How Remodelers Can Avoid Green Fatigue

It's easy for your clients to tune out your green building message. Here's how remodelers can stay fresh.

February 28, 2010

Talk to remodelers and marketers who bill themselves as green and everyone agrees on four key points:

  • Your audience – the homeowner – is sophisticated and educated.
  • They’re bombarded with all-things green.
  • They all have a different idea about what green is.
  • Green is constantly changing.

“The message that worked 12 to 18 months ago isn’t going to work today,” says Jerry Yudelson, president of Yudelson Associates, a Tucson, Ariz.-based consultancy specializing in green building and marketing services.

Avoiding green fatigue is possible. Knowing what’s new – whether it’s a millenials’ mentality toward green or the latest low-flush toilet – is important as you build your image as a green remodeler.

Know your audience inside and out

Do homeowners in your area want reclaimed woods to make their home green, or are they talking about improving the building envelope?

“You need to know what your audience cares about,” says Brian Flook, president and CEO of Power Marketing & Advertising in Hagerstown, Md. That, he says, will direct your message and promotions.

Earl Williams knows his demographic like the back of his hand. His clients in the Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, vicinity tend to have household incomes around $200,000, live in homes about 15 years old and be around age 50 – and their bodies ache just like anyone else who’s getting older. He’s spent a lot of time listening, he says, and what they’ve told him shapes how he presents himself and his company, Earl Williams & Associates.

“I can relate quickly to what their definition of green is and tailor my thoughts and questions to where they’re coming from,” he says. “I’m getting smart enough that I pretty much know what age group is going to say.”

Jarro Building Industries’ President Ray Accettella listens, too: Gen Xers in his Long Island, N.Y., area call his office to ask green building questions, while his 50-plus market is less interested.

Stay ahead of the curve

The only way to market yourself as green and be successful is to stay ahead of the curve, Williams and Jarro agree. Both rely on continual education and certification to keep abreast of new products, technology and trends. It helps them build better and explain the benefits of their companies to clients.

“The decision is to be ahead of the consumer. … If you’re not ahead of the consumer, you’re missing the boat,” says Accettella. Someone from Jarro attends a local monthly green building council meeting, the team participates in the local HBA and certifications are a must.

Earning certifications and awards – and promoting them at every opportunity, Williams says – will help you build credibility and your reputation.

'Stay in the conversation’

Your green education and your marketing tactics go hand in hand.

Each of the remodelers in this story has a Web site that promotes green remodeling, an obvious first step. Take it further, Yudelson says, and “stay in the conversation.” The experts echo each other’s ideas to brand yourself as the remodeler for green:

  • Use your Web site and marketing collateral to emphasize your green message.
  • Keep a blog and use social media to tell prospective clients about what you’re learning and can do for them.
  • Be visible! Host a seminar – then make it a Webinar.
  • Be the remodeler in a parade of homes for builders.
  • Brag to the media about green awards.
  • Send past and prospective clients a pamphlet on “green news”
  • Pair up with local utility companies like Jarro Building Industries does to educate inspectors and homeowners and conduct home energy audits.


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