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Why I’m skipping local home shows this year

In the past I’ve talked about how our team at The Deck Store has invested a lot of time and energy into making creative displays for the local trade shows. In our area, a big one is the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, though we’ve done a number of other shows as well throughout the years. Last year, we started stepping away from these shows a bit. This year, we’re pulling out completely. That is a 180˚ shift from what I’ve done in the past, and a lot of people are asking me why, especially considering that in the past I’ve always been a big proponent of these shows.

I’m not referring to national shows, which I think are really, really important shows. I’m speaking of the local, community shows.

As I’ve said before: What we’re doing now doesn’t mean that’s what we’ll be doing five years from now. This is a good example of that  philosophy. Internet  marketing  has  really taken over how we attract our customers. We have our local showroom that we invest in regularly and keep updated with the  latest  products  and  building  techniques. So rather than invest in another display for a show, we are instead putting our money into online marketing that will bring people into our store. Our showroom is where our product is strongest and that’s where we want to engage our customers. Why spend the time and expense in building a display that we’ll only use for a few days? We’ve decided to take that same amount of money and effort and instead put it into our showroom and work on attracting people there.

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In the past, we’ve had manufacturers share in the budget of preparing a display for the local home shows. We’ve talked to them about it and instead have conveyed to them the importance of them investing in our showroom as a year-round display that will draw people in far more than just the short times the home shows take place.

We were up to about $15,000 to $20,000 budgets for a weekend show, so we will now use those resources to build some pretty awesome displays in our own store showroom. We’re doing a major renovation of our showroom this year, and we’ve assessed the value of our floor space and are rebuilding accordingly. We’re getting rid of products we don’t sell much of and replacing them with the latest technologies from manufacturers we sell more often.

We’re also working with our manufacturers to make sure we have the latest products and colors offered. In some cases, we’ve agreed to keep a product covered up, or to not display it quite yet because the product won’t be officially unveiled until later. As we build out our new showroom displays, we’re noticing that customers are showing an interest in what we’re building. Since many of our customers are professional builders and contractors, there’s nothing to get them talking and enthused more than seeing us build our own displays in our own store.

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As I mentioned, we’re using our new investment in online marketing to draw customers to our store. We’ve gotten pretty sophisticated about it recently. We’re now able to use Google Ad Words to connect with homeowners and contractors who are searching for information about the home show and instead, the google ads direct them to our showroom and our online store.

We’re using some of this budget for Facebook and Twitter advertising as well. We’re also going to do Google retargeting ads. Beyond just online ads, we’re heavily focused on email marketing. We use our email lists to funnel people into our store. Once we get them into our store, we’re more likely to get them to buy. Once they’re here in the store, we’re no longer making that first sales call in their home. They’ve already experienced a lot of what we’re about via our online presence and they’re in the store on purpose because we’ve enticed them through smart social media and email marketing.

The people visiting our store now are truly interested in the products and services we offer. They’re not someone who had a couple beers at the home show and decided they want to talk about decks only to find they don’t even live in your area. These are qualified leads who have already taken the time to voluntarily interact with us online. These consumers, we’ve learned, are more valuable to us than the local home show crowd.

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