Contractingbusiness 951 Michel

87 Ways to Get More Out of Home Shows, Part 3

Nov. 26, 2008
This is the third of nine articles written by Matt Michel. This article can be read in its entirety on the Service Roundtable website ( The article gives advice of what to do and what not to do at home shows.

This is the third of nine articles written by Matt Michel. This article can be read in its entirety on the Service Roundtable website ( The article gives advice of what to do and what not to do at home shows.

21. Limit the Use of Printed Collateral. Let’s face it. Most of the literature you dispense at home shows never makes it out of the literature bag. People politely accept any literature you hand out, only to discard it later. Don’t waste your money. Limit your literature to a company brochure or fact sheet about your products and services.

Instead, mail literature as a follow-up to people who register at your booth. Mailed separately, the literature is more likely to stand out. You’re also sending them information they requested when registering. Whether someone overtly requested it or not, by registering at your booth the prospect is indicating an interest in your products and services, which indicates a request for more information.

22. Hand Out Fliers Near The Show Entrance. If you cannot get a booth located near the entrance, hand out fliers outside the show. Hire a high school or college student to hand out promotional material that indicates why people should make a beeline for your booth in particular. Again, play the message on WII-FM. Give people a selfish reason to visit your booth.

23. Offer a Show Special. Many companies find it beneficial to offer a show special, typically special pricing. While prospects are “belly-to-belly” with your employees in your booth, bump up the urgency to act. In an hour, the urgency will diminish. Give them a reason to buy a service agreement now, to order a water purification system at the show, etc.

24. Extend the Special. In follow-up mailings after the show, consider extending your show special for a few weeks. Again, you’re building up the urgency to act.

If the show provides you with a list of people who attended the show, sort the list and make the offer. Many probably didn’t get a chance to stop by your booth. Let them know how they can save.

25. Visit the Competition. If your competitors exhibit, visit their booths. Take pictures of the booth for future reference. Pick up their literature. Be upfront that you’re a competitor and ask questions. Many companies fail to remind booth workers to avoid revealing information to the competition. Often, they will reveal competitive intelligence about their target markets, sales strategies, and so on if you merely ask.

26. Don’t Reveal Too Much to Your Competition. Make sure your employees don’t make the same mistake. Train your people how to dodge questions from competitors. When a competitor asks you to reveal information about your sales strategy, say, “Well that would be telling, wouldn’t it?” And smile. Give your competitor any literature and ask for his in return. Marketing is never secretive. If it is, it’s ineffective.

27. Pick a Good Location. If possible, locate your booth in high traffic areas. These are the entrance, bathrooms, or a food court. Since people tend to turn to their right upon entering a show, locate to the right side of the show over the left. If a show has many entrances, try to locate dead center.

If you can’t get a good location, it’s not the end of the world. The company, Exhibit Surveys, has performed extensive research on booth location and concluded that location does not affect your show traffic or memorability. Of course, if you can get a great location, why chance it?

If you have a particularly compelling message, you might consider locating near your competition. You can peel people away from competitors with a better booth design, offer, or message and benefit from any pre- show marketing your competition might have performed.

Conversely, if there’s a particular competitor who dominates your market and you do not have a compelling reason to visit your booth, locate on the other side of the show.

28. Pick Your Booth For Next Year Early. If you know you want to return to a home show next year, pick your booth location at this year’s show. See if you can get an attractive location on a first come, first served basis.

29. Ask a Question. Face it. Most home show booths are boooorrring. Suspects (we suspect they need our services, even though they haven’t got a clue) and prospects (they know they need our services) alike stroll down the aisles looking for something to catch their attention. There's Bubba's Air Conditioning booth, Acme Plumbing, Fred's Carpet Cleaning, and so on, and so on. Ho hum. Yawn.

Yes, you want to promote your company name, but the real mission is to get prospects in your booth. Unless they are looking for your name specifically (e.g., you’ve done a lot of advance marketing), they look at your name and think, "So what?" It's another service company, probably one of five or six offering the same service.

Take your company name down from the top of the booth and instead ask
a question. Ask something that strikes at the heart of a problem many people face, a need that's unmet, or a desire they want fulfilled. Give them a compelling reason to stop and find out more. Drape a huge banner across your booth that asks...

  • Are any rooms in your house too hot or too cold? (HVAC)
  • Does anyone in your house suffer from hay fever or allergies? (HVAC)
  • Do you frequently run out of hot water? (plumbing)

There are an infinite number of questions you could ask. The questions should emphasize the benefits of one of your products or services. They should scratch an itch of the consumer. Pick the right question and people will make a beeline to your booth to find out more.

30. Make the Signage Visible. The rule of thumb is one inch of height for every three feet of distance. You should make your booth benefit question visible from at least 30 feet away, which means 10 inch high letters.

Matt Michel is president of the Service Roundtable, an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at You can contact him directly at [email protected].
Or send your comments to Contracting Business at [email protected].