Shows and Events
In this issue of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report, we are going to continue our discussion of effective marketing philosophies and methods. What we know from our most successful dealers is a third of their leads come from their website, a third from shows and events, and the final third is a sampling of all other marketing efforts. We have discussed web best practices, now we will review how metal roofing companies are making the most of shows and events. While we are in the throes of the holiday season and scrambling before the weather turns, it is hard to believe that show season will begin for many of you in as little as six weeks. Now is the time to review and evaluate your show strategy and make improvements.
Shows and events are a polarized marketing method in our industry – companies either swear by them or swear them off. Sceptics often claim that in the internet age, when homeowners can learn all they would ever want to know online, traditional home shows have become stale and irrelevant. But, not matter the quality of a website or effectiveness of a pay-per-click campaign, consumers cannot form an in-person first impression of a company, touch and feel the product(s) they are interested in, and be exposed to products they were not already considering.
If you are selling the same window and siding as every one of your competitors, shows might not be the most effective or efficient method of marketing; they have already seen your products and there is no excitement in the opportunity to touch and feel. But, for specialty metal roofing, a “new” product to most consumers and one they can’t help but touch, shows could be a fantastic opportunity to increase awareness in your market and generate cost-effective leads. As with any marketing initiative, their true effectiveness can only be measured by tracking your total investment compared to the leads generated.
We are seeing more and more companies have success exhibiting at non-traditional shows and events that have little, if nothing, to do with metal roofing. Finding every opportunity to engage a group of consumers, whether at the local strawberry, popcorn, wine, or barbecue festivals or a local Little League Tournament, has been a recent trend across the industry. True, consumers are not at those events to learn about home improvements, but you are also not fighting with your competitors over the same consumers. The leads are fewer than those generated at a traditional home show but have proven to be of similar or higher quality, and exhibiting at these shows is usually much less expensive. Again, metal roofing is the ideal product for these venues as it is unique enough to capture the attention of attendees who originally came to taste wine or eat barbecue.
Whether exhibiting at a large home show or small festival, the biggest mistake we see companies make is losing site of the purpose of the show – attracting visitors to the booth, selling the value of an appointment, converting them to a lead, and engaging the next visitor. The goal is not to collect as many names as possible for a sweepstakes or to spend 20 – 30 minutes selling a visitor in the booth. The faster you can convert engaged visitors into leads, the more visitors you can engage and convert, and the more you can capitalize on your marketing investment, but the leads must be of worthwhile quality.
Here are some additional best practices for making the most of your shows and events:
Beautiful displays. To compel show attendees to enter your booth, you must have clean, unscratched displays that enable them to imagine how beautiful your roofing, window, siding, etc. will look on their home. A couple of literature racks and a sample case won’t accomplish this.
Dedicated Staff. There are times in the life of every organization that require a “all hands on deck” mentality and every team member chips in to work the show, which often includes sales people working the booth. The danger of salespeople is they will attempt to sell the lead in the booth rather than in the home. You must stress the goal of the show and limit their time talking with attendees. But as organizations mature, we have watched it be most effective when there is a dedicated staff for shows and events that are experienced, trained, and compensated for performance. We have frequently discussed that systems are required for successful appointment setting and selling, the same is true for shows. Train your team to engage in the aisles, sell the value of your products and an in-home consultation, and to convert that attendee into a lead and design their compensation to reflect their performance.
Engage in the aisle! The most successful companies are not content sitting behind a table and hoping a few attendees wander into their booth. Their show staff are instead standing at the very edge of their boot engaging attendees and drawing them in to the booth. Staff are much more likely to make this effort when they are compensated per lead and are given an ice breaker to aide engagement. Hundreds of gimmicks have been tried and proven successful – fake $20,000 bills, American flags, tokens for a slot machine, key for a treasure chest, etc – but some gimmicky tool for your staff to create traffic is helpful.
Multiple Levels of Engagement. Just like on our website, you should offer multiple levels of engagement to meet every attendee where they are in the buying cycle. If the attendee is not ready to schedule an appointment, they might be willing to enter the sweepstakes. If they are unwilling to offer any contact information, a card directing them to your Facebook page or blog is a worthwhile last-ditch effort.
Shows and evens provide an excellent opportunity to generate $60 – $70 leads but, as with any marketing, must be done with the necessary effort, care, and dedication. If you have any thoughts, questions, or additional best practices, please contact me through the contact information below.
Thank you for being here and participating in this conversation.
I hope you and yours have a blessed, safe, and Merry Christmas.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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