This weekend I exhibited at my first ever event with My Claybrick Home, my Interior Design business. I wanted to share with you why I exhibited and the work that went in before, during and after the event.

Why Exhibit?

A really easy answer – I’ve never done it before and I wanted to see what interest I could get on the new service that I launched earlier in 2023 – my Fresh Pair of Eyes for Homeowners.

I’m not afraid to try something new, plus I love to chat with prospective clients face to face to hear what challenges they face in their home. These challenges I often use in my social media posts when engaging with clients.

My Objectives

When I was initially approached about having a stand at the Essex Property Show I didn’t just dive in straight away. I asked plenty of questions about the organiser, the exhibitors, the promotional plan, and the expected number of visitors.

Before committing I set my own objectives for the event.

  1. Increase awareness in Essex of my design business and my Fresh Pair of Eyes Service.
  2. Sell 2 Fresh Pair of Eyes Sessions on the day – this covered the cost of the stand.
  3. Collect 20 email addresses of potential new clients to then engage with after the event.

Once I had my objectives clear I booked my spot and provided the organiser with details about my business, which was then featured on their website.

Before the event

  1. Decided on the offer that I wanted to promote at the event, including a competition.
  2. Had a roller banner designed and made – this will also be used at my weekly networking events.
  3. Had a leaflet designed and 250 copies printed (I had more printed as around the same time I did my first every leaflet drop at 2 local estates circa 1000 leaflets)
  4. Used the same leaflet design, to feature in the event brochure.
  5. Completed a short, recorded interview with the organiser of the event, which was promoted across social media. You can watch that here.
  6. Promoted the event across my social accounts from 1 month before, stepping up as the event drew closer.
  7. Passed around friends, family, and colleagues a link for free tickets to the event.
  8. Set up a competition with a QR code for entries, collecting email addresses and postcodes at the same time.
  9. Organised wax melts in the My Claybrick Home scent, which were added to the 50 goody bags given to the first 50 entrants.
  10. Created a design board which showcased both my design and before/after photos from the space.
  11. Asked in my network for any tips and advice for featuring my business at an event and got some great advice.
  12. Created my post event emails for the competition winner, and thank you message for those taking part. Both emails featured call to action links for them to find out more.

Design Board My Competition

My Investment

My total cost to feature at this event was just under £500 + my time. This included the event, design, printing, items for my table and fuel to get there and back. To break even from the event, I would need to sell 4 Fresh Pair of Eyes Services (4 x £125 = £500).

During the Event

I arrived in plenty of time to set up my stand and introduce myself to my ‘neighbours’ for the event.

I posted across my socials a short video of my stand inviting friends and family to come along.

Once the event opened and visitors arrived, I stood at the front of my stand, I didn’t sit behind. It’s important to get connected with potential clients, and sitting behind a desk puts up too much of a barrier.

I then used 2 questions to engage with potential clients.

  1. What brought you to the show today? Are you looking for anything in particular?
  2. What’s the biggest challenge that you have in your home right now?

Now question 2 got some interesting responses from:

“I have no problems in my home, I love it!” – to which I congratulated to the homeowner on being able to create their ideal home.

“He’s my only challenge” (with a reference to the husband/partner) – I love these replies as it allows me to let them know I can’t help with ‘him indoors’ but I can help in other ways.

To the potential clients unravelling their architect plans (yes, they had hard copies with them), to bringing up plans on their phones, to show spaces they are struggling with.

I then used my design board to talk through how I took a client from the Fresh Pair of Eyes service, through to a 3d Design and sourcing with before and after photos of the space.  I gave out leaflets explaining the service and encouraged visitors to take part in my competition, to win a Fresh Pair of Eyes in their home. I had a large glass jar of glasses and the closet guess won. I collected entries on a google form from a QR code.

Now, the event wasn’t as busy as I hoped so I used the quieter times, to network with other exhibitors. I connected with a furniture artist, a builder, a flooring business, a business that wraps kitchen cabinets, a fellow Interior Designer, and an artist.

I also got some free head shots taken by a local photographer.

Post Event

From the google form competition entries I updated my email group with the email addresses collected and within 24 hours sent out an email letting them know they didn’t win at this time, but how many glasses were in the jar (34 if you wanted to know). The email also included the key highlights of my Fresh Pair of Eyes Service, as well as a link to read more and book their own. 

There is a plan to then follow up two more times with this email group over the next 2 weeks.

There was one potential client that is at tender stage with a large renovation. They bought the property 3 years ago after moving back from New York. They love industrial design which is my passion, and I made a separate note to follow up with details of a design I completed in 2021.

What did I learn from my first exhibition?

  1. My pre-show activities were spot on.
  2. My visual board helped create conversation, but I’d have a more professional design board created.
  3. Quality not quantity – it’s better to have great conversations with potential clients than just hand out leaflets.
  4. My lead in questions got engagement and potential clients willing to chat. If you start off salesy people won’t stop to talk.
  5. It’s not just about the visitors, it’s a great opportunity to network with other businesses and create new connections.
  6. Men in skintight chino’s should be banned. It’s not a good look.

What was my highlight?

Towards the end of the day, a lady came to chat with me. She said she’d searched on the local community Facebook page and seen my name come up a few times being recommended for Interior Design. She’d then found out (my marketing paid off) that I was going to be at the Essex Property Show and had come along specifically to chat with me about helping her in her home.

We had a great conversation about how she wanted to put her mark on her first owned home, and how she had ideas but wasn’t sure how to put them into action. An ideal client for me.

Did I achieve my objectives?

Yes, I increased awareness in Essex of my design business and my Fresh Pair of Eyes Service to both potential clients, and local businesses.

No, I didn’t sell any Fresh Pair of Eyes Sessions on the day. But I had good conversations that could lead to a sale.

No, I collected 7 (wanted 20) email addresses of potential new clients to then engage with after the event.

Although I didn’t achieve 2 of my objectives, I am feeling good about the conversations that were had an email address I can follow up with.

Would I do it again?

If you’re thinking about exhibiting your business at a local event and need guidance on what to do before, during and after the event then why not reach out to see how I can help.

Click here to grab a time/day from my diary to book a chat.