Monopolize Your Marketplace - Austin

Strategic & Tactical Marketing
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For Builders Who Hate Home Shows…

Turn a “Pain” into a “Payoff”

By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.

Before I jump into this topic, I have a quick favor to ask of you. Can you share with me your opinion of these newsletters? Am I hitting the right topics for you, and the right level of detail? I just want to make sure I’m meeting the needs of my audience; a quick reply from you would help me immensely. Thank you.

Now let me see if I can change your opinion (and your level of success) about something that most pool builders hate – Home Shows.

I don’t blame you. I’ve been working trade shows for well over 20 years, and they’re certainly a pain in the feet if not a pain in the you-know-what. Fortunately for me, I was trained early-on by one of the greats of trade show marketing, Dr. Allen Konopacki. I discovered that well over 90% of all exhibitors do it consistently and reliably wrong. I also discovered how powerful and financially rewarding it can be when you do it right.

The “Spring Shows” and “Home & Garden Shows” in our industry are no exception. In fact, quite ironically, with trade show attendance dropping below previous years, this may be the best time ever to exhibit at a home show. (When your competitor decides not to exhibit, your odds of closing just went up!)

So first, let’s talk about what most attendees do wrong. If you’re doing any of these things, please stop it right now:

  • Failing to train your people on “how to work the show.”
  • Wasting time with non-prospects while real prospects slip by.
  • Giving your materials away at the show
  • Failing to capture sufficient contact information.
  • Inadequate follow-up afterwards.

Now the good news – With just a few simple adjustments, you can make a home show pay for itself many times over in new business.  Here’s what you do:

First – Train everyone who’s going to be working the booth.  You can start by making them read this newsletter.  Then demand that everyone follow these rules:


  1. Wear your badge on the right. Whose idea was it to put them on the left, anyway? When you shake hands, it’s much easier for your prospect to read it when it’s on the right.
  2. Position yourself properly. The middle of your booth is usually the worst possible place, because you look intimidating, like you’re ready to pounce.  Better to casually place yourself at the outside corner of the booth and relax. A bar stool is perfect for this.
  3. Don’t let anyone slip by the booth without saying something to them. They’re not coming back; This is your only chance to talk to them. Step out there and say something interesting.
  4. Always ask an engaging, open-ended question. “Can I help you?” and “How are you today” are the two worst possible things you can say to someone. You both know the answers, and it gives them permission to stop talking to you and move on. “What’s your favorite booth so far?” is quite the opposite, as it will give you the chance to engage in a conversation.
  5. Qualify. Fast. Be subtle and delicate, but if the person doesn’t own a home, they’re probably not much of a prospect, and they’re wasting your time. This applies to friends, associates, past employees, vendors and competitors too. It’s hard to reach out to real prospects when you’re busy talking to these time-wasters.

Second – Design your booth for success. This doesn’t have to be expensive for a pool builder. In its simplest form, a projector or flat panel screen with a rolling slide show of your beautiful pools is all you need. If you’ve got some examples of time-saving and/or energy saving features that you build into your pool, that would be great too. Fancy graphic display panels are certainly nice, but are not required. The homeowner is interested in your pools, not your booth.

Here are a couple of other tips regarding your booth – Design your lead sheet in advance. Make it easy for your sales reps and employees to note the level of interest and the timing of making a purchase decision.  You can place a large fishbowl on a table to collect the lead sheets. If you create some sort of a giveaway or contest, people will be more encouraged to give you their contact info.

Third – Don’t give away your information at the show. I know it’s hard to resist, but let me tell you why it’s a bad idea. Whatever you give them at the show is going to be dumped into a bag with 50 other things they were mildly interested in. By the time they get home, exhausted from the home show, you’ve faded from their memory. And the contents in that bag full of brochures isn’t near as interesting or appealing as it was at the show.

Here’s a better strategy – Get their contact info instead, and mail your info to them after the show. Now, instead of being lost and diluted with 50 other items, your piece will get their 100% attention when it arrives in the mail 3 days later.

Fourth – After the show, you can load the names of all these new-found hot prospects into your database.  You’re now perfectly positioned to set up an ongoing mailing campaign of helpful promotional materials for as long as you like. This, by the way, is where a home show can really pay off. We know that most of the people that stop by your booth are not ready to buy today. They’re “just thinking about it.” But since they’re in your follow-up system, they’ll naturally think of you when they’re finally ready to buy.

Here’s a final tip – Enthusiasm is contagious. If you go out of your way to be interesting, exciting and engaging, people will respond to it. You’ll have a lot more fun, and so will your prospects.

Call us if you have questions about getting the most out of home shows.

Best regards,

Brett Abbott Signature


©2009 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc.  May not be used without permission.

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