Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Get Maximum Results from Exhibiting at a Home Show?

Early on in my career we discovered the value of home shows

Truckmount Equipment / AccessoriesSteve, I just signed up for a booth at a local mall home show. I’ve been before as a local consumer and the place has been packed. But just because lots of people are there doesn’t mean that it will work for me.

So Steve, did you ever exhibit at a home show? If so, what did you do for maximum effect and to make the substantial time and money investment worthwhile? Did you get the results you had hoped for?

Meditating in Memphis


Great questions, Meditating! And yes - early on in my career we discovered the value of home shows.

Think about it. The No. 1 reason customers have a hard time choosing any service (including carpet cleaning) is they can’t pre-visualize the results! So when you exhibit at a home show you are face-to-face with thousands of prospective customers and they are coming to you on a silver platter!

But you do need to do a good home show right to get good results. If you do a show like the typical sad-sack cleaner it will be a huge waste of time, money and worst of all… opportunities. So Meditating, above all else I want you to get OCD with me on your home show preparations!

1. No chairs in the booth: That’s right… burn the phrase “exhibiting at a home show” from your mind. (“Exhibiting” is passive and, as we’re going to learn, you need action!) Trust me, Meditating, there is nothing worse than a tired carpet cleaner slumped in a chair staring off into space. (If you absolutely must sit, then put a tall kitchen stool in the booth so you can take a load off your feet but still be at eye height when someone walks by.)

2. Work in shifts: This is tiring work. So if you are going to have employees in the booth, be sure to work your people in shifts. Two hours on, one off - or something like that.

3. Invest in the home show to harvest the most leads: That’s right, spend some money on your “production.” Hire extra people, get professional graphics for your booth, etc. Do it right or don't do it at all.

4. Have something to hand people that has value: We printed up thousands of “checks” on real check stock that in reality was a $20 coupon. There was a signature line for our employees to sign as they handed the check to the customer. This signature in front of the customer gave the “check” extra respect. Over the years we got a tremendous return from these. Sometimes someone would turn in a “check coupon” that they had saved for five or six years before calling us. Fine by me! The “check” had done its job!

5. Have action in your booth: Attendees get what I call the “trade show glazed stare.” (And so do the sales people!) To break through attendee’s apathy you need some sort of “fun action.” On an inside booth, I'd set up a chair and let kids stain it up with eggs, catsup, dirt, etc. and then clean it off.

NOTE: We set our trucks up outside and cleaned area rugs for free. Over a two-day period we would clean 600 to 800 rugs - free of charge. This free area rug cleaning created tremendous goodwill and boy did we have action! (I would have two truckmounts and four or five techs cleaning continuously with 50 people or more watching all the time. And that meant lots of leads!)

6. Have a contest for a free house cleaning: Be sure to include on the entry form a place to check if they wanted a free in-home cleaning inspection. Then be sure to have extra staff to start calling the very next day (even while the show is on) to sign people up. (You'll sign up less than half, but still not a bad deal.)

7. Don’t get bogged down personally: Keep yourself and other management free to talk to the heavy hitters. I would stay more to the back of the booth and when one of our people working the crowd had a good prospect, they would bring them back and introduce us. Then I would take over!

NOTE: For a step-by-step “How to Clean Up Big at Home Shows” special report, just write me at and put the word “ICS Home Show” in the subject line.

P.S. Was the home show a valuable marketing tool? Absolutely! (And we spent a substantial part of our yearly promotional budget on it!) Did I like doing it? In the early years? Yes! Later on, I grew to dread it since it was totally exhausting. (But I put my “big boy panties on” and did the show anyway!)

But once again, you must do it right. My lonely competitors that had booths would sneak over just to catch glimpses of us busily doing free rug cleaning with 50 or 60 potential customers standing around watching our boys working. (I loved this part!)

NOTE: Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges!  Your help is on the way! A new “Ask Steve” will premiere in the ICS eNewsletter every Thursday. Register to receive it by clicking here.

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