Consumer Shows Are Back!

consumer show trade show

I recently supported one of my dealers at a consumer trade show. And honestly, I couldn’t wait.

If anything feels like a return to normalcy it’s that my calendar this year is filling up with customer-facing events that my dealers are organizing.

My pedantic nature distinguishes between trade shows and consumer shows. It seems simple: trade shows are full of vendors showing their products and services to prospective resellers. Whereas consumer shows are end-user facing. Dealers are there showing their products and services and trying to close future clients.

And when it comes to customer-facing shows, there are constellations of them: Home shows. Renovation shows. Home and renovations shows. Car shows. Boat shows. Hunting and fishing shows. Even bridal shows and shows for pet owners. Doubtless, there are other categories I’m unaware of.

I have worked a few booths at consumer shows, which is an understatement. That’s taught me what works and what doesn’t. If you’re going to do this, you want to get results.

Never forget that the promotional companies that put on consumer shows are in the business of putting on consumer shows. They want your money. They’ll happily rent you a booth. Everything else is your responsibility.

If you’re going to do this, do it right. The first step is to pick a show that caters to your target market. Maybe it’s a renovation show, or maybe it really is a bridal expo. I don’t know, that’s your department. You know your customers better than I do.

To prepare for the show you need signage, displays, staffing levels and a plan.

Companies that successfully convert leads into clients at consumer shows commit to a 5WH plan: Who. What. Where. When. Why. How.

The order of the Ws doesn’t much matter, but it formulates your plan.

  • Who is your target client?
  • What do they want?
  • Where is the best place to find them?
  • Why should they choose you?
  • How are you going to measure your ROI?

When it comes to signage and banners for a show booth, the bad news is that it costs money. The good news is that it’s a cost that you generally only have to incur once, and then you can get use out of the materials for many shows before you need to update them,

Also, don’t just bear the cost of booth materials alone. Reach out to your vendors and ask for co-op marketing support in exchange for co-branding your materials with them.

It’s important to have a staffing plan. Most consumer shows are two or three days max, so it’s not difficult. But one of my dealers ended up short-handed with a couple of sudden departures, so overstaff if possible and go from there.

While you’re at it, if employees don’t immediately volunteer (like I do!) ask your vendors if your reps are able to put in an appearance and support your efforts.

Now down to the reason why you’re there: leads!

Engage with attendees who’ve come to check out your booth. It’s no different than if you were in your office or showroom. Probe, qualify and collect their contact information for your CRM so you can work them into your sales funnel.

I look at it like this, for most of my dealers, the cost of putting on one show is covered off by closing one new client. More than that is better, of course.