Prospects with recognized, admitted needs can be turned into contract-signing clients, but you need to get their attention. What works? Marketing messages based on your target. Here are four tactics.

Fulfill a specific need. Do they need a kitchen, bath, or master suite? Direct mail focusing on a bathroom or kitchen generally works better than a "we're available" campaign. For reasons we've yet to pinpoint, we find this is especially true in metropolitan areas. Our clients in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City received almost twice as many results from targeting a specific need vs. a general approach.

Speak to quality. "Only the finest for you," "You earned it, you deserve it" campaigns address a client's desire for the best. How you present your company attracts certain clients. If you look like a quality remodeler, prospects assume you are until proven wrong. Prove them right with above-average work. Custom, as opposed to canned, newsletters are on point for this marketing tactic.

Address financial issues. Equity and investment fit in here. Take advantage of the current low cost of borrowing money and frame a marketing campaign around remodeling as an investment in the home.

Solve problems. Some prospects are interested in affordability. They can't write a check for a $12,000 bathroom remodel, but they can afford $189 a month for 10 years, says Bill Simone, Custom Design and Construction, Los Angeles. Develop a package with your lender that you can present this way. Provide solutions and ease fear of the process; sales will follow. Advertising, not direct mail, works best for this approach. --Stephen Wilson is a partner with Reston, Va., marketing/communications firm Biz-comm Inc., [email protected].