7 Tips for Better Marketing

Create a long-term plan for selling yourself.

Too many remodelers simply advertise their company name and hope the phone will ring. Creating a successful marketing strategy goes beyond occasional advertising in your community. It requires a consistent, focused message that continually and effectively reaches your key clients, says Bill Lee, president of Lee Resources, a consultant in the building-materials field.

"Marketing is a process, not an event," he says. "It's not how big a splash you make; it's how long you're willing to continue along the same path. Don't expect instant results."

The secret to success is discovering a company's "unique selling advantage" (USA), Lee says. Once a remodeler understands his strengths and his best target customers, a true marketing plan can be developed to create the maximum success for the least cost.

Lee says there are seven keys to achieving that goal:

1. Aim at your best customers. It's important to target your message to locations where your best potential clients live. Mail-list companies can provide demographic breakdowns by ZIP code to help you determine where to focus attention.
2. Focus your message. Don't make your message too complicated or general. Customers want to think the company's services are aimed at their particular needs directly. "If you can offer a value that is more specific, more recognizable, more tangible and more measurable than your competitors', you will have an easier time marketing it," Lee says.
3. Keep it simple. Don't overload customers with features and promises. Keep to the basics and stress those continually so that potential clients connect you to that basic message. Be sure to include key contact information and your Web-site address on every piece.
4. Put your money where your mouth is. Don't skimp on follow-up care. Stress your warranty and responsiveness after the project is completed. Customers are concerned that a final payment means the remodeler will vanish despite warranties and legal requirements to maintain new work for a specified period. Emphasize your responsiveness—and be certain that it happens.
5. Create a call for action. Tell your customers what you want them to do upon seeing your marketing piece—call for free information, visit your Web site, etc. "If you can bring them to action, you have bonded them closer to you," Lee says.
6. Use numbers. Measure your customer satisfaction through follow-up surveys and other measurable factors to ensure that you’re performing as you promise you will. Ask customers about why they used your services and how you performed to learn if your marketing is providing the appropriate image.
7. Plan ahead. Marketing plans should be made a year in advance, and those plans should be fully budgeted so they can be maintained. "Engaging the perceptions of your customers takes time and consistency," Lee says. "It takes a number of messages targeted directly to the selected customers for them to become familiar with what you offer and feel as if they have come to know you.”

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