What’s your follow-up plan for home shows?

Picture of Janet Mobley

Janet Mobley

Home and garden shows are a tried-and-true method for generating leads for your home improvement company. They give you the opportunity to be in a room full of interested, motivated homeowners, and the chance to pitch them face-to-face.

We’ve seen contractors get really creative with how to entice people to stop by their booth, how to get them to give contact information, and even how to schedule an in-home appointment right then and there. They offer free gifts, coupons and discounts, they have contests and give aways, and they set up their products (from pavers, to bathtubs and showers, even full-sized hot tubs and swimming pools) in the middle of the trade show floor.

But one area that many business owners neglect is their after-show follow up plan. According to a 2010 study, 98% of exhibitors collect sales leads at trade shows, but only two-thirds of those people have a formalized process to follow up with them.

Many companies will be sure to personally contact the “hot” leads, the people who talked to you about their project and asked for a follow up call, or who seemed ready to set an appointment.

But what about the other leads? The people who are in the early, information gathering stages of their renovation project?

These kinds of leads may elicit groans from you sales staff, who think it’s a waste of time to follow up with leads who aren’t ready to buy. But that’s why this is the perfect place to implement a drip email campaign, to nurture those luke warm / cold leads until they’re ready to be contacted directly by a sales person.

What is a drip email campaign?

A drip email campaign is a series of marketing emails that are set up to go out automatically on a pre-determined schedule. It’s a way to provide information and stay in front of leads without wasting the valuable time of your sales staff, or scaring off a lead who’s not ready to make a decision.

These are also called nurturing campaigns, because they do just that, they nurture a lead’s interest until they are ready to move forward.

Tips & Tricks

  • A drip/nurturing campaign should be 90% complete before the trade show even starts. Get all the work out of the way in the weeks leading up to the show so when you get back to work, you’re spending your time on current clients and hot leads, and letting the campaign work behind the scenes to nurture everyone else.
  • This first email should include some specifics about the show, so the message doesn’t seem so generic. Include the date, the location, maybe even a picture of your booth or of the whole show floor. Make people do a double take a recognize that you guys were in the same place at the same time.
  • Make a plan to include small bits of useful information in each email. Not just a sales pitch, but helpful hints about home improvement projects that prospects could actually use. This will keep them interested in what your company has to say, and will ensure that they keep opening emails.
  • Be sure to include specific calls to action (CTAs). Using phrases like “get more info” and “to learn more” isn’t strong enough. Offer them something real and tangible, like a coupon, or a buyers guide.
  • Also think about how to offer different levels of interaction. Tell them how to book an in-home appointment if they’re ready. Or if they’re not quite there yet, offer some download bait or ask them to subscribe to newsletter to get regular communication from you.
  • Plan out the right email schedule. You want to strike the right balance between keeping their attention before they forget who you are, but not pestering them so much in the immediate aftermath of the trade show that they hit the unsubscribe button. Get the first email sent out ASAP after the show, try to get all the new leads into your contact management system during the show, or the day after. Then space the next couple emails out a few days apart, followed by weekly spacing, and eventually getting them on a monthly newsletter.

Multiple Drip Campaigns

If you’ve done a couple drip campaigns already and are feeling ready to move to the next level, try creating multiple drip campaigns based on the level of interest of a lead.

One campaign could focus on the people who you talked to in-person at your booth. Thank them for visiting and offer some kind of coupon if they set an appointment.

A second campaign could target the people who signed up for a mailing list or contest at your booth, but who you didn’t talk to directly. Thank them for signing up, apologize for not getting the chance to talk to them one-on-one, and offer to set up a phone call or appointment to answer any questions they have.

A third campaign could include everyone else, the people who attended the trade show but didn’t specifically visit your booth or give you contact info (for those shows that provide contact info of all attendees to exhibitors). Send an email introducing your company, along with an “opt-in” for more follow up emails (maybe tempting them with a coupon for opting-in). But make it worth their while, the follow up emails should be tips they can actually use.

Need some help getting set up?

And as always, the fastest way is to get any campaign set up is to get a digital marketing professional to help you. Just like you say to homeowners who think they can tackle a big project on their own, the best way to make sure it’s done quickly and done right is to hire someone with experience. Contact us for more information about how to get started.

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