By Cheryl Weber. Like other business owners in the wake of September 11, Skeeter Coleman watched his business revenues drop off this year, from $2.6 million in 2001 to less than $2 million. His business peers had begun to think negatively. "People were agonizing over how to save money and cut costs," he says.
"But then I realized that because everyone else was pulling back, there was no better time to market. I began to consider what I could do differently." Coleman, of Coleman Construction, Nolensville, Tenn., swiftly implemented several ideas he'd been putting off:
* He hired a marketing consultant to help him create a strong brand identity by tweaking the company logo and rethinking every piece of printed material. "My logo is not quite simple and recognizable enough," Coleman says. "I want it to have a strong visual flavor, so that people recognize it without reading it." In a couple of months, the two will meet again to sharpen up specific marketing tactics.
* Meanwhile, to gain market share, the company is stepping up direct mail ads to the ZIP codes in which it works. "We already do neighborhood letters in areas where we're working," he says, "but we're working the rule of seven: You have to be seen seven times before you differentiate yourself from the herd."
* Another of the remodeler's immediate goals is to call one or two former clients a week, asking how they're doing and reminding them to think of Coleman Construction if they need any work done, or if their friends do. "Although the company is more profitable than ever, our numbers are off," Coleman says. "The goal is to increase leads."