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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'd like to share a bit of "advice" (and I'm using that term loosely), and/or experience we've gained over the last few years. We've seen our traffic and lead generation soar this year to the point where our business is up almost 30% this year over last. Even with all of the Artic Vortexes and miles of snow we've endured this winter.

There are several approaches to take when doing a trade or home show. Obviously, your booth space needs to catch someone's eye and be appealing to look at. When it comes to your booth, you can end up paying THOUSANDS of dollars for a custom backdrop, pop up type displays. Often times these come with separate podiums (often converted from the carrying case for the pop up backdrop) and maybe even literature racks or shelving of some type.

But we are a small company and something custom like that, is far, FAR out of the budget consideration. So, what to do? Well, we've invested in digitally printed Vinyl backdrops. I designed these myself using MS WORD, saved them as a PDF and had them made. They are very heavily stitched around the edges and have built in grommets to hang them with ("S" hooks on the draping poles).

We always get a booth that's 20' wide, so I had these first two made 6' wide and 7' tall (the back drop curtains separating the booths are generally 8' tall). In retrospect, we could have easily made them a foot or two shorter in height. They cost me less than $200 each shipped. It took less than three weeks to get them.




Taking up the 8' in the center of our backdrop, is our main company banner which is 8' wide by 3' tall and cost us less than $100. What's absolutely silly, is when I had this made, I didn't even mention a thing about entry doors (which has become our niche) :rolleyes:. But, I figured with the door banner to one side of it, the message would still come across just fine.



I also have a smaller 4' wide x 2' tall banner that I put on the front of my 4' literature table which you will see in the next pics. So for right around $500 bucks.... we can set up an eye catching booth 20' wide. Maybe not as glitzy as some, but definitely functional.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The size of your booth, along with what and how much you put in it, goes a LONG way toward what kind of interest and traffic you get. I mean obviously your booth needs to look nice and be appealing to potential customers, but until this year, I never realized just how important the size and content of your booth is.

Obviously, with wanting to feature windows, doors and siding as potential targets for possible customers, a normal 10' x 10' booth would never cut it. Unless you had nothing but literature and maybe a single, small pop up display. So, we started off by going with a booth that was 20' x 10' and "thought" we were doing a good job with it.

Our first year doing a Home Show (2011), I only had the 8' x 3' main company banner. I borrowed some backdrop displays from one of our suppliers. These things were HEAVY, took a long time to set up and took up an incredible amount of room. Throw in the fact that we crammed just about everything but the kitchen sink into our space, INCLUDING a TV monitor with a repeating PowerPoint about our company and before, during and after job photos.... there was barely any room to move around in our booth. Let alone, show anyone anything....




And, while we got a few leads and sold enough business to pay for the booth, we didn't do much more than break even.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
The next year (last year), we still went with the 20' x 10' booth, but didn't use the borrowed back drop displays. We used the banners shown in the first post. We also cut down our siding display from 8' wide x 4' tall to roughly 3' x 3' and moved it from the back of the booth out to the front. But, we crammed an 8' table in where our siding display was in the back (because I thought I needed as much "stuff" as possible) and didn't gain all that much room.

Here was the old siding display in back....


And now here is what we looked like (in 2013) without the borrowed backdrop displays and the new backdrop banners and moving the (now smaller) siding display out in front and not doing the flatscreen display and PowerPoint....



While this gave us " a little" more room to move around, the booth was still packed pretty full of stuff. We pulled more leads, but it was very frustrating because folks would glance our way and just walk right by.

We sold a lot more jobs and made a nice profit off of the show, but I wasn't satisfied with the response and numbers compared to the expense of doing a 10 day show.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Sigh.... that new " 30 minute editing rule".... :censored:

Anyway....

So we get to this years show. And, after MUCH deliberation, we practically DOUBLED the size of our booth to 20' x 18'. I went with a couple of larger displays (Entry Door and Patio Door), but cut way back on everything else. I had my 8' table in the back for some table top displays again, the 4' literature table out front and my downsized siding display. That's it.





After we got set up, I thought "oh crap" we don't have enough stuff. But I was going to be short handed this year so I didn't bring anything else out and figured what the heck.... I'll just go with it.

Well, I've GOT to tell you, I was busy practically from the opening day, to the last day - 10 days later. Except for the two days on Monday and Tuesday when we had bitterly cold wind chills, I constantly had people just walking right into my booth to look at stuff.

Once in there, they were more open to chatting with me. And once that happened, I usually got a name and contact information. I had one couple come back FOUR TIMES because I was busy with someone each of the first three times they stopped by. This past Friday, was the first opportunity where our schedules coincided (I'm still running Home Show leads mostly) and I sold them a $3,800 ProVia entry door system.

I got more leads from this show, than I did the first three shows COMBINED. I am closing these HS leads at a higher (83%) clip as well. And while our investment in the show was significantly higher this year, we've paid for it many, MANY times over.

So, for any of you thinking of doing shows, I would HIGHLY recommend the KISS method. Keep it simple, and don't cram a lot of "stuff" into your booth just to have it there. I think you will find folks are more willing to approach you if they aren't overwhelmed by the amount of things you have on display.

At least, it sure worked out that way for us this year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks.... It was receiving a lot of looks, but no real comments. So, maybe it was a waste of time to post it. But, with a lot of the summer events coming up like county fairs, street fairs, small town celebrations and the like.... I thought some of my "experiences" might be helpful for those planning to do something.

Granted, these small events are nothing like a big 10 day show like our HS, but these bigger shows start happening starting in the fall. So, it's good to start planning for them now.

I thought this might help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We also have great success with home shows.
:thumbsup:

When you get a minute Jake.... post some pics of your set up. It might help someone else who's planning to or thinking about doing a fall or winter show.
 

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John:
Thanks for taking the time to show all that. I'd be interested in hearing about your one-on-one sales technique in the booth as well as how you follow up on leads. With those close rates you must have the magical touch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
John:
Thanks for taking the time to show all that. I'd be interested in hearing about your one-on-one sales technique in the booth as well as how you follow up on leads. With those close rates you must have the magical touch.
Thanks Bob.... One of the approaches we've taken at the shows, is we don't "hawk" attendees by trying to grab their attention while they are walking the isles. They get enough of that from the pots and pan guys, the miracle cleaners, magic mops, grip sticks and such. Not to mention the larger "remodeling" companies who are constantly hawking them to "sign up" for $10K of free windows or the like.

We've always taken the approach of letting them show interest in us or what we offer and only engage them when they come to us. Their guard isn't up quite so high when they approach us and want to know about our company or products. Which is nice because I can then just chat with them openly and honestly about who we are, our general approach to solving problems etc. I try to ask a lot of questions and actually LISTEN to what they say instead of immediately going into "push" mode and trying to set an appointment.

In fact, I'm probably one of the few who don't push for an appointment right then and there at the show. In fact, I don't even ask them for contact information until I'm sure all of their questions are answered and they are satisfied. Now, granted.... I'm sure I lose a few to those who push for an appointment right away and get them. But I don't have a sales force waiting in the wings to pounce all over them if I did. In fact, I TELL them I won't be contacting them until well after the show, because I don't have a sales force. I tell them that "I own the joint and they will be dealing with ME and NOT some high commissioned, high pressure sales person."

Maybe they are more at ease with this approach, I don't know. But, I generally DO get contact information from the folks that I talk to. Or, heck, maybe it's my unassuming appearance and engaging personality at work as well. :laughing: In either case, I come away with at least an email address and a promise to follow up.

Obviously, just getting an email address only, is not a good lead. And that's proven to be the case again from this show. But at LEAST it's still contact information of some sort that may or may not work out at a later date. An email addy at least allows me to plant some seeds for the future.

One of the other things I'm not afraid of.... is to discuss general pricing. I also tend to set the general pricing bar fairly high. So many other Home Improvement companies, will NEVER discuss price and that makes people more distrustful I think. So, if they do invite me out to quote their project, they are already expecting to deal with the owner not a sales person, they already have a fairly high expectation on what it's going to cost and hopefully, they already like me or have some sort of trust in me and what we do. If they don't... they WILL have in fairly short order.

So at that point, the final sale is fairly easy really. :thumbsup:
 
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