Does your company participate in local home and garden shows or other trade shows? Do you collect information on potential customers at those shows? Do you know what to do with that information once you get it? One business owner and one expert share how to get the most out of that information.
During a Dow AgroSciences meeting in Indianapolis in November, Tony Santangelo, owner of Innovative Pest Control in Tyler, Texas, happened to be seated at the same dinner table as Leslie Prevish, who was at the meeting on behalf of Dow AgroSciences, to speak about marketing.
“I mentioned to her that I want to do a home and garden show and we’ve never done one before,” Santangelo says. “She suggested that when I have potential customers sign up to win a raffle prize, that I should quantify any leads as cold, warm and hot. She said don’t just ask for their email address; come up with questions so you know what kind of lead they are.”
This gave Santangelo a lot to think about on his flight home to Texas. When the time came to create the booth for his company’s first home and garden show, he went big. He developed a plan for how to engage these potential customers.
First, Innovative Pest Control decided to create the biggest, best booth it could. Santangelo bought two booth spaces and ordered an 8-by-8-foot photo of a house. On one side of the home, they showed a typical Sentricon® System installation. On the other side, they simulated a liquid termite treatment.
Next, Santangelo figured out a way to get plenty of traffic in his booth. First, he purchased a Yeti cooler, something that people in Texas love, he says. He put it front and center of the booth so everyone would see it, along with a sign that told attendees they could enter for a chance to win the $400 cooler. He also paid to be part of a scavenger hunt put on by the home and garden show. Attendees could enter a drawing to win $1,000 for visiting 10 specific booths throughout the show. At the Innovative Pest Control booth, attendees could receive a stamp to enter the drawing.
Then, he had four iPad tablets in his booth loaded with questions for potential customers. To win the Yeti cooler, attendees had to enter their email addresses into the iPad and answer three simple questions.
- Do you have a pest control company?
- Have you had pest problems in the past?
- Are you interested in learning more about our service?
Santangelo says those three questions helped his company sort out the cold, warm or hot leads.
“The iPads also helped a tremendous amount,” he says. “It slowed people down enough to where we had time to explain the Sentricon System, explain our service and our bundle options. We weren’t selling them anything. We were just explaining how we do things. There was no hard sell.”
More than 500 people signed up to win the Yeti cooler. That translates into 500 potential new customers from one event.
And Santangelo didn’t stop there. After the show, his company sent an email to everyone thanking them for coming to the booth and naming the date for the drawing for the cooler. Later, he sent another email announcing the winner of the cooler. That email included an offer for a free pest control service.
“We weren’t quite sure if that was a good idea or not, but it turns out it was a great idea!” he says. “We got several calls from people taking us up on that free offer, and for every house we went to, not a single homeowner said, ‘Just spray my house and leave.’ We sold many pest control bundles from this offer.”
Prevish, a marketing expert, says she is not surprised by the great outcome for Innovative Pest Control.
“At dinner, I asked them how they know who is just entering for something free and who is a good lead,” she says. “I suggested that they ask these people specific, simple questions. That’s how you could tell if someone is a cold lead — they don’t own a house; a warm lead — they’ve used pest control services in the past year; and a hot lead — they’re planning to use pest control services this year.”
Prevish has advice for other companies looking to emulate Innovative Pest Control’s trade show success.
“Tracking the return on investment is the most important part that people forget,” Prevish says. “You need to be able to search that six months after the event, you got $3,000 worth of business, so this is worth the investment, or we broke even.”