget it five minutes later as the latest Elvis impersonator walked by, or the beer cart was spotted.

Then again, you don’t need to get EVERYONE’s attention. All you need to do is make connections with a small number of highly targeted prospects, and start a relationship.

Here are some people that we think got it right:

Solairus Sold Static Display Survival Kits

best marketing examplesEveryone gives away tchotchkies Рpens, USB drives, memo pads, and other little trinkets.  Solairus had gift bags that were so cool that they actually SOLD them. (Or, I suspect, also gave them away, but only  to valued customers and highly-qualified prospects.)

From their website

Great Networking Starts with Great Health…Static Display Survival Kit

Laser-Tuned Pendulum Movement
Single Function Easy To Read Display
Records From 1 To 99,999 Steps
Molded Clip On Back Belt Attachment
Unit Flips Down For Easy Viewing

5-in-1 Charger
Includes Lightning Connector, Apple 30 Pin Connector, 2 Micro USB Connectors and a Mini USB Connector
Simply Plug the Cable Into a Powered USB Port and Then Into Your Device or Smart Phone
Charge Multiple Devices At Once When Using an Ample Power Source

Bandages in Case
5 Bandages
Bandages Are Latex Free
Top Slides Open To Access Bandages

Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer
1 ounce / 29 ml gel hand sanitizer
Clear with citrus scent

Sunscreen with Carabiner and Clip Balm
SPF 30 sunscreen
1 oz Tropical scented sunscreen holds
FDA approved
Stainless Steel Water Bottle
24oz Single Wall with Threaded Top

All items coming in a White Kraft Shopping Handle Bag.

GDC Technics Invited Prospects to a Peaceful Oasis

GDC Technics created a quiet, stylish oasis in the middle of the Convention Hall floor that really showed off their skills with interior design and creating VIP workspaces.  They provided plush seating and impeccable coffee service for invited guests with appointments, and walk-in guests to pique their interest.  Skilled sales and customer service personnel completed the polished experience.

We have no idea how they managed the sound control, but it was impressively quiet in their booth.

(See the writeup in Aviation Week.)

Garmin Provided Unmatched Eye-Candy

Garmin is known for great visual displays on their navigation products, this year they unveiled their VIRB action camera (it looks like a contender for some of the GoPro market) that featured jaw-dropping from-the-cockpit airshow footage.

Garmin also wisely (or by happy accident) located their booth next to a concession stand serving ice cream. Since no one wearing a suit can walk and eat ice cream, the benches and standing areas around the concession stand were always full, and of course bystanders watched the video footage and marketing messages on the large, bright, high-definition Garmin screens, and many kept watching the video footage long after their ice cream was gone.

Lineage 1000 Felt Like Home.

Of all of the static aircraft displays, John was most impressed with the Lineage 1000.¬† “Even though the air conditioning happened to not be working at the time, I just relaxed when I walked in the door of that plane.”

Although it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what that means, the large cabin, fantastic interior design, and low-key sales staff certainly contributed to the feeling that this airplane could be “home” to a mobile team of executives.

This team obviously got all the details right for their display.

Dallas Airmotive Rebuilt An Engine In Their Booth

We always advise our clients to SHOW visitors what they do.  Dallas Airmotive rebuilt a PT6A engine in Booth 228, right before the eyes of visitors.

There is nothing better for building credibility than actually DOING what you do, in a visible and dramatic way.

Read the write-up in AIN.

Obviously, there were a LOT more fantastic displays, skilled sales teams, and activities that we could comment on here, but we thought we’d share five of our favorites.



How to Network at Aviation Events

Why is it important to know how to network?

Aviation is a trust-based industry, and many deals (especially most of the large-ticket transactions) are still made in person, or as a result of at least one in-person meeting.

Events, like trade shows and conventions are a great opportunity to have a number of decision-makers in the same place at the same time.

Opportunities for networking include:

  • Golf tournaments
  • Charity events/service opportunities
  • Trade show booth conversations
  • Cocktail hours
  • Networking breakfasts / lunches / dinners / coffee breaks
  • Sponsored after hours parties


Events like this social mixer at the FSANA (Flight School Association of North America) Convention are great opportunities to start mutually profitable relationships.

Events like this social mixer at the FSANA (Flight School Association of North America) Convention are great opportunities to start mutually profitable relationships.

Since most of these events are mixing business with social activities, it can be difficult to make connections in a way that’s effective but still appropriate.

We all want to avoid those¬† “awkward” moments. In fact, many aviation professionals secretly (or not so secretly) dread the unstructured networking opportunities.

Some of the keys to successful networking:

  • Four questions you can use that will be received well by anyone as a conversation-starter
  • Knowing how much (0r how little!) to tell about your product or service on a first meeting
  • Being able to explain your product or service in terms that anyone could understand, even if they’re not technical (or not technical in your own field)
  • How to pick up on signals that someone is interested in learning more or just being polite
  • Learning to extricate yourself from a conversation that is not productive or worthwhile.

We provide guidelines, experiences and share a few “bloopers” and cautionary tales in our upcoming webinar, “Non-Awkward Networking,” coming up Wednesday June 18th at 1:00.

Not a member? See http://www.AviationBusinessConsultants.com/class for more details.

Looking for opportunities to practice your networking skills at an aviation event?
See http://www.AviationServiceDirectory.com/Events for listings of upcoming aviation industry events.

Know of an association or nonprofit event that we’re missing?¬† Shoot me an email at Paula@AviationBusinessConsultants.com and we’ll add it!

June 2014 Aviation Marketing Calendar

Download our June 2014 Aviation Marketing Calendar

Click here to download the PDF file.

june 2014 aviation marketing calendar


We think that advanced planning and great routines are essential to great marketing results.

Ideally, you have a master calendar for the whole year and have planned your major events.  But each month, you can refine your plan by being aware of events in the industry that your clients and customers are involved with, and as a reminder of key routines that keep your marketing system top-notch.

Marketing Monday Рspend at least an our working each Monday working ON your marketing system, rather than IN it.  Update your website and social media profiles. Plan a campaign. Design a customer welcome package or a referral program. Design a postcard. Do something that creates a lasting benefit to your marketing system.

Webinar Wednesday – spend at least an hour learning something new – whether it’s learning a social media platform, your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, or a direct mail technique.¬† Spending an hour away from “doing work” may seem counter intuitive, but we’ve found that our clients that invest the time in the education of their staff benefit from it.

Facebook Friday РThis actually refers to all social media, but Facebook Friday has a nice alliteration. Plan and create your social media posts for the week.   Connect with your Top Ten Most Desired Customers on all social media platforms. Learn what you can about them, connect and comment as appropriate. Remember that social media is a two-way street, not just a megaphone!

Father’s Day Campaigns –

These can work for B2B OR B2C  companies, and can be offered via any media (email, postcards, social media, etc.)

  • Offer a “Dad’s Day” premium or gift with purchase. (A flight bag, golf gadgets, sunglasses, an aviator tie, a aviation print for his office?)
  • Emphasize how a time or money saving product can help dads get home and spend more time with their families.
  • Accept “Dad of the Year” nominations and offer prizes.
  • Write feature articles about your team members who are Dads, Grandpas, Stepdads, Foster Dads or Big Brothers


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