9 Tips for More Productive Aviation Trade Shows

 In Aviation Marketing
Aviation Trade Show Tips

Trade shows like the NBAA and Paris Air Show play a big role in aviation marketing.

The SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In & Expo is just around the corner. If you’re not attending or exhibiting there, chances are you’ll be at Oshkosh, NBAA2013 or any of the hundreds of smaller trade shows and expos taking place this year. There’s a venue for every aviation niche: maintenance, training, light sport, military, avionics, drones – way too many to mention here, but you get the idea.

Trade shows account for a big portion of most aviation businesses’ marketing budgets. No surprise since they provide ample opportunities to meet associates, vendors, customers and prospects face to face, under one roof, all at the same time. It’s possible to generate a wealth of contacts, leads and sales in a few – although long – days.

But that also means there’s plenty at stake. Trade shows require a significant investment of time, money and manpower, so if you walk away empty-handed, the cost is high.

What are the most productive trade shows for your aviation business? How could your exhibit generate more qualified leads? And how can you turn more of those leads into sales-winning relationships? It takes careful planning and organization to ensure you’re getting the highest possible return on your investment.

Before you start packing for your next appearance, use the following guidelines to help draw up a detailed action plan prior to the big event:

  1. Decide your goals for the show. Determine how many meeting, leads and sales you need to generate in advance.
  2. Promote your appearance. If you plan to exhibit, feature that fact on your website; email customers and prospects; distribute a press release; and post in you social media channels.
  3. Schedule important appointments in advance. Reach out to customers and vendors who will be attending the show.
  4. Do something interesting to attract attention. To draw people to your booth, hire talent, create a multimedia presentation, or offer special promotions – just keep it relevant to your business
  5. Staff your booth with knowledgeable people. Recruit employees that can capably answer questions about your business, product or service. Train them on any special messaging prior to the event.
  6. Have a system to capture contact information. Keep track of people who visit your booth. Most major shows provide exhibitors with scanners that can read attendees’ name tags, but keep a printed form at the ready just in case.
  7. Have a system to follow-up on leads. If you’re going to send follow-up information after the show, make sure it’s ready to send immediately. Potential sales are most often lost when too much time passes between the show and follow-up.
  8. Track leads and sales. Track the show’s leads and sales, relative to the costs for exhibition, travel and promotional materials. You’ll quickly learn which shows and which tactics yield the best results. Track meetings and media coverage, too, for a more complete picture.
  9. Step away from the booth and explore. Use down-time to walk the floor and network, or to get a look at your competition. As they’re all gathered in one place, this is competitive analysis at its simplest.

After the show, assess every aspect of the event. Get plenty of feedback from staff who participated, as well as attendees when possible. Then realign your goals and fine-tune your approach for the next show on your schedule.

For more ways to maximize your trade show ROI, download our free report “Tips for a Successful Trade Show”.

Which trade shows will you be attending this year? How do you track their effectiveness? Tell us in the comments below.

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