Plenty of people in the remodeling and custom-building business say their best jobs come from word-of-mouth referrals. How about creating your own word of mouth? That's almost what you do with effective marketing: You present your company to prospective customers in the light in which you want it to be seen.
Marketing is the act of promoting; it incorporates advertising for the objective of selling. Everything with your company name on it can be considered a marketing tool. The axiom "you have to spend money to make money" may be true, but let's face it—we all want the biggest bang for the buck.
There are some best-practice standards for remodelers and custom builders, but quality is the one element that makes them truly effective. The correlation between effectiveness and quality is indisputable.
So exactly what makes your material better-quality–and therefore more effective–than your competitors'? Here are some key selling points:
Logo. Okay, first rule: The logo will go on everything, printed or not. After all, it's your brand, your identity and part of the value of your company. A professional-looking logo speaks volumes about your company before you ever meet the potential client. Because it's so important, spend some money to have a professional graphic artist design it.
Business card. If your business card isn't memorable, neither are you. Use heavy card stock, colors and, of course, your logo. You're in the business of building dreams; you're expected to be creative. Make your card stand out, and be sure the creativity and design have continuity with everything else you use.
Letterhead. There are several things to keep in mind here: Your letterhead should be on watermarked paper; it should have the same look and feel as all your other printed materials; it should not be printed from a software template; and it should not be printed per page as you need it. People can indeed tell quality by the look and feel of your letterhead. Don't risk losing a job by saving a few cents here.
Corporate documents. Your change orders, proposals, work orders and purchase orders also should have a look that's consistent with the rest of your materials, especially the pieces a client would sign, such as change orders or proposals. Even if they aren't as elaborate, they must look professional. Consider a multipart form instead of numerous copies.
Fliers, direct mail, brochures, print media. Direct mail isn't the best solution for everyone. If you're considering it, take the time to look at your own junk mail. You'll see a myriad of things you’d throw away. Now look at the things that caught your eye at first glance. They're typically four-color printing, edge to edge. Images of other people's dreams sell, and people also like to see the people they would work with, so photos of your team and your work can be very effective in direct-mail pieces.
In short, if you're going to do it, do it right. In fact, it could be argued that there's no reason to have marketing materials unless they're effective. Make sure your printed material looks professional, and make sure it all carries a similar look, whether it's a business card or a brochure or a change order.
The resulting cohesive image will send just the message you want: My company is professional and does only high-quality work. It will help attract the clients you want and even help set their expectations for the project.
Erik Cofield, CGA, is the owner of Power Consulting and a business strategist for builders and remodelers applying best business practices to local operations. He is also a speaker and freelance writer. Cofield is the former chief operations officer of Houston Structural Inc., Houston, an award-winning residential design/build remodeling company.
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