Tips for Successful, Profitable Shows and Events

Try a new plan if you’re disappointed in your results from previous shows.

November 12, 2013

Despite the investment of time and money, for many home shows there is a lack of structure, control, or management.

Have you participated in a home show, watched people walk by, and wondered if they were going to stop at your booth?
Over the years I’ve talked with hundreds of home improvement companies, and many have the same complaint: “It’s difficult to get leads at shows and events these days.” Many remodelers have even stopped going to home shows altogether.
If you fall into this group, I suggest you go to the next available home show. Once you’re there, watch and study everything. You will see exhibitors sitting on chairs in their booths; they will appear bored and act like they don’t want to be there. You will see exhibitor personnel eating and sipping drinks, almost impervious to anyone passing by. Notice some exhibitors reading magazines or newspapers, or those staring and observing attendees. You will see exhibitors talking and texting on their cell phones. All of the while, people are standing within 6 feet of their booth, clearly indicating interest.
While the sales booth personnel are busy with either some or all of the above, you will also see unattended booths where personnel left to get a bite, visit the restroom, or take a smoke break. Despite the investment of time and money, for many home shows there is a lack of structure, control, or management.

Rules for show management
Here are some basic rules for show and booth management:

  • No chairs, bar stools, food, drinks in the booth—and no books, magazines, personal phone calls, texting, or Facebook.
  • Don’t allow ripped blue jeans, soiled or muddy shoes, and avoid personal conversations and activity with other vendors.
  • Create sensible shifts, not eight- or 10-hour stints.
  • Create scripted language for booth personnel and avoid questions or statements to attendees such as: “How are you doing?” or “Enjoying the show?”
  • Eliminate standing with hands in pockets, staring at the floor or ceiling, and forcing literature on people with the belief that it’s getting the job done. It’s not! Check the trash cans, where you’ll find plenty of your literature.
  • Consider adding something fun-like, different, or almost silly to attract attention to your booth. Getting attention to your booth and your company is imperative for achieving positive results.

When there a lot of attendees around or in front of your booth, the opportunities for lead development increases. 
For example, we placed a refurbished Las Vegas slot machine near the front of the booth and offered everyone passing by three tokens for an opportunity to win a prize. It was pretty simple: If they hit the jackpot, they get to pick a prize from an option of three or four products the company sells.
If they don’t win (remember it’s a slot machine), they are offered an estimate on the product/service they wanted to win. It made the booth a fun attraction and developed stand-in-line participants.
What does a slot machine have to do with selling home improvements? The answer is nothing; however, your time and money were invested to attract prospects. The slot machine concept worked, plus the staff and the people participating had fun while the other booths were empty or experiencing very little action. Most importantly, you will discover when people are having fun they are much more approachable.
Similarly, we used a pirate-style treasure chest in which we let attendees pick a key. If the key unlocks the chest, they win. If they don’t win, we start a conversation about their home and why they wanted to win a particular product/service. We uncover problems and needs and then set an appointment.

Conversation leads to opportunity
Every time you have a conversation with people attending a show, you have an opportunity to develop an appointment. So think of ways to be different and stand out from the crowd.
For example, one very successful remodeling company sets up a blow-up jumping jungle gym next to their booth. The kids come to play and jump, while the parents wait by the booth. This called an interruption/attraction device.
Once you have someone to talk to, a scripted promoter will uncover both wants and needs. Then, you can discuss how long they have considered home improvements and what has kept them from doing something. Be direct and brief but show pictures and samples that appeal to the senses and emotions. Don’t spout facts and data for 10 minutes. No matter how good you are, no one will remember what you said by the time they get home.
Don’t give them clichés (e.g., you’re the best) and don’t try to sell the job. Tell them your company is great at making sure the client has a positive outcome. It starts with examining their home and the project to determine what they want to have done, need to have done, and can be done.
Suggest that you might be able to help them, whether now or in the future, and it would be worth the time to explore some ideas and solutions together. Let them know it’s appropriate to discuss their interest with you even if they aren’t ready to buy right now (consultive selling).
Suggest they set an appointment to meet at their home and see where it takes you. The more you ask, the more you get.
Don’t let the no’s turn into zeros. The key is to ask hundreds of people in a programmed manner. If only 20 percent of the people you speak with say OK, many appointments will still be made.
Many remodelers say they aren’t bad at talking with people at home shows, but they don’t have the script to set up an appointment. Once they have a script, their results will multiply rapidly.

Try different types of events
In a recent webinar we did for more than 800 companies, we were deluged with e-mails regarding the use of the term and the concept of “events.” I’m talking about any place where 500 or more people gather. A remodeler once sold more than $80,000 in business by exhibiting at a popcorn festival. Try balloon festivals, pet shows, kids and family expos, car shows, minor league baseball games, and small-town one-day festivals, to name a few. There are plenty of similar events and the cost is usually very low compared to home shows. Best of all, other companies selling similar services won’t be there and, if they are, they will not have your structure, script, or plan.
Visit our company blog for more information on shows and events (www.daveyoho.com/wordpress). If you’re disappointed in your results from previous shows, try a new plan, including what you’ve just read. Make shows and events a part of your future marketing plans.
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Joe Talmon is an account executive with Dave Yoho Associates. He has 26 years experience with in-home sales and sales management. Talmon has developed programs for large-, mid-, and small-sized home improvement companies selling directly to homeowners. He frequently presents at conventions and is an expert on the subject of successful/profitable shows and events. He is speaking at the Remodeling/Home Improvement symposium in Chicago on Oct. 16-17. Contact Joe Talmon at Admin@DaveYoho.com.

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