NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention 2010

I arrived back at the office with my brain bursting with ideas after attending NBAA 2010 in Atlanta, GA. The National Business Aviation Association hosted over 900 exhibitors at this year’s annual convention, and I picked up some great marketing ideas for next year!

I saw some brilliant freebies at many of the booths, perfect for the trade show atmosphere. First, one company handed out pedometers with their logos. This is genius, as everyone is trekking around the exhibit hall all day, mentioning how they’ve walked “a ton” during the show. Now, they can prove just how many steps they walked! Second, stain remover pens. PERFECT at a place where people are running around without access to a quick change of clothes, scarfing down food as they walk, and generally being in a situation where they might spill something on themselves. Lastly, I didn’t actually see this one, but it’s been brought up: hand sanitizer with the logo. Again, it makes perfect sense when you’ve got thousands of people shaking hands, grabbing escalator handrails, and handing out marketing pieces. I’m not one to pick up tons of freebies that I can’t use, but these three stood out as useful and intelligent for a trade show.

I was once again struck by how well products display vs. services. Many of the interior manufacturers, engine manufacturers, and airframe manufacturers had full-size plane fuselage, mini-bars, seating, functioning engine models, and parts displayed for attendees to tour and touch. It’s hard to put a tangible item with a service, but I think the ability to engage the sense of touch is key in a trade show situation. These tangible items allow customers to really understand what your company produces, and engages one more sense to make your message stick in their memories. I’m working on ways to improve our ability to engage the sense of touch for our services.

Finally, it was once again impressed upon me that nothing beats being there, face-to-face. You can Skype, Tweet, connect on LinkedIn, FedEx overnight, and have conference calls until you’re blue in the face, but nothing beats a good ‘ole handshake while looking someone directly in the eye. While technology significantly enhances our ability to do business, there’s something to be said for meeting in person, at least once. I know our company was able to make some deals happen in a more timely manner, and we were able to make some connections that we haven’t been able to attain via email.

I’m still processing everything that I saw, heard, and touched at the show, but these three broad ideas really stood out. I’m excited to distill all of my NBAA experiences into a comprehensive strategy to improve our display at next year’s NBAA!

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