The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode 102 · 3 months ago

Connecting Physical and Digital Worlds Through Trade Shows

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Are trade shows worth it? That seems to be a divisive question these days. But here's the truth: Like with many forms of marketing or sales activities, it comes down to execution. 

Today’s guest, Jake Hall, Keynote Speaker and Content Creator of The Manufacturing Millennial, details how to connect the physical world of a trade show with the digital world that exists before, during and after that event.  

Join us as we discuss:

  • How to create value and content from trade shows
  • How building relationships with other companies strengthens your marketing
  • The importance of developing personal brands 

What I see happening more is more digital content, more resources being produced from the trade show that are going to allow it to live months beyond and then months leading up to the next one. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving mid size manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Jake Hall, better known is the manufacturing millennial, has a passion for manufacturing, automation and skilled trades and has grown a following of fortyzero industry members with over twenty five million views on his content. Through Keno presentations, panels and videos, Jake ignites conversations about the latest and manufacturing and automation to excite to the current and future workforce and enable companies to leverage technology to drive new opportunities. Jake, welcome to show. Hey, thanks, Joe, appreciate having me again. Yeah, for sure. I was looking back at our at my list of guests and you were episode number twenty, is about a year and a half ago, and I remember. It's been a while. Yeah, it has, it has. I mean I've talked to you, I feel like a number of times since it, at least you know, digitally, and we've chatted on the phone a few times, I know. But yeah, that was already year and a half Goo, which is nuts, and I remember. I'm gonna I'm going to bring this up because I remember you telling me this is your first podcast when you did that a year and a half go, and you you've probably been on about you know, a hundred since. I bad because I see you everywhere online, but I'm going to take pride in saying that I was the first one to put the manufacturing millennial on the podcastre you go. That's fantastic. I...

...didn't realize it's been that long already. That's crazy. Yeah, yeah, it's a in just eighteen months. How much can change? Is Pretty Crazy, isn't it? Oh Man, so, yeah, so, Anyway, that was episode twenty. This is number one, hundred and two. So it's good to have you back, nanny. I'm excited lots, you know, a lot hasn't changed, but a lot has changed, and this past eighteen months. Yeah, it's yeah, you're absolutely right and we're going to talk about some of that here shortly. So, Jake, I was you know, I wanted to get you back on here at some point and I was just thinking a few weeks ago because I see you talk about so much online. You're such an amazing advocate for manufacturing and skilled trades and you have a lot of visibility, a lot of followers. One thing I see you doing is, and I see this with you, I see this with guys like Chris Lukey, who I know you're a good buddy of Aaron pray there from Fed acts, and I see you guys out there, like on the trade show circuit constantly and you're you know, you're at all these events, you're traveling, and then I you know, I hear a lot of people talking about, Hey, trade shows are dying, like they're you know, there are so much better ways to spend your money and frankly, and a lot of those cases I agree that there are a lot of ways, because I see the way companies waste money, but I don't think it's as black and white as trade shows are good or trade shows are bad. I just think that it's interesting to watch some of you guys and what you're doing in such an innovative way and in particularly with kind of robotics and automation shows. So I wanted to just kind of open it up to you up front here and just hear from you, like tell me why these alive events in person, the trade shows, other manufacturing summits or events I have been so valuable to you. Yeah, I mean, when you look, when you look at this, this this transformation of the past like three years for twenty night, things things were very good. The manufacturing industry was arise. Spring of two thousand and twenty covid hit. Everything got shut down. We saw a lot of stuff. Then go to virtual content and virtual events and virtual trade shows, and then, you know, we're once again coming out of this...

...pandemic and we're seeing a lot of in person events togain and I think there's a value for each one in each area. Digital content and digital reach is one of those things where it's going to continue to grow. It's never going to go away. But I think there's a lot of confusion on our in person trade shows going to be valuable and the future, and my argument is absolutely yes. Well, we're going to be seeing terms of a transition. Why I do trade shows as as extremely valuable, is a really a few things. One is the networking, being able to go to a lot of these events, talk to a lot of people in person, be able to understand what problems companies are having, and I think it's one of those things where a lot of a lot of discussion within the company itself happens around the Watercooler, like we talked about, you know, Aleve Tho, small things that we all learned from, that we were missing when we all transferred to teams and working from home for a bit, was all these micro conversations, and I think what we're seeing these trade shows a lot of these micro conversations that are still happening about what's happened in the industry, who is partnering with WHO, How can we work with this company to bring a solution? Those types of conversations don't happen over an email and and a lot of times they don't even happen over the phone. They happen in person because it's much more of a casual event. So networking is one reason why I think in person trade shows and conferences are going to be around for pretty much ever. On the other event is the other reason is technology. When we're going from manufacturers perspective, would we're going out the road, we want to see the newest technology that's going to be put into our our manufacturing floor or a plant or our warehouse or distribution center. We can see a rough idea of what technology is available through video and online, but unless you're seeing that in person and talking to a subject matter of expert, you're never going to get that same amount of value and understanding of what is changing in the industry unless you're there in person and add I think this is the biggest thing. Where from an...

Exhibitor Perspective or for a company perspective that wants to know is a trade show right for me, I think you got to do a couple things. What is what is your goal is to take away? Is it to drive brand awareness for your company? Are you a new company and a lot of people don't know you? Well, for an investment of a certain amount of dollars, you get a lot of people walking through your trade show or through your booth very quickly to see your product. But then you got to ask how are you going to draw attention to your booth if you're just setting up a three and a half by eight foot table on your floor and you just have a bunch of parts laid out or product laid out or slide with the presentation and you're sitting in a couple chairs and back. You're not engaging with your audience or you're not a drawing them into your booth. So that's a big thing where you know you and I've been to a lot of trade shows. I'm still seeing them trade shows. Every fifth booth I walk by there's two people with their hands their head down, with a phone in their hands, looking down, sitting in a chair and like why are you here? Then people aren't going to walk up to you and engage with you if you're not being engageable, and that that's just the biggest thing for me. So from a company perspective, trade shows are great, but you have to invest in the way that you're going to pull value out of it. What you put into it is what you're going to get out of it. So I think that's just the big thing for for me from trade shows is getting that audience engagement. But as well, from what I think, a trade show creates a lot of value as it creates a lot of content beyond the trade show. You have that a reason to talk and reach out to your audit the audience leading up to the event, but then you also have the ability to create a lot of content at the trade show with your booth, with customers, and be able to take those in turn into a case study, get it some on site interviews of customers that you're working with and create future content that that can be shared digital. Great stuff there. So that I think that's a really good lead into some of the things that I see on Linkedin...

...with, say, you and Chris Lukey. You've got these branded tables set up right where, you've got man, he's actually millennial, and you've got manufacturing happy hour, which is Chris's show. Tell us what you're doing, because I think you guys are innovating in ways and thinking differently about how to use this venue when your whole audience, or at least a large percentage of are right there in person, to not just be sitting back waiting for people to walk by and in such a passive way you're sort of like creating value. Tell us a little bit about what you guys have been doing. Yeah, it's the idea of bringing digital content to an imperson trade show. So Chris has the manufacturing happy our podcast I do a lot of let's talk manufacturing, which is linkedin live conversations. But what we're doing is we're valuing the audience that's there and we're able to bring out these micropieces of conversation and content to bring people. And you when you go to this conferences, there are so many subject matter experts and their own industries and their own specialties walking by. If you could, as harness of conversation for five to ten minutes with this person, ask what are they doing in the industry, where they seeing the industry going, what problems are they addressing with their solutions, and you can say hey, sit down with me for a quick ten minute conversation with you, will share what you're doing online to our audience. It's a win for everybody. Chris and I are able to get a ton of valuable conversations and insight from ministry experts, but then we can say hey, while you're here at an in person the event we're going to make digital content for you to be shared, and I think this is one of those things were more companies and events were even seeing happening. So at the upcoming show in June, depending on when you're listening to this podcast, there's a massive automation show called automate in Detroit in June this year, Chris and I have lined up where we're going to be doing forty different interviews live that we're going to be stream live and also be available for for download later, of all these different manufacturers in the industry. So once again we're taking in person value and creating...

...digital content from it for future and current listeners. Yeah, that's so smart and it's reminds me a lot of a lot of the things that I love about the podcasting medium. I did an episode on this recently for our episode a hundred of my show and kind of looking back on what the impact has been. But a lot of the things that I think apply here. When you're doing what you're doing is a you're meeting New People, you're talking to people that you know, some of them you know, some of them may know you, but you're building new relationships there. You're creating some credibility for yourself and your company and your personal brand by doing this. It's amazing market research. I mean, think of probably what you learned by just talking to so many people, right, and like getting different perspectives just makes you smarter and makes you able to talk to your audience better. So I think it's really smart. And then you know what you talked about, like all this kind of forty interviews, like the amount of content you guys will then be able to publish and the snowball effect of all that after the live event, like that's what's really interesting these because now you're scaling this thing that happens over a few days and you're able to make it live on yes, whereas I think the mindset traditionally for a lot of companies is in a trade show, it's like all right, all r eggs in this basket, like we better, we better go there and be ready to, you know, shake hands and scan badges and come back with business cards that we can, you know, start calling people. And if the mindset was how do I build relationships, how do I create some content that can turn this into something bigger than a two or three day event, like I think that's where your head needs to be. Yeah, you know, and I look at this to Joe, you know, with with the just the money investment at a trade show, at a minimum you're spending ten, twenty, thirtyzero dollars going to some of these trade shows. You have a great backtrop, you have a lot of company content, a lot of designs. Why are you then not creating and shooting video in your booth talking about your brands and your solutions in your content? You know, if you live in set up a studio for you...

...to film in that people can be walking by. Use that booth as a studio to create content. So it's not even like people like you, Joe, or me or or Chris, who have podcast and live conversations. It can be for the company itself. You know, Leverage Your own marketing team to talk about your event and create content. You know another thing real quick. I had mentioned this so much before. I did a study, but to a show in Chicago fall of last year and there was about a hundred and eighty to a hundred and ninety manufacturers or companies exhibiting at this show in Chicago. Forty five percent of didn't even make a social media post leading up to the show that they were going to be at this show. So talk about an incredible miss for the audience that is currently following or engaging you on social media to let them know that you're even going to be at this show. They could have been at that show and they might have walked the whole entire show, because it's a big show to walk. But if they knew that they are familiar with the company that they're following already is going to be there, they would have probably made a larger effort to go and visit you or to spend a little bit more time seeing what's happening at your event or your show. That if they never knew your existent. That that's what blows my mind is it's not in person versus digital, it's in person and digital. And if you're as a marketing team or you as an executive, listening to this and you'r have an upcoming trade shows, you didn't be talking about your event before, during and after to create the largest value out of it, because all of a sudden, if let's put it let's put a couple numbers out there, Joe. Let's say you put Twentyzero dollars for four days at a trade show it's five thousand dollars a day. That's what you create value for. But then all of a sudden, if you're creating five or six posts leading up to it and you created four or five videos at the...

...event that you can post later, well, how much more content and value did you get for that? Twentyzero dollars then, just those four days. How many more marketing qualified leads can you get from posting your content that you filmed at that show on social media where you can keep getting a return on your investment for the time and money you put into that trade show six months later? Yeah, I think that's all really good. I mean, here's a little mini playbook for you. I'm just kind of thinking as you're talking here, Jake. But you know, let's say the automation trade show you're going to in Detroit coming up here right like, if you're somebody who is exhibiting at this show, you could probably find a videographer in the city of Detroit for two three thousand dollars for the day to come with you to the show. They could you could come in, you could have them film. If you've got a really interesting product. You know, I don't know, robotic arm doing something or whatever it is. Right like, if you have something that's legit really interesting to look at. You've got it set up, your booth probably looks great. How about if you have somebody film you right next to it talking about the same sort of things you'd be talking about to somebody who walked by Your booth? You know, explain the value, point out some interesting features and, in addition to that, so now you leave the show with, you know, hours worth of video content you could clip out and then think about the next show that comes up a few months down the road. Now you have ten videos to promote and say hey, we're going to have the same stuff here exactly, and you spit out one of those every day for the you know, few weeks leading up to the show on Linkedin, you have your people shared and say come see this in person, this is what it looks like. We're want to show you this in person. We're going to be there. It's a more compelling message and just saying hey, we're going to be at booth fifty six next week, which is good to like, yeah, let people know you're there, but there are ways to do this where, like you said, you're sort of merging the digital and the physical and creating value all in both places. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, and I think it's one of those things that we never really appreciated digital content until the pandemic happened. I mean that's that's how I...

...started my thing on social media. Is once the pandemic kicked off and I was working it outside sales of the time, I said I didn't a way to reach my audience because I can't see him person anymore. Well, now the sudden, I can get three hundred and Fiftyzero views of my content and seven days, you know, for my growth. Now I have fortyzero people visiting my profile every week. It's just it's insane numbers out there. So what you can do is you can leverage that content to build your social audience and then with your social audience you can have more people come to your trade show and it's just it's just revolving door of being able to connect to people the other three hundred and sixty days of the year when you're not seeing about a trade show. Yeah, absolutely, and man the power of that, because you think, I mean, how much of your audience is going to be at any given trade show, you know, hopefully a decent amount, but it they're busy events, there's a lot going on. You might get a few minutes with with a lot of these people at best. And he's the other thing. When people post stuff, when I see people post stuff digitally, like on Linkedin, it's usually a check out this this thing we did or this event we're going to be at. It comes from the company profile. It probably gets ten likes and it probably got, you know, a thousand impressions at best. But if you're building a following, so the individuals on your team, I mean of the power of your personal brand, Jake, for you, but also for your company like you, it's a major asset to have the attention of the people you're trying to reach. It's not that much different than any other form of medium. Like you know, you think about in with consumer products, like think about buying a super bowl add right, for if you're a consumer product like you have a those. The reason they're so expensive is because you have a massive audience. Will you can build that or you know, organically you can also pay for that to some extent. But people are missing that. Like if you're going to post something and say come check out our trade show booth and and you know five...

...hundred or thousand people are going to see that Linkedin Post. It's not going to have that much effect. For God, when you are constantly spitting out in interesting videos and images and interviews with experts and building your brand that way, you're building this audience and then when you have something to promote or an event to draw people to, you've got, you know, fifty x as many people who are looking at it from the right audience. Right. Yeah, Oh, absolutely. You know, you hit on that and and we could have a full conversation about personal branding and the value it is to create your company to have your employees become their own personal brands. But just to hit on a little bit, encourage your employees to talk and engage with this and give them the flexibility to connect and spend time networking on linked in. I am still the firm believer that people buy from people, people don't buy from companies. And if you can build an audience that's engaging other people or you're engaging or partnering with other people or companies who are attending those trade shows, I think that's huge. I think one of the best marketing strategies that's out there is by a company called universal robots. They're a big collaborative robotic manufacture of the space. Probably a lot of people are familiar with them, but they made a post on Linkedin last week where they were highlighting their booth at the show, at automant show. They were highlighting the thirty seven other booths that have what are their robots at their show, saying go visit this company, go visit that company, go visit that company. You literally just took your reach from one company to thirty seven and that view that that seemed could be viewed from your employee perspective instead of your one linked in page. Now it's your employees professional linked in pages and you can't force them to post. It is their perfective. There is their own personal profiles. You need to realize that. But a lot of people, especially your sales and marketing teams or your executive teams, they want that engagement and they want to have...

...those connections. And it's not even just them, it's your partners, who are you working with that brought this solution to you that you're sharing. If you'RE A systems integrator? Who are the other robot companies, the PLC companies, the vision companies that are giving you products to build your solution off of? Who are the partners that you're working with and and leverage their social media pages as well. I think it's one of those things where people miss a lot of opportunity on that, on how easy this from a digital media perspective to have another company promote your content and it's absolutely not like, for example, I make a post highlightting a manufacturing video, ABB or Kuca will get ahold of that video with their audience share and promoted and boom, my video will get an extra fiftyzero views because Kuca, who has four hundred fiftyzero followers on Linkedin, shared it. That's one of those things is is leverage that way. And going back to the inperson trade shows, how are you working with your partners to promote your booth in your own trade show? If you'RE A if you're a system getegreator solutions provider and you're you're using all these other different software solutions or product solutions, are you working with their team to have them say hey, go check out your company and booth ABC or one, two three, that you're at the event and that's just the whole entire area. It's it's not just while you're at the show, it's before, it's during, it's after. Great Point. Yeah, you and I both know Eddie Saunders. You know flex machine tools, and he talks about the buddy branding system. And how do you, you know, work with companies who have something have a common audience. You complement each other and you can want if you can bring value in one way the other in another way. You leverage each other. You Cross pollinade audiences. So I think that's a great...

...point. A missed opportunity by many. I think people just kind of get scared to, you know, think out of the box a little bit and do something different. So, yeah, I love that. Any coop of that term, Buddy Brande. I think it's his. Yeah, I think that's it. Yeah, that's a great yeah, it is. It's great. I'd be had a really good conversation about that. So so let's art. We've talked a lot about the digital how do you digitize elements and fuse it with what you're what's going on physically? I want to get back to the physical for a moment here. Tell me, you know, pre pandemic versus. Now we're recording this in May of two thousand and twenty two. What sort of things are you seeing companies doing a little bit differently to maybe be a little smarter with their budgets or, you know, other Dov seen? You know, I know you've walked the halls of a lot of shows. Like what are some of the more interesting things or innovative things you've seen happening at trade shows, you know, just in maybe the last year or even few months. So so, more from a marketing perspective than that necessary from a technology like what they're showcasing technology. Yeah, exactly. Like wonder how are people using the physical venue differently and so that it's not just, like you said earlier, couple guys staring at their phone, sitting in the booth waiting for people to come by? Yeah, you know, I think you know it's nothing necessary new. I just think it's the people who are engaging get the most attention. I mean there was one booth that had a putting green at their booth and people will go in there and say hey, you go off or coming there and try and put a hole in one will give you a, you know, Gift Card if you can make here. Some like that. You know, that type of engagement gets the conversation going in a lot of ways. The other area I think I see a lot of is less like physical just pamphlets everywhere, but more along the lines of maybe a some video that's highlighting a lot of different applications. We what people need to realize is there there's multiple audiences who are attending a trade show related...

...to your brand. There's the audience who's already familiar with your brand and and what you do as a solution, and then there's the company. There's the people out there who have no idea what your company is doing and and I think you for it from a from a perspective. You need to ask, do we want to attract the brand new people or do we want to have conversations with the people who are already familiar with us? And I think that's how you need to build out your mark, your booth, in your your content in a way. For me, I always view trade shows as a way how do you get a lot of people who might not be familiar with who you are as a company into your booth. So you need to have a simple story. If you're out there and you're trying to get really deep into a lot of products with all the details of how your solution works, that's too complex. In my area, unit is simply go out there and to show how you're solving a problem. One of the booths that I had when I saw I can't remember exactly what it was, Joe, but I walked, I walk by there and I think it said do you have downtime? Talk to us and that was it. You know, and and and the and the topic was general enough where it's going to it's going to bring in a wide a white audience. But then it forces the person. You know what, I do have downtime? Let me talk to them to see what they can do the Alb us. So the simplicity of a booth a lot of times creates a broad aspect where people are that going to gage you, engaging you. Now you can't keep it so simple. So no as any idea what you do, but you need to find something that's simple relatable enough we're going to put on a large enough audience. Now that's great. I mean that's simple stuff too. Like you know, these are things that anybody can do. If you're just thinking about what's the message it's going to be received. How can we just stop people? Engage them, be human and you said it earlier. People want to buy from people, which is very true. It's that that's not going away and I think that's one of those misconceptions about social media. To is I hear that sometimes. I got...

...we don't need to do this, people want to meet me in person and they yeah, you know, they don't buy from you know, through social media. Well, of course they don't buy through social media, but you can, whether it's there or in person. It's a matter of starting conversations with real people and, you know, humanizing the brand of bit right. Yeah, absolutely, I think it's the same thing as well. When we look at you know, I think there's that rule of powerpoint. Don't let any of your text be larger than like thirty point five because it's hard for people to read. It's the same thing with your trade show, your trade show booth. You don't need a bunch of words to attract people. Of Use imagery, use video as a way to drive people and have a physical product there that's engaging to bring people into those conversations. People aren't attractive to at least from my perspective. A person is like, oh, it's a five hundred word essay on a bulletin board. Let me read that. You know, it's one of those things where you need to understand where you drive the most engagement from good stuff. Jake, how do you see the trade show landscape continuing to evolve in the years ahead? You've, you know, you've been a long time attendee of various shows. You've kind of seen, you know, the transition to be pre pandemic, Postpran depandemic here, hopefully, if we're post pandemic by now. But tell me kind of how you see things evolving, if at all. You know I see. I see trade shows becoming more digital while in person still so, like I said, what we're rolling out at the automated event in Detroit this year we're having a almost imagine a esp and gained Ay live booth where we're having the actions happening at the show, but we want to bring that show to the people were were not they're at the game. So what companies or what event organizations and trade shows can do is from a whole perspective. What are you doing to make sure that your trade show creates the most of value for its attendees and its exhibitors? And a lot of times that's beyond just the four days that...

...are there? So what I see happening more is more digital content, more resources being produced from the trade show that are going to allow it to live months beyond and then months leading up to the next one. I think that's great. I really like that at just you can extend this two or three day event. There are a lot of ways to do it. If you go in and just think about what that strategy is going to be. And can you film stuff? Can you interview people? Can what content can you make from this that can be an asset into the future? So that's not just about bad scans and business cards you collect. Right, Jake, you are we wrap up here. You're a major advocate for manufacturing, for the future of the manufacturing workforce. I see you garnering a lot of attention from the sector and promoting promoting manufacturing in general. What has you most excited about the future manufacturing? When manufacturing evolves from a very physical labor task to what I would cause stem industry science, technology, engineering and math industry right now, when you look at Gen z's, which I think is anyone under the age of twenty two right now, a survey went out and said where do you where's the most attraction for these future for these future workers? Thirty five percent of them said stem as a career choice. Three point five percent said manufacturing. Those are alarming numbers when you look at only three point five percent of current Gen z's want to pursue manufacturing as a career. How do we take that stem category, which is thirty five percent, and make that manufacturing? And we do that by adapting new technologies, new automation, new solutions that are going to enable a digital worker and to the manufacturing force. And that's everything from robotics to software, to device wearables, to the interconnected operator...

...leveraging their phones and and devices. That's how we're going to take in and leveraging ai to make robotics more flexible with within solutions. If we can take that stem category and turn that and make manufacturing a part of that, that's what the future of our industry that's what I'm most excited about seeing. Yeah, you know, it's the interesting thing and probably the positive thing is that stem is right there in manufacturing and in the direction it's going. People just don't know it. I think it's the it's how do we change that perception and help, you know, Gen Z, help their parents right and understand what's even possible, because I think it's I heard this from a lot of people, but it's sort of the view on manufacturing is not really in line with where it actually is today and where it's going. So I like that absolutely very cool. Well, Jake, is there anything you want to add to this conversation that I did not ask you about? No, I think I think that's a great summary. You know, I guess the one other thing you know this is this is exactly the actual sing a podcast. I always you know what, my only my final speel that it is give is engage locally with your community. If you're a manufacturer and you're having a hard time finding labor, having a far time finding jobs of people to come to work for, your local community is a great place to start. And if you're not engaged with your local high school, your local Community College, is your local universe cities, your state's manufacturing executive partnership, you know branch. Those are all organizations that I encourage you to start looking into and being a part of. You're going to find so much reward from engaging in those education centers. Your company is going to have a lot more agility and robust this in the future. Great Advice, Jake well. I really appreciate you doing this. Can you tell our audience how they can get in touch with you and learn more about what the manufacturing millennial is doing out there? Yeah, absolutely so. I'm on all social medias from Tick Tock, Youtube, twitter,...

...instagram, my main places linkedin. So you can find me on Linkedin, Jake Hall, or are you on my website, the manufacturing millennialcom awesome, Jake well, thanks for doing this again. Absolutely thanks so much, Joe's a pleasure being on you, bet. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the manufacturing the executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for be tob manufacturers at gorilla. Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. UNTIL NEXT TIME.

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