Mason F. Lord Jr. figures even a company that relies almost entirely on referrals ought to advertise. His $1.4 million-a-year firm, Hudson Valley Preservation, is based in Sherman, Conn., and targets a second-home market for New Yorkers. To ensure that potential clients recognize the company name when they hear it, Lord paid an agency $3,230 to develop a 12-times ad for the Litchfield County Times' color magazine. The ad evolved from a sketch he provided, and he's fine-tuning it with feedback from former clients.
* Lead with a headline, not a company name. Catch the reader's eye. Show the benefits of using you over the competition.
* Avoid busy logos. Make it easy for your customer to read your name.
* Avoid using too many fonts. Otherwise, the ad will look disjointed. Use no more than two per ad.
* Make sure your company name tells what you do. Clients need to know whether you're a rust-proofer, a restaurateur, or a remodeler.
* Don't overuse words like "quality," "value," and "customer service." These terms appear everywhere and, sadly, have become meaningless.
* Remember that people read left-to-right, top-to-bottom. Keep important information at the end; that's what they'll remember.
Ad reviews are $20 for NAHB members and $50 for non-members. The service is free to NSMC members. For more information, call (800) 365-5242, ext. 8192.