How to Sell Aviation Art at a Trade Show

How to Sell Aviation Art at a Trade Show

We had a question from Nate, (not his real name) who is an artist that will be showing aviation art at the  NBAA show in Orlando this year.   We have some advice about how to sell more!

“I’m going to display and sell art at NBAA in Orlando in October. I don’t have a ton of money, I’m going ‘all-in’ on this event. I have a great corner booth and am planning a great display. 

How do I make the most of this opportunity?”

In a nutshell –

  • Build a list of potential buyers
  • Create a fantastic catalog
  • Feature one piece of art per hour, with a guest speaker
  • Follow up with specific customers after the show about their favorite piece.

1. Buy, borrow or build a list of potential buyers.

Just showing up at a trade show, and having a great booth, does not guarantee that you’ll have foot traffic to your booth, or make sales.  You’re investing a lot in booth rent and travel.  If you’re looking for advice on how to sell aviation art at a trade show, our first piece of advice is to invite as many people as you can to come see your art!

Make a list of people who are likely buyers:

2. Create a Catalog

How to sell Aviation Art at a trade show - Build a Catalog!You’ll want this to reflect positively on your brand, whether it’s online or on paper.  (Printed catalogs are held in far more esteem by aviation decision makers!)

Besides photos, include the story behind each piece, and information about how the art is created.

There is not a lot of overlap between aviation professionals and art professionals – so you’ll have to assume that your buyers don’t have  a lot of expertise in how to buy art.

Of course they will fall in love with some of your pieces, but even so, they will have to justify the purchase to themselves, to their board, to their accountant, or their best friend.

You can help them assure themselves and other stakeholders that they’re making a great investment by providing information about other pieces you’ve sold, with the prices they’ve sold for. (If that information is impressive!)

Also list galleries and installations that feature your work.

You’ll also want to explain the differences between the types of art you’re selling, and others on the market.  Most non “art people” aren’t clear on the differences between an original, limited edition, or part of a series, or a reproduction.

(But they won’t want to reveal their ignorance at a trade show by asking! )

You can help them become more educated and confident in making a purchase by including all of this information in your catalog so they’re well-informed when they visit your booth.

3. During the Show

How to Sell Aviation Art - the BoothSome of your pieces will naturally be more prominent than others, no matter how well-designed your booth may be.

You can feature a different piece each hour in your most prominent display space.  That way, as people walk by more than once, they will see different pieces.

You can also invite guest speakers to provide a brief (5-10 minute)  lecture or discussion about the subject matter of your art. Invite a pilot who flew that aircraft, or a historian familiar with the period, or even an aircraft designer who can speak about a particular aviation topic.

Publish a schedule of these appearances, and make certain you have a few “family and friends” to attend each presentation or lecture. People will stop and listen!

Collect Leads – offer catalogs in exchange for business cards.

Make notes on the back of each business card about which piece the person asked questions about or spent the most time looking at.

4. After the Show

Send all of your leads repeated follow ups by mail and email.

  • Catalogs/brochures
  • Newsletters including sales
  • Schedules of where to see your art next.
  • Ask for referrals when someone buys a piece.  “Who else do you know that has similar taste in art?”

Wrapping Up

Each piece you sell, and each event you attend, extends you network as an artist, and improves your chances of selling you next piece at the price you want.

Need Help Selling Aviation Art?

Download our Trade Show Checklist, or  find 30 minutes for a free consultation to talk with us about how to meet your goals!

Aviation Writers, Speakers and Educators are also Salespeople!

Although sales has a (sometimes well-deserved) bad reputation among aviation writers, journalists, speakers, podcasters and educators; sales is an integral part of the job.

Convincing your readers, listeners, and students to at least listen to your ideas is a necessary step to being effective in any of these fields.

In this episode, John and I talk about where our attitudes about sales come from, how the best teachers (and even doctors) are great salespeople, and discuss how it’s possible to keep your values intact and STILL be a very effective salesperson.

Aviation writers, speakers and educators don’t necessarily like to think of themselves as salespeople. In fact, many of us, maybe without even realizing it,  carry a rather negative stereotype of the sales profession, and of salespeople.

The impressions that stick with us most effectively are the ones that are particularly good or particularly bad.

And most of us have had a particularly bad experience with a salesperson at one time or another in our lives.

Who hasn’t?

But I promise  that learning essential sales skills will NOT make you have bad breath or  closet full of bad polyester prints!

But Sales is the “Dark Side!”

My undergrad degree was in Communications and Journalism.

We learned rather quickly that advertising and sales are from the “dark side” of the newspaper and magazine business.

Editorial is supposed to be clean and impartial, sales and advertising are a “necessary evil.”

Many writers would have nothing to do with sales or advertising if they had their “druthers.”

Most of us get our attitudes about sales and marketing also from our parents.

I remember my Dad talking about salespeople, and missionaries  (he grew up in Salt Lake City, at a time when LDS missionaries were particularly persistent!

He also had a close friend that got involved with a multi level marketing company and had a really bad experience.   He lost a lot of money, felt a lot of pressure to strong-arm family and friends into buying products, and generally discolored everyone’s feelings about salespeople.

BUT. . . .

Sales Skills Won’t Make You Evil. (Unless you Already Are.)

The truth of the matter is that you can’t be as effective as a writer, speaker OR educator unless you are also good at sales.

Here’s why.

Part of the job of being a successful writer, is getting readers.  You’ve heard the term “the headline sells the article?”

Great writers also cultivate an audience that looks forward to their next article.

These writers are worth more to the publications they write for, because they bring more readers to the table.

“Bestselling” authors get paid more than . . . “best author!”

Great speakers are able to “get butts in seats.”

Aviation conventions and events are always looking for keynote and education session speakers who bring a large audience, and are able to keep them riveted in place until the end of the event.

It doesn’t matter how great your speech is if you’re talking to an empty room.

Being influential means “selling” something, even if it is simply selling concepts and ideas you’d like the audience to consider.

Great instructors also “sell” concepts.

Students remember things better when you can be convincing.

We all want to be able to influence more people.

Better sales skills help you get more article and book assignments. More speaking gigs. Rooms packed with more people. Podcasts with higher numbers. And more classes to teach, with more students in them.

And more revenue.

And more revenue allows you to travel more.

Perfect your skills.

Hire an assistant.

Get a better computer or better software.

So, since we all have to do sales tasks, why not get better at it?

We decided to do a webinar specifically for aviation writers, speakers and educators, because what they do is SO important.

Writers, Speakers and Educators are Leaders of the Aviation Industry.

There are some masterful salespeople in our industry  – Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Lynn Tilton, and many of our clients!

There are also a lot of folks who are still under the impression that if they  produce a good, honest product or service, that the wold will beat a path to their door.

I’m sorry to disappoint them.  That’s just not the way the world works. But it’s fairly easy to do some good marketing and solve that problem.

Writers, speakers an educators are the ones who influence the direction of the industry and the way the rest of the world feels about our industry. We’d like to help them be more effective. for the good of the industry AND for our own good.

Here’s an example – No Plane No Gain “Sells” Business Aviation.

In 2008, the four major auto dealers each flew to Washington DC in their own private jet.

They probably thought nothing about it at the time, it was  a standard business practice, and an expedient way to manage a crisis.

The public didn’t see it that way. There was a massive outcry about private aviation which had become a symbol of corporate excess.

To their credit, NBAA has been doing a massive damage control campaign, “selling” the idea of business aviation as a cost-effective business tool.

And they’re doing a good job.  But it illustrates how important it is to be able to “sell” our side  of the story.  The side with the best use of sales skills often wins.

And that should be you!

So, what’s the difference between effective, ethical salespeople with intact values, versus the slimy, repellent type of sales that we can’t get away from fast enough?

We think it’s intention.

If your intention is “clean,” then you can be as convincing as you need to be.

A person with clean intentions is looking for win-wins, and is honestly looking for the best possible outcome for the prospect, rather than looking for his own next paycheck.

Come to our Webinar

Free Webinar - Essential Sales Skills for Aviation Speakers, Writers, & EducatorsWe also announce our latest free webinar – Sales Essentials for Aviation Writers, Speakers and Educators, to be held on May 2, 2018 at 1:00 PM. Join us here!

Participants will receive a set of email (or LinkedIn) templates for tasks such as:

  • Pitching articles and/or press releases to editors and publishers.
  • Pitching guest appearances to podcasters
  • Speaking engagement proposals
  • Follow Ups

We look forward to seeing you there!