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Prep for Show Season

When we take time to plan for the future, we set ourselves up to get a leg up on our competition. There are a few places in the home retail sales business where future planning can save big bucks. Home shows are one of them.

Home shows can be a great source of leads, can help increase local brand awareness with both homeowners and fellow home professionals, and can even be a source of camaraderie for a company’s team. Home shows can also be expensive time-sucks filled with blistering disappointment if a team doesn’t plan to get the most out of that investment of time and money.

Make the choices needed to be successful next year now and pre-fill the upcoming busy season with highly qualified leads who are ready to buy. Do so by setting a goal, building a dream team and having a game-time plan all in place well before hitting the show floor. In that spirit, here are “10 commandments” of home show success. 

1-Set the goal

Whether the goal is to collect leads, set appointments or create connections with other local vendors, participants need to know with unwavering clarity exactly what they want to get out of a home show before booking a booth. While attendees may have primary and secondary motivations for being at a particular show, they need to have one very clear goal they and the team can rally behind and easily keep top-of-mind.

2-Book early 

Select the show(s) and register as soon as possible. Registering before the first deadline can provide access to better pricing and placement. Remember that the best spaces are often more expensive. Sign up early and earn seniority by going back to the same show year after year; this will save money on multiple fronts. 

3-Remember less is more

Even in a small home show or fair, it’s important for a brand to resonate with clients’ experience. When planning a space, remember that more is just more, not better. If a potential customer wants to see something that isn’t at the show, fantastic! That person could be an ideal candidate for an in-home consultation or showroom visit. 

4-Pick good people

Salespeople sell, administrators work behind the scenes; an exhibitor needs both demonstrators and appointment setters in attendance. The show is not the time to sell; it’s the time to create the opportunity to sell later. Pick people wisely. Have at least two people working in the booth: one person to interact with passersby, who then feeds those interested to one person who makes appointments or closes. 

5-Train the team

A booth doesn’t need bells and whistles to make it attractive, just engaged team members who know why they are there and are armed with the tools to make something out of the show. It’s better not to be there at all than to send staff who won’t make the most of the situation. Teams must be trained to reach the goal set in No. 1.

6-Foster competition

Use the natural competitiveness of the people on the team to drive results. Have a prize the top performer can win and group goals everyone can benefit from; create excitement before and after the show with these incentives. To keep the fun present at the show, use an app, messenger or even a group text for instant updates within the group to spur further action.

7-Backwards engineer giveaways 

Consider ideal clients and what it might take for them to be willing to part with their contact information and/or set an appointment. Give attendees a great reason to give out their details. Create a contest, have a raffle, create a sales incentive, give a cool gift. Consider a big “mystery prize” in a branded bag that will increase brand awareness as it’s carried around the show. Make sure the giveaway is something the ideal client will value that is related to the work the company does.

8-Make them work for it

Be sure to hand out gifts personally in order to interact with each person. Most people go to shows expecting to load up on freebies, so get as much out of this investment as possible.

9-Make it fun

Home shows are local, so take the opportunity to show off hometown pride. Create a theme around a sports team or something locally meaningful and have the team dress for it and make it festive. If a company has the same theme year after year, people will remember it.

10-Follow up

Map out next steps when setting goals. Business and follow-up with leads should be pre-planned and booked onto the agendas of the people within the team who will need to do it. Keep leads excited and serve them as soon as possible to amplify results. 


Madeleine MacRae

Madeleine MacRae

Madeleine MacRae is founder and owner of MM MacRae Coaching & Consulting, where she brings her clients real-world experience from working for over a decade with contractors, dealers and manufacturers in the home professionals industry. She can be reached at