If you’re like many companies, events such as street fairs, classic car shows, wine tastings, and such are now a more important part of your marketing than they’ve ever been. Home improvement marketers like events because, compared with a home show, there’s usually no competition.

But there’s a catch: When you set up at a home show, you see dozens of other companies like yours that are selling roofing, siding, or windows because the homeowners who are there are in the market for those projects or services.

On the other hand, when you go to a classic car show or a wine tasting, you probably won’t see any other home improvement companies because people are there for cars, or wine, or whatever their hobby or interest is. The last thing they might be thinking about is new windows. That could cause a disconnect. They’re probably wondering: Why is this table here? Many will ignore you. Some might resent your presence, thinking: Hey, we didn’t come here to be solicited.

Customize & Connect

Here’s a suggestion: Customize your appearance to fit the gathering. Be a part of what’s there. When you do that, you’ll connect. Give attendees a real reason to stop and check you out. Get inside their minds and play to that. For instance, not long ago Renewal by Andersen of Phoenix, which markets at more than 100 events a year, set up a booth at the four-day Phoenix Golf Open. RBA/Phoenix’s booth featured a Putt To Win hole. Prove your putting skills by sinking the ball in the hole and you win a golf visor that says Renewal by Andersen or a $10 gift card good toward any purchases made at a local golf store. (The store donated the gift cards, since you have to buy something there to redeem them.)

Three people, dressed as golfers, operated the booth. One person was out in the aisle recruiting new putters. Another was managing the putting activity. A third filled out lead sheets and set appointments with people by having them plug the appointment into their smartphones. All the leads were set in the booth on the spot.

Seventy-eight people filled out lead sheets. Fifty-eight of those converted to appointments.

Be a Part of It

The reason the conversion rate was so high is that by the time visitors hit the ball, RBA/Phoenix demonstrators already had a conversation going with them. Where are you from? Do you own your home? Dialogue made all the difference. Once you build rapport with attendees on a level separate from home improvement, that conversation about windows or roofing is a natural segue.

Many of those who stepped in to shoot a putt didn’t realize that the booth had anything to do with windows. They saw people in golf clothes, a putting green, and a big screen TV saying Putt To Win. Yes, there are additional expenses when you customize your booth and your people to the event. You have to invest more money, and definitely more time, to make event marketing a success. It also takes some imagination. A wine- and cheese-tasting? Sponsor a drawing for a bottle of rare wine. Classic car show? Give away a free car wash.

Make yourself memorable. Remember the Dodge Ram commercial at the Super Bowl? That ad cost many millions, and for the first 90% of its running time nothing was said about trucks, although a lot was said about farmers and farming. When the commercial was almost over and had your total attention, it delivered the signature line: Dodge Ram, for the farmer in all of us. Get people’s attention and make them feel at ease, and at home, and you’ll not only get more leads, you’ll convert more of those leads to appointments. —Sales and marketing consultant Tony Hoty has been a home improvement company salesperson and owner. Visit his website or reach him at [email protected] or 888.447.3969.