It soon will be spring, and people will begin thinking about their yards, gardens, and spring cleaning. In many markets, there will be opportunities to exhibit at home and garden shows that are open to the public.
Since we all need new customers and for people to understand what products and services we provide. There are many ways this can happen such as having a storefront location in a heavily trafficked area, an infomercial, a large display ad in a widely circulated paper or magazine, a successful website or blog, or a great word-of-mouth campaign.
Another way to get in front of a lot of people – with the potential to purchase something at some point – in a fairly compact amount of time is by taking a booth at a home and garden show.
Before signing up to have a booth, however, there are several questions to answer. The first one is whether this is the best marketing choice for us. It’s true that we will be in a position to have dozens or even hundreds of interested people walk by us, but there is a hefty cost involved that needs to be considered.
To have a booth at a show takes space rental (a 10′ by 10′ booth, normally the smallest one that is offered, represents 100 square feet) at so much per square foot. Then there’s furnishing the booth with furniture (tables and chairs or stools), carpeting, backdrops, electricity, and displays, Add in signage, brochures, and takeaway items. Before the first sale is made, a substantial amount of money will need to be committed, even if everyone volunteers their time to be at the booth and saves us the manpower cost.
If we are primarily looking for exposure and don’t have to break even on what it costs to rent the space and attend the event, that’s a consideration also. If we want to make money during the event, we must factor in the number of sales or the amount of business needed.
It can be a great way to meet many people (maybe even a year’s worth or more) who can potentially do business with us. It can also be an emotional and financial disappointment if we don’t get that much interest from the participants at the event.
Location is a large part – though not the only factor – in channeling people to our display. The color of the decor and signage, the items on display, and being located near a more prominent vendor in terms of display space or name recognition can all affect how many people stop by to meet with us. Some of this we can control, and some we cannot.
Once people decide to stop at our booth, we must be prepared to engage them. We must be willing to take the initiative to speak with people – in a friendly approachable tone that says that we’re there to meet and talk with them about what we offer and what they might need. If there seems to be some interest in talking more, we can arrange for that. If there seems to be minimal interest, thank them for stopping and let them go on their way.
There are other questions to consider as well such as show discounts and specials, what items or programs to feature or discuss, how many people to have staffing the booth, and collateral materials to have available.
A good idea before making the commitment to take a booth is to visit one of more shows – even from a different industry – to see what happens, watch the way the crowd moves about, and prepare for what we might expect at our booth when you have one.