Local home shows seem like an obvious marketing avenue for remodelers. Homeowners are there–often in droves. They're interested in home design and product ideas. It should be like shooting fish in a barrel, but unless you carefully plan your display booth and selling tactics for maximum impact, you could just be wasting your time and money.
"Home shows can be a very good way to get out in front of people," says Greg Miedema, CGR, CAPS and president of Dakota Builders in Tucson, Ariz. "Not everyone at the show will stop at your booth, but those who do stop are clearly interested in what you're selling. They qualify themselves easily for you."
Miedema suggests creating one splashy, attention-gathering piece to draw in crowds, such as a diorama of a remodeling project or an example of your cabinetry or molding work. A working display, such as a fireplace or a hung door, also will generate curiosity. The goal is to make potential customers stop and handle the displays so they'll connect with you physically and remember the experience. "The goal is to get them into the display so you can bombard them with your other material," Miedema says.
He suggests having as many handouts as possible, including information on the company, specifics on any designations the owner holds, checklists about selecting a remodeler, newsletters and marketing pieces put out by the remodeler and even coupons. "Anything that says free is always helpful. It makes them stop to look," he says.
A presentation book of before-and-after photos, divided by project type, can give visitors a feel for the type of work performed. Several of the best shots should be blown up and presented on the booth's walls to help create an eye-catching display. The more information that relates to the project they're considering, the better the chance that they'll remember you.
Brochures can work long term, he adds. Dakota recently nailed down a job that began with a brochure given to a woman by her father, who had picked the brochure up at the company's booth three years earlier!
Miedema also suggests capturing their contact information via a raffle, an information card or some other medium. You should follow up these names immediately after the show with company information, a newsletter or simply a letter thanking them for stopping. That quick acknowledgement helps cement the company's responsiveness in the prospective client's mind.
Responsibility for staffing the booth can be divided among your key employees, but you should review how they will respond to questions and present themselves in the booth when they're on their own. It's most effective if you’re there yourself, Miedema stresses. "It makes them feel important to talk with the owner. If it's Miller Remodeling, they like to be talking with Mr. Miller."
To test the value of a home show, you might volunteer to staff the local remodeling association's booth, he suggests. That will help you gauge attendance and become familiar with talking to people in a booth. It also can pay off in business. Representing the association gives you authority, he notes, and many customers ask about your own company. "I've walked away from home shows where I represented the association with many good contacts of my own."
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