Simple Solutions to Ordinary Marketing Mistakes

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Don’t let common marketing mistakes take away from your professional image and ability to attract new customers.

September 06, 2000

Nearly all remodelers have the skill, expertise and know-how to get a remodeling job done right -- the kitchen cabinets refaced, the bathroom updated, that extra room added, etc. However, do your marketing materials show your customers the fine work behind the name? Don’t let these common marketing mistakes take away from your professional image and ability to attract new customers.

Common pitfalls:

  • Leading with a company name instead of a headline in an ad. This gives readers no reason to keep reading. Use an attention grabber to catch their eye and show the benefits of using you over the competition. Compare "Let Us Make the Bedroom of Your Dreams ..." with "ABC Remodeler."

  • Company description in quotes, e.g., "Professional Quality Remodelers." Whom are you quoting? It is OK to use a tagline as long as it is short, accurate and used consistently.

  • Busy logos. Make it easy to read your name. Don’t clutter the logo with too many elements. Remember, it is the name you want to be read. Think about how your logo will be used. Will it be readable when it is very small?

  • Using too many fonts. Fonts can be fun and really make or break the visual appearance of any printed piece. But using too many fonts can be jarring and make words hard to read. Use no more than two fonts in an ad. Keep it simple.

  • Not using professional affiliation logos, such as Remodelors Council, HBAs and CGR, or squeezing them all on a business card. If you have a professional affiliation, such as a local home builders association or the Remodelors Council, it is a good thing! Customers like to see that you are aligned with professional groups, and they add credibility and competitive edge, so use them. The flip side of that is listing every affiliation you have on a little business card. List away on your letterhead or on a brochure. But you might wish to choose your top two affiliations and use those for a business card, or list them all on the back of the card.

  • Company name does not tell you what company does. A name can tell you instantly what line of work you do. Compare "The Frank Brothers" with "Frank Brothers Remodeling." This makes it easy for your customer to know if you are rustproofers, restaurateurs or remodelers.

  • Overuse of the words quality, value and customer service. We see these words everywhere, and sadly, they are meaningless these days. Try craftsmanship, dependability, expertise and professionalism. Be creative -- use your company’s thesaurus.

    Tips to use:

  • Develop a uniform look for all of your marketing materials. While you might not be able to afford an expensive designer for all your marketing materials, invest some marketing dollars in developing standard pieces. These should include a company logo, letterhead and envelopes, and a business card. Use this logo and uniform look in any pieces you present to a customer. It doesn’t have to be two-color, and it doesn’t have to be fancy. It should, however, give all the vital information such as name of company, address, phone, fax, beeper (if you have one) and e-mail (if you have one). Shop around for a designer whom you can afford and whose work you like. Get samples of what designers have done, price bids, and make sure they know your budget. Often a designer can recommend a good printer. Remember, you are the customer in both cases and can say yes or no to ideas.

  • Use professional photography for all "after" shots -- either transparencies or best quality available. Save the Polaroids for the "before" shots.

  • When developing your marketing material, think of your market. Are you going after the handyman-needs group -- hang a door, knock down a wall -- or high-end additions? Try to gear your language and look to the demographic market to which you’re trying to sell. Use fonts accordingly.

  • When developing an ad, remember that people read left to right, top to bottom. Keep the important information at the bottom -- your company name and phone number.

  • Where should you advertise? Depends on your target market -- to whom are you trying to sell? Possibilities include local community newspapers, church bulletins, the Yellow Pages and, for high-end work, city magazines or business journals. Wherever you place an ad, try to be appropriate to your market. You’ll want to avoid the "tire kickers" and not waste the customer’s or your time if the size and scope of a job is just not for you.

    Other ideas to keep you in mind for future customers:

  • Refrigerator magnets with your company name and phone number.

  • Door hangers for the neighborhood where you have a job.

  • Place a professional sign outside the job site (with the customer’s permission) with your logo, company name and phone number.

  • Send Goodwill Neighbor letters to the houses near where you are doing a job -- explaining that you are in the neighborhood and they might hear and see trucks. Apologize in advance for any inconvenience. Ask them to call you if there is a problem or if they might like to consider remodeling.

  • Send thank-you cards to customers with a survey asking for feedback and if you can use their comments in future marketing material. Use nice comments as testimonials.

  • Send season’s greeting cards to past customers. Everyone gets a lot of mail at Christmastime, but not on Flag Day. Make up a holiday. Don’t be afraid to be creative.

    A little marketing professionalism can go a long way for your image as a professional, responsible and reliable remodeler. Develop the tools and make them work for you.

    Bring your ads and collateral materials to The Remodelers’ Show Ad Clinic, sponsored by the NAHB National Sales and Marketing Council (NSMC). The NAHB also offers an Ad Review Service to remodelers year-round through the NSMC. For more information on NSMC Ad Reviews or membership, call 800/368-5242, ext. 192.

    Contributed by the NAHB National Sales and Marketing Council.

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