Show homes like The New American Remodel (TNAR) seek to place innovative products and design ideas in front of a target audience. For the home to garner the needed attention, those products and ideas must truly serve the audience, which, in this case, is professional remodelers.
The remodeler will also expect benefits. Those benefits should go beyond the usual profit margin. Remodelers on projects like this seek a marketing boost: they believe that the media attention they receive will strengthen their brand and attract new business.
Of course, few remodelers get to work high-profile homes like this. The good news is that it’s possible to get similar benefits from any great project. To make it work, you have to be clear on the benefits you want, and you need a plan for getting the right kind of exposure.
Let’s explore what marketing lessons one can learn from The New American Remodel 2022.
RELATED: TNAR 2022: Modernizing a Classic
What Do You Want?
Remodeler Eric Gray of Designer Trade Services had a clear goal when he offered up his Orlando home as this year’s project. Although he has lived there for several years, he commutes to New York City for work. Now he wants to move full-time to Orlando and build a business there.
TNAR will showcase Gray’s design, construction, and business skills to key influencers in central Florida—architects, interior designers, real estate brokers, and affluent homeowners.
Could Gray have gotten some of the same benefits without the boost from the International Builders’ Show (IBS)? Most likely. A lot of remodelers don’t realize that compelling stories are hard to come by. Editors, producers, and others who cover residential construction will take any project seriously that offers something new to the local market. Lots of qualities could make a project compelling.
A great project will attract attention. From the street, TNAR will look largely the same when the project is complete. The interior will be transformed, but without altering the home’s character.
For example, a design-build remodeler we know in the DC area is the only one there offering modular second-story additions. Now he wants to build new homes for small infill lots, and his architects are designing a series of compact, high-quality modular homes with a modern Scandinavian look. A unique offering like that will have real news value.
Another possibility might be a remodeler whose work will help homes meet Zero Energy Ready standards. Net Zero remodeling isn’t newsworthy in areas where it’s already common but it could be in one of the markets where no one is doing it.
Some architectural appeal also helps. “A generic kitchen remodel won’t get attention,” says Lonnie Rodriguez of LRod Ventures, a marketing strategy consultant who is helping Gray with vendor relations. “The project should offer something different to the local market.” For instance, TNAR has a big preservation focus—it will offer ideas on how to update a historic home while maintaining its design integrity. But what if the project isn’t particularly unique? Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be a deal killer.
“It could be a highly visible home in a neighborhood that’s gentrifying,” says Rodriguez. “Or maybe it will be listed for sale by one of the area’s top brokers.”
Lonnie Rodriguez has been shooting photos and videos of sponsor products. The sponsors will feature them on their socials. Rodriguez says that this approach can also work for a local project if it offers something unique.
Working With Vendors
No project will attract attention on its own—you need a plan for reaching the right people. One effective tactic is to partner with vendors, including product manufacturers and distributors. They can blow your horn for you.
For TNAR, Rodriguez contacted all sponsoring vendors and offered to take photos and videos of their products being installed. He asked if they would post those on social media and tag Designer Trade Services. Several vendors agreed.
This tactic can also work for local projects. For instance, Rodriguez attended IBS 2019 with a remodeler from Chicago. They walked the floor to look for innovative products the remodeler wanted to try but weren’t common in that market. They asked those vendors if they would like help cracking the Chicago market. If so, the remodeler would agree to offer the product to customers and send the vendor photos and videos of the installation and the finished home. He asked vendors to post some of those on its social media.
“For example, most remodelers in Chicago had never heard of AeroBarrier, even though it’s a great way to improve a home’s energy efficiency and can qualify homeowners for tax breaks,” says Rodriguez. He said the company was happy to discuss working with his remodeler client.
But let’s say that you’re not going to IBS. How do you find innovative building products and methods that would be newsworthy in your area?
Project shots will be used across Designer Trade Service's website and social media.
The internet is your friend.
“Search for award-winning products that could use a better presence in your market, then approach those vendors,” says Rodriguez. “If your project is interesting enough, there’s a good chance some vendors will get on board.”
As valuable as vendor partners are, however, they won’t do all your marketing. You should also plan on leveraging your own media. The problem is that while most remodelers have a website and social media presence, many don’t use them effectively.
To help Gray improve his game, Rodriguez will help him populate a new company website with photos, video, and written content about TNAR once everything is done. He also has a plan for posting on Instagram, which as a visual medium is perfect for remodelers.
Someone also has to continually update your online presence and actively seek out followers. Although most remodelers don’t have a staff person to do this, there are plenty of agencies and freelancers with social media experience, and Rodriguez hopes to hook Gray up with one.
The bottom line is that if you have a compelling project and someone with the sales skills to attract vendor interest, there’s an opportunity for some real marketing gains. But the only way to realize those gains is to aggressively pursue them.