Getting the Most from Your Exhibiting Experience

Home & Garden Shows draw thousands of potential clients.

Just like clockwork, Home & Garden Shows come just when Iowans, weary of the gray skies and cold temperatures of winter, need a little touch of spring. The colorful flowers in the display gardens and the new ideas at every turn inspire homeowners to spruce up their surroundings.

On the other side, it’s a way for exhibitors in all areas of home remodeling, repair, and products to showcase their goods and services. Potential clients can get up close and personal with new items and new ideas.

But what’s the best way for exhibitors to get their message across? “We have an exhibitor seminar in the fall, called Exhibit like an Expert, to help exhibitors maximize their experience,” says Shannon Nathe, show manager for Marketplace Events, who sponsors the Des Moines Home & Garden Show. “That helps them to get fresh ideas for their booths and guide them through the experience, especially new companies. For returning exhibitors, it helps them spruce up their booths with fresh looks and ideas.”

She says this is the 37th year for the Des Moines Home & Garden Show. “We have an extremely high renewal rate, which tells a lot about the show and about the good experiences exhibitors have.”

When it comes to exhibitors, they really want to be here, says the show manager. “This is the big one, the primo show for them to showcase their companies. Last year, even when we had such bad weather, we still had 37,000 people attend the show, which is amazing.”

At the seminar, Nathe offers some practical and timely tips for exhibitors. Here are some:

Must-Do List:

  • Be in the booth at open and close of the show each day and ready to go.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Have fun.
  • Engage.
  • In your booth, neatness counts.
  • Communicate what your company does. It should be clear.

Don’t-Do List:

  • Don’t party like it’s 1999.
  • Don’t eat in your booth.
  • Don’t be messy. Make sure flooring, table covers, tape, etc., look the way they should.
  • Don’t ignore signage, pricing, product displays.
  • Don’t sit down or read in your booth.
  • Don’t eat or drink or chew gum in your booth.
  • Don’t ignore prospects. Remember, you’re there to meet them.
  • Don’t talk or text on your phone.
  • Don’t overcrowd your booth with staff.
  • Don’t have too much literature to overwhelm prospects, have some breathing room.

Selling Techniques:

  • Ask questions to distinguish qualified prospects.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Sell the attendees on the benefits of your product and company in a minimum amount of time to determine their need, desire, and affordability.

Selling Do List:

  • Smile. First impressions are most important.
  • Be enthusiastic.
  • Be carefully groomed.
  • Determine and use the client’s name. It’s great public relations.
  • Know your competition.
  • Make friends with representatives in neighboring booths. You can help each other.

After the Show List:

  • Call on all leads to follow up.
  • Consider a mailer or email blast as reminders of your meeting at the show.
  • Get feedback from your employees.
  • Provide feedback to show staff to how make things better for next year.
  • Start planning for the next show.

Des Moines Home & Garden Show 2015

February 12–15
Iowa Events Center, downtown Des Moines

Thursday: noon to 9 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.