Your remodeling company can’t be all things to all people. And although the market has been tight, there’s no sense marketing yourself to clients who are not going to buy from you. Focus on finding and marketing to your “ideal client,” advises remodeling business consultant Tim Nagle, owner of Remodel Buddy.

Based on the ideas proposed by John Jantsch in his book Duct Tape Marketing, Nagle says that the ideal client is someone who you can “[get to] know, like, trust, contact, refer you to others” and from whom you can make a profit.

Create a strategy

Moving from reading about ideas in a book or hearing them from a consultant to actual application in your business can be a challenge. Implementation can’t be haphazard. It must be part of a considered strategy. “You want to have a consistent, structured marketing system in order to position yourself as a leader in the industry,” Nagle says.

He suggests that company owners should comb through their current database to pinpoint their best clients and to try to identify common characteristics such as age and/or gender or to uncover a common frustration.

“Write a description of your ideal target market in terms that are easy to communicate, and ask your ideal clients what’s important to them and how they make buying decisions,” Nagle advises. “Use the information to create a profile of your ideal client.”

Apply Knowledge

After 37 years in business, you’d think that Marilyn and Jim Acheson would know their clients. But because business for Acheson Builders had been so brisk, they had became lax in maintaining past-client relationships and using a systematic marketing strategy.

Two years ago everything slowed in their Ann Arbor, Mich., market, Marilyn says, and with consultant Kyle Hunt (, the Achesons began using Duct Tape Marketing methods.

To raise clients’ level of “know, like, trust,” the company took these steps:

  • Worked on getting more information onto the company’s website so prospects would know more about the firm before calling.
  • Recognized the power of testimonials — “People hear the real voice of someone who was happy with our services,” Marilyn says — and asked past clients to call a dedicated phone line to record messages about their experience with Acheson Builders, then posted these on the company’s website.
  • Personalized the company’s marketing materials by including Jim Acheson’s photograph.

In Mashpee, Mass., John Clark — another Duct Tape Marketing devotee — created @DesignRemodel’s “Triple Guarantee”: Projects will be done on time, on budget, and left neat and clean. “Clients [must] be 100% satisfied,” Clark says. “If we don’t meet all the criteria, they don’t have to pay the final 10% due us at the end of the project.”

In three years Clark has never had a client who didn’t pay. “It reassures people that they have some leverage with us,” he says. “If we completely blow it, they have some recourse, and it helps build trust.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.