Wisconsin Center
Milwaukee, WI
August 9-11, 2022


In pre-Garden Center Show planning, there are three ingredients to a successful exhibit performance:

  1. Plan completely.
  2. Execute aggressively.
  3. Follow up thoroughly.

Quick Guide to the Garden Center Show Planning

  1. What are your objectives, and how will you reach them?
    1. Learning/teaching
    2. Generating sales leads
    3. Introducing new products
    4. Selling to existing customers
    5. Increasing name awareness
  2. What message are you trying to communicate?
    1. Define your message with three key points.
    2. Develop each point with details.
    3. Use clear, understandable language.
    4. Use words that paint pictures.
  3. Who is your target? Develop a target profile to help with prospecting and qualifying.
  4. Read the exhibitor service kit.
  5. Send in the required forms by the required dates. Look for carpet, electric, plumbing, furniture, floral and other booth accessory forms.
  6. Finalize your approach to pre-show promotion - promoting attendance is a shared responsibility between show management and exhibitors.
  7. Develop a strategy for giveaways, contests or attention-getting devices.
  8. Select booth staff. Staffers should:
    1. Have a good attitude about participating.
    2. Have a warm, friendly personality.
    3. Have good product knowledge.
    4. Be experienced in exhibiting.
  9. Review the plan with everyone in the organization. Get commitment early in the planning cycle from all involved.

Pre-Garden Center Show Promotion

Show management is responsible for generating show traffic, but it’s a shared responsibility. You need to invite your target audience - existing customers, hot prospects, prospects who have been called on but not closed and prospects who haven’t been called on.

  • Use show-supplied invitations.
  • Use your own printed invitations.
  • Use a postcard.
  • Send a personal letter - followed by a personal phone call.
  • Use telemarketing.
  • Have your sales personnel identify and contact targeted prospects individually.

Tips for Direct Mail:

  • Tie your booth theme into your promotion.
  • Use other than #10 envelopes - they’ll stick out more.
  • Use a color other than white or manila.
  • Handwrite or type the address on the envelope. Don’t use a label - it looks like junk mail.
  • Hand-stamp envelopes - it looks more personal.
  • Use a teaser on the envelope. “Inside there is a shameless bribe!” or something similar.
  • Identify the show on the outside of the envelope: “Important information about the Garden Center Show inside.”

Other Places to Promote Attendance:

  • Use social media.
  • Use the show directory.
  • Include show information in your company newsletter.
    Develop advertorials - articles about your company, product or service - that can be published just prior to the show.
  • Use a banner in your trade press ads: “See us in booth 1010 at the Garden Center Show.”
  • Develop and send a press kit to all invited press.
  • Invite the press to your booth, especially if you’re introducing a new product.
  • Sponsor hospitality suites, coffee breaks or cocktail receptions.

During the Garden Center Show

  • When you eat in the dining area, choose a table where prospects are seated, not other vendors or colleagues.
  • When conversing with a prospect, concentrate on the benefits and values that your firm brings to the prospect rather than “what you have.” The prospect may not know how to convert your features into his or her benefits.
  • Use audiovisual tools to demonstrate benefits.
  • Talk about outcomes. Give examples of successes.
  • Look professional and interested.
  • Never, ever eat in the booth.
  • Respond with respect to any reference to competitors.
  • If asked a question you cannot answer, call the office right from the booth to get an answer immediately.
  • Introduce visitors to top-level company officials on-site.
  • Repeat the name of the visitor in conversation.
  • Listen attentively.
  • Respond to the needs of the visitor, rather than rushing into the selling points of the exhibitor.
  • Provide information, tips, checklists or techniques that are of value to the visitor.
  • Take the business card of the visitor, and furnish your card to the visitor.

After the Garden Center Show

  • Debrief after the show to determine how and what to do better next time.
  • Determine the number of leads generated, and rank them as hot, medium and cool.
  • Determine timeframes and methods of contacting each group.
  • Capture good ideas in writing about:
    1. How to present your company
    2. What audience you expected and what you got
    3. Reasons people talked to you (specific)
    4. Reasons people would not talk to you (specific)
    5. What the audience expected
    6. What exceeded their expectations
    7. How you would have changed
      1. Literature
      2. Your approach
      3. The booth
      4. Your location
  • Assign tasks to maximize future efforts. Have due dates for getting things done.
  • Follow up.
  • Send follow-up letters 2-6 weeks after show.
  • Two months after the show, review hot, medium and cool leads. Note current status. If there are no new customers from leads, discuss why. Repeat exercise two months later.
  • Be in contact with show management with any questions or concerns or issues you had with the show that will improve your next show experience. Remember - they are there to assist you!