Rethink design, message, and outlet before you bail on print, as some remodelers are doing in the squeeze of what are often high costs and low returns. The advertisement shown here, along with three others (click to see them) is part of a series that launched this year for Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build, a design-intensive green remodeling company in Minneapolis.

“The first one generated three phone calls and two projects on the day it hit the stands,” says Michael Anschel, the firm’s principal. “We have had more qualified leads than ever before,” averaging about one per day; in a week in late June, for instance, he and staff went on five lead calls for projects ranging from $50,000 to $400,000.

The full-page ads take the back cover of a bimonthly newspaper distributed to 35,000 largely liberal and educated readers (matching Otogawa-Anschel’s target market). The published cost for each is $2,700, but “of course I negotiate,” Anschel says. As a rule, he budgets 5% of revenue on marketing ($100,000 for 2009), noting his firm belief that print is just one part of a healthy and diversified marketing strategy.

Critically, Anschel also says that the campaign’s success goes much deeper than the actual media outlet. “I have long suggested that it is the design of the ad that is at fault, not the publication, if you are not getting results,” he says. In fact, Otogawa-Anschel ran a full-page ad in seven issues of this same paper in 2008, with “virtually no leads” as a result, he says. These ads diverge dramatically from the usual advertising look, and combine interesting text and an inviting, even intimate, presentation.

—Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.

See examples of Otogawa-Anschel's ads here: Green, Green, and More Green

and The Best Time.