Renaissance Doors & Windows in Fullerton, Calif., used to put all its marketing dollars into newspaper advertising. Company president Mike Jenkins would invest as much as $25,000 in a single weekend to generate leads.

And still, “my sales staff would sit on their thumbs all weekend,” Jenkins says.

One of the reasons, he points out, is that the home and garden section has ads for as many as 30 door and window companies alone. Renaissance got lost in the mix.

Cris Keeter, co-owner of All States Exteriors in Wichita, Kan., felt the same way about the Yellow Pages. His ad was surrounded by those of his competitors. And he had no control over it.

“I couldn't turn it on or off or increase it or decrease it,” Keeter says. “You have no flexibility.”

Move Those Dollars Elsewhere Keeter opted for a smaller Yellow Pages ad and applied the difference to television ads and direct mail. The TV ads have generated the most qualified leads for the money, costing the company about $100 per lead. That's about the same as their previous Yellow Pages expense, but the quality of the leads has been better.

Keeter serves as the company's spokesman in the ads.

“It wasn't easy at first, but it's been good,” he says. “We have control, and I can adjust it as needed.”

DIRECT HIT Jenkins bought a targeted real estate database, invested in quality photography and printing, and created a four-color postcard. As a result, he slashed his marketing expenses from 10% to 4.8% of revenues.

The real estate list, which costs $325 per month, includes data on current homeowners, addresses, property values, and the year the houses were built.

The company's oversized card on heavy stock stands out from the rest of the mail; homeowners in targeted demographics get a Renaissance ad every six to eight weeks.

Results might be minimal when Renaissance enters a new market, but with repeated exposure, the response level improves.

“Now that I've been doing it for five or six years, the results keep getting better,” Jenkins says. “If a location is soft, I tell the marketing gal, ‘Send a piece to this area,' and three to five days later, the phones will ring.”