Editor's Note: As part of Marketing Month, we're revisiting some of our best, and most importantly timeless, articles of marketing advice.

Advertising is a $350 billion industry — and that’s just here in the U.S. Ads are blasted out every day from more than 1,500 television stations and 12,000 radio stations, and printed in 2,000 newspapers  and goodness knows how many ads show up on smartphones and tablets.

Become a Believer

And yet some contractors still don’t believe in advertising. The reason, many will tell you, is that they have survived for years on referrals. And while referrals are the reward for doing a good job, they are not the only way to build business — especially if your remodeling company hasn’t been around all that long.

With all the options available for how to get the word out, how do you decide which one works best to reach the buyers you are looking for? And how do you develop a marketing strategy that doesn’t get lost in the crowd?

Well, you can hire guys like me, or you can try to do it yourself. And you have a better chance of succeeding if you do it yourself and follow these six tips.

1. Be creative, but not creative for creativity’s sake. In other words, make your message stand out, but get your point across too. Don’t try to be too clever or too funny, it won’t work.

2. Make sure your message has impact. Headlines, copy, and graphics all play a critical role in stopping readers in their tracks.

3. Be clear. Keep the message tight and easy to understand. Don’t overcomplicate it with multiple messages.

4. Make it memorable. If I, the consumer, don’t remember you, I can’t buy from you. Make me think about you when I think about what you do.

5. Provide information. Peel back a few layers of the onion and show me the important reasons why I should consider you for my home improvement needs. Again, keep this part tight and focused on one message at a time.

6. Stand out. You have to be unique. Differentiate yourself. There are as many as 10,000 plumbers in even the smallest cities. Why should I buy from you? Look for holes in your industry and exploit them.

And now for the bonus:

Advertise. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “That’s easy to say coming from an ad man.” But I bet you can tell me where every McDonald’s restaurant is near your home, right? And yet McDonald’s still spends $7 million a day on advertising. Why? Burger King!

—Darren Slaughter runs a boutique website design and marketing shop that serves only contractors in the home improvement space. darrenslaughter.com

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