Marketing tools

Marketing Tools for the Home Improvement Industry

Though the home improvement market is said to be on the rise, many businesses are still struggling to get the phone to ring. A poor economy means many homeowners are putting off all but the most necessary of home repairs and services. When homeowners do pick up the phone, successful businesses are those that ensure their number is the first to be called.

Why We’re Asking:

Being first on a long list of qualified professionals is no easy task. Obviously, professionals with a long history and extensive client base are going to do well, but for new home improvement businesses, a successful marketing campaign is the best way to make the phone ring. Our professionals are some of the most successful in the country, so we’re turning to them to find out what marketing services they think are the most valuable.

So experts, it’s time to weigh in:

What marketing tools are most valuable for your business?

Are you most reliant on the trusty phone book? How do you value having your own websites and social media pages?
What about flyers and printed advertisements in your neighborhood? Are there some marketing techniques that you refuse to use?
Are there some that you don’t agree with? Are you quick to adopt new marketing technologies, like Twitter and LinkedIn?

We’re excited to find out how the best businesses in the industry are getting their name out. Check back next week to see what they have to say!

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!



  • Grand View Builders 10/22/12

    At Grand View Builders, we rely heavily on our interactive marketing through our website, social media tools and face-to-face. Our website is very engaging and allows users to search through our many home options, find our community locations, learn about the products and services we offer and connect with us directly. Users also have the advantage of saving searches and creating “favorites” in a folder, specifically for them. This feature encourages users to come back to our website at a later time and begins the relationship with the customer.

    From our website, we provide links to our Facebook, Twitter and blog posts to allow customers to become part of the conversation. Our social media marketing strategy is more focused on developing our brand, rather than a hard sell. We are active on social media to increase our brand awareness and brand loyalty throughout the market which we believe will convert more sales than traditional marketing (and this is less expensive, too!)

    We also still find value in the “grassroots” marketing by interacting with our audience face-to-face. We like to be out and about in the community attending events and speaking to the community.

  • Tracy Metro 10/22/12

    As a gal who spends a fair amount of time on TV, I probably have a very different approach to marketing my design services than most. I kinda let me television appearances do most of my outreach. I realize that casts a wide net of potential clients from all over the US… when in reality, I mostly do design work in LA and NYC; however, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth! What I value most about those television appearances is that they become my testimonials and I don’t have to work at proving my abilities. Sure I tweet, I FB and even offer up my services to charities for free, but the A #1 way I get business is via mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, er I mean referral!

  • Andrew Schrage @ Money Crashers 10/24/12

    Are you most reliant on the trusty phone book? How do you value having your own websites and social media pages? What about flyers and printed advertisements in your neighborhood? Are there some marketing techniques that you refuse to use? Are there some that you don’t agree with? Are you quick to adopt new marketing technologies, like Twitter and LinkedIn?

    As an online business owner, the marketing tool that is most valuable to my organization as a whole is social media. Our social media pages are the key to our marketing success. We have staff members dedicated to social media maintenance, and we regularly post relevant and informative content on our pages. We strive to make the conversation interactive, and have successfully done so through a variety of methods, such as weekly TweetChats and modest giveaways and contests on Facebook. We also have a presence on LinkedIn, and are keeping up-and-coming social media platforms such as Pinterest on our radar.

    Although utilizing social media is a great way to market your business, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. I don’t agree with folks who use social media to blast their audience with incessant content filled with sales pitches and promotional chatter. Small business owners who adopt this strategy can severely damage their brand. In order to get the most out of social media, you have to generate content that your viewers can use in their everyday lives, and you have to care about your audience. Social media pages need to be managed, and all reader comments and suggestions should be taken to heart and responded to.

    Because my business is Internet-based, we’ve never done much in terms off-line marketing, such as distributing flyers or creating print ads. It wouldn’t be cost-effective, and we wouldn’t be reaching our target audience.

    A few marketing tools that I would never use (even if my business weren’t online) are cold calling and door-to-door selling. These methods may have been effective in the past, but just aren’t viable anymore. If we needed to expand our marketing efforts, we would probably move into mobile marketing to further advertise our business.

  • Mike Slattery @ Roofer Mike INC 10/24/12

    As a growing roofing company in Miami, Fl we have taken an organic as possible approach to marketing. We’re not on PPC(Google Adwords) or lead generators(Service Magic) as they’re expensive and results are short term. We are investing in our website, which I wrote myself and took the pics for and paid a computer geek $100 at a time to build($2K to date). After a year and a half it looks and ranks pretty good. This investment will pay off in the long term as we perfect the site and the domain ages. To get leads NOW we do pay a few directories including http://www.elocalroofers.com, A’s List and BBB. These sites get good results with great quality backlinks to our site. We are increasing our Facebook and Google Plus presence(free!) In a smaller market I think eLocal, with the targeting it offers, along with a good website and listings in the free directories(Yelp)might be enough. In a very tough market like Miami roofers need more and our “almost all of the above” approach is a sound strategy to build on.

    Roofer Mike

  • Jill Banks @ Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging 10/24/12

    Although social media and my company website are my main marketing tools, I find that PR (magazine features, quotes on blogs, speaking engagements, writing articles, etc.) is the best way to demonstrate my knowledge and experience to potential clients and get referrals. PR also boosts your overall online presence so you’re more likely to get found when people are searching for your services, and builds your credibility, which often leads to other PR opportunities. I don’t do much traditional advertising because it tends to be expensive and not nearly as effective.

  • Richard Koller, C.O.O. Criterium Tauscher Cronacher Professional Engineers 10/25/12

    Marketing and promoting your business has changed dramatically in the last decade and exponentially more in the last few years.  The last three years especially have changed the landscape and turned the world upside down even for a seasoned, practiced 55 year old firm like Criterium Tauscher Cronacher.  For start ups or companies launching re-branding initiatives strong referrals empower marketing strategy but a ‘guns blazing’ ambition can make a real difference.  Every business needs to reconsider how business is done and with whom. Our firm has decided to outsource the marketing, public relations and branding to Christine Lopez Consulting and Kissing Lions Public Relations.  Our firm has the tools, history, expertise and knowledge to deliver but we need experts in marketing, promotions and public relations to execute a modernized visibility strategy and bring innovative suggestions for new business development.  Engineers engineer, they don’t promote.  The outsourced companies add value by supporting our immediate marketing needs exploiting their existing resources while engaging the media and social media platforms to create new ones. There are products to measure the effectiveness of social media for sites such as Linkedin and Facebook but without professional support it falls short of the perception it will fix the financial worries of businesses.
     
    Internet search engine optimization and old school periodicals, magazines and newspapers are our focus. This intentional sprayed approach gives us the wide coverage we need to bring the people to our talent and educate residential and commercial property owners about how to manage the long term value of their homes. At any given time one of these outlets may go viral in which point the team works to distribute useful information to our current clients and other potential partners and allies that share common interests such as Real Estate Lawyers, Realtors, co-op and condo managers and management companies. 
     
    Marketing and promotion takes patience.  A company that is available, flexible, committed and open to changes reaps the highest benefits.  The ultimate goal is to exploit the momentum of company milestones, media coverage or social commentary that has gone ‘viral’.  Although there are risks involved and a constantly changing social landscape that directly impacts business, no one can afford to sit idle; you have to be ready.   To optimize marketing efforts businesses need to be seen on as many outlets as possible and ensure tablet, phone and internet efforts are integrated in addition to conventional media such as newspapers, word of mouth and face to face.  The key takeaway, however, is to have an exceptional product and put our money where our mouths are.   
     

  • Kahshanna Evans @ Kissing Lions PR 10/25/12

    When it comes to marketing the Kissing Lions Public Relations team most heavily on word of mouth referrals and in-person networking. Stay visible but stay human! LinkedIn is something I also value a great deal for the social element of networking. Linked in is the most appropriate social network to further develop professional relationships. To any team looking to connect on new projects or common interests LinkedIn is the business holy grail. With options to make announcements, market events and directly reach out to decision makers it is invaluable to anyone wanting to be a thought leader in their area of expertise. As a rule of thumb, however, I caution businesses to manage their expectations with social media. If there is not a willingness to develop authentic relationships consistently this can disappoint eager professionals hoping for a quick fix. Each social media product has a unique angle and is in a constantly changing social landscape. Not all social media is for every business.

    I love that business owners, new and established, have the opportunity to design a website that reflects their brand. This is the virtual 40 acres and a mule in my view and should be celebrated by everyone engaging in the free market. Although many businesses endeavor to become large sellable entities, we actually prefer a boutique approach to visibility. For one celebrity client I created a ‘thank you’ campaign complete with handmade paper and a wax seal displaying an embodiment of his brand to send out after a charity gala he hosted. Staying creative helps integrate messaging and the goals of my clients to stay visible with the people who matter the most.

    I am not a fan of receiving cold calls although I do welcome a follow up phone call when I have expressed interest in a service or business. Pushy unsolicited phone calls really take time and if they have not reached out through LinkedIn I assume it is a poor use of my time and theirs.

    I think our team adapts well to new social media but we love being human. The right social media and marketing approach acknowledges the use of intuition, compassion and a personable approach to communication. No matter how challenging it gets, though, we recommend remembering tools and resources are only useful with a quality team and the means to initiate innovation in any given field.

  • Sam @ ServiceMaster 10/26/12

    We do rely a bit on our traditional phone book ads, however we have ventured into radio and online as well.
    Online, our team has created a search engine optimized website along with a couple of social pages. We have flyers and door hangers that we put on each neighboring door that we service. We have stopped branding and are focused more on marketing that will have direct results. Examples of things we have stopped are trade shows where we may not pickup any clients in the past, sponsorships of various kinds etc. these have brought little results in the past. We are building on the new techniques of some of the other new social media.

    Our big focus in on our search engine optimized website. We are attempting to track, analyze, change plans and execute to make sure our website is in excellent position for cleaning and restoration related services that potential clients may be researching.

  • Wayne Caswell 10/26/12

    The phone book is one way to know if you’re dealing with a local company or a storm chaser, but I can’t remember the last time I opened a phone book and now throw them out as soon as they arrive on the doorstep. That’s why my marketing focus is almost entirely online. Having a good online presence these days is a must, with a well designed website featuring lots of photos of your work.

    Many of the website and social networking tools are free, but the cost is in the time involved, so proceed wisely. Still, even very small organizations (I’m a sole proprietor.) can do effective marketing online, but be sure to keep branding & messaging consistent across your different marketing channels, and have them refer to each other. Physical assets, for example, should include URL references to your online assets.

    Social media helps create a virtual sales force by engaging with happy clients, identifying key influencers (realtors, designers, etc.), using them as references and for referrals, and helping them become your advocates with special attention and support. Social media is also a good way to quickly learn of, and resolve, complaints.

    Find ways to tie your website and social projects together so work that’s done in one place populates to others. When a post on your blog automatically flows to Twitter and your Facebook fan page, you save time while improving your Google ranking. Include different media, including video, and consider hosting your own YouTube channel and posting video blogs of each new project.

    Great photos of great designs get more attention from people shopping online for ideas, so I’m getting involved with the highly visual Pinterest and Houzz communities that are favorites of my target audience.

    I like LinkedIn and think it’s great for business networking, and getting involved in the discussion forums is a good way to promote myself as a subject matter expert. I often include links to related articles on my blog when appropriate, but I’m careful not to overdo it and understand that Linkedin is not where my real target audience hangs out.

    I use Google Alerts and Twitter hash tags to follow keywords and anything said online about my company and industry. If I find an interesting and educational article, I’ll write and ask permission to republish it on my own site, with full attribution and links back to the author, of course. I’m also willing to share my own content with other organizations. At Modern Health Talk, for example, I write many articles on Universal Design principles and remodeling projects for the disabled and also feature byline articles from other industry experts.

    I’ve not yet experimented with ads on Google and Facebook but plan to soon, because the ads can be very narrowly targeted, making them more affordable and effective.

  • Jason Crook @ PHAG interiors 10/26/12

    As a business about to celebrate our 10-year Anniversary, we’ve changed our marketing approach, and tools of choice, quite a bit in recent years

    Initially, we invested heavily in print ads, some cable TV ads, printed pieces distributed to targeted neighborhoods, and other traditional, but costly, methods of communication. We were happy with the investment because these tools helped us in building our brand locally.

    Since 2010, however, we’ve focused much more heavily on promoting our products and services on-line. We’ve invested resources in some SEO tactics, and begun to use PR as a primary tool for spreading the word about our business in the virtual market space. Sites like helpareporter.com (HARO) have been instrumental in assisting us to connect with the right blog and on-line news channels for features, back-links, and other critical measures of marketing success on-line. We have been early adopters of the social media sites, dabbling in most of the key outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Houzz, etc.), but honestly don’t have the operational support to make the most of these tools. They seem to have great potential, but require an extensive investment in time and resources to truly be effective, and we would rather be designing!

    Of course, some of our tried and true tools continue to be top marketing performers:

    1. The word-of-mouth we receive from our existing design clients, which continues to keep us busy
    2. Our monthly VIP e-newsletter keeps us in touch with our existing customer base, and ensures they have the most up-to-date information on our offerings, trends, and services

    Yes, you guessed it, the trusty phone book is nowhere to be found in our strategy, but local, community based business directories are a real hit at PHAG!

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