Like many small remodeling companies, Rehder Construction, in Campbell, Calif., used to advertise when business slowed down enough to make owner Steve Rehder a bit nervous. “Our marketing plan consisted of, ‘What do you think we should do now?'” he says. Two years ago, Rehder set out to develop a steady lead stream from a few designated neighborhoods. The result is a systematic but flexible “marketing/communications action plan” for each month of the year.

Developed under the guidance of a marketing consultant, the plan takes shape at the end of each fiscal year. Rehder projects his targeted volume for the next year, and earmarks about 2% of it for marketing. “We look at what brought in leads in the last year,” and proceed to map out a month-by-month strategy for keeping Rehder Construction front and center before its target audience.

The first few months are mapped out in detail, with flexibility built in for the rest of the year. In January, for instance, the company mailed newsletters to its client list, distributed brochures to homes around active projects, and began a year of twice-monthly advertising in a community newspaper. In February, postcards mailed to 700 homes.

The plan has constants, as well — such as a Web site that is frequently updated, and jobsite “brochure boxes” that work amazingly well, Rehder says. “People will walk by a site, take a brochure, and call us months later saying they watched the project go up.”

It's not rocket science, but effective grass-roots marketing rarely is. “Our rationale is, the more often people see your name, the more they're going to remember you,” Rehder says. The effort has “produced a market increase” in the kinds of leads he had hoped to get.