It’s no small feat to create a viable, yet nimble business in today’s air cargo sector. There are economic pressures to contend with. Challenges with automation, digitalization, and cybersecurity. Promises for sustainability initiatives like net zero emissions. And, the continuous ebb and flow in demand and capacity. Honestly, it’s a wonder you’ve got a moment to read this blog! But – keep reading! We’ve got some treasures to share with you to supercharge your sales pipeline. 

Today’s post is the first in a series all about ACHIEVING IMPACTFUL ROI by investing in event marketing. Did you know that 52% of business leaders believe that trade shows and events provide the greatest ROI compared to other marketing channels (Tradeshow Labs, 2023)? Since more than half of today’s business leadership finds that event marketing gives the BEST RETURN on dollars spent, spending some time establishing your event marketing strategy may be a worthwhile cause.

While conferences and trade shows offer invaluable face-to-face opportunities to learn, network, and build relationships, event marketing budgets can be quickly mislabeled as untrackable and deprioritized because they are perceived as offering an unclear ROI. 

With the right tools in place, your event marketing budget can be ROI-driven, trackable and predictable.

Whether you’re an industry veteran or a new business startup, it’s likely you’ve developed a marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals. And, if your marketing strategy already includes participation at one or more conferences, you may find yourself on the line for proving return-on-investment. 

TIP: When developing your budget for event sponsorships and attendance, it’s critical to begin with current ROI benchmarks.

ROI Benchmarks (Tradeshow Labs, 2023)

  • Among Fortune 500 companies, 14% reported a 5:1 return on investment (ROI) from their trade show exhibitions, earning $5 for every $1 invested.
  • Converting a trade show lead is 38% less expensive than relying on sales calls alone.
  • On average, it takes approximately 3.5 sales calls to close a lead generated at a trade show.
  • Up to 10% of trade show leads will convert given the right follow up tactics.

Go After the 5:1 Return-on-Investment

Achieving a 5:1 return-on-investment requires careful planning and event execution that results from tailoring your event marketing to the latest airfreight industry trends and your niche in the air cargo supply chain. No two conferences or trade shows are identical. The attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, location, and current market economy make each annual event unique. Impactful ROI at a 5:1 ratio is a long-term target that requires practice to achieve. 

Get started with these four practical steps to boost your event ROI.

  1. Select Your Conferences

First, you’ll want to review your business goals for the year (or upcoming term) and your corresponding marketing strategy. A thorough review will ensure that your conference list aligns with them. Then, decide what you want to accomplish with your conference budget.

  • Brand awareness?
  • New leads?
  • Education?
  • Exposure to new products and services?

When you research and review potential events like the AirCargo Conference, take time to think about how your attendance will support your goals. Targeted communication from leading industry trade associations (like the AfA, AEMCA, and ACI-NA) paired with refined online searches of event listings will help you build your conference list. 

  1. Decide – Attendee, Exhibitor, or Sponsor?

Once you’ve determined what conferences your business will attend, it’s time to choose how you’ll participate in each event. Your role at each event should align with the event’s primary focal point as well as the conference target audience. Carefully plan your budget while considering how to make the most impact toward meeting your goals. 

  • Register as an attendee to check out the latest industry innovations, learn from experts, and network – and remain in control of your entire schedule. 
  • Sponsor an event to amplify your brand’s presence. 
  • Exhibit at a booth to showcase your latest products or services. 

The AirCargo Conference has opportunities in all of these categories with a range of registration options. 

  1. Implement an Event Marketing Campaign

Once you sort out your registration, you’ll need to plan a well-defined marketing campaign focused on each event. Ensure each campaign executes BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER the event. Begin by revisiting the marketing objectives you established when you created your initial conference list and align your event campaign planning with those goals in mind. 

According to Tradeshow Planning Stats by Tradeshow Labs, 76% of exhibitors integrate their event with other marketing campaigns. The more your event marketing fits with your other marketing messaging, the better! Preparing an engaging marketing campaign that runs before, during, and after the conference will make attendees more likely to engage in person with you at the conference – where you’ll experience the biggest payoff in a face-to-face interaction. 

  1. Leverage Email and Social Media Marketing

Consider leveraging the power of email and social media to channel your messaging. 42% of conference exhibitors leverage email marketing before a trade show, and 61% use social media to advertise their attendance (Tradeshow Labs, 2023). Develop an event campaign theme and execute it with a series of cohesive messages on both channels. Be sure to customize for your audience segments, and remember that authentic, candid, and clear communication usually gets the best results. 

Before you know it, it’ll be time for conference follow-ups! Next up in our IMPACTFUL ROI series is just that – tried and true tactics to convert conference leads effectively. Stay tuned for “Converting Leads – Actionable Steps to Improve ROI” on the AirCargo blog!

Remember, as an air cargo industry expert with an important message, product, or service to share, your target audience WILL benefit from your attendance at leading industry events, such as the annual AirCargo 2024 Conference, and your event ROI will prove it. Secure your seat at AirCargo 2024 and MIX IT UP with leading air cargo experts in Louisville, KY, U.S.A.!