Volume 17, Issue 5- September/October 2013

Showcase Showdown
How to Prepare and Stand Out in a Sea of Exhibitors

by Casey Neeley

It’s officially home and trade show season. While there are plenty of regional and local automotive and remodeling conferences throughout the year, September, October and even November host some of the largest industry-relevant exhibitions in the nation. Maybe you already have a booth at one or more of these shows; maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re planning to attend and get information on new suppliers and distributors. Whether or not you have already signed up to exhibit or attend an upcoming show, marketing experts agree it’s a valuable investment. Take a look at what several pros say you need to know when marketing yourself at trade and home shows.

Marketing as a Dealer at Regional Shows
New York Window Film Co. (NYWFC) of Farmingdale, N.Y., is no stranger to trade shows. The company, which attends local and regional glass and remodeling shows, recently shared some of its tips for dealer marketing at the Glass Expo Northeast ’13 in Hauppague, N.Y., co-sponsored by USGlass magazine and its sister publication, Window Film magazine.

In an effort to get glass shops to subcontract from them, NYWFC targeted those companies and exhibited at a show in which many local glass shop dealers would attend. One of the company’s strategies included mailing free day passes to potential and past customers that were provided to exhibitors at the show.

Having a multimedia booth display also helped them reach the largest number of attendees possible.

“We wanted to make it simple so people could watch [a presentation] when there’s a line here. We could talk to some people and we can cover more people because they have information there in a video,” says Fred Pesce, general manager.

As to how much of a return on investment (ROI) dealers can expect to see from exhibiting, Pesce says there is no way to determine a specific estimate.

“It’s hard to tell if you’re getting an actual dollar return on what we’re doing. Can you put a price on actually shaking hands, talking to people, making them laugh and building relationships? They’re going to remember you. We try and make it so we stand out in someone’s mind. If window film becomes a concern, we want them to think ‘wait, I saw these people.’ That you get from one-on-one meeting.

Event Marketing for Local Home Remodeling Shows
Home show leads have fueled our industry and many of our businesses for years. Several home improvement companies would simply do a handful of home shows during the course of a year, and this would take care of all the entire year’s worth of leads. But over time, home shows have evolved. The spaces became crowded with similar companies, the economy soured and the shows were not well attended; weather or a big sports play-off game also could make or break a show.

All of this sparked a new type of marketing called event marketing. Marketing managers started looking at doing different events that didn’t have anything to do with home improvements. I’m not sure if this was out of desperation or creativity but it has turned into a very successful lead-generation program.

Today, home improvement companies and remodelers are setting up booths at different town festivals, boat shows, wine-tasting events, even flea markets. These events have driven down lead costs and at the same time, elevated the quality of the lead.

The folks attending these shows are in the mood to buy. In addition, they avoid other home improvement companies competing for these leads at these unique events. This has resulted in higher average sales and an emphasis on selling benefits, not price. Event marketing is somewhat of an art. You need to find good events that have good ROIs. You also will need to hire demonstrators used specifically for event marketing.

Typically the marketing manager is the driver and organizer of events. You will need to find good demonstrators to work the events: don’t use salespeople. Finally, you need to target and experiment with the right shows until you have perfected your “circuit. Event marketing will generate high-quality and low-cost leads.

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