Home shows are a great marketing tool to generate new lead sources. Participating in home shows is one unique and creative way to meet your potential customers live and in person. This gives you a unique opportunity to meet them in a non-selling platform. A lot of customers don’t like to feel like they are being pitched to. This gives you a way to introduce you and your company to them in a non-obtrusive platform. However, you can still sell them without them knowing it. So this marketing style needs a different approach than you would normally use. I compare it to courting your customers. You want to prove to them why choosing your company is not an option. So the power of persuasion is integral to your success. First you need to be organized on your end. You need to make yourself known that you are participating in the upcoming trade show / home show. Normally as a participating vendor you will receive a certain number of free tickets.
You need to utilize these tickets wisely. For example, if you have an outstanding painting estimate that is sizable in dollar amount you may want to send them two free tickets to entice them to choose you for their next painting contract. And the best way to do this is to send them a tailored sales letter that states exactly why they should come to the home show to check out your booth. An example, of what we did, was to offer anyone that stopped by our booth with a scheduled confirmed estimate or with an outstanding estimate, we would provide them with Sherwin Williams Color Samples guide books. These were books that provided the customers with large 2×2 color sheets that they could tape up to their walls instead of painting color samples directly to their walls to test drive their potential colors. This gave them a direct and explicit reason to come out and visit us, their painting contractor, at the home show.
And the side benefit of our sales letter was that we included 2 free entrance passes in to the home show. So not only do they get in for free; but get free painting samples on top of that. So enticing your customers to coming to the show is imperative. We also would send out a mass email to all of our leads, clients, past clients, future clients that we would be hosting booth at the upcoming home show. So now we have some potential home show traffic by advertising to our existing in house leads. Another great and useful tool is to provide something for kids. Kid attractions are big draws usually to a vendor. For example, at 4 home shows that we participated in a large well known hardware company, had a booth that offered kids to make their own wood bird feeders while parents talked to the managers about getting free home improvement estimates. This kept their audience captive while the kids worked on their projects. So all the while, the kids were steadily hammering away at a piece of wood, while mom and dad talked to the representative about their product and services. So you want your booth to have and create a captive audience.
So this strategy maybe painting technique booth on how to paint a faux finish or how to properly prep a surface to be painted. You want it to be interactive yet entertaining. An example of this was to rent a roulette wheel that potential customers could spin and win certain awards (i.e. random coupon offerings, color sheets, 1 free Hour Color Consultation with an Interior Decorator etc.) Also people come to home shows to receive free things. Yes, this may seem idiotic but it is true. So if you can find away to offer something free or a reason to swing by your booth it will be well worth your time. So for example, we offered a Home Show Coupon that offered 15% off an interior painting project that was completed within the next 30 days. The reason for the interior project was because most home shows were held in March and that was when we could only perform interior projects. And the time period created a sense of urgency. You want to get the greatest and quickest bang for your buck. Also you want to have a pre-arranged calendar so when they do come into your booth you are getting them to commit to a specific date and time for a free painting estimate. You don’t want to have to introduce yourself over again after they have forgotten you. You want to quickly build rapport and then get them to commit to you coming into their home for your free estimate.
The likelihood of getting an estimate later after the home show is little at best. So take advantage of the rapport building experience and schedule on the spot. And to further reinforce your name recognition it is vitally important that you provide them with a take away to remember your appointment. So we would give them a color sampling with a business card stabled to it with the date, time and person that they would be meeting with for their free estimate. We would have the calendar scheduling sheet that would request the following information: full name, full address, neighborhood name, home, work, cell, email address, estimate request (i.e. bathroom estimate, full exterior estimate) So now we have a way to input them into our database. Once put into your database you can now market to them on continual basis. Furthermore, you can then send them introductory information prior to your upcoming painting estimate. This gives them the “warm fuzzy” feeling that they know you before you even come out to their house. We would even make notes on their estimate request form, that the last painter left paint drippings on the floor.
So when we do our sales pitch that we stipulate and mention that our painters are clean and won’t leave paint drippings on the floor. You need to find an advantage that you can best utilize to get the sale. So remember your note taking ability may be your make or break opportunity on getting the sale finalized. Don’t leave any nuance out. These notes are for you and your staff only. Once the estimate date and time approaches we then call the customers 24 hours in advance to remind them of our appointment date and time. This ensures that they haven’t forgotten the appointment and shows that we pay attention to all small details. Then upon arriving it is vital that you arrive on time. If for any reason that you are going to run late you MUST contact your potential customer and give them the common courtesy of this knowledge. Try to think of yourself as the customer. Mutual respect will go a long way in the sales process. Once you have arrived you will need to put the Customer at ease. You need to let them tell you what their concerns are and ask questions along the way. Remember the best way to learn about someone is to ask questions and listen along the way. And then repeat the customer’s issues or concerns.
This ensures that they understand that we are listening and understanding them. I would also find a way to compliment them or their home in some part. Everyone likes to be complimented on. Also if my company had painted another home in their development and I knew they were happy with their project I would name drop. For example, this is such a beautiful community. We have had the pleasure of painting other homes in your area. Are you familiar with Dr. Sharon Noonan? We painted her exterior last season and were so pleased with how the end product turned out. We consulted with her on selecting her new color and it turned out beautiful. So we have subtly created our company as the expert. Not only did her neighbor trust us with her home but we actually helped her pick out the new paint color too. So it shows that we are more than just a painting company we can be entrusted with color consultations too. Remember wherever and whenever you can set yourself up as the expert, you should do so.
While we would do our walk thru and taking measurements we would suggest the potential customer look through our client manual. Inside we would include the following: Carefully chosen before / after pictures (more dramatic the better), Pictures of Pro-Bono Work that we had done (i.e. painted several Foster homes for free), Customer Testimonials, Business Testimonials (this shows that you do residential / commercial work), Insurance Certificates (proving that we were licensed / insured) Stating that these certificates are required by State Law (this will provide them education to ask their other potential painters if they are licensed and insured too) Once the estimates were done we would be assumptive in our close.
And outright ask for the job. You never know unless you ask, right? But you must be prepared to overcome your customer’s objections. So for example if they balk at your price you need to have a persuasive argument on why this is the greatest value to them. Our biggest rebuttal was that we were a painter that could be trusted with the smallest details; and we were the most trusted and used painter in the State of Delaware. So if the rest of the State of Delaware trusted us, would shouldn’t they? Now remember if you do your selling job correctly; price should never be a deterrent. Remember you are in business to make a profit and undercutting your margin will quickly get you out of business. People make difficult choices everyday when it comes to products or services.
But they choose and use the company that they like irrelevant of price. So remember give your customers a reason to LIKE YOU. Points that can be easily instituted is the level of Customer Service, Cleanliness, Promptness, Tiered Paint Products, Efficiency. So evaluate your business and find ways that you can give your customer the GOLD experience so that they choose you next time. Worst case scenario if you don’t get the job on the spot, don’t consider yourself defeated. This is where you can use your power of persuasion. It is vitally important to follow up with this customer and prove to them why your company should be contracted for the job.
This can be done by a follow up call to ensure that if they have any questions about their painting estimate that you are there to answer them. You can also use cross market them by offering them a free 1 hour color consultation with an Interior Designer to help them get their project off to a smooth start. You want them to feel like they are being treated special. Remember that just because you didn’t get the customer this time you want to get them the next time. So how you handle rejection will dictate if that customer potentially considers you for the project next time. I can’t even recall how many times that we lost a job due to price. I would follow up with them only to be asked to come out and give another estimate that the other painter screwed up the job and now they need to get it fixed. So remember taking the high road and provide consistent good customer service will win you rewards down the long road. So next time you have an opportunity to participate in a home show create and implement a strategy that will be successful for your business.