7 Secrets to a Successful Trade Show – Big or Small!

Throughout the year there will be many opportunities for home stagers to use ‘trade shows’ as one of their key marketing strategies. Spring brings new hope with it and this is a time when many home owners are attending home & garden shows and design shows. You may find some local opportunities or some larger trade shows that draw people in from other areas. Fall is another great time for tradeshows as people shift their summer outdoor mindset back into ‘nesting’.

While there are specific seasonal trade shows, you can also find opportunities to do small table displays with your local networking groups. Whether you are going to do a small, local trade show for a few hours or a big trade show for a few days here are a few suggestions to make it run smoothly for you:

Here are some ideas and my 7 Secrets to a Successful Trade Show:

Decide on who your target market (ideal client) is and focus on having an attractive display that will draw them in to your area. As a home stager you can create a fantastic visual display by setting your ‘stage’ up with furniture that fits the space + invites the attendee into it. ‘Less is more’ is the golden rule here as well!

  1. Have good visual and big signage for attendees to see from all areas in the room not just in your small space. Banners with your branding are most popular right now and are easy to assemble and disassemble.
  2. Have props that show people what you do. You might do this with the furniture you are using or use your best ‘Before & After’ photos done up on 2 x 3 laminated story boards. Find an attractive easel to prop them on and switch them up during the day.
  3. People are drawn in with food so have some wrapped candies (chocolate works) available but keep them out of the reach of children as they tend to take a lot!
  4. Provide a ‘giveaway’ with your branding on it – keep it small to reduce expenses. Nail files, pens and notepads are always popular.
  5. You need to have a DRAW for a PRIZE. You might want to make it a ‘FREE HOME MAKEOVER’ for living or selling OR perhaps you go the route of having a large Gift Basket. Make your gift basket suitable to your target market e.g. if mostly women attending a spa basket is great, if mixed a gourmet food basket would be a good choice.
  6. While the prize to them is good, the prize to you is in getting their contact information for Follow Up! Make a simple form for them to complete requesting their contact information – name, address, phone, email. I also include a space for them to tell me their home challenges. For the challenges I put a box in front so they just need to check off where they need help e.g. • colour • clutter • getting ready to sell • furniture placement • flooring etc.
  7. Wear comfortable shoes and change them throughout the day if you are there for a few days. If possible have 2 people in the booth to spell each other off for washroom and food breaks. Take some time to go and visit other booths as well as there may be some prospects or strategic alliances for you.

If you want to do a talk at a trade show or networking event, find out who the decision maker is and approach them with an outline of your talk. In most cases you will not be paid for this but you are establishing yourself as an expert in your field and that is worth a lot!

And if you decide that participating in a trade show is not the right marketing strategy for you at this time CONSIDER THIS…make up some Information Packages and go around to any potential clients or strategic alliances (think realtors, painters, moving companies, kitchen & bath stores, etc) and introduce yourself to them. Give them your package and take their business card to FOLLOW UP directly with them. Invite them for a coffee so you can get to know them better and see how you can mutually benefit one another. And that will cost you very little but could give you a very big return (ROI)!


Colleen McClure
Colleen McClure Administrator & Proud owner of PRES Staging® - Expert Home Stager. When I was very young I began drawing interiors, it just came naturally. When I work with a client now, I see the finished project completed in my minds-eye as they explain how they would love to see their space created. I am able to provide sketches on the spot of their vision so this invokes client confidence and excitement for the project from the inception through to the brilliant manifestation – How Fun! When the economy did not support the luxury of home improvements, other passions led me to full-time work as a career counsellor. I very much enjoyed assisting people one-on-one to discover their own talents but this was an arena where I would develop effective techniques in workshop design and group facilitation as well. This would lead to a ‘happy marriage’ as I would apply these skills and passions when I purchased PRES Staging® - The Professional Real Estate Staging Centre. It’s truly the greatest joy to inspire others to discover and hone their innate talents – To witness their emerging confidence while coaching them on design principals and providing them the tools to start and run their own Home Décor businesses for Redesign and Staging. If you’ve ever thought you might enjoy this line of work, or even to do it for yourself and friends, get in touch – Let’s chat!