Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

Home Shows: Yes or No?A long time ago I worked for a company owned by a man who strongly believed in the “Home Shows” as a great place to get leads and develop business. So every spring and fall we got premier booths at all the local home shows and we went to pitch ourselves.

One season, the man who owned the company was in another state, so he relied on our branch manager to get all this done. The rub was that the branch manager hated the home shows. He thought that they were a waste of time and money so he never went. That probably wasn’t so bad, but after spending two or three days in the booth promoting our business and talking to people, we would come back with a notebook full of leads, and he would grab it and promptly throw it in the trash! He didn’t want to waste any more time, effort or money on “home show foolishness.” 

So, who’s right? Obviously they both believe they have valid reasons for their opinion. So, can they both be right? Actually, in this instance, both of them can. It depends on how you treat the home show and the people who are your potential, future customers. If you just throw a table in a booth and sit in a chair all day, most of your leads, if you get any at all, probably won’t be worth squat. But there are also golden opportunities and leads to be mined at home shows.

There are certain “tricks” to having good home show results and leads. The first thing to do is set up a great, interesting booth. Even if your booth is not in a prime spot, it can still be interesting and eye-catching. Try making it a walk-through booth where people can enter and look and touch your displays. It’s much easier to engage someone in conversation when they are not standing in the crowded, busy aisle. 

Get a BIG, colorful banner with your company name on it and display it where everyone can see it. People only retain about 20% of what they hear. They are much more likely to retain it longer if they read it. However, when you introduce yourself, make sure to not only say your name but your company’s name as well. For Example, “Hi, I’m Jake with ABC Stone. What can I help you with today?”

Lots of people go to the home shows for the giveaways. We have all seen this: a table at the front of the booth, layered with giveaway bags, towels, rulers, key chains or whatever else there might be. People just walk on by and pick that stuff up and don’t even stop to see what the company is about. Keep your giveaways either on your person (like hang the bags on your arm) or in the back of your booth so they actually have to walk in and check you out to get a freebie. 

Be sure to have business cards handy, especially if you are not the person who will call them later to meet with them. If they met you at the show and your name is Jake, but John is actually going to be calling them, be sure to give them John’s card and make them aware that he will be the one touching base with them. If it is going to be you, let them know that, too. If you balk at this idea because nice business cards can be expensive, look into someplace like or They routinely have great deals. (People who go to a lot of networking events also frequently use these cost-effective resources.)

People have a tendency to think that they don’t have to qualify home show attendees. The fact that they are at the home show sort of prequalifies them automatically. That is not the case at all. People also attend home shows to find out about windows or floors. Just because someone walks into your booth to look around doesn’t mean they are your stone customer. You need to qualify them, just like you would if they stepped into your showroom, shop or store. Who knows, maybe you can turn them into your stone customer, but then again, maybe all they care about is windows or floors. You just won’t know until you take the steps to qualify them. 

Treat your booth like your showroom. Keep it clean and organized. Set it up to flow like your showroom does – and no dirty or chipped samples! Keep it free of dust and dirt. (Easier said than done, I know, but try.) Bring a photo album of pics of previous work and testimonials.  If you have any awards or accolades, bring them. Show yourself off.

Home Shows can be expensive to participate in. So why not make the most of it? It’s not about getting hundreds of leads. It’s about getting your business out there in front of qualified, potential future customers who are interested in your product. Ten good leads are better than 100 bad ones. Your Home Show experience is up to you. 

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at