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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Advertising ideas

William Martin started a provocative thread on Michael Stone's Construction Business Owners discussion group asking about where and how to advertise. This is his blog.

William Martin, owner of WR Martin Co. in the Boston area, posted this question on the Construction Business Owners discussion group: "What are some of the best advertising venues being used today? What gets you the best results." (If you are a construction business owner, I encourage you to apply to join this group if you are not already a member.)

The responses from other contractors are both intriguing and significant.

Mike Davis at TMT Home Remodelers in Eugene, Oregon,wrote:
Advertising is not a one shot or one choice deal. What works best in your marketplace, depends on that marketplace. I you live in an area like ours, radio creates better results than TV. Reason, people spend more time outdoors here and are, therefore, listening to the radio more.

Our marketing campaign consists of radio advertising on the local talk radio station, print advertising in a local magazine that deals primarily with food, print advertising in a newspaper that is distributed once per month in a local destination resort (his newspaper goes to all of the homeowners), we are actively involved in our local builders association, we take part in all of the home shows in our area, we participate in our "Tour of Remodeled Homes" every year, we have a well developed website that shows on the first page in a Google organic search, locally.

I am quite sure that I am forgetting something. We don't count on any one thing to do the "trick" for us in our advertising & marketing. If you have questions about inexpensive ways to get your name out, but take some effort, read Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Levinson. If money isn't an issue, contact a local advertising agency to help you out.

First things first, however, you need to identify who your ideal customer is, what the product is that you have to sell, and how much money you have to spend to reach that audience. If you choose an agency, don't go after one of the "big boys," as they will charge you way more than you can ever come up with in your construction business. You will find that there are a number of high quality small companies around your area that can do a terrific job for a relatively small amount of money.

One more thing, when you choose to take a direction with your marketing, stay with it. Give it a chance to work. The biggest tendency that people have is to bail out on a campaign too quickly. Radio, for example, will take almost 12 months to actually work. That's not to say that you won't get any calls during that time, I'm just saying not to expect huge results just because you start advertising. About the time that you are tired of hearing your ad, your listeners are finally beginning to hear it.

The moral of the story is, identify your ideal customer, find out where they are, identify the best way to reach them, and then give your marketing a chance to work. Be committed when you make the decision to move forward with your campaign.

Kathe Russell, General Manager at DreamBuilders Kitchen and Bath, Inc., in Sacramento, CA. said:
I have found that advertising works best if you have a clear marketing plan. After spending 100's of thousands of dollars on advertising over the years in every publication pertinent to my market, I had to learn this the hard way. Now I don't advertise unless I have a specific, measurable goal.

The main lesson that I've learned is that advertising isn't very effective, in any publication unless you have a specific call to action. For example, one of my company's strategies for getting new clients is to give educational seminars. So we use advertising and other mediums to promote a particular remodeling class. The call to action is that they have to register or the class by a certain date and it will be free. Late registration is a nominal fee. Advertising is great way to get a message out.

We target local homeowners within a 10 mile radius of our showroom, so we use the local newspaper to advertise this. This works great.
The other thing that works well for us are home shows. Advertising an upcoming home show is another great way to call people to action. Just before a home show, we advertise free tickets that can be picked up at our showroom. If you don't have one already, take some time to create a marketing plan before you throw dollars at advertising.
Robert Wright at Citadel Renovations in Ottawa wrote:
What we do is two home shows a year...the next one is in a couple of weeks, have an active website, have a branding radio campaign, and make sure we have happy clients.

I only do the two shows as they are the ones that work for me. There are others that I pass on as they didn't work for me.

I also send out a monthly newsletter to 300+ addresses and growing. They generally are well received. I am also linked to other reno websites that link and use my materials. Lets see how well this works in the future.
More on this topic tomorrow.

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