By Bob McCarthy
When it comes to selling your K+B design services, nothing beats a “face-to-face.” It’s true, the personal connection you make with a one-on-one exchange far exceeds any other communication method. And one way to get more face-to-face meetings is through exhibiting at trade shows and home shows.
Kitchen and bath designers have long used trade and home shows to market their services. As an exhibitor, you cannot only display your products or expertise, but also engage with prospects and generate new sales leads.
However, these marketing opportunities require time and money – and like all other marketing activities, your challenge is to get the most from your investment. Here are seven ways to improve your trade show marketing ROI.
1. Know your costs. Trade shows and home shows aren’t cheap. Aside from the exhibitor fee, you need to factor in the cost of the display itself, the delivery and set up of the display and the marketing handouts – not to mention employee time away from the office, and in some cases, travel and lodging. So take a few minutes to add up your costs. This is essential if you are going to later try to calculate your return on investment.
2. Choose your staff strategically. How many people you use to staff the booth will depend on the size of the show, but in general, try to have at least two people at your booth at all times. One person should be the greeter – someone who is friendly and is able to get people to stop and learn more about your business. The second person should be the demonstrator/presenter – someone who can demonstrate your expertise and answer questions.
As a kitchen and bath designer, you should try to have an area in your booth where you can give prospects a closer look at what you do. This may be an online or physical presentation of your portfolio, some interesting design ideas or some other engaging activity.
3. Invite prospects before the show. Some shows make their attendee lists available to exhibitors before the show. This would provide a good opportunity for you to reach out and invite attendees to stop by your booth or even schedule an appointment for a demonstration or presentation. You may need to offer incentives to respond. Appointment responses will be few and far between, but they will be very good prospects.
If the show does not provide an attendee list, you should at least contact your own list and let them know you’ll be exhibiting and where you can be found. Again, you may need to use incentives.
4. Use giveaways as motivators. Trade shows are famous for giveaways – mugs, key chains, tote bags, etc. – to build brand-name exposure. But how much do they contribute to your sales process? And how much do they cost? Giveaways should be motivational and should encourage specific action. For example, give out a coffee mug only to prospects who fill out a short questionnaire.
5. Ask qualifying questions. It’s easy to collect contact information at trade shows. You either collect business cards or scan trade show badges of everyone who stops at your booth. That’s a good start, but wouldn’t it be better if you also knew of their level of interest in having a kitchen or bathroom designed? Ask them to fill out a short questionnaire or lead qualification card. These same questions should be asked face to face with visitors to your booth.
6. Differentiate your leads. Not all leads have equal value. Some are tire kickers, some have long-term interest, and some are ready to start a project today. When you collect leads at your booth, try to find out who’s who.
Beyond interest level and timing, also try to determine the potential size of a sale. Are they looking for high-end solutions or something more modest? Are they looking for a complete makeover or just a few tweaks? At the end of the show, this information will be very helpful to you as your prioritize your follow up.
7. Follow up immediately. When you get back to the office, make it a priority to follow up immediately. You don’t have to call everyone, but you should call the leads that showed some interest in what you offer. For the remaining leads, send a short email thanking them for stopping by your booth and then keep them on a regularly scheduled email sequence.
In all of your emails, give them an opportunity to show more interest and become a qualified lead. Offer them your Kitchen & Bath Design Guide (or something similar). Or offer a free design consultation – not your complete design, but some type of engagement to get things started.
Bob McCarthy is a creative marketing consultant and president of McCarthy & King Marketing. He can be reached at 508-473-8643. If you visit his website www.mccarthyandking.com/kitchen-and-bath-marketing, you can download a FREE copy of The Kitchen & Bath Marketing Handbook.