Edwin Fotheringham

Buzz marketing is based on the idea that word-of-mouth builds brand. That makes sense, especially in the remodeling industry where not only the finished job but the experience of working with your company enforce your brand.

It used to be that if people were enthused about your work and their experience with you, they would tell others and those referrals would make your phone ring. If your company had a great reputation, the buzz took care of itself.

But suppose your phone’s not ringing enough. And suppose you don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising. That, says marketing expert Marty Gould, is where social media comes in.

You can use social media networks to draw attention to you, your company, and your product by talking about related subjects, such as construction, design, and home maintenance — all the things you’re an expert in and that consumers might want to know about.

No-Sell Zone

Buzz peaks and dips, but you can help sustain it with social media. The important thing: Resist the impulse to talk in glowing terms about your own work — at the first hint of selling, homeowners will flee. “You’re reaching out to people,” Gould says. “Say interesting things.”

“Old marketing,” Gould points out, consisted of putting out a message and awaiting results. Social media makes marketing a two-way conversation between you and the consumer; a conversation that the whole world can overhear. For example, you might tweet on Twitter about your preference for particular composite deck board brands, post jobsite photos on Facebook that show how to solve a design problem, or explain on your blog the heat and moisture dynamics that cause ice damming. “With the right keywords, [prospects will] find their way to you,” Gould says.

Make Yourself Famous

“The way we’re communicating now is largely driven by social media,” Gould says. And that change, he points out, is here to stay. The 500 million people who use Facebook or the 100 million with Twitter accounts have different expectations both in terms of immediacy and the means of making a connection. “Talk specifically about the problems customers have and how your company will solve them,” and they will be drawn to you, Gould says. Often they’ll first find you on social media networks.

“Social media and blogging,” Gould says, “are the places where people are going to be most receptive to hearing messages that are unusual and enlightening. It’s a way to get the word out to people who ordinarily wouldn’t find you.”

Weighing in regularly on relevant topics keeps the buzz going, and the buzz builds your reputation as an expert. Gould suggests that remodelers “make themselves famous” for something they do, some way they can solve customers’ problems, and then use social media to create conversations around that. Foolproof? Nothing is. But, he says, in marketing, the goal of every company is to be the first business the consumer thinks of.

—Jim Cory is editor of REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR, a sister publication of REMODELING.