I just saw an advertisement for the upcoming Home Show. As a homeowner, I have often enjoyed attending this and other home and trade show events, but I know contractors don’t always feel the same way. As they prepare to participate in this important annual ritual, most approach these events with a mixture of excitement and dread. On the one hand, there is the possibility of landing that next big deal. On the other hand, there is a week or maybe even ten days of standing around, hoping people will stop by and talk with you.
If you are heading out to exhibit at a home show in the next few weeks, here a few things to keep in mind:
If you are going to be spending time standing in a booth for a week, stack the deck by arranging conversations in advance. Invite potential clients to come see your booth. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a year-round showroom. Send an email to current customers, prospects, and vendors. Let them know your booth number and when the best time to drop by would be.
Use social media during the show. Post images and videos from the show on Facebook from both your company page and personal page. Use the show as an opportunity to build your social community by running a contest people can enter only from the Facebook page or by sharing a photo taken at your booth.
Ask show organizers for a registration list so you can send an email to people who attended even if they don’t stop by your booth. Or, ask the organizers to include a special message in the daily show email.
These shows are definitely the ultimate “just looking” event. Not everyone who walks into your booth is a good prospect. So don’t treat them all the same. Instead of pushing hard for a sale in your booth, use the time to qualify the people who walk in Ask lots of questions to uncover hidden needs and to separate serious prospects from the people simply looking for the free food and a chance to sign up to win a prize.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for raffles and games in your trade show strategy. These activities can help you build a broad mailing or phone list. Unfortunately, if there is a prize involved, you may also get a lot of unqualified leads who will waste your time after the show. One way to address this is to use email to narrow your list. Use open rates and click-throughs to identify the most serious prospects. You can also prequalify leads with a short questionnaire on the entry form. The answers will give you clues as to which leads are worth a follow-up effort. Also, the longer form will dissuade less serious prospects.
If you use Constant Contact, don't forget to set up your "Text to Join" option and post the information in your booth. The high traffic at a home show gives you a great way to build your prospect list.
Another way to get fewer, better prospects at a home show is to offer discounts or free trials of your products or services instead of raffling off a trip to Hawaii. People who enter are actually interested in your services.
The average person doesn’t remember what they had for lunch two days ago. With that in mind, it is unrealistic to think they will remember you in the weeks following the home show. You need to be prepared to send something to prospects quickly.
One way to do that is to have a follow-up email or print material prepared and ready to send before you head out to a show. When you get back all you will need to do is include a brief note and drop the information in the mail. Clear your schedule for a few days of post-show calls to set up appointments and close the sale.
Looking for more information on trade shows and home shows? Check out our trade show guide.