Home Improvement Advertising – Getting the Most from Your Advertising Dollars

If you are a home improvement contractor, you already know that the economy has directly impacted your business. You have probably felt the pinch in your bottom line profits. In the past, many home improvement contractors have relied on homebuilders to provide the majority of their business. With the housing market in a spiral, what has happened to contractors who relied exclusively on new home construction to keep their business viable? The truth is many have gone out of business or are struggling to stay afloat hoping the housing market will resurge.

Perhaps for the first time, many contractors are forced to reach out to a new type of customer – the homeowner. While contractors may be experts in their field, many have never had experience in creating a marketing or advertising campaign. The logical response is to buy advertising because they know little about marketing. However, unless your advertising efforts are targeted to your audience, meaning homeowners who want and can afford your services, you may be wasting money and not getting desired results.

The question becomes how do you buy home improvement advertising which will produce results? There are many publications who claim to specialize in home improvement advertising, but there are many variables which can affect their efficiency. The majority of these publications contain editorial content in the form of articles and tips which are often contributed by your competitors. Many of them also contain ads from non-home improvement businesses. The reader’s focus can be distracted by pizza coupons, dry cleaning, or oil change advertising, for example. While these publications may have a large distribution, they may never reach your target audience, especially if they are sent to apartments or homeowners not in your geographic or economic target market, or if they are placed in businesses counting on foot traffic.

What should you look for when choosing a venue for your home improvement advertising? Follow these tips for optimum results. Look for publications which:

  • target the top homes by value in the marketplace;
  • provide a venue to showcase your best work through photographs and images of how a home could look;
  • only have advertisers who specialize in home remodeling; and
  • give your direct contact information

Don’t Despair, Home Improvement Contractors – There’s Still Gold in the Market

The shaky housing market has some home improvement contractors running scared, but there is no reason to hang up your tool belt just yet. Business from homebuilders may have dried up, but homeowners themselves still need what you have to offer. In fact, experts are forecasting growth in the remodeling arena – in part as an offshoot of the decline in home sales. The trick will be switching your marketing strategy to reach your new target audience.
 
Remodeling, of course, is an evergreen business. Approximately 25 million homeowners undertake some type of home improvement project each year, according to research from Harvard’s Improving America’s Housing 2007. And the Home Improvement Research Institute predicts that sales of home improvement products will grow at an average rate of 6% annually over the next four years – a sign that people will still be investing in their homes. 
 
Some of this demand is triggered by normal home upkeep. Two-thirds of existing homes are now at least 25 years old – the age at which items such as the roof, windows and plumbing fixtures begin to need repair or replacement, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Other projects are inspired by a simple desire to upgrade one’s living environment – perhaps pushed along these days by television lifestyle shows filled with luxury amenities.
 
Additional demand will be driven by the state of the housing market, experts say. Some homeowners who were planning to move will instead renovate because they can’t sell their homes in the current economy. Properties that have fallen victim to the foreclosure crisis will be acquired and in need of remodeling, particularly over the next 18 months as foreclosures peak. And pent-up demand for older home remodeling, energy efficiency retrofits and rental stock improvements will be unleashed when the economy perks up, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
 
Bottom line: there’s still business today, and there will be MORE business over the near term. Now is the time to lay the marketing groundwork to cash in.
 
While word-of-mouth referrals will always be important, it’s not enough to keep your pipeline filled. Advertising plays an essential role in bringing customers to your door by building brand recognition as well as credibility. But not all ads are created equal. Follow these rules of thumb for best results:

  • Define your target audience and create an effective method to reach them.
  • If your service is high-end, maximize your advertising dollars by targeting only top homes by value in the marketplace.
  • Showcase your best work through photographs. This inspires remodeling ideas and helps consumers visualize the effect that a remodeling project will have on their own home.
  • Look for advertising outlets that focus on home remodeling, because that’s where your target customer is going to be looking for contractors – not mixed in with pizza coupons.
  • Advertise on a regular basis. A consumer normally needs to see your name and ad repeatedly before picking up the phone.
  • Be sure that your phone number and other contact information is prominently displayed in your ad so that consumers can reach you easily. 

Remember: the home improvement business is still alive and kicking. It’s just a matter of finding opportunities in new places. Put yourself in front of the right people – through advertising – and the work will come.
 
For more information on home improvement advertising, visit www.thehomemag.com.

The Essence of a Marketing Manager in a Home Improvement Company

So you want to hire a Marketing Manager. Someone suggests you go to a headhunter or a dot com site. You get inundated with resumes from those with degrees in marketing or those with marketing backgrounds in major corporations – ad nauseam. Unfortunately, most of these applicants cannot fill the job.

The most appropriate applicant as a Marketing Manager for a lead based home improvement company has usually worked for a company with “in home” salespeople. They have a feel for what will pull leads in various advertising mediums; they understand the kind and quality of leads the company needs, as well as the kind and styles of the salespeople who will be issued the lead. A Marketing Manager in the home improvement business has the responsibility of keeping the lead pipeline full.

The ideal Marketing Manager will have to understand budget limitations, lead issuance and control factors and, above all, that leads are a precious commodity. Most leads are obtained expensively, and once acquired remain viable until your company or a competitor sells the product of interest to the prospect. Your Marketing Manager has to understand database management, confirmation and rehash scripting, how to negotiate with the media, event sources and S.F.I. relationships with big box and other similar “brand” sources. If a call center is involved, the ability to hire, train and supervise others is a necessity.

None of the above obviates the possibility that you won’t find “a diamond” without the experience defined. However, prepare yourself for training and control in the early stages because Marketing Managers in home improvement organizations are still an enigma.

Cues: Write the job description before you hire. Detail issues such as: what performance is expected, what budget to maintain (including the cost of the marketing manager) along with territory and product limitations. Compensate with a base salary and incentives for meeting budget requirements. Finally, evaluate these 3 considerations regarding the applicant: Can they do the job? Will they do the job? Do they fit?

How to Start a Home Renovation Business

A home renovation business remains fairly profitable irrespective of the state of the economy. During an economic downturn, owners undertake improvements to increase the home value. On the other hand, during an economic upswing, homeowners opt to renovate their homes instead of buying new high-priced ones.

Individuals desiring to start a home improvement business need not necessarily be experts or qualified home building professionals. The actual renovation work can be outsourced to other professionals and skilled laborers. Nonetheless, home renovation owners need to possess the skills necessary to supervise the work. What to do:

• Forming the business – A person wanting to commence a renovation business needs to decide on the form and structure of the company. The business owner can hire a lawyer to prepare a draft of the company’s articles of ownership or visit a legal site online and draft the articles. These have to be filed with the state office where the business is formed.

• Getting the license – The licensing laws are different for each state. However, a general applicable law is to procure a general contractor license or a license as a home renovator/remodeler. For exact details, contact your state’s local business department that provides all the relevant information and the applicable fees.

• Procuring the insurance – A licensed insurance broker can provide all the relevant and applicable insurance laws for a property renovation business. Generally, insurance coverage for any liabilities arising during the renovation is required. Additionally, the home renovation business owner may be required to have a bond to operate.

• Liaison with sub-contractors – Renovating a home requires professionals with numerous technical skills. To offer a complete home renovation package, owners need the services of technicians, such as plumbers, electricians, HVAC consultants, masons and carpenters. Checking the local telephone directory to find suitable contractors to sub-contract the work can be an option. Additionally, the business owner can contact the state’s professional licensing division to procure information on the registered service providers within the area.

• Acquiring the equipment – A property improvement business requires a substantial investment in various equipment such as saws, routers, ladders, levers, extension cords and many others. Procuring these supplies or contracting an equipment provider is crucial for the timely completion of the work.

• Materials procurement and scheduling – The business owner should open a credit line with material suppliers to ensure a continuous and timely supply of building materials. Another important aspect is to schedule deliveries from various sub-contractors onsite as required. Material delivery can affect the renovation time frame.

Once you have done the necessary leg work to set-up a home renovation business, marketing the business is the next important part. Contacting local home inspectors, architects, insurance providers and lenders can assist owners to gain projects. Advertising in various media like print, radio or online is also beneficial.