The most successful companies have immediately recognizable brands. How can you build your remodeling company into a brand in your market? Professional Remodeler's Tom Swartz talked to two companies that have successfully done that in two competitive markets. Some excerpts of that conversation appear here. To listen to the full discussion, visit www.HousingZone.com/remex.
Tom: How is brand building different than traditional marketing?
Orren: Because most builders do grassroots marketing only. That's why they have great reputations in their towns that they do work in. The less work they do in the outlying community, the less brand they have. What their brand is, is word-of-mouth and the sign they put on a home site.
How do you do it? You've got to spend some money. The best money spent is on a PR firm that's going to get the press talking about some great stuff you do. You've got to do a little advertising, too, which is expensive.
Tom: Scott, in branding marketing, how is it different when you go after branding your name rather than just traditional marketing?
Scott: I backed into an awareness of branding because of the radio show and the difference of advertising and lead generation from top-of-mind awareness or brand. It drives a lot of what we do. For example, being at a home show or not being at a home show is branding. We have the biggest consumer home show in North America as part of our HBA, so if you're not there, there's a message. If you are there, there's a message. So being there on a recurring basis — and it's expensive — is branding.
Tom: What is the radio show exactly?
Scott: I've been doing a radio show called the KMOX-AM Home Improvement Show for 13 years. It's a call-in format, and I'm the perceived expert. On Saturday mornings, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., we have 50,000 to 75,000 listeners during that time slot.
Tom: Aside from your time, do you pay KMOX-AM a lot of money to do this?
Scott: Not for the radio show, but this is exactly my point. I pay them a lot of money to advertise and make the phone ring. Being well-known is branding. Converting that into consumers who realize, “Hey I need a job. Call me,” that's a different point of view. That's the difference between lead generation and advertising and being on the radio, a well-known name. Until I started advertising, the phone did not ring much.
Tom: [In your advertising,] do you use brand name manufacturers in conjunction with your company name?
Orren: Yes, and I would highly suggest this to anyone getting started trying to brand. You can get sharing on all of your advertising. They'll typically share 30, 40 percent if their logo is on your advertising and your literature. If you don't have a brand and you want to be thought of as quality you want to be affiliated with those manufacturers, you want to be aligned with the very highest of quality.
Once your brand is well-enough-known by the market you're trying to target, you can actually start dropping that, because it clutters your image, having a bunch of names associated with you.
Tom: Does branding of your company bring a stigma of you being high-priced?
Orren: Your competition can always find things to say about you, and arguing price is always one of them. There are some guys out there with brands and their brand is they're cheap. You can brand anything you want. In my case and Scott's case, we've branded a quality experience, a quality product and a quality future for your family.
Tom: Last few words of advice?
Orren: Don't confuse your marketplace. You've got to have a vision of what you want to be in the marketplace for yourself, for your employees and for your customers, and if you keep spasming all over the place and confusing the message of who you are as a company, you're never going to get a brand. You have to decide who you want to be to the world and be it.
Scott: Everybody's got a brand, everybody's got a reputation. Your customer service or lack of customer service is a lasting memory and it is shared with the public, so creating a brand is staying true to … a set of values. It comes back to whom do you want to be — be that and expand that. The PR, the marketing, the advertising, is just a magnifying of an already existing truth.